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RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR

Zelenskyy says Nazi spirit is still trying to erase a people group; calls on Jews to speak up against Russian aggression

War or words: Both Putin and Zelenskyy have accused each other's countries of acting like Nazis

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking to the press, Mar. 1, 2022 (Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with Jews around the world to speak up and recognize that the Nazi spirit that sought to annihilate a people group – the Jews – is now seeking to “erase” the Ukrainians.

“I am now addressing all the Jews of the world – don’t you see what is happening? That is why it is very important that millions of Jews around the world should not remain silent right now,” he said.

In a video that the president apparently posted to social media, he referred to the Russian missile attack on Tuesday on the Holocaust memorial site, Babi Yar, a ravine near Kyiv where Nazi forces killed 33,000 Jews in just two days during the Holocaust. Zelenskyy said the attack – which Ukrainian officials say left five dead – was “beyond humanity.”

“What kind of a person would you have to be to make a place like this a target for missiles? You are killing Holocaust victims for the second time,” Zelenskyy said.

“Such a missile strike shows that our Kyiv is completely alien for many people in Russia. They know nothing about our capital. About our history. But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all.”

“On the first day of the war, Uman, where hundreds of thousands of Jews come to visit every year, was brutally bombed. They were coming to pray. Then Babi Yar, where a hundred thousands of Jews were shot.”

“Nazism is born in silence. So shout about killings of civilians. Shout about the murders of Ukrainians.”

Zelenskyy asked what defines a “military” target for Russia.

“NATO bases are threatening Russia? St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Lavra, Andrew’s Church?” he asked, referring to sites in Kyiv held sacred by Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox believers around the world.

Israeli and Jewish officials have already condemned the attack on Babi Yar, but while Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Israel “denounced the damage” to the memorial, he did not blame the Russians for it.

Some of the war seems to be a competition to prove which side is less sympathetic to Nazis. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that one of his goals is the “denazification” of Ukraine. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, said the allegations are absurd.

But Zelenskyy has soared to international acclaim by staying on the front lines in Kyiv even when he was offered safe passage by allied nations.

“I need ammunition, not a ride,” he retorted.

His Jewishness has also been a big factor in reporting on the president, which could serve to change the perception of Jewish people in Eastern Europe. 

The video of him comparing the Babi Yar attack to the Nazis comes a day after Zelenskyy gave an impassioned speech to the European Union, pleading for Ukraine to be granted membership.

“We have proven that at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you are,” he said during an emergency session of the EU parliament. “Prove that you are with us. Prove that you will not let us go.”

He received a standing ovation from the EU nation leaders.

Zelenskyy apparently was also targeted for assassination by an elite team of Chechen commandos, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov reportedly told the Ukraine 24 TV channel.

Danilov said that Ukrainian forces received intelligence about the attack on Zelenskyy and got to the unit first.

“The special operation that was to be carried out directly by the Kadyrovites to eliminate our president is fully known to us today, and I can say that we received information from representatives of the FSB, who today have no desire to take part in this bloody war,” he said.

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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