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What thinking, perspectives, and interests have driven the emergence of a conciliatory even friendly policy posturing by the Russian government toward the Russian Community since 2000?

An important, yet generally-ignored, development in Putin period (2000-present) Russia is the revitalization of the countrys Jewish population. In contrast to past centuries of ambivalence or active repression under both tsars and commissars, the 21st century Russias Jewish population openly expresses and advances its socioeconomic, political, culture, and religious interests. Rather than being the object of state sanction and even persecution, Jewish Community-Russian state relations are strong, while the Russia protects Jewish rights from lingering antisemitic elements. Indeed, fewer per capita incidents of antisemitism are recorded in Russia than in many Western European societies. One-time Soviet or Russian Jews are now returning to Russia, while Russian-Israeli relations are the best since the formation of the modern Jewish state in 1948. This project, focused on the period 2000-present, when the Vladimir Putin team governed Russia, seeks to explain this important reality of positive Russian-Jewish relations, as considered against the backdrop of centuries of ambivalence and repression. The project will be structured to analyze both (1) government interests and actions vis–vis the Jewish Community, and (2) Jewish Community interests and assessments of its evolving position in 21st century Russia. Relying upon both government documents (e.g., legislation, presidential decrees, and Cabinet of Ministers actions) and Russian media discussion (e.g., selected national newspapers such as Nezavisimaya gazeta and Kommersant), the project will be structured to identify government and Jewish Community interests, perspectives, and actions as Russian-Jewish relations are illuminated. Several overriding substantive questions guide this Russian Jewish Opportunity and Challenge project: 1. What thinking, perspectives, and interests have driven the emergence of a conciliatory even friendly policy posturing by the Russian government toward the Russian Community since 2000? 2. What political and other institutional structures exist or have been created since 2000 to link Russian state (and societal) interests with those of the Jewish Community? How do they function? 3. What advances have actually been realized by the Jewish Community in its socioeconomic, political, and cultural standing since 2000? Has and how have the ability of Jews to express (openly) their religious interests and perform their religious rituals changed since 2000? 4. To the extent that information sources (idiosyncratic and systematic) permit, how do individual Jews and groups assess their life circumstances in 21st century Russia? What factors do these see as key to improvements in their circumstances? What challenges continue to confront them? Please breifly detail history of anti-semitism in USSR/Russia, however vast majority of the paper should be exploring the contemporary state of the Jewish community (2000- present). Consider looking into – Putin’s individual history with the Jewish community (rather extensive), foreign policy, desire to consolidate a multinational Russia, and whatever else you may believe answers the questions above. Please include some graphs or tables explaining the changed public opinion regarding the jewish commuity. I will upload some helpful supplemental information in the next few days and feel free to actively reach out with any questions.

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