According to the Foreign Policy magazine, Clinton told bloggers in New York that the Russian immigrants to Israel are one of the main obstacles to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Dr. Zeev Chanin, a senior political science lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, told Ynet that "Clinton is not up to date since the early 1990s. At the moment, the community of former Soviet Union residents, is not dramatically different from the entire Israeli society when it comes to its ideological stand."
According to Chanin, who also serves as the Immigrant Absorption Ministry's chief scientists, about one-quarter of Russian olim are defined as rightists, about 12% are leftists, and the rest are centrists leaning to the right.
"It's possible that the rate of support in communities located beyond the Green Line is higher than the average Israeli, but not dramatically. The Green Line issue is not fixed in the Jewish-Russian cognition, abroad too, as a sacred status – but that is the leaning of most Israelis, the Sabra. I see no dramatic differences here," Chanin said. "Where does he get the dramatic conclusions that they would oppose the evacuation of communities?"
Clinton noted that the Russian immigrants oppose the division of Israel and make up a significant part of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and that 16% of Israelis speak Russian.
"Former USSR residents cannot be defined as one entity," Chanin explained. "Some are like that and some are not. It's true that the olim should not be approached by those looking for massive support for the evacuation of settlements, but that can be said about other groups in the Israeli society as well."
'Strange distinction'Dr. Nissim Leon of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University, who specializes in studying the Israeli society, also believes that Clinton's remarks represent a different era. He agrees that Russian immigrants lean to the right, but says the entire public must not be labeled.
"This distinction between Sabra and former Soviet Union residents is quite strange," he argued.
"Even among those called Sabra, the veteran population of the Israeli society, there have been many changes in terms of their perception of the peace process with the Palestinians. This public has not remained the way Clinton was familiar with it during his presidency. Clinton might be talking about the Israeli society of the mid 1990s. I'm afraid he's less familiar with the Israeli society of this decade."
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