Howard Epstein



Sometimes it’s hard to know what to worry about first: US Democrat congressmen who are about to be outed after years- decades- or perhaps generations-long moralising to others, whilst abusing women; the Chinese banking system, UK household debt, Meghan Markle’s provenance (seen by the Times of Israel, in a nod to beauty being in the eye etc, etc, as perhaps containing some Jewishness about it), or the fact that on Hawaii, peering towards North Korea, they have just brushed the cobweb’s off the air raid sirens. Then comes along a fresh problem which may be closer to home – or, rather, may bring some of our brethren home.

From Russia, that bastion of tolerance and mercy, comes news that the Russian Orthodox Church insists that the murder of the last tsar and his family was a Jewishly executed “ritual murder”. This is particularly odd given that the Imperial Romanov family was despatched in July 1918 – months after their blood could usefully have been used for matzah that year and surely way too soon before it could have been included as a vital ingredient for the unleavened bread for Pesach 1919. Still boys will be boys and Russians, especially of the Orthodox variety (which canonised Tsar Nicholas II in 2000) will be Jew-baiters and -haters, so we cannot make any assumptions at this early stage.

There is, in fact, nothing new about this. As long ago as 1995, the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church suggested that a government commission investigating the murder of the saintly Tsar determine whether the imperial family were victims of a Judaeo-Masonic conspiracy. The fact that no evidence was turned up to substantiate such claims then does not mean that they should have no currency now. They have. The matter is a “live” issue once more.

In 2013, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the birth of the State of Israel, then Israeli president, Shimon Peres, spoke of the arrival of a million Russian Jews in Israel as a one-time gift from G-d. Can it be repeated? Not on such a scale. It is estimated that there are now around 180,000 Jews left in Russia. Of course, if the Jews are to be held culpable for the murder of the Romanovs – as well as Jesus Christ – those numbers could increase, even as they start their packing. Considering the boost to the life of Israel given by past Russian immigration – in hi-tech, the arts, medicine and many other fields, not to mention just the critical mass itself – we would not shrink from welcoming them, although we pray that they do not have to suffer the pain that would drive them here.

There are geo-political implications, too. So far, Putin, very possibly premier-for-life, has been sympathetic to Israel, if his accords, however tacit they may be, with PM Netanyahu are any sort of guide. But, with his need to be reelected time and again, any sort of distraction might be a blessing for his campaigns. From time immemorial down to the First and Second Aliyah, whenever things got sticky for those in the Kremlin – blue-blooded haemophiliacs or Reds in tooth and claw – the Jews and their insatiable greed for authentic matzah, ritually-supplied,  always came in handy. What they will do when the last Jew has been persecuted off the holy soil of Mother Russia, heaven only knows. Or perhaps we can assume it already does: by hardening Pharaoh’s heart now, the end-game for Russian Jews may be accelerated. Maybe they will undertake their final aliyah soon, and another chapter of the Diaspora story will be closed.

Let’s face it, more than seventy years have passed since Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and Majdanek were closed down. One cannot expect the Christian world to be satisfied with the horrors of Rwanda (1994), the Balkans (1995) or Burma (2017). A good old pogrom against the Jews is well overdue, and outsourcing it to the Iranians seems less than satisfying.

Call me a cynic, or read what Chaim Weizmann said in the 1930s: that the world was divided into two spheres, those where Jews cannot live and those that they cannot enter. Ah, but today, thanks in large part to him, there is Israel and, when the knives are out for the matzah-makers, at least now they know there is a place where they will be welcome. That is the fundamental, narrative-changing  miracle of Israel.

© Howard Epstein – November 2017

The author’s book, Israel at Seventy: In Weizmann’s Image is available now from Amazon in paperback or as a Kindle e-book.

As Israel reaches its seventieth birthday, it is timely to consider the story of its indispensable founder, Chaim Weizmann. Statesman and scientist, it was Weizmann who saved the British Empire from defeat in World War I, kindled the hope for the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, after an absence of 2,000 years, and was then instrumental in securing what was needed to establish the State of Israel and its future as a technological powerhouse. Weizmann may be said to be the world’s first 20th century – even 21st century – man. If any aspects of modern life became supremely important last century, and remain so in this, they are science & technology and networking. Weizmann’s chemistry, both in the laboratory and with a wide-range of key people, led to his four great political coups, each essential to the emergence of the State of Israel. In addition, he pulled off three crucial educational feats that secured Israel’s future and ensured its success – in his image. In the case of the political achievements, only Weizmann could have wrought them. In the case of the others, only he did. Despite these signature successes, today little is known of him and what he achieved. Why this should be so is revealed in a tale of rivalry between two political giants: Weizmann, the greater talent, but the older, and his nemesis, David Ben-Gurion.

Amazon USA – Paperback

Amazon USA – Kindle E-Book keywords=israel+at+70

Amazon UK – Paperback

Amazon UK – Kindle E-Book

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