Perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may have fueled anti-Semitic sentiment for another reason. The prevailing view in Russian society today is that the main driver of the ongoing instability in the Middle East is the US and its NATO allies. This is precisely the explanation that is constantly heard in statements made by Russian officials and in materials produced by the national media. It is quite possible that due to Washington’s unconditional support of Israel, some of the hostility that was accumulating toward Americans in recent years has been redirected toward Israelis and become an additional trigger for anti-Semitic sentiment.The socio-economic context
Still, despite all the sympathy for the Palestinians among Russian Muslims, the most aggressive actions have so far occurred in the North Caucasus, and not, for example, in Kazan or Ufa. And this also has its own explanation, which fits well into the general logic seen in the sociological monitoring of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. As mentioned above, such manifestations can be most expected in socially depressed places.
Statistics show that Dagestan is one of the least prosperous regions in Russia. According to Rosstat data
for the second quarter of 2023, the average per capita monthly income in there was RUB 31,694 (71st out of the 86 regions with data), versus the national average of RUB 47,798.
For comparison: Moscow ranks fourth (RUB 99,617) and Tatarstan is 16th (RUB 51,309). Meanwhile, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, where anti-Israeli protests have also taken place in recent days, are 74th and last, 86th, respectively.
In terms of unemployment,
as of the beginning of 2023, Dagestan had one of the most alarming figures in the country – whereas the overall unemployment rate across Russia was less than 4.0%, 11.6% of the adult population in Dagestan could not find work (83rd place out of the 85 regions with data). Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia showed similar figures.
Note that mass protests in the North Caucasus are a regular occurrence, and for a variety of reasons. Dagestan experienced violent protests
in 2022 during the “partial mobilization.” Back in 2020, Dagestanis protested
against the construction of 5G towers, while in neighboring North Ossetia people rebelled
against quarantine measures during the pandemic. The list goes on. This time, the mass frustration and social tension spilled over into a pogrom.
Despite the significant reduction in anti-Semitic sentiment in Russian society, pockets of dormant everyday anti-Semitism persist, primarily in environments of stagnant poverty and instability, among people without higher education, stable work and clear prospects for the future. Thus, the outbreak of anti-Semitic violence that took place against the backdrop of another conflict in the Middle East occurred exactly where it could have been expected.