Saturday, November 18, 2023

Daghestani Officials Order Population Not to Talk about Makhachkala Outrage

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 16 – The Daghestani authorities have told republic residents not to talk about the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outrages at the Makhachkala airport October 29; but some Jews who remain in that North Caucasus republic are willing to talk on condition of anonymity. And some Muslims there continue to justify what happened.

            The picture they offer is not a good one, as Insider journalist Mariya Alekseyeva relates in a new article based on interviews with people in both camps. The situation is perhaps best summed up by one Jewish resident in a comment to the reporter: “All is quiet, but it’s not a good time to visit” (

            The major concern Daghestani Jews who spoke with Alekseyeva have is that anger about Israel’s war with the Palestinians can so easily grow into hostility to them because so many Daghestani Jews have numerous relatives in the Jewish state and so keeping the two groups distinct is far more difficult in practice than in theory.

            Relations between Jews, especially the indigenous Tats, and Muslims have been remarkably good. Derbent in southern Daghestan was the only city in the Russian Empire where officials ignored the tsarist decree on the Pale of Settlement, Alekseyeva reports. But they have not been cloudless.

            There were pogroms in Daghestan during the 19th century and at least two in Soviet times, in 1926 and in the 1960s. Jews there were also subject to kidnappings in the 1990s, a phenomenon that accelerated the flight of members of that community from their traditional homeland to Israel.

            According to Alekseyeva, “there have been almost no anti-Jewish actions in Daghestan.” But there have been some: In 2013, an assassination attempt was made against the rabbi of the Derbent synagogue. He survived and remains in place; but after the airport outrages, he acknowledged that many of his congregants are “scared.”

            The rabbi himself say he “doesn’t feel safe and doesn’t rule out the need to evacuate Jews from Daghestan if this kind of unrest continues.”

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