Israel is committed to continue supporting Russian Jewry - Diaspora Minister
'We will continue our relationships with the Jewish community there, this is our commitment as a state'
Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Dr. Nachman Shai told i24NEWS on Tuesday that regardless of the outcome of the Jewish Agency's legal struggles with Moscow, Israel will not abandon the Jewish community in Russia.
According to the minister, the Israeli delegation of legal experts continues its work in Moscow awaiting the court hearing on the dissolution of the Jewish Agency but “mainly it’s in the cold and we have no idea what Russians really want.”
“To close down all the operations of the Jewish Agency in Russia is something we cannot agree with and cannot accept. Of course they can do it technically but we will continue our relationships with the Jewish community there, this is our commitment as a state, as people,” Shai said in an interview with i24NEWS, adding that there were 600,000 Jews currently living in Russia.
Commenting on Russia’s interests in the Middle East, especially its close ties with the current Syrian government that could keep Israel from further confrontations with Moscow, Shai said that it’s important to find “balance” between values and interests.
“You cannot just drop all your values because of your interests and vice versa. I believe that keeping the Jewish people together, united, able to run their lives safely, I mean the Jewish community in Russia, is our commitment as a state, it’s even now in the Israeli law and we are supposed to keep it and honor it,” he stressed, noting that Israel in 2022 is strong enough economically and diplomatically to fulfill its obligations.
Earlier on Monday, reports said that Israeli delegation reached no progress in talks with Russian officials on the possible shutdown of the Jewish Agency. No further meetings were scheduled before the next court hearing on August 19. The agency, which has been operating in Russia for nearly 30 years helping Jews immigrate to Israel, is accused of violating Russian privacy laws over its data collection practices.