New adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel is well acquainted with Ukrainian-Jewish themes

Ariel Bulstein (left) and Ambassador of Ukraine to Israelm Hennadii Nadolenko (right).

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed attorney Ariel Bulstein to be his special adviser on immigrants from the countries of the former USSR. This appointment took place for the first time after a twenty-year hiatus. The last time an adviser in this field worked with the head of the Israeli government was in 1999.

Bulstein was born in Chisinau, Moldova in 1974 and has lived in Israel since 1990. He has a Bachelor of Law and Master of International Management. Since 2001 he has been engaged in private practice in the field of commercial law. He joined the right-wing Likud party in 1992, and during the Israeli parliamentary elections of 2006 and 2009, he was one of the leaders in the Likud campaign headquarters to work among repatriates from the former USSR.

In 2007–2008, he was the organizer of the campaign against the transfer to Russia of the Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem [a courtyard and guest house for Russian aristocratic religious pilgrims constructed in 1890 and named after grand duke Sergei Alexandrovich, then president of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, and the son of Tsar Alexander II, brother of Tsar Alexander III, and uncle of the last tsar, Nicholas II—Ed.].

Bulstein is a member of the Board of Directors of the Jabotinsky Institute, and it was this work that brought him closer to Ukraine. He has repeatedly visited Odessa, which is closely connected with Jewish history and with the activities of Vladimir Jabotinsky, a prominent leader of Zionism.

In September 2016, during the memorial events in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy, Bulstein had a conversation with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, where he relayed to the head of the Ukrainian state the concern of many Israelis about the glorification of those historic figures in Ukraine who tarnished themselves with anti-Semitism and cooperation with the Hitler regime.

Bulstein is well acquainted with the specific viewpoints of Jabotinsky, who supported broad cooperation between the Jewish and Ukrainian national movements.

Based on this understanding of the heritage of Jabotinsky, Bulstein helped organize the presentation of a book by the contemporary Ukrainian writer and poetess Kateryna Babkina at the Jabotinsky Institute in Tel Aviv in June 2017. This was a joint project of the Canadian philanthropic foundation Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and the Israeli civic organization “Israeli Friends of Ukraine.”

It is interesting to note that as part of this project, Ariel organized a meeting between Hadar Jabotinsky, the great-granddaughter of Vladimir Jabotinsky, and Ukrainian journalist Iryna Slavinska, a distant descendant of Maxym Slavynsky, an old friend of Jabotinsky who was a prominent figure in the Ukrainian revival and ambassador of the Ukrainian National Republic in Prague.

The Jabotinsky-Slavynsky Agreement of 1921 included the creation of a Jewish militia for self-defense against pogroms in the event of a repeat offensive by the army of [Symon] Petliura [president of the Ukrainian National Republic—Ed.] against the Soviets in Ukraine. Bulstein revealed archival documents of the correspondence between Jabotinsky and his Ukrainian friend to the Ukrainian and Israeli participants of the meeting.

From left to right: Ariel Bulstein; Hennadii Nadolenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Israel; Natalia A. Feduschak, UJE Director of Communications; Hadar Jabotinsky; Iryna Slavinska; Kateryna Babkina; Anna Zharova; and Prof. Wolf Moskovich, UJE Board Member in June 2017 at a meeting at Jabotinsky Institute.
Text and photos: Shimon Briman (Israel).
Edited by Peter Bejger.