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Euro-Asian Jewish (EAJ) Policy Papers, No 46 (18 December 2022)
Russian Jews and Politicizing Jewish Ethnicity: A Theoretical and Practical Outlook

Instrumentalist theories of ethnicity politicization are fully applicable to Russian Jewry. The analysis also points to the necessity to distinguish between the concepts of “ethnicity politicization” and “ethnopolitical mobilization”, since the latter means a concrete goal setting that is mostly absent in the Russian case. On the one hand, it has a minor significance as a purely religious practice because of the still-present Soviet secular legacy; on the other hand, it was religious organizations that shaped the institutional backbone for the renascent community life in the 1990s, providing resources both for potential political unity and for apolitical self-encapsulation and “inner emigration”. The role performed by the State of Israel is no less dubious: while being a unifying factor that provides for ideological and financial resources and an “illusion of security” for preserving an active ethnic conscience, it simultaneously and naturally draws off (potentially) politically active Jews by stimulating aliya. The experts claim that politicization makes the active part of the community choose between the components of A. Hirschman’s already-classic triad, and this part of the Russian Jewry, taking into account the recent years’ political dynamics, more and more often prefers “exit” to “voice” or “loyalty”.

Please follow the link for the full version of the article in Russian.

Frame 16

Senior Fellow, Department of European Integration Studies, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, and an IEAJS Senior Visiting Researching Fellow-in-Residence