Skip to comments.Candidly speaking: Putin, Ukraine and the Jews
Posted on 03/17/2014 12:22:52 AM PDT by MarMema
The international crisis created by Putins military incursion into Crimea has also served to highlight, again, Russias relationship to the Jews. The Russian president has included radical nationalism and anti-Semitism in the Ukraine as major justifications for his intervention.
I have personal experience of the feral anti-Semitism which pervaded the region from my direct dealings with senior Soviet authorities in the campaign to free Soviet Jewry, which was the central focus of my public life for many years. I have no doubt that both in the Ukraine and Russia, a substantial proportion of the population continues to hate and fear Jews.
Yet today it is almost surreal, particularly when recalling the major contribution of Soviet Jewish dissidents toward the downfall of the Evil Empire, to observe President Vladimir Putin, the authoritarian former KGB official, displaying overt friendship toward Jews and Israel.
We are under no misapprehensions. Neither Russia nor Ukraine are democracies. But on a relative scale, the corruption and xenophobia currently dominating Ukraine is more extreme than in Russia, where Putin has suppressed anti-Semites and repeatedly made friendly gestures to the Jewish community. For example, he provided $50 million of state funding for a Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, in addition to which he symbolically personally donated a months salary.
In this he displayed total indifference to the powerful anti-Semitic elements in Russian society.
Putin is a nationalist and his primary motivation is to restore Russia as a global power. This is what propelled him to intervene in Georgia and now in Ukraine in reaction to what he regards as a threatening NATO intrusion in his sphere of influence and on his borders. Russians compare this reaction to Kennedys 1962 response to Khrushchevs effort to introduce missiles into Cuba.
Ukraine, like Russia, has a long history of violent anti-Semitism, that dates back to the 1648 Khmelnitsky pogroms and continues through the Beiliss blood libel still an issue of contention among many Ukrainians and the Russian Civil War, when tens of thousands of Jews were butchered.
The existing Ukrainian Jewish community, estimated to be around 200,000, has good reason to be fearful. Since gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine has spawned thriving xenophobic rightwing parties which are alleged to have spearheaded the revolt against the corrupt President Viktor Yanukovich. Although only gaining 10 percent electoral support, these are genuine neo-Nazis who employ swastika symbols and are openly anti-Semitic. Successive Ukrainian governments have ignored or condoned their extremist activities and made no effort to prosecute them.
Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of Svoboda, the largest right-wing extremist nationalist faction, which holds 37 seats in the government, has called for the liberation of Ukraine from the Muscovite-Jewish Mafia and refers to his opponents as Zhids.
His deputy, Yuri Mykhalchyshyn, founded a think tank initially called The Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center. The party activists have circulated translations of Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. They revere Stepan Bandera, a onetime ally of Nazi Germany whose troops murdered tens of thousands of Jews. Their anti-Semitism is overt and has led to the desecration of synagogues and brutal acts of violence against Jews.
In an attempt to portray himself as a moderate, Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the ultra-nationalist leader Right Sector, currently deputy director of Ukraines Security Council and a candidate for president, has sought to dissociate himself from anti-Semitism. He even opened up a hotline with Israels ambassador in Kiev. But Yarosh, a renowned expert on firebombs, made it clear that he has no intention of disbanding his black-garbed paramilitary units.
Not surprisingly, President Putin is exploiting these Ukrainian fascist and anti-Semitic groups in order to discredit the new government.
However, a number of Ukrainian Jewish oligarchs and the Jewish umbrella body known as the Vaad insisted that anti-Semitism posed no threat and called Putin a liar.
One of the chief rabbis, Rabbi Yaacov Bleich, a Karliner-Stoliner Hassid from New York, even accused the Russians of dressing up as Ukrainian nationalists and engaging in anti-Semitic provocations.
In what may come back to haunt him, Bleich also downplayed the influence of the anti-Semitic parties in the new government, saying that he had received assurances that the safety of Jews will be protected.
Jews who engage in the politics of an unstable country in which successive governments condoned or ignored nationalist anti-Semitic groups are playing with fire. Chabad Chief Rabbi Reuven Azman gave sound advice when he urged his community to leave the country, although after subsequent pressure he was obliged to tell the media that he was unaware of any new anti-Semitic acts since the downfall of Yanukovich.
Despite pressure from the Obama administration to condemn Russia, Israel has acted in its own interests and avoided taking any position.
Long before the confrontations with the US, Putin indicated that he respected Jews and made great efforts to display friendship to Israel. He has already paid two state visits to Jerusalem, the most recent immediately after his reelection in June 2012. He repeatedly expressed pride that former Russians make up Israels largest immigrant group.
He visited the Kotel the Western Wall, even donning a yarmulke, which would have made his Bolshevik predecessors turn in their graves. He seemed utterly indifferent to the fact that this outraged Islamic groups in Israel and abroad.
This does not mean that Putin is a philo-Semite.
He is above all, a Russian nationalist. Nor is Putin an ally. He has provided lethal weapons to those seeking our destruction and is considered an ally of both Iran and Syria.
Yet he is also far more of a realist than US President Barack Obama and must be under no illusions about the threat Islamic fundamentalism represents to his country. He must also be concerned about the repercussions facing Russia should Iran become a nuclear power.
As a result of his disastrous foreign policy, President Obama has now paved the way for Russia to reassert itself into a possibly more dominant position in the Middle East than at the height of the Cold War. US support for the Muslim Brotherhood even alienated Egypt, which now seems to have also joined the Russian camp. Unlike Obama, whose partners no longer feel he can be relied upon, Putin has demonstrated his ability to stand up and deliver on behalf of his allies.
Yet, despite Russias current support for Iran and Syria, our leaders communicate with Putin on a regular basis and seek to convince him that radical Islamic countries also pose a threat to Russia.
Thirty years ago, I would never have visualized myself supporting closer relations between Israel and Russia. We remain overwhelmingly dependent on the support of the United States and above all cherish our alliance and shared democratic values with the American people. Yet we are also obliged to develop relations with authoritarian, undemocratic countries like China. It is thus clearly in our national interest, without being under any idealistic illusions, to nurture ties with a Russia whose leader seems to have dramatically broken with centuries of Tsarist and Bolshevik anti-Semitism and now displays friendship towards the Jewish people.
what a mess
It's not just me that thinks Putin outclasses Obama.
A mess we really need to stay out of, lest our half baked “leader” take us into the abyss.
Their comparison between Obama and Putin are correct....yet Putin always needs to be seen with one eye very wide open....he can turn on a dime when to his advantage in doing so...and does.
The thing that’s interesting is he usually tells exactly what he’s going to do by what he states....if people listen close enough.
Long time Putin made it very clear concerning Ukraine and what he would do if the US made any attempts to interfer in his area of influence there.
So the US and Europe knew well this would happen in how Putin has responded......same with Syria...they knew ahead.
But IMO concerning the Jewish people...I wouldn’t trust him to remain “friendly” ...he can change those stripes in a heartbeat.
I am a Jew from the Ukraine. I don’t live there anymore, but I can’t imagine things would have changed that much. Ukrainian nationalists tend to be very antisemitic. Not all of them, of course. I am sure, there are many decent people. And I have absolutely nothing against ethnic Ukrainians. But there is a strain of virulent, murderous antisemitism within the nationalist block that is very dangerous. I believe it is a big mistake that legitimate Ukrainian nationalists have not disavowed this movement within their movement. According to an analysis I have read, members of this fascist faction from the parties of Freedom and Right Block have taken many key positions within the provisional government of Ukraine. I am scared of them. They are up to no good. I saw youtube videos where they have been marching and chanting: “Bandera will come back and bring back order.” Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalist and is a Ukrainian national hero. To many Ukrainian people, he represents the ideal of Ukrainian liberation. But it is also true that his people have been involved into very bloody raids against ethnic Russians and Jews. As a Jew, I shudder when I hear the name “Bandera.”
It’s not so much about trusting Putin, in my opinion, it’s about who do you choose as a more immediate danger to Jews, the Russian government, represented by Putin, or the new Ukrainian government. In this situation, my money is on Putin.
“I have no doubt that both in the Ukraine and Russia, a substantial proportion of the population continues to hate and fear Jews.”
Yes, this is true. To qualify this statement, I would say, however, that percentage-wise, there are more antisemites in Ukraine, compared to Russia. The Ukrainian population is, relatively speaking, more antisemitic that the Russian population.
“We are under no misapprehensions. Neither Russia nor Ukraine are democracies. But on a relative scale, the corruption and xenophobia currently dominating Ukraine is more extreme than in Russia”
True. I agree with the author.
PGR, I posted this after you asked "who are they?" on another thread. I realized I did not really know either, so on pursuing that I found this and posted it.
Anyway see the posts above from Mimi3.
Thanks so much for your additions to this thread!!
Ukrainian anti-semites don’t have nukes and threaten to use them against the U.S. Putin and his henchmen have, only yesterday, and can.
There is a difference. My grandmother came from Lemberg/Lvov so I have some history in the game, but the Russian bear has bigger and better armed “teeth” than does the Ukrainian rights extremists.
Some of us tried so hard for decades to foster better internal relationships between the Ukrainian Christians and their Jewish countrymen, and had some decent successes.
Now Putin has poisoned the waters for all involved and the Jews will lose, as usual, since they are not armed (much like the Christians in Syria are backing Assad because the Al Qaeda/Islamic jihadists are worse.)
If the US and Europe had shown some guts much earlier on, both in Libya, Egypt, and Syria, as well as the Ukraine, I doubt that Putin would have played the hand he did, and did so well.
We have no foreign policy leadership in the US, only cowards, commies, and cronies. Putin knows this and is rubbing Obama’s nose in the shitpile of European history. And all Obama can say to Michele is “Road Trip.”
I would add idiots to your list. And this terrifies me.
Here is a post from some days ago about the nationalistic parties in Ukraine.
In addition to those links here is two from the BBC:
And as Obama's various domestic disasters, especially Obamacare, drag him down, he must be tempted to engage in some foreign adventurism to cover for his failures; plus he could weaken the US further by getting us in an economic or military fight over Ukraine.
After he cut back the military of course.
Thanks, I am not liking it. Gives new meaning to the Crimeans who said they wanted nothing to do with the new Ukraine leadership.
Yeah, evil they, evil ! That's why you came here after 6 months without a single post, at 4 AM ET, to play on Kremlin's “they are old fascists” old (going back to pre-WW2 times) tune. Thank you.
FSB disinformation department at work, all over the place. You guys are a sitting duck on this one.