S’poreans need to support Russia to be consistent in supporting Israel

When a Ukrainian teen throws a Molotov cocktail at a Russian tank, Israelis see it as a heroic act worthy of encouragement. When a Palestinian teen does the same, propelled by the same motivations and justifications, Israeli soldiers shoot him dead and the Israeli public denounces him as a terrorist.

The Ukrainian is a hero, the Palestinian a terrorist. Russia is a cruel invader and occupier, while Israel liberates territories and reclaims the land of its forebears.

Same same but different?

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin claims that Ukraine and its capital Kyiv along with Odessa, are the heart of Russian culture and historical identity and therefore should be unified with the motherland.

In December 2022, the Israeli government stated explicitly that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and indisputable right to all parts of the Land of Israel,” including Judea and Samaria — that is, the West Bank.

Right-wing and particularly messianic religious Israelis also claim that there are many locations in the West Bank that are at the heart of the Jewish religious and historical identity, a land they say was “promised to them by God,” and therefore, should be part of a Greater Israel.

Parallels between Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine

Both Ukraine and Palestine are fighting for their right to exist. Both have experienced that their borders are being moved and their territory being occupied. They know that their country will cease to exist the very moment they stop fighting.

Ukraine is defending itself against an – on paper – far stronger enemy. The military asymmetry between Palestina and Israel is even more fundamental. The former is defending itself against one of the most technologically advanced Military Powers in the World.

Russia and Israel see the occupied land as the land of their forefathers, part of their heritage, belonging rightfully to them. Ukraine is the cradle of Russianness, the West Bank of Judaism (of course, this bears no relation to any right of sovereignty). Both also try to deny the existence of the other people present, Ukrainians and Palestinians.

Both Russia and Israel justify their invasions under the auspices of “self-defence”, and in both cases, that is untrue.

Both promise to harm only military targets, and yet both kill innocent civilians, sometimes without acknowledging the distinction.

The modes of action are also similar: violent armed invasions as a solution to real or imagined problems.

The Russians claim they invaded Ukraine to stop “genocide”, “de-Nazify” the regime and demilitarise the country. The Israelis proclaimed dismayingly similar goals prior to invading Gaza and Lebanon: self-defence, replacing a “terrorist” regime and demilitarisation.

A glaring double standard

Israel’s flagrant and unrelenting breaches of international law, ranging from illegal settlement expansion to the denial of basic human rights to Palestinians, continue unabated. These violations have become a distressing norm under Israeli occupation, including detentions without trial and civilian casualties.

The global response highlights a glaring double standard. While rapid and severe sanctions followed Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine, Israel’s decades-long occupation is met with international indifference. This stark contrast in accountability, with the world hesitant to challenge Israel while swiftly acting against Russia, underscores a profound hypocrisy in international relations.

Ukraine is Palestine as Russia is Israel

Ukraine consistently aligns publicly with Israeli occupation policies. It notably withdrew from the UN Committee defending Palestinian rights in 2020.

Recently, Ukrainian Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk expressed solidarity with Israel, citing his country’s strife as a basis for empathy.

However, drawing parallels between Ukraine and Israel is fundamentally flawed.

Ukraine’s circumstances more closely resemble the plight of Palestinians in the West Bank. While Israel and Palestine recognize each other’s distinctiveness, Israel denies Palestinian nationhood, similar to Russia’s denial of Ukrainian identity.

Moreover, Israel, like Russia, is a nuclear power effectively colonizing a weaker region.

In both the West Bank and occupied Ukrainian territories, policies akin to apartheid are evident.

Consistency is key

To support Russian colonialism properly, one must be consistent and also support other examples of colonial subjugation, not least Israel’s oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

All parties must at least speak the same language when they use concepts like freedom, occupation, and terrorism.

When Singaporeans align themselves with the Israelis instead of the Palestinians, Singaporeans risk losing a significant portion of their moral standing.

By perceiving Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as a fight for freedom, Singaporeans inadvertently endorse another nation’s aggression and oppression, thereby undermining their own principles of justice and equality.

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