Experts: Ukrainians and Jews defend Ukraine from the aggressor together



2014/11/15 • Politics

Article by: Bohdana Kostiuk

Kyiv – Maidan united Ukrainians who speak different languages and believe in various religions. There were several representatives of the Jewish community among the heroes of the Heavenly Hundred. And the fighters of the Jewish Hundred that was formed at the time continue to defend Ukraine from separatists and mercenaries in Donbas as part of the Armed Forces and volunteer battalions. Many Ukrainian Jews are sincerely confused by the question whether this can be considered a ceasefire between the two nations, but experts say that it is possibly a good start. 

Journalist and member of the Dnipropetrovsk oblast Jewish organizations Oleh Rostovtsev began his day with a visit to the city donor center. Like hundreds of other volunteers, he donates blood for Ukrainian fighters who are at war in the East, within several hundred kilometers of his city. Mr. Rostovtsev considers this to be the obligation of every Ukrainian citizen.

“We do not think that minorities in Ukraine are communities. They are different things. We are the Jewish community. To my mind, there is no Jewish or Armenian minority: there is a new phenomenon – a Russian-speaking Ukrainian nationalist. And it is natural! I don’t understand what a ceasefire means in this context. We, Ukrainians and Jews, never argues. Who is supposed to ask for forgiveness: Ukrainians or Jews? Together, Ukrainians and Jews fought within the UPA, in the Soviet Army. We were both heroes and criminals, like Russians, Belarusians and so forth. We have to all ask for forgiveness from the Almighty for the bad things,” Rostovtsev noted to Radio Liberty.

Citizens of Ukraine of various nationalities came together to save the country during World War II, many Ukrainians saved the Jews during the Holocaust. At the moment Jewish citizens of Ukraine fight for the independence and integrity of Ukraine in combat against Donbas separatists and Russian soldiers. So it is a ceasefire no longer, it is a Ukrainian-Jewish struggle for a multinational state of Ukraine, thinks publicist, researcher Serhiy Hrabovsky.

“There are numerous mutual accusations in history, but there is a brilliantly titled book by Olexandr Hohun Between Hitler and Stalin, which pertinent to the relations between Ukrainians and Jews. So all those Ukrainian-Jewish problems were brought about by living between two totalitarian regimes, which provoked and increased conflicts, differences, misunderstandings and so forth. Accordingly, this provoked struggle against totalitarianism first during World War II (the Jews’ involvement in the UPA), and the new struggle against Yanukovich’s dictatorship and contemporary Russian totalitarianism,” said the famous writer to Radio Liberty.

Ukrainians responded to the Jews’ solidarity with their own. As Hrabovsky noted, as opposed to the countries of the European Union, after the beginning of the military occupation of Israel in the Gaza Sector, the number of anti-Semites in Ukraine did not increase. On the contrary, many Ukrainians supported Israel’s actions.

“This allowed to return to Ukrainian-Jewish mutual understanding at a new historical level and to civil, liberal, even democratic, nationalism,” the expert claims.

Studies: less anti-Semitism in Ukraine

Head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine Josip Zisels says that the Maidan phenomenon did not arise out of nowhere, as Ukrainian-Jewish relations in the country have been improving recently.

“We monitor and analyze anti-Semitic incidents very closely. And we see that the peak was in 2005-2007, since then we have documented a decrease of the number of instances: we document attacks and vandalism. There are very few such instances, 13 in all of 2013. And in Germany and France, there are dozens more times of instances of anti-Semitism. Yes, we had 13 last year. Germany had 1300, which is a hundred times more,” Zisels noted.

Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, during an open lecture at the Ukrainian Catholic University, categorically denied the statements of Western and Russian politicians about anti-Semitism among Ukrainians and the presence of serious problems in the relations between the two peoples. Hrytsak made an example from history, noting that Ukrainians were one of the nations who had the most people who saved Jews during World War II. According to the historian, “the heroes did an important thing: they saved our national dignity.”

“A group of Ukrainian Jews emerged in Ukraine. Not Jews in Ukraine, but Ukrainian Jews. The phenomenon of the Jews of Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, the situation in Odesa. We know that Putin made a big effort and invested a lot of money to made Odesa into a separatist center. We see that nothing has come of it. A lot of it, to my mind, has to do with the fact that a group of Jews who identify with Ukraine has emerged,”Hrytsak emphasized in his lecture.

Expert: a public discussion regarding Ukrainian-Jewish relations is needed

At the same time, as experts note, Ukraine lacks discussion over how to defeat the negative instances brought about of history, which the state should be involved in. As Nazi swastikas do appear on the walls of synagogues from time to time, and old Jewish cemeteries are sometimes subject to vandalism. According to the expert from the Congress of National Communities Anna Lenchkovska, Ukrainians should learn from Poland’s experience, where the Poles and the Jews made official peace.

“This peace is lasting in Ukraine, and I think that the events of Maidan encourage more contact between the Jewish and Ukrainian communities. But we cannot say that this process of peace is over. At least, compared to Poland, which had a serious discussion regarding Gross’ books (a Holocaust scholar) about the pogroms in Poland after World War II. Unfortunately, in Ukrainian history, the history of the Holocaust remains an issue of interest of a small circle of scholars and pedagogues,” Lenchkovska noted to Radio Liberty.

As of today, we cannot talk about a big serious discussion of this publicly pertinent problem. But the situation has taken a turn for the better, Lenchkovska concluded.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Source: Radio Liberty

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  • DemocracyJA

    HAHAHAHA, Wake Up Ukraine! Israel is a fascist state and their political agenda is bogus. I have myself witnessed the death and persecution of a million so-called Palestinians. Israelis and Palestinians and Semitic Arabs are historically the same people. The ones that pushes pedigree the most are the Israelis. Do not get lured into their dirty fascist politics. Israel of today is protecting the most viscous and dangerous Russians around. WHY? MONEY of course. The only language they understand. They have realised, long time ago, that hiding behind the name of a god could give them advantage in average life. They are such a shame for serious philosophers of ancient and present time. VIKINGS, SHARPEN YOUR AXES!

  • disqus_aJpixObjG7

    It was the Ukrainian armed forces who liberated Auschwitz and most of the German
    concentration camps, NOT Russians (although this is never stated).

    There are 2600 Ukrainian “righteous” commemorated in Jerusalem for risking/giving
    their lives to save Jews but there are only a mere 240 Russian righteous.

    Finding truth about Ukraine is like finding gold- one must sift, over years, through
    tons of ore to find grams of gold. One must sift through countless tons of
    disinformation to gradually find bits of truth about Ukraine. Here are just a
    few nuggets about Ukraine:

    No nation, no people on this entire earth gave anything close to what Ukraine gave
    to defeat Germany and therefore to save the Jewish people as did Ukraine.

    67% of ALL German military forces including all elite and SS forces were fighting

    The entire German effort in the East focused almost exclusively on… UKRAINE, not
    Russia, as of late 1942.

    Russia, as commonly stated did not defeat Hitler. Hitler was defeated in UKRAINE by UKRAINIANS as Churchill wrote: Germany was
    defeated in Ukraine.

  • Michel Cloarec

    History is history ! Past is past ! Everybody is right ! Respect history OK ! But never forget that much of what make history is often based on mistakes from all parts.
    Reagan has said ” threats from invasion from outer space, would pull the world together to defend earth ” Now we have someone in Kremlin acting as invader . And because he will make a mistake, lets us hope that they are people left to write about history !

  • sandy miller

    I’m an american Ukrainian our best friends are jewish. I’m glad the truth is finally coming out that there were and always have been “Ukrainian Jew”.

    • DejaVu

      Also keep in mind the history between Jews and Russia haven’t been pleasant for hundreds of years now.

  • Mazepa

    The ENTIRE WORLD knows and understands that the mockali murdered fellow Jews by the millions. Just one more reason why the monkey mockali continue to die at our hands while on our soil. It’s payback time.
    Over 7000 mockal swine have already been sent back to russia in body bags, but this is only the beginning.
    Smert mockalyam.
    Praviy Cektor


    Have the Ukrainians forgotten about he 10,000,000 Ukrainians starved out, shot, and mutilated by the jews Stalin and Lenin? I think not, the jews/communists are censoring the views of their descendants.

  • Titterling Langs

    Many things here are written by using old Soviet terminology and are not translatable into English. In 2016 now, a Ukrainian is a person who is a citizen of Ukraine. This is how the world sees it. His/her nationality is Ukrainian if his citizenship is Ukrainian. End of the story.
    There is no difference between citizenship and nationality by modern laws.

    Why would someone of Jewish origin or Armenian distant origin be less Ukrainian than Galicians who are mostly of Croatian DNA mixed with Poles, Czechs, etc.?

    Nationality= citizenship. Everything else is just distant ethnic roots. Nothing else.