Moscow chief rabbi: Trump ‘good news’ for US ties with Russia, Israel

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The chief rabbi of Moscow said he expects U.S. relations with Russia and Israel to improve under President-elect Donald Trump.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who is also the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, made the projection Tuesday during an interview in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, which for the first time was hosting his organization’s biannual Standing Committee gathering.

“We believe there’s going to be a serious attempt at bettering the relationship,” Goldschmidt said about U.S.-Russia ties, citing statements by officials in both countries.

“Regarding the Russian-U.S. relationship, I think the election of Trump might bring good news,” the rabbi said, adding that he expected the same for Israel-U.S. ties.


Under President Barack Obama, the United States has taken a leading role in imposing international sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Separately, U.S.-Israel ties reached what many observers considered a nadir amid the vocal objections of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  against the U.S.-led deal offering Iran sanctions relief for a partial scaling back of its nuclear program.

Trump, who last week defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton for the presidency, has promised to improve ties with both countries.

At the same time, Goldschmidt also said he was concerned by the possibility of a rise in the popularity of far-right groups in Europe — they celebrated the Republican’s election as a victory to their cause.

“Definitely, we are not the only ones, we hear this all over Europe, the concern of the rise of the extreme right on the coattails of the Trump victory,” he said.

Making reference to kosher slaughter and circumcision, Goldschmidt added: “We especially in the Jewish community are concerned regarding a renewed push against our religious freedoms.”

Both customs, which are shared by Muslims and Jews, have come under attack in Europe by far-right politicians who view them as foreign, often as part of their desire to combat what they regard as the growing effect of Islam in Europe. Left-leaning circles have often attacked the same customs, which many of their supporters regard as barbaric, sometimes in cooperation with far-right circles.

“We live in a very complex world and what’s good for one country might be not so good for another, just like the interests of Diaspora Jews don’t always coincide with those of Israeli Jews,” Goldschmidt said.

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