Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The poison in the Kremlin

    The disturbing recrudescence of antisemitism in Europe is not only connected with Gaza and the tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last year, I interviewed on stage Anne Applebaum, the historian, about her book, Iron Curtain. It's a magnificent account of the postwar subjugation of Eastern Europe by Soviet communism, an ideology in which antisemitism played a role.

    The ailing Stalin was convinced there was a "doctors' plot" (code for a Jewish plot) to kill him. Had he not died in 1953, a further murderous purge might have been launched.

    I had no conception, when Anne and I were talking, that less than 18 months later the current rulers in the Kremlin would launch aggression against a neighbouring state. But they have done, and Jews have a compelling, pragmatic interest as well as a concern for justice in what's happening in Ukraine.

    There is no sign that Vladimir Putin is himself prejudiced against Jews. Yet his supporters include some of the darkest forces across Europe. It's little wonder that an editorial in Pravda after the European elections in May approvingly cited a comment by Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front (FN) in France, that she and Putin shared "common values".

    Russia has cemented its links with the FN, the far-right Freedom Party in the Netherlands, and neo-Nazi groups in Hungary, Greece and Bulgaria.

    Putin's supporters include some of the darkest forces across Europe

    Meanwhile, the Kremlin has lied on the international stage. Though the far right polled only two per cent of the vote in Ukraine's presidential election, the country's government is routinely castigated by Putin and his allies as neo-Nazi. It's an Orwellian tactic. The Russian invasion is simultaneously denied and depicted as defensive. The principle of linguistic homogeneity is invented to "justify" Russian annexation of Crimea, which is like saying Westminster has a justified claim to Massachusetts because most of its inhabitants speak English. The greatest doublethink of all, echoing the language of the Soviet era, is to present Russia's territorial aggrandisement as a blow against fascism.

    A few months ago, I wrote in the JC about RT (formerly Russia Today), the English-language arm of Russian state broadcasting. It's a crude and often risible propaganda outlet for Putin's regime. Its "expert" interviewees include Holocaust deniers, 9/11 Truthers, UFO buffs, anti-Bilderberg conspiracy theorists and sundry other fantasists, failures, malcontents and monomaniacs. The channel is praised for its "commitment to truth and balance" - by the British National Party. On being invited to appear on RT to discuss the European economy, I unhesitatingly declined.

    RT sounds and is amateurish. Yet, as with Iran's English-language Press TV, the bizarre and insanitary ideas that RT espouses are a faithful reflection of a state ideology. Timothy Snyder, the Yale historian, has written penetratingly that Putin wants Ukraine to be part of a mooted Eurasian Union, whose ideals will be very different from European standards of justice and democracy. The Eurasian scheme, espoused in the writings of the Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, looks to highly unsavoury precedents. Snyder says: "Dugin's major work, The Foundations of Geopolitics, published in 1997, follows closely the ideas of Carl Schmitt, the leading Nazi political theorist."

    Such ideas have gained ground under Putin and are recognisable in the regime's aggressive strategies. It's ominous. And we know, with a certainty born of historical awareness, who the supposedly alien influences are that this ideology threatens.

Blogs

Pesach breakfast ideas

The Fresser

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pesach breakfast ideas
Uk News

UCL publishes investigation into UCLU event

Daniel Sugarman

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

UCL publishes investigation into UCLU event
Comment

Breaking out of the bubble in India

Eli Baigel

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Breaking out of the bubble in India
Blogs

Fressing at the launch of Emma Spitzer's book, ...

The Fresser

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fressing at the launch of Emma Spitzer's book, ...
Leaders

The JC leader: On Corbyn, and on Arkush

The JC Leader

Friday, January 20, 2017

The JC leader: On Corbyn, and on Arkush
Comment

10 resolutions for anxious liberals

Edie Friedman

Friday, December 30, 2016

10 resolutions for anxious liberals
World

Jewish groups angered at Trump HMD message

Daniel Sugarman

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jewish groups angered at Trump HMD message
Education features

Allegations of anti-Semitism Oxford University Labour Club

Baroness Jan Royall

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Allegations of anti-Semitism Oxford University Labour Club
Comment

Year in review: USA 2016

Jonathan Cummings

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Year in review: USA 2016