Michael Brodsky: Can Ukraine become a 'big Israel'?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in devastating damage to the country’s physical, economic, and human infrastructure. Thousands of civilians have been killed. Millions of people have become refugees. A big part of the population is suffering from psychological trauma.
Although the outcome of the war is still uncertain, one can start thinking about the future recovery of Ukraine.
The reconstruction of Ukraine offers a unique opportunity to rebuild the country in a modern and secure manner.
In April 2022, shortly after Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine began, President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that Ukraine would become a “‘big Israel' with its own face.”
But how exactly will Ukraine become a “big Israel”? Which Israeli practices, which know-how, and which technologies will it adopt in order to become -- like Israel -- a strong and successful country despite the ongoing security threat?
In my interviews with the Ukrainian media, I’m often asked which recommendation I can give Ukraine based on the Israeli experience. Usually, I refer to the following five points:
- Democracy first. Despite the ongoing war against terror and security threats, Israel remains a free and democratic country. One of the main achievements of Ukraine over the years of independence is political liberty and freedom. It is of paramount importance to preserve this achievement despite the war.
- Rely on yourself. Israel’s security doctrine is based on the principle that Israel will defend itself, by itself—and rely on no other country to protect its independence. Ukraine, like Israel, should learn to rely on itself with regard to its security. In order to achieve this, Ukraine should develop a smart army, a modern security industry, and strong intelligence capabilities.
- Encourage technological development and innovations. The technological training many Israelis receive in the military contributes to a civilian innovation ecosystem, which promotes the development of new security technologies. Ukraine has plenty of talented IT specialists. Some of them even work for Israeli tech companies. The transition of technologies from the military to the civilian sphere can contribute tremendously to the technological development of the country.
- Fight corruption. Without a true and uncompromising war against corruption, any international efforts to rebuild Ukraine will be doomed to fail. One of the most urgent steps the Ukrainian government will have to make is to conduct a serious reform of the judicial system.
- Enhance your ties with the Ukrainian diaspora. In Israel’s history, the diaspora has always played a very significant role in supporting our security and economic development. There are strong and supportive Ukrainian diasporas throughout the world, including Israel, and Ukraine should learn how to utilize this enormous asset for its own benefit.
From the very beginning of the war, Israel has provided essential humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Whilst continuing these efforts, we should start thinking about our role in Ukraine’s recovery after the war. I’m confident that our knowledge, our experience, and our technologies will be extremely useful for post-war Ukraine.
Israel can assist Ukraine in building an Economic Iron Dome after the war. The Jewish diaspora in the United States and in Europe can hugely contribute to these efforts. In coordination with the Ukrainian authorities, we can identify specific needs and provide tailor-made Israeli solutions and technologies in the areas of Health, Water and agriculture, Housing and infrastructure, Security and resilience, and Education.
I believe that a Jewish-Israeli Plan for Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction should be put forward. A plan that would correspond with and complement the international efforts to recover the Ukrainian economy and society.
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