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Weissman writes: "Hating Jews is nothing new in Ukraine. As far back as 1648-49, Cossacks and their allies in the Chmielnicki Massacres killed more than 100,000 Jews and destroyed some 300 Jewish communities."

Orthodox Jews pray in the small Ukrainian city of Uman, some 200 km (120 miles) south of Kiev. (photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
Orthodox Jews pray in the small Ukrainian city of Uman, some 200 km (120 miles) south of Kiev. (photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP)


Ukraine: Will the Nazis and Jews Make Nice?

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

11 March 14

 

ating Jews is nothing new in Ukraine. As far back as 1648-49, Cossacks and their allies in the Chmielnicki Massacres killed more than 100,000 Jews and destroyed some 300 Jewish communities. In 1920, as American, British, and French troops were intervening against the Soviet Revolution, Ukrainians waged a massive pogrom that killed some 60,000 Jews. Whether the country’s leader at the time, General Simon Petlura, quietly encouraged the attacks remains a matter of historical dispute. During World War II, Stepan Bandera and other home-grown quislings helped the Nazis slaughter hundreds of thousands of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Armenians, Gypsies, anti-Fascist Ukrainians, and Jews, including the thousands killed at a ravine near Kiev called Babi Yar.

As a young Jew growing up in America, I regularly heard from my Eastern European elders that the Ukrainians were even nastier than the Nazis. Youngsters in Ukraine grow up with a different slant – that Stepan Bandera, Simon Petlura, and Bogdan Chmielnicki were national heroes who led independence struggles against Polish kings and aristocrats and the horrific, starvation-wracked rule of the Stalinist Soviet Union. No surprise, then, that Jew-baiting – and worse – now haunts the new Ukrainian government that Washington and the European Union helped bring to power. How could it be otherwise?

That said, a word of caution. Given how mixed and muddled recent events have been, don’t fall into the trap of dismissing the coup in Kiev as a neo-Nazi or “Brown Revolution.” It is so much more than that.

Blame the confusion in part on the Russians, who are only now calling attention to Ukraine’s well-known anti-Semitism. They remained silent when their man Viktor Yanukovych still clung to power and his riot police were told to blame the opposition protests on Jews.

Blame the confusion as well on the US and EU, who downplay the role played by Ukraine’s ultra-right and their own role in promoting the coup with at least some of the $5 billion dollars that the State Department’s Victoria Nuland boasted that the US had spent to promote democracy in Ukraine since its independence in 1991.

Add the still uncounted sums from Canada, Europe – much of it through Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) – and nominally private groups like Internews, Freedom House, the German Marshall Fund, the Omidyar Network, and George Soros’s Open Society Institute and its Ukrainian NGO, the International Renaissance Foundation. We’re talking serious money here, more than enough to make a revolution, whether orange, brown, or multi-colored.

Call their efforts “promoting democracy,” “building civil society organizations (CSOs),” “foreign meddling,” or just plain “regime change,” their goals have remained remarkably consistent. The funders want to bring to power a Ukrainian government willing to join NATO, which would extend the Cold War alliance right to Russia’s border and its Black Sea Fleet at Sebastopol. This is a direct provocation to Moscow, as I argued in “How to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis.”

Equally important, the funders want a Ukrainian government willing and able to follow financial and economic demands from Washington, Brussels, the World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As Robert Freeman and others argue, many of these demands revolve around oil, natural gas, and pipelines, which is no doubt true.

But, even apart from geo-strategic and historic issues, to reduce a complex conflict like Ukraine to little more than a resource war misses what the Americans and Europeans are demanding of the new interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, or “Yats,” as Nuland called him in her famously leaked telephone call to Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. An economist and former business partner of the truly corrupt, if unfairly prosecuted, multi-millionaire ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yats is expected to impose a massive austerity program on Ukraine. This will seriously hurt ordinary Ukrainians while enhancing the position of the billionaire oligarchs, who used their political connections to steal what the formerly socialist state once owned.

How do the foreign funders pursue these objectives? They fund exceptionally brave but reasonably compliant journalists, extremely compliant polling organizations and election monitors, pro-Western think tanks and political parties, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They ally themselves with the oligarchs while exposing the corruption and double-dealing of political opponents. They build support in the military, police, and security services. They train activists in nonviolent direct action. And, when necessary, they support a violent coup against a highly corrupt, but legitimately elected government.

Evidence for this can be found on the US foreign aid database and websites for, among others, Washington’s government-run National Endowment for Democracy and the heavily government-funded Freedom House. For all the happy talk about transparency, all are notoriously difficult to decipher. But one compelling bit of proof hides in plain sight.

In April 2013, an ownership fight threatened Ukraine’s TVi, which had been fairly independent and committed to investigative journalism. Fearing a loss of their editorial freedom, 31 journalists resigned and looked to create an Internet television channel called Hromadske.TV, which they translate as “Public TV.” Even online, this would be an expensive project, with a threshold budget of $300,000 per year, according to the organizers. They quickly found their funding, which they subsequently announced. George Soros’s International Renaissance Fund provided a grant. The US Embassy in Kiev provided the money to purchase the needed equipment. The Embassy of the Netherlands provided funds to get the online Hromadske.TV running.

The timing was crucial. The journalists hoped to be up and running in September, but everything took longer than expected. Yanukovych then stepped away from his proposed deal with the EU on November 20, and Hromadske.TV rushed into operation. The next day, one of the project’s leaders – Mustafa Nayem, a Muslim born in Kabul – posted a notice on Facebook calling students and other young people to assemble in Independence Square to protest Yanukovych’s decision. That was the beginning of the Euromaidan protests that ultimately brought the government down.

Should we blame the journalists for taking money where they could find it? It’s not an easy call. They wanted coverage for their protest, which they could not expect to get from the oligarchy-owned and generally pro-Yanukovych TV stations. Hromadske.TV provided that coverage, which a huge audience watched. But let’s not be naïve. By taking the money, the journalists became part of a CIA-style “destabilization campaign” that went far beyond their control.

This became clear all too quickly. As Max Blumenthal and other respected journalists tell it, neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists took leadership on the streets. They proudly paraded Nazi and white power symbols, along with Seig heil salutes, Confederate flags, and pledges to defend their country’s ethnic purity. According to one pro-Western Ukrainian source, Mustafa and the others “argued long and hard” for the ultra-right Svoboda and other opposition parties to remove their flags and stop trying to “hijack the protests.” But it was too late. No one was listening.

Svoboda (Freedom), which proclaims itself an ideological descendant of Stepan Bandera, largely took control. Oleh Tyahnybok, its leader, is widely known for urging his party to fight “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine.” Tyahnybok’s deputy called the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis a “zhidofvka,” which is best translated “dirty Jewess” or “Jewish whore,” while party leaders regularly attack the “Zhids” (Yids), which is generally considered pejorative. Tyahnybok, who is now part of the new government, denies being an anti-Semitic or anything other than “pro-Ukrainian.”

Working with Svoboda were skinheads and other militants from the Right Sector (Pravy Sektor), who promised to fight “against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.” As Blumental tells it, they hope to lead their army of aimless, disillusioned young men on “a great European Reconquest.”

But, in the strangest twist of all, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that one of the platoons under overall command of Svoboda militants was led by a Ukrainian Jewish businessman who had served in a reconnaissance unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. Known only as “Delta,” he “headed a force of 40 men and women – including several fellow IDF veterans – in violent clashes with government forces.”

“I don’t belong [to Svoboda] but I take orders from their team,” he explained. “They know I’m Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me ‘brother.’”

Delta claims that he never saw any expression of ant-Semitism during the protests, but still feels an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero,” he says. “But for me it’s better not to reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet.”

Many observers clearly saw the expressions of anti-Semitism that Delta claims he did not. Haaretz reported the firebombing of a synagogue and other attacks, while Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman urged his congregation to leave Kiev – and even Ukraine if they could – to avoid being attacked. Other Jews, including a spokesman for the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), laugh off any Fascist threat by insisting that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is Jewish.

The Daily Stormer and other defenders of “the White European Race” broadcast the claim all over the Internet, citing a competing politician who accused him of being an "impudent little Jew … serving the thieves who are in power in Ukraine and is using criminal money to plough ahead towards Ukraine's presidency." As for Yats himself, just last year he explained his rejection of gay marriage as part of his personal beliefs as a Greek Catholic, part of Pope Francis’s flock.

What difference whether Yats is Jewish? Having suffered Hitler’s war and Holocaust, Europeans should have moved beyond their ethnic, racial, and religious chauvinism. But that’s not likely soon in Ukraine, and especially not if bitter austerity incites popular anger.



A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

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+29 # tigerlillie 2014-03-11 16:02
I remember a time when black people had to hide in the trunks of cars to drive safely through the Ukrainian neighborhoods on Chicago's south side. Wonder if anything has changed there.
 
 
+16 # curmudgeon 2014-03-11 17:56
My mother and aunts who were Catholic Bohemians told me of visits to relatives on farm in Indiana during the 20s. When they could see the glow of bonfires in the night sky, they fearfully stayed inside....

The KKK did not make good neighbors... decorating lawns with burning crosses is NOT the antics of a welcoming committee.
 
 
+3 # curmudgeon 2014-03-11 17:56
My mother and aunts who were Catholic Bohemians told me of visits to relatives on farm in Indiana during the 20s. When they could see the glow of bonfires in the night sky, they fearfully stayed inside....

The KKK did not make good neighbors... decorating lawns with burning crosses is NOT the antics of a welcoming committee.
 
 
+13 # Junius 2014-03-11 18:44
"As far back as 1648-49, Cossacks and their allies in the Chmielnicki Massacres killed more than 100,000 Jews and destroyed some 300 Jewish communities."

Lithuanian Jewry was destroyed by the Russians during the same period.
 
 
+25 # listentome 2014-03-11 18:53
I think this is just too hard for readers to take. When have we seen this level of organized anti-semitism? Not by any means in the Middle East as they hate those in Israel over land and resources and sovereignty needs. Not even in very ignorant places or less educated populations of Africa, Asia or Latin America. In enlightened Europe where Europe and America are fanning the flames.
Hopefully other Jews will accept these facts by using their education and pressure Obama administration to pull the money away from the overt anti-semites running the Ukraine now. The facts are out, thanks to these brave journalists. We cannot now turn our backs as we did in
during the Judenbann period. Very very hard to accept this is happening from our soil. It will take a while to sink in I think.
 
 
+33 # lorenbliss 2014-03-11 20:17
The resurrection of Nazi anti-Semitism is as predictable as it is repugnant. This is because fascism -- of which Nazism is the most extreme form – is the logical extension of capitalism. It is the capitalist ethos – infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue (the conscious rejection of every humanitarian principle our species has ever set forth) – protected by the philosophical armor of the übermenschen concept: a master-race or master-class the might-makes-rig ht superiority of which is proven and perpetuated by its possession of absolute power and infinite wealth. That's why U.S. financiers always underwrite fascists and Nazis, just as they did with Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, the Shah of Iran, Diem, Batista, Pinochet etc. ad nauseam; that's also why, especially since World War II, the U.S. government always supports fascists or Nazis abroad. Meanwhile, now even in the USian homeland, capitalism has become so savage that without the protection provided by fascism, Nazism or its theocratic equivalents, the capitalists would be overthrown by the people. Thus in the Ukraine, USian-supported Nazism serves the same function it did in Nazi Germany: it (further) empowers the capitalists by organized scapegoating of Jews and other minorities. Which – or so one must assume – is surely prompting Israel to reflect on the huge hypocrisies implicit in its U.S. alliance.
 
 
+11 # Majikman 2014-03-11 21:20
Well said, Loren.
 
 
+21 # karenvista 2014-03-12 00:53
It has occurred to me that out of all the governments we have overthrown, they have all been, at least viewed by our MIC, as "Liberal" and have all been replaced by our fascist or dictatorial puppet rulers.

Never have the indigenous people profited from out interference.

Sort of give you the impression that the right-wing runs our imperialism.
 
 
+22 # lorenbliss 2014-03-12 01:30
As indeed it does, Karen.

Again we see the intimate kinship of capitalism and fascism -- the latter the (only possible) extension of the former, just as Marx and Engels so astutely understood. (The term "fascism" did not exist in their time, but its attributes are duplicated in what they labeled "imperialism.")

Had it not been for the FDR presidency, the U.S. One Percent would have imposed fascism here at home and then eagerly joined the Berlin-Rome-Toy ko Axis. The U.S. would have been far more than a fourth partner; as the primary financier and chief supplier of food and natural resources for the fascists' scheme of global conquest, it would have eventually displaced Germany as the ruler of the alliance.

Indeed the 1934 Bankers Plot, for which Google, was intended to oust Roosevelt and impose a fascist dictatorship for just that purpose. According to a few older Communists I knew as a young man, the plot was hatched as much in Berlin as on Wall Street, and Soviet agents played a major role in its interdiction.

If true, this means Stalin's operatives literally saved the New Deal and rescued USian constitutional governance. Which would explain both why FDR trusted Stalin and why the One Percent launched such a viciously zero-tolerance purge of any and all U.S. Leftists – even of liberal intellectuals – immediately after World War II ended.
 
 
-3 # Johnny 2014-03-12 11:36
Netannutcake may be a buffoon, but Israeli leaders are sharp enough not to care how U.S. lines up with neo-Nazis in Ukraine. They own the U.S. government, and know the gravy will continue to flow.
 
 
+13 # Rick Levy 2014-03-11 19:54
The neo-Nazi surge in the Ukraine is ironic. Due to their hatred of Stalin, Ukrainians initially welcomed the German invaders during WWII But the Ukrainians were in for a rude shock when they were rebuffed and harshly by the Nazis for being members of the "inferior" Slavic race.

Whether in the Ukraine or Russia, Jews have been historically persecuted. So no matter who "wins", they will likely continue be at a sharp disadvantage.
 
 
+9 # karenvista 2014-03-12 00:55
The Ukrainians fought on both sides in both World Wars. The east always fought with Russia, the west with the Germans/Nazis.
 
 
+5 # bmiluski 2014-03-12 09:02
The Ukrainians were never trusted by either Poland or Russia because you never knew which side they were supporting on any given day. Most day's they took money/land from both sides.
 
 
-3 # Mannstein 2014-03-13 09:14
Lazar Kaganovich, a Jew was Stalin's willing executioner who carried out with glee the Ukranian Holodomor 1932 - 33. He was by far the biggest mass murderer in modern times. He was decorated as Hero of the Soviet Union and died peacefully in his Moscow apartment in the early 1990s. He was directly responsible for starving 7 million Christian Ukrainians to death in an artificially engineered famine. Cannibalism was not uncommon.

President Putin announced recently at a Jewish gathering that the members of the upper echelons of the early Soviet Government consisted of 85% Jews. Beria, Yagoda, Kaganovich, Trotsky, the list goes on and on were all leading members.

According to "The Black Book of Communism" written by French Communist Stephane Courtois et al 60 million were Soviet Russia by this gang.

When is your tribe going to come to terms with its own history, come clean, and quit playing the eternal victim?
 
 
-21 # Philothustra 2014-03-11 20:47
What does this popular uprising against the Russian bootheel on their neck have to do with "neo-Nazis" and anti-Semitism?

This is a preposterous red herring, and a base canard put out by the pro-Putin machine... "Its all a plot to empower capitalism" etc etc etc. KKK! This is to laugh! What other boogiemen can you pull out of the hat? Weak, indeed pathetic.

I hope you will be satisfied taking Vlad the Impaler's side in the upcoming conflict ... You should have been on the side of Pussy Riot and freedom, and against all the Russian thugs, instead of whining about all these imaginary torments to be inflicted on Jews.

Your own report puts real Jews in the middle of this hugely popular anti-Russian movement.... while you sit safely in the bastions of your hated "capitalism"

PS The Russian Cossack cavalry you try to brand as Ukrainian were in fact been revived under Putin himself, and can be seen most lately wielding bullwhips against Tatar protesters and threatening liberal protesters in St. Petersburg...

PSS Lose the Vlad "revolutionary" Lenin goatees too. You guys belong in the Hall of Shame.
 
 
+9 # TCinLA 2014-03-11 23:50
Always nice to watch a moron in action. Perhaps you need to go back to school and re-take (and this time pass) "Critical thinking."
 
 
+2 # Granny Weatherwax 2014-03-12 09:23
Yes, we should just see the troll for what it is and ignore it.
 
 
+7 # ericlipps 2014-03-12 06:31
Quoting Philothustra:
What does this popular uprising against the Russian bootheel on their neck have to do with "neo-Nazis" and anti-Semitism?

This is a preposterous red herring, and a base canard put out by the pro-Putin machine... "Its all a plot to empower capitalism" etc etc etc. KKK! This is to laugh! What other boogiemen can you pull out of the hat? Weak, indeed pathetic.

I hope you will be satisfied taking Vlad the Impaler's side in the upcoming conflict ... You should have been on the side of Pussy Riot and freedom, and against all the Russian thugs, instead of whining about all these imaginary torments to be inflicted on Jews.

Your own report puts real Jews in the middle of this hugely popular anti-Russian movement.... while you sit safely in the bastions of your hated "capitalism"

PS The Russian Cossack cavalry you try to brand as Ukrainian were in fact been revived under Putin himself, and can be seen most lately wielding bullwhips against Tatar protesters and threatening liberal protesters in St. Petersburg...

PSS Lose the Vlad "revolutionary" Lenin goatees too. You guys belong in the Hall of Shame.

The problem is that not even all Ukrainians support this "popular uprising." Crimea may very well split from the Ukraine over this issue.

Foaming at the mouth over "Vlad the Impaler" doesn't help your argument either.
 
 
-1 # Mannstein 2014-03-13 09:44
"... instead of whining about all these imaginary torments to be inflicted on Jews."

Couldn't agree with you more.
 
 
+9 # Marxian 2014-03-12 01:24
Philothustra is a true representative of the clique of historical pundits of the Untied States of Amnesia. Their special thinking goes far beyond revisionism into the realm of the fantastic known commonly as "bullshit".
 
 
-7 # kalpal 2014-03-12 03:28
Using Jews as a cover to attack the USA's craven search for a new market seems to work for this writer. The only reason the USA is involved is "money." The USA does no real business in the area but hopes to eventually control it.
 
 
+8 # Even 2014-03-12 06:32
Try reading the article before commenting.
 
 
+2 # peteybee0 2014-03-12 21:31
Totally surreal.

I suppose some members of the IDF took one too many kick in the head during their training, or else are taught to hate Arabs exclusively and not worry about Nazis these days.

But anyone who is Jewish and whose family is from anywhere in Europe would be appalled.

Not that the Russians are any particularly nice either. It's just that there is a fairly well established order of priority among the various dangerously evil actors playing in this foul play (the US is on the list too by the way... tied for second place with Russia at the moment).
 
 
+2 # AUCHMANNOCH 2014-03-12 22:57
Yes - it's not only about people of the Jewish faith which is always what we tend to hear about which is natural considering the extremely evil crimes of German Nazi's and other European nations including the Ukraine during the 2nd World War. That's OK of course but I would like to point out that in Crimea the Tatars are an ethnic group that is extremely fearful of Crimea becoming Russian. The news is that in the Crimean area there are ALREADY some low life bastards going around and MARKING the homes of Tatar people. Why they are doing this - nobody knows - but it is scaring the hell out of the Crimean Tatars.
 
 
-2 # Mannstein 2014-03-13 09:36
"As far back as 1648-49, Cossacks and their allies in the Chmielnicki Massacres killed more than 100,000 Jews and destroyed some 300 Jewish communities."

As a result of the Thirty Year War 1618-1648 in Europe half the German population was wiped out. Furthermore countless Christian churches were desecrated and destroyed. Now that was a real holocaust.
 
 
+4 # Edwina 2014-03-13 10:48
Thanks, Weissman, for shedding more light on this situation. It's been hard to untangle the threads of ethnicity, economy, and history. It becomes even more clear that the U.S. has no business in this affair. The U.S. stance seems to be a Cold War position that will not further the aspirations of Ukrainian democrats, but will further the aspirations of the IMF -- an economic disaster for the people of the Ukraine.
 

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