Saturday, February 17, 2024

An uprising occurred in southern Russia where rioters stormed an airport tarmac in search of Jewish passengers on a flight from Israel. This incident has shocked Jews both in Russia and abroad, led to condemnation from the Israeli government, and prompted an unscheduled meeting by the Kremlin to address the clashes. The main airport in the predominantly Muslim republic of Dagestan was invaded by hundreds of young men on Sunday night in search of a commercial flight from Tel Aviv. Videos and images on social media showed some rioters holding Palestinian flags and opposing the war in Gaza. It is believed that a Telegram messaging channel urged them to “catch” the passengers from Israel. The Israeli government expects the Russian authorities to protect its citizens and act firmly against the rioters, describing the incident as targeted towards Jews and Israelis. Around 20 people were injured, and numerous arrests were made. The government of Dagestan has said that the situation has been calmed and that they will prevent further clashes. This uprising highlights the challenges faced by the Kremlin in managing its vast multiethnic and multireligious country. The region’s recent history of war and incidents of terrorism pose a major risk factor for overall stability. The Kremlin’s decision to distance itself from Israel and the military campaign against Hamas in Gaza can also cause instability at home, especially with Russia’s growing Muslim population. President Vladimir Putin has shown increased concern about the Israeli-Hamas war potentially leading to ethnic strife in Russia. He held meetings with faith leaders to discuss the issue and blamed Western special services for instigating the uprising, specifically mentioning interference from Ukrainian territory. The Dagestan government blamed pro-Ukrainian conspirators for the clashes, claiming that they had inflamed public sentiment to fuel unrest in Russia. Videos and images shared on social media showed a chaotic scene at the airport, with rioters swarming an airplane after the passengers had disembarked. The riot was fueled by a Telegram channel that discussed plans to “catch” the passengers and even shared screenshots of flight schedules. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia criticized local governments for allowing a mass violation of the law, suggesting incompetence on their part. Numerous arrests were made, and the police promised a thorough investigation and accountability for all participants. Anti-Israel protests were reported across the North Caucasus region as well. The war in Ukraine has radicalized Russian society, leading to aggressive and xenophobic sentiments. Ukrainian officials seized on the events in Russia as reflective of the Kremlin’s culture of hatred that they had fostered for years. President Volodymyr Zelensky called for collaboration in opposing hatred and violence.

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