We Jews of Ukraine ask: Why is Israel abandoning our country? – Haaretz

Posted By on March 3, 2022

Israel takes great pride in its moral responsibility towards Jews all over the world, an ethos of solidarity that it has acted on with care and gravity since the Jewish states founding.

But something is going wrong, and its going wrong in relation to Ukraine. Israels government is not demonstrating enough courage or commitment to protect the Jews ofUkraine.

I grew in the vibrant Jewish community of Konotop in north-eastern Ukraine. During his work for the Jewish Agency for Israel in the early 1990s, my grandfather worked with Israelis who participated in humanitarian operations all over the world, wherever Jews were in need, such as during the civil war in Tajikistan in the 1990s. I became an active member of a Jewish youth movement.

One of the key lessons I would teach mychanichim,the young people in my care,was that the Jewish state was unique in the world in that it would go to any lengths, from the barely possible to the impossible, to aid and assist its coreligionists in their hour of need.

This week, Konotop was surrounded by Russian forces who threaten to raze the city to the ground if it didnt surrender. But in Israel, the top echelons of government can barely bring themselves to call out Russia by name for its war of aggression. Israeli TV hosts commentators who justify the Russian terrorists who fire Grad rockets at the Jewish communities of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernigov, the invaders who bomb Kyiv and Kharkiv, the occupiers of Kherson.

From the viewpoint of Ukrainian Jews, Israels insufficient engagement with their suffering is both disillusioning and ineffective. From where we stand, under Russian bombardment, the State of Israel seems more interested in public relations than in real action to help us and to help our country.

The State of Israel can definitely should do more. I believe there are three key ways for Israel to help the Jews of Ukraine and each one starts from the recognition that because the Jewish community is an integral part of Ukrainian society, Israel must direct its support to Ukraine and its citizens as a whole.

1. Humanitarian:The home front, in which Israel has unparalleled experience.

2. Diplomatic:Israel must step up and explicitly back Ukraine and sanction Russia

3. Military: Deliver Ukraine defensive equipment and weapons

My native town is now under Russian fire, together with so many other towns and cities inUkraine.Many members of theKonotopJewish community, like elsewhere others in Ukraine, are Holocaust survivors.Who will take care of them? Who will be their voice? Who in Israel will call out, in a clear voice, who is responsible for their repeated suffering?

As a Ukrainian Jew, as a member of the Jewish people, I ask Jews all over the world to become the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves. I ask you to become the advocates of the elderly and children who seek shelter in damp basements from unrelenting Russian bombing, and demand Israel call Russia to account.

We speak all the time about "Never again," but what do words mean when Russia defiles the hundred thousand dead of Babyn Yar and Israelstill stands aside from confronting them, and sidesteps what it has always declared it an unbreakable duty towards Jews in need?

We in Ukraine are in need now: we are witnesses to a moral andhumanitarian catastrophe here. The Talmud tells us: Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire. Its not too late for Israel to remember it.

Ilya Bezruchkois theCEO oftheKyivco-working network BeeWorking, a native of Konotop, Ukraine who lives inKyivand is amember ofitsJewish community

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We Jews of Ukraine ask: Why is Israel abandoning our country? - Haaretz

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