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December 7, 2011 6:54 pm

Towards a New Israeli-Ukrainian Partnership

avatar by Oleksandr Feldman

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

As a Jewish leader and national Parliamentarian, there are few opportunities more gratifying than being able to accompany my President on an official visit to the State of Israel. I had such a chance just last week and it was both an historic visit and an indication of continued strengthening ties between Kiev and Jerusalem.

This was in fact the first time that a sitting Ukrainian President visited Israel’s capital and our delegation was treated with the utmost hospitality and respect. Given my role as the head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee and my close working alliance with our President, Victor Yanukovych, I was invited to accompany him to the vast majority of official meetings which proved that Israel values the support of all of her friends at this critical time.

I found it deeply rewarding to be given the chance to sit in the presence of President Shimon Peres while he welcomed our delegation. For any Jewish communal activist around the globe, President Peres is a man who commands respect for the dedication he has put forth on behalf of his nation and his people.

A consummate diplomat, he welcomed President Yanukovych and saluted our national aspirations to preserve and defend democracy at all costs, commenting that democracy is a major aspect which allows modern nations to exist and thrive. I felt deeply appreciative that President Peres, who has visited our country on numerous occasions – including twice over the last year – recognized that Ukraine is a nation of burgeoning possibilities and modern development. He, like other Israeli leaders we met with, spoke to the possibilities for economic development and academic collaboration between our countries – statements that filled our delegation with a great deal of hope regarding future ties between Israel and Ukraine.

There is no denying that many within the Jewish community view Ukraine as a place of tragedy and loss of life. When many Israelis think of our nation, they are reminded of the dark clouds that pervaded our country during the Holocaust and then during the Soviet era. That is an aspect of our past which cannot and will not ever be forgotten. Yet, we firmly hope that the promise which emerges from a new era of partnership between Israel and the Ukraine will usher in the hope for a better tomorrow and that this relationship will prove to be of continual developments and mutual benefit.

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  • Joseph

    Although the article refers to (but does not mention explicitly) the discpicle behavior of the Ukarainian people during the Holacust (including complicity in it), there is no mention of the terrible anti-semetic persections they are resposible for over the centuries,including, but certianly not limited to, the noturious progroms in 1648/49. There is no doubt that this ugly antisemetic virus is still manifest, ready to come out under the “proper” conditions. A “concrete” indication of this are the statues of Bogdan Chelmenicki in the main square in Kiev and other Ukarainian cities, towns and villages, celebrating him as the national hero. Were these statues to be torn down, as were, more recently, the statues of the Communist leaders in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, we could then begin to consider that perhaps there might be some change in the anti-Semetic character of these people. However, my sense is that such a radical occurence is unliklely any time in the forseeable future.

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