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The Russians came, the Russians stayed: A response to Uri Avnery

In a recent article, seasoned veteran of the Zionist Left Uri Avnery claimed that the influx of Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel, living in self-imposed ghettos, is what pushed the country to the right politically. Lia Tarachansky counters that the Russian-speaking community never ‘mingled’ with other Israelis because it was never invited to do so, and that Avnery is ignoring the many contributions the immigrants made to the country.

By Lia Tarachansky

The author’s sister in a school classroom prior to their immigration to Israel (Courtesy: Lia Tarachansky)

I was born in Kiev into a shifting, uncertain reality. While I was only learning to read, my parents split, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor blew up and the Soviet Union collapsed. I was too young to understand what was happening when we evacuated the city and prepared for what would turn into years of economic devastation.

One night my mother woke my sister and I and told us to pack only what we absolutely couldn’t live without because we were moving to Israel. She told us Tel Aviv was lined with promenades where banana-eating monkeys sit in palm trees and that there we will no longer be “The Jews” because in Israel, everyone is Jewish.

In typical Soviet paranoia we weren’t allowed to tell anyone we were leaving. When we finally made it to the Romanian border after days on the train, we were stripped of our citizenship and promised we will never set foot again in the land where my parents and grandparents were born. My mother didn’t care. To this day she remains a dedicated Zionist even after learning that monkeys don’t sit in palm trees, that not only Jews live in Israel, and that indeed we are not all free.

I went from being the only Jew in my Soviet kindergarten to being the only Russian in my Israeli elementary school. My mother went from being a computer engineer to changing diapers in a retirement home. In the Soviet Union we were hated because of our “piatii punkt” or “fifth clause” after the first and last name, date and place of birth; our nationality clause would read “Jew” on our identity documents. This is why the cynicism that dominates our community in Israel is so strong. We went from the façade of “equality for all comrades” to the façade of “equality for all Jews.”

Months later the rest of the Soviet immigration came, changing the demography of Israel just as it was coming out of the First Intifada. Once again, we were in the middle of uncertainty, discovering the Palestinians through the stories of our Israeli colleagues, bus drivers, and school teachers.

In his latest column, entitled “The Russians Came”, former Israeli Knesset member, renowned activist, and globally syndicated writer Uri Avnery wrote about our immigration. Despite often disagreeing with him, I read his columns regularly because he writes about interesting historical anecdotes picked up from being involved in the Israeli Left for 65 years. My criticism is the same as Tikva Honig-Parnass’s – that while he calls himself “post-Zionist,” Avnery represents the Israeli Left, which for the most part refuses to reject Jewish supremacy, Israeli colonialism, and draws the red line only at 1967, ignoring the entire ethnocratic ideology on which Israel was built in 1948. I’ve kept my criticisms to myself because Left sectarian politics and identity issues don’t interest me, but then I read Avnery’s latest column and my jaw dropped.

He complains that unlike previous waves of Jewish immigration to Israel, the Soviet immigrants “have not mingled at all.” That we remain “a separate community, living in a self-made ghetto.”

I don’t need to tell this publication’s readers that Israel is not kind to “the Other.” Like all our non-Ashkenazi predecessors, the Soviet immigrants couldn’t find professional work, faced discrimination on the street and were constantly harassed for not speaking the language well enough. We were stereotyped into gangsters, fascists, prostitutes, and street-cleaning PhDs. We were pressured to leave our culture and language behind to fit into the dominant “Israeliness” as many in my generation chose to do.

There was nothing self-made about our isolation. Most of the Russian-speaking community hasn’t mingled with other Israelis because it was never invited to do so. It was dumped with no government programs and no investment, to fend for itself in what in 1991 was a struggling economy emerging out of conflict. Even during the so-called “Israeli Summer” in 2011, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets, the handful of us who came out to demonstrate week after week were received with either tokenism or suspicion.

Avnery complains that we “continue to speak Russian,” and read our own Russian newspapers, “all of them rabidly nationalist and racist,” which is why, he claims, we all vote for Israel Beiteinu. Watching Channel 9, the Russian-language Israeli TV station, I agree that it is indeed abhorrent, but it is so because it emerged from a state with no history of independent media into a state with a complacent, nationalistic, and war-mongering media.

What enraged me was not only that Avnery doesn’t talk about the contribution the Soviet immigration made to the boom in the high-tech industry on which Israel now depends, about how we revolutionized theater and cinema, or how we, like my family, were encouraged to move to the settlements in the West Bank while the ink on the Oslo agreements hadn’t even dried.

What enraged me was his accusation that it was the Soviet immigration which turned Israel to the right. He comes to this insane conclusion that “the Arabs and many of the Ashkenazim [Western European Jews] belong to the peace camp, all the others are solidly right-wing.”

We had come out of Soviet anti-Semitism into a country in conflict, where we were told that the violence we were seeing was driven by rabid Jew-hatred. It is no wonder that we transferred much of our fear and distrust of Soviet anti-Semitism to the Palestinians. Now, more than 20 years later, Israelis are witnessing the result.

We didn’t make Israel a colonial state. Like every wave of immigration before us, we did our best to fit into it. Avnery portrays the Ashkenazim as the peace-seekers, but it was the European colonial mentality that started and perpetuates this mess. Some settlers are violent but what they are doing in the West Bank doesn’t come close to what Avnery and the Ashkenazim did to the Palestinians in 1948 when more than 500 villages were demolished and two-thirds of the population was kicked out.

Overbearing dominant nationalism creates overbearing nationalistic citizens. I will therefore conclude with Tikva Honig-Parnass’ words. She, like Avnery, fought in the 1948 war and took part in the mass dispossession of the Palestinians. “There was never an actual schism between Left and Right about the central premises of Zionism. The only difference… was in the sequence of the stages that the project of an exclusivist Jewish state in the entire area of historical Palestine had to take in order to achieve its aims.”

Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Canadian filmmaker and journalist. Her work has appeared on The Real News Network, Al Jazeera, USA Today, and The Huffington Post. Tarachansky’s upcoming documentary, Seven Deadly Myths, profiles Israeli denial of the events of 1948 and the roots of the modern conflict. The trailer and details on how to support it are available online at www.sevendeadlymyths.com.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      It is like a conversation between two crazy people in here. You both accept as fact things that have no basis in reality. What are you doing trying to argue why ‘Russians’ didn’t mingle with other Israelis when the whole underlying basis of this argument is completely bogus? The ‘Russians’ are as well integrated into Israeli society as should be expected from people who have been in the country for 20 years or so. The children of the olim are Israeli in every way. Those that came as children or teens are barely distinguishable from other Israelis. Those that are a bit older live in both worlds. The old people, like immigrants everywhere, are left behind in the cultural ghettos that modern telecommunications make possible.

      What Avnery is upset is that, as usual, his view of the world has been proven naive and wrong. He thought he was getting a million communists and instead he got people who realized that the whole bases of communism and socialism are flawed and this turned them largely into conservative capitalists. He thought he was getting a million people who would revel in post-nationalism and got a million people seeking their roots and a strong sense of belonging.

      The whole left-wing screech about the ‘Russians’ not being integrated is just code that Ashkenazi left-wing racist snobs use to cry out in disbelief that these white people don’t agree with the way they see the world.

      Reply to Comment
      • Oriol2

        Perhaps you are right to some extent, but I don’t believe Avnery had any desire to get “a million communists”. Avnery might be a “leftist” in Israeli parlance -i.e. a pacifist-, but for sure he is not a Communist, and he has manifested several times his dislike for Communist regimes.

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        • JerusalemS

          Uri Avnery is among the founders of Hadash, literally a communist party, founded by the Soviet Union backed communists (rakach – not the ones that were independent IE maki). The debunked system of horrors that he has supported for decades has kept that million of Russian jews discriminated, opressed, and jailed in a country that despised them.
          To act surprised that they didn’t embrace the left which made their family’s lives a living hell shows just how disconnected Avnery is from reality.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn

            I don’t think that the first part of your comment is true. AFAIK Avnery’s party didn’t join Hadash. He was on the extreme left which embraced many of the underlying ideas promulgated by the Soviet Union but I don’t think he got his marching orders from there.

            I agree with the rest of your comment.

            Reply to Comment
          • Oriol2

            If I am not wrong -I could be, because I am not an expert in Israeli history anyway-, Avnery was one of the founders of a small party called Haolam Hazeh – Koah Hadash, unrelated to Hadash, despite its name. If I am wrong, please someone correct me.
            Anyway Avnery has shown himself repeteadly as an anti-Communist in several of his articles during the last years. At least now he looks rather Center-Left, or simply Center -I am talking about his general ideas about society, politics and economy, not about his opinions about the Arab-Israeli conflict-. Regarding the conflict he is actually a two-stater and opposes the Right of Return for Palestinians, so I suppose he is -at least from an Israeli point of view- rather moderate. His main difference with, say, Amos Oz is that Avnery is convinced that the collapse of the Oslo Process was entirely Israel’s fault.

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          • Kolumn9

            Avnery belongs to an elitist and arrogant group that sees itself as a white European enlightened force for progress with the rest of us (that is those that disagree with them) relegated to the role of being the enemies of peace, human rights, the welfare state, kittens, puppies, babies or whatever other rhetorical stick this annoying group wants to beat us with. He basically has the white man’s burden approach to the world. This is not the ideology of the center. It is the ideology of the racist European left from the early 20th century.

            On the conflict he supports the two state solution because he sees Arabs as backwards savages that would undermine his group’s ability to turn the country into a progressive nirvana. Avnery is an unrepentant racist and, like many other leftists, he is not called out upon it only because his underlying views are left-wing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Charles

            You really have no idea. Suggesting that Avnery helped found Hadash made me laugh out loud.
            Thanks for making it clear you are clueless about Israeli politics!

            Reply to Comment
    2. tod

      Although the author has interesting arguments, it is plain clear to every person that has had contact with a huge majority of Russian Israelis that they live in little ‘bubbles’ and that, most of all, are fanatic and racist toward Palestinians. They fear Palestinians because they know that they, contrary to them, are from this land.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        This is just boring in how cliche it is. Those that disagree with you and have a different background live in ‘bubbles’. Those that disagree with you and are religious are fanatics. Those that disagree with you and are not religious are racists (the usual fallback).

        Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        I don’t know what “Russians” you were in contact with but I think your claim is baseless.

        What “Russians” really have is a sense of national pride. A sense that enemies should be crushed until they no longer wish to be enemies and ask for peace, instead of begging them to sign some treaty. An appreciation of the freedom and liberty Israel provides, as opposed to what they got in the Soviet Union and what the Israeli left is trying to make Israel look like. An understanding that the Zionist cause is just and not something to apologize for.

        This is often misinterpreted as Racism. In some circles, any attitude towards the Arabs that is not apologetic is automatically labelled racist. Don’t get me wrong, we have enough racists, just as any other group in the population. But there is nothing Racist in my desire to take harsh measures against Terrorists, there is nothing racist in my lack of willingness to apologize for being here.

        I have voted for Habait Hayehudy, my parents voted Likud Beiteinu, my wife’s parents voted for Kadima, I have a cousin that only votes for Merez, I have “Russian” co-workers that voted for Yesh Atid.

        Given that “Russians” (like other secular Jewish Israelis) will not vote for Communist (Hadash and Avoda to a certain degree), Arab nationalistic or Haredim parties – I think their vote looks rather like what the parties got from other groups in the population.

        I don’t know what bubbles you’re talking about (except of course the elderly). I have several “Russian” friends with non-Russian wives \ husbands, I speak more Hebrew than Russian, The Russian speaking TV channel and newspapers are only watched by elder people and we have integrated so much better than other groups in Israel – that I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Regarding your last claim. I think it is just as baseless. I haven’t met anyone who thinks that way (even the cousin that votes for Merez). Most of the Arabs are immigrants as well, only they came here less than 100 years before me. They are “from this land” just as I am. There are of course Arab families who have lived here for centuries, but so there are such Jewish families and none of this makes any difference.

        Reply to Comment
        • Philos

          Lulz, the Arabs “only … came here less than 100 years before me”
          .
          Very droll. Very entertaining. I love how rightists cling to this even though this claim has been debunked to ridicule. Even the genetic history of the Palestinians is undermining the whole Zionist edifice. Lo and behold, a great many of them are descendants of ancient Hebrews or Samaritans or Idumeans etc, etc.
          .
          Vadim, you know why they draft so many Russians to Magav? ;)

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          • carl

            Your sources are impressive. You should explain this to Al-Din al Ramli (yes, he was from Ramla, not from NY), that in the 17th century wrote “Filastin Biladuna” (Palestine our land). Ignorance is not the solution. And, unfortunately, you are ignorant.

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          • Leen

            British Mandate primary sources say otherwise where apparently immigration to the British Mandate was less than 5%.

            So I guess I should trust the Hamas Spokesperson than Historical British Mandate census?

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        • tod

          Probably you are too much into it and you are not able to understand the level of fanaticism that most of Russian Israelis show toward Palestinians. For a person that voted for Habait Hayehudy I could not expect something different.

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          • Vadim

            Philos – the history of this region is quite complex, there are very few topics that were “debunked to ridicule”. I do not believe this is one of them.

            Various genetic tests were done on Jews as well. They make no difference and prove no point. I do not base my “claim” for a part of this land on Genetics and neither do the Arabs.

            I did not wish to go into this kind of an argument, I just wanted to point out that the Tod’s idea is baseless. There is no fear of their claim,.

            I do not know how many russians are drafted into Magav. I don’t have any friends who served. I can think of several reasons, but I’m sure you will be glad to enlighten me.

            Tod – I’m not “into it” any more than you are. I do not know what your expectations from someone who voted for Habait Hayehudi are, though I think I can guess. Please allow me share something with you – I am no more racist than you are, no less tolerant to other opinions, no less liberal and probably no less educated. I just have different opinions. They do not stem from Racism, I do not think Arabs are inferior or deserve anything less than I deserve. I just acknowledge the fact that some of them are currently my enemies in this conflict and disagree with you on the way enemies should be treated.

            I know far more Russians than you do, for far more time. And I’m telling you – you are wrong in your interpretation, and far worse – you generalize and simplify opinions you don’t agree with into buzz words. To Philos – I’m just a rightist. To you – just some Russian racist who has voted for a fascist party. How liberal of you guys.

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          • Philos

            No, you’re just a rightist and racist. Being Russian has nothing to do with it. The Russian aliya was one of the best things to happen to Israel even if most Israelis spat on them, and my best friends are Russians. Sadly, where I am from in Israel intellectualism is frowned upon and I was delighted as a kid when other kids emerged that liked reading books too.
            .
            Russians are recruited for two main reasons into the magav. 1) the magav recruits from the lowest socio-economic deciles in Israeli society and unfortunately many children of Russian immigrants fall into this category along with Ethiopians and Mizrachim. (2), the Palestinians hatred and fear of Russians is visceral. I also think it is mutual in the case of Russian magavnikim

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          • Vadim

            “No, you’re just a rightist and racist”.

            Assuming that those who disagree with you are racists, fascists, fanatics and ignorant fools is no better than assuming those who don’t disagree with you are just traitors, deluded intellectuals and communists.

            The word Racist has a meaning, which I believe is totally inappropriate for me. I think you wouldn’t recognize a true racist even if he would carry a neon sign saying “RACIST”.

            Out of interest – are there proportionality more Russians in Magav than in other units? I don’t have any information on that and I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a Russian Magavnik.

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          • Vadim

            An extra “don’t” added by mistake, Obviously wanted to say:

            Assuming that those who disagree with you are racists, fascists, fanatics and ignorant fools is no better than assuming those who disagree with you are just traitors, deluded intellectuals and communists.

            Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            Claiming that the Palestinians have only been here less than a hundred years is a pretty patently racist thing to say.
            .
            And since it’s been now just over 10-years since I was last with the magav (wow, I’m getting old :) ) when I was with them in 2001/2 there was a disproportionate amount of Russians there than in other units. Just like in my actual unit, I was seconded to the magav to beef up their numbers before Operation Defensive Shield, the Russians were mostly distributed to the menial tasks like drivers, maintenance, and storage. Although it was thanks to these Russians that I had my first taste of what Zionism is really about. I remember chatting with a Ukranian guy with us for his milium and he told me he wants to go to America. I was baffled. I said, “Why? You have everything in Israel.” He got very angry and pulled out his blue ID card and shouted at me, “What does it say next to religion?” – I read his ID and said, “Russian.” And he said, “Yes, Russian, apparently being Russian is a religion in this fucking country. So fuck you. I will go to America.”
            .
            I never saw him again but that exchange along with seeing the brutality of the magav first hand totally altered my worldview. That’s when I realized I had been brainwashed my whole life. That’s when I realized there was no such thing as a “Jewish people” and if this is an “Israeli people” it is accidental.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            This is exactly what I was talking about.

            Here is one definition of Racism – Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior or superior.

            How the hell does my interpretation of historical events (a large increase in Arab emigration in the 1920s to the Land of Israel) make me a Racist? There was NOTHING racist in what I said. It’s just a word you use, like Fascism or Apartheid.

            I know the problem the guy spoke about. I know people who suffer from the same problem. It’s wrong and needs to be fixed. This is one of many of Israel’s faults. It does not however diminish the justness of Zionism.

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          • Gearoid

            There was no increase. That has been thoroughly debunked by professional historians. I don’t care what racist psuedo-scholars you’ve read, REAL historians have poked holes in it.

            That claim always goes back to that trashy book “From Time Immemorial” which a simple google search will show you is defended only by far-right nationalists and racists.

            Reply to Comment
          • rose

            “I just have different opinions”. No Vadim/Vicky, when you write that “most of the Arabs are immigrants as well, only they came here less than 100 years before me” you simply prove to ignorant, racist and that you live in a “russian bubble”.
            Justin McCarthy, an acknowledged expert on the issue, indicated the number of residents in Palestine in 1860 as 411,000, the overwhelming majority of which (around 90 percent) Arabs. They were in big part from this land. True, a little minority came from other part of this region (like happened everywhere in the world): also them were part of this world. They were not new immigrants from Russia or other continents. You have the right to live wherever you want, but stop writing “Russian shtuiot”.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            This is pointless. You can hardly write a sentence without using the word Racist. It’s like you have an urge you cannot control to insult and label. It’s so easy to call me a Racist, someone who “lives in a Russian bubble”, someone who writes “Russian Shtuyot”. Provided I mostly speak Hebrew, only rarely read books in Russian, don’t read\watch\hear Russian media and been in Israel for the better part of my life – only god knows what Russian bubble you’re talking about. I didn’t even hear the term “Russian Shtuyot” up until now. Probably because I live in a Russian bubble. Or maybe the term just exists in whatever bubble you live in?

            Please take a moment and reflect on this – what do you think is more Racist? Providing a claim about demographics or calling someone else’s words “Russian Shtuyot”? If a new conclusive paper will come out that will prove me wrong and I will change my mind (which is entirely possible, as I have changed my mind on other related topics), will I be any less Racist? Racism has NOTHING to do with this and your claim is far more “Racist” than my ever was.

            Besides quoting this “acknowledged” (by whom?) Historian. How many books have YOU read on the subject? 10? 50? 100? Quoting someone “acknowledged” who by pure chance agrees with you does not make you a scholar on the subject, nor does it make me ignorant in comparison. Try reading books of authors you don’t agree with, it’s far more interesting. Just as I have read Benny Morris, Tom Segev and Avi Shlaim. They were very enlightening.

            By the way – what’s with the Vadim/Vicky thing?

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Since there seems to be a lot of contention surrounding the issue, I thought about throwing some facts around.
            According to the Anglo-American inquiry commission based on British Mandate population census, in 1944, the population of Muslim Palestinians in British Mandate Palestine were 1,061,000. Of these, only 19,000 thousands were immigrants. If you calculate it, that constitutes 1.7% of the Muslim Population. If you add the ‘illegal’ immigrants (about 4,000), that boosts the number to, 23 000, which still constitues less than 3% of the population. Now Christian Palestinians were considered even lower because the population growth actually fell in 1944.
            In fact most historians attributed the natural increase of the population of Mandate Palestine as one of the most striking features of British colonialism in the Middle East and palestinian social history. In contrast, the report has found that immigration accounts for 3/4 of the Jewish population in British Mandate.

            More info here
            http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/angch04.asp

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            This is a complex issue and we can find evidence to support this or that claim. I’m not a historian and don’t really know how to treat the report. I don’t know how the team that made the report has worked. What did they base their immigration statistics on? Upon which definitions? How politically motivated were they?

            I’m not saying the numbers are wrong – just that I think it’s only a part of the picture and that we don’t have enough concrete information to really know.

            I may be wrong, but I think the amount of Arab immigration into the Land of Israel was not negligible and the scenario is very reasonable given the economic boom taking place here since the 1920s. I’ll definitely keep reading.

            My problem is with people that are certain that others who disagree with them must be Racist or Fascist or whatever. If I think something that does not support the Arab claim – it must be because I’m a rightist and Racist.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            I believe these datas correspond between 1920-1944, it was to measure how and why the population of Palestine double in the last 20 years.
            However, I would suggest having a look at Justin McCarthy as he has conducted research on Ottoman record paper and has found that the majority of Arabs in Palestine (especially between 1850-1920) were not immigrants but the increase in population was a natural increase. This would make sense as other unrelated scientific and genetic studies has found that the majority of Palestinians have ancestry from Judaic, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Canaanites, and others, due to the presence of J1 Haplogroup (it is not that high in non-Levant Arabs, it is also quite common among Jews as well).
            More info: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/tcga/tcgapdf/Nebel-HG-00-IPArabs.pdf
            Which again would not have been possible if there was a massive immigration to Palestine from Arabia and Egypt (Egypt has a completely different genetic structure than other arabs and resembles more African and North African ancestry).

            Vadim, my understanding is the Anglo-American Commission was an independent joint British-American commission that sought out to examine the condition in Palestine, especially in regards to proposing immigration for Jews. They were also the only commission that examined the condition of Jews in Germany after the Holocaust, so I would say it is a pretty reliable commission. They were in favor of admitting displaced Jews within Palestine, actually. And Truman implemented the immigration aspect of the Commission (but ignored the rest of it). Most historians have concluded that the small immigration was more prevalent in older people due to religious reasons or the desire to be buried near Al-Aqsa, very little of it was due to political reasons.

            Personally, I would stay away from sources that do not utilize primary sources such as the Ottoman and British Mandate census and records. I took a couple of courses in Historical methodology and to be honest, the best source is official Ottoman/British records, and not just census, but population growth, infant mortality, birth rate, etc. But I just wanted to point out most fact-finding missions (Peel Commission, Passfield White Paper of 1930 (not the 1939 white paper), Hope Simpson Report and Survey of Palestie report) also stress the same thing that I mentioned, that the increase in Palestinians was natural and not due to immigration. There is some good analysis from McCarthy, Lewis, Bachi and Peroth. One person Peters have said that there was a mass immigration but she did not use any supporting documents or analysis and was quickly dismissed by historians. Another, Martin Gilbert, puts the estimation to 50,000 but even so that constitutes about 5% of the population growth.

            I have not seen a very reliable analysis that says otherwise for now. But the big weights of Middle East history seems to be in agreement that the increase was natural.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >According to the Anglo-American inquiry commission based on British Mandate population census, in 1944, the population of Muslim Palestinians in British Mandate Palestine were 1,061,000. Of these, only 19,000 thousands were immigrants.

            And how many of them were children and grandchildren of migrants?

            Or, by what logic Al-Andalusi should have more rights to this land than Moskowitch?

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            I believe these datas correspond between 1920-1944, it was to measure how and why the population of Palestine double in the last 20 years.
            However, I would suggest having a look at Justin McCarthy as he has conducted research on Ottoman record paper and has found that the majority of Arabs in Palestine (especially between 1850-1920) were not immigrants but the increase in population was a natural increase. This would make sense as other unrelated scientific and genetic studies has found that the majority of Palestinians have ancestry from Judaic, Hebrews, Phoenicians, Canaanites, and others, due to the presence of J1 Haplogroup (it is not that high in non-Levant Arabs, it is also quite common among Jews as well).
            More info: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/tcga/tcgapdf/Nebel-HG-00-IPArabs.pdf
            Which again would not have been possible if there was a massive immigration to Palestine from Arabia and Egypt (Egypt has a completely different genetic structure than other arabs and resembles more African and North African ancestry).

            Vadim, my understanding is the Anglo-American Commission was an independent joint British-American commission that sought out to examine the condition in Palestine, especially in regards to proposing immigration for Jews. They were also the only commission that examined the condition of Jews in Germany after the Holocaust, so I would say it is a pretty reliable commission. They were in favor of admitting displaced Jews within Palestine, actually. And Truman implemented the immigration aspect of the Commission (but ignored the rest of it).

            Personally, I would stay away from sources that do not utilize primary sources such as the Ottoman and British Mandate census and records. I took a couple of courses in Historical methodology and to be honest, the best source is official Ottoman/British records, and not just census, but population growth, infant mortality, birth rate, etc.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Oriol2

      I ask your permission to quote some paragraphs of the article by Uri Avnery:

      “Leaders like David Ben-Gurion treated Zionist immigration as if it was merely a transportation problem. They went to extraordinary lengths to bring Jews from all over the world to Israel, but once they were here, they were left to fend for themselves. Sure, material assistance was given, housing was provided, but next to nothing was done to integrate them into society.

      This was true of the mass immigration of German Jews in the 1930s, the Oriental Jews in the 1950s, and the Russians in the 1990s. When the Russian Jews showed a marked preference for the USA, our government pressured the American administration to shut the gates in their face, so they were practically forced to come here. When they did come, they were left to congregate in ghettos, instead of being induced to spread and settle among us.

      The Israeli Left was no exception. When some feeble efforts to draw them to the peace camp were unsuccessful, they were left well alone.”

      I suspect Ms. Tarachansky’s problem is not precisely -as Spaniards sometimes say- with the lyrics of Mr. Avnery’s article, but with the accompanying music. And to that extent, she is right. Avnery embodies what we could call -sorry- the Ur-Israel, the original Jewish population which drove the Palestinians away, and that gradually has been submerged under new waves of immigration that have changed Israel into a multicultural country. As such, his statements might be deemed offensive, not only because of their content, but also because of the position from which they are formulated.
      But I think Mr. Avnery’s article, well understood, is not that different from Ms. Tarachansky’s one.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ayla

      This is an excellent piece. Thank you. I’d only say that given the author’s understanding of how easy it was for Russians to operate from a place of feeling hated or victimized as a result of their experience in the Soviet Union, she could be more sympathetic to the emotional condition of many of the Ashkenazi Jews in 1948…

      Reply to Comment
    5. The problem of the integration of 1990s’ Russians into Israeli society is primarily economical.

      On one hand, high barriers were erected on the way of the integration of Soviet professionals into the labor market. These barriers were non-existant for other European immigrant groups, including the 1970s Russians. As a result, the older generation of immigrants was pushed into under-skilled jobs, often managed by less educated locals.

      On the other hand, the taxes payed by the immigrants, including the younger generation of high-tech workers, are being used to finance the retirement of the veteran groups, whose retirement plans are either insolvent, or state-guaranteed. The pensions of the older generation of the 1990s Russians are very low, which places a huge burden on them and their children and grandchildren.

      The establishment, including the traditional Israeli Left, refers to this situation as an economic failure of the immigrants. The only “honorable” way out which many immigrants see is to blame other groups in the society. On this a whole menu is provided to them: Arabs, African refugees, the Haredim, Ethiopian Jews, etc.

      This “race to the next-to-last place” is a dominant feature of the mainstream Israeli-Russian political discourse.

      Reply to Comment
    6. The problem of the integration of 1990s’ Russians into Israeli society is primarily economical.

      On one hand, high barriers were erected on the way of the integration of Soviet professionals into the labor market. These barriers were non-existent for other European immigrant groups, including the 1970s Russians. As a result, the older generation of immigrants was pushed into under-skilled jobs, often managed by less educated locals.

      On the other hand, the taxes paid by the immigrants, including the younger generation of high-tech workers, are being used to finance the retirement of the veteran groups, whose retirement plans are either insolvent, or state-guaranteed. The pensions of the older generation of the 1990s Russians are very low, which places a huge burden on them and their children and grandchildren.

      The establishment, including the traditional Israeli Left, refers to this situation as an economic failure of the immigrants. The only “honorable” way out which many immigrants see is to blame other groups in the society. On this a whole menu is provided to them: Arabs, African refugees, the Haredim, Ethiopian Jews, etc.

      This “race to the next-to-last place” is a dominant feature of the mainstream Israeli-Russian political discourse.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Impressive Lia. From Kiev eh. Having visited the Ukraine three times, and for five years now importing some of its vodka to the US, my view of you just was elevated.

      As usual (I became acquainted with your work through the Real News) articulate, in depth, and spot on a lot. I used to read Avery religiously, until after reading Pape’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Israel” I realized that Avery, fighting in the war of Independence, was obviously involved in ethnic cleansing himself, making him a huge hypocrite. And further realized, that knowing the ethnic cleansing that produced Israel, and the military rule over the Israeli arabs from 1948 to 1967, his frequent reminiscing about the “good old days of peace and justice” is pure psychosis.

      You live in reality Lia. Keep up the good work and don’t lose faith, because those that live in reality land always win in the end in human history. The quite speedy right turn in Israel lately came not from the Russians, but from an unavoidable outcome of the fascism that arises from all 19th century nationalistic movements, of which Zionism is a card carrying member.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Some people make excuses and complain.

        Some people pull a finger out, use their God given talents and succeed in life.

        Think about it.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Tzutzik

      “Soviet immigrants couldn’t find professional work, faced discrimination on the street”

      “What enraged me was not only that Avnery doesn’t talk about the contribution the Soviet immigration made to the boom in the high-tech industry on which Israel now depends, about how we revolutionized theater and cinema”

      … the writer of this article does not see the contradiction between the above two statements?

      I don’t know if I feel sad for her or to laugh.
      :)

      Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        There is no contradiction, as the article itself explains. Actually you seem to have missed the whole point of the article.

        “Overbearing dominant nationalism creates overbearing nationalistic citizens.”

        Reply to Comment
    9. Tzutzik

      You take whatever you want to be the point of the article, I could not care less.

      However, what I pointed out as a contradiction, is indeed a contradiction.

      First she complains that “the poor Russian immigrants” were discriminated against and therefore success eluded them.

      Then she points at the success and contribution of Russian immigrants to Israel. Go figure …

      You don’t see the contradiction, Rob? I guess you just see what you want to see.

      Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        Tzutzik, even if 99.9% of the immigrants could not find proper work, the 0.1% that did could have achieved great things for Israel. There is no contradiction.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          The author of this article herself claimed (rightly) that the Russian immigrants made their mark in whole industries like high tech and entertainment. There are about 1 million Russian Jews in Israel. O.1% represents about 1000 people. To claim that such a small number of people could make such an impact on a country of 7 million, is obdurate. By the way, she forgot to mention the impact of Russians on politics. I guess it is because of HER politics. After all she could not be in love with someone like Lieberman, could she?

          Taking this a step further. She likened discrimination in Israel to discrimination in Russia. I guess she does not know the difference between institutional discrimination and discrimination by bigoted individuals (even if there maybe many such individuals). Historically, in Russia, Jews were always discriminated against whether by fascist right wingers like the Tzars or by communist left wingers, institutionally. In Israel on the other hand there is NO institutional discrimination against Russian Jews. There isn’t a quota in Universities barring Russian Jews because of their background.

          So take this as another comment about this article: the author’s inability or lack of willingness to distinguish between what these people experienced in Russia and their experience in Israel, is another sign of either her ignorance or her malice.

          Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            In science and arts it is not about numbers. 1000 was about the size of the group of rocket V1 scientist and family that joined the US programs. There is nothing wrong with Lia’s logic.

            Your new point is quite silly. The writer writes “We were pressured to leave our culture and language behind to fit into the dominant “Israeliness”. … “. Was the situation in Russia not the mirror image? and if not does it really matter?

            I do not think Lia is ignorant or wrote this out of malice.

            Reply to Comment
    10. Tzutzik

      Ok Rob, enough with the mythology. Time for some real facts. Here, read this:

      http://www.herzliyaconference.org/_Uploads/3046Aliyah.pdf

      “Therefore, former Soviet immigrants that currently compose 17% to 18% of all employed persons substantially contributed to the Israeli labor force, especially among the professional sectors.”

      “Large numbers of immigrant professionals had to change their occupations in one way or another. In spite of this, during that decade immigrants composed 30% of all engineers; and even more electric and electronic engineers (45%), which were respectively, figures two and three times larger proportionally than the percentage of these same professions among the native Israeli population.”

      Sounds like more than 1000 people doesn’t it?

      As for my point about institutional discrimination versus discrimination by bigoted individuals (even if many), my distinction was not silly at all.

      Discrimination by individuals happens in all countries, especially migrant countries. It is part of the landscape. All new waves of immigrants experience some form of it at least in the beginning. Strong self confident migrants easily overcome such discrimination and they even thrive because of it not just in spite of it. The less talented ones let it defeat them and use it as an excuse for their failure.

      Institutional discrimination on the other hand is much harder to overcome. If the state apparatus discriminates against a group of people and prevents or limits their numbers in certain professions or university courses, such discrimination is much harder to overcome. But how would you know, Rob, you being part of the priviliged class in your country, probably never experienced institutional discrimination. Nevertheless you seem to know better than us whose family HAS experienced state discrimination in your beloved Europe.

      Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        As you can see from the document there where about 10000 math and technology scientist that came from Russia. Those were treated specially.

        The report also shows on average immigrants from Russia (not so much technical defence related jobs) still have lower jobs than they had and still have lower income jobs than other Israeli. (The doctor became a nurse, the violinist a cleaner)

        Although the report mostly ignores discrimination Lia’s story seems totally confirmed and your point debunked.

        As to institutional or discrimination by individuals, I disagree with you but that was not the point I wanted to make.

        Reply to Comment
      • directrob

        By the way, Tzutzik, although we probably read it differently, nice report. Thank you.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          You are welcome Rob.

          We may read the report differently but the report speaks for itself. It does not pull any punches, it tells things as they are.

          Yes, I read it as a “glass half full” report. It says that both Israel and most of the Russian immigrants gained mutual benefits.

          whereas you seem to read it as a “glass is half empty” type report. But at least you seem to give credence to the information in the report. That at least is a good start.

          I guess other people should make their own conclusions.

          Reply to Comment
    11. Cliff Pinto

      @Lia Tarachansky

      While I fully agree with your premise and your rebuttal of Avnery’s charges against Soviet Jewry, I’m a little befuddled about what motivated you to write this piece.

      Like Honig-Parnass, Miko Peled, and the rest of your club, you’re convinced that Israel is a Nazi, illegal, apartheid, racist, supremacist, European-settler colonialist entity, that was (is) complicit in the “ethnic-cleansing” and “colonisation” of poor, innocent, unarmed, brown-skinned Arabs.

      To remedy that, I’m sure you preach complete BDS against Israel, the right-to-return for ALL 8 million of these so-called “refugees” etc. In short : You want Israel GONE!

      (^Pretty reasonable assumptions about your political views, right?)

      Now, since that’s the case, why would you care so much about the nitty gritties and the racial and cultural dynamics of a state that you’d like to see dissolved in any case? If you’re planning to turn Israel into another Arab hellhole, why worry about this?

      If Israel goes down the path YOU prescribe, the Soviet Jewry (whose name you fight so hard to redeem), along with ALL the other Jews in Israel, will be either slaughtered, persecuted or reduced to second class citizens in the state they built with their blood and sweat.

      So why does this bother you so much?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Aksel

      This child has Israel citizenship,though did nothing for this country, she lives in Canada,works in Tel Aviv, slanders of Israel and provides materials for Al Jazeera, because it is a single known to her way to make money. It is not a problem,that she is “russian”or”canadian”.It doesn’t matter is she left or right,but it is a great tragedy for Israel that she is jewish.

      Reply to Comment
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