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Ilya Bezruchko
Former editor and anchor of Jewish News 1 channel

J’Accuse…!

An open letter to the head of government of the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu

125 years ago, Emile Zola appealed to the French President, accusing the government of anti-Semitism, and stood up for Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French army officer slandered for treason. As a journalist for an Austrian newspaper, Theodor Herzl, present at the Dreyfus Affair trial, persuaded that the Jews must leave Europe and establish their own state. After 51 years, the State of Israel reappeared on the map.

Today, during the holiday of Sukkot, we learn a lot about the cyclical nature of history and the role of the little person in significant historical events. I think that 51 years from the idea to the creation of the state, 40 years of walking in the desert, and 30 years of the formation of Ukrainian Independence – everything is united by a single pattern of victory over the internal slavery of a person, regardless of his nationality and believes.

Photo from the personal archive of the author. Kyiv, 2019

I listened attentively to your impressive and vibrant speech at a tragic place for every Jew – Babi Yar, in Kyiv in August 2019. You talked about essential things then and stated that tragedies like the Holocaust cannot happen again because the State of Israel exists. You were applauded by those present, Jews and Ukrainians, believers and atheists because they believed your words. This time, on the anniversary of the Babi Yar tragedy, I saw in the same place the President of Ukraine, who stood, as 4 years ago, at the Menorah monument, as well as rabbis, soldiers, and officers of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, the righteous of Babi Yar, and ordinary Kyiv residents. But you were not there, just as there is no clear position of the State of Israel in the war that the Russian Federation unleashed against Ukraine. Does even a straightforward position matter, or are actual actions needed? Not for me to explain to you, Judaism is a religion of action, not of words.

By chance, we come into this world and leave it by coincidence.

Sooner or later, we will all find ourselves in a “Better world.” So, I wouldn’t know what to answer when I appear there to Golda Meir’s question about “Where Israel was when her native city, Kyiv, was bombed?”; Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s “Why the Jewish state was inactive when every day his beloved Odesa was destroyed by Iranian drones?”; and Moshe Sharett’s question “What the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Jewish Country said when the Russian occupation forces drowned his fellow countrymen from Kherson in the waters of the Kakhovka Reservoir.” I will read the silent question “Far vos” in the eyes of tens of thousands of victims of Babyn Yar, whose remains, desecrated by Soviets, are again disturbed by Soviet-Russian missiles.

A careful game, as thin as a spider’s web, has been played by the State of Israel for almost 2 years since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian army into Ukraine. The price of this game is the lives of ordinary Ukrainians. In response, of course, my associates can hear from the leadership of the State of Israel words about “the security of our operations in Syria” and so on. But somehow, it turns out that for carrying out operations in Tartus, which is protected by Russian S-400s, the agreements are not an obstacle but for military assistance to Ukraine – yes. I often hear statements that “Ukraine always votes against Israel at the UN,” but let me remind you that one of the 33 votes for resolution No. 181 of November 29, 1947, was from Ukraine.

It upsets and pains me to read the news that Israel has increased grain exports from Russia while Russia is destroying thousands of tons of Ukrainian grain collected from mined fields under rocket fire by brave Ukrainian farmers. Do you find anything in common in this situation with the way Israeli farmers work in the areas bordering the Gaza Strip?

I cannot comprehend how all this “fence-sitting politics” correlates with the Jewish and Zionist values upon which the State of Israel was founded.

It’s difficult for me to understand that everything I taught my chanihim about Israel has unfortunately become history, and those principles and views that the leaders of the Jewish state shared more than half a century ago are irrelevant to our contemporaries.

Your father was the chief aide and the secretary of Zeev Jabotinsky, which is why I would like to quote my outstanding fellow countryman: “If Russian culture now plays the unnatural role of all-Russian Empire culture, then “the reason is mainly in centuries-old violence and lawlessness.” That is how Jabotinsky described Russian activities regarding the culture of Ukraine and other nations that inhabited the Russian Empire. More than 100 years have passed, but nothing has changed. Russia again came to the lands of Ukraine and every day kills the best sons and daughters of the Ukrainian people. Kills clearly, steadily, and systematically, burning books, destroying schools, and kidnapping children. Russia is doing what you are so afraid of and what you boldly speak about from all the world’s platforms – it is transferring nuclear technology to Iran and, in addition to this, modern fighter jets. This is in exchange for testing Iranian weapons on the Ukrainian people. Mr. Prime Minister, don’t you see this is our common war? A war with the eternal Amalek for the people of Israel and with the centuries-old antagonist of Ukrainian Independence.

More than half a million people from Ukraine and their relatives live in Israel today. All these people have a strong voice that sounds in the Israeli media, squares, halls, and even the Knesset. I ask you to hear this voice too, lend a helping hand to Ukraine, and do as the Torah tells us because “Who said that your blood is redder.”

About the Author
Ilya Bezruchko is CEO of the co-working network in Ukraine, a blogger and the Jewish activist.
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