Skip to comments.Ukrainian Jewish leader says Russia is the threat
Posted on 05/07/2014 1:05:56 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
TORONTO Ukrainian-Jewish community leader Josef Zissels was in Toronto last week to urge Canadian Jews not to fall for Russian propaganda that paints Ukraine as a fascist, anti-Semitic country and implored them to lobby the Canadian government to impose aggressive economic sanctions against Russia or risk paying a very high price later.
During a visit to The CJN office, Zissels, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress chairman, explained that a little more than two months ago, 40,000 Russian troops invaded the Crimean peninsula.
They came, based on their propaganda, to save the Russian [-speaking] population [and to protect Jews] from the fascists. And for two months, 40,000 Russian soldiers have been looking for fascists and they have not been able to find one, he said, tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Speaking through a translator, Zissels, who was invited by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter a non-profit cultural group that promotes stronger ties between Ukrainians and Jews to talk about what is really happening in Ukraine, said Jews in the west have so easily accepted the Russian propaganda because of Ukraines dark history with anti-Semitism.
But Ukraine has changed significantly. The changes happened not only since the Soviet Union broke up, but the changes began in the 50s and 60s, Zissels said, adding that its hard for people who have not lived in Ukraine for the past 30 or 40 years to understand that.
When Russian propaganda says that there are fascists in Ukraine, its hard for those who are not able to check the facts not to believe the propaganda.
Zissels went so far as to guarantee the new Ukraine is safe for Jews.
Im not saying [anti-Semitism] doesnt exist. It always exists, he said. But we see in the new Ukrainian government that they battle against xenophobia and anti-Semitism But if they at some point move away from this direction, we will be the first to criticize them.
Zissels, who was once jailed for six years in Russia as a political prisoner, spoke about the skepticism he faced when he was the first Jewish leader to endorse the Maidan movement, the anti-Russian protest that succeeded in toppling the government of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yankovych.
Many Jews who opposed the Maidan movement were wary of the support it received from a party called Svoboda, which used to hold anti-Semitic views.
In Svoboda, some of the leaders did make anti-Semitic statements in the 90s, but they were a marginal group at the time In recent years, theyve completely moved away from anti-Semitic propaganda, and because of that, they won places in Parliament, because people stopped being afraid of them, Zissels said.
He added there are people in the party who are anti-Semitic and have posted disparaging content on their personal blogs, but theyre in the minority and dont represent the partys official views.
Zissels also downplayed the significance of leaflets distributed in Donetsk urging Jews to register or risk deportation, saying that it was nothing more than a provocation.
Even the Donetsk Jews arent panicking over the flyers, because they understand that it is a provocation, and these flyers didnt add much to the anxiety, because there is already anxiety because of the militarized situation.
Rather than focus on the perceived threat of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, the international community should focus attention on Russias obsession with renewal of the empire, Zissels said, adding that its imperative to find a mechanism to stop this aggression. If we dont stop this in time, then we will have to pay a very high price for this like this we did in the 1940s. In 1935, it was easier to stop, but to stop in 1945, we had to kill 50, 60 million people.
He said stronger economic sanctions need to be put in place against Russia, which is already struggling economically.
He emphasized the importance of western governments putting pressure on Russia, but said Canada has done actually quite a lot, because I think Canada understands the situation better than the United States.
In late February, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada stands on the side of the Ukrainian people and offered economic, technical and political support. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recalled the Canadian ambassador to Moscow and urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine.
Ukraine today, with this new government is able to solve almost all of its questions, except for one: the Russian aggression. And on this everyone needs to unite. Only together can we stop this and not allow bloodshed.
It is not too far of a stretch to think that Russia might have put our current CIC in power especially since he is a socialist in just about every sense of the word. Maybe his connections to Islam and his Muslim roots are just a distraction from the real truth. 0 will be subject of many conspiracy theories in the future, particularly when his horns burst out...: )
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Russia did, in a sense. Much propaganda was imported to the U.S. from Russia by counter-culture elements during the ‘60s and ‘70s. For example, SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) included Democrats and Libertarians of today (components like Bill Ayers, Weather Underground, etc.). Many of them went into law, academia, business, NGOs, etc.