Invoking Holocaust in Speech to Israeli Lawmakers, Zelensky Calls to Prevent Russian ‘Final Solution’

TOPSHOT - Demonstrators gather in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on March

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Israeli lawmakers via Zoom in a fiery speech on Sunday, and called on Israel to help prevent a Russian “final solution.”

Zelenskyy told lawmakers: “102 years after the Nazi party was established, on February 24, an order was given for a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

“They are using the terminology of the Nazi party. This is a tragedy. When they wanted to destroy Europe and have it surrender, they didn’t want to leave any of you remaining. And now us. They called it the final solution to the Jewish question,” Zelenskyy said while also criticizing Israel for not arming Ukraine.

“We can ask why we can’t receive weapons from you, why Israel has not imposed powerful sanctions on Russia or is not putting pressure on Russian business. Either way, the choice is yours to make, brothers and sisters, and you must then live with your answer, the people of Israel,” the Ukrainian President added.

The speech, which was also broadcast live to thousands of pro-Ukraine demonstrators in the central Habima square in Tel Aviv, was also a plea to Israel’s government to provide weapons to Ukraine.

This picture taken on March 20, 2022 shows a view of a pin depicting two copies of the “tryzub”, the coat of arms of Ukraine, surrounded by hearts in the Ukrainian national colours and fixed on the chest of a demonstrator in Israel’s Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv attending a televised video address by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. (JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

“We are turning to you and asking whether it is better to provide help or mediation without choosing a side,” he told the MKs and ministers. “I will let you decide the answer to the question, but I do want to point out that indifference kills.”

“You know how to defend your interests and help Ukraine. To defend Ukrainians. To protect the Jews of Ukraine,” he says. “We can ask many times why we’re not getting weapons from you. Why Israel hasn’t imposed serious sanctions on Russia?”

“I’m sure you feel our pain, but can you explain why we’re still waiting… for your help… when other countries are giving help?”

In a condemnation of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s recent efforts at shuttle diplomacy mediating between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian leader said: “What is it? Indifference? Political calculation? Mediation without choosing sides?”

“I’ll leave you to provide the answers to these questions, but I want to point out that indifference kills. Calculations can be wrong. You can mediate between countries, but not between good and evil,” he said.

Several Israeli lawmakers criticized Zelensky for drawing comparisons between the Holocaust and the Russian invasion.

“I admire the Ukraine president and support the Ukrainian people in heart and deed, but the terrible history of the Holocaust cannot be rewritten,” Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel tweeted.

Hendel notes part of Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews “was also carried out in the land of Ukraine.”

“The war is terrible but the comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the final solution is outrageous,” he said.

Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich said: “His criticism of Israel was legitimate, as was his raising expectations of us.”

“But not his infuriating and ridiculous comparison to the Holocaust and his attempt to rewrite history and and to erase the role of the Ukrainian people in the attempts to exterminate the Jewish people.”

After the speech, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid vowed to help Ukraine in whatever way possible.

“I once again condemn the attack on Ukraine, and thank President Zelensky for sharing his feelings and the distress of the Ukrainian people with Knesset members and the government,” Lapid said, “We will continue to assist the Ukrainian people as much as we can and will never turn our back to those who know the horrors of war.”

Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai said: “Zelensky’s words pierce the heart. The Ukrainian nation was attacked, Ukrainian democracy was attacked, they are in great distress. We have the human, Jewish and Israeli obligation to help them. Our assistance on Ukraine’s borders and inside the country is impressive. We must also assure asylum for the refugees. We have done and will continue to do everything in our power.”


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