Israel is walking a fine line between the defense of its people and territory, and its support of Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Ukrainian demands coupled with a just-short-of-antisemitic trope are not going to change the situation for Israel – but may make it more difficult for Jerusalem to continue to be helpful.
Much is being made by Ukrainian officials of Israel’s refusal to supply offensive weapons or the Iron Dome air defense system to Kyiv. Much. The latest version has Israel causing the Russia-Iran military relationship. “This alliance of theirs would simply not have happened if [Israeli] politicians had made only one decision at the time — the decision we asked for,” said Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview to an Israeli outlet. The Israeli government’s decision “was seemingly adopted a long time ago — in 2014, when Russia began its aggression against Ukraine. The decision ‘not to annoy’ the Kremlin, not to help Ukraine for real.”
In an earlier interview Zelensky said he was “in shock” at Israel’s failure to give Kyiv anti-missile systems to help counter Russian attacks. And Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgeny Korniychuk said, “I want the Israeli government to move away from its comfort zone and get back to reality.”
While Israel’s “comfort zone” is a matter of Israeli discretion, concrete threats to Israel’s security posed by Iran — and mitigated to some extent by deconfliction with Russia — are a matter of fact. As is the length, breadth and depth of Russia Iran military cooperation.
Ukrainian fixation on Israeli capabilities and Israeli political decisions is a) out of touch with reality and b) slides a little too close to classic canards, like “Jews control the media,” or “the banks,” or as one hapless DC pol said, “the weather.” Israel is a little country, a regional power to be fair, well able to take care of its national security needs and protect its people. But it is not the U.S., the EU, or NATO.
In addition, there are logistical and technological reasons Iron Dome wouldn’t be a good fit for the size and space that needs protection, as well as the difference between Hamas or Hezbollah missiles and Russian weapons.
Speaking of which, did Ukraine ask the U.S. for Patriot missile batteries, or was it just Israel’s Iron Dome? Did Zelensky blame Washington for the Iran nuclear negotiation that allowed Russia and Iran to sit together as allies in Vienna while the U.S. was outside? Or was it just Israel?
On the other hand, Israel’s support for Ukraine in the United Nations has been steadfast, contrasting with Ukraine’s lack of support for Israel in those same quarters.
In the first, terrifying weeks of the war, more than 29,000 Ukrainian refugees were taken to Israel. Many have left as parts of the country stabilized, but at the first crisis point, Israel was there. By comparison, Canada has taken 32,000 refugees since February; Japan, 1,615. In addition, Israel has provided over 100 tons of humanitarian aid, including a full field hospital that treated 6,000 civilians, defensive gear in the first shipment included helmets and flak jackets. The latest package included helmets, protective vests, mine protection suits, gas masks and hazmat filtration systems.
Since the discovery of Iranian drones flying for Russia, Israel has provided Kyiv with intelligence information on the Iranian system.
Israel, it appears, will continue to put its people and its security first, keeping a close eye on the support it can give to Ukraine in its war. And that is as much as a country under threat can do.