There haven’t been any new serious disagreements between Russia and Israel since she assumed her position in late December so this scandal is likely due much more to her own unprofessionalism than any speculative intent by the self-professed Jewish State to send that Eurasian Great Power a message.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that it’ll summon new Israeli Ambassador Simona Halperin to complain about the way in which she distorted her host country’s regional policy in an interview last week with the popular business daily Kommersant. She counterfactually claimed that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “downplays” the Holocaust, Russia has double standards towards terrorism, and that it supposedly never condemned the Houthis at the UNSC, all of which is false.
Beginning with the first of her misportrayals of Russian policy, Halperin is likely referring to the anti-fascist point that Lavrov sough to convey in May 2022 about how one’s ethno-religious identity at birth doesn’t predetermine their views later in life when he questioned whether Hitler was Jewish. He also said in mid-January that the Holocaust doesn’t give Israel impunity to do as it pleases. The self-professed Jewish State furiously protested both remarks, which likely twisted Halperin’s perceptions about them.
As for the second, this analysis here from the end of last year contains around a dozen related pieces articulating Russian policy towards West Asia after Hamas’ sneak attack. They very clearly prove per official sources that Russia condemned it as an act of terrorism but doesn’t ban the group in order to retain dialogue with a view towards mediating a political solution to the conflict. These aren’t double standards like Halperin claimed, but simple pragmatism in line with Russia’s established policy.
And finally, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN publicly condemned the Houthis in early January, which was analyzed here. He also declined vetoing the UNSC Resolution that the Anglo-American Axis subsequently exploited to justify bombing Yemen despite predicting that in advance. As with Hamas, Russia is practicing a very careful balancing act in that particular conflict, and it’s wrong to interpret its refusal to parrot Western rhetoric and replicate their policies as support for either group.
Halperin needs to realize that her words have consequences and that public statements of the kind that she made in her interview with Kommersant, which counterfactually misrepresent her host’s regional policy, are unacceptable and will be met with firm diplomatic responses if she dares to continue. Hopefully she learns her lesson otherwise her stated goal of maintaining the generally positive state of bilateral relations and keeping Israel off of Russia’s “unfriendly countries” list will fail.
All states’ diplomats have the right to interpret other countries’ policies however they’d like through the prism of their own’s interests, but that doesn’t mean that publicly expressing critical observations is always a wise thing to do, let alone misattributing the other’s intent. If a pair of states already have troubled relations like Russia and the West’s do, then this is par for the course amidst their spiraling tensions, though even then they sometimes summon the other’s ambassadors to complain.
Russian-Israeli relations have impressively managed to avoid the powerful centrifugal pressures placed upon them by circumstances and Western meddling, thus remaining pretty solid in spite of the special operation and the latest Israeli-Hamas war even though each has criticized the other for these conflicts. Nevertheless, their top representatives in one another’s countries continued to behave responsibly by calmly managing their differences and each societies’ perceptions, until Halperin’s interview that is.
There haven’t been any new serious disagreements between Russia and Israel since she assumed her position in late December so this scandal is likely due much more to her own unprofessionalism than any speculative intent by the self-professed Jewish State to send that Eurasian Great Power a message. The best-case scenario is that her superiors get the message being sent by Russia through her summoning and that Israel then orders her to watch her words from here on out.