Aug 17, 2022
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In an interview with Ukrainian journalists broadcast on state television on Tuesday after a period of alleged war crimes carried out by the Russian army against his people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to rebuild after the conflict, turning his country into a “big Israel.”

Not what we wanted it to be

“Ukraine will definitely not be what we wanted it to be from the beginning. It is impossible. Absolutely liberal, European – it will not be like that,” Zelensky said. “I think all our people will be our great army. We cannot talk about ‘Switzerland of the future’ — probably, our state will be able to be like this a long time after,” Zelensky said. “But we will definitely become a ‘big Israel’ with its own face.”

“Israelis have lived surrounded by enemies for all of their history, and Ukraine will be doing the same.”

Rabbi Lazar Brody, who advocates for a spiritually and physically healthy approach to life on his new website, felt that Zelensky comparing Ukraine to Israel was horribly misplaced.

A horrible tragedy

“Nobody likes to hear about people being butchered,” Rabbi Brody said. “Of course, it is a horrible tragedy. But 400 Ukrainians were killed, and Zelensky called it a genocide. What the Ukrainians helped the Nazis do not so long ago was genocide. In1942my great grandfather’s village of Yanov, in three hours, 2,400 Jews were murdered. And only eight Nazi soldiers were there. The rest were Ukrainians.”

Rabbi Lazer Brody (courtesy: screenshot)

“Bogdan Chmielnick butchered half of the Jews in Ukraine, and there are still monuments to him all over Ukraine. If Zelensky really wants to be like Israel, he should start by tearing down these statues.”

“Putin is a butcher, but Zelensky is not much better,” Rabbi Brody said. “If he looks at Israel and the only thing he sees is our army, he is missing the essence of Israel; the Torah, and our attachment to God.”

Rebuilding the military

In his televised address, Zelensky emphasized rebuilding his country’s military.

“We will not be surprised that we will have representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in all institutions, supermarkets, cinemas; there will be people with weapons. I am sure that our security issue will be number one in the next ten years,” he explained.

Zelensky also stated his intention to create security alliances with countries–including Israel.

“All this is being discussed at the level of advisers, and leaders with France, the United States, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, Israel, and there are many friends who want to join,” Zelensky said. “So far, we have not received a specific list of guarantees and a list of countries that are ready to join us 100%.”

Weapons within 24 hours

“We need serious players who are ready for anything. We need a circle of states that are ready to provide any weapons within 24 hours. We need individual countries on which sanctions policy depends so that these sanctions are deeply elaborated in advance. So that in the first second when we feel the threat from the Russian Federation, these states will unite and within three days introduce everything at once, block everything,” Zelensky said.

He said the country would not become “an authoritarian state,” which he said was “impossible” in Ukraine.

“An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. People know what they are fighting for,” he said.

“All of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge,” Zelensky said. “The challenge is internal, first of all, one’s own, human challenge. Then, when you pull yourself together and have to do it, I think we have no other choice.”

“A great woman who I admire.”

Zelensky, born Jewish, has turned to Israel for aid in his struggle. Last month, while addressing a group of American Jewish leaders, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US said that Golda Meir, Israel’s Kyiv-born fourth Prime Minister, was  “a great woman who I admire.”

Early in the war, a meme made the rounds on social media, paraphrasing a quote from Meir:

“If Russia lays down its weapons, there is no war. If Ukraine lays down its weapons, there is no Ukraine,” read one widely shared tweet, which its author attributed to “a Ukrainian Christian.”

The worst war crimes since World War II

Meir’s quote uttered after the 1973 Yom Kippur War was slightly different:

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel,” Meir said. Benjamin Netanyahu, then speaker of Israel’s government, uttered those words in a speech to lawmakers in 2006.

In a recent address to the UN, the Ukrainian president accused Russia of perpetrating the worst war crimes since World War II.

“They killed entire families, adults, and children, and they tried to burn the bodies,” Zelensky said. “Women were raped and killed in front of their children, and their tongues pulled out.”