Zelensky’s address to the Israelis: Drawing false parallels
To say that Russia is aiming at “exterminating” the Ukrainian people, as Zelensky did, is a wild exaggeration and distortion of facts.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) on March 20. Apparently he wanted his speech to be a kind of rallying cry for the Israelis, so he was keen to use language that resonates deeply in the ears of all Israelis regardless of their political affiliations.
The “Holocaust language” was evident all over his ten minutes speech. Zelensky resorted to Nazi-era Europe and to the memory of early Zionist leaders – the so-called “founding fathers” of “Israel”. His goal was to extract historical parallels with today’s war between his country and Russia.
He began by talking about the “great woman from Kiev”, as he put it, referring to the Israeli leader and former Prime Minister, Golda Meir. He quoted Meir’s famous words “We intend to remain alive. Our neighbors want to see us dead. This is not a question that leaves much room for compromise”. Zelensky went on to say, “the threat is the same: for both us and you – the total destruction of the people, state, culture”. Well, Zelensky deliberately ignored the basic fact of the matter: Golda Meir was never in the “victim” shoes! In fact, she and her government were the perpetrators of mass crimes against the real victims, the Palestinian Arabs, who were forced to leave their country and become refugees. Golda Meir was a usurper and aggressor, not an innocent victim as Zelensky portrays her.
Then comes the Nazi party! Zelensky said that the date of the start of Russia’s military operations against Ukraine, 24th February, coincides with the date of the founding of the Nazi party in Germany, 102 years ago! The implication is clear: Russia today goes in parallel with Hitler’s Germany of the last century! Here again, Zelensky ignores the historical fact that Russia was indeed the victim of Nazi Germany. Moreover, today’s Ukraine, with its fascist groups and fanatics, is closer than ever to its Nazi-collaborationist history, when many Nazi-inclined Ukrainians joined the Germans during their invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
Zelensky moved on with his “Holocaust language” and said that Russia is talking about the “final solution” to the Ukraine problem in the same way Nazi Germany talked about the “final solution to the Jewish issue”! That is, Zelensky is saying that Russia wants to inflict extermination and total destruction on the Ukrainian people. Well, that’s hardly the case. A month has passed since the war began and Russia has hardly used a fraction of its military power and might. Any neutral observer would have to admit that Russia actually avoids attacking populous cities and civilian targets and that’s the reason for Russia’s slow advance on the ground. To say that Russia is aiming at “exterminating” the Ukrainian people, as Zelensky did, is a wild exaggeration and distortion of facts.
The inflammatory rhetoric went on: “O People of Israel! You saw Russian missiles hit Kiev, Babyn Yar. You know what kind of land it is. More than 100,000 Holocaust victims are buried there… There is a Jewish cemetery. Russian missiles hit there”. Again, Zelensky is implying that the Russians now are targeting Jews in the same way Hitler did! While the obvious and plain historical fact is that Russians, alongside the Jews, were being targeted by Hitler’s Germany, and the Soviet Union, then, considered the Jews of Eastern Europe as natural allies in its struggle against Nazism. In fact, it was Ukraine, in 2019, that voted against condemning and criminalizing Neo-Nazism in the United Nations General Assembly along with one other member only: Trump’s America!
Then comes George W. Bush as a source of inspiration for Zelensky! Bush’s terminology was evident when Zelensky said “Mediation can be between states, not between good and evil”. This “good guys / bad guys” language was characteristic of Bush’s doctrine which led him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq under the hype of “fighting the evil”!
It should be noted, however, that many Israeli circles were not particularly pleased with Zelensky’s reference to his country’s role in World War II as “rescuer of Jews”, as the Zionists usually prefer the narrative that the Jews were the ultimate victims whom the whole world abandoned and were left to the Nazi monster. Moreover, the Israeli government was not very impressed with Zelenky’s “accusation” that it stands “indifferent” to what’s happening in Ukraine. In view of "Israel’s" declared neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine war, such harsh criticisms from Zelensky were expected, and probably because of that Israeli Knesset Speaker was not very encouraging to Zelensky’s request to address the Knesset directly and refused to call on an emergency session for the occasion. The Israeli MPs attended his sermon via the Zoom application while at home or even from holidays places!