Amnon Rubinstein, Israel’s minister of energy and science, has ended a weeklong visit to Moscow aimed at promoting scientific and technological contacts between Israel and Russia.
Like many ministerial visits, the trip was long on mutual expressions of good will and short on specifics. At a reception for Russian scientists, Rubinstein added a twist on the usual expressions by saying, “This isn’t just propaganda. I mean it.”
His toast was returned by two Russian deputy ministers, for science and technology and for fuel and energy, as Russian and Israeli scientists sipped local champagne and munched gefilte fish and Russian delicacies.
Regarding the situation in Russia, Rubinstein, a law professor, declared himself an optimist. Things will get better, but it will take time,” he said.
Rubinstein found time to meet with relatives of an immigrant family in Israel, which his family has “adopted” to help in the absorption process. He also visited ordinary shops and Moscow’s biggest flea market at Izmailovo Park.
These visits, he said, helped him understand how people are coping with Russia’s runaway inflation.
Rubinstein, who ranks third on the Meretz bloc’s Knesset list, nearly cut short his visit because of attacks by Israeli religious parties on the left-wing party’s leader, Shulamit Aloni, who is minister of education.
By not returning home early, Rubinstein was able to squeeze in a visit to a power plant located 40 miles outside Moscow, near the historic Zagorsk Monastery, one of Russia’s most beautiful, which he also visited.