Friday, November 10, 2023

Shmulyevich and Mukhametov Debate Whether Moscow was behind Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic Outrages in North Caucasus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 7 – Because Russian governments have a long history of using pogroms to try to maintain themselves and because the Putin regime controls so many public actions in various ways, many observers of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outrages in the North Caucasus immediately suggested that the Kremlin was behind these as well.

            So far, however, while much circumstantial evidence has been offered for that conclusion, no “smoking gun” has yet been found. As a result, a debate has broken out among experts as to whether these were Russian-government-organized actions of something more spontaneous.

            Two of the leading participants in this debate are Avraam Shmulyevich, an Israeli expert on the Caucasus, who sees the Kremlin as being behind the events, and Rinat Mukhametov, a specialist on Islam who produced the Non-Russian telegraph channel, who argues that it is a mistake not to see them as spontaneous (

            Shmulyevich says that “it is well-known that one of the political technologies which the Russian authorities use when times get tough are Jewish pogroms. That was true under the tsars, under Stalin and more generally.” To use pogroms to distract attention from the Kremlin and local problems is “completely within the logic of the ruling regime.”

            “We see,” he continues, “that the Russian regime is evolving toward ever greater authoritarianism and even totalitarianism. In fact, the current Russian regime is a typical fascist regime, and fascism is inseparable from anti-Semitism.” Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that the latest outrages were organized directly or indirectly by the Kremlin.

            But there is a particular reason for drawing that conclusion now, Shmulyevich argues. Moscow is now facing nationalist and separatist challenges and wants to demonstrate to everyone that if the regions and republics gain any power, they will commit outrages, and that only Moscow can keep things in check.

            Mukhametov disagrees. He says there is no evidence linking Moscow to the pogroms; and that until there is, it is far more appropriate to view them as spontaneous actions from below, perhaps reflecting a weakening of central power in the regions and republics but not a product of inspiration and organization from the center.

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