There are partisans for both sides but the majority favors Kiev over Moscow

Michael Levitis

12 hours ago | 1391 7

Neither is spared critique

This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at The Russian Insider


More than a year passed since the Maidan Revolution on the streets of Kiev that was a precursor to the annexation of Crimea of Russia and the separatist rebellion in the Eastern, Russian-speaking territories of Ukraine.

However, the flare up and fighting words in the Russian speaking community over Ukraine has not let up.

If anything, new barricades are being built between the warring factions on Facebook and the like social media sites, which have sometimes spilled out in offline.

Before, Russian-speaking immigrants from former Soviet Union’s 15 republics were content with being called Russian by their American friends and media.

It was simpler to just acquiesce to being called a Russian then to try to explain the post USSR breakup geography,

Now, if one is not from Russia there is a rush to explain that he or she is from Ukraine, Uzbekistan,  Latvia, etc.…

Russian speakers in America are no longer predominantly Jewish as they once were in the 70s and 80s.

The influx of new immigrants since have brought with them the non Jewish relatives of the original waves and people that have emigrated due to non Jewish causes and concerns such as just looking for a better economical life.

Although there is an understandable divide between former inhabitants of Russia and Ukraine over Putin and Poroshenko policies in Ukraine, the phenomenon is in the bickering of Jews from former USSR.

I, as an administrator and creator of a large Russian-American Facebook Group see daily infighting between our members over articles and commentary posted.

Peoples’ “Friend” lists have been decimated by “unfriending” and “blocking” of social media profiles of people on the wrong side of Ukrainian conflict.

Anecdotal stories are making rounds of marriage and business partnerships broken apart by the fighting over Putin et al.

Having been born in Moscow, capital of Russia and having sometimes espoused views that contradict official anti-Putin stance of the Obama Administration, I have been accused of being a Putin admirer, a paid agent of Russian propaganda machine.

When asked where I can register to actually get paid for my underappreciated work as the mediator of a robust Facebook Group, nobody was able to give me an answer.

Amusingly, I also had many invites and recommendations to move back to Russia from some Group Members when they were consumed by their anti-Putin rhetoric.

Even Russia’s chief Rabbi Berel Lazar did not escaped unscathed from the onslaught of accusations of him being a Putin crony.

Incredulously, many Ukraine supporters wanted him to distance himself from the President of a country of which he is a Chief Rabbi and at whose mercy he serves.

There are calls for Rabbi Lazar to publicly condemn Putin and disapprove any allegations of anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

Critics of the Rabbi neglect to acknowledge that being a Rabbi is an apolitical position, his duties of being a spiritual advisor to Russian Jewry do not include getting involved in geo-political matters that are non Jewish at all in nature.

Based on my many conversations with my fellow refugees and observations of their social media colloquy I surmise that an overwhelming majority of Russian-speaking population in USA supports Ukraine in its conflict with Russia and are staunchly anti-Putin. There are a few factors contributing to anti-Russian sentiment in our community.

Due to old czarist Pale of Settlement rules, majority of Jews in USSR continued to live in Ukrainian territories and have emigrated from Ukraine or its predecessor, Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

There is a natural instinct to support the people of their original homeland, even though Jews from Ukraine have fled that same homeland many years ago in part to escape rampant anti-Semitism there.

Russia was the main and leading republic of Soviet Union, whose capital Moscow was the capital for the entire country.

Almost all despised Communist and Socialist directives that originated from Moscow’s Kremlin. Moscow was the heart of Soviet Union and its pride.

All the best food and clothes were sold in Moscow. People in republics, although of different nationalities were forced to learn Russian language and its culture.

In essence, many people were understandably resentful for being treated almost as vassals to Moscow. Same resentment still exists in people who lived in republics outside Russia.

A big proportion of Russian-speaking immigrants arrived or rather escaped from USSR, a country where anti-Semitism was official government policy with reprehensible quotas on how many Jews were allowed to have prominent jobs, be accepted in good universities and were prohibited under the risk of being sent to Siberia from learning Jewish language, culture or religion.

Many immigrants have not been back to Russia since they left and do not appreciate how much Russia has changed from the Communist past that they fled.

Although much anti-Semitism remains deep in the hearts of many Russians (just as it does in many other nationalities), it is no longer apparent on the official level.

Jews in Russia experience religious freedoms and job/business opportunities just like all other of its minorities.

 

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