Over the past two days, Daniel Aharon has reached out to 125 lone soldiers in the IDF who came from Ukraine, offering his organization’s help in case they wish to bring their families to Israel in light of the precarious situation in Ukraine.
Aharon is the founder and CEO of Ach Gadol [“Big Brother”] for Lone Soldiers, an organization that supports active-duty IDF soldiers who do not have immediate family in Israel who can help them.
Only one soldier responded to the offer, and he wants his family to immigrate to Israel for personal reasons, not because of a possible Russian invasion, Aharon reported.
Aharon believes that from the Ukrainians’ perspective, there is no reason to rush for the exit. “The situation in Ukraine now doesn’t seem that critical to the Ukrainians that they will get up and run away,” he said.
“What we are hearing from the United States, that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is going to invade this week, that’s not the way things look to the Ukrainians.”
Aharon said there is not the same “hysteria” among Ukrainians as we see coming from Western countries. “Much of this hysteria coming from the West is probably being deliberately generated to serve geopolitical interests against Russia,” he added.
That is why, Aharon said, “You won’t find many cases of lone soldiers or [IDF] volunteers who are rushing to bring their families to Israel.”
David, a Ukrainian Jew who immigrated to Israel some two decades ago but still has family in Ukraine, agrees. “I personally don’t feel that something unusual is about to happen,” he told The Media Line.
Rather this is an “internet war,” where everyone is trying to report and predict what will happen next, Veretekha said.
Kateryna Popova, also a Ukrainian Jew from the south of the country, said opinions among Ukrainians are rather divided.
“While some people, especially those who were affected by the previous situation in the [country’s] east, are really worried; others think it is a political manipulation and an empty threat,” she explained to The Media Line.
Two self-proclaimed people’s republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Donetsk and Lugansk, have declared independence, with Russian support.
Popova also thinks it is too early to consider leaving Ukraine, especially since for many Ukrainian Jews it would be very challenging to immigrate to Israel because of the language barrier, and of course the financial factor and the higher cost of living.
“Jews in Ukraine are still waiting, and if the situation does escalate they will have no choice,” she explained.
Still, considering the unpredictability of the situation, many Ukrainians are ready to “pack up and go” if needed, Popova acknowledged.