Despite all the accusations of antisemitism directed towards Russian PM Vladimir Putin, Russians Jews have a different take. Under Putin, anti-Semitic views are no longer accepted among Russian politicians. The Jewish community in Russia is flowering and Putin himself has shown great respect for their contributions to Russian society. As a result, many Russian Jews are happy to see Putin return to the Presidency.
Most Russian Jews, it seems, say that Putin’s return after a four-year stint as prime minister is good news for stability, and that’s good for the country’s Jewish community. Critics, however, say it’s a sign of Russia’s stagnation.
Echoing traditional Jewish sensibilities, Yevgeniy Satanovsky, head of the Institute for Israel and Near Eastern Studies, a think tank in Moscow, says that Jews do not have to worry about Putin.
“Putin is neither an anti-Semite nor anti-Israel,” Satanovsky said.
For Russia’s Jews, whose estimated numbers range from 500,000 to 1 million, Putin marked a departure from the anti-Semitism of past Communist elites and of the once all-powerful KGB, which he served for nearly two decades.
Putin was the first Russian leader to visit Israel, where he attended an official reception. He also visited a Moscow synagogue, participated in candle-lighting ceremonies on Chanukah and reportedly had an open door for one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, Berel Lazar.
While human rights groups reported surges in xenophobic attacks at various times during Putin’s presidency, Jews rarely were the targets.
Lazar said Putin should be credited for driving anti-Semitism out of Russian political discourse.
Vladimir Putin is a complicated man. He is many things, but being a Jew hater is not one of them. On the contrary he has shown respect to the Russian Jewish community. This explains their support of him.