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.

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Read more at New York Sun

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

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism