Ukraine’s defense attracting volunteers in Israel. ‘This is personal.’


Outside the black iron gates of the Ukrainian Embassy in Tel Aviv, the days are punctuated by a parade of people seeking information for how they can volunteer to fight.

Most of those showing up to volunteer here are veterans of the Israeli army. But not all are Ukrainian Israelis. One is a former US paratrooper from Atlanta, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why We Wrote This

Identity is a powerful motivator, and is tugging at the emotions of Ukrainian-born Israelis who feel compelled to drop everything to join the fight. That they’re not alone in volunteering speaks to the universal values ​​at stake in the war.

He says his motivation for volunteering and contributing his military know-how is simple: “When you have a chance to stand up to a bully in the world, you take it.”

Diana, a 21-year-old from a Tel Aviv suburb, is a trained doctor who arrived Thursday in Ukraine with her Ukrainian-born boyfriend and six other friends. She was born in Moscow and immigrated to Israel with her family when she was 7. From Ukraine, she says she’s ashamed of “the hate that comes from Russia, my motherland, toward Ukraine.”

“What motivated me to come to Ukraine and help are the horrors that I saw in the field,” she says. “The fact that children and the sick are bombed by the Russians. … I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t come here and give any help that I can provide. ”

TEL AVIV, Israel

Outside the black iron gates of the Ukrainian Embassy in Tel Aviv, the days are punctuated by a parade of people who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine as children or teenagers. They are anxious for information about how they can volunteer to fight for a country they also see as home.

“For me, this is personal,” says Anatoly Dumansky, age 24, who identifies as both Ukrainian and Israeli. He immigrated here when he was 7 and still has family in Ukraine. “I haven’t slept for days. I’d rather be there than here with no way to help. ”

In a post on social media (that was later removed), the Ukrainian Embassy had called on those who wanted to “defend the sovereignty of Ukraine” to contact them about volunteering to fight.

Why We Wrote This

Identity is a powerful motivator, and is tugging at the emotions of Ukrainian-born Israelis who feel compelled to drop everything to join the fight. That they’re not alone in volunteering speaks to the universal values ​​at stake in the war.

“I know what a gun is and how to shoot,” says Mr. Dumansky, who served as an infantryman in the Israeli army. “I think people who know what they are doing should help.”

Most of those showing up are, like Mr. Dumansky, veterans of the Israel Defense Forces. But not all are Ukrainian Israelis. One is a 72-year-old Druze man, a retired IDF captain who drove hours from his village in northern Israel to sign up, declaring, “I want to fight. I’m a soldier! ” Another is a former US paratrooper from Atlanta, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.



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