On the wake of the arrival of President Vladimir Putin to Jerusalem and Israel, it is intriguing to re-read the article written by Aluf Been for HaAretz on his trip, the first one ever made by a head of any Russian State (April 27, 2005).
He will come back in the same position of the president he was then. Since then, only 7 years have passed, but PM. Ariel Sharon is "on hold" (though did not pass away in any sense bec. of the political choices of Israel); Hosni Mubarak stepped down and is dying. Fuel-oil agreements have changed in many ways both in FSU areas Russia and Caucasus, also for Israel and the region. The war in Iraq did not stop, Afghanistan is going on, Syria, frailty of Lebanon, Kuwait, Yemen and also Saudi Arabia show very problematic. In the meanwhile, crowds of Russian and Slavic workers are employed in the Arab Emirates. They require spiritual assistance that Moscow tries to get from Antioch - the traditional Arab line. The Russian Orthodox are insecure in Lebanon/Syria and Egypt. They create big facilities and centers for studies and reconnecting of the Russian presence in the Holy Land in the Palestinian Territories (some building in East-Jerusalem) via oil tycoons. Some FSU Jewish and often Israeli oil tycoons came to Israel with ccontrasted projects and programs.
Little real support is given to the Arab Palestinian Orthodox who are under the authority of the Mother Church of Jerusalem, which the Russian State and Russian Orthodox Church will hardly deny or directly attack.
On the other hand, a huge amount of FSU citizens arrived as newcomers in Israel and are not considered as "Russian" anymore, but as Israelis, which is also an interrogation. among them, crowds of born, new baptized Orthodox Christians did not fin at the present, the adequate spiritual assistance that would basically require the recognition of Israel, Israeli society, culture, spirituality, roots and prospects that link Judaism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The process has started, very very slowly but it will take much time. Undoubtedly, Pres. Putin's visit paves the way to the canonical visit that Patriarch Kirill of Russia should soon pay to Jerusalem and Bethlehem and the Holy Places as well as to Patriarch Theophilos and the members of the Israeli government as late Patriarch Alexey had done.
av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)