Does Israel have a better friend in Russia?

The Olympic Games, created to bring countries together, appear to be having the opposite effect on the U.S. and Russia, The Hill reports. But Israelis found a new appreciation at Sochi at a memorial to Israeli athletes and coaches murdered at Munich more than four decades ago. Russia appears to be becoming more welcoming to Jews.

"I think it's a daily miracle happening in front of our eyes," Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia told USA Today.

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Though treatment of minority groups has received a lot of negative attention leading up to the Sochi games, the Jewish population in Russia is in the midst of a renaissance, USA Today reports. Despite a long history of anti-Semitism in Russia, Lazar said there has been an awakening of Jewish identity across the country with more than 200 active communities.

Instead of Jews leaving Russia, as more than a million did in the early 1990s, Lazar told USA Today that the population is growing and some are even coming back.

More than five years ago, I began an email conversation with a few deeply religious Orthodox Jewish Israelis as a sea change was occurring both here and there. Israel was moving inward to its oldest rabbinical traditions while we, the Americans, though nominally church-goers, were moving entirely in the opposite direction and with rising political opposition to Israeli intentions.

And do these comments by Secretary of State John Kerry, which comfort and advance decadent Hollywood stars, celebrity pop singers, global corporations and American universities that seek to boycott Israel, sound like those of a friend: “For Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There is talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Today’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary.”

It is Kerry speaking in his big Bismarck voice, and Bismarck is oddly finding a strange, new currency among liberal and left political thinkers in major Canadian, American and British universities. But my conversation then was that Russia, like Israel, was likewise returning to an earlier religious condition original and indigenous to its national consciousness. Russia and Israel were moving in the same direction, to a way of life which goes more deeply beyond law and constitutionality. A growing number of Israelis were seeking the deeper guidance of Torah in public life while Russia awakened and advanced one of the oldest and deepest Christian experiences in antiquity.

Starting with the Decembrist uprising in 1825, Russia has pioneered ideas of political abstraction, collectivity, nihilism, world revolution and the revolutionary thinking of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. And in 10 days, it shook the world with a fervor that tore the country to shreds for 60 years. They were also the first — and will not be the last — to leave such political and economic abstraction behind.

But Russia also wrote the book on redemption. And like Fyodor Dostoevsky's character Raskolnikov in Crime and Publishment, today the county repudiates the dark path and is finding again its vast, old and earthy Russian soul in the ancient Russian Orthodox Church. Nothing could be more Russian. Today Jews in Israel turn again to Torah to guide every aspect of life, and nothing could be more Jewish.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.