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An Israeli legal team tasked with helping the Jewish Agency cope with a hearing in a Moscow court on Thursday did not leave Israel because Russia failed to issue the necessary visas for the delegation to enter the country.
The Russian Justice Ministry has not responded to an Israeli request to meet them, and unless there is official approval for the meeting, the Russian Embassy is unable to issue visas, a source said. source in Jerusalem. JewishPress.com.
The delegation, led by Tamar Kaplan, is expected to do its utmost to convince the Russian government to reverse its decision to close Jewish Agency offices in the country during negotiations with high-ranking officials in Moscow.
But the trip has been put on hold and may have to be canceled altogether, given Russia’s reluctance to discuss the matter with the Israelis.
Even if Moscow gives in and issues the visas, at this stage it is unclear whether the delegation will arrive in time to help the Jewish Agency fight for its survival at a hearing scheduled for Thursday in a Russian court.
The Jewish Agency is responsible for many Jewish community activities in the country, in addition to serving as a conduit through which the country’s Jews immigrate to Israel.
Russia’s decision to close the Agency is seen as a bad omen.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, until recently Chief Rabbi of Moscow, told the Hebrew language ynet Monday’s news agency: “Overall, we are now in a situation where the iron curtain has again partially come down between Russia and the Western world.
“One of the signs of the fall of the Iron Curtain is the banning of the activities of the Jewish Agency,” said the rabbi, who has held the position for the past 33 years. He was, however, forced to leave Moscow after refusing to voice support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Now, he warns, Russian Jewry faces a new and disturbing challenge.
“Anyone with an open mind sees this as the start of a new era for Jews in Russia and for Russia,” said Goldschmidt, who continues to serve as president of the Conference of European Rabbis.
“The Jewish community fears that the closing of the agency’s offices is not the last step. In general, they see it as a deterioration in relations with Israel and with a serious fear of a deterioration in relations between the government and the community,” he added.
“I worry about the fate of the Jewish community [in Russia], Absolutely. We don’t live in a vacuum,” the rabbi said.
There are fears, in fact, that Russia will even go so far as to prevent Jews from immigrating to Israel, as happened during the days of the Soviet Union.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a 33-year-old Jewish St. Petersburg resident told Israel Channel N12, “Let’s talk about feelings, not facts. The feelings about the possibility of the return of the Iron Curtain and the fear that we will not be able to travel to Israel are not only related to Israel but to the fact that the border will be closed.
“If the borders remain open, then we can get to Israel, maybe with a little more difficulty, maybe through another country. Maybe they won’t call it ‘aliya’ but rather ‘evacuation’ and maybe we’ll travel without plans and without support – we’ll just arrive in Israel and they’ll send us to the hotel,” he said. he theorized.
“In any case, most concerns are growing, not because of the fear that the agency will be closed, but because the government will close the borders in general and not allow the possibility of leaving.”
Political sources quoted by ynet said the closure of Jewish Agency offices in Russia will seriously damage the fabric of social life in the country’s Jewish community. There is also deep concern that Russia will take further action against other Jewish organizations and may block the activities of the Nativ Liaison Office attached to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
The main fear, however, remains that Russia will prevent its Jews from traveling to Israel.