Reflection on the conflict in Ukraine, seen through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.
What could be with Ukraine? I assume that Ukraine could reach the position of Palestine – a damaged, frustrated and militarized society fighting a long-lasting guerrilla war. At the end of the day (of the conflict), we can expect a fractured Ukraine, with the bitter feeling of fighting against the occupying Russia and being essentially dependent on the economic aid of the West.
Let us proceed further in this direction. Let us compare Israel with Russia, the great country which is now at war in Ukraine. Israel’s “golden” times were after its victorious wars, after the Six Day War and after the difficult Yom Kippur, when Israel gained large territories – Gaza, the West Bank, biblical Judea and Samaria, and the Golan Heights. In parallel, for Russia, it was the golden era of the Soviet Union, which administered large areas of Soviet republics in addition to the motherland of Russia, and militarily dominated the Warsaw Pact.
When Israel ratified the Oslo Accords and handed some of the “occupied” regions to Palestinian authority, the good times ended. Israel gave the PA the control over certain areas of the West Bank and Gaza. In 2000, she left southern Lebanon, and in 2005, the Gaza Strip as well. The terrorist organization Hezbollah took over the vacant territory in Lebanon. Hamas movement exploited the power vacuum in Gaza. Israel has to fight harder to contain these terrorist groups, in addition to dealing with local poalestinian terrorism. Only in the so-called West Bank, where Palestinian forces are controlling selected areas, are Jewish settlements still present.
For Russia, the “good times” seem to have ended with the collapse of Soviet Union. Russia remained economically weakened, the Baltic post-Soviet republics anchored themselves in NATO. Since the 2014 Maidan coup, Russia got new problem with Ukraine due to its nationalist, anti-Russian tendencies supported by the West, and the silent war of the Russian-speaking people of Donbas with the Ukrainian army until the open Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
What is the parallel with Israel? Israel has “big” enemies in Gaza, as well as in the north, in Lebanon and in Syria. She routinely strikes selected military targets (weapons deliveries from Iran) in Syria and Lebanon by air, as well as attacks Hamas if it starts shelling Israel from Gaza. Furthermore, Israel not always grants permits to Jews to build new housing units on the disputed territories, as well as very cautiously demolishing the proliferating illegal Palestinian properties. Israel does all this cautiously, trying not to upset the big players like the USA, the EU, the UN too much.
But Russia has become a different player. By launching the so-called “special operation” it threw away the white gloves. Russia will not let ethnic Russian people in Donbas suffer from Ukrainian shelling, and is openly waging war with Zelensky’s regime, which is supported by the entire collective West. By its actions, Russia has become like a great Israel – it is consolidating its geopolitical positions and own Russian world with military force. Donbas is no longer a disputed territory like the West Bank for Israel – along with other regions, including Crimea, it became part of the Russian Federation.
Russia’s current military action, however militant it may sound, could be a model for “little” Israel in the Middle East. Instead of exchanging fire with terrorists in Gaza, occupy Gaza militarily, restore the former settlements there and establish a decent Arab regime there. And instead of tussling with the Arabs and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank annex the biblical territories of Judea and Samaria. Simply, show more courage and force.