By Özgür Altınbaş
We conducted an interview with Artyom Ivanovich Kirpichenok on the Israel-Palestine war. Kirpichenok was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1975 and holds dual citizenship in Israel and Russia.
In 1991, he moved to Israel with his family for permanent residence. In 1992, he enrolled in the History Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned his Bachelor’s degree. He completed his Master’s degree in 1996. In 2003, he defended his thesis on “Serbian Settlements in Ukraine in the Mid-18th Century” at the Slavic Studies Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In the years 2003-2004, Kirpichenok served as a guest lecturer at the Slavic Studies Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
He received education at the Shimon Dubnov Institute in Leipzig. In 2004, he worked as an assistant to Knesset member Tamar Guzhansky. In 2005, he returned to Russia with permanent residence.
He conducted research at the Mayakovsky Library East Cultures Center, focusing on the Kurdish Jews and the relations between Israel and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government.
While Israel is continuing the war in Gaza, domestic unrest is growing further. Voices and protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are getting louder. We spoke with journalist Dr. Artyom Ivanovich Kirpichenok about the developments. The Israeli journalist said that the society in the country is quite divided, and an overwhelming majority is not happy with the course of events.
“Israel can’t endure long”
Dr. Kirpichenok emphasized that Israel is dependent on US aid for the war and without it would face serious problems. According to him that is essentially due to Israel’s limited resources. And Israel can’t endure this war long because the source of aid, the US, can’t stand it for long either: “The US has promised support to Israel and provided approximately $15 billion. This money is covered by US taxpayers. Therefore, this aid cannot last long.”
There is another economic challenge for Israel in enduring the demands of the wars: “Additionally, there are some problems within Israeli society. One of them is the significant mobilization of military forces. How long is the society ready to live in a mobilized state? Because you need to pay a salary to the mobilized ones.”
Kirpichenok also pointed out that another challenging factor is the workforce in the construction and agriculture sectors. He said that many Palestinians and foreign workers are employed in these two sectors and “These sectors have been seriously affected. Palestinians and foreigners have left their workplaces. Israelis are looking for workers in these sectors.”
“Ethnic cleansing and genocide have become common thoughts”
Kirpichenok gave us some basic dynamics in Israeli society. He said that primarily the conservative segment of the society is demanding the eradication of HAMAS, regardless of the cost or consequences in civilian life. “Ethnic cleansing and genocide have become common thoughts among the Israeli people. Of course, there are ones opposing this thought, but they face pressure and thus can’t raise their voices much. For example, an Israeli teacher was arrested and labelled a traitor for sharing “Palestinians are also human” on social media. More than 100 Israeli Arabs were arrested in a similar context.”
According to Kirpichenok, Israel thinks it can do whatever it wants thanks to the “green light” from the US and Europe. Kirpichenok interprets Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reference to Amalek in the bible as “a call for genocide in Gaza”.
“Administration of Gaza after the war”
In the interview, we also touched upon the much-discussed issue of the “administration of Gaza after the war”. Kirpichenok said there are some plans, not clear though. He mentioned plans of “a divided Gaza” and “Gaza under the Palestinian administration (Al Fatah)”. However, “There will always be problems. Such plans were already tried in the period before 1993 and met with ongoing guerrilla attacks. So such plans require significant military forces in Gaza and result in many casualties. Additionally, in 2005-2006, Al Fatah lost and Hamas emerged victorious in the elections.”
No longer feel secure
Kirpichenok also told us some about the Israeli society. He emphasized that the Israeli people no longer feel secure with the Netanyahu administration. “The Zionist propaganda claiming Israel to be the safest place for Jews now sounds like a joke”, and the public holds Netanyahu and his party responsible for the war. Kirpichenok thinks that Netanyahu will eventually go to prison: “He is the person responsible for this war and will pay the price for it. He knows that and that’s why is prolonging the war.”
A military setback for Israel
Kirpichenok drew our attention to the propaganda aspect of the war. Here, “Israel hides the truths”: “Israel is propagating that Hamas kills civilians. However, there are serious military casualties on the Israeli side. This means a military setback.”
Amin al-Husseini, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Yasser Arafat and Hamas
As for Hamas, Kirpichenok suggests that “eliminating HAMAS” cannot be any real solution: “Historically, Israel has identified various leaders and organizations as the source of the problem. First Amin al-Husseini, then Gamal Abdel Nasser, then Yasser Arafat and lastly Hamas. As long as Israel continues its occupation, a political solution is unlikely, and resistance groups would emerge in different forms.”
The propaganda aspect
In parallel to the propaganda aspect, Kirpichenok said that many Israelis are distant from the realities: “They lack basic knowledge about settlers and the history of the conflict. ‘We came here to live peacefully, but the bad Palestinians are attacking us’ is the view of many Israelis. Thus, the Israeli authorities can easily manipulate them”.
A significant shift in the opinion of Russians
Israeli journalist Kirpichenok stated that there is a connection between the war in Palestine and the war in Ukraine: “According to the American strategy, war can be waged on two fronts. However, if a third front is opened, the US cannot deal with it.” Then he told how Russians view Israel: “With the Ukraine war, there has been a significant change in the Russian people’s perspective on Israel. In general, the Russian Jewish lobby is influential in shaping public opinion. However, when the majority of Israelis supported Ukraine, there occurred a significant shift in the opinion of Russians.”