Ukrainian Jews are proud of Zelensky


Eastern Europe


Demonstrators gather at Habima Square in the centre of Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on March 20, 2022 to attend a televised video address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to the Israeli Knesset. Photo AFP, Jack Guez

According to Putin, the Ukrainian president is a disgrace to Jews. But Ukrainian Jews defend their president.

Amid the war in Ukraine, President Zelensky’s Jewish heritage became a topic of public discussion. According to Russian President Putin, his Jewish friends say Zelensky is an embarrassment to the Jewish community: “They say he is not a Jew.” Putin made the comments at a conference on Friday.

Putin’s words caused outrage in the Jewish community in Ukraine. According to Chief Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, the Jewish community and the entire free world stand behind the Ukrainian president. “I am proud of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who stood with his people at the beginning of the war, even though it was dangerous for his life, showed extraordinary courage and continues to defend the Ukrainian people”, the rabbi stated, according to the Institute of Religion and Policy.

The former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, also expressed support for the Ukrainian president. “Ukrainians can be proud of the election of a Jew as president”, he said. “And we Jews can be proud that a representative of our people plays such a unique historical role in mobilizing the Ukrainian people and the entire free world to protect our future.”


According to Yevhen Korniychuk, the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel, Putin commented on an upcoming trip to Israel by Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska. According to Korniychuck, “Putin is trying to undermine relations between Israel and Ukraine.” He added that Ukraine expects “the Israeli government to strongly condemn Putin’s remarks since failure to comply with this requirement may lead to the postponement or cancellation of the visit of President Zelensky’s wife to Israel.”

Zelensky himself takes Putin’s words personally, Korniychuk argues. “Putin’s remarks are anti-Semitic and offensive to the Jewish people. I believe that Israel should be proud of the President of Ukraine, who is of Jewish origin and defends his homeland with all his heart.”


Despite Putin’s comments, the Russian ruler actually is not an anti-Semite, says Natan Sharansky on Monday. This reports the Jerusalem Post. “On the contrary, he sympathizes with Jews for many reasons, but he is now building a new dictatorship.” According to the former head of the Jewish Agency, Putin is using Zelensky’s Jewishness because that fits in the false narrative of a Ukraine full of Nazis. “He has decided to renew the Russian empire and wants to restore its national dignity. In order to do so, he wants to take over Ukraine, and for that, he needs to mobilize his people because no one is interested in war except him.”



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