Syjon dzieli Ukrainę

Zion Splits Ukraine


“Spasiva bolshoy,” “thank you very much,” the woman from Odessa had taught me to say. In Tel Aviv, that was almost trivial; denizens of the former Soviet Union almost match the number of Palestinians.


Being from Odessa, she would speak with us, mere Middle Easterners. Her friends from Moskva and Saint Petersburg (wasn’t it Stalingrad?) were too good to acknowledge our existence. Once I made the error of inviting a fellow student, heir to Communist aristocracy, to a plebeian hummus. “That’s swine food,” was the answer in a tone that even a proletarian plebeian could recognize as a purposeful insult. “Spasiva bolshoy, are you from Leningrad?” I answered to the now blushing beast.


People from Odessa abounded in Tel Aviv. Not being Russians, they had a similar problem. Russian was their language and culture, but they were not part of Mother Russia. They were Ukrainians, and spoke Russian with the odd accent of Nikita Khrushchev. “He sounded like a British farmer reading French poetry,” I was told by a Russian speaker.


Stalingradians and Leningradians spoke with Ukrainians only in emergencies: “Don’t try the hummus, it is swine food!”


Unable to accept the Middle East, Russians, Ukrainians and even Moldovans created a society within a society. Many thrived creating bridges between Soviets and Israelis. “Sliding-scale Translations; Long Words at Discount on Shabbat,” they painfully wrote on pieces of paper with badly shaped Hebrew letters. Former Communists were lousy marketers and hated computers.


The bridges crossed borders. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel created extensive relations with some of the former Soviet republics. Azerbaijan is probably the most surprising one, but Russia is steadily becoming more important.


Delegations moved back and forth between the Middle East and the Sovietistans. Translators become frequent flyers. Journalists toured and reported. Office of Interests were opened; travel agencies conquered hole-in-the-wall shops near them. People start living well from these businesses.


In other words, articles about Sovietistan in the Hebrew media were written by Israeli-Russian journalists. One will seldom find such an article quoting a Western source. Israel has people everywhere there. In the case that no Israelis were in Stalinistan, then the uncle of one of them was there for sure.


On February 2014, the war between Russia and Europe over the control of Ukraine reached a boiling point. The pro-Russian president escaped and now there is turmoil. On February 28, Russian forces appeared in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, a 1954 gift from Russia to Ukraine, in the days when both were united under the USSR.


The Hebrew media followed the events closely. I vaguely followed the Hebrew media on the issue; Ukraine is not a core issue of the website. Thus, it was not until the conquest of Crimea by a Russia attempting to revive its 19th Century empire that I noticed an oddity.


Instead of the usual “our correspondent in Stalinleninistan reports exclusively,” this time most articles quoted a wide range of Western sources.

It was an attempt to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. What is happening to Israeli and Jewish organizations in Ukraine? Are they pro-Russia or pro-Europe?


“Have you read the latest on Iran? Don’t ask about Ukraine! The BBC had said everything that was needed to be said” was the attitude.


In other words, “We are involved, do not spoil the party.”


In the shifting geopolitics of this decade, Israel found itself struggling against sanctions imposed by the European Union on products from the West Bank.*


Europe is the main market of Israeli exports. The annexation of Ukraine by the EU would mean a further weakening of the Israeli position.


Not for the first time, Israel and Russia found themselves on the same side of a conflict. One of the oddest signs was the emphasis that was given to the claim that the forces in the Crimea did not belong to the Russian Army but were mercenaries of unclear allegiances.


Did they mean that they were like the Syrian Free Army composed by Western et al. paid mercenaries? This was not explained, but it looks like a clear attempt to buy time for Russian authorities. “I can’t comment now, I must check whom these mercenaries are being paid by.”


Israel had collaborated with Russia in the Sochi Winter Games by providing the War Room controlling the theater.+ Were the technologies passed by Israel used in the Crimea? Incredibly, Hebrew media were silent on these issues.


This was a theater changing event. I do not mean Ukraine; Hebrew media always places hints about what cannot be openly said. The media unofficial rules had been changed.


Hebrew language allows placing hints aimed at friends easily. Many of its structures do not exist in Indo-European languages; foreigners will never understand. Yok! This time the articles dryly quoted the BBC and the New York Times with the thick accent of a British farmer trying to speak Russian.


Hints can be manipulative; yet, exposing the possibility often cancels the effect and makes the next attempt to manipulate harder and more unlikely. In this occasion, a graphic hint of a troubling plan was provided.


Yediot Ahronot is the largest paid Hebrew newspaper. On February 28, one of its reports included an unusual map. Next day, it was added to another article. This is a variation of what in literature is called “alliteration,” creating emphasis by repeating the starting letter of consecutive words.


Below is the map. It has already divided Ukraine into European and a Russian republics. Is that the plan being so carefully hidden? “Stop! Don’t bother me now. I must check whom these mercenaries are!”

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