Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed the Israeli Knesset via video on Sunday, during which time he compared his Russian counterpart to Hitler and Moscow’s ongoing special military operation to the Holocaust. Those were scandalous claims to make since there’s no evidence whatsoever that President Putin is following in Hitler’s genocidal footsteps. To the contrary, he’s a very proud philo-Semite who never misses an opportunity to express his deep respect for the Jewish people. Some notable examples of this were when he spoke at the annual conference of the Keren Heyesod International Jewish Charitable Foundation in Moscow in September 2019 and was then hosted as one of Israel’s guests of honor in January 2020 during the Remembering The Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism Forum.
Even though Zelensky is Jewish so some non-Jews might think that this gives him the right to compare anyone and anything to Hitler and the Holocaust, his remarks caused quite the stir in the Knesset. The Times Of Israel (TOI) published a piece about the furious reaction that this provoked among some titled “Israeli lawmakers tear into Zelensky for Holocaust comparisons in Knesset speech”. They quoted Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel who tweeted that “I admire the Ukraine president and support the Ukrainian people in heart and deed, but the terrible history of the Holocaust cannot be rewritten.” He also reminded everyone that “Genocide was also committed on Ukrainian land”, likely in reference to Zelensky concluding his speech by claiming that Ukrainians saved Jews during the Holocaust.
While it’s true that some were recognized as Righteous Among The Nations for these selfless acts, a significant share of the Holocaust was indeed committed on what’s nowadays Ukrainian territory by Hitler’s fascist collaborators like new national “hero” Stepan Bandera and his followers. Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich was also quoted by TOI of accusing Zelensky of trying “to rewrite history and erase the involvement of the Ukrainian people in the extermination of Jews.” Fellow party member Simcha Rotman went further by saying that “I don’t understand Ukrainian, but if the translation I heard is accurate, Zelensky asked us to treat Ukrainians the same way they treated us 80 years ago. I’m sorry, but I think we will have to reject his request. After all, we are a moral nation.”
These very powerful condemnations should resonate with those Western observers who hitherto assumed that Zelensky was an innocent lamb who could do no wrong simply because their government-influenced Mainstream Media (MSM) outlets deliberately misportrayed him in such a way. These same observers might have instinctively accused their opponents of anti-Semitism for bringing up the same historical facts that the Religious Zionist Party members just did but now they’ll have to think of another slur to spew since that one is no longer applicable after some of the most zealous Jews on the political scene echoed those exact same claims against Zelensky. Of course, that narrative shift will only happen though if the Western public is made aware of this fierce reaction against his words, which is unlikely.
Rather, it’s much more probable that they’ll only hear about Zelensky’s Hitler and Holocaust comparisons since he in hindsight likely only made them for the purpose of generating headlines in the Western MSM. Anyone who even casually follows Israeli affairs and is aware of how sensitive those two interconnected issues are for the Jewish people would know that it’s unacceptable for anyone to so casually compare anyone and anything with two of history’s worst evils. Zelensky himself, being Jewish, should surely know this as well as anyone else which suggests that he might have purposely disrespected his co-religionists’ sensitivities for self-interested reasons related to guilting Western leaders into supporting his cause even more than they already are.
After all, given the “politically correct” narrative prevalent in most Western societies, it’s regarded as unacceptable for non-Jews to question any Jew’s comparison of anyone and anything to Hitler and the Holocaust. The one making the comparison is automatically assumed to be right even though that’s not logical, but such are the limitations to critical thinking that accompany the West’s de facto ideology of identity-driven liberal totalitarianism. The Biden Administration doesn’t seem interested in provoking World War III by complying with Zelensky’s “no-fly zone” request so the Ukrainian leader might want to smear him in the public eye with innuendos of anti-Semitism and the pre-WWII appeasement of Hitler through the ridiculous comparisons that he just made and which might echo across MSM going forward.
Considering how deeply he offended his fellow co-religionists’ sensitivities that even the Israeli Communications Minister had to promptly issue a public clarification lest unaware observers be misled into veering down the dark path of Holocaust revisionism by none other than a Jewish leader speaking to the Israeli Knesset (as surreal as that sounds!), there’s no doubt that Zelensky failed to sway Israel to his side. The self-professed Jewish State is proudly remaining neutral in the New Cold War since that policy best serves its national interests. It won’t allow a very secular co-religionist from another country to guilt it into becoming a direct participant in the conflict through the dispatch of anti-missile systems like he requested and thus risking its freedom to bomb Iran in Syria while Russia turns a blind eye.
After reflecting on it, Zelensky behaved very selfishly and arguably shamefully too in disrespecting his fellow Jews’ sensitivities through his Hitler and Holocaust comparisons. There’ll of course be some Jews who’ll agree with him for whatever their reason is but Hendel’s quick clarification strongly suggests that the State of Israel doesn’t share the Ukrainian President’s assessment of the situation. Zelensky should therefore apologize since he risked inflicting considerable damage to his fellow Jewish people across the world by inadvertently adding false credence to what Western society nowadays regards as the anti-Semitic notion (whether rightly or wrongly) that Hitler and the Holocaust weren’t exceptional historical evils but that anyone and anything can be compared to them for political convenience.
By minimizing the evil of those two through his baseless comparison of them with President Putin and Russia’s special operation, Zelensky actually erodes belief in one of the primary reasons behind Israel’s foundation, namely that it was an exceptional act of historical justice for the Jewish people after the unprecedented evils that were committed against them by Hitler’s forces (and their allies like Bandera’s OUN-UPA) during the Holocaust. When anyone and anything can casually be compared to those two, it takes away the uniqueness of Israel’s creation and suggests that it’s just an ordinary country, albeit one whose controversial origin story vis-à-vis the Palestinians raises questions about its legitimacy. Western society, whether rightly or wrongly, regards such questioning as anti-Semitic, hence why it’s taboo.
For these reasons, barring the unforeseen and extremely unlikely development of the Biden Administration successfully being guilted into provoking World War III on the ridiculous basis of Zelensky’s Hitler and Holocaust comparisons, the Ukrainian leader’s address to the Knesset can therefore be described as disrespectful and counterproductive. Whether inadvertently or by design, it trivialized Hitler and the Holocaust, thus provoking fury from Israeli lawmakers and embarrassingly prompting its Communications Minister to immediately issue a public clarification lest anyone be misled by Zelensky’s false comparisons into going down the dark path of Holocaust revisionism. Nevertheless, Israel is still expected to continue its active mediation efforts in the conflict despite this latest scandal.
By Andrew Korybko Via https://oneworld.press/?module=articles&action=view&id=2625