MARCH 20, 2021 - Mayor's address in light of the live screening of President Zelensky's speech to Israel

During the Second World War, my parents were here in Israel, while their world, the world they left behind in Europe was being destroyed. In the absence of developed electronic communications, they did not see European cities being destroyed in real time. They did not see the convoys of refugees, and did not understand the extent of the massacre and cruelty that the Jewish people were experiencing. The monstrosities only became clear to them after the war through movies and diaries. Even then, it was hard for them to believe what they were witnessing.

MARCH 20, 2021 - Mayor's address in light of the live screening of President Zelensky's speech to Israel

During the Second World War, my parents were here in Israel, while their world, the world they left behind in Europe was being destroyed. In the absence of developed electronic communications, they did not see European cities being destroyed in real time. They did not see the convoys of refugees, and did not understand the extent of the massacre and cruelty that the Jewish people were experiencing. The monstrosities only became clear to them after the war through movies and diaries. Even then, it was hard for them to believe what they were witnessing.

Night after night, we are sitting in front of screens and are witnessing these unbearable images in real time. Thousands of civilians have already been wounded and killed. Convoys of millions of destitute refugees. The cities of Ukraine - Mariupol, Odessa, Kiev, Kherson - cities that up until three weeks ago were peaceful and blooming, are catching fire and going up in smoke; Attacked by air, sea and from the ground, slowly turning into rubble.

Putting any political consideration aside, we are witnessing an event where it is clear what the bad and what the good is; who the aggressor is and who the assailant is. It is a moment of moral clarity. Regardless of the historical question of how the Ukrainian people behaved during the Holocaust, these current events clearly demonstrate an ongoing atrocity. In the face of such injustice, we cannot simply choose not to listen.

There are moments when one cannot stay quiet; and today, now, is exactly one of these moments. It is a mitzvah and an elementary duty to give the President of Ukraine the opportunity to speak to the people of Israel and that is what we are doing. In times of need, one must first open the heart, not engage in the minute details, and simply help, save lives, listen, give support to help and hug those whose world has come crumbling down. This is Jewish morality.

I am convinced that we will still host you, Mr. President, here in Tel Aviv-Yafo on brighter days.

Yours Truly,
Ron Huldai
Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo