Today, Israeli heroes are not the same as in the past. Now, the Israeli government is fighting not for the release of super-agents as Eli Cohen or hostages as it was in Entebbe. Times are anew and so are the characters.
In July 2019, 12 Israeli teenagers were arrested in Cyprus, charged with group rape of a British girl. A few months later these young people were set free and welcomed in Israeli like national heroes. But some observers told that the
release of said teenagers was as a result of some illegal interventions by some of the Israeli families.
On September 11, a Moscow court found an Israeli tourist Naama Issachar guilty for drug trafficking and she was arrested in the transit zone of Moscow airport with 9.6 grams of hashish. She was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.
The decision of the Russian court caused a massive anti-Russian cacophony in Israeli media and social networks. Many Israelis see Naama’s sentence disproportionate with the crime that she has committed.
Today about 30 Israelis are imprisoned in different counts of drug trafficking, but only Naama Issachar’s case stirred much public attention. The explanation for this phenomenon we can see in Israeli internal policy. For last years
constructive relations between Israel and Russia are a result of the personal politics of Benjamin Netanyahu and his team, which created good relations with the Russian political and business elite. In this situation, any act of sabotage to Russian-Israeli relations can also be explained as an attack on present the prime minister, especially now, when Israel probably faces new elections.
According to the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz”, Moscow’s court decision can also be explained as a political message to Tel-Aviv. Four yeas ago a Russian computer specialist Alexey Burkov was arrested in Israel. He should have
been expelled to the USA where Burkov should face fraud charges based on Israeli allegations. But some experts say that Alexey Burkov’s arrest was a part of a game between superpowers. According to Haaretz, Naama Issachar,
also a US citizen, will be repatriated to Israe if Alexey Burkov is left to return to Russia.
Over the past few years, Russia has taken active measures for the protection of its citizens abroad. On October 2 this year, Russian journalist Julia Juzik was relisted by Iran after an intervention of Russian Forging Ministry. The
Iranian government blamed Ms. Juzik for spying on behalf of Israel. But in her interview after returning to Russia Juzik told that her arrest was a result of contradictions between different groups in the Iranian government.
On October 26, Maria Butina, a Russian citizen was deported and sent back to Russia by the US administration based on allegations by the Federal prosecutor that she was an “unregistered foreign agent” connected with
Russian oligarchs and leaders of the Republican Party.
Now Russian experts stated that Israel should take the next step to solve Naama Issahar’s case. Sources told that “If Alexsey Burkov is set free, Naama can go home the next day”. But in general, Russia is not increasing pressure
on Israel because it can destabilize the position of Russia’s main partner in Israel — Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister. Russian television and media choose to ignore Naama Issachar’s story while Mr. Netanyahu ignored
an opportunity to solve this problem between two countries as an act of personal diplomacy. For example, during his next visit to Moscow, give freedom to Alexsey Burkov and return home with Naama Issachar.
The shooting of Russian intelligence plane IL-20 in September 2018, the story of Ms. Issachar is some of the many permanently rising conflicts and contradictions between Russia and Israel. The solution may very well be based on good relations between the present administrations in both Moscow and Tel-Aviv. On the other hand, should there be a change in either of the administrations it can bring about more series of tensions between the two countries.
Vice Editor in Chief “On the Holly Land” Magazine
Lecturer at the Maykovsky’s Library, East Culture Center