A Gaza journalist reporting from Ukraine was shocked when Palestine was ignored after, like Ukraine, being invaded by a powerful neighbour. Ukraine’s hitherto unwavering support for Israel amid the Gaza conflict sparked controversy and has triggered a shift in public sentiment.
As Russia initiated a full-scale war on Ukraine in 2022, journalist Amer Aroggi, reporting from Ukraine and hailing from Gaza, observed a glaring incongruity in support. As the Israel-Palestine conflict reached new heights, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy swiftly sided with Israel, leaving Palestinians in Ukraine feeling neglected and unheard.
Aroggi says Ukrainians were the victims of “massive propaganda” at the start of the war, which led to many initially supporting Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza. But things changed.
Public sentiment in Ukraine underwent a marked transformation as the conflict unfolded. Over 300 Ukrainian scholars expressed solidarity with Palestinians, challenging the government's pro-Israel stance. The intensified threats and discrimination against Palestinians within Ukraine failed to deter their resolve to remain in the country. Despite facing challenges, Palestinians like Hashem, a doctor who has been in Ukraine nine years, have stayed true to their adopted home after the Russian invasion.
Hashem got prejudiced messages and even death threats when people learned he came from Gaza; even after that, he plans to stay.
“Ukraine suffers from occupation like Palestine”, he said.
The surge of support for Gaza among the Ukrainian population has had effects even at the highest level. In a notable departure from his earlier dogged support for Israel, President Zelenskyy, in December, acknowledged the independence of both Israeli and Palestinian people. Despite his basically ‘trying to play both sides' it is a change. His stated new standpoint no doubt reflects the change in Ukrainian public sentiment, highlighting the profound impact of global conflicts – and media bias - on local perspectives and alliances.