Heads of State have speech writers and advisors to help prepare them in delivering messages to their citizens and to other nations. Vlodymyr Zelensky’s advisors did an excellent job in helping him choose the right tone to deliver his addresses to the various parliaments throughout the world.
When it came to addressing the Knesset in Israel, President Zelensky had a choice of two speeches. Below is the rejected speech:*
Dear Mr. Speaker, Members of the Government of the State of Israel, Mr. Prime Minister, all attendees, guests, people of Israel!
Our two countries have much in common. We are both young and yet very old. Israel goes back a few millennia and the Ukrainian people dates back over 2000 years ago when the ancient Greeks set up outposts at the far reaches of their empire.
Then, as today, Jews from Judea settled that very same land. Twenty percent of your population emanate from that region as have many of your prime ministers. Many innovations in Judaism began in Ukraine, whether it was the birth of Hasidism, or many talmedei chachomim, scholars whose decisions still have impact on modern Jewry, or events that changed the course of 19th and 20th century modern history.
Admittedly, our histories, née our commonality, was not a smooth road. Just the opposite, it was many times a murderous road aimed at our people, the Jewish people. Not just during the war, but during the times of the pogroms, during the time of the Pale of Settlement and during the Khmelnitsky massacres.
And yet, there was a rebirth of both of our people. We both strived for democracy and freedom. We both are a people of peace and desire peace for our people and our neighbors.
Yet, there was a gap between our dreams and reality. February 24, 2022, November 30, 1947, June 5, 1967, and October 6, 1973 all have a common thread. On February 24th of this year is when our neighbor to the east launched an invasion upon us to do away with our nation and her culture. The other three dates are when your neighbors attempted to drive you “into the sea.”
You know how it feels to have hostile neighbors who rejected, at the time, your overtures of peace. You know how it feels to have had neighbors who seek only one thing: your demise.
To my brethren in Israel, I ask you for only one thing to save us—your weaponry. Those same weapons that rescued your nation. You know how it feels when your friends forsake you. I and the Ukrainian people ask that you do not forsake us in this hour of need. Our lives and our nation depend on it.
To my Israeli brethren, I conclude with this blessing, “May Hashem continue to bless you and keep you; May Hashem continue to make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; and may Hashem continue to turn his face towards you, Ukraine, and all of the nations on this planet and grant us peace.”
* This speech is merely speculative fiction.