Today continuing this story from RIA about the Russia Day festivities and how the Russian diplomatic staff posted in Israel moved the gala events this year to Jerusalem instead of (like they usually do) booking event rooms in Tel Aviv hotels.
This story is posed as a diplomatic scandal, in which Russia appears to give de facto support of Israel’s land-grab in East Jerusalem; along with the ham-fisted American gambit of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “What is going on here?” the Jew-haters wail, not necessarily at the Wailing Wall.
After putting in my time and delving into the history of the Sergiev Courtyard, which, by the way, is located in West Jerusalem, I am not so sure there actually is a scandal. But Palestinians might see it differently, I’m not sure. Just want to clarify my own personal ideological views: I take the Palestinian side against Israel, in every respect. However, I find a certain delicious irony in the fact, that those “Russophiles” who love Putin but hate all Jews on principle, are finding a certain disconnect with the fact of Russia’s persistent and ongoing friendship with Israel. I pointed out in yesterday’s post, that the USSR, having saved European Jews from extermination in the Great Patriotic War (aka WWII), then went on to become the first nation in the world to recognize Israel, in 1948. Make of that what you will. Maybe Stalin just wanted to stick it to England. Or perhaps the Soviets realized that Europe was no place for Jews any more (the Europeans had made it VERY clear that they didn’t want these people around), and there was not enough room in Birobidzhan to hold all the survivors and refugees.
But moving on… Where we left off in our story: It’s now 1951, it’s time for Comrade Stalin to cash in some chips and get the Sergiev Courtyard back into Soviet hands. And out of the hands of the various cabals of English colonialists and White Russian emigres.
Actually, now that the English had been kicked out, Stalin’s main concern was to inventory all historical Russo-Soviet assets in Israel, and either (1) take them back if they were movable; or (2) sell them for a good price if they were fixed. But, while reading the rest of this saga, please keep in mind that what we have here is Russians trying to make a good bargain with Semites in a Semite marketplace. So, guess who is going to come out ahead here?!
So, Stalin dispatched to Jerusalem a man named M.P. Kalugin [I can’t find this guy’s full name or bio], who represented the Palestinian Society on the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Kalugin and several other spies colleagues settled in at the Sergiev Compound and lived there right up until the 6-day War of 1967. The Russian wiki says that their activities were always “curated” and closely monitored by KGB agents. Well, one would not expect anything less, given the sensitivity of the situation and the location! Kalugin’s main job was to collect intel about attempts to assassinate Stalin via female bondage Soviet “unmovable assets” in the new state of Israel. Kalugin inventoried 70 fixed assets, presumably including Abraham’s Oak Tree (firmly rooted in the soil for at least 2 more years!), and also including the Sergiev Compound. Which was highly UN-moveable and also contained a lot of furniture and other valuable stuff, even after the Turks and British colonialists had their way with it for 45 years.
The Orange Deal
Kalugin’s hard work doing the inventory paid off (for the Semite side), with the so-called “Orange Deal” (Russian Апельсиновая сделка), formally known as Agreement #593 (“On the sale of Soviet state property to Israel”) concluded on 17 October 1964. The agreement was signed, on the Israeli side, by Foreign Minister Golda Meir and Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir; and on the Soviet side by Mikhail Bodrov, Ambassador to Israel. The agreement was nicknamed “Orange Deal” because Israel agreed to pay, not in money (of which it had none), but in oranges and textiles. The oranges were really good ones, though, from Jaffa. So, it wasn’t like the Russians did something stupid like the Biblical Esau, or the Manhattan Indian tribes… Now, those guys were dumb suckers!
This Russian wiki page lists all the fixed assets sold by the Soviet Union to Israel in 1964. The deal included something like 167,000 square meters of prime real estate in the Promised Land, worth up to $4.5 million American bucks. Among the various fixed assets sold to the Israelis, were the Russian Consulate, a Russian Hospital, several major courtyards and compounds in Jerusalem and other cities. However! The Sergiev Courtyard was not included in the deal. At least, not according to Russia. The Courtyard remained in Soviet hands and, to this day, in Russian hands. Which returns us to the current storyline. But wait! The plot thickens. Apparently, all these years later, there is still some property dispute over the status of the Courtyard, and some people say it doesn’t really belong to Russia! So, there is more going on here than meets the eye…
[to be continued]