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Israel slammed for exploiting plight of Ukrainian Jews

September 1, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Two orthodox Ukrainian Jews are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing in Poland on 25 February 2022 [WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Dozens of Ukrainian Jews fleeing from Russia’s brutal military invasion and going to Israel are being housed in illegal settlements for Jews only in the occupied West Bank, in a move that has been slammed as “cynical exploitation” by the apartheid state of the plight of refugees.

More than 30,000 Ukrainians are said to have fled to Israel, including 12,000 Jews. Under Israel’s racist “Law of Return”, Ukrainian Jews are being granted automatic citizenship. Non-Jewish Ukrainians fleeing the war, including Christians, face the prospect of being turned away.

According to Haaretz, from the start of Russia’s invasion in February, more than 21,000 refugees not covered by the Law of Return have entered Israel, but only 14,500 were still in the country at the beginning of June. Refugees who failed to find a safe haven in Israel, it is believed, have either left for Europe, where they get legal status and benefits, or have returned home. Those who remain in Israel are not deemed to be refugees, and the government has not encouraged them to seek refugee status.

Read: Israel: discrimination against non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees is ‘completely insane’

The same racist Law of Return has been used to deny six million Palestinian refugees the right to return to their ancestral home. Enacted in 1950 following the ethnic cleansing of more half of the native Palestinian population, the Law of Return enshrined an immigration policy based on race alone. It grants Jews from across the world the right to settle in any part of Palestine, including illegal settlements, despite not having any direct connection to the land. Some six million Palestinian refugees, however, have the legitimate right to return to their land under international law, but are denied that right by Israel.

Details of this racist practice have been highlighted by AFP. The French news agency followed a Ukrainian Jewish family housed in the illegal Maale Adumim settlement for Jews only, which is located between occupied Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Over 42,000 illegal settlers are said to live there.

Dianna Buttu, a Palestinian human rights lawyer, is reported by AFP as describing Israel’s policy of sending Ukrainian Jews to settlements as a cynical exploitation of their plight. “The Ukrainians are fleeing occupation and they are fleeing war, only to then turn into tools of war criminals, and to be settling in war crimes themselves,” she said. The building of settlement in occupied territory is classed as a war crime by international law.

Read: Ukraine threatens to cancel visas for Jewish pilgrims due to Israeli racism

The Ukrainian Jewish family contacted by AFP, however, reject accusations of hypocrisy and that they have become occupiers of another people’s land straight after having their own land occupied by invading Russian forces. “I can’t understand how Judea could be occupied by Jews,” one member told AFP, using the Biblical name for the occupied territory.

The West Bank is Palestinian territory under international law and there is near universal consensus on the matter. Radicalised Zionists and Jewish extremists contest the position by insisting that the land was promised to them by God. Christian Zionists, by far the largest Zionist group in the world, also subscribe to this religious fundamentalist view because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-of-days prophecy about the return of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the “Rapture”: the end times. The “ingathering of the exiles” — Jews — is an essential part of the prophecy, which also holds that Jews who do not convert to Christianity will be killed during the final apocalyptic scenario.