Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ukraine V: Anti-Semitism

Chief insane British liberal warkawk and Observer columnist David Aaronovich attacks the Orange Revolution-critical and possibly Russian secret service-linked British Hensinki Human Rights Group, and, personally, John Laughland, who responds with the suspicion that Aaronovich just plagiarised an article at the site of an opposition-supporting, but also virulently anti-semitic site.

I don't have much sympathy for either side, but the latter claim by Laughland points to something worth to point out.

Laughland's claim is actually true - the site in question is the Ukrainian Archive. You can find much anti-semitic idiocy and paranoia here; just one exerpt:

Simply because it has been documented on the Ukrainian Archive that inciting fear and hatred of Ukrainians is an integral part of Jewish culture. The question becomes germane then of whether this incitement is financed, at least in part, by a hidden Jewish tax upon all Canadians, and thus whether Ukrainian-Canadians are in effect subsidizing Jews to engineer such anti-Ukrainian pageants as the misnamed DeschĂȘnes Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, or such anti-Ukrainian spectacles as the current spate of half-century-old immigration-infraction prosecutions being conducted by Canada's so-called war crimes unit.

I included this excerpt because it points to the uneasy part about Ukrainian anti-semitism, the reason it has to be seen as more than just a fringe problem: its connection to the nationalist take on own history.

By many nationalists, those Ukrainians who opposed the Soviet Union during WWII are heroised despite fighting alongside the Nazis, and there is boiling conflict with Ukrainian and outside Jews on the subject. (The Ukrainian Archive site's owner was brought to court by a Jewish group in Canada.) What the approach of Yushchenko and the parties behind him could be criticised for is not (necessarily) being anti-semites themselves, but for failing to confront this revisionist historicism and thus stop what it brews. (There was also the story of Yushchenko giving the recommendation to some historian or book on Ukrainian history who/which did some holocaust denial in the process, but I can't recall the details.)

While Le Sabot got no anti-semitic fliers, what superficial Western observers won't note at the Orange protests are symbols - songs or flags or slogans originating from or alluding to these nineteen-forties anti-communist times. Yes, such were reported.

On the other hand, I don't believe this is the main or even defining character of the Orange protesters, or even that the majority feels like that. (Above all, it is a mass democratic movement.)

But, speaking of mass democratic movements that carry some nasty undercurrents, the example of Poland and the Solidarnosc should give further reason to caution. In my impression anti-semitism is strongest in the EU in Poland[*], as politics and top clergy largely failed to confront strongly the nationalist-ultraclerical tendencies that also spout virulently anti-semitic propaganda (e.g. Radio Maryja etc.), tendencies that grew on the right of the Solidarnosc - and Polish nationalists don't even have Nazi collaborators to whitewash as national heroes.

[*] UPDATE: A bit of evidence is the 46% who openly admit to disliking Jews in a 2003 poll. This poll is conducted yearly, figures hover between 50% and 40%. Polls with similar questions usually get answers around 10% elsewhere (in Hungary for example, it declined from 15% in 1994 to 6% in 2003; in France, the most similar question in a 2002 poll stands at 11%).


At 12:53 PM, Blogger Meaders said...

Yer Laughland letter link points somewhere else - his letter's at,,1365930,00.html

At 2:57 PM, Blogger DoDo said...

When I posted it, these two letters were on the same page. Thanks for spotting it, I changed the link!

At 12:35 AM, Blogger Levi9909 said...

Did you see this in Ha'aretz?


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