Under the kleptocratic government of former KGB Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Putin, Russia has been presenting itself as the guardian of Christendom and chief defender of the high holy traditional moral values of the West.
Some Americans also see Russia that way. The Ku Klux Klan’s David Duke, for one, has taken up housekeeping in Moscow. So have much younger “white nationalists” from Norway, Australia, Holland, etc. They stand with Russia. They fight, they say, to preserve the goodness of the “white race,” the traditional moral values of white people, against godless perversion.
One problem there is that, at this point in history, the very names, Russia, and “white nationalism,” should stink in people’s nostrils.
Russia has militarized what the Torah calls loshon hara, the evil tongue. Weaponizing modern communications to spew falsehood, defamation, and character assassination, Russia’s national forces – the military, the secret services, the government controlled media – have been proceeding on a great campaign to sew confusion and division in other countries, to weaken their societies, to steer them towards self-harm.
That’s some ad for the great moral values of Russia.
Torah features a huge body of Divine legislation and Scriptural admonition against what Russia’s doing. Perverting the uniquely wonderful Divine gift of speech, human language, not to exalt the species and benefit the world but to deliberately inflict injury….
Our take on this: What Russia’s doing exemplifies what happens when a culture and a country stops fearing God to chase new values, “gods” and principles, which admire, love and validate what God abominates.
Russia, purporting to be the world’s chief avatar, agent, representative and model of high moral values, is proving that it’s exactly the opposite of that. By its conduct – the surest sign of things - it’s demonstrating that it has turned to “gods” of evil, “gods” of nonsense. It’s accepted upon itself the disgusting moral values of deluded fools.
As for Duke and the other white nationalists - of course they seek white superiority, not mere equality - who’ve discovered kindred spirits among the Russians… You’d think that, after Russia’s gruesome experience with German white nationalism, 1941-1945, Russians could host better guests than that, even under Colonel Putin.
Russia has become a disgrace and a menace. Russia needs fixing.
Rabbi Michael Katz had some thoughts on this piece, and this issue generally:
[I'm] not too crazy about all the politics. It is interesting, though, that the name Russia in Hebrew means wicked. Coincidence? On the other hand, Putin must be given credit for his behind the scenes support of Israel and for allowing freedom of worship to Jews in Russia, who now have many opportunities to learn about and express their Judaism. Trump claims to have been the first to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The U.S. was the first to move its embassy but it was the Russian foreign minister who was the first to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He did this in a speech almost a year before Trump made his announcement.
Of all the persuasive arguments and tools available to “white nationalists,” probably the strongest is people’s fear of Muslim terrorism.
Countries allow in people from foreign climes and cultures to settle, to live and let live, share in the nation’s riches, and – ideally, what we’re proud to be very used to in America - enrich the nation’s culture. It can and will try to “vet” these immigrants, to try to ensure that they will live and let live, like other good citizens.
That doesn’t mean that their children will be good.
In Judaism we have the phenomenon of the ba’al teshuva, the newly observant person, “returning” to the ways of the Fathers. Muslims are not very different that way. Except that, in Islam, the ways of the Fathers may very well be murderous. Even Somali kids born and raised in Minnesota, of all places, have embraced violent jihad. It happens that, when young Muslims living in the West become more religious, they become genuinely dangerous. They become ba’alei jihad, “masters of jihad.”
As the world has noticed, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
It’s hard to condemn a whole religion but Islam, like Russia, has been discrediting itself. That strain in it that honors violence… Or, for that matter, the strain in it that’s the opposite of Prosperity Gospel, earning the curse of Allah Himself – the Qur’an says Allah is HaShem - by cursing and abominating Israel.
This should be obvious. Until Islam extirpates that strain in itself that honors violence, and that encourages hatred of Jews (as well as Christians), even the most worthy, saintly Muslims who want to move to the West are going to suffer under a cloud.
This isn’t just a matter of stupid racism or “white nationalism.” This is a real cultural problem. Which no one can solve but Muslims themselves. God grants them a choice: choose goodness, or its opposite. It’s not that hard to distinguish which is which.
People often come out of the military only to find themselves at loose ends. They were accustomed to a life full of honor. They were dedicated to and served their country and what it stands for. Then, outside the service, suddenly, that’s lost.
Actually, there’s plenty of honor to go around. One thing people don’t necessarily understand about the Torah is how God calls all of us - men and women, children, Jew and Noahide, and everyone who seeks to follow the God of Abraham, HaShem – to a life full of honor.
“Be a blessing,” God commands Abraham and all his spiritual and biological descendants (Genesis 12:2). To be that – what an honor!
By Michael Dallen
My God, the soul You placed within me is pure.
Hebrew Prayerbook, morning prayer