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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776
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Is Putin a Friend to the Jews Who Deserves Support?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90

Therefore, whenever a man or a country is wicked, however good they may temporarily be to the Jews, the friendship will not last. They will eventually turn on the Jews since our mission is to spread morality. And can we really support dictators who are our friends if they are murderous and immoral? Does that not contravene everything we are about?

Can the Jewish community befriend a man who is the shield who protects mass murderer Bashar Assad who gasses innocent Arab children? Can we have any relationship with a man that facilitates such evil?

Take a closer look and you will see that not only is Putin not the friend to Israel we think he is, but he is actually a huge danger. Who is the biggest international defender of Iran at the UN? Putin’s Russia.

Moreover, in 2012 Putin had deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov warn Israel against “any possible military scenario against Iran” which he threatened would be “catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations. Therefore I hope Israel understands all these consequences … and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves.”

Some friend.Russia has also called the international sanctions against Iran “overt blackmail” and a “crude contradiction of international law.”

In September, 2013, The Daily Mail quoted a Kremlin source as saying that Vladimir Putin was preparing to offer Iran “missile systems and a second nuclear reactor… If it goes ahead Iran will be supplied with five advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles, capable of taking down aircraft or guided missiles, valued at $800million.”

With Iran threatening to wipe Israel off the map one can only wonder why Putin, the great friend of the Jews, is protecting Iran’s nuclear program and arming Iran with advanced weapons systems.

The answer, of course, is that Vladimir Putin has no friends. He is your typical narcissistic, megalomaniacal dictator who will cultivate friendships that burnish his image. And for now it suits his purposes to feign attachment to the Jews.

As to Chabad of Russia’s friendship with Putin, the Lubavitcher Rebbe made it clear that Russia had stolen the celebrated “Schneerson Library” accumulated by successive Chabad leaders. He had the movement launch lawsuits and use every diplomatic connection to retrieve the stolen archive from Russia. Putin has categorically refused to return it, offering to exhibit it in the Jewish museum in Moscow instead. How some in Chabad have accepted this “deal,” given the Rebbe’s ferocious protests to the contrary, continues to mystify.

Always beware friendship with a dictator. When he falls, righteous people will point fingers. And you really don’t want to be around.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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