It’s Time To Strengthen And Enhance Ukraine-Israel Relations: What My Bookshelf Has Taught Me – OpEd


On the bookshelf in my office, behind me, there’s a book titled “The Golden Age Shtetl” by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern. This incredibly captivating story delves into the lives of Jews who lived in towns on the territory of modern-day Ukraine. I’ve personally visited many of these towns, including Medzhybizh, Zinkiv, and Berdychiv. I’ll never forget the energy and mystique I felt after visiting the house where Baal Shem Tov lived and helped people in Medzhybizh.

It’s also painful to realize that there are hardly any Jewish families left in this town due to their annihilation during the Holocaust. As the author of a study on the evolution of the Russian genocide of the Ukrainian people, I understand this pain well, especially during historical periods and now, amidst this war. It’s what the Ukrainian people are experiencing today. And it’s what unites us – a shared history and the intertwining of destinies and suffering that both of our nations have endured.

The second book on the same shelf is “Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn” by Daniel Gordis. Here, one can learn from the example of restoration and nation-building under extremely challenging circumstances. Not everyone supported the idea of statehood, and there were war and constant challenges and dangers from neighbors. Yet, the nation consolidated and developed its state and institutions. This experience is also highly important for Ukraine as we successfully navigate the test of democracy amidst Russian aggression, understanding the importance of strengthening state institutions, especially in security and defense. I’m confident that Israel can also learn something from Ukraine’s experience in waging war against a superior enemy force and vice versa. In this regard, we are equally beneficial to each other.

The third book on my shelf that must not go unmentioned is “Mossad: The Greatest Mission of the Israeli Secret Service” by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal. This experience is highly instructive and important for Ukraine, as it revolves around seeking and holding accountable those responsible for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine cannot go unpunished. This experience is equally valuable for Ukraine, especially in organizing legal proceedings similar to the trial of Adolf Eichmann. We can collaborate on joint projects involving lawyers, researchers, and specialists in intelligence history to exchange expertise on these matters.

Ukraine also finds it crucial to study Israel’s experience in building a robust defense industry. While we’re receiving vital support from the West today, we understand the need to put efforts into producing our own weapons and implementing joint projects in this field with leading industries worldwide, akin to what Israel has done. Importantly, Ukraine is seeing an increasing number of engineers and developers, particularly in the IT sector, who contribute to the defense industry, present projects that are bound to be realized. Here, we borrow from the experience described in the book “Chutzpah” by Inbal Arieli, which also finds its place on my shelf. Ukrainian and Israeli experts in defense industries and the IT sector can communicate, interact, and share experiences, all of which are in mutual interests.

Oleksandr Musiienko

Oleksandr Musiienko is a military and legal analyst, and head of NGO "Center for Military and Legal Studies"

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