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Zelenski recalls the Holocaust as he appealed to Israel for help

JERUSALEM – The President of Ukraine on Sunday called on Israel to take a stronger position against Russia, making an emotional call that compares Russia’s invasion of his country with the actions of Nazi Germany.

In a speech to Israeli lawmakers, President Vladimir Zelensky said it was time for Israel, which is emerging as a key mediator between Ukraine and Russia, to finally take over. He said Israel must follow its Western allies by imposing sanctions and providing weapons to Ukraine.

“One can ask for a long time why we cannot accept weapons from you or why Israel has not imposed sanctions on Russia, why you are not putting pressure on Russian business,” he said. “It is your choice, dear brothers and sisters.”

Zelenski, who carefully delivered a series of such parliamentary speeches to his audience, often mentioned the Holocaust as he sought support. The comparisons provoked angry condemnation from the National Holocaust Memorial of Israel, which said Zelensky belittled the Holocaust.

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Zelensky accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to reach a “final solution” against Ukraine – using the Nazi term for the planned genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II.

“You remember it and you will never forget it for sure,” he said. “But you have to hear what comes from Moscow now, what they say – ‘final decision.’ But this time it’s about us, about the Ukrainian issue. “

Zelensky, a Jew himself, also noted that a Russian rocket struck Babi Yar, the site of the infamous Nazi massacre of 1941, now home to Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial.

“The people of Israel, you saw Russian missiles hit Babi Yar. “You know what this place where Holocaust victims are buried means,” he said.

The use of such sensitive language was a clear attempt by Zelenski to connect with his audience. Israel was founded in 1948 as a refugee for Jews after the Holocaust. The country is home to tens of thousands of surviving elderly people, and many of its leaders are children of survivors.

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Putin is also trying to portray his enemies in Ukraine as neo-Nazis as he tries to legitimize his war in Ukraine. But historians, noting that Ukraine is a democracy led by a Jewish president, have condemned his use of such terminology as misinformation and a cynical trick to achieve the Russian leader’s goals.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, whose late father survived the Holocaust, thanked Zelensky for the speech.

“We will continue to help the Ukrainian people as much as we can and we will never turn our backs on the plight of people who know the horrors of war,” Lapid said.

But Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, which previously condemned Putin’s Nazi references, has also sharply criticized Zelensky without mentioning his name.

“The propaganda discourse that accompanies the current military action is saturated with irresponsible statements and completely inaccurate comparisons with Nazi ideology and actions before and during the Holocaust,” it said. Yad Vashem condemns this trivialization and distortion of the historical facts of the Holocaust.

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The Israeli public has largely supported Ukraine since Russia invaded its western neighbor on February 24. Several thousand people, many holding Ukrainian flags, gathered in Tel Aviv’s main square to watch his speech on the big screen.

But the Israeli government was much more cautious, as it acted as a mediator in the war. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid a surprise visit to Moscow to meet with Putin on March 5th. He has since spoken to the Russian leader at least twice and to Zelensky at least six times, according to his office.

While Israel’s foreign minister strongly condemned the invasion, Bennett used softer language to maintain an atmosphere of neutrality.

With a large Jewish population in both Ukraine and Russia, Israel fears opposition to both sides. Israel also has good working relations with the Russian military in neighboring Syria, where both countries maintain a special hotline to ensure that their air forces do not clash.

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Israel has delivered tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and is expected to open a special field hospital in western Ukraine later this week. But he rejected requests for weapons or sanctions against Russia or its oligarchs, some of whom are Jewish and have strong ties to Israel.

Zelenski said it was time to change that.

“Everyone in Israel knows that your missile defense is the best. “Everyone knows that your weapons are strong, everyone knows that you are great and you know how to defend your national interests, the interests of your people, and you can definitely help protect ours,” he said.

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Zelenski recalls the Holocaust as he appealed to Israel for help

Source link Zelenski recalls the Holocaust as he appealed to Israel for help

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