Russian Jews who became part of intellectual elite had usually positive influence on Jewish state. There were heroic and colourful figures and achieved individuals among them including Nobel prize winners like Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, famous commanders like Moshe Dayan or economists Simon Kuznets. But there were also exceptions like socialist preachers likewise staunch communists and chauvinists. And also those, who despite current Russian behaviour which includes three invasions (Georgia, South Ossetia), anshluss of Crimea and a shot down of Malaysian airlines aircraft, a civilian plane, continued to cooperate not only the area of economics but also military affairs. Some in Israel are afraid that traditions of this latter and not former list may be revived in Israel politics, at least for some time.
Since last two weeks it looks like that Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu decided to replace moderate and knowledgable minister of defence Moshe Ya’alon with former minister of foreign affairs, Russian Jew, Avigdor Liberman. Born in former Soviet Union (now, Moldova) as Evet Lvovich, a founder of radical nationalistic party Yisrael Beinenu is credited with improving relations of Israel with Russia. While minister of foreign affairs Liberman, together with Netanyahu hosted President Putin. It is not a secret that Liberman influence Netanyahu to erect new monument to Soviet Red Army in Netanya, Israel. More importantly it was Liberman initiative to begin cooperation of Israeli military (Israel sold drones to Russia after its poor performance in invasion of Georgia (and here), which might helped Russian army concealed us rebels in the Eastern Ukraine to continue its occupation of the territories ) intelligence with its Russian counterpart.
Lieberman began his political carrier in Likud in 1993 as the party director-general. In 1996 he became chief of staff at the first cabinet of Prime Minister Netanyahu. He became “disillusioned” with his boss and left Likud. In 1999 his party won four mandates in Israeli parliament. Before Evet Lvovich Liberman was named as chief of Israeli diplomacy he served as minister of transport and national infrastructure under Sharon and Olmert governments.
The flourishing relations between Israel and Russia shows not only its relatively coordinated actions in the area of Lebanon and Syria against respectively Hezbollah and US supported groups attacking regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. As recent as yesterday Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly expressed his appreciation and thanks to President Putin for a return of Israeli tank that was left after the First Lebanon War. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order to return to Israel the tank from the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced. Netanyahu in the statement dissiminated on his social media said that until now families of three soldiers who died in that battle did not have a graves to mourn their loss. “Now, the tank which witnessed the battle will be a symbol of them” – he added.
Netanyahu decision can be a sign that Israel may not have had any other choice than to befriend Russia given growing Russian population in Israel and not decreasing presence of Russian army on the north of its borders. But Prime Minister move may be shocking since more often policy makers are expressing their concerns on the exceptionally aggressive nature of intelligence gathering methods used by Moscow to execute its war plans. Netanyahu perhaps could think about other ways of cooperation than sharing military high-technology with Russian aggressor.
According to some sources close to government circles Netanyahu appointed Liberman for the post of minister of defence to further improve military cooperation with Russia.
Former minister of defence Moshe Arens in his comments said that he does not know Liberman. He added: “What I do know is that Ya’alon was an excellent defense minister and to exchange him for a person with no experience, qualifications or preparation, involves a risk.”