Volodymyr Zelensky’s Challenge to Israel

March 23 2022

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


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria