Volodymyr Zelensky’s Challenge to Israel

On Sunday night, thousands of Israelis watched the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky as he addressed the Knesset over Zoom. Zelensky used the opportunity to call for solidarity among allies, while also sharply challenging Israel to “get off the fence” and provide military resources to Ukraine. He compared Ukraine’s plight to the horrors of Nazi Germany and argued that “the Ukrainian and Jewish communities have always been connected.” Despite Zelensky’s popularity among Israelis, Benny Avni writes, many objected to the speech.

For Israelis the uneasy reference to a dark hour when too many Ukrainians joined in the Nazis’ hunt for Jews may have been a bit much. Mr. Zelensky also mentioned the recent Russian hit in the vicinity of the Babi Yar memorial, the significance of which has been refuted by a prominent Israeli reporter. Yet Mr. Zelensky is widely admired in Israel, and his appeal to Ukrainian-Israeli solidarity was well received, which is why he used it as a prelude for his call for more help than Jerusalem currently gives his country.

“Can you explain why we are still calling on the whole world . . . and asking for help?” he said. “What is that? Indifference? Or mediation without picking a side? Indifference kills.”

Alluding to Prime Minister Bennett’s attempt at compromise between Moscow and Kiev, Mr. Zelensky paraphrased one of Golda Meir’s famous quips: “We would like to live, but our neighbors want us dead. That doesn’t give us much room for compromise.”

Yet Israel’s realities may be a bit more complicated than Mr. Zelensky would like. The Israeli air force depends on cooperation with Russia as it conducts an intensive campaign to keep Iran and Hizballah off Israel’s northern border, in Syria. Russia controls Syria’s air space, and its threat to end communication with Jerusalem could lead to fatal dogfights between Israeli and Russian pilots. Additionally, Moscow has agreed to avoid striking an Israeli team that is about to complete building the largest field hospital inside Ukraine, according to press reports.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Holocaust, Knesset, Volodomyr Zelensky, War in Ukraine


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict