Against this backdrop, there are Jewish interests in both Ukraine and Russia. In Ukraine, people are fleeing for their lives. Surely, immigrants will stream into Israel for a long time to come. Some estimates say that there are 500,000 Jews between Russia and Ukraine. And there are so many Jews on the front lines – Tikva evacuating their Jewish orphans, Chabad naturally caring for Jews as they do worldwide, Israelis with airlifts.
So much heroism helping people in need in Ukraine. Israeli medic volunteers, Israeli teens on a trip to Poland who stop to help out.
80 years after the Holocaust, the message of Never Again resonates as the Jewish state is a place Jews can always run to. On the borders where refugees flee, Jews know they have a home. I have spoken to people in Ukraine – and they know Jews have a place ready to take them in. Previous Jewish refugees in Europe weren’t so lucky...
It is necessary – and now in March 2022 we have all learned a lesson which makes the importance of Israel even more clear.
Israel’s Prime Minister Bennett has mediated, perhaps the only leader in the world to speak to both President Putin and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and while sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine is in a very difficult situation. Israel – and Jews – have interests in both nations, even as the atrocities of Putins actions are clear.
And among the many lessons of this brutal war for Israel is the need to always have a strong army. Make no mistake about it – Israel can protect herself.
One of the forefathers of Zionism - Ze’ev Jabotinsky – often spoke about the importance of a Jewish army. And indeed, the army of Israel is a vital mechanism for Israel and the Jewish people.
Jabotinsky wrote in 1932, “It is very, very sad that Jews are compelled to learn to shoot. But we are compelled and it is useless to argue against the compulsion of historic reality. That compulsion says you may be well educated, you may learn to plow the land and to build houses, you may speak Hebrew… but if you do not at the same time know how to shoot there is no hope. That is the lesson of the reality of our time and that is the prospect for the lifetime of our children."
"Where it is a question of war you do not stand and ask questions as to what is “better”, whether to shoot or not to shoot. The only permissible question in such circumstances is on the contrary “what is worse” to let yourself be killed or enslaved without any resistance or to undertake resistance with all its horrible questions. For there is no “better” at all. Everything connected with war is bad, and cannot be “good.” When you shoot at enemy soldiers do not lie to yourself or persuade yourself that you are shooting at “guilty” ones. If you start calculating with what is “better” the calculation is very simple; if you want to be good let yourself be killed and renounce everything you would like to defend: home, country, freedom, hope. The blackest of all characteristics is the tradition of the cheapness of Jewish blood.”
The words of Ze’ev Jabotinsky resonate and remain relevant today. The entire world has conflicting interests. Israel’s interests must remain protecting the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Those lessons are eternal.
The Jewish people must never forget the need to protect the Jewish people.