Monday, March 21, 2022

03/21 Links Pt1: Bennett empathizes with Zelensky, rejects Holocaust parallel, says mediation ongoing; Kasparov: How the free world gave Putin the green light

From Ian:

Matthew Continetti: Believe Them
Putin chose war instead. He chose to follow the logic he had set out in a 5,000-word essay published in July 2021. Its title was “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” It’s where Putin made his ghoulish case that the borders of Ukraine are illegitimate. Where he asserted that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people.” Where he admonished readers that the Ukrainian nation-state exists at Russia’s pleasure.

Putin never wavered from these arguments. Throughout the buildup of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders, despite Biden’s threat of sanctions and French president Emmanuel Macron’s shuttle diplomacy, Putin continued to say that Ukrainian nationhood was a fiction. He called Ukraine’s democratic government fascist. He blamed America and the West for leaving him no other option than conquest. “The so-called Western bloc, formed by the United States in its own image and likeness, all of it is an ‘empire of lies,’” he said during his February 24 speech announcing the “special military operation” against Ukraine. He would “de-Nazify” a country with a Jewish president. He would retaliate if the “empire of lies” got in his way.

In launching his war, Putin did exactly what he had shown every indication of preparing to do for some time. Why, then, was it so difficult for so many experts to take him seriously? Why did so many people, including this writer, look with incomprehension and disbelief upon his statements and actions in the final days before the beginning of operations? Why were we unable to assimilate into our picture of reality a dictator who would coldly unleash premeditated hell on 44 million men, women, and children?

“In the face of unfathomable evil,” wrote the late Charles Krauthammer, “decent people are psychologically disarmed.” And when autocrats resort to violence, citizens of democracies that enjoy the rule of law are shocked. That’s not how we resolve disputes. For us, organized violence is rare. Terrible outcomes are uncommon. We seldom believe what our own elected officials say, anyway. Don’t expect us to take seriously the ravings of despots.

But it’s about time we started doing so. After Ukraine, there is no excuse for downplaying or ignoring authoritarian rhetoric and malevolent deeds. After Ukraine, we know that tyrants mean it when they make audacious claims and demand remarkable concessions. Putin acted just as he said he would. Many of us wouldn’t listen. Many of us didn’t want to.
Garry Kasparov: How the free world gave Putin the green light
Early Thursday morning, Germany invaded Ukraine. So did the Netherlands, Italy, France, Great Britain and every other country that has supported Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s war machine for the past decade.

The missiles that slammed into Kharkiv, the helicopters attacking an airport near the capital Kyiv, every bullet in every Russian paratrooper’s gun — all were built or bought largely with money from the free world. That same free world now stands in shock that these weapons are being used to do what they were designed to do.

Europe bought Russian gas and oil and welcomed Putin’s oligarch cronies’ looted billions in IPOs, real estate purchases, and political donations legal and illegal. Even after Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014 and annexed Crimea, Europe tried to keep business as usual separate from Russia’s assault on European security and the global world order.

On Thursday, Putin repaid them in full for their years of appeasement. After weeks of posturing and dramatic calls for summits and negotiations made headlines around the world, he sent his massed forces into Ukraine on the schedule he set months ago. The preening shuttle diplomacy by France’s Emanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz was revealed to have been a waste of time for everyone but Putin, who used it to ready his forces for the attack.

That time could have been used to arm Ukraine with the weapons it badly needs to fend off Russia’s overwhelming military superiority. It could have been used to level sanctions to demonstrate that this time, for once, the West was serious about deterrence.

Instead, Ukraine was treated like a beggar and sanctions were kept in reserve, as a threat Putin had little reason to expect was serious. After all, goes his thinking, if you have the power to stop me and choose not to use it, aren’t you giving me the green light?

It’s not as if Putin tried to hide what he was doing. Spies and satellites weren’t necessary to tease out that Russia was investing record sums in its military capacity and security forces; it was right there in the national budget for years. Russia may be falling apart and falling behind, but there was always plenty of cash for security forces and propaganda, the budget of a dictator.

Putin’s Fascism
According to nationalists and traditionalists, liberals, cosmopolitans, and progressives undermine defined and necessary ethnic and religious identities. It is this set of values that contemporary Russian nationalism associates with democracy. Dugin’s Russian nationalism tries to appeal to what it imagines as traditionalist Jewish allies in an attempt to justify violent opposition to liberal democracy.

The Duginist invocation of traditionalism is clearly meant to appeal to members of minority groups historically targeted by fascism, above and beyond merely using them as tokens for narrow political purposes. But is Russian fascism free from racial, ethnic, gender, and religious hierarchies? Is it free from the antisemitism that is central to so many traditional European versions of fascism?

When a contemporary society’s institutions were formed under conditions of explicit discrimination, they will continue to contain practices that perpetuate various disparities, even if no one within those structures has an explicitly discriminatory attitude (a key insight of critical race theory). Far-right movements and political parties often campaign on a platform of eliminating attempts to reform or replace these discriminatory practices, as well as introducing new ones, like opposing immigrants, women’s rights, religious and sexual freedoms, and the freedom to teach history.

In a very straightforward sense, this traditionalism is not free from antisemitism. A majority of the world’s Jews still choose to live outside of Israel, and most of them would not meet Dugin’s standards of religious traditionalism. A majority of Jews, then, are Dugin’s—and Putin’s—enemies.

It is one thing to wage cultural battles within the boundaries of liberal democratic politics, which preserve minority rights and allow the regular replacement of political leaders by democratic means. Traditionalists can and often do operate within this sphere.

Fascism breaks these boundaries. In fascist ideology, liberal democracy is itself the existential threat to traditionalism. Putin’s willingness to massacre people he falsely regards as his own points to his real enemy: cosmopolitan liberal democracy.

In Putin’s ideology, it is Ukrainian liberal democratic citizenship that represents the real threat to Russian greatness. Traditionalism demands a “deep decolonization” of these modernizers everywhere, perhaps especially the Jewish ones.
Russian Philosopher Alexander Dugin: In Ukraine, Russia Is Fighting the Liberal World Order
Prominent Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin said in a March 19, 2022 interview on Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar) that Russia will either win in Ukraine and be accepted as a sovereign superpower, or “there will be no Putin, no Russia, no world.” He said that any NATO intervention will be responded to "in kind," including the use of nuclear weapons if NATO launches a nuclear attack against Russia. He emphasized: "The decision to continue with the operation to our last breath has been taken." In addition, Dugin said that Russia's war in Ukraine is not against Ukraine as a country, but against "American hegemony" and the "global liberal elites who are trying to take over the world." He also said that Putin is so popular that the people have effectively made him Russia's "natural monarch.”

Bennett empathizes with Zelensky, rejects Holocaust parallel, says mediation ongoing
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday responded to Volodymyr Zelensky’s caustic address to Israeli lawmakers on Sunday, during which the Ukrainian president repeatedly invoked the Holocaust.

Bennett said that while he believes the Holocaust should not be compared to anything, he understands the Ukrainian peoples’ suffering.

“He’s a leader battling for the life of his country,” Bennett said, speaking at a conference organized by the Ynet news site. “Many hundreds of dead, millions of refugees. I cannot imagine what it is like to be in his shoes.

“However, I personally believe that the Holocaust should not be compared to anything,” he said. “It is a unique event in the history of nations, of the world — the systematic, industrial destruction of a people in gas chambers.”

Bennett also said that while there have been advances in Israel-mediated ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine, “very large” gaps remain between the two sides.

“We will continue, together with other countries, to try to bring an end to the war,” Bennett said.

“There is still a long way to go because there are controversial issues, some of them fundamental issues. Recently, there has been progress between the parties, but the gaps are still very large,” he said.
Knesset delegation to visit Ukraine-Hungary border; EU weighs oil embargo on Russia
A delegation of Israeli lawmakers and the Jewish Agency will visit the border crossings between Ukraine and Hungary this week, the Knesset said in a statement on Monday.

The visit is part of Israel's Operation Immigrants Come Home, which is facilitating the mass aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) of Ukrainian Jews and their families fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The delegation will include MKs Idit Silman (Yamina), Miri Regev (Likud), Evgeny Sova (Yisrael Beytenu), Vladimir Beliak (Yesh Atid), Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism) and Haim Biton (Shas).

During the visit, the MKs will meet with Israeli staff from the Jewish Agency and its program, Nativ, which helps immigrants from the former Soviet Union reconnect with their Jewish heritage.

Before Wednesday's visit to the border crossings, the delegation on Tuesday is scheduled to visit the Jewish Agency's Aliyah Center in Budapest where they will meet with Jewish refugees who fled the war and are preparing to make aliyah to Israel.

A total of 273 refugees from Ukraine arrived in Israel on Sunday, with another 330 expected to land at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday.

Since the start of Russia's invasion, Israel has welcomed 5,856 immigrants from Ukraine.

Zelensky Strikes the Wrong Note to Bring Knesset to His Side
When he addressed the Knesset on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dedicating the lion's share of his speech to comparisons to the Holocaust. Rather than stir Israel's legislators to solidarity, saying Moscow is planning a "final solution for the Ukrainian question" and that Israel should save Ukrainians like Ukrainian Righteous Among the Nations saved Jews drew criticism for its inappropriateness. Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel tweeted, "The war is terrible, but the comparison to the horrors of the Holocaust and the Final Solution is outrageous."

Former cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said, "Every comparison between a regular war, as difficult as it may be, and the extermination of millions of Jews in gas chambers in the framework of the Final Solution is a total distortion of history. The same is true for the claim that Ukrainians helped Jews in the Holocaust....The historic truth is that the Ukrainian people cannot be proud of its behavior in the Holocaust of the Jews. None of that changes the fact that...we must continue humanitarian aid to the citizens of Ukraine suffering from the war and pray for its end to come soon."

Israelis know the history of the Holocaust very well. The Ukrainian Auxiliary Police rounded up Jews to be massacred in Babyn Yar, Lviv and Zhytomyr. About 80,000 Ukrainians volunteered for the SS, compared with 2,600 Ukrainians documented as having saved Jews. And before that, some of the worst pogroms in Jewish history were perpetrated in what is now Ukraine. Yet Israeli public opinion is strongly in favor of Ukraine in this war despite its bloody, violent history with Jews.

But when it comes to actually sending weapons or defensive systems like the Iron Dome - which Zelensky asked for despite Israel not being able to send it for technical reasons, and it being unlikely to help Ukraine much, anyway - there is consensus in the cabinet that Israel should not get involved in that way, a cabinet minister said.
Zelensky's Knesset Speech Completely Missed the Mark
There was no reason to evoke the Jewish people's tragic history in the Holocaust to explain that Putin's tyrannical regime is currently perpetrating a terrible crime against a sovereign country. If the Ukrainian president really wanted to appeal to the sensitivities of Israelis and point to the similarities to his people, who are doggedly and courageously fighting for their independence against a diabolical enemy, then the obvious and correct comparison was right in front of him: Ukraine's fight against Putin's merciless onslaught is similar to Israel's fight against Arab aggression.

The gallant defense of Ukraine by citizens of all nationalities (Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, and others) against the cruel invader is reminiscent of the Jewish stance against the combined invading Arab armies in the War of Independence and the wars that followed. The Russian proclamation that the country of Ukraine doesn't have the right to exist is analogous to the Arab insistence that the Jewish state doesn't have the right to exist. And the means being employed by the Russians are similar, primarily predicated on intentionally targeting the civilian population.

Israel's MKs seethe at Zelensky's Holocaust comparisons

Bennett says ‘Israelis can be proud of Ukraine aid’ as Zelensky softens criticism
Israelis should be proud of their country’s generosity to Ukraine, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday, defending Jerusalem’s approach the day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sharply criticized it but softened his tone later.

“Israel has been stretching out its hand to aid in the crisis in Ukraine for several weeks, from the first minute, in different, varied channels,” Bennett said. “We are managing this unfortunate crisis sensitively, generously, and responsibly, while balancing the different considerations – and they are complex.”

Bennett made the remarks at a ceremony sending off the staff of an Israeli field hospital, the first such facility any country has built in Ukraine.

“Today, I want to say clearly: Israel and the Israeli public can be proud of the aid and contribution of the State of Israel to the citizens of Ukraine. Be proud of the actions Israel has taken…There are not many countries who have done as much,” he stated.

Zelensky said he appreciates Israel’s efforts to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow on Sunday night, hours after he compared Ukraine’s plight to the Holocaust, called for Israel to send arms to his country and to sanction Russia, and criticized “mediation without choosing a side.”

“Apathy kills, calculations kill. You can mediate between countries but not between good and evil,” Zelensky said.

Yet, hours later, in a video message on his Telegram channel, Zelensky said: "Of course, Israel has its interests, strategy to protect its citizens. We understand all of it.”

"The prime minister of Israel, Mr. Bennett is trying to find a way of holding talks, and we are grateful for this,” Zelensky said. “We are grateful for his efforts so that sooner or later we will begin to have talks with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem. That's the right place to find peace. If possible.”

JPost Editorial: By boycotting Zelensky, Joint List shows how wrong it is
Once again, the Joint List, led by the Hadash Party, decided to be on the wrong side of history.

Just before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the Knesset, the party announced that its members would not attend the virtual speech.

The only Jewish member in the faction, Hadash MK Ofer Kassif, explained his position on Saturday night: “Unlike the claims we hear in the Western media, and also here day and night, that this war is the like war of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness... but it isn’t. For years there were crimes against the Russian minority in Ukraine.

“In Ukraine, the regime shamelessly works hand in hand with neo-Nazi militias such as Azov. This is the truth. There is no Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness here,” he said.

Despite adding what seems to be a must – that he is against all wars and wishes that the Russians will withdraw their forces from Ukraine – it seems that once again, the extreme Left in Israel is working in the service of brutal and ruthless regimes across the world.

Hadash is the current form of the Israeli Communist Party. It is the biggest and most popular among Arab-Israelis (although is currently being challenged by the rising Islamic party Ra’am) and enjoys over-representation in the Joint List.

As of now, half of the Knesset members in the Joint List are Hadash members – the leader Ayman Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman and Kassif.

And just like a Communist Party, it seems like they feel the urge to align with out-of-date concepts and positions that could have been seen as reasonable in Israel at the beginning of the Cold War, but now are awkward and contradictory to their declared goal – to achieve peace.

3 Israelis released after detainment by Russians in Ukraine, Foreign Ministry says
Three Israeli citizens were arrested Monday and then released after a few hours by Russian forces in the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol, the Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry said it had been updated on their release by family members and had no further immediate details.

Michael Brodsky, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, told The Times of Israel earlier that “the Foreign Ministry is fully aware of the situation and is working on it.”

Brodsky is currently in Israel after breaking his knee in a traffic accident in Poland earlier this month.

According to reports, Tatiana Kumok, her mother Vera and her father Mikhail, a former newspaper publisher, were all taken into custody by Russian soldiers on Monday.

The youngest Kumok had been sharing images and videos of the war on various social media platforms.

Yemeni-Houthi leader: Ukraine at war because it is led by a Jew
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said the Ukraine-Russia war is a result of the "evil-doing" of the Jews and that Ukraine is being led into war because it has a Jewish president.

Al-Houthi is the former President of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen and a member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council.

While being interviewed on March 14, 2022 on the Lebanese Mayadeen TV channel he was asked about his opinions regarding the Russia-Ukraine war.

"I think that what happened to Ukraine is the result of the evil-doing of the Jews. This is proof that when a Jew is the leader of a country, it results in war. If the president of Ukraine was someone else rather than that Jew, perhaps they would not have ended up in war," al-Houthi said.

The Houthis are a large clan originating from Yemen’s northwestern Saada province. They practice the Zaydi form of Shiism and make up around 35 percent of Yemen’s population.

Houthi insurgents have clashed with Yemen’s government for more than a decade. Since 2011, the Houthi movement has expanded beyond its roots and become a wider organization opposed to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. The insurgents have also begun referring to themselves as Ansarullah, or “Party of God.”

Read all about it here!