Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Israel to take a stronger stand against Russia as Moscow’s military forces continued to bomb civilians in his country.
Zelensky quoted the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in his video message to Israel yesterday with the words “We intend to live, but our neighbors want to see us dead.”
In his virtual speech delivered via Zoom to members of the Israeli parliament, he compared the invasion of his country with atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
He accused the Russian president Vladimir Putin about trying to implement a “permanent solution” against Ukraine – a term similar to “the final solution” used by Nazi Germany for its genocide.
Sir. Zelensky, who is Jewish, also noted that a Russian missile attack recently hit Babi Yar in Ukraine, where more than 30,000 Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis during two days in 1941. The site is now Ukraine’s most important Holocaust memorial.
“You know what this place means where the victims of the Holocaust are buried,” he said.
“It is a full-scale war against the destruction of our people,” he added. “That’s why I have the right to draw this parallel in the story.”
He called on Israel to follow steps taken by Western countries to impose sanctions on Russia and to supply Ukraine with weapons.
However, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel tweeted: “The war is terrible, but the comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the final solution is outrageous.”
He also noted that part of Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews “was also carried out in the country of Ukraine”.
Officials at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial dedicated to preserving the memory of Jews murdered in World War II, said such “irresponsible statements” downplayed the historical facts about the Holocaust.
Before the speech, Mr Zelensky said that 11 political parties in Ukraine linked to Russia would be banned.
On Saturday, he called on the Swiss government to freeze the bank accounts of all Russian oligarchs.
Speaking at a demonstration outside the Swiss parliament in Bern, he condemned companies that maintained business as usual and spun off food giant Nestlé.
Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Federal Palace to hear Mr Zelensky’s nine-minute speech, which was translated into German.
Israel has provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine and will open a field hospital later this week, but it has rejected requests to supply weapons or impose sanctions on Russia