Discrimination Against Russian Jews in Israel

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Discrimination Against Russian Jews in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
America is the developed world’s most unequal country economically. Israel is close behind – a chasm in both nations exists between rich and most others, growing exponentially. Social injustice is rife.
US Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1956 – 1941) once said nations have a choice – democracy or concentrated wealth in few hands, never both. America and Israel were never democracies, for sure not now.
Beginning in the late 1980s under Mikhail Gorbachev, hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews emigrated to Israel – for large numbers, failing to find what they came for, driving many to leave.
On August 29, the Jerusalem Post headlined 26 years of Russian aliya: Segregation, poverty and police brutality,” saying:
Since the late 1980s, “(o)ver a million repatriates from the former Soviet Union came to Israel, where they became ‘Russians.’ “
New arrivals included doctors, engineers, scientists and other professionals. Despite contributing to Israel’s economy and culture, “their problems aren’t addressed but rather keep piling up, while being completely overlooked.”
Russians face discrimination. “(R)acist slurs and stereotypes” taunt them…The glass ceiling is more impenetrable than ever.”
“(T)he percentage of ‘Russians’ in senior positions and public office is much lower in proportion to their percentage within the Israeli society. There are no ‘Russian’ CEO’s in the ministries, which means that they are being ignored and not considered for promotions.”
They’re harassed, beaten by police and wrongfully detained – children treated as abusively as adults. Authorities admit harsh treatment, even though they’re good, law-abiding citizens.
Around 200,000 elderly Russians will “get peanuts for pensions” at retirement – even though they spent up to a generation in Israel’s workforce. 
They’ll get the equivalent of around $750 dollars a month maximum – sub-poverty in Israel’s high cost of living economy if they have no other sources of income or enough savings.
Otherwise, they’ll have to rely on children for support. A newly created Forum of Russian-speaking Israelis includes “journalists, researchers, sociologists and PR professionals,” said the JP.
They “united to work on solving all the problems mentioned above before” – raising awareness, organizing protests and seeking ways to “ease the burden” of elderly Russian nationals approaching retirement.
They intend pressuring Netanyahu for help. Various MKs support them. Media coverage helps their cause. They got results. A government commission will look for ways to solve their problem – including stopping police brutality discussed above.
Forum members want Russian Jews treated as equal citizens. About 720,000 Russians now live in Israel. Their numbers are shrinking as many vote with their feet and leave.
At one time, 20 Russian nationals held Knesset seats. Today it’s 13 out a 120-seat body. The Russian immigrant tide left for a better life in Israel. Most were hugely disappointed.
They’re frustrated and angry for good reason. They were sold a bill of goods to come – empty promises they discovered. For many, the cost of living is overwhelming. Low pay and dwindling benefits make it hard to make ends meet. They pay high taxes and get little back in return.
Widespread emigration is an ongoing process getting little media attention. It’s a politically charged topic. Departing Russians either go home or head to Western countries willing to accept them.
Ex-pats leaving way outnumber new arrivals. Life in Israel rewards its privileged few. Russian immigrants get short shrift.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.