Foreign Policy Audit: Ukraine-Israel

10:05 AM 25-5-2017

A discussion paper was prepared by Kateryna Zarembo, deputy director of the Institute of World Policy

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1. Introduction

2. Ukraine’s Interests toward Israel and Israel’s Interests toward Ukraine: Points of Intersection

2.1. Political dialogue: Dividing Commonalities

2.2. Historical Dialogue: The Holodomor and the Holocaust as Defining Concepts of Political Agenda

2.3. Business and investments: Unfulfilled Potential

3. Who is Who: Interest Groups and Groups of Influence

4. Existing and Potential Risks and Conflicts

4.1. Deterioration of Relations Between Ukraine and Israel After the UN Vote

4.2. Increase in Negative Rhetoric Based on Different Positions on the Interpretation of Historical Events

4.3. Increase in Violence and Vandalism Motivated by Anti-Semitism in Ukraine

5. Recommendations


1. Introduction

Relations between Ukraine and Israel could be described as distant and close at the same time.

There are numerous links between the two countries: religious,ethnic, historical, etc. As a home for the largest Jewish community in Europe before the World War II, Ukraine, in a certain historic moment, has become the cradle of Jewish culture and country of origin of promi-

nent Jewish artists,religious and political leaders.Perhaps,there is no other country in the world where so much of the political elite have Ukrainian origins; in Israel, those are presidents and prime ministers Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Ephraim Katzir, Moshe Sharett, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and the current Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein. Moreover, Ukraine is also the birthplace of the Hasidic movement, as well as the destination of the annual religious pilgrimage to the grave of rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

In turn, Israel has also been and remains a place of pilgrimage for Ukrainian Christians, as, per the Scripture, Jesus Christ lived and was crucified there. Following several waves of emigration of Ukrainian Jews after the collapse of the Soviet Union, strong people-to-people contacts have been established between Ukraine and Israel. There is also high tourism potential between the two countries: since 2012, when Ukraine and Israel had abolished the visa regime, the flow of tourists has been growing every year (e.g. 13% in 2016), and Tel Aviv remains the top destination from Boryspil airport.

Furthermore, in the last three years, Israel has been increasingly referred to as the “transformational role model” in Ukraine as a country that managed to achieve prosperity amid permanent armed conflict, as well as to ensure self-sufficiency in terms of security. Israel is one of the top 10 countries named by Ukrainians as role models for Ukraine’s foreign policy.

This report was conducted within the project of the Institute of World Policy “Ukraine’s Foreign Policy Audit”. This project is implemented with the support of the “Think Tank Support Initiative” implemented by the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) in partnership with Think Tank Fund (TTF) with the financial support of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine.

The contents are those of the Institute of World Policy and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swedish Government, the International Renaissance Foundation, Think Tank Fund. No part of this research may be reproduced or transferred in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or including photocopying or by any information storage retrieval system, without the proper reference to the original source.