Sunday, April 22, 2007

I am ashamed to admit that I can confirm the existence of this phenomenon. Ten years ago, when I did my basic training ( reduced to 4-5 weeks ), I experienced - together with about 20 other 'Anglosaxons', i.e. immigrants whose mothertongue was not Russian, plus maybe a dozen of brave and dedicated immigrants from the former Soviet Union, out of a company of +/- 130 men - much of what is described in the article. People ask me sometimes about anti-Semitism in France ( there is a lot of that, but I hardly ever saw it with my own eyes or heard it with my own ears ) and I always reply that I experienced the most serious cases of anti-Semitism of my life in those 4-5 weeks, in the Israeli army. Just like it is pointed out in the article, only very extreme cases that could not be ignored were dealt with, the phenomenon as such was carefully swept under the carpet, and when we asked our commanders if they were specifically told to handle 'the Russians' with velvet gloves they could only nod their heads. Apart from anti-Semitism we witnessed alcohol and drug abuse, games with semi-automatic weapons, vandalism and other forms of utter disrespect towards symbols of the Jewish state and people, cursing of commanders, and so on. Of course we should not forget that many, many soldiers whose mothertongue is Russian are among the best soldiers who serve in the IDF today, but anti-Semitism among part of the Russian-speaking public is something that should be taken ( and dealt with ) seriously, both in- and outside the army.

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