Russian-language Media in Israel Lean Toward Georgia

Media focuses largely on efforts to rescue Jews in Georgia; Some outlets predict eventual Georgian victory.

News reports on the war between Georgia and Russia in Israel's Russian-language media have focused on the Israeli-Jewish angle, while generally refraining from unequivocally supporting either side. However, the balance of the commentary seems to be pro-Georgian.

Vesty, the only Russian-language daily, has reported mainly on the efforts to rescue Jews from Georgia and the breakaway region of South Ossetia, as well as on the Israeli connections of Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili, who lived for about 18 months in Israel. The paper also reported extensively on Saturday's demonstration opposite the Russian Embassy by Georgian immigrants to Israel.

An article in the weekly Globus tried to identify similarities and differences between the Russian-Georgian conflict and the Arab-Israeli Arab one, under the headline: "So similar to Israel, but for all that, different." It compared South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, to the West Bank and Gaza, but among the differences, it noted that Israel is not threatened by a superpower like Russia.

Referring to Russia's complaints about Israeli arms sales to Georgia, the article retorted: "We're already receiving Russian 'gifts' via Iran, Syria and Hezbollah." Moscow has sold arms to both Iran and Syria, and Israel says that some of these weapons were then passed on to Hezbollah.

Globes took a strongly pro-Georgian line, predicting that Georgia would win either way - whether by retaking the breakaway areas or by being portrayed as a victim of Russian aggression.

Another weekly, Ekho, quoted extensively from the American press, including a Washington Post article titled "Stopping Russia." Its front-page picture showed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili against a background of assault helicopters.