Jewish Agency-Russia Dispute Prompts Israeli Visit

Russia is seeking to halt the Jewish Agency’s operations in its country, claiming the non-profit organization that helps Jewish people make aliyah has illegally collected personal information of those interested in immigrating to Israel. Russia boasts a large population of Jewish people. About 600,000 Russians are eligible to immigrate to Israel, a number that has risen since the country’s invasion of Ukraine and even more so since Russia’s dispute with the Jewish Agency. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated the result of closing the agency’s Russian offices would be “grave, with ramifications for relations” between Israel and Russia. Lapid sent an Israeli delegation to Russia today, hoping to convince the nation to allow the Jewish Agency to continue operating.

Any form of pushback against Russia is bold but dangerous. It’s clear that Russia is a powder keg, and one spark could set off its explosive wrath. That spark could come in the form of Israel’s demands for Russia to keep its hands off the Jewish Agency. Unfortunately, it’s even easier for Russia to strike Israel than another country because it can work through its proxies in the Middle East. Its friendliness with Iran and Turkey, the dominant powers in the region, present a powerful enemy for Israel should it incur Russia’s wrath. But Israel is certainly morally right in its decision to implore Russia to let the Jewish Agency continue working. Its purpose of helping Jewish people make aliyah to their homeland is always important but never more so than now in the midst of war. We hope Russia’s leadership will reconsider their intentions for the Jewish Agency and allow it to continue its good work.