What do Ukrainians and Jews expect from the 2019 elections in Ukraine and Israel?
This year, the presidential elections in Ukraine almost coincide with the elections to the Israeli Knesset. Two weeks are left before the Ukrainian election, three weeks before the Israeli one. We have collected the opinions of various people who are interested in Ukraine-Israel relations.
We offer their responses to two questions:
1) What do you expect from the elections in our two countries?
2) What, in your opinion, should be changed, corrected, or improved in Ukraine-Israel relations? And which political parties or leaders can contribute to this?
“Almost all of the political parties in the Knesset treat Ukraine on the whole well. I think that it is possible to strengthen cooperation between the states in many promising areas. The first is certainly military cooperation. Israel, which created its unique army and a powerful defense system, can be a good example for Ukraine and an investor in this area. The latest negotiations testify to a serious mutual potential. Israel’s health care may be interesting for the reforms that Ukraine needs. As for IT, today a huge amount of work for top Israel hi-tech companies is being done in Ukraine.
Ukraine once made a serious investment in Israel. Several young people from Kharkiv arrived in the Promised Land in 1882. The best minds of our country created and developed modern Israel. Therefore, it will now be fair and correct that Ukraine, as an investor of the most valuable contribution, will receive its dividends.”
- “From the presidential election, I look forward to the continuation of the pro-European course of the country, basic reforms, and the cessation of the war on conditions favorable to Ukraine. This probability is most likely due with a desired second term for [Ukrainian president] Petro Poroshenko. At the same time, I am sure that any of the top five presidential candidates will also be able to continue this course, but with less efficiency. In my opinion, attempts to restore the pro-Russian course are possible, but doomed to failure.
From the elections in Israel, I also expect the continuation of the main aspects of the previous course with an emphasis on the security of the country and its citizens, the development of an innovative economy, and the establishment of relations with countries that were previously in opposition to Israel.”
- “For Ukraine-Israel relations it is important to move from tactical to strategic interests. Ukraine in the future and Israel already today are a part of the Western democratic community and elements of European civilization. This determines the commonality of strategic interests. Professionals, not amateurs, should be involved in analyzing and developing a strategic relationship between the two countries.”
- “From the elections in my country, I expect the continuance of a team that will continue its course towards an integration into the normal world community, and the preservation, and better yet the acceleration, of the pace of reforms. In the field of security, I hope that the authorities will not deviate from the principles adopted earlier for the settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian war.”
- “The Israeli authorities should not dismiss the problem of illegal employment of Ukrainians in Israel and, as a result, the harsh treatment of Ukrainians at Ben Gurion Airport. We need to deal with this problem seriously. Otherwise this can lead to serious consequences. For example, the abolition of the visa-free regime between Ukraine and Israel can cause disastrous consequences for personal relationships, as well as a change in public sentiment. Is it possible to solve this problem before the election? It depends on political will, while the prerequisites and the desire to solve the problem are not visible. Ukraine and Israel have proven that they can be good friends, and therefore it is not in our common interest to upset the balance. It is better and easier to solve the migration-border problem.”
- “I expect that in both countries, responsible and God-fearing people will come to power who will be able to preserve the country, achieve peace, and strengthen the economy. I am waiting for the pro-Western vector of Ukraine’s development to continue.”
- “Regarding Ukraine-Israel relations, first of all, Ukraine’s economy must be improved, and then most of the problems will disappear. Our two countries should agree on a policy for the restoration and preservation of national memory. You just need to explain to each other why those figures whom each of the parties considers to be heroes are important. Do not argue, but simply get them acquainted with your point of view. The partner will decide whether to accept it or not. None of the forces that lead our countries will worsen relations between Ukraine and Israel. As the state of the Ukrainian economy improves and as the number of illegal Ukrainian workers in Israel decreases, these relations will improve even more.”
“From the elections in Ukraine, I look forward to a leader who will carry out political and economic reforms, fight corruption, and stop the glorification of Nazi collaborators and those who murdered Jews. From the elections in Israel, I look forward to leaders who will speak to the Jewish diaspora not with declarations, but with practical actions. Israel must respond toughly to the glorification of the murderers of the Jews. This is a matter of moral principles, not political expediency. There should be a dual citizenship agreement between Ukraine and Israel and the issue of pensions should be resolved.”
- “I don’t expect anything special from the election. I don’t even know if I will still vote. In Ukraine, there are more chances that the new president will attempt to change the system for his benefit.”
- “I would like to see a deeper cooperation between Ukraine and Israel in the cultural and educational spheres. The Ukrainian side is interested in getting acquainted with the Israeli experience, and I think the Israeli side is interested in having more contacts with the Ukrainian structures in the field of Jewish heritage (museums, archives, research centers). Joint conferences or major publishing projects in which experts from Ukraine and Israel would be involved could well function normally in any scenario resulting from the elections.”
- “From the elections in Ukraine, I expect the rotation of the President. I believe that [Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko did not fulfill his promise—a decisive fight against corruption and reforms aimed at modernizing the country. The constant rotation of elites is the only advantage Ukraine has over many unsuccessful states.”
- “From the elections in Israel, I expect that power will remain in the hands of people who guarantee the freedoms of citizens of the state and consistently protect the security of the country. I understand that the priority of Israel’s interests does not allow its politicians to take the Ukrainian side in opposing Russian aggression. However, I hope that relations between Ukraine and Israel will continue to develop in a mutually beneficial form and without ridiculous conflicts.”
- “In Ukraine, I expect the irreversibility of the established course of extraction from Russia. In Israel—a consolidation of success in the economy and foreign policy and more attention to the social sphere.”
- “We need to strengthen the partnership and friendly relations between Israel and Ukraine. I don’t yet see a replacement for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko as they are world-class players.”
- “Ukraine would wish to see a stronger leader (taking into account the ongoing hybrid war) and a more professional leader (taking into account the current economic indicators of the country). This is unlikely to be a popular showman, but the Iron Lady also may turn out to be rusty. In Israel, unfortunately once again it is necessary to choose between uncertainty on the Right and the messianism on the Left. The second is more dangerous. Therefore, I expect not a "better" but a "less-worse" option from the elections.”
- “I hope that the incomprehensible conflict on the borders, which is accompanied by ostentatious detentions and the deportation of citizens of Ukraine and Israel, will cease. Perhaps the conflict can be resolved in a paradoxical way through the abolition of the visa-free regime. You can be good friends with the presence of a lock on the door, which prevents abuse. It is difficult to say who exactly will contribute to the strengthening of relations between the two countries. The priority for Israel in Eastern Europe is Russia—not because it’s promising, but because it’s big and mean.”
In Ukraine, I expect a change of government "from sweet to funny”. In Israel, that the new government will pay more attention to the problems of young families, kindergartens and education in general. More formal employment contracts are required for the work of Ukrainians in Israel in various spheres. Also, the creation of programs for Ukrainian students, including internships at Israeli startups. From the Ukrainian side, improvement in conditions for tours to places of Jewish heritage, to make them more organized and attractive for more Israelis and Jews from around the world. Ukraine can offer Israel attractive conditions for business development on its territory. "
"I am waiting for the elections to end, because if I am honest, the campaigns are stomach-churning. The main thing is not to worsen Ukraine-Israel relations, as in the situation with tourists. But here politicians are to blame, not adequate citizens of both countries. "
Timur Mamedov, public activist from Tel Aviv, born in the city of Nadvirna, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine
“First of all, I am waiting for fair elections in Ukraine and in Israel. Politicians should think first of all about ordinary people, not about their wallet! We need to find a solution for the problem of deportations of Ukrainian citizens from Ben Gurion Airport. In Ukraine, it is necessary to punish antisemitism as a criminal offense. Social activists and politicians will, I hope, promote the issue of recognizing the Holodomor in Israel.”
- “In Ukraine, I am waiting for the stabilization of the barrel of gunpowder with a new president. It will definitely be frightening and funny, or boring and sweet. At most there will be a woman with braided hair and a bagel. In the Israeli elections, I am trying to understand if the new party of generals and a journalist are Democrats or Republicans. Or maybe they are all Labourites and we will soon have fog and rename Dizengoff Street to Piccadilly?”
- “On Ukraine-Israel relations, one must not lose what [Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo] Klimkin and colleagues have achieved over the years. We should not turn Ukraine into a den, and Israel into a market exchange of illegal workers. And it's time to do this not at the level of a border guard sergeant.”
Interviews and compilation by Shimon Briman (Israel).
Edited by Peter Bejger.
NOTE: UJE does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in articles and other materials published on its website and social media pages. Such materials are posted to promote discussion related to Ukrainian-Jewish interactions and relations. The website and social media pages will be places of information that reflect varied viewpoints.