Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with the head of Ukraine's Radical Party, an outfit which includes members who are ultranationalists and neo-Nazis.
Oleh Lyashko came to Israel, where he visited Jerusalem, as part of parliamentary delegation led by Jewish lawmaker Georgii Logvynskyi. Lyashko was shown shaking Netanyahu’s hand in a video tweeted out by the Prime Minister’s Office.
"I'm very happy to welcome this Ukrainian delegation. We have courageous friendly relations, there is a free trade agreement we are interested to sign as well as the pension agreement," Netanyahu said in reference to the agreement that would extend pension rights to Ukrainian immigrants who were receiving retirement benefits at the time of their immigration to Israel.
"All these things are good for Israel as well as for Ukraine, and I welcome the friendship between both countries," the premier said.
Netanyahu has come under fire in recent years for allegedly failing to confront anti-Semitism and revisionism in Central and Eastern Europe.
Lyashko’s party includes nationalist Yuri Shukhevych, the son of Nazi collaborator Roman Shukhevych, whose troops engaged in war crimes against Jews during World War II. Another party lawmaker is Artyom Vitko, who was filmed in 2015 singing a song celebrating Adolf Hitler with lyrics that included “Adolf Hitler, together with us, Adolf Hitler, in each of us, and an eagle with iron wings will help us at the right time.”
- Netanyahu’s Embrace of Ethno-nationalists Endangers Jews in Europe
- With Poland, Netanyahu Discovers the Limits of Playing With History
- After Refusing On-camera Statement, Netanyahu Clarifies Remark on Poland Holocaust Law
Lyaskhko has himself courted controversy when he blasted then-President Petro Poroshenko following a 2015 state visit to Jerusalem, during which the Ukrainian leader apologized for collaboration by his countrymen during the Holocaust. Poroshenko’s comments were a “humiliation” for Ukraine, Lyashko said, adding that he was “proclaiming [the] inferiority of his people.”
After Poroshenko lost his re-election bid to Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this year, Lyashko accused the Jewish comedian turned politician of “lacking patriotism.”
In an interview with The Times of Israel published Tuesday, the prominent American Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt called Netanyahu a hypocrite, saying that “you have a government whose policy is to make nice with the Polish government, which is trying to rewrite Holocaust history, and with a Hungarian government that’s engaging in anti-Semitism.”