I work in a privately owned Israeli company founded by immigrants from Ukraine. Half the employees are Ukrainian-born Israelis. The others are from Russia (barring a handful of Israeli-born Israelis).
Many of the faces I see throughout the day are drawn and weary. People worried sick about elderly parents who did not make Aliyah. Worried about friends and extended family members currently in the war zone.
War is a terrible thing. Being helpless when people you care about are under attack is gut-wrenchingly awful. My heart goes out to all who are suffering during this truly difficult time.
I have a big problem with the way the newscycle has turned to Ukraine. My social media platforms are filled with solidarity posts. Mainstream Israeli media is focused 24/7 on Ukraine. The comparisons with World War 2 and the Holocaust seem to be plastered all over the international media. Jewish and Holocaust-centered propaganda has been used by Russia (calling Ukrainians Nazis), by Ukraine (saying that Russia is killing Holocaust victims again by bombing Babi Yar) and by Jewish advocacy networks putting a spotlight on the Jews/Israelis caught in the crossfire of this war.
Frankly, I’m disgusted.
No Jews, no news?
This isn’t our war. We have enough wars of our own. This one has absolutely nothing to do with Jews or Israel. Any Jews who are hurt, injured, or suffer in any way from this war were not targeted because they are Jews. The Russians don’t care that they are Jews or might also carry Israeli citizenship. The Russians don’t care that there are sites connected to Jewish history in Ukraine either. They care that they are in the middle of a war aimed at conquering a country. People get killed in wars. Armies target significant sites in the enemy territory to inflict damage to infrastructure, create terror and/or damage tourism. It is Ukraine that is under attack, not Jews.
This war is NOTHING like the Holocaust
Bombs on Babi Yar do not “kill Holocaust victims a second time.” Preventing the grandchildren of Holocaust victims from protecting ourselves when WE are under attack DOES.
Neither Russians nor Ukrainians have ANY right to invoke Holocaust comparisons.
The Ukrainians were notorious for their glee in taking part in pogroms and murdering Jews. The Russians, who did fight the Nazis didn’t do so to save Jews. Today the Russians are not trying to exterminate the Ukrainians, they are trying to conquer land. The Russian army is known for indiscriminate bombing and being free and easy with civilian casualties and yet we’ve seen much footage of Russian tanks being stopped by Ukrainian civilians. It would be easy for a genocidal army to simply bulldoze those people. The Russian soldiers don’t because they don’t want to.
Buildings have been bombed. People have been killed. That is horrible BUT IT’S NOT GENOCIDE.
Genocide is what happened to the Yazidis when ISIS attempted to exterminate their ancient culture, slaughtering men, women, and children – and selling the women and children who survived into sex slavery. Genocide is what is happening to the Uyghurs in China. Genocide is what happened in Rwanda. In Cambodia. To the Armenians.
Anyone invoking the terminology of genocide in connection to the very conventional war between Russia and Ukraine should be ashamed of themselves.
Ukrainian refugees are nothing like Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.
Harrowing as their experiences were and are, Ukrainian refugees, have friendly countries on their borders to escape to. It’s difficult to be exhausted, scared, and worried about your future, property and family left behind. That’s nothing compared to starving, with no one to turn to, no country, no protection, and no friends in the world.
Israeli refugees are perhaps the luckiest of them all. Our government begged Israelis and Jews to leave. Now our representatives are in all possible locations pulling Jews out of the chaos, bringing them to safety. This is nothing short of a miracle.
It’s also, to a certain extent, an abuse of Jewish Holocaust memory. On one hand, it is difficult to get up and leave your home and country when danger is coming. On the other, that’s exactly the point – how many people of those being rescued by Israel are actually Jewish? If you feel that Ukraine is your country, are not Jewish according to the religious definition, have no connection to Israel or anything related to Jewish tradition or culture, do I need to care that you might have had a Jewish grandfather?
Israel DOES care because we go by the same guidelines Hitler did to define who was Jewish enough to be murdered when determining who has the right to make Aliyah. If Hitler would have murdered you for being Jewish, you can become a citizen of the only Jewish state on earth.
For Israel, all lives matter isn’t a slogan. We truly believe that do everything we can to protect lives – including those of our enemies. At the same time, we are a tiny country with limited resources, and we cannot take care of others before taking care of our own. Israel is the homeland and only safe haven in the world for JEWS. We are proud to rescue Jews from all corners of the earth. We cherish every member of our tribe. If the individual in question doesn’t care about Israel or being Jewish, do we really need to give them a free ride, sanctuary, and all the benefits of new immigrants?
Insisting that Israel take sides
America wants Israel to take sides. Russia wants the same. On one hand, Ukraine is the obvious underdog, attacked because the stronger party could – and we all have immediate sympathy for the underdog. On the other, Russia has its own logic for attacking (keeping the West off their borders and taking back what they believe belongs to them).
Israel understands what it is like for innocent civilians, under attack. At the same time, it is Russia on our border, not America, holding back the Iranian proxies. It is Russia who looks the other way while we prevent Iranian proxies from gathering more arms against us. It is Russia who can make it near impossible for Israel to protect herself, should Russia choose – and in the meantime, it is America racing to embrace Iran with agreements not worth the paper they are written on. Iran, who has promised actual genocide against Israel. Not the fake genocide both Ukraine and Russia are accusing each other of. None of the players pushing Israel to take sides have any interest in Israeli lives, they are only using us as a pawn in the proxy war between America and Russia. Ukraine utilizing Holocaust memory and propaganda in Hebrew to guilt Israel into standing with them is not much better although perhaps can be excused because they are searching for all the help they can get in their fight for freedom. As far as I am concerned, the only side Israel needs to take is ours.
While the media is focused on Ukraine, what are they not telling us?
The media shapes reality by what they choose to show the public, how the content is framed, and by what they choose NOT to show. While eyes are on Ukraine, who is paying attention to Iran? A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire Middle East and Europe, not just Israel.
In Israel, this war provides a convenient excuse for our media to not cover many uncomfortable and critical issues including dangerous lack of sovereignty and frightening levels of corruption in our police and judiciary system. Every country has different challenges but everywhere the question remains the same – while they are focused on Ukraine, what are they not telling me that I need to know?
5 thoughts on “Russia – Ukraine war: abuse of Holocaust memory and other politically incorrect thoughts”
With all due respect, the comparison to World War II is not that far off. Putin used the Russians in Dombas as an excuse to invade Ukraine. Hitler used the Sudeten Germans to invade Czechoslovakia.
It is not hard to imagine history repeating itself, with a Stalin-like dictator in place of the German one. I appreciate your sentiment that “this is not ‘our’ war,” although that sounds like the isolationists in the U.S. who tried to keep us out of World Wars I and II until they could no longer do so. I don’t blame Jews (and Israelis) who fear a repetition of history and for being concerned about our brethren in Ukraine (because we want to make “Never again” a reality and see too much evidence of it possibly happening again, G-d forbid). It may be excessive when we stand back as you did and think that there are other issues that need our attention, but in this world we may have to accept that we will have to anticipate that we have to deal with more than one issue at once.
Otherwise, you make very good points, and I do appreciate your perspective.
There’s one huge difference everyone seems to be ignoring – Putin isn’t trying to exterminate Ukrainians.
There is no comparison, not even close.
That may be, but the comparison to World War II is still too close to ignore.