Ukraine’s Zelensky in a Modern-Day David Versus Goliath Battle

March 1, 2022 Updated: March 2, 2022


A Jewish Ukrainian family had four brothers. Three brothers were murdered by the Nazis. Only one survived. His grandson is the current president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The relationship between Ukraine and its Jewish community is a tragic one. From the pogroms that led to a mass exodus and migration of Jews out of Ukraine for over two centuries, much of it to North America, to the days of real Ukrainian support for Hitler’s Nazi’s Third Reich, there is a common saying in the Jewish community, whether in the Americas or in Israel, that every stone in Ukraine is drenched with Jewish blood.

And yet, despite a history of horrors, a quarter million Jews have managed to survive and thrive in modern-day Ukraine. Now, its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, finds himself in a David vs. Goliath situation. With the equivalent of a 21st-century slingshot, he is facing the world’s most aggressive and lethal rogue armed force, the former Red Army. Like the King David of the psalms, he is confronting the enemy very much alone, on his own, without the real support needed from President Biden, America’s seemingly befuddled septuagenarian.

How ironic that this is the same Red Army that liberated Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945. A lot has changed since then.

Before this lethal and potential extinction-level event, Ukraine was a country that was on its way toward cementing capitalism, democracy, and human rights for all.

There has been such an historical about face in Ukraine in respect to living in co-existence in peace and respect, that on a yearly basis, tens of thousands of Jews from Israel and elsewhere in the world travel to the small Ukrainian city of Uman to celebrate the Jewish New Year in a pilgrimage honouring the death of the celebrated and revered Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

Clearly, it wasn’t for Gucci bags and sleek Mercedes Benzes that the Ukrainians were pushing for European and NATO inclusion; after all, Moscow allows a select few of its own to enjoy the perks and rewards that emanate from the West. No, the Ukrainians were yearning and striving to imbue the essence of manifest destiny—freedom for all. Ukraine finally had the potential to rid itself of the shackles of its history in order to catch up to a developed world that offers its citizens the vote, protection for minorities, gender equality, and the ability for every citizen to reach his or her best potential based on intelligence, skill, and the contents of his or her character. It wasn’t the money—it was Martin Luther King’s dream.

The CCP and Taiwan

While the Biden and Trudeau administrations continue to cede ground to communist and fascist adversaries, following in the footsteps of Neville Chamberlain and Joe Kennedy Senior, the citizens of the West wonder where all of this is going. Will vanquishing the borders of Ukraine satiate the appetites of Putin and his accomplices? Don’t count on it. I hate to think it, but left to his own devices, for Putin this war is just a warm-up exercise.

I usually try to gauge my instincts by sampling the thoughts of my co-religionists in Synagogue after Saturday morning services. Conducting my sampling of opinions on a recent Saturday morning, I can report that millennials have no real opinions on where this war is leading, while Gen Xers and Gen Yers understand what’s going on but have no real sense of where the war is going. But baby boomers are very much clear-eyed about the bigger picture. To a person, they had basically a one-word answer: Taiwan.

They are right, of course. The beginning of this debacle started last summer in Afghanistan. In a rush to look glorious and withdraw before the 9/11 anniversary, Biden thought that it was smart business to abandon his troops and his Afghan allies, even if it meant leaving US$10 billion of sophisticated U.S. weaponry in the country. By measure of comparison, Israel receives approximately US$1 billion worth of U.S. weaponry on a yearly basis. Biden thought that it was smart business to provide his enemies, the Taliban, with 10 years’ worth of military supply. The Taliban are not stupid, as they quickly ran to Beijing and offered the sophisticated weaponry to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at a discount. Putin obviously realized right there and then that a lack of intelligence and sophistication was ruling the day in Washington (and Ottawa). A master chess player always takes advantage of weakness.

In any business venture, you scale it before you build it. Our adversaries have learned business over the decades. The one thing they are is not stupid. For the CCP, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a warm-up exercise toward Taiwan.

Epoch Times Photo
Taiwan’s domestically produced corvette class vessels demonstrate their combat readiness during a drill on the seas off the northern city of Keelung on Jan. 7, 2022. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

With an economy the size of Canada’s but almost 3.5 times more population, Putin has the weapons and the soldiers, but not the money. Moving 80 percent of Russia’s forces to the Ukrainian border was going to cost a fortune. Between the fuel, the food and the tiny salaries for his victim-soldiers, Putin knew that he needed a financier. Biden in his miscalculation was not going to reward Putin’s aggressive stance with a bank transfer. What Biden didn’t realize was that Beijing was going to be more than happy to write the check. There was no downside for the CCP. If Putin is successful, the CCP gets to co-own a new country for cents on the dollar and with no loss of life for them, plus at the same time the CCP would get to be part of the team that emasculates the Western world—all as a warm-up to the real prize, Taiwan.

The cartoonist Walt Kelly famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” This mess would never have happened with Donald Trump as U.S. president. This mess would never have happened with even Mitt Romney as president. When Romney ran against Barack Obama, the elite NYC media derided him because of his suggestion that Putin and the Red Army was America’s biggest foe. Whose laughing at who now?

People who have the ability to think must come to the conclusion, before it is too late, that the Joe Kennedy, Neville Chamberlain, Obama, Trudeau, and Biden way to conduct world affairs leads to perdition and more casualties and death. Oh, how I miss Pope John Paul II, Thatcher, and Reagan!

There was a time when the Democrats knew how to channel backbone and courage. While Joe Kennedy’s idiocy helped usher the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, his son, President John F. Kennedy, a democrat, was no shrinking violet. After all, he did draw a line in the sand when it came to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the world was better off for it. Anyone remember JFK’s famous words of June 26, 1963: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner)?

During the Yom Kippur War, legend has it that every 15 minutes a fully stocked U.S. B-52, loaded with guns and tanks, was landing at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, for weeks. That’s the type of war effort it took to keep Israel alive. How do I know? One of the Israeli Defense Forces veterans, a neighbor and friend, was part of the team off-loading the planes during the effort. I trust what he says.

The only way to avoid the capture and ruin of Taiwan is to draw a line in the sand with Ukraine. Be it resolved immediately that Kyiv cannot and will not fall. No matter what! Be it resolved that if Russia so much as harms a hair on Zelensky’s head, it will lead to arrest warrants being issued for Putin and his accomplices for war crimes. Nuremberg anyone? If we had any backbone we would start making arrests now. Many of Putin’s buddies and coterie are enjoying the streets and the banks of London, Paris, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles as we speak. Find a fancy restaurant in any of these towns, and you’ll see them laughing, making jokes, and taking selfies.

The Berlin Airlift

There was a time when the West had courage and backbone. Tired and famished from a horrible World War II, America and its allies did not cower when the Red Army tried to take over West Berlin in 1948. As an answer to the Soviet blockade of Berlin, Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift.

From June 26, 1948, to Sept. 30, 1949, the West valiantly carried supplies to the people of West Berlin. American and British forces, aided by Canadian, Australian, French, New Zealand, and South African forces flew over Berlin more than 250,000 times, dropping necessities such as fuel and food. The original plan was to deliver 3,475 tons of supplies daily, but by the spring of 1949 the peak daily delivery had risen to 12,941 tons.

Epoch Times Photo
People watch a C-54 come in to land at Berlin Tempelhof Airport in 1948. (Public Domain)

The success of the airlift as it continued to keep Berliners sustained despite the blockade became an increasing embarrassment for the Soviets, and on May 12, 1949, the USSR lifted its blockade of West Berlin.

But today, we argue about freezing the bank accounts of the Russian oligarchs. Today, instead of focusing on what was essential prior to Putin’s aggression, Biden was spending his time supporting virtue signaling exercises and Justin Trudeau was invoking martial law against protesting truckers. Truckers, no less!

Shame on us!

Only an effort similar to the Berlin Airlift, accompanied by the drawing of a line in the sand in a similar fashion to the Cuban Missile Crisis, is going to work to ward off the communists and the fascists.

In the meantime, we can only embrace the remarkable courage of our new brothers and sisters, the Ukrainians, but also the Poles and the Moldavians who understand that the only way for them to stay alive in freedom is to stand up to the bullies. Winston Churchill was right when he said, “Nations that go down fighting rise again, but those who surrender tamely are finished.”

History, like the good Lord, is not without a sense of humour. Had President Zelensky’s grandparents, like so many Ukrainian Jews, fled to America, perhaps he would be an American president. If he was, we would all be better off.

Biden’s only solution to the Afghanistan debacle was to offer the Afghan government protection from the Taliban by flying the Afghan president to exile. He made the same offer to the Ukrainian president, but Zelensky scoffed at the idea, saying: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” Now that’s a real man!

I don’t know if my community will be able to hold New Year’s prayers in Ukraine this year at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. But if we do, I can tell you that we will be paying tribute to and praying for President Volodymyr Zelensky in his David vs. Goliath battle, as well as for his Ukrainian, Polish, Baltic, Moldavian brethren, who are fighting on the front lines of freedom—fighting for all of us.

May the Lord bless them all!

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Joel Etienne
Joel Etienne is a Toronto based human rights lawyer, and television and movie producer. He is also the Conservative Party of Canada's candidate of record for the riding of York Centre.