Ukraine’s Jewish Leader, Israel’s Ambivalence, and Chabad’s Presence amid the Crisis

In evaluating the unfolding war in Ukraine, Nathan Guttman sheds light on the role of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whom Guttman describes as “the most admired Jewish leader the world has to offer right now.” He also examines the meaning of the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s attempt to “play the Nazi card” in announcing his decision to invade Ukraine; Israel’s attempt to take a neutral stance in the conflict; and Chabad’s extraordinary leadership in Ukraine’s Jewish communities.

Before entering politics in 2018, Zelensky was a popular comedian (and you can’t get any more Jewish than that); he does not often speak about his Jewish identity, but he has never tried to hide it. In a country like Ukraine, which is still struggling with a painful legacy of anti-Semitism, Zelensky’s Jewishness has always been present.

For Jews across the world, Zelensky is now a source of pride: a young, inexperienced leader who is putting his life at risk for his people by leading a nation of 40 million people in opposing a ruthless Russian aggressor.

In his inauguration speech, Zelensky famously told lawmakers not to hang his portrait on their walls. “I do not want my picture in your offices: The president is not an icon, an idol, or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.”

True to form, Zelensky maintained his unassuming, direct style when crisis hit. His video messages, posted several times a day, have been helping reassure the Ukrainian people. He spoke from his office and from the streets of Kyiv, even as Russian troops closed in on the capital, and when the fighting intensified, Zelensky candidly shared with all Ukrainians the fact that he has been marked by the Russians as “target number one” and that his family is “target number two.” But when the U.S. offered to evacuate him from Kyiv to somewhere safer, he responded: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Read more at Moment

More about: Chabad, Volodomyr Zelensky, War in Ukraine

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security