Amir Hetsroni

The O Word: What Does Israel Have in Common with Russia?

The annual festival of the vicious Russian invasion to Ukraine passed almost unnoticed in Israel, just like right from the start we closed the door to Ukrainian refugees. Then, we were unwilling to supply weapons. Now, we simply don’t care.

What brings us to adopt this quite exceptional perspective for a western country? (I can’t think of any other example except Hungary under Orbán). Some point at the military interest we have in our back door, namely Syria, where we do not want to see Russian involvement. Others go back to the Holocaust and remind that Ukrainians excelled (relatively) in cooperating with the Nazis – as if Molotov who signed the infamous Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement and had a flaming bottle named after him was not Russian.

However, there is a more fundamental reason, which we try to avoid for a good reason. We have something in common with Russia and even more specifically with what Russia has been doing in eastern Ukraine – Occupation. The O word, which we try to hide, punches in our face and leaves an inerasable mark. Russia has successfully annexed Krema peninsula and less successfully Donetsk and Donbas, as we have taken by force the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The UN alongside the vast majority of the international community never recognized our occupation, just like it refuses to accept the Russian annexation. The reasons for the annexation given by the two countries are painstakingly similar. Russia claims that Ukraine is its spiritual cradle, just like Israel considers Judea & Samaria the birthplace of the Jewish nation. Without eye-blink, both countries claims act in to self defense, add that they are “under constant attack” and promise to clean up the occupied territories of “terrorists” (in the West Bank) and “Nazis” (in Ukraine). Who are those “Nazi terrorists”? Local population that just refuses to be oppressed. Indeed, unsurprisingly, the local population in Palestine and Ukraine is not showing a welcoming approach to military forces and illegal civilian colonialists and takes more and less sporadic actions against them. The occupying governments call these actions terror, since it is easy to emphasize with “terror” victims, but even though some of the anti-occupation resistance breaks limits – the violence is mainly initiated by Israel and Russia against Ukrainians and Palestinians – not vice versa. In fact, most of the terror victims are Russian and Israeli soldiers who – otherwise – could be accused of committing war crimes. Yet, propaganda works full time – calling black white and white black.

Look at Russia now and see how we would like in a couple of years, if nothing stops the right wing government. The patriotic sentiment filled with a conservative flavor of Putin is almost a replica of Netanyahu and his coalition partners. Both do not mind that homosexuals live happily ever after as long as they do not – god forbids – marry. Both do not mind that citizens do not respect religious traditions at home – not in public. Both acknowledge the basic right to demonstrate  arrest the demonstrators. Both are simply dictators and wannabe emperors.

About the Author
Amir Hetsroni was a faculty member at Ariel University in the West Bank. He is emigrating from Israel in order to miss the next war, earn higher wages, enjoy cooler summers, and obtain a living package that is cost-effective. He has three passports and does not feel particularly worried about anti-Semitism.
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