European Jews will not take up Vladimir Putin’s recent offer to take “refuge” in Russia, even though the Russian Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are Jews, Mikhail Skoblionok, a leading member of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress has said.
Writing in the Tatar news website Realnoe Vremya, Skoblionok, (here in Russian, and here in English) who also is president of the Jewish National and Cultural Autonomy of Tatarstan, said that “a Jew of sound judgment won’t go to Russia.”
Putin made the offer last month in a meeting with members of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) that took place in the Kremlin. Moshe Vyacheslav Kantor, EJC president, complained to Putin about the rising anti-Semitism across Europe and the growing number of attacks against Jews.
Putin replied: “Let [the Jews] come to us then,” adding that “during the Soviet period they were leaving the country, and now they should return.”
Skoblionok, who represents the 10,000 Jews in the Republic of Tatarstan, a federal state of the Russian Federation in the Volga Federal District, expressed his doubt that Jews would take up Putin’s suggestion.
“To start with, I will describe the situation in Israel,” Skoblionok said.
“There is a tendency there: French Jews have been buying up apartments in Israel for the last five years. There are houses but the light is off. I am asking, ‘Why is the light off? Are these apartments empty?’
“People say that French Jews bought up these apartments and keep them in store. They are afraid that France will become a merely Muslim state so have prepared reserve flats,” he wrote, indicating that Jews were preparing to leave France in large numbers in the case of an emergency.
“My friends, who go to France, note that the Arab people are crowded into the country. Arabs will soon account for 80 percent of the population, like our Far East is populated by Chinese people,” he continued, in this case referring to the colonization of the far eastern regions of Russia.
“The population of ethnic French people is reducing in number; they are not reproducing, unlike the Arabs. The Muslims have large families there—sometimes a family has fifteen children,” Skoblionok pointed out.
“France lacks space, and Jews go to other countries where there is work and an opportunity to make money. The number of attacks based on national and religious beliefs is increasing in Europe. There is hysteria among the Arabs too. Europe fears a pogrom against Jews, and this feeling is strongly noticed in France,” he said.
Skoblionok then went on to discuss Putin’s proposal: “Vladimir Putin always knows what to do and say. But a Jew of sound judgement won’t go to Russia,” he said.
“I will explain why. Our country is at the height of an economic crisis. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor which does not exist in many other countries. The rich buy villas, hotels, and yachts abroad, while the poor simply have nothing to eat. A revolution may yet come about here,” he said—ignoring the fact that he is one of the “rich” himself, having become the oligarch head of the natural gas exploration and petroleum production company TAkPO CJSC in 1987—and then buying it when privatization came after the fall of Communism.
“The Jews all over the world know and have assessed this situation. This is why I don’t think that there will be a mad rush of Jews from the whole world to Russia.”
However, he then said that that there was no danger to Jews in Russia.
Under the heading “Country headed by Jews,” Skoblionok said that “in Russia, the attitude of both ordinary citizens and the government to the Jews is good.
“In addition, there are large numbers of Jews in the Russian government. [Prime Minister Dmitry] Medvedev has Jewish roots. [Deputy Prime Minister Arkady] Dvorkovich is Jewish. What attitude will they have to themselves?” he rhetorically asked.
Even so, he went on, in his own region of Tatarstan, “the situation is different. The regional government has no Jews [in it].”
He told of how a local synagogue had failed to be given land next to its building, even though they had won the rights to it in court.
This piece of land, he lamented, “will be up for auction. And we were told ‘go and buy it’ [instead of getting it for nothing].”
“What Jew will come here?” he concluded.