Bronshtein wrote:I think what pisses me off most about 'oligarchs' is that they are 'Oligarchs!' when Russian and 'Entrepreneurs' when British or American or Arabic or European. They are all crooks moving dodgy money around and while most Entrepreneurs don't kill competitors with guns, knives, explosives or chemicals, they bankrupt and destroy the lives of millions just the same.
Because they are all jews.
I wonder how many other Jews are harbouring feelings of embarrassment over the fact that so many Russian oligarchs are Jews.
In a very lengthy piece in Haaretz, written by Shuki Sadeh, one learns a great many details about these Jewish oligarchs: who they are, how they amassed their fortunes, the extent to which they are tied to Putin, and – what might be the most significant point – how many have now fled to Israel.
A few years back I had the opportunity to read a book titled “The Rise of the Oligarchs”. That book focused on two oligarchs in particular: Boris Berezovsky (sometimes spelled Berezhovsky) and Roman Abramovich.
Their stories, as it was with so many of the other oligarchs, were quite remarkable. Berezovsky was a brilliant mathematician who saw the opportunities awaiting him with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In time he befriended Abramovich, who did not have the academic pedigree that Berezovsky had, but who had a clear idea how to seize opportunities and form alliances, including with Vladomir Putin.
Again, the notion that a certain number of Jews were able to take advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union is one of the great ironies of history, given how much Jews were oppressed within the Soviet Union.
But, as one can learn from reading Shuki Sadeh’s brilliant analysis of the deep ties that many Jewish oligarchs have formed with Israeli businessmen and politicians, the fact that Israel has become a refuge for so many men who are on the top of Western lists of individuals who are now sanctioned should be a source of great embarrassment for many Israelis – and Jews around the world.
The notion that Israel, of all places, is becoming home to many of the same individuals who are accused of being complicit in having enabled Putin to turn into the most ruthless and savage autocrat alive today, is likely to create huge problems for Israel as one Western nation after another seeks to confiscate the wealth amassed by the oligarchs.
When I read that the trustees of Yad Vashem lobbied to have Roman Abramovich removed from the list of sanctioned oligarchs because he has donated so much money to Yad Vashem, I was embarrassed.
The idea that so many Jewish oligarchs have been strong supporters of Jewish charities and institutions is nothing to be proud of. Their wealth was essentially achieved on the backs of the Russian people following the collapse of the Soviet Union when resources were pillaged by vicious individuals who saw the opportunities awaiting them and employed often ruthless methods to hive off the vast resources of the former Soviet Union.
That so many of them have now forged strong ties with Israel – and have used their power and money to solidify themselves within Israel reminds me of nothing less than the late mobster Meyer Lansky’s attempt to find refuge in Israel when he was facing criminal charges in the US for tax evasion. Unluckily for Lansky, he ran up against a principled Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice in Abraham Burg who, along with the other members of the court, ruled that Lansky could not be approved for Israeli citizenship – though under the Law of Return, any Jew has the right to move to Israel.
Speaking of the Law of Return, Israel also faces a quandary when it comes to approving the entry of what may be as many as 125,000 Ukrainian refugees, of whom perhaps 100,000 might be Jews. (For more on this you can read Myron Love’s analysis of what lies ahead for Israel in welcoming Ukrainian refugees on page 9 of this issue.)