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Zelenskyy and the UN whitewash antisemitism 

editor - 24 March 2022

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent speech to the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) certainly hit some sensitive spots in the Jewish world.

This incredibly brave man – a Jewish man who is widely (and rightly) regarded as a modern-day hero – seems to have overstepped the mark. He managed to offend many in the Jewish community with his angry criticism of Israel’s lack of support for Ukraine, and its official position regarding Russia. According to Zelenksyy, Israel should provide more weapons. He also implicitly criticized Israeli PM Naftali Bennett’s mediation efforts (Bennett met with Putin in Moscow, and has been attempting to mediate between the parties). Zelenskyy later back-tracked in a video he published soon after, in which he said:

“Of course, Israel has its interests—strategy—to protect its citizens. We understand all of it. The prime minister of Israel, Mr. [Naftali] Bennett, is trying to find a way of holding talks, and we are grateful for this. We are grateful for his efforts, so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem. That’s the right place to find peace, if possible.”

But it was Zelenskyy’s comparison of Russia’s attack on Ukraine with Nazi Germany’s “final solution” of the Jewish people that offended the most.

“This Russian invasion of Ukraine is not just a military operation as Moscow claims. This is a large-scale and treacherous war aimed at destroying our people; destroying our children; our families; our state; our cities; our communities,” he said. “That is why I have the right to make this parallel and this comparison. Our history and your history. Our war for our survival and World War II.”

In other words, Zelenskyy dared to put the attacks on Ukrainians on the same level as the genocide of European Jewry, just because they were Jewish. That, of course, is a difficult message for many Jews. Israeli writer Ruthie Blum wrote in response: “Indeed, as terrible a situation as Ukraine is in right now, it does not even remotely resemble the Holocaust. To suggest otherwise is nothing short of immoral.”

Zelenskyy even argued that Ukrainians were kind to the Jews in WWII. The reality, of course, was far different. While there were some “Righteous among the nations” in Ukraine, the fact is undeniable that most Ukrainians were either passive, actively attacked Jews or collaborated with the Germans. Between 1941 and 1944, more than a million Jews living in the Soviet Union were murdered by Nazi Germany’s Final Solution extermination policies. Most of them were killed in Ukraine because most pre-WWII Soviet Jews lived in the Pale of Settlement, of which Ukraine was the biggest part.

In the face of these issues of historical, tragic importance, the UN Security Council took the time this week for its habitual condemnations of Israel for allowing Jews to live in “East Jerusalem” – those parts of Jerusalem that have historically been the home to Jewish people, and had been ethnically cleansed of Jews by Jordan in 1948-1967. U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, started his briefing by summarizing the work of Israeli planning committees to prepare for the possible construction of 3,400 homes in Israel’s capital. Even the Russian delegate had the temerity to condemn Israel. Dmitry Polyansky said, “Unfortunately, we have to state that violence is unabated in the area of ​​the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, which leads to casualties on both sides and has the potential to escalate into a full-scale military escalation, which we have repeatedly witnessed.”

Really, Russia condemning Israel for use of excessive force? The mind boggles. Other speakers took every opportunity to criticize Israeli “settlement” policies for preventing peace.

Whataver one may think of Israel’s policies from a political perspective, the comparison of Israeli so-called “settlement policies” (which is a euphemism for allowing Jews to live in their historical homeland) with the atrocities of Nazi Germany or Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine today is astounding and totally unacceptable. It seems the United Nations bureaucrats live in a fantasy world of their own making.

Somehow, no-one seems willing or able to explicitly mention the real elephant in the room: hatred of Jews and the Jewish nation. As the Security Council session came to a close, news broke that an Israeli, a Bedouin Arab had killed four Israelis in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheva before being shot to death. The deadly spree was carried out by Muhammad Abu Al-Kiyan, a 34-year-old Bedouin Israeli man and ISIS supporter. This despite the fact that Israel has been pouring resources into solving the problem of poverty and violence in the Bedouin communities in the Negev. But worse, news of the attack saw attempts by Gazan terror factions to further inflame the fans of terrorism. Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, praised the attack while doling out sweets to passers-by in the coastal enclave as an act of celebration. Palestinian Islamic Jihad also welcomed the attack, saying that “resistance operations deter the occupation.” A spokesman said that “Israel should know that our people will not surrender and that the flag of resistance and jihad will remain hoisted.”

This willing blindness to hatred of the Jews makes even more remarkable the report issued this week by the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, who accuses Israel of being an apartheid State. The absurd “apartheid” canard seems to be flavour of the month, this latest report coming on the back of similar reports issues by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International within the past year. All of them argue that Israel is guilty of intentionally imposing a discriminatory regime intended to oppress the Palestinian people.

If you’re looking for good reading material over the weekend, we highly recommend the excellent studies by Anne Herzberg and Josh Kern (published by NGO Monitor – see links below), in which they make mince-meat of the apartheid allegation against Israel. According to the authors, the apartheid claim simply ignores the history of Palestine and the realities on the ground. “Every country across the globe struggles to protect the principle of equality and rooting out racial and other forms of discrimination. Israel is no exception.” But “[a]ny reasonable assessment of Israel’s policies must be viewed through the lens of its security dilemma and the context of armed conflict within which they are implemented. NGO and UN reporting consistently fails to address these issues.”

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today


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Zelensky’s unfortunate Knesset address

Ruthie Blum: “The Ukrainian leader being hailed as a heroic David fending off an evil Goliath not only chastised the Jewish state; he totally distorted Holocaust history in the process.”
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Ukraine’s lessons for Israel

Caroline Glick: “Israel’s government must learn from the Ukrainians: States that wait for green lights from the West to defend themselves will not survive.”
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Israel’s new war of independence

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God Knows | Romans 9-11 with Johannes Gerloff #38

To us as theologians, as bible-readers, as believers and human beings all this seems contradictive, illogical, even crazy. But, the one, true and only living God knows exactly what He is doing.

 

SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK:

Jeremiah 31:10-14

“Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;
proclaim it in distant coastlands:
‘He who scattered Israel will gather them
and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob
and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
and they will sorrow no more.
13 Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,
and my people will be filled with my bounty,”
declares the Lord.