A religious leader who has seen war close up in Israeland in Ukraine was visiting Southern Arizona this week. KGUN9s Craig Smith heard the special perspective of a Chief Rabbi of Ukraine who has personal experience with the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel.

The shock that many people are going through in Israel now. I went through that shock in Ukraine, when Russia attacked Ukraine.

Rabbi Yaakov Bleich has been in and out of two war zones. He says just this month he went from the US to Israel to Ukraine, to Israel and back to the US.

Both in Ukraine and in Israel, bombs and rockets are being shot to every and all cities throughout the country.

He sees strong parallels between Russias attacks on civilians in Ukraine and Hamas attacks on civilians in Israel.

And he says Russia welcomes the bloodshed in Israel as a way to divert world attention from Ukraine.

All you have to do is open up Russian television and you can see the glee and the happiness that the Russians were celebrating, Im saying, celebrating the attack of Hamas on Israel.

Rabbi Bleich says Palestinians should have a state to call their own.

Theres no question about it. Where that state should be, whether it should be in Jordan or the territories of one of the 22 Arab countries surrounding Israel thats something they should decide. Thats a political decision, not a religious decision.

He says neighboring Arab states should be more willing to allow Palestinian refugees in their borders, just as European countries welcomed Ukrainians displaced by war there.

He does worry the conflict in Gaza could become a wider war.

What the danger today is, is Iran getting involved in this conflict on the ground which they have threatened that they will do if Israel goes into Gaza; Israel threatening because of a Hezbollah attack, that they’re going to take out the Iranian leadership. We’re at a crossroads basically in the world.

Rabbi Bleich notes the US has a long history of supporting Israel and he hopes Ukraine can count on our support too.

I’ve witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union, the development of Ukraine as a democracy, a civil society, that religious communities and other parts of society developing and I think that’s an ally that’s worthy of support of the United States. The United States will be supporting not only Ukraine, but the entire world, especially our allies in Europe, by stopping Russia from continuing this war.

BEFORE PUBLISHING: Add ‘reporter footer’ (Module > Shared> Search for your name)