Ukraine’s President Zelensky castigates Israel for failing to help his country fight off Russia

By | March 21, 2022

The Times of Israel reports:

The Jewish president of a country fighting for its very survival addressed the lawmakers of the perenially threatened Jewish state on Sunday evening. One might have expected the event to be stirring and electrifying.

Instead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech was angry, accusatory, despairing, and brief — lasting less than 10 minutes.

He used it to make clear his belief that the Israeli government’s refusal to provide arms and fully open its doors to Ukrainian refugees is immoral — and shockingly so, given the Jewish people’s plight at the hands of the Nazis. And he savaged Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s strategy in a mediation effort with the Kremlin that he himself initially requested.

As Zelensky noted, Israel has declined to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons — he cited the Iron Dome missile defense system, but his ambassador’s public requests for flak jackets and helmets have also been refused. Israel has placed entry limits on Ukrainian refugees, he pointed out. It has chosen not to impose serious sanctions on Russia, he added.

The Israeli leadership’s fear of alienating Russia saw Zelensky’s initial request to formally set out his country’s case in an address to the Knesset rebuffed — with pretexts about parliament being in recess and undergoing renovation, when any appropriate hall could have served the purpose.

He was thus reduced to a speech via Zoom, albeit one that was attended by the overwhelming majority of Israel’s lawmakers, screened on the country’s main TV stations, and watched by a substantial crowd in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square.

Rather than prompting empathy or a reevaluation, the immediate response from several lawmakers to his appearance was furious objection to the frequent parallels he drew between the plight of Ukraine — its cities bombed, thousands killed, and millions homeless — and that of the Jews in the Holocaust. He claimed that the Kremlin is speaking of this war as the final solution to the Ukraine question. Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, a former minister, said his use of such comparisons “borders on Holocaust denial.”

But then Zelensky, in his tone of baffled despair, taking a few minutes’ break from galvanizing his country’s resistance to invasion, spoke with the air of a leader who has all but given up on this potential ally. “You know how to protect your political interests, and to help Ukraine, to protect Ukrainians, to protect the Jews of Ukraine.” And yet, he charged, Israel was opting not to do so. [Continue reading…]

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