WikiDrips: What Russian Jewish emigres are doing for the motherland


Excerpted from the WikiLeaks cables…

On how Russian Jewish emigres are viewed by Russia’s government:

xxxxx said that immigrants to Israel and elsewhere extended Russia’s cultural reach, which the GOR [Government Of Russia] recognized as a means to project at least the perception of influence. For example, the World Congress of Russian Jewry, an organization that represents Russian Jews in 35 countries and receives government support, met in May in Jerusalem where Russian Federation Council member Boris Shpigle said that Russian Jews must cultivate a special relationship with their homeland. xxxxx stressed that with the exception of Ukraine and the Baltic, where Russia had serious political concerns, the GOR saw its compatriots abroad not as a "fifth column" but as a bridge between their homeland and adopted countries.

In Israel, a country of which some of Russia’s biggest oligarchs were citizens, the GOR hoped this would provide opportunities for investment and give Russia access to Israeli technology. Israeli investment might also come to  Russia, as it did in the case of Lev Levayev, whose development company is reportedly undertaking large-scale projects in Moscow and will expand its existing jewelry factory in Perm. xxxxx thought Russia-Israel trade, which is estimated at $2.3 billion in 2006, could be several times higher.

On Russian Jewish immigration to Israel (it’s over):

While Russia continues to benefit from the presence of its existing emigres in Israel, Russian immigration to Israel is "all but dead" according to Leonard Terlitskiy, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society‘s representative in the CIS. Terlitskiy, who was among the first Jews to leave the USSR during the Brezhnev era, told us that "anyone who wanted to leave has already left." The Russian economy offered enough opportunities and anti-Semitism is not the problem it once was, allowing Jews to remain where they face less chance of becoming a victim of terrorism than they would in Israel. Russian daily Vremya Novestey reported that in 2007, only 6,700 people immigrated from the CIS to Israel, compared to 34,000 in 2001. Meanwhile, 38,000 Israeli nationals were known to have returned recently to live in Russia and the CIS…

xxxxx thought that the prospect of visa-free travel to Israel would allow Russian Jews to visit Israel and develop an affinity for the country and their  compatriots there without the need to emigrate. Members of Moscow’s Jewish community recently told Vremya Novestey that they saw no need to emigrate and could always visit Israel on a holiday.

On Russian weapons sale in the Middle East:

Observers noted that despite the increasing cultural proximity of Russia and Israel, the GOR maintained its "pragmatic" stance on weapons sales to Syria and contacts with Hamas, despite Israeli opposition. This stemmed from Moscow’s ability to compartmentalize aspects of a foreign policy that fostered relations with Israel and Syria simultaneously. xxxxx joked that perhaps Israel had evened the score through military sales to Georgia, including unmanned aerial drones, the shooting down of which recently contributed to increasing tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi (ref B). xxxxx and Israeli Emboffs told us separately that military sales to Georgia were not an irritant in Russia-Israel relations, although the GOR had asked Israel not to sell offensive weapons systems to Tbilisi.

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