Lessons for Israel From Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine

The pictures and stories coming out of Ukraine are horrible. The suffering of the people of Ukraine and the hands of Russian forces is hard to fathom – or is it?

Neighboring countries go to war all of the time. Before the invention of the airplane, it was basically the only way to wage war. Iran-Iraq was the typical format, not U.S.-Afghanistan. When Russia and the United States engaged in the “Cold War,” they mostly used adjacent proxy states.

Today, vulnerable countries at the edge of war are watching the Russian invasion in horror for the suffering of Ukrainian civilians, as well as for important lessons to be gleaned about their own situations.

Ethno-nationalism surpasses borders. Vladimir Putin of Russia claimed that Ukraine is not a valid country, as its people are actually Russian by identity, language and culture. Palestinian Arabs believe the same, as outlined in the opening of the Palestinian National Charter, “Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral pa

rt of the Arab nation.” Russia does not believe it is invading a distinct foreign entity but bringing its own people back into the fold, much as the Arab countries surrounding Israel thought (and think) nothing of invading the sovereign State of Israel. Everyone should only use the term ‘Israeli Arabs’ and not ‘Palestinian Citizens of Israel’, as the latter serves the aim of invasion.

The pretext of preventing ‘genocide’ convinces hordes of morons to back warfare. Putin claimed that Russian-speakers in Ukraine were being slaughtered in a “genocide” and was therefore coming to their aid. Arabs – and increasingly “human rights organizations”, the liberal media and the United Nations – are falsely alleging that Israel is committing a “genocide” of Palestinian Arabs and engaging in “ethnic cleansing,” despite the plain facts that the number of Arabs in Israel has grown at a faster pace than Israeli Jews and Arabs in surrounding countries. The Russian propaganda to rally its people against Ukraine is much the same as the insidious jihad of anti-Zionists who are preparing to wage economic, psychological and military warfare against the Jewish State. The vile libel must be fought aggressively.

Concession of a small amount of land is an invitation for more. When Russia invaded Crimea and took over part of Ukraine, the world barely uttered a protest, pleased that the bloodshed was minimal. The larger problem was that a dangerous lesson had been taught that even Ukraine did not believe in the sanctity of its borders and Russia could claim more on the same grounds. While Israel handed over lands in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority during the late 1990’s and then Gaza in 2005, as opposed to losing them in battle, the Palestinian Authority believes much like Russia that it should have more – whether the entirety of the West Bank or all of Israel.

A country cannot overly rely on security agreements and guarantees. In 1994, Ukraine signed the Budapest Moratorium – also executed by Russia, Britain, and the U.S. – in which Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for assurances of its territorial integrity. Not only did Russia not abide by the agreement in its invasion of Crimea, the U.S. and Britain did not come to the aid of Ukraine. Today, Israel may appreciate the statements from the United States that its commitments to the Jewish State’s security is “enduring and ironclad“, but Israel must fully plan and operate under the assumption it must be able to defend itself by itself.

Don’t have a capital city on the border. The Russian forces quickly penetrated deep into Ukrainian land early in the war. As the capital city of Kyiv is far from the border with Russia, the country has managed to survive the initial onslaught and continues to defend itself. Israel, a very small country surrounded by Arab Muslim countries, cannot allow its capital city of Jerusalem to sit on a border as well. Not only should the city never be divided again as it was for eighteen years 1949 to 1967, but Israel must secure many miles around the city as well.

Beware the Alter of Large Players. Russia’s size and clout are enabling it to get away with murder. As an enormous military and economic force, many countries are refusing to hold Russia to account. Israel is similarly surrounded by the vast Muslim Arab world, with much of it refusing to recognize its existence and some openly demanding Israel’s destruction. In that backdrop, Israel’s primary sponsor, the United States, is working with the Islamic Republic of Iran to maintain a semblance of a nuclear weapons program, even as Iran has threatened to destroy Israel. The situation threatens Israel existentially on one side and economically and psychologically on the other.

Democracies are vulnerable to war when abutting dictatorships. For many years, the western world convinced itself that wars were only for authoritarian regimes. Wars in Africa and the Middle East were considered alien matters between tribal warlords. Intellectuals convinced themselves that a free people with a functioning democracy would simply vote out corrupt or ineffectual leaders and would embrace peace as has existed in Europe since World War II. Lost in that arithmetic is when a democracy abuts a dictatorship, as is the case with Ukraine and Russia. As it is for Israel and all of its neighbors.

There are unfortunately many similarities between the Ukrainians suffering at the hands of its Russian neighbor since 1994 on the one hand, and Israel’s treatment by its Muslim and Arabs neighbors since the reestablishment of the Jewish State, on the other.

Related articles:

Israel and Wars

Netanyahu’s View of Obama: Trust and Consequences

Israel’s Peers and Neighbors

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