Zelenskyy Speech Fails to Impress

In a speech to Israel’s Knesset — Israel’s parliament — on Sunday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy chose his words purposefully to evoke strong emotions in his audience. He used phrases like ‘final solution’ and referenced Ukraine’s role in saving Jews from Germany during World War II. Although Zelensky was going for sympathy in his speech, his prepared remarks aroused anger instead.

Several lawmakers called his comparisons to the holocaust outrageous, and the speech did little to move any lawmakers from their current stance on support of the war. Israel has refused to provide Ukraine with any of its Iron Dome anti-missile units — a security issue so serious that not even the U.S. was privy to its source code — which he asserts could be of critical importance in the conflict.

Multiple targets deep within Ukraine have been hit by missile attacks. Russia has even deployed its Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile for the first time in the conflict, striking a weapons depot close to the Polish border. It is unclear if the Iron Dome would even be effective against this type of weapon, given it travels ten times faster than the speed of sound.

Beyond the military support angle, Israel has also refused to place sanctions on Russia. The reasoning behind this is that Russia has not been declared an enemy of Israel. This is a requirement before the parliament would be able to levy penalties against either Russia or any individuals, ergo Russian oligarchs. Israel has come out and said that they would not allow Israel, or its companies, to become loopholes for the sanctions currently being put in place by the United States and its western allies.

Claims of Nazism hang like a cloud over the conflict on both sides. Zelensky and his allies have compared Putin’s behavior to World War II Germany. Before the war began, there was reporting that the now famous Ukraine Azov battalion was itself linked to neo-Nazism.

It is unknown how much of this reporting is influencing decisions made in the Knesset. Israel has sought peace between Russia and Ukraine, and has implored the two nations to seek peaceful resolution through negotiations. Their push could save many lives if successful.

One thing is for certain, Zelensky did himself no favors with his speech.