First in the ranking of the Israeli daily "Jerusalem Post" "The 50 Most Influential Jews of 2022." is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Not many political leaders find themselves elevated to the status of icons, writes the Jerusalem Post, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky became one of them this year.
He was initially considered an oddity for having played the president of Ukraine in a sitcom before playing the role in real life. But Russia's invasion of his country in February thrust him into the spotlight and put him to an unprecedented test.
With the sharp eye of an artist who understands the importance of optics, Zelensky began to wear exclusively olive green T-shirts, writes the author of the "Jerusalem Post". He began a world tour via the Zoom platform to reprimand Western governments for not doing enough to help him defeat Russia, tailoring his speech to each capital's history and issues.
His firmness and courage became legendary and earned him comparisons with Winston Churchill, according to the author of the Israeli publication. There is little evidence that he actually said "I need ammunition, not a ride" when US President Joe Biden offered to evacuate him from Kyiv, but it seemed like something he would say, and that was enough to make the quote widely shared and quoted.
The embattled leader has reshaped the world order in a way not seen since the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s, rallying almost the entire Western world against Russia and its powerful President Vladimir Putin, the Jerusalem Post reported. Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership; unprecedented US and European Union sanctions were imposed on Russia, its senior officials and industry; and American weapons not previously intended for export to Ukraine were sent to Kyiv.
A large part of this is due to Zelensky, who - through skillful use of the media and diplomacy - got the world to take action that has not happened in decades, BTA reports.
In the material of the Israeli newspaper, a quote from the American head of state, Joe Biden, was also used:
"The peoples of the free world, inspired by the example of President Zelensky, are more united, more determined and more purposeful than at any time in recent times." "With the support of the United States and our allies and partners, he left his mark on history and proved to the world that Ukraine will endure and its people will ultimately realize the democratic future they have long desired."
Zelensky's Jewishness has become an interesting subplot of the overall picture. His parents were Jewish, and his grandfather's father and three brothers were killed in the Holocaust. As a teenager, he was offered a scholarship to study in Israel, which his father forced him to turn down. He later married a non-Jew, and his children were baptized according to press reports.
The fact that Zelensky is Jewish played no role in his 2019 election campaign, and the candidate himself downplayed it, saying that "the fact that I'm Jewish is about the 20th question among my characteristics."
But at a time when his country is not only under attack, but being attacked by Russian propagandists who claim to be "denazifying" Ukraine, Zelensky was ready to bring this characteristic of his to the fore. He and other Ukrainian leaders and dignitaries asked rhetorically how his country could be a Nazi state if it was led by a Jewish president.
Zelensky's speech before the Knesset was heavily based on the topic of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the "Jerusalem Post" recalls.
"They called it 'the final solution to the Jewish question'. You remember that and I'm sure you'll never forget it," he said. "Hear these words being said again [in Moscow]: 'Final decision,' but in relation to us, to the 'Ukrainian question.'
"You can definitely help us protect ... the lives of Ukrainian Jews," he told the Knesset, asking why Israel had not sent weapons to Kyiv or imposed sanctions on Russia. "That is up to you, dear brothers and sisters...and you will have to live with that answer".
For all of Zelensky's influence on today's world, his Jewish background has not dissuaded Israel from taking what its leaders see as too great a risk in light of the Russian military presence in Syria and the precarious situation of Jews in Russia, the newspaper commented.
Yet as he continues to lead Ukraine in the fight against Russia, in a war that has rocked global energy and food markets and awakened Europe from a relatively comfortable and peaceful existence, Zelensky is one of the most powerful people in the world today, and not only the most influential Jew in the world, sums up the Jerusalem Post.
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