25 March 2019

Ukraine demonstrates that given the choice between Jews and the Jewish state Zionism prefers the latter

Why is Israel arming Ukraine’s neo-Nazi militias?
Not content with reaching out to racists and white supremacists, Israel in the case of Ukraine, is also reaching out to neo-Nazi militias. This is the answer to those who say that Ken Livingstone’s suggestion that the Nazis supported Zionism was anti-Semitic. Even today, when Zionism has achieved its state, when Israel is a military superpower, the self-described Jewish state demonstrates that it will ally with any far-Right force – not only at state level as is the case with Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Poland’s Mateusz Morawieckibut even in the case of common and garden thugs in the neo-Nazi militias of Ukraine.
Given the choice between the interests of the Jewish state and the Jews, Zionism will always choose the latter. This is what racial nationalism is about. As Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion wrote on the 7th December 1938, shortly after Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht pogrom, in regard to the emigration of 10,000 Jewish children from Germany to England:
‘If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, [Land of Israel -  TG] then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel. (Zionist policy and the fate of European Jewry 1939-42, Yad Vashem Studies,, Vol. 12.)’
One wonders why those pursuing the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign in the Labour Party find it so hard to understand the difference between opposition to a state that calls itself ‘Jewish’ and Jews.
The articles below, from The Forward, Electronic Intifada, Ha’aretz and The Nation give the background to the relationship between Israel and Ukrainian neo-Nazis and the wider support given to the far-Right in Ukraine by the western democracies.
Not only has the Azov battalion, a neo-Nazi para military group has been incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard but Israel and the West is continuing to ply them with arms supplies.  In the battle against Russia every and anything goes.

Tony Greenstein 

Ukraine’s far-right is like a hydra, with ugly heads that pop-up far too frequently. Just within the last few weeks, an American-born cabinet minister thanked a group of violent neo-Nazi “activists” for their services.

January 19, 2019 Michael Colborne The Bullet

Members of the Azov Battalion, in Kyiv [May 2016]

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told Ukraine doesn’t really have a problem with its far-right. It’s all Kremlin propaganda; you’re personally helping Putin by talking about it; other countries have far-right problems too, so why single out Ukraine? I’ve heard it all.

But I expect to hear even more lines like this in the New Year, all because I’m going to point out the obvious: Ukraine really does have a far-right problem, and it’s not a fiction of Kremlin propaganda. And it’s well past time to talk about it.
Members of the Azov Battalion, in Kyiv [May 2016],             
Ukraine’s far-right is like a hydra, with ugly heads that pop-up far too frequently. Just within the last few weeks, an American-born cabinet minister thanked a group of violent neo-Nazi “activists” for their services, a soldier was photographed wearing a Nazi death’s head patch right behind President Petro Poroshenko and almost 1,500 neo-Nazis and friends threw a two-day Hitler-salute-fest.
Out of the Margins
Violent far-right groups have been around in Ukraine for years, albeit in marginal numbers. But over the last year they’ve grown not just in significance but in aggressiveness. I know because I’ve been on the receiving end myself.
At a march in November to commemorate people who’ve fallen victim to transphobic violence, I watched as a march of barely 50 participants was shut down by some 200 far-right extremists. I felt their wrath myself as two of them assaulted me in separate incidents afterwards.
I’m far from the first person who’s fallen victim to Ukrainian far-right groups, nor anywhere near the most serious. Their members have attacked Roma camps multiple times, even killing a Roma man earlier this year. They’ve stormed local city council meetings to intimidate elected officials. They’ve marched by the thousands through the streets to commemorate WWII-era nationalist formations who took part in ethnic cleansing. They’ve acted as vigilantes with little to no negative reaction from state authorities.
Members of Ukraine’s far-right also offer themselves up as thugs for hire – sometimes with deadly consequences. This summer, anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handziuk was the victim of a horrifying acid attack. In July, several extremists – who apparently were paid by corrupt local police to carry out the attack – doused her with sulfuric acid, burning her over 40 per cent of her body. She died from her injuries in November.
Ukraine’s notorious Azov movement keeps growing. Since it was created in 2014 to fight Russian-led forces in the east, it made news by accepting openly neo-Nazi members into its rank. Now the Azov Battalion has become an official Ukrainian National Guard regiment. In 2016 the group formed a political party, which, they claim, now has tens of thousands of members. Earlier this year they unveiled a paramilitary force that doubles as a street gang.
Even as their party polls barely a per cent, Azov is trying – as one of their higher-ups has told me personally – to build a far-right “state within the state,” running everything from nationalist study groups and mixed martial arts training to free gyms for youth and programs for the elderly. They’re also trying to turn Kiev into a capital of the global far-right, inviting neo-Nazis and white supremacists from around the world to visit.
Whatever group they’re part of, Ukraine’s far-right is increasingly nonchalant about the use of violence. When I was covering the march in Kiev on November 18, one of them walked up to me and sprayed me with a quart-sized bottle of pepper spray. Another then sucker-punched me in the face just yards away from onlooking police – hard enough to smash my glasses and cut me up.

Yes, I’m still mad about what happened to me. But I’m even more mad about a peaceful assembly of barely fifty people being cancelled because some violent hooligans decided it should be. And what makes me angriest of all is that many prominent people in Ukraine, and beyond, that keep wanting to tell you that the far-right isn’t that big a problem.
It’s Time…
But it’s time to talk about why extremists in this country are able to attack people in broad daylight as police stand by. It’s time to talk about why some of them are receiving state funds and taking part in official police patrols in some cities. It’s time to talk about why a group that denies it has neo-Nazi leanings can help host a two-day neo-Nazi music festival with barely a peep from anyone. It’s time to talk about why Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, up for re-election in March, is happy to flirt with hardline nationalist rhetoric and hasn’t bothered to condemn incidents like last month’s attack on a peaceful protest.
It’s time to talk about why so many mainstream figures in Ukraine and abroad don’t seem too bothered by any of this. Yes, every country has its extremists, but not every country has public figures that (repeatedly) defend the actions of violent vigilante groups like the notorious C14 – or, like Ukraine’s American-born health minister Ulana Suprun, sully a (deserved) positive reputation by hobnobbing for photos with the group’s leaders on social media.
And no, I haven’t forgotten that Ukraine is still mired in a Russian-orchestrated war on part of its territory, and that Moscow likes to use Ukrainian nationalists in its propaganda – part of its longstanding practice of painting all Ukrainians, nationalists or not, as “Nazis” (not true), or as supporters of Nazi-era collaborationist movements that were active in some parts of Ukraine (also not true). I also don’t doubt that the Kremlin itself funds or supports some of the far-right agitation here so that it can use them for its own purposes.
That’s why I know what I’m going to hear next. I’ll probably be told that I’m part of Putin’s hybrid war (really?), that I work for the Kremlin (um, no), or that I’m doing the Kremlin’s work (also no). But I didn’t invent Ukraine’s far-right, and I certainly haven’t helped them gain the prominence they’ve got heading in 2019.
The problem is real. It’s time for Ukraine to talk about it and take it on. •
This article first published on the The Forward website.

Michael Colborne is a freelance journalist originally from western Canada, based in central and eastern Europe. He writes about international social and political issues, with a focus these days on nationalism and the far-right. He tweets at @ColborneMichael.

Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine

The Azov Battalion uses the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol as its logo. Its founder Andriy Biletsky (center) has moved to ban “race mixing” in the Ukranian parliament. (Azov/Twitter)

Israeli arms are being sent to a heavily armed neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine, The Electronic Intifada has learned.
Azov Battalion online propaganda shows Israeli-licensed Tavor rifles in the fascist group’s hands, while Israeli human rights activists have protested arms sales to Ukraine on the basis that weapons might end up with anti-Semitic militias.
In a letter “about licenses for Ukraine” obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the Israeli defense ministry’s arms export agency says they are “careful to grant licenses” to arms exporters “in full coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government entities.”
The 26 June letter was sent in reply to Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack who had written a detailed request demanding Israel end all military aid to the country.
Azov’s official status in the Ukrainian armed forces means it cannot be verified that “Israeli weapons and training” are not being used “by anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi soldiers,” Mack and 35 other human rights activists wrote.
They had written that Ukrainian armed forces use rifles made in Israel “and are trained by Israelis,” according to reports in the country.
The head of the Israeli arms export agency declined to deny the reports, or to even discuss cancellation of the weapons licenses, citing “security” concerns.
But Racheli Chen, the head of the agency, confirmed to Mack she had “carefully read your letter,” which detailed the fascist nature of Azov and the reports of Israeli arms and training.

Both the defense ministry letter and Mack’s original request can be read in the original Hebrew below.

Israeli rifles in Ukraine

The fact that Israeli arms are going to Ukrainian neo-Nazis is supported by Azov’s own online propaganda.
On its YouTube channel, Azov posted a video “review” of locally produced copies of two Israeli Tavor rifles – seen in this video:
A photo on Azov’s website also shows a Tavor in the hands of one of the militia’s officers.
The rifles are produced under licence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government.
IWI markets the Tavor as the “primary weapon” of the Israeli special forces.
It has been used in recent massacres of unarmed Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza.
Fort, the Ukrainian state-owned arms company that produces the rifles under license, had a page about the Tavor on its website at the time of writing this article. But the page was removed after publication of this article.
The Israel Weapon Industries logo also appears on its website, including on the “Our Partners” page.
Starting as a gang of fascist street thugs, the Azov Battalion is one of several far-right militias that have now been integrated as units of Ukraine’s National Guard.
Staunchly anti-Russian, Azov fought riot police during the 2013 US and EU-supported “Euromaidan” protests in the capital Kiev.
The protests and riots laid the ground for the 2014 coup which removed the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
This photo from Azov’s website shows an officer of the neo-Nazi militia armed with a version of Israel’s Tavor rifle. The Tavor is made under license from Israel by Ukraine’s national arms maker Fort.
When the civil war began in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, the new western-backed government began to arm Azov. The militia soon fell under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian interior ministry, and saw some of the most intense frontline combat against the separatists.
The group stands accused in United Nations and Human Rights Watch reports of committing war crimes against pro-Russian separatists during the ongoing civil war in the eastern Donbass region, including torture, sexual violence and targeting of civilian homes.
Today, Azov is run by Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister. According to the BBC, he pays its fighters, and has appointed one of its military commanders, Vadym Troyan, as his deputy – with control over the police.
Avakov last year met with the Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri to discuss “fruitful cooperation.”
Azov’s young founder and first military commander Andriy Biletsky is today a lawmaker in the Ukrainian parliament.

As journalist Max Blumenthal explained on The Real News in February, Biletsky has “pledged to restore the honor of the white race” and has advanced laws forbidding “race mixing.”
According to The Telegraph, Biletsky in 2014 wrote that
the historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led untermenschen.”
At a military training camp for children last year, The Guardian noticed that several Azov instructors had Nazi and other racist tattoos, including a swastika, the SS skull symbol and one that read “White Pride.”
One Azov soldier explained to The Guardian that he fights Russia because “Putin’s a Jew.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, another praised Adolf Hitler, said homosexuality is a “mental illness” and that the scale of the Holocaust “is a big question.”
An Azov drill sergeant once told USA Todaywith a laugh” that “no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis.”
An Azov spokesperson played that down, claiming that “only 10-20 percent” of the group’s members were Nazis.
Nonetheless, the sergeant “vowed that when the war ends, his comrades will march on the capital, Kiev, to oust a government they consider corrupt.”
After Azov’s founder Andriy Biletsky entered parliament, he threatened to dissolve it. “Take my word for it,” he said, “we have gathered here to begin the fight for power.”

Those promises were made in 2014, but there are early signs of them being fulfilled today.

This year the battalion has founded a new “National Militia” to bring the war home.
This well-organized gang is at the forefront of a growing wave of racist and anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine.
Led by its military veterans, it specializes in pogroms and thuggish enforcement of its political agenda.
Earlier this month, clad in balaclavas and wielding axes and baseball bats, members of the group destroyed a Romany camp in Kiev. In a YouTube video, apparently shot by the Azov thugs themselves, police turn up towards the end of the camp’s destruction.
They look on doing nothing, while the thugs cry, “Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!”
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) met with the Ukranian prime minister last year to discuss deeper military ties. (Ukranian Government Portal)
Israel’s military aid to Ukraine and its neo-Nazis emulates similar programs by the United States and other NATO countries including the UK and Canada.
So obsessed are they with defeating a perceived threat from Russia that they seem happy to aid even openly Nazi militias – as long as they fight on their side.
This is also a throwback to the early Cold War, when the CIA supported fascists and Hitlerites to infiltrate from Austria into Hungary in 1956, where they began slaughtering Hungarian communist Jews and Hungarian Jews as “communists.”
Recent postings on Azov websites document a June meeting with the Canadian military attaché, Colonel Brian Irwin.
According to Azov, the Canadians concluded the briefing by expressing “their hopes for further fruitful cooperation.”
Irwin acknowledged receipt of an email from The Electronic Intifada, but did not answer questions about his meeting with the fascist militia.
A spokesperson for the Canadian defense department later sent a statement claiming that their “training of Ukrainian Armed Forces through Operation Unifier incorporates strong human rights elements.”
They said Canada is “strongly opposed to the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism” but that “every country must come to grips with difficult periods in its past.”
The spokesperson, who did not provide a name, wrote that Canadian training “includes ongoing dialogue on the development of a diverse, and inclusive Ukraine.”
The statement said nothing about how alleged Canadian diversity training goes down with the Azov Battalion.
Also part of Colonel Irwin’s meeting was the head of Azov’s officer training academy, an institution named after right-wing Ukrainian nationalist Yevhen Konovalets.
Konovalets is one of the group’s idols, whose portrait frequently adorns its military iconography.
Konovalets was the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which later allied itself to Nazi Germany during its invasion of the Soviet Union.
The OUN took part in the notorious 1941 Lviv massacre, when the Nazis invaded Soviet territory.

During the pogrom, thousands of Jews were massacred in the now-Ukrainian city.

US aid to Nazis

Canada is of course not the only NATO “ally” to be sending arms to Ukraine.
As Max Blumenthal has extensively reported, US weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, and training have been provided to Azov.
Under pressure from the Pentagon, a clause in the annually renewed defense bill banning US aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion was repeatedly stripped out.
This went on for three straight years before Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna and others pushed it through earlier this year.
For his trouble Khanna was smeared in Washington as a “K Street sellout” who was “holding Putin’s dirty laundry.”
Despite the ban finally passing, Azov’s status as an official unit of the Ukrainian armed forces leaves it unclear how US aid can be separated out.
In 2014, the Israel lobby groups ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help a previous attempt to bar US aid to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.
A now-deleted photo from an Azov website showed US-licensed RPGs were going to the neo-Nazi militia.
The ADL argued that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to the fact that other far-right leaders had met at the Israeli embassy in Ukraine – as if that somehow absolved their anti-Semitic views.
Attempts by some in Congress to bar US military aid to Nazis in Ukraine may explain military aid from Israel.
Israel’s “deepening military-technical cooperation” with Ukraine and its fascist militias is likely a way to help its partner in the White House, and is another facet of the growing Zionist-White Supremacist alliance.
Israel has historically acted as a useful route through which US presidents and the CIA can circumvent congressional restrictions on aid to various unsavory groups and governments around the world.
In 1980s Latin America, these included the Contras, who were fighting a war against the left-wing revolutionary government of Nicaragua, as well as a host of other Latin American fascist death squads and military dictatorships.
It also included the South African apartheid regime, which Israeli governments of both the “Zionist left” and Likudnik right armed for decades.
As quoted in Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s book Dangerous Liaison, one former member of the Israeli parliament, General Mattityahu Peled, put it succinctly:
“In Central America, Israel is the ‘dirty work’ contractor for the US administration. Israel is acting as an accomplice and an arm of the United States.”
Amid an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, Israel now appears to be reprising this role in eastern Europe.
With translation from Hebrew by Dena Shunra.

Asa Winstanley is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.

Myth-making efforts by the Ukraine to glorify the WWII role of one 'archetypal' Jew, Leiba Dubrovskii, is part of Kyiv's war on memory: its eager attempts to erase anti-Semitism, brutality and complicity with the Nazis from its wartime history
Activists of the Azov civil corp, Svoboda (Freedom), Ukrainian nationalist parties and the far-right group Right Sector rally to mark 'Defender of Ukraine Day', in Kiev, Ukraine. October 14, 2017 REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

For a practical lesson in nationalism that whitewashes an inconvenient past, including ties to the Nazis, racism, anti-Semitism, involvement in the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing and other violence against a country’s own citizens – look no further than Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINP) and its patrons in the Poroshenko government in Kyiv are allowing us to study the process of nationalist myth-making in real-time.
President Poroshenko has enabled nationalist activists like Volodymyr Viatrovych, head of the Institute, to sculpt Ukraine’s history and memory policies. Part and parcel of the Institute’s "decommunization" campaign to remove remnants of a Soviet past simultaneously has been to lionize 20th century Ukrainians who fought for Ukraine’s independence no matter how problematic their backgrounds.
Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine. April 6, 2016 Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
In particular, the Viatrovych and the Institute have made whitewashing the image of World War Two Ukrainian nationalists a priority, not a small feat considering their documented ties to, and complicity with, the Nazis.
This nationalist revisionism seeks to show that the main wartime nationalist organizations, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), were ultimately multi-ethnic, "multi-cultural," and democratic.
Unsurprisingly, the nationalists’ relationship with Ukraine’s Jews has proved the biggest challenge to this reinvention of Holocaust co-perpetrators and ethnic cleansers as tolerant internationalists.
Its promoters have recently doubled down on these efforts, spurred on by the annual 'Defenders of Ukraine' holiday, celebrating a fictitious foundation date of the nationalists’ army, the UPA.
The Poroshenko government circulated instructions on the eve of the holiday, emphasizing the need to "provide citizens with objective information." But a historical addendum prepared by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory does the opposite by claiming that: "Jews and Belarusians also fought in the ranks" of the UPA and that "many Jews" joined them voluntarily to prove themselves "as serious fighters and doctors."
Much Ukrainian media ink has been spilled in recent years glorifying the role of one Jew, who served with the nationalists. His story encapsulates Ukraine’s war on memory, and its eager attempts to write out anti-Semitism from its wartime history.
Far right Svoboda (Freedom) Ukrainian activists mark 71 years of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) with a portrait of wartime leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. Kiev, October 14, 2013 REUTERS
Leiba-Itsko Iosifovich Dobrovskii has been touted as a Ukrainian nationalist who also happened to be Jewish. That was to make the point that Ukrainian nationalism and Jewishness were not mutually exclusive. These days, we’d call the re-engineering of facts about Dobrovskii a fake news story. But it is instructive to trace its origins.
The legend of Leiba Dobrovskii, Ukrainian nationalist Jew, originated not in World War Two but the mid-2000s, when he was first briefly mentioned in a book in 2006 by historian and activist Volodymyr Viatrovych.
Viatrovych made reference to a "Jew” in the UPA, who helped write leaflets for the UPA in 1942 and 1943 and eventually was arrested by the Soviets. In 2008 the Dobrovskii legend grew, thanks to the exhibition "Jews in the Ukrainian Liberation Movement," staged by the Ukrainian Security Service and the Institute for National Memory with the assistance of Viatrovych. Drawing on Dobrovskii’s arrest file in the archives of the Security Service, the exhibition highlighted his line-up picture and alleged role in the UPA, while notably offering no more details.
At this point, the myth of Jews happily serving with Ukrainian nationalists in WW2 began to be reported in prestigious outlets like BBC Ukraine.

After the Maidan revolution of 2014, and Viatrovych’s further rise within the Ukrainian government, the Dobrovskii legend flourished. In 2015, at the prominent Kyiv-Mohyla University, Viatrovych gave a lecture presenting Dobrovskii as the archetypal "Ukrainian Jew"in the UPA. Another exhibition this past May again used Dobrovskii in the same vein. Even the largest Holocaust Museum in Ukraine, located in Dnipro, highlights Dobrovskii as a Jew "in the OUN-UPA." 
Children play at the monument of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to World War II veterans, in a memorial park in Kiev, Ukraine. Nov. 1, 2017 Efrem Lukatsky/AP
With this October’s holiday, his photo and brief story has appeared frequently in local publications, including at the Wester funded Radio Svoboda operated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which also promotes the myth of a Nationalist International. Dobrovskii’s name and picture have become symbols of the alleged tolerance and multi-culturalism of Ukrainian World War Two nationalism.
However, when I actually read Dobrovskii’s file, the legend of the Jew eager to join the Ukrainian nationalists quickly evaporated.
Dobrovskii grew up in the Kyiv region, finished law school, and was a Communist party member from 1929. As a Red Army soldier, he was captured in 1941 and changed his name to Leonid Dubrovskii to appear Ukrainian. 
In this guise, he got out of captivity and went to north-western Ukraine, where he accidently met local Ukrainian nationalists connected to the local collaborationist police and administration, including the local mayor and later UPA member, Mykola Kryzhanovskii. Noteworthy is that Kryzhanovskii was well-known for his brutality towards Jews. Not suspecting that Dobrovskii was Jewish and appreciating his education, the nationalists recruited him to produce propaganda.
In contrast to the shiny new nationalist legend, Dobrovskii actually concealed his Jewishness to his nationalist 'compatriots' and was no enthusiastic supporter of Ukrainian nationalism. In fact, he was scared that they would find out who he really was.
When asked in his interrogation about the relationship between Jews and the nationalists in general, Dobrovskii noted that "Jews could not formally" join the Ukrainian nationalists. He feared nationalist retribution against his wife and child. Dobrovskii also tried to feign sickness to avoid working for the nationalists and on numerous occasions tried to avoid contact, but was pressured to continue his service. On multiple occasions, soldiers came to his home to bring him to meetings.
A woman places flowers at a monument commemorating the victims of Baby Yar (Babiy Yar), one of the biggest single massacres of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. Kiev, Ukraine, September 29, 2017VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS
Dobrovskii had well-founded reasons for his reluctance and fear. He felt that Ukraine’s nationalists, who deliberately helped staff local police forces under the German Nazi forces, were complicit in the genocide of the Jews.
In 1943, he noted, nationalist detachments "carried out the mass murder of the Polish population" in western Ukraine. He described the radicalizing influence of West Ukrainian nationalists on Ukrainian youth and observed that they spread "enmity toward Jews, Russians and Poles." He also observed nationalist violence and "terror" against Ukrainians, including the murder of two church leaders by UPA.
He did not even believe in the nationalist claims that they were fighting the Germans, remarking that they "did not kill a single local German [Nazi] leader in the area" of Volhynia.
We might ask: Did Viatrovych and his supporters think that no one would ever read Dobrovskii’s arrest file? Did they themselves read the entire file? Did they arbitrarily choose to dismiss all evidence of his fear of the nationalists, and of their brutality, as ‘Soviet distortions’?
In that case, one would think they would at least mention and address a source that massively contradicts the myth they’ve have been embellishing and spreading. Archives are not buffets from which nationalist public relations activists can choose the most appealing morsels. Instead, research requires contextualization, not to mention cross-checking.
Ukrainian nationalists burn an effigy of Vladimir Lenin on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution; the placard reads 'Change yourself – change Ukraine'. Kiev, November 7, 2017GENYA SAVILOV/AFP
Sadly, we know this is not the first time that nationalist activists have spread a fake narrative about Jews and nationalists, as in the case of Stella Krentsbakh/Kreutzbach, a fictitious Jewess who, according to her 'autobiography', forged by a nationalist propagandist in the 1950s, thanked "God and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army" for having survived the war and the Holocaust.                                
Similarly, how is it that for almost a decade now Ukrainian media and parts of academia have simply trusted the statements of highly – and transparently – motivated nationalist activists without bothering to check their story? The archives are open, after all. Are Ukrainian media and western outlets like Radio Svoboda incapable or unwilling to check information provided by a Ukrainian government body officially dedicated to the Ukrainian historical record?
In a post-Maidan landscape where an independent media and academy are vital to the integrity of Ukrainian democracy and its integration in Europe, this case should force some reassessment of the degree to which Ukraine’s public can access facts and not propaganda.
The Dobrovskii myth demonstrates two persistent problems with the study of war and violence.

First, a rigid understanding of the relationship between ethnicity, identity, and action: the prevailing assumption that ethno-national identity is the decisive, if not only, determinant of behavior. In Dobrovskii’s case, his assumed representative "Jewishness" is exploited to whitewash nationalism, although all we really know is that he was born a Jew. His decision to alter or hide this aspect of his identity and join Ukrainian nationalists to save his life certainly speaks to his circumstances which were as stark as is possible: war and genocide.
David Feldman, a rabbi from Odessa, stands at a mass grave of Jews slaughtered in Ukraine during World War II, in the village of Gvozdavka-1, Ukraine. June 7, 2007AP

But Dubrovskii’s unfree choice was spun into an entire legend of Jew-friendly Ukrainian nationalists, because of the pressing need to deny any foundational anti-Semitism. But the same manipulation wouldn’t be used for other historical events in Ukrainian history. Would the same revisionists take the participation of Ukrainians in the Red Army as evidence of the "Ukrainian" commitment to communism? Of course not.
The Dobrovskii case also shows why we should stop romanticizing Ukrainian World War Two nationalists.
Insurgencies routinely use various enticements, threats, and pressures to bring vulnerable populations under their control and into their ranks. That Dobrovskii, a former POW without networks or friends and stranded far from home, would join the nationalists out of fear and to survive is hardly surprising. Cases of "defecting from" or hiding an ethnic identity exposing its bearer to a lethal threat have nothing to do with the multiculturalism and tolerance of those making the threats, but with hard facts of exploitation and – perhaps – survival.
Shocking as this case may be, Ukraine is hardly alone in its efforts to whitewash its past and elevate controversial nationalist leaders. Throughout Eastern Europe, be it in Hungary, Poland, or Lithuania, the struggle to deal with a difficult, often anti-Semitic past in an honest, productive manner in an uncertain present looms large for the future of the region.

Jared McBride, PhD, is a lecturer in the history department at University of California-Los Angeles. He is currently finishing a book about wartime violence in western Ukraine. Twitter: jaredgmcbride

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