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Putin: ‘We consider Israel a Russian-speaking state’

Putin at the International Leadership Reunion of the Jewish Federations of North America in Moscow, September 2019.

Sept. 17, 2019
Translated from the Russian

The richest Jews in the world gathered in Moscow for the International Leadership Reunion (ILR) conference, the purpose of which is to raise funds for the benefit of the State of Israel.

The three-day program of the event will end with a donation ceremony called the Caucus—with a set minimum of $250,000 USD. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived to welcome the elite gathering at the fashionable Four Seasons Hotel, located literally under the windows of the Kremlin.

LR is a key event of the Keren Hayesod International Charitable Foundation, established at the World Zionist Congress in 1920. Today, various projects in education, culture, spiritual, and charitable spheres are financed from its funds. Among the members of the elite club are the richest families on the planet: the Rothschilds, the Brazilian Safra family, South African Kaplanov, Canadian – Bronfmanov (Bronfman).

There are also businessmen of European origin from Russia. Their names were not disclosed in the explanatory note, but, for example, Mr. Vekselberg was noticed at the Russian Congress. As the aide to the President of the Russian Federation, Yuri Ushakov explained, this powerful organization has branches in 45 countries. “In fact, this is the main source of funding for programs in various countries that are associated with supporting world Jewry,” Ushakov noted.

The organization’s congresses are held in world capitals. Usually, these events are attended not only by the world business elite, but also by politicians of the highest rank (they were attended by Obama, Berlusconi, and Juan Carlos). This, of course, is not the only reason why Vladimir Putin visited the former Moscow hotel yesterday. It is known that the Russian leader prefers to live with Jews in peace. And there are also many Jews among his friends.

The conference started back on Sunday. During these days, representatives of the foundation visited key sights of Moscow with excursions, read a prayer for the dead Jewish soldiers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexander Garden, listened to the performance of the Red Army choir, saw the dances of Russian ballerinas and Don Cossacks, had lunch and dinner at the best gastronomic venues in the capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington on November 9, 2009.— NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

The program was very busy. For a meeting with the Russian president, immediately after which the ceremony of awarding the prize of the Prophet Isaiah was planned, a window was allocated from 13 to 14 hours on September 17. And although the main office of the Russian president was literally a couple of minutes walk away, Vladimir Putin was decently late for a meeting with the richest Jews in the world.

In anticipation of the Russian president, the guests excitedly chatted in the hall, sparkling with diamonds and glasses in platinum frames, emitting the smell of selection perfumes and whiling away the time watching videos on screens. From time to time, a girl would run out onto the stage and say: “Don’t worry, Vladimir Putin is on the road, he will definitely come!”

At a quarter past three, when, according to the program, the conference participants were to follow to the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812, the guests were invited to take their places. This was a signal that the Russian president was about to arrive. And he arrived. The Jewish elite rose from their seats as if on command to capture the first Russian face on smartphones.

This picture taken on July 28, 2019 shows two giant Israeli Likud Party election banners hanging from a building showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with a caption above reading in Hebrew “Netanyahu, in another league”, in the coastal Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Putin’s speech lasted ten minutes and contained a lot of curtsies towards the Jewish side. The President expressed gratitude to the foundation, which supports so many useful projects.

Putin called relations with Israel “partnership and constructive.” And after the words that there was never such a level of relations as now, the audience burst into applause. The Russian president also spoke about the importance of strengthening the trade turnover between Russia and Israel, which is still rather modest. The situation should be corrected by the free trade agreement between the EurAsEC countries and Israel, as well as the green corridor, which will be provided for Israeli vegetables that will go to the Russian market.

“Our citizens are linked by family, friendly ties. This is a network family, I say without exaggeration,” said Putin. And then he unexpectedly added: “We consider Israel to be a Russian-speaking state.” After that, some of the guests in the hall tensed, but the rest still laughed.

Then, under the clicks of smartphones, the Russian president left the hall to meet with some VIPs behind closed doors. The rest of the conference participants were informed that the visit to the museum was canceled, but a gourmet lunch was waiting for them. No one remembered the award of the Prophet Isaiah.

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