Why Ukraine is Not Europe’s “Palestine”

By: Mali Rozen
March 2022

Gigi Hadid, popular American model and daughter of Nazareth-born Jordanian-American millionaire, Mohamed Hadid, recently sparked another round of controversy by comparing Ukraine to Palestine. In an Instagram post, Hadid claimed she was donating her earnings from a recent fashion show appearance to those suffering from the war in Ukraine, “as well as continuing to support those experiencing the same in Palestine”. She then ended her post with, “HANDS OFF UKRAINE. HANDS OFF PALESTINE. PEACE. PEACE. PEACE.”

Hadid is not alone in comparing what the Ukrainians are experiencing to what the Palestinian Arabs experience. There have been numerous social media posts comparing Russia to Israel, and that the Ukrainians are suffering just like the Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel. Is this comparison warranted? Is it true?

No, it is not warranted nor is it true. Comparing the Ukrainian-Russian war to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is like comparing apples to potatoes. It just doesn’t stand under critical analysis! The most glaring misstep in likening Ukrainians to Palestinians is that one group of people are citizens of a sovereign country (Ukraine) while the other is not. Ukraine is a sovereign nation that was invaded by another sovereign nation - Russia. While the details are nuanced and complicated at best, the basic fact is Russia, a sovereign nation, invaded Ukraine, another sovereign nation. Israel has never invaded “Palestine”, including Gaza, which is ruled by terrorist thugs, Hamas. While many people accuse Israel of doing so, the historical facts prove otherwise.

Secondly, Israel’s military operations in Gaza are always in response to provocations by Palestinian terror groups, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Ukrainians did not indiscriminately fire rockets into Russia, attacking Russian citizens like Palestinian terror groups do regularly. Russia is a clear aggressor; Israel is clearly defending its citizens from imminent danger. It is no accident that Israel’s army is called the Israeli Defense Forces (emphasis mine); Israel does not attack Palestinian entities in acts of aggression as Russia has done in Ukraine. In fact, Israel has not initiated one single war or military operation since its rebirth in 1948. Every war it has fought has been a defensive war.

Another important difference is that Russia is reportedly targeting Ukrainian civilians, which is a war crime. Israel goes above and beyond to avoid civilian casualties in its military operations in Gaza, even at the cost of not being able to access Hamas terror targets. There have been times when Palestinian civilians were killed during the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which is an absolute tragedy. However, why do people fail to hold Hamas and PIJ responsible for storing weapons in hospitals, schools, and civilian apartment buildings? This is a war crime according to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Furthermore, it is a fact that Israel has called off airstrikes at the last minute due to civilians being spotted near the target. In addition, Israel has dropped leaflets in Arabic warning civilians to vacate areas before a potential attack; can anyone imagine that Russia would do the same in its war with Ukraine?

Finally, one large difference between Russia and Israel is that Russia is seeking to obtain land in its war with Ukraine. While Israel enlarged its territories after many of its earlier wars (which were all waged against Israel), the current conflict with the Palestinians is not about gaining more land. If Israel really wanted to, it could easily annex all lands that Palestinians claim for a future state tomorrow.  Yet, it does not. Just because Israel has military might, it does not use it in an aggressive manner as Russia is doing in Ukraine.

War is an awful and tragic reality of this fallen world. Often, war is the ugly and horrific result of men’s thirst for power and desire to exercise influence over others. There are never any winners; inevitably, soldiers and civilians alike are wounded and forever scarred by the horrors of war. But let us stop falsely accusing Israel of being a bloodthirsty aggressor when, in actuality, it acts in defense when provoked. Israel is by no means without fault, and we should recognize this. In times when crimes have been committed, Israeli officials and soldiers are held accountable. But between that and accusing Israel of unprovoked aggression towards the Palestinians, there is a line that must be drawn.

Let us continue to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), and for peace between Russia and Ukraine. May God’s spirit comfort those who mourn, and may we all hope for the day that we will no longer learn of war:

He will judge between the nations
    and decide for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning knives.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
    nor will they learn war anymore.                                                                                                              Isaiah 2:4

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