The Jewish community in Russia is alarmed by the news that the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation has filed a lawsuit to liquidate the autonomous non-profit organization "Jewish Agency Sokhnut" in Russia, which is engaged in repatriation to Israel. Consideration of the case in court will begin on July 28, according to the file of Moscow courts. It is also known that Israel will send a government delegation to Moscow to resolve the issue of continuing the work of the Sokhnut, and the president of the Russian Jewish Congress, Yuri Kanner, said that he did not know the reasons why the Ministry of Justice asked to liquidate the representative office of this organization in Russia.
Meanwhile, Interfax reported that the Ministry of Justice believes that Sokhnut violated Russian law in its work. The Israeli edition of The Jerusalem Post notes that the termination of the agency's work in Russia will result in difficulties for Russian Jews wishing to emigrate. Many of them fear that after the closure of the organization they will not be allowed to leave Russia. According to Vedomosti, the liquidation of the agency for the repatriation of Jews to Israel may cause tension in relations with Tel Aviv. Last year, 21,000 people turned to Sokhnut for help.
Along the way, journalists began to put forward versions of why Russia suddenly needed to close this office.
For example, a story on the situation with Sokhnut, aired on the evening newscast on the state-run Kan-11 TV channel, said that Russia was accusing Sokhnut of violating the law on confidential information in the field of personal data. The violation lies in the fact that Sokhnut collects information about Jews living in Russia and persons eligible for repatriation in accordance with the Law of Return.
But a source close to the Israeli authorities told the journalists of the Israeli publication "Details" a different version: that "Sohnut" acts as a bargaining chip in a certain game. The Kremlin wants to show Israel that it is not going to stand on ceremony with the representation of the main Israeli organization in the Russian Federation if Israel agrees to Biden's demands and supplies missiles to Ukraine.
The publication writes that it is still unclear what kind of "deliveries of missiles" they are talking about, but it is known that Western media, including Axios, reported that Biden, during a visit to Israel, intended to ask Prime Minister Yair Lapid "to expand military assistance to Ukraine . However, these reports did not mention missiles of any kind. During the 5 months of the war, Israel supplied Ukraine with only limited batches of bulletproof vests, helmets and other equipment for civilian rescuers…”
“If Israel refuses this idea, then “Sohnut” will immediately be left alone,” the source of “Details” notes.
And, finally, one more, and it seems the most plausible version in the current situation: the 13th channel of Israeli television reports that Russia allegedly handed over to Israel a document in which it accuses Sokhnut of exporting specialists. The document, quoted by the TV channel, says: “It follows from the audit that preference is given to the repatriation of Russian citizens engaged in scientific activities and entrepreneurship. Their departure hits the scientific potential and entrepreneurship in the Russian Federation in the most serious way. The commission came to the conclusion that the organization should be legally liquidated in connection with a gross violation of Russian law.”
However, Russian Jews who decide to leave for Israel with the closure of Sokhnut will be able to do so using other routes, such as through Azerbaijan.
In addition, the lawyers of the Israeli law firm "Kovalenko and Zernopolsky" argue that there will be no problems with repatriation:
“Issues of repatriation to Israel are under the jurisdiction of the Nativ consular service. Nativ is the only state organization authorized to confirm the right to repatriate immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union in accordance with the Law of Return, and to issue visas to enter Israel as new repatriates.
Therefore, as long as the consulate is working in Russia, and the Law of Return is in force in Israel, repatriation is possible..."
The complexity, according to lawyers, is different:
Sokhnut has developed many programs, most of which operate in the countries of origin, in particular in Russia - educational and youth programs, language learning and cultural immersion, Sunday schools and an integrative project for children with special needs.
In addition, the Jewish Agency provides all those interested in repatriation with information on the progress of the process, after the successful passage of the consular check - free tickets, with an increased baggage allowance, provides support in the passage of the necessary procedures.
Of course, if the activities of the Sokhnut in Russia are stopped, it will hurt many people. And if such processes are underway, then no one knows what other Jewish organization or Israeli representative office will be under threat of closure tomorrow. And the news of recent days about the interaction between Russian and Israeli diplomats does not inspire optimism ... "
This topic is actively discussed in social networks. Thus, journalist Pavel Pryanikov believes that sooner or later, given the current vector of Russian politics, this should have happened:
“The Ministry of Justice asked to liquidate the Jewish agency Sokhnut. This means that they decided to enter into a clinch with Israel, the last true ally of Russia outside the rogue countries. Well, since we are living the cosplay of late Stalinism, then this could not have happened.”
Philologist Tatyana Razumovskaya recalls Soviet realities:
“Back in 1980, I was called to the OVIR in connection with my request to leave for Israel for permanent residence. An important official informed me that my request was denied.
- For what reason?
- Your departure is contrary to the interests of the USSR.
Formula minted! I was a 2nd year student of the philological faculty and then left the OVIR, choking with laughter: my personal significance is so great that without me the interests of the USSR would suffer terribly. After 8 years of refusal, leaving for Israel in 1988, and less than 33 years later, the Russian Federation again cannot live without me and people like me..."
But political scientist Igor Skurlatov was delighted with this news:
“But we support this - in Russia they decided to close the Sokhnut agency, which was engaged in educating Jews in the spirit of anti-Russian and anti-state activities. However, such a step is "a drop in the ocean." Close all hotbeds of Russophobia in the form of national diasporas, their "cultural" and "sports", religious sects and so on! Otherwise, we will not win the fight for the preservation of Russian civilization, given that the Russian ethnos is the weakest and most scattered today..."