sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

July 9, 2015

It’s Not That Jews Are Fleeing Russia

Filed under: politics, Russia, Ukraine — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:00 am

But the Russian intelligentsia is.  Radio Free Europe reports:

Just a year ago, Russian journalist Vladimir Yakovlev [Note the typical Russian surname, — EOTS] was one of Moscow’s most influential media figures.

Today, he lives a quiet life in Tel Aviv and has swapped his Russian passport for an Israeli one.

[…]

“The big problem with Russia, and the main reason why I left, is the fact that our value system was destroyed,” he says. “Life in Russia has turned into Russian roulette. Every morning you turn the roulette wheel, you never know what is going to happen to you.” [The game is known as American roulette in Russia, – EOTS.]

[…]

Spooked by Russia’s actions in Ukraine and by the increasingly stringent punishments for anyone deemed critical of the Kremlin, Russians of Jewish descent have been fleeing in droves over the past 18 months.

[…]

The nongovernmental Jewish Agency for Israel has released figures showing a 40-percent surge in immigration to the country between January and March of this year, compared to the same period in 2014.

The study suggests that while the majority of immigrants still come from Western Europe, Russians and Ukrainians are responsible for this increase. The number of Jews migrating from Western Europe has remained largely the same.

[…]

[Zeyev Khanin, an official at Israel’s Immigrant Absorption Ministry] says newcomers from Russia are significantly younger, more educated, and, as a rule, hail from Moscow or St. Petersburg.

“The average education level is on the rise and the number of people with degrees in humanities has increased massively,” he tells RFE/RL. “Today’s repatriates are mostly the creative intelligentsia.”

Mikhail Kaluzhsky [Note the typical Russian surname, — EOTS]  was among the 4,685 Russians who moved to Israel last year.

A journalist and playwright from Moscow, he is typical of the new wave of Russian immigrants described by Khanin.

Kaluzhsky says his decision to leave Russia is “directly linked to politics.”

The overwhelming majority of Soviet Jews left Russia, Ukraine and other “republics” in the late 80’s-early 90’s.  There was an ebb in emigration starting in the late 90’s after the countries emptied out of Jews.  Those remaining were often involved in creative professions — actors, journalists and so on — who would almost certainly not find professional employment abroad.  With the intermarriage rate was up to 75%, this demographic didn’t so much think of themselves as Jews as members of the Russian intelligentsia.  The topic of non-ethnic Russians being on the forefront of Russian cultural life is a rich one.  Suffice it to say that the creator of the first Russian language dictionary Vladimir Ivanovich Dahl was a child of a Dutch father and a French-German mother born in what is now the Lugansk region of Eastern Ukraine. and Alexander Pushkin, long considered Russian national poet, is part black.  After the Bolshevik revolution, when the old intelligentsia left, Jews came out of the Pale and merged into the Russian cultural life.

In the 90’s many Russian nationals, often of mixed ethnic origin, hoped to make Russia into something like a Western capitalist democracy, and they held on to that hope as Putin was consolidating power.  A few years ago they saw the writing on the wall and started packing, a trend noted by this blog in 2011.  The big picture here is that the Russian intelligentsia, some of whom have Jewish roots, is in despair.  I’m glad that the Jews are packing their suitcases because a Russian (or Ukrainian, for that matter) nationalist does not care if a public figure has three Slavic grandparents.  And if he’s married to somebody with a Jewish grandpa — hey! that explains everything, and it will serve as a sufficient explanation for centuries to come.

Well educated Russian-speaking Jews, their descendants and spouses make a wonderful addition to Israeli society.  They are patriotic and industrious; I know quite a few of them.  And may I suggest that the United States, too, make it easier for “Russians” to come to this country.  And may I mention that this cohort tends to vote R?

That being said, I had a conversation about this essay with the Mad Jewess on tweeter in which she insisted that [the media] loves using Jews to make talking points.  What does Radio Liberty know or care about Jews?  A few months ago the outlet featured the cartoon below in their Russian language article:

Meet the Kharkov mayor Gennady Kernes formerly of the pro-Russian Party of Regions

I have to say that while I like the US taxpayer funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty most of the time, their hiring of Ukrainian nationalist editors is suspect.

A feature about the disillusioned Russian intelligentsia addressed to the English-speaking audience sounds like a snoozer, so lets try to get the Jews involved.  But why?  The article does not claim that Russian Jews are fleeing because of rise in anti-Semitism.  I kind of doubt that the agencies in charge of aliyah have anything of value to learn from it.  And may I point out that Jewish agencies are staunchly neutral on the issue of Jews leaving Russia and Ukraine (note that the article briefly notes that aliyah from Ukraine is also up).  Their mandate is to help Jews everywhere, not to take sides in an intra-Slavic dispute.  It’s also worth noting that sometimes Ukrainian Jews fleet to… Russia.

I can tell you anecdotally that anti-Semitism in the east Ukraine is up.  I suspect this is also the case in the historically more bigoted west as well as in Russia. No surprise there — when things go south you know who gets the blame, and there is plenty of anger and uncertainty in both countries.  Perhaps it’s time to leave both countries.

UPDATE 07/14/15: For comparison’s sake: Israel gives us the total of both Russian and Ukrainian Jews coming to this middle east nation (translation mine):

It’s being reported that , что с января по июнь нынешнего года репатриацию совершили 2435 Citizens of Russian Federation and 2938 Ukrainian citizens repatriated between January and June this year.  Note that the number of Russians repatriating grew by 51% compare to the same period last year, at the time that aliyah from Ukraine grew 82%.

No word on Belorussian repatriants who might just be a good control group.

July 8, 2015

That Will Show Them!

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:02 am

Since the Supreme Court so helpfully re-wrote Obamacare for the nation, our side had been scrambling to figure out what to do.  U.S. Representative Brian Babin (R) proposed a bill enrolling SCOTUS in the program so that they “see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with”.  A more likely outcome is that we will find out why we were right all along. No, scratch that, we will not find out what they do to get their healthcare; we will not be privy to such information.

For starters, wealthy people like the justices can always fly to Switzerland and pay for treatment upfront.  And sure, we can require them to get their medical services through exchanges only, but such restriction can, of course, turn out to be unconstitutional.  (Are they? I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer!) Are we going to prevent these illustrious men from traveling abroad? What is it, the Soviet Union?  Not to mention that they themselves are the final authority on the subject of constitutionality.

Speaking of the Soviet Union.  I should know, I grew up there, a granddaughter of a doctor.  My grandfather managed to make a nice living for our family running a private practice out of our apartment.  Although technically all medical and dental services were technically free of charge, considering the sensitive nature of the trade, medical professionals were in a position to ask clients for compensation.  They weren’t alone operating on the immense Soviet black market, but the trade was so lucrative that in the last decades of the Soviet Union, entrance into the technically free of charge medical schools was secured by hefty bribes.

Med school graduates weren’t necessarily the best people to cure patients, and finding a good doctor was an especially difficult task.  We were fortunate to know some old school doctors through my grandfather, and we used his network up until we left the country, at which point they were all dying off anyway.  That was us, the relatively well-connected but in other respects very average people.

The elites, as it was known, could use the best hospitals in the country, and if they needed to, could go abroad.  Similarly, Fidel Castro doesn’t have to go to the fabulous free of charge Cuban doctors; when he got sick, he went to the German ones.  Even if forced to use Obamacare, the SCOTUS justices and their peons will be able to navigate it to get the services us plebs can never dream of.  That’s why the Tea Party so opposed Obamacare to begin with.

The real problem with Babin’s proposal is that it’s reactive, revanchist and backward looking; tactics, not strategy.  Their side is annihilating the English language and allowing non-citizens to vote and we… what do we do?  Eliminating taxes on medical devices and enrolling Supreme Court Justices in a silly government program.

July 6, 2015

Gay Marriage As Foreign Policy Weapon

Filed under: politics, Ukraine — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 6:10 pm

When in November 2013 I first started following the events in Ukraine, I noticed that Maidan supporters were reassuring their reluctant countrymen that no, Eurointegration doesn’t equal gayification.  “Look at Georgia,” they said. “They broke off with Moscow, but when local homosexuals tried to stage a Pride Parade in Tbilisi, it was attacked by vigilante patriots”.  They were referring to the failed Pride attempt in Georgia’s capitol earlier that year.

A few months later President Yanukovich fled to Russia and a new government was established.  That government, lauded in English-language media as “pro-Western”, is ostensibly eager to establish Ukraine’s European credentials.  What better way to do it than to show tolerance towards sexual minorities?

Unfortunately for the new Ukrainian leadership, they are ruling a country where attitudes towards gays are not very different from Russia’s.  My readers recall that a few years ago the latter caught a lot of grief, deservingly, for it’s anti-gay anti-free speech laws.  Putin became quite a bogeyman for both the Left and the Right, and in 2014 The Advocate even made him villain of the year.  Not sure why, because, as heinous as the new Russian laws are, they are no match for sharia-sanctioned homophobia.

Can we please go easy on Hitler comparisons?

So, naturally, when the Kiev protests made headlines, the Right sided with the protesters because of Putin’s authoritarian expansion, and the Left sided with the protesters because of Russia’s homophobic sentiment.  Lets set aside the small issue of Ukraine’s own history of totalitarianism and look at homophobia.

In June 2013 the country’s first LGBT “Equality March” ended without an incident, but last year’s Pride was canceled out of security considerations. When in October 2014 promoters attempted to show a gay-themed film in Ukrainian capital, the theater, oldest in the city, was set on fire.  Perpetrators were never found, but homophobes are naturally suspect.

This year Kiev decided to hold the LGBT parade, albeit to make things interesting Ukrainian military command announced that draft papers will be served to participants during the march. (See my previous post on draft dodging in Ukraine). Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of “far right” Right Sektor, the group instrumental in bringing down Yanukovich little more than a year ago, threatened to call up troupes from Azov Battalion stationed in east Ukraine to prevent Pride Parade from happening. If one has any questions about the nature of that military organization, take a look at one of their pictures below. The flag in the middle reads Azov in Cyrillic. Can’t say I like them holding that NATO flag.

Which Azov Battalion? Why, this one!

The LGBT march did take place June 6 in a Kiev suburb, a location held in secret until the very start, and it lasted about a half an hour.  300 modestly dressed participants marched 500 meters before being stopped by police when dozens of the Right Sektor men hurled petards.  Skirmishes between the Right Sector and residents of the neighborhood also took place.  Several policemen were wounded (out of hundreds deployed) and tens of people were arrested.  It should be noted that the Kiev police chief is also a Nazi.

Since Ukraine did get the pictures of rainbow flags in Western media outlets, the march can be considered a success.

This brings us to gay flags being flown by US embassies and John Kerry making LGBTBBQ issues a US foreign policy priority.  Ukraine today is a moribund state kept together by IMF loans co-signed by the United States, but all they could produce for our viewing pleasure is 30 minutes of a gay pride.  Can’t say I’m impressed.

I am very much in favor of gay marriage for ISIS; in fact, I think we should force them to adopt it.  Unfortunately, the only places where we have leverage with this issue are the ones who depend on us, and ISIS doesn’t.  As for the basketcase called Ukraine, it should really have other priorities.

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