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President Zelenskyy Tells Israeli Students Jerusalem Should Step Up Support for Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses students and faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via video on June 23, 2022. (Debbie Mohnblatt/The Media Line)

President Zelenskyy Tells Israeli Students Jerusalem Should Step Up Support for Kyiv

Hebrew University students agree that Israel could do more, while envoy tells The Media Line that Israel’s left-wing parties have been most sympathetic to the cause

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed students and faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem via video on Thursday, telling them that his country is disappointed by the level of support – both diplomatically and materially – it has received from Israel in its war with Russia. During his address, Zelenskyy reiterated Ukraine’s request for Israel to sanction Russia and for increased military aid.

The Media Line spoke to students that participated in the program, who said that they are grateful for Israel’s help but feel that Israel could do more. At the same time, the students say that they understand Israel’s security concerns in maintaining a more neutral stance toward the conflict. They also noted that the government’s current stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could affect how they vote in the upcoming election in Israel.

Following Zelenskyy’s address, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told The Media Line that Israel’s left-wing parties have been more sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause.   “I could not intervene on your internal politics,” Korniychuk said. “Historically, more leftists were more sympathetic to Ukraine – sympathetic to the countries that are in difficult situations like us. But I would not say that we are not working with the rightists or centrists – we do work with everyone.”

“Israel don’t owe nothing to Ukraine as a state but we do believe Israel is our close ally and partner for many years so, and a friend in need is a friend indeed,” he said.

Anna Vengerovski, who is studying international relations and journalism at Hebrew University, told The Media Line that Israel’s humanitarian assistance and medical help are important. “Any help is really important for the people of Ukraine and for Ukraine itself,” said Vengerovski, who is originally from Kharkiv, where her parents still live.

“Every day they are just trying to survive because the bombing is continuing every day, every minute,” she said of her parents. “All the time you need to ask yourself if they are still alive.”

Anna Mikhel, who is studying international relations at Hebrew University, is originally from Kyiv, where her mother remains. Her father is fighting for Ukraine.

“People are starting to forget what is happening,” she told The Media Line. “The media are taking a pause in spreading the news about what is happening. Some of my friends [in Israel] are asking me, in Ukraine is everything ok, because I didn’t see a lot of things and news, maybe, like, the war is over. But I am telling them it is not. People are dying every day, children are becoming orphans also every day.”

Mikhel can’t forget the war, however.

“From February 24 my life stopped. It has affected me, my whole body, my whole soul, also my studies,” she said. “You can eat, you can sleep, [but] the first thing in the morning you are watching the news, and you are trying to call your parents and text them, you want to not see there are horrible things in the news; Just not my home, not my city.”

Sasha Rubin, originally from Kharkiv, told The Media Line that she believes both the Israeli people and the Israeli government are trying to help Ukraine.  Many of the people she talks to in Ukraine “do understand Israel does everything they can to help Ukraine,” she said.

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