Kyiv, March 29, 2016. Since the very beginning of the Crimea conflict it was important for Russia to get the support of Israel and of the international Jewish community. To achieve this, the Russian Federation has been using various provocations, said Shimon Briman, Israel editor at the U.S. newspaper Forum Daily. “Russia was constantly using various made-up stories on alleged Ukrainian fascists who came to the power in Kyiv. That’s why Moscow was very much hoping that Israel would “bite the bait”. Because it comes unsaid that the Jewish people and Israel will always be against fascism,” said Shimon Briman. He said that a part of the propaganda around Crimean events was about introducing untrue reports on alleged upcoming pogroms of Jewish shrines. “There is a well-known fact that at night on February 28, 2014 a profanation of a synagogue in Simferopol occurred with swastika and a phrase “Death to Yids”. What is interesting this did not happen over all previous 23 years of Ukraine’s independence. It happened exactly the same night when the so-called Russian “green men” landed, such a strange coincidence,” he recalls. It was accompanied with materials published in all the Russian media that pogroms are prepared.
It was a planned action, the editor says, Russia’s Committee for State Security (KGB) is experienced in provocations with the use of the “Jewish card” since 1959. [KGB stands for Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti, the main security agency at the Soviet Union – UCMC note.] Shimon Briman said that in 1959-1960 in particular a special KGB unit was profaning the Jewish shrines in Germany so that the media would start talking about the outbreak of anti-Semitism and Neo-Nazism in Germany. “The mechanics is the following: a provocation is instigated, for example profanation of a synagogue. Jews will immediately raise the alarm worldwide and will surely blame it on authorities, in this case Ukrainian authorities,” said the Israel editor of Forum Daily.
Russia is emphasizing the Jewish people that constitute only 0.1 percent of Crimea’s population because in Western Europe and in the U.S. the Jewish community is very influential. “There are six million Jews in America and they are very influential in the media, in biggest newspapers, on TV channels and in the American politics. And the following principle applies here: if we violate a Jewish object in Crimea, tomorrow there will be a story in the New York Times […],” the editor explains.
According to Briman Vladimir Putin is constantly emphasizing that “one and a half million of our Russian-speakers” live in Israel and official Russian politics was constantly trying to get Israel on its side. At the same time official Israel has formed its attitude to the Crimea conflict over the two years, the editor says. “It is usually said that Israel is neutral in the Crimea conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It is so and it is not […]. It was clearly stated several times that Israel stands for restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and does not recognize Crimea’s annexation by Russia. It does not look like neutrality,” explains Briman emphasizing that Israel does not recognize seizure of Crimea. It is just that the official Israel is “not fueling” the subject and says that it is not their own conflict and tries to maintain equally friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine. The editor adds that Israel stopped supplying drones to Russia but never commenced supplying them to Ukraine.
Another fact in support of Ukraine that he named was that there was an honorary consul of Israel in Crimea before the annexation. After he supported the annexation Israel’s consulate in Crimea was closed. “A new Honorary Consulate of Israel was opened in Lviv and in the western Ukraine. It was a gesture,” underlined Briman. Besides the editor pointed at the fact that no serious businesses are now present in Crimea. “Although Israel is not saying this aloud, the peninsula is completely blockaded by the Israeli businesses – there is no investment, no technologies are being shared,” he added. At the same time Israel is developing the program to introduce the technology of melioration and irrigation in Ukraine’s southern regions including Kherson, Mykolayiv and Zaporizhzhia regions. And it is directly linked to Crimea, says Briman. In case agriculture flourishes on the mainland in contrast to what happens in Crimea, the difference will be visible.
“In general despite being neutral by essence Israel’s official position is largely directed at supporting and helping develop Ukraine in practice,” summarized Shimon Briman.