On one of the blogs I follow, I just read an appalling (albeit not an unusual) suggestion that Ukrainians are especially anti-Semitic. Forgetting about how many Ukrainians fought against Hitler – and defeated him, in the end – this blogger has the gall to write the following:
In the end, this is why the Holodomor [the genocide of the people of Ukraine in 1931 when over 11 million people died of organized famines] might deserve its own wing in the museum. Like the Holocaust it too has a unique feature: its victims, when given the chance, did to the Jews what the Soviets, y”sh, did to them. The idea that a people could suffer in such a way and then learn absolutely nothing moral about it, could remain as cruel as their oppressors, is certainly unique.It should be remembered that the Ukraine has an extensive history of Jew hatred including the worst massacres of Jews between the destruction of the Second Temple (may it speedily be rebuilt) and the Holocaust, the Cheilmnitsky pogroms.
Contrary to this blogger’s hateful lie, when given the chance, the victims of Holodomor defeated Nazism.
One of the victims of the Holodomor was my Ukrainian grandfather. He was also a veteran of World War II. A hero who fought against Hitler, was wounded, and remained an invalid for the rest of his life. Yes, there were a few Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazis and served as polizei. But there were just as many (or just as few) French, Poles, Russians, Estonians, etc. who collaborated. The majority of the people in the countries occupied by Hitler, however, fought bravely against the Nazis. Few countries suffered from Hitler as much as Ukraine did. There is not a single family in my country that didn’t lose somebody and have somebody fight in the war against Nazis.
It’s shocking to me that some ignoramus would just spit on the memory of these heroes and on the memory of my Ukrainian grandfather (who, by the way, had a Jewish son-in-law and two half-Jewish grandchildren). It is also completely appalling to me that people don’t even make an effort to learn the first thing about the history of Ukraine and of the Ukrainian Jews.
Well, what can you expect from a person who feels the need to pontificate about Chmelnitsky pogroms without even finding out how to spell the word Chmelnitsky.
So this is what I wrote in response on the offending blog:
As a Ukrainian Jew, I am saddened that the author of this blog has bought into the lies about the anti-semitism of the Ukrainians.
Are you even aware that the moment when Ukraine gained its independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, Ukrainian politicians introduced laws that insisted that no Ukrainian parliament could open a session without a significant number of Jewish MPs being present? Are you aware that all of the foundational documents of the independent Ukrainian Republic were always signed by the Ukrainian committee, the Russian committee, the Jewish committee, and the Polish committee? Have you missed the fact that Volodymyr Vinnichenko, the Prime Minister of the Ukrainian Republic was sent to the concentration camps by the Nazis for refusing to collaborate with them? That he spend his entire life tirelessly defending the rights of Jews everywhere?
In 1918-1921 (the only years before 1991 when Ukraine was independent), nowhere in the world – nowhere – were the rights of the Jews so protected and cherished as in Ukraine.
The degree of willful blindness you need to practice in order to equate the pogroms of 1648-9 and the pogroms of the early XXth century with Ukraine is terrifying.