Ukraine: Zelenski compares before the Parliament of Israel the Russian invasion with the Holocaust | International

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in his speech this Sunday before the Israeli Parliament.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in his speech this Sunday before the Israeli Parliament.KNESSET (Europa Press)

The president of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelenski, who prides himself on his Jewish ancestry, compared the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the Jewish Holocaust on Sunday in a virtual intervention before the deputies of the Knesset, the Parliament of Israel. “Listen to what the Kremlin says, it is the same terminology that the Nazis used against you. It’s a tragedy. So they wanted to destroy Europe and they didn’t want to leave you (the Jews) alive. Now it’s up to us. So they called it the final solution.”

Dressed in the olive green military shirt with which he has already addressed other legislative chambers, Zelensky has demanded military aid from Israel with a veiled criticism of its equidistance in the conflict. “We can ask why we have not received weapons from Israel, why it has not imposed strong sanctions on Russia,” he asked before the 122 parliamentarians who have followed his words via Zoom, in a 120-seat Knesset. “It was your decision and you will have to live with your conscience,” he warned them. “Everyone knows that your defense systems [como el escudo antimisiles Cúpula de Hierro] They are the best”, he specified. “You could help our people, save the lives of Jewish Ukrainians”, he has reproached his audience.

“The Russian Army is destroying Ukraine while the whole world watches”, emphasized Zelensky, for whom “indifference and the calculation of interests kill. You cannot mediate between good and evil”, he added. His speech, which lasted just under half an hour, was broadcast live on television and was also projected on a giant screen in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, the agora of large political gatherings in Israel, before hundreds of people waving Ukrainian and Israeli flags. With studied formality, the Russian Embassy had protested a few hours earlier against his parliamentary speech by demanding a more balanced attitude from Israel in the conflict.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, has followed the speech before the Legislative Chamber, which has just finished its first session of the year. The ultra-conservative Israeli ruler has been one of the few international leaders to be received in the Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the outbreak of hostilities. On the 5th, he made his mediating role between the two parties in the conflict visible in Moscow, although his advisers point out that he has not put forward concrete proposals for an agreement and has limited himself to acting as a trusted messenger or intermediary between kyiv and Moscow. . Contrary to his beliefs, the religious Bennett traveled in full sabbaththe Jewish holy day that expressly prohibits travel by plane, protected by the dispensation granted by Jewish law to those who participate in a mission to save lives.

Discretion has so far characterized his successive telephone contacts with both Putin and Zelensky. Bennett has been absent from Cabinet meetings and official events to attend to urgent calls from both leaders. After being received in the Kremlin, where he held a three-hour interview, the Israeli Prime Minister continued his trip to Berlin to report in person to the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholf, who had already visited him in Jerusalem earlier this month. Bennett has also established a channel of contact with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and has reported his efforts to the Administration of the US president, Joe Biden, his main ally.

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“Although the opportunity is not very clear, we have a moral obligation to make the effort, since we have access to both parties,” he has limited himself to justify his attitude in public the Israeli prime minister. It is not an existential threat, but a territorial dispute, becomes his message, translated into terms well known in the Middle East. This is the thesis circulated in the Hebrew press by Bennett’s media advisers: Ukraine will be able to remain an independent state with its own government only if it accepts “territorial sacrifices”, as diplomatic analyst Barak Ravid highlights on Twitter.

In just nine months in office, having unseated conservative Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been in power for 12 years, the virtually unknown Bennett has found a way to gain a foothold on the international stage. Israel’s dilemma in the face of the Ukraine conflict has been reflected in a rhetoric of equidistance, in which Bennett, who adopts a profile of neutrality, shares the roles with the Foreign Minister and key partner of the Government, the centrist Yair Lapid , who has expressly condemned the Russian invasion. The Israeli government, however, has not joined the economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by Western countries and continues to maintain connections from Tel Aviv to Russian airports, which have been used by oligarchs close to Putin such as Roman Abramovich.

The Russian military presence in Syria, where Israeli aviation launches periodic attacks against pro-Iranian forces, has led Bennett to travel down the path of diplomatic ambivalence and avoid both sanctions against Russia and the shipment of weapons to Ukraine. Moscow, which controls Syrian airspace since its military intervention in favor of President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, has continued to allow Israeli aircraft attacks against targets of pro-Iranian militias in the neighboring Arab country, such as the one that this month caused the death of two guardians of the Iranian revolution near Damascus.

Concentration to follow the speech of the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Sunday in Tel Aviv.
Concentration to follow the speech of the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Sunday in Tel Aviv.JACK GUEZ (AFP)

Soviet diaspora in the Jewish state

The head of the Israeli Government went to Moscow for his appointment with Putin accompanied by the Minister of Housing, Zeev Elkin, of Russian origin. More than a million Israelis, 15% of the population, come from the diaspora that emigrated to the Jewish state after the decomposition of the Soviet Union. The evolution of the war is closely followed in the Jewish state and, despite official neutrality, public opinion is openly in favor of helping Ukraine. The situation of the nearly 200,000 Jews who live in the Eastern European country at war is one of the main concerns of the Israeli government. For this reason, it has sent a large amount of humanitarian aid, in particular a field hospital to treat a hundred patients a day, assisted by some 80 doctors and health workers.

The restrictions that the Israeli Ministry of the Interior initially imposed on the entry of Ukrainian refugees raised blisters among the Jewish population, which has its roots in the mass exodus derived from the Holocaust. Israel has so far allowed passage to 3,500 Jewish Ukrainians, who enjoy the right to immigrate and settle in the country, and 10,000 non-Jews. This group was even forced to pay a bond in order to guarantee their return to Ukraine, an initial quota was set, which has now been limited to those who have family and friends who, in principle, take care of their maintenance and expenses.

Non-Jewish refugees must request authorization before entering the country to be allowed to board a plane to Tel Aviv. About 10% of requests have been rejected. As Sahi Cohen, director of Alianza de Israel, an NGO that cares for Ukrainians, warns in the Hebrew press, “the Israeli government is following a policy of erecting barbed wire to prevent the entry of refugees.” Zelensky himself has recalled this in his speech to the Knesset when demanding visas for all refugees from Ukraine.

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