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Zelenskyy compares Russia's invasion to Holocaust in a plea to Israel for support

Demonstrators gather at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Sunday to attend a televised video address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Jack Guez
/
AFP Via Getty Images
Demonstrators gather at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Sunday to attend a televised video address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Israel to do more to help Ukraine during a speech to Israeli lawmakers on Sunday, voicing his impatience with Israel as it mediates negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

In a nine-minute live video address to the lawmakers, Zelenskyy said, "You can mediate between countries, but not between evil and good."

He asked why Israel won't give Ukraine weapons or impose sanctions on Russia, and criticized Israel's limitations on accepting non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees.

Zelensky, who is Jewish, invoked the Holocaust in his plea.

"Ukrainians made their choice," he said. "Eighty years ago, we saved Jews," he said. "The people of Israel, now you also have a choice."

Zelenskyy's speech drew criticism from several Israeli lawmakers, mostly on the right wing, who said he overlooked the role some Ukrainians played in the Nazi genocide of Jews.

In response to the Ukrainian president's Holocaust reference, Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in a statement to NPR called it a "trivialization and distortion of the historical facts of the Holocaust."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.