Ukraine – It is always about the balance

“The ten words of the thora revelation correspond to the ten words of the creation / ten – ten in the cup of the holy scale / through both, the world has continuance, balance, and peace,” Ernst Wilfried Huber. 

by Robert Zion* 


“For as long as there was no scale, you could not see face to face,” says a passage in the Zohar (II, fol. 176b) that has remained on my mind during my political work. Although political conflict is usually about power and interests, especially in international politics, the idea of “face to face”, the continuance of the world thanks to balance and peace, has always been the most valuable concept that the scriptures have passed down.

We suspect to know what the “continuance of the world” of Zohar means, but we are not actually aware that the geostrategic, economic, and ideological wrangling for influence in Ukraine by the two biggest nuclear powers of the world, could risk the “continuance of the world” in an entirely different way?

Is the “balance of terror”, of deterrence, once again the only means by which we can achieve a – fragile – peace in Europe at all? Despite Russia’s aggressive actions in the Ukraine, Hollande and Merkel were able to initiate Minsk II by meeting Putin face to face in Moscow. It is a European initiative without the United States that does not aim for a balance of terror but for a balance of interests.

BalanceEven if that initiative were yet to fail, it establishes standards because it does not aim at the division of Ukraine or altogether the division of Europe, but the unity and self-determination of Ukraine and against the right wing, nationalist forces there, as well as in Russia and all of Europe. Immanuel Kant probably would have referred to the pursuit of a balance of interests instead of a balance of arms deliveries as “a principle of one’s action”, in the Zohar it is “the scale of life”.


This principle that applies to international politics should also apply to the Ukraine and Russia’s domestic politics because in each state foreign policy behavior interacts with domestic political developments. When a passage in the Thora says: “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are; for blood, it polluteth the land; and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.” (Mase 35, 33,6) then that applies also to the ideological divisions, the propaganda, and the hate, which these stoke domestically.

Boris Nemzow fell victim to such hatred. As the demonization of the opponent makes a balance of interest impossible in foreign policy, stoking hatred in domestic politics, makes it impossible to consider the interests that are behind the rhetoric of hatred. In Russia as well as in Ukraine, it is the interests of the oligarchs that come out of focus. The situation of human beings will therefore only improve, if we do not sweep that under the carpet and pressure the oligarchs. We should not sanction the Russian people but the oligarchs. We should not support Ukrainian oligarchs economically but the Ukrainian people.


We can achieve a balance of interests in Europe, if we realize that our interests are not entirely identical with those of the United States and if cease to transform Ukrainian and Russian domestic politics according to our ideological preferences. Minsk II is the European path, which Merkel and Hollande represent.

Unfortunately, not everybody in the vicinity of the Green party supports that. Parts of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation around its co-chair Ralf Fücks even conduct “alternative foreign policy” of sorts, as I have described elsewhere, by ideologizing the conflict, demonizing the opponent, and instrumentalizing domestic politics in the service of their foreign policy goals and visions.

That reveals well-established interest linkages that assume an aggressive character instead of promoting de-escalation and a balance of interest. Instead we should not be blinded by the current violence. We could intensify the trade relationships between the EU, Russia, and the Ukraine simultaneously so that human beings in eastern and western Ukraine prosper together.

There may be conflicts between great powers and oligarchs, but it is only violence that pits segments of the Ukrainian people against each other. As soon as we are successful to end the violence, which is the aim of Minsk II, it becomes conceivable, to reconcile the interests of the people. As long as the Europeans pursue that potential, chances for peace increase. All of us ought to support that.

*Robert Zion is among other things a member of the German Green Party and a member of the German Spinoza Society. He is also a member of the religious politics commission of his party.

Published by Die Jüdische (Austria): Link