Dr Mike Evans

Russia plans to shut down Jewish Agency for Israel

Russia’s Justice Ministry has presented a formal request to end the work of the Jewish Agency for Israel, according to Russian media on Thursday.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Basmanny District Court in Moscow on July 28.

A report by the Jerusalem Post noted that the agency is working to fight the case ahead of the scheduled court date. The efforts reportedly started after Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid entered office. Lapid has been strongly critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier in the month, Russia ordered the Jewish Agency to stop all operations in its country.

“As part of the work of the Jewish Agency’s delegation in Russia, we are occasionally required to make certain adjustments, as required by authorities,” the agency told the Jerusalem Post on July 5 (https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/article-711227).

“The contacts with the authorities take place continuously, with the aim of continuing our activities in accordance with the rules set by the competent bodies. Even nowadays, such a dialogue takes place,” it added.

Israel believes that Aliyah, Jews returning to Israel, is a basic right for the Jews of Russia. The window for Jews to return to Israel may be closing, however, as President Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on various groups within his nation, including Jews.

Despite strong relations between Israel and Russia, the Kremlin’s recent invasion of Ukraine has strained efforts. In addition, Putin met this week in Tehran with Iran’s president and Supreme Leader regarding efforts in Syria. Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan also attended.

The meeting took place just days after President Joe Biden made his first visit to Israel as president. He also traveled to Saudi Arabia. The issue of Iran was a major topic of both stops.

Russia’s relationships with both Iran and Syria appear to further cause problems for Israel as well as for Jews living in Russia.