'Holocaust Is Not War': Israeli Ministers, Lawmakers Slam Zelenskyy's Speech

Some Israeli lawmakers and ministers call to continue supporting Ukraine, despite the Ukrainian president's use of terms like 'final solution'


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking via Zoom in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking via Zoom in Tel Aviv on Sunday.Credit: Moti Milrod

Israeli ministers and lawmakers slammed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's over his comparisons between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Holocaust during his speech on Sunday, some, however, called to continue to express solidarity with Ukraine.

Several senior ministers, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said they were astounded by the speech, saying it was blunt and that the attacks on Israel were over the top.

Zelenskyy accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to carry out a “final solution” against Ukraine – using the Nazi term for its planned genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II.
“You remember it and will never forget it for sure,” he said. “But you should hear what is coming from Moscow now, what words they are saying – ‘final solution.’ But this time it's about us, about the Ukrainian question."

In evoking Ukrainians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, Zelensky elided the role of Ukrainian nationalist militia in carrying out the Holocaust and the rehabilitation of some of these same groups in recent years.

"I appreciate the Ukrainian President and support the Ukrainian people in spirit and in practice, but the terrible history of the Holocaust mustn't be rewritten. A genocide was committed also on the land of Ukraine. The war is terrible but the comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the final solution is enraging," Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel tweeted.

"President Zelenskyy's speech was difficult and thought-provoking. The Holocaust comparison must be put aside, and we must focus on the justified call for more action by Israel, whether it be increasing humanitarian aid, increasing mediation efforts and absorbing refugees," tweeted MK Gilad Kariv, the chairman of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee from the Labor Party.

"War is bad, difficult, and creates unnecessary victims and bloodshed," MK Yoav Kish (Likud) tweeted, "it is not a holocaust. A holocaust is, among other things, intentional genocide, ovens, gas chambers, mass graves and the premeditated murder of women and children. The only word to describe the Holocaust is holocaust. A holocaust is not war."

"When Zelenskyy gave the Holocaust a makeover, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach or stuck a finger in my eye or both. Maybe if I weren't sitting in the Knesset of Israel next to the flag of Israel as a member of the parliament of Israel it would have hurt less. Maybe," MK Galit Distal Atbaryan (Likud) tweeted.

Almost all of the Knesset's 120 members attended the speech via Zoom. Those absent included the entire Arab Joint List, the United Arab List except for Walid Taha, Amir Ohana (Likud), Yoav Segalovitz (Yesh Atid), Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar (New Hope), Yomtob Kalfon (Yamina), Yariv Levin (Likud), David Amsalem (Likud) and Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism).

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