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November 24, Kyiv hosted "Ukraine-Israel 2016" Forum, organized by the Embassy of Israel in Ukraine. 112.ua reporter visited the event organized on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Ukraine, and talked with professor and political scientist Ze’ev Khanin on the current state of relations between the two countries.
I firmly believe that Israel and Ukraine took to the stage of strategic partnership. I think Ukraine and Israel came to a strategic partnership after Maidan. First Maidan. European choice completed the process of convergence. Both sides realize that they are in the same political camp.
This is not just some observation. There is a clear indicator that the country is a strategic partner. Countries that are not strategic partners, they discuss each topic separately, here and now, and often determine their behavior regarding another country some steps.
For example, at one time the relationships of Israel and Russia were built like we will buy your (Russian) gas if you do not sell arms to Iran. There was a period of Israel's relations with Ukraine, for example, when Israel harshly objected to supply Ukrainian nuclear technology in Tehran. And while on the subject agree, as far as I know (though not sure if it was the main reason), an echo of this is the fact that negotiations on the Israeli actively involved in the development of small business in Ukraine came to nothing.
We are no longer there. This is good news. Our relationship is unconditional. In other words, there is a package of issues on which we have an interest, but there are issues on which we can agree, but they made the brackets. The fact that we did not agree, is not a reason not to talk about other topics.
This proportion I have determined in the ratio 90/10. That is, concerning 90% of the questions we have not just understanding and interest in cooperation and capacity that is probably largely not yet implemented. But this issue is technical. Regarding the 10% of issues probably are topics on which we agree. Of these 10%, eight per cent are not yet agreed, and about two percent, most likely, we cannot agree in principle. Because each country has its own system of values, although they are largely common, their interests, their strategic view. And just because the Ukrainians are not Jews and the Jews are not Ukrainians.
One of these topics in my opinion, is the understanding of the Holocaust and the Holodomor. Israelis probably are not ready for what we call a trivialization of a catastrophe. That is not ready to accept the fact that each has its own disaster. African slave trade is African catastrophe; creation of Israel is as much a disaster for the Palestinian and Arab peoples. As the Holocaust for the Jews, and so on and so on.
Holodomor is seen as the greatest tragedy as ethnocide, genocide, as a terrible thing. But at the same time, it is as a tool to achieve certain political goals by any government. Disgusting, wrong, incorrect, inappropriate one, born by some perverted logic. Soviet authorities wanted to achieve some goals.
Holocaust is the result of some ideological representation, not instrumental; to destroy the people ideologically, because they should not exist. That is just so. It is out of some kind of logic... Hitler in the last years of the war was not thinking about how to stop the British on the Western Front, and how to destroy the last Jews imprisoned in concentration camps. He believed that his mission was to destroy the Jews, and not, for example, provide greatness of the German nation.
Here is a different understanding of the situation. Ukrainian party understands that the Holocaust, the Holodomor are phenomenon of the same level. Perhaps this can be debated, but historians have discussed. This should not be a factor in our bilateral relations. This is a topic on which we, as the two nations probably need to mature, to reach some understanding. And, of course, taking into account each other's positions.
The good news is that we can discuss it calmly. We can imagine ourselves Ukrainians, can you can imagine being Jewish. When we discuss the Israeli-Arab conflict with our Arab neighbors or the Persians (who believe that Israel has no right to exist, unlike Israel, which believes that the Persian state has the right to exist), we are just not willing to rely on Ayatollah rational thinking. And if they get nuclear weapons, they will not use it. We have no such conviction. But the subject of the Holodomor, we believe should be discussed as some page of history in which people have to understand each other, but it should be a factor, which is shaping the bilateral relations today.