‘They left us alone’: Lessons for Israel from the Russian invasion of Ukraine

(Ukraine President's Office/Twitter)

Ukraine is going through decisive moments for its existence. Russia has decided to invade Ukraine with techniques that remind us of moments that humanity thought they had overcome. An unprecedented attack in recent decades, on the sovereignty of another independent state, puts at risk the life and physical integrity of hundreds of Ukrainians who are currently fleeing their homes or in temporary shelters.

After the failure of diplomacy and the inability of politics to resolve differences, the worst happened. Putin announced a “Special Military Operation” against Ukraine with the aim of ‘denazifying’ and demilitarizing Ukraine, both euphemisms to hide the true objective, which is the control of the invaded country, the exploitation of its resources, and the removal of NATO from the Russian border.

Meanwhile, Western countries have adopted a barrage of sanctions against Russian institutions, companies, and leaders, including Putin and his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, as a response to the invasion.

At the diplomatic level, there is no progress. Putin encouraged the Ukrainian army to “seize power” and said he was willing to send a delegation to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to negotiate with Ukraine.

At the UN Security Council, Russia vetoed a resolution promoted by the United States and Albania to deplore “aggression” against Ukraine. And its diplomatic spokeswoman, Maria Zajarova, said that relations between Moscow and Western powers are approaching a “point of no return.”

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, affirmed that his country was abandoned to its fate by the international community. “They have left us alone because everyone is afraid,” he said in a desperate request for military support to repel Russian aggression.

Throughout history, the Jewish people have been victims of the same behavior of the international community. There are countless examples in which the world has turned its back on the Jewish people and has abandoned it to their fate.

In July 1938, at the Evian conference, 32 democratic countries horrified by the discrimination and persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany met at the initiative of President Roosevelt in Evian, France, for nine days, to see how to give asylum to the German Jews. The condemnation to Germany was unanimous, but no country except the Dominican Republic accepted to receive Jews.

In May 1939, the British government that controlled the current Israeli territory issued the White Paper drastically limiting the number of Jews who could legally immigrate to Israel. All this is in the context of ongoing persecution by the Nazi regime.

However, Zionism and the creation of the state of Israel change history paths. With the birth of the modern state of Israel, it is solely the Jewish people who are responsible for protecting their destiny. The Jewish people have once again taken their destiny into their own hands and events such as those we are currently witnessing in Eastern Europe reinforce the urgent need for a strong Israel, capable of responding to any adversity.

Unfortunately, history repeats itself and the behavior of the international community at critical moments it is still inadequate. Precisely here lies the importance of Israel capable of guaranteeing the future of the Jewish people as a collective and the life and dignity of each Jew wherever he is.

Israel’s declaration of independence states: “The state of Israel will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.” It is those same prophets who teach us that “nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

Until the prophetic wish is fulfilled, it is necessary to guarantee the survival of the Jewish people, after all, Golda Meir’s words are appropriate: “I prefer the repudiation of the whole world and not its condolences.”

About the Author
Matias Sakkal is a lawyer specialized in international law and the Director of Con Israel y por la paz a public diplomacy project
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