18 May 2007

From Russia with mixed feelings - part I

The yearly happening in Tel-Aviv that is running for eight years is named "From Russia With Love". It is quite a serious bash, gathering more than two hundred thousand people, usually attended by local dignitaries, and leading Russian performers take part in it.

The timing of the concert is intentionally close to the celebrations of the victory day in Russia, a few days after Russians celebrate the victory in the WW II. Israel in general does not forget who made the main contribution to the Nazis defeat and are grateful to the Russian (and other) nation that sacrificed millions of its sons and daughters for the victory.

This is only a small part of the crowd, and while the ex-Soviet/Russian immigrants are prevalent, more and more Israeli-born sabras and immigrants from other places take part in the happening.

Somewhat to the northeast of the Ayarkon park in Tel Aviv where this bash happens, in the streets of Moscow, another kind of people are celebrating the same victory. This time it is Russian ultra-nationalists who have infused a good deal of religious and xenophobic sentiment into the celebrations of the victory day. Several nationalist parties (in other circumstances its members will cut each other throats cheerfully) have touchingly united their ranks for this rare occasion. You can see the colorful crowd:

Well, one can say, why not? Surely Russians deserve to be proud and happy on this memorable date? And why not let the Cossacks be Cossacks?

What harm is there in these centuries old traditional, if a bit ridiculous these days, uniforms, proudly displayed by the old-timers? None, surely.

But then the festivities turn funky:

"Russia for Russians" says the placard in the picture above. And it is just an appetizer...

This one is more to the point: "Jewish fascism - there is nothing more frightening today!". Why some existing or non-existing Jewish fascism should frighten a citizen of the mighty Russian empire, remains unknown. And the next one does not make the issue clearer:

"Jewish question today is a question of fame or infamy for Russia, a question of life and death for the Russian people", it says. What exactly is that "Jewish question" and how did it become so vital for the Russia and Russian people, especially after most of the Jews have left the area, remains to be explained. But probably wouldn't be...

Continued in the next post.