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Help Ukraine and you help Israel

Jewish support would help open the Ukrainian market to Israeli companies - and cover the humanitarian aid provided by before October 7
Demonstrators gather at Habima Square in the center of Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on March 20, 2022, to attend a televised video address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Demonstrators gather at Habima Square in the center of Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on March 20, 2022, to attend a televised video address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Exactly two years will have passed on February 24 since the start of Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine. Aside from the enormous human casualties, the war has virtually destroyed the country’s economy. Millions of people have become refugees, and most of them will never return to their homes. The country will require colossal resources, which Ukraine does not possess, for post-war reconstruction.

Israel, with its vast experience in functioning under constant military threat, can actively participate in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. Traditionally, Ukraine sees Israel as a role model in areas such as security, medicine, agriculture, and water supply. President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly spoken about Ukraine having to become a “greater Israel,” implying that Ukrainians will need to rebuild their country and develop the economy and society under wartime conditions.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Israel has refrained from supplying weapons to Kyiv, but has provided humanitarian assistance, primarily in the field of medicine. After the events of October 7 and the beginning of the military operation in Gaza, Israel’s capacity to assist other countries became extremely limited. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which previously sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine and hosted hundreds of Ukrainian specialists for training, has virtually ceased providing any assistance to Ukraine, due to budget constraints.

Israeli companies interested in working in Ukraine and participating in post-war reconstruction do not receive any government support and are unable to compete with European and American companies that receive significant support from their governments.

Given the situation, Jewish communities in North America and Europe, Jewish charitable foundations, and Jewish businesses can and should come to the aid not only of Israel, but also Ukraine. This assistance can be in the form of a “two-in-one” format: helping Ukraine gain access to Israeli expertise and technology, assisting Israeli companies enter a new market, creating additional job opportunities, and so on.

Such “conditional” support for Ukraine from Jewish philanthropists, in addition to providing direct assistance to both countries, will strengthen Israeli-Ukrainian ties (which have been weakened due to Israel’s reluctance to actively support Ukraine in its war with Russia) and enhance Israel’s image in Ukraine as a friendly country. Moreover, providing funds directly to Israeli service providers will minimize the opportunities for corruption — donor funds will not end up in the pockets of officials, as unfortunately, is often the case in Ukraine.

About the Author
Andrii Zaika is the President of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in Ukraine and a successful entrepreneur with years of experience in various industries.
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