I am angered by Vladimir Putin leading a Russian invasion of Ukraine. My great grandparents are from just outside Kiev and I have briefly visited that city. Unfortunately, Putins rhetoric and actions feel eerily similar to that of Adolf Hitler. Let us not forget Putin’s takeover of Chechnya and his annexation of Crimea under false pretenses, the latter which is Ukrainian land. Putin’s rhetoric and systemic attempt at dismembering Ukraine region by region reminds me of Hitler and Czechoslovakia: first the Sudetenland and little by little the entire region. He is obviously a very different person from Hitler (Yemach Shmo) with completely different goals and objectives yet his spoken desire to recreate the Greater Russia that existed with the Soviet Union reminds me of Hitler establishing greater Germany. Putin’s false claim of the need to “deNazify Ukraine” and of Ukrainians persecuting Russians are eerily reminiscent of Goebbels’ propaganda machine.
To those who ask why should we care let us remember the wise words of Pastor Martin Niemoller-especially “then they came for me and there was no one to stand up for me.” Let us also not forget George Santayana’s words “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.” First the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, leading to a rapid reassertion of Taliban rule. Now if Russia is allowed to retake Ukraine what will stop them from moving on to Poland? Would NATO really rise to the test if that occurs? How about Xi Jingping taking over Taiwan?
My heart goes out the Ukrainians who are making gutwrenching decisions as to whether to flight or flee as hundreds of thousands of Russian trips bear down on them. Those who are fleeing don’t know if they will be able to return to their homes. Those who are fighting know that they are severely outnumbered with over 200,000 Russian troops on the border. I pray for the families of those of the 137 Ukrainians killed, the 316 wounded. I pray for those abroad who have family in Ukraine who are uncertain how or if they can get them out. I pray for the welfare of President Vladimir Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, who is Jewish, as well as for all the Ukrainian people.
May we see the day when the Russian invasion is repelled and the Ukrainian people can return to self-determination as they choose. Unfortunately I doubt that sanctions in and of themselves will accomplish this objective.
I applaud the Rabbinical Assembly for its statement yesterday-this is part of it:
Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine is only 100km from the border with Russia, and has been hit the hardest so far, experiencing explosions in the early hours of this morning. Entrances and exits to the city, as well as schools have already been closed, and the Russian army is getting closer. We are trying to get all of our communities in Ukraine to our western-most community in Chernivtsi, as it is the safest option right now, where Rabbi Reuven and Lena Stamov, our shlichim in Ukraine are currently with their family. This means organizing immediate transport, and reserving accommodation for refugees fleeing from other cities. In the meantime, we are also arranging for 150 packages with cookies, chocolate and juice, to be brought to the children, to try and lift their spirits in this challenging time.