On January 1, 2021, a torchlight procession was held in Kiev in honor of the birth of Stepan Bandera. In response, the Israeli ambassador condemned the «glorification of Nazi collaborators» and advised Ukraine to deal with its past.
This statement by the Israeli representative caused an avalanche of anti-Semitic comments in the Ukrainian media and social networks. Some went from words to deeds.
So, right-wing radicals from C14 announced a rally outside the Israeli Embassy in Kiev demanding that the Jewish state repent for organizing the Holodomor.
Such a demand is a shameful provocation and a lie, since Israel had and could not have had anything to do with the Holodomor, because it appeared only in 1948 and is located three thousand kilometers from Ukraine.
Some «commentators» explain this by saying that Jews participated in organizing the Holodomor, for example, Lazar Kaganovich. The question arises: why, then, do these activists not go to the Georgian Embassy and demand that it repent for Joseph Stalin or Lavrenty Beria?
Therefore, it is not clear that accusing Jews or Israel of organizing the Holodomor is banal anti-Semitism and a continuation of the Judeophobic propaganda of Nazi Germany: all Jews are communists, invaders, imperialists, traitors, etc., etc.
What all this led to is well known: six million Jews were brutally murdered in Europe, including one and a half million in Ukraine. This is a dangerous trend that is not only underestimated in Ukraine, but also fueled by such sentiments, adding fuel to the fire.
So, recently, employees of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance held a presentation on the anniversary of the Holodomor in which they used anti-Semitic images of Jews drawn by an anti-Semitic artist from Germany.
The latest surge in anti-Semitic sentiment in Ukraine did not happen out of the blue. The authorities and civil society, as well as the media, generally deny such a problem. Let us recall when last year the American Anti-Defamation League, the oldest and one of the most respected organizations in the world for combating xenophobia and racism, conducted a study that ranked Ukraine second in Europe in terms of anti-Semitism. Then immediately followed accusations from «activists» that the ADL were Moscow agents, sold out to the FSB, and so on.
When 52 US senators signed a letter on the rise of anti-Semitism in Ukraine and condemning the glorification of Nazi collaborators, howls rose from «patriots» that US lawmakers bought, accusations of Ukrainophobia poured in.
One of the elements that, in my opinion, contribute to anti-Semitic sentiments in Ukrainian society is the national policy of remembrance and a number of laws adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, in particular, the law on decommunization, voted in April 2015, especially in the part that refers to the glorification of organizations of Ukrainian nationalists.
This law has been sharply criticized. At the time, a group of prominent Western historians condemned the legislation, as it effectively imposed censorship and glorified those who took part in the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes.
This law contributed to the creation of a number of monuments, memorial tablets, and renaming streets in honor of the organizers and perpetrators of the mass destruction of the peaceful Jewish and Polish population of Ukraine.
Moreover, this process continues and the number of such monuments in Ukraine is so large that it is safe to say that Ukraine has become the world champion in the number of monuments to various mass murderers.
Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, in the village of Zhiznomir, Ternopil region, a memorial plaque to Oleksa Babiy, one of the executioners of Babyn Yar, was unveiled on the library building. Babiy was an employee of Sonderkommando 4A in Einsatzgruppe C.
On September 29-30, 1941, Oleksa Babiy participated in the mass murder of 34,000 Jews in Kiev: women, men, the elderly and children. Incomprehensible? Yes!
Or here, the Verkhovna Rada adopts a resolution on the celebration of memorable dates in 2020 and includes Vasil Levkovich in this list. Who is Vasil Levkovich? This is the commandant of the Ukrainian auxiliary police of Dubno, an accomplice in the mass extermination of about 5 thousand Jews of Dubno.
In 1943, he joined the UPA, where he participated in the mass murder of Polish civilians. Levkovich lived to this day and was buried on the Alley of Fame of the Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv.
In addition to Levkovich, Volodimir Kubiyovich, founder of the SS division Galicia and head of the collaborationist Ukrainian Central Committee, was added to the list. Kubiyovich and his committee directly participated in the extermination of about 150,000 Jews in Lviv.
The UCC printed announcements in the press that those who would help the people’s commissars would be severely punished. Tell me, what could be more disgusting and inhumane than honoring the murderer of women and children?
Let’s return to the torchlight procession in honor of Bandera. Bandera was the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, whose leaders and members took an active part in the Holocaust and the extermination of the Polish population.
Bandera and the OUN sought the creation of an independent Ukraine in the form of a fascist dictatorship, where he was assigned the role of leader in a mono-ethnic state, from which all other nationalities, except Ukrainians, would be ousted or destroyed.
Therefore, the marches in honor of Bandera and his associates are a celebration of the darkest ideology, which eventually led to millions of victims of Ukrainians and other peoples.
The attitude towards the Holocaust, genocide, and anti-Semitism is one of the signs of the moral health of the nation, the civility of the state and its institutions. What is happening here with the glorification of war criminals, on the contrary, is a sign of the moral decay of society, deep problems that will undoubtedly hinder the development of Ukraine and its integration into the world community.
Ukraine needs to decide whether it is on the side of those who created death camps and gas chambers, or it is a country that, together with other nations, defeated Nazism. We are the descendants of the executioners or we are the ones who saved the world and civilization. I’m leaning towards the latter!»
Eduard Dolinsky, Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee