A plea to Israel: Help Ukraine against Russia, Iranian drones - opinion

Israel and Ukraine are inherently less safe if the Russia-Iran alliance continues to deepen.

 A part of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian military authorities described as an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 and which was shot down near the town of Kupiansk, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, is seen in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 13, 2022 (photo credit: THE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTORATE OF THE UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A part of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian military authorities described as an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 and which was shot down near the town of Kupiansk, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, is seen in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 13, 2022
(photo credit: THE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTORATE OF THE UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

As I write, Iranian drones and Russian missiles continue to bombard Ukrainian cities and kill innocent civilians. Russia’s actions amount to a genocidal assault that aims to terrorize and brutalize all Ukrainians, inflicting cold, hunger, famine, disease and death. Frustrated by the heroic efforts of the Ukrainian army, Russia has turned to indiscriminate murder as a substitute for any strategic or military victory on the battlefield.

Israel is no stranger to fighting an enemy whose sole purpose is to spread death, terror and destruction. Throughout its history, Israel has never asked others to fight its wars, even when threatened with extermination by much larger neighbors. Similarly, today, brave Ukrainian men and women are defending their country and fighting on the front lines against a brutal enemy not governed by any norms of combat or humanity. The entire world has been amazed by the resistance that the people of Ukraine have mounted against enormous odds. However, we have now entered a new, more precarious phase, as winter approaches and our survival as a sovereign country hangs in the balance. Simply put, we need help from our friends.

As a Ukrainian and as a Jew, I make this plea to the leaders and people of Israel.

I am not asking for you to fight this war for us. I am only pleading and urging Israel to simply give us the tools we need to defend our country, families, homes and future. Help us defend ourselves against death itself.

The David's Sling air defense system intercepts target during flight test (credit: THE MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY (MDA))The David's Sling air defense system intercepts target during flight test (credit: THE MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY (MDA))

Most importantly, I beg you to give us air defense systems that will enable the protection of Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. Please provide Ukraine with the military equipment Ukrainians need to survive against an enemy that holds no regard for human life.

I ask because Israel is uniquely equipped to help by providing advanced air defense systems. Those very same systems have been specifically developed by Israel to defend against the Iranian-made drones that Russia is using to kill and maim innocents in Ukraine. These systems have saved thousands of Israeli lives in cities such as Sderot, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv. They are now desperately needed to save Ukrainian lives in Kyiv, Odessa and elsewhere.

ISRAEL HAS already generously provided humanitarian aid such as a field hospital and more. On behalf of my countrymen and women, I say thank you. We are truly grateful. I am also not naive. I understand that the question of providing military aid is not always so straightforward but without Israel’s support and these air defense systems, hundreds, if not thousands, more Ukrainians are likely to perish.

Standing up to bullies is risky and I would never ask for Israel to jeopardize its own security to assist Ukraine but this war now also has direct security implications for Israel. Israel and Ukraine are inherently less safe if the Russia-Iran alliance continues to deepen. On a daily basis, Iran – which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel – is gaining battlefield experience in Ukraine. By helping Ukraine combat Iranian drones, Israel can weaken its principal enemy and gain valuable experience in combating Iranian technology.

And more importantly, as a pillar of freedom and Western democracy, Israel should wholeheartedly join with the rest of the countries currently providing vital military support to Ukraine. I urge Israel to stand with those who cherish life over death – for Judaism prioritizes life above all else. Indeed, Judaism teaches, “Whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world.” In Ukraine, Israel can save hundreds of thousands of lives.

For decades to come, the world will look back at this terrible war in Ukraine and remember those that helped and those that remained neutral or sat on the sidelines. The defense of Ukraine will come to symbolize the defense of freedom, life and democracy. Russia will inevitably come to symbolize dictatorship, unchecked aggression and genocide.

I plead with Israel to remove any semblance of neutrality and to provide Ukraine with the defensive systems it needs in its struggle for good over evil. I plead with Israel to do more to help save innocent Ukrainian lives. I plead with Israel to choose humanity and to leave no doubt for future generations that when evil was being perpetrated, Israel stood up and chose to help.

Victor Pinchuk is a Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist.