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Tacerea evreilor din Rusia

In Putin’s Russia, Jewish groups adopt silence as best protection


More then 6,000 young Russian-speaking Jews participated in summer camp programs offered by the Jewish Agency in the former Soviet Union -- activities that so far have avoided problems with the government. (Photo credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Agency via JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it didn’t take long for international Jewish groups to rush into Russia and begin rebuilding institutions of Jewish life that had been destroyed under generations of communist repression.

In the two decades since, Russian Jewry has undergone a remarkable revival, and Diaspora Jewish institutions from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to the Jewish Agency for Israel to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement have been there every step of the way.

But with the environment in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia growing increasingly hostile toward foreign nongovernmental organizations, could the operations of international Jewish groups be in jeopardy?

“We’re in a very reactionary phase,” said James Brooke, the Moscow correspondent for the Voice of America. “The current leadership doesn’t favor civil society and prefers vertical power, which is an authoritarian, dictatorial concept from the top of ‘salute and shut up.’ ”

On Oct. 1, in a sign of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, Russia announced that it was ending all US Agency for International Development operations in the country, ending a program that has invested more than $2.7 billion in Russia since 1991 to promote “a more open and innovative society and a strengthened partnership between Russia and the United States.”


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Bomba cu ceas – Iran

Iran is moving fast toward nuclear weapons despite sanctions

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns the world that time is running short to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions in speech at the United Nations.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns the world in speech at the United Nations that time is running short to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

With Iran fast approaching nuclear weapons capability, the European Union stepped up financial, trade and technology sanctions that are aimed at the regime’s atomic appetite. Pray that they work as none have before.

The world is in an ever-shortening race for time, the object being to crimp the country’s economy, foment growing popular unrest and, finally, pressure the mullahs into standing down before military action becomes necessary.

Added to an oil embargo and a freeze on assets of Iran’s central bank, the new restrictions draw a bead on essentially anything Tehran can use to make money or create nuclear weapons.

Business with Iranian banks, except under very narrowly controlled conditions, is outlawed, as is purchase of natural gas from Iran. EU ships are forbidden from transporting or storing Iranian oil or petrochemical products. Also barred are dealings with 34 entities that provide financial support to the Iranian government and the sale to Iran of raw materials that could be useful to a nuclear or ballistic missile program.

Iran’s economy is already a near-basket case. Its currency, the rial, has lost 40% of its value against the dollar in recent weeks. Inflation is rampant. Goods are in short supply. Protests have flared.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have responded with gamecock defiance. Meanwhile, the centrifuges that process Iran’s uranium toward its goal of weapons-grade purity spin away.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu illustrated Iran’s sinister time line dramatically in his UN speech last month. By spring or summer, Iran is likely to have weapons-grade or fissile uranium, and then it would be practically impossible to head off the actual assembling of a weapon, he told the General Assembly.

Netanyahu deployed a chilling cartoon of a bomb to show how close Iran is drawing to the mullahs’ goal of nuclear capability. President Obama, who has pledged to prevent Iran from acquiring atomic weaponry, declined to endorse Netanyahu’s call for drawing a so-called red line that Iran would be forbidden to cross.

Netanyahu thanked the EU for its new moves, acknowledging it had imposed “tough sanctions” that are “hitting the Iranian economy hard.”

But they still haven’t gotten us there, as his country, threatened in its very existence, is all too well aware. Speaking of the sanctions, he added: “We will know that they are achieving their goal when the centrifuges stop spinning.”

They must, and soon.