Members of Israel’s Knesset are angry with former comedian and current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for comparing his country’s war with Russia to the Nazi Germany’s Holocaust and Final solution, calling the comments “outrageous.”
Zelensky has recently been travelling across the world to various western nations, urging them to take further action in escalating the Ukraine-Russia war, which some have said could ignite a broader Third World War; an idea that the Ukrainian President has himself stated he was “ready” for.
“Zelensky continued his practice of customizing his speeches to suit his audience when he addressed the Knesset over Zoom,” noted the Jerusalem Post, “taking the comparisons he had already made between his country’s situation and World War II to the next level and dedicating the lion’s share of his speech to the Holocaust.”
During his virtual visit to Israel, the former comedian drew ire from the nation’s leaders and lawmakers after he attempted to accuse Russia of “preparing a final solution to the Ukrainian question,” adding that Israel should “save” Ukrainians like how Ukrainians had “saved Jews” during the Holocaust.
“Genocide was also committed on Ukrainian soil.”
– Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel
Following Zelensky’s pleas, Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel responded by saying that “it is impossible to rewrite the terrible history of the Holocaust,” noting that Jew-killing had also occurred in Ukraine during that time.
“Genocide was also committed on Ukrainian soil. The war is terrible, but the comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the final solution is outrageous,” Hendel said.
Others condemned Zelensky’s speech as “Holocaust denial” and reminded the Ukrainian leader that the part of the Holocaust – the systematic murder of 6 million Jews by dictator Adolf Hitler – occurred on Ukrainian soil.
Former cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said that “If Zelensky’s speech was given… in normal [non-war] times, we would have said it bordered on Holocaust denial.”
“Every comparison between a regular war, as difficult as it may be, and the extermination of millions of Jews in gas chambers in the framework of the Final Solution, is a total distortion of history.”
“The same is true for the claim that Ukrainians helped Jews in the Holocaust,” Steinitz explained.
“The historic truth is that the Ukrainian people cannot be proud of its behavior in the Holocaust of the Jews.”
Another Member of the Knesset was more direct its accusation that Ukraine participated in the murder of Jews 80 years ago.
“I don’t understand Ukrainian, but if the translation I heard is accurate, Zelensky asked us to treat the Ukrainians like they treated us 80 years ago. I’m sorry, but I think we will have to reject that request. We are, after all, a moral nation,” MK Simcha Rothman said of Zelensky’s comments.
Some of the Israeli lawmakers maintained the position that their country should continue providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, Israel has generally poised itself as a mediator in the conflict between the two countries, thus maintaining its friendly relationship with Russia.
“The Ukrainian people cannot be proud of its behavior in the Holocaust of the Jews.”
– Former cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz
Russian oligarch and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s jet was famously seen departing Tel Aviv, Israel for Russia after the billionaire’s yachts were thrown into disarray by Western sanctions. It was later confirmed that Abramovich departed from Israel and arrived in Russia after a stop in Turkey, another country that has poised itself as a mediator in the Ukraine war.
As noted by the Jerusalem Post, The Ukrainian Auxiliary Police reportedly rounded up Jews to be killed in Babyn Yar, Lviv and Zhytomyr during World War II.
About 80,000 Ukrainians volunteered for the Nazi Waffen-SS, compared with only 2,600 Ukrainians documented as having saved Jews.
Prior to this, Ukraine had long been home to “some of the worst pogroms in Jewish history.”
Many historians note that Ukraine was conquered by the Nazis in 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, and it was not uncommon for the local population to join the conquering Nazis as their totalitarian regime assumed power.
The question of present day Nazis in Ukraine remains unclear.
It is well established that the Azov Batallion uses neo-Nazi iconography, and the Western media has routinely celebrated reports of their victories against the Russians.
Some independent reports, however, have suggested the neo-Nazi paramilitary group committed war crimes.
— Juan Sinmiedo (@Youblacksoul) March 17, 2022
Captured Russians have expressed skepticism at how widespread the beliefs are within Ukraine, and suggested that the neo-Nazi element may be confined to the Zelensky-backed Azov Battalion.
Russia invaded Ukraine last month after a years long standoff over the disputed Donbass region. Russia claims it launched a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine and promote “denazification” in the country as part of an effort to protect ethnic Russians from Ukrainian state violence.
Ukraine and most of the international community, meanwhile, say Russia’s concerns were without merit and the invasion unprovoked.