Ukraine War Takes A Bizarre Turn Towards Israel

Vladimir Putin’s strategy of invasion, occupation, and annexation has continued to destabilize Ukraine. While the Russian military advance into Europe has slowed at times, it has also exhibited remarkable endurance that was perhaps underestimated. There’s no doubt Vladimir Putin’s troops have suffered humiliation from time to time, and aren’t nearly as strong as they were made out to be in the media, but that doesn’t rule out their ultimate victory.

Naturally, this has put Zelensky in the position of doing all he can to rally support, and under the circumstances, it’s difficult to fault him for anything. However, one recent statement about the Holocaust has got even strong international supporters of Ukraine riled up.

It’s one thing to seek assistance from other countries, even in harsh terms. It’s something else entirely to deliberately or inadvertently distort history in order to do so. That is what Zelensky did here, intentionally or not, and I believe it is why some people who have previously praised him are now saying this was a step too far.

Yes, Zelensky himself is Jewish, which renders Russian allegations that he’s a secret Nazi rather ridiculous. Ukraine’s history, on the other hand, is not up for debate. Collaboration with Nazi Germany was not just widespread among the Ukrainian leadership at the time, but also among the general public. To this day, Nazi elements in Ukraine are still far more prevalent than anyone should be comfortable with. That is a secondary concern to Russia’s invasion and has nothing to do with it; nevertheless it isn’t something that can be wished away either.

Zelensky’s framing of Israel is one-sided in that it fails to consider the facts on the ground. Russia maintains control over Syria via proxy. The Israelis and the Russians have entered into several military agreements that allow them to eliminate terrorist threats from within Syria. It isn’t just a question of words; if those contracts were to be terminated, Israeli lives would be put in danger. That is why, after Ukraine was invaded by Russia, Israel has been very cautious about how they have interacted with Russia. Yes, Ukraine should be assisted if possible, but there shouldn’t be an expectation for a country to put its own people in danger to do so.

I’m not against the idea of a president trying to resolve issues through negotiation. The problem for me is that this isn’t a typical scenario in which the new leader is selected democratically. I don’t think it’s possible to build a democratic state without compromise, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.  Again, I understand that Zelensky is desperate. Given his position, this is understandable. Even so, he must be cautious in his approach given Ukraine’s nazi history. When utilizing the Holocaust as a wedge issue against Israelis, when substantial numbers of Ukrainians aided and abetted its horror, he makes a major strategic error.

It is now obvious to Zelensky that no other countries are coming to his aid when it comes to physical support. There are simply too many risks of a major world war. Furthermore, imposing sanctions on oneself in order to preserve one’s own self-defense isn’t going work. When you have this reality in mind, it’s critical for Zelensky to make an honest assessment of his choices. If Ukraine has the capacity and willpower to continue fighting, they may do so; however, attempting to shame other nations into direct confrontation with Russia is not a viable option. That should be accepted — and all other choices should be made with that in mind.

Author: Blake Ambrose