The Lessons for Israel from Russia's War on Ukraine

(JNS) Jonathan S. Tobin - The courageous conduct of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has personally led the defense of his country rather than fleeing for his life as most people expected he would do, has turned the former comedian into an unlikely 21st-century Jewish hero. In the last decade, Russia became a Middle East power. With American acquiescence, Russia became, along with Iran, a full-fledged combatant in the Syrian civil war. With the brutal use of military might now being employed in Ukraine, the Russians enabled their ally, Assad, to prevail in a war that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands and rendered another five million homeless. The Russians remain the dominant force in Syria, making Putin a powerful neighbor to Israel, rather than just an international symbol of tyranny and aggression. It is only via the good graces of the Russians that the Israel Defense Forces is able to have the freedom to strike at Iranian forces and those of its Hizbullah terrorist auxiliaries in Syria. Most Jews are rooting for Zelensky to somehow avoid the fate that usually befalls those who are forced into fights with ruthless and militarily powerful neighbors. However the war in Ukraine turns out, it is a warning to small countries to reject the notion that their safety can depend on international guarantees. The 1994 agreement in which Ukraine surrendered the nuclear weapons it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union involved both Russia and the U.S. guaranteeing its independence. It's not just that Putin couldn't be trusted to abide by that pact. It's that the U.S. can't be relied upon to stand by its allies. Just as important, the Biden administration is currently embarking on a policy of appeasement of Iran. With a new and even weaker nuclear deal, Israel is faced with a situation in which its sole superpower ally is prepared to enrich and empower a regime that poses an existential threat to the existence of the Jewish state. Israelis know how fickle international opinion can be when it comes to a country's right to defend itself. Everyone likes underdogs - something that generated support for the Jewish state's efforts to defend its existence in the past, when many military analysts thought it could not survive Arab efforts to wipe it out in its early years. Israelis have learned that they must forget about being popular, so long as they are strong enough to resist campaigns aimed at their destruction.

2022-03-03 00:00:00

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