CEPA: Russian one-upmanship over Israel an example of laughing to hide the tears

Missile strikes from the Gaza Strip.
Missile strikes from the Gaza Strip. Source: SCANPIX/ZUMAPRESS.com/Ahmed Zakot

Pro-Kremlin mockery of Israel in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks which started from the Gaza Strip last Saturday are telling in regard to the toll taken on Russia and its military in its invasion of Ukraine, not least the failures of that invasion's early stages, a piece on the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) website reports.

Russia faced a double whammy of actually being taken to task by Ukrainian forces, but also widespread derision from experts (and non-experts) in the West and elsewhere, something which would have piqued the country's pride, the piece, by CEPA non-resident senior fellows Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, argues.

Thus Hamas' rocket strikes and massacres of civilians starting from last Saturday were seized upon in kind by Russian military commentators.

But, as with so many things Russian, the view of Israel, and for that matter Palestine and neighboring Arab nations, is filled with contradictions and, from a Western perspective at least, inconsistencies.

Soldatov and Borogan note the glowing admiration held by Russia's security service towards Mossad and other Israeli intelligence and security agencies, so much so that, in the context of the Chechen wars of the 1990s and 2000s, Vladimir Putin signed into effect laws which allowed Russian agencies to conduct their assassinations abroad, "in clear imitation of the Israeli approach," Soldatov and Borogan write.

However, there is one key difference and one which, again, points to the Russian mindset: An approved list of targets for said squads included not only individuals identified as a perceived threat to national security, but also those who ended up as personal political enemies of Putin's.

One of the most famous instances of this approach in recent years came in Salisbury, England, where in 2018 a botched nerve agent attack using ended up in the death of a passer-by, as well as the serious illness and hospitalization of its target, former double agent Sergei Skripal, his daughter, and a police officer.

In fact, such episodes may have served to crystallize Western unity in the aftermath of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine starting in early 2022, Soldatov and Borogan note.

The Israeli security forces-admiration has to be set alongside the tradition of anti-semitism in Russia, anti-Israel propaganda during the Soviet era and the fact that, Soldatov and Borogan write, "Russian security services and politicians remain deeply antisemitic to this day."

Another contradiction: Despite aid and support for Arab militaries and their leadership, particularly from the time of the 1967 Six-Day War and onward, a disdain for and xenophobia towards Arabs remained – such derision has even been seen in the past few days, Soldatov and Borogan write, including one meme showing a Palestinian standing in front of a captured IDF Merkava heavy tank, holding a screwdriver.

All this on top of posts goading Israel's response to the Hamas, and, now, Hezboallah, attacks, and its apparent "failure" to learn from Russia's supposedly peerless performance in its invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

Ultimately, Soldatov and Borogan argue, while recent events without a doubt show up shortcomings with the structure of Israel's military and security agencies, this changes nothing for Russia, its military, and the damage it has suffered in Ukraine "That doesn't seem like anything to celebrate."

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan are Nonresident Senior Fellows with CEPA, and are Russian investigative journalists, and co-founders of Agentura.ru, which monitors Russian secret service activities. 

The original CEPA article which appeared on the site's Europe's Edge journal, which covers critical topics on the foreign policy docket from Europe and North America, is here.

CEPA states on its site that its main goals include ensuring a strong and enduring transatlantic alliance, one rooted in democratic values, and building networks of future leaders versed in Atlanticism.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: CEPA

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