Euroasian Jewish News
Ukraine rabbi: Local Jews insulted by claim PM's trip is solely political
Claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Ukraine is nothing more than a campaign stop is insulting to the Ukrainian Jewish community, one of the country’s chief rabbis said on Monday.
Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman told The Jerusalem Post that the country’s Jewish community was “hurt” by statements that Netanyahu is only in Kiev in order to get visuals for his campaign videos. “There is a large Jewish community in Ukraine,” he said, and that in itself should be reason enough to merit a visit by Israel’s prime minister.
According to Azman, there are between 300,000 to 400,000 Jews in the country, making it one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. This is the first prime ministerial trip to Ukraine since Netanyahu went to Kiev 20 years ago in the waning months of his first term in office. He lost the election to Ehud Barak some two months after returning.
Eli Avidar of the Yisrael Beytenu Party – with which the Likud is actively battling for Russian-speaking voters – slammed Netanyahu for making the state visit a month before the election, and as the situation in the south and the West Bank is heating up.
“The south is burning and on the cusp of an explosion. There is a wave of attacks in Judea and Samaria, and Netanyahu flies for campaign pictures in Ukraine,” he said in a KAN Bet interview. “Security cabinet member Ze’ev Elkin is already there for a week, in an embarrassing attempt to extract a campaign declaration from the Ukrainians for the Likud, and the head of the National Security Council Meir Shabat – who should be busy convening the security cabinet – is busy with campaign photos of Netanyahu in Ukraine. This is an unbelievable breakdown of the system.”
Azman, however, said that the trip was important for the Jews of the country, but also for Ukraine and Israel. He said that Kiev has a tremendous deal of respect for Israel and sees it as a model for how to flourish in a hostile neighborhood.
By HERB KEINON