Israel was rightly “condemned” at the start of the war in Ukraine, says Michael Oren in The Wall Street Journal, for being “too neutral” about Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion. One of Jerusalem’s “most fervent supporters” in Washington, Senator Lindsey Graham, said he was “very disappointed” by Israel’s refusal to sell its Iron Dome missile defence system to the Ukrainians. Former US National Security Advisor HR McMaster said “Israelis ought to be embarrassed” by their government’s lack of support for Kyiv.
Since then, it’s been a different story. As well as shipping more than 100 tons of medical kit, clothing, food and other supplies to aid Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, Israel has set up “the first foreign field hospital operating inside Ukrainian territory”. The tiny state has also taken more Ukrainian refugees than the US or UK. It’s an impressive effort, given Jerusalem’s complicated relationship with Moscow. There are more than 600,000 Jews in Russia, many of whom have families in Israel. Militarily, the Israeli effort to counter Iranian influence in Syria involves delicate coordination with Russian forces in the region – so any breakdown in friendly relations with Moscow “could cost Israeli lives”. And it doesn’t help that, historically, Ukraine has been one of Europe’s “most anti-semitic countries”. Yet despite all these “practical and psychological obstacles”, Israel is still siding with Ukraine. The West should be grateful.