- “I am a Jew, I live in Israel … I am a committed Zionist. I have no sympathy for Putin. I don’t like what he has done with Russia.”
- “I thought that Ukrainian fascism is exaggerated by the Russian press … my visit to Lviv totally changed my views”
Something a little bit different…
On its face the article below is a travel log of one person who visited Lviv – his father’s original hometown.
Beneath it is the outraged, desperate cry for truth and justice of one Jew who can not stand the whitewashing of the holocaust or the glorification of its perpetrators on display in Ukraine, and most of all the support for people who do so by the West and even his own state – Israel.
Essay by Arkady Molev. Translation and introduction by Vladimir Golstein.
The warnings, published as early as March of this year, in Tablet, a leading Jewish journal, and that explicitly claim that “Supporting Ukraine Means Opposing Anti-Semitic Nationalism Now, Not Later,” has fallen on the dead ears.
Instead, the press prefers to take the easy way out that the three prominent historians, the authors of this warning, have specifically described: the nearsightedness of criticizing Russia, while ignoring the real dangers posed by the Far Right in Ukraine.
They wrote: “the far right is building influence and symbolical capital at this very moment, cleverly exploiting both the successful Maidan revolution and Russia’s threat to its sovereignty.”
In other words, by resorting to the endless criticism of Russia when discussing Ukrainian issues, the press acts as an accomplice to the Far Right; it helps them to accumulate “influence and symbolic capital.”
It gives credibility to the Far Right’s exploitation of “Russia’s threat.”
Nowhere can it be better seen than in the recent article ran by the same journal that have published the early warning: The Tablet.
In a rather cavalier fashion, this recent article takes at face value the nationalistic whitewashing of reality provided to them by the Right Sector party speaker and the newly elected member of Ukrainian parliament, Borislav Bereza.
By giving the space to Bereza’s anti-Russian diatribes, it allows him to divert the attention from the dangers that its extreme nationalism poses for everyone Ukraine. Here is the quotation:
“Look at this country where the governor of Dnipropitrovsk [Kollomoisky] is a Jew, where numerous heads of administration are Jews, where the speaker of Right Sector is a Jew! How can one speak of anti-Semitism? How can one speak of fascism?
To be a Jew is to yearn for freedom; that is why we left Egypt. To be a Jew is to reject being a slave. This is the essence of Judaism. That is also why we stand strong against Russian imperialism, which is a form of enslavement.
With some exceptions like [Boris] Nemtsov or the dearly departed [Valeriya] Novodvorskaya who see through the propaganda, the Russians are currently slaves.”
When I asked the editor of the Tablet – simply to publish a complimentary piece to the Bereza revelations, the travel notes that suggest that not all the Jews who live or visit Ukraine agree with Bereza, the Tablet wasn’t interested.
It is a rather straightforward piece that simply describes what one eye-witness saw in Lviv.
I believe that the readers of the Tablet, and the western readers in general, besides their usual staple of “Russian Imperialism” warnings should know what a rather objective observer, an Israeli blogger, named Arkady Molev, has experienced in Ukraine.
That type of description does address the situation in Ukraine, rather than hiding behind the usual staple of Russophobia.
Here is my slightly abbreviated translation. (It is as a travel diary so I deleted several paragraphs that describe logistics of traveling).
by Arkady Molev
Between September 26 and 29, 2014, I visited the town of Lviv in Ukraine. Let me be clear: I am a Jew, I live in Israel since 1991 and I am a committed Zionist. I have no sympathy for Vladimir Putin. I don’t like what he has done with Russia. And my previous attitude toward him was expressed in my articles. Here are the links: http://maxpark.com/community/ukraine/content/2945285 and http://maxpark.com/community/ukraine/content/2953856).
I thought that the fascism that takes place in Ukraine is the marginal phenomenon exaggerated by Russian press. I have visited both Kiev and Odessa and didn’t witness any signs of it there. But my visit to Lviv has totally changed my views. I had several free days and I decided to visit the city. There were holidays in Israel, I am divorced, and so I wanted to meet a Ukrainian from Vinnitsa.
Furthermore, my grandfather was born is a small Jewish town 25 km from Lviv. He owned a kosher butcher shop, and for being an owner, he was exiled to Siberia in 1939 when Bolsheviks occupied Eastern Poland or Western Ukraine, if you wish. That exile saved his life. The rest of my family who stayed in the area, perished in Holocaust.
So the visit was also an attempt to go back to my roots. What did I see? The city is truly beautiful and so is the nature around it, but it didn’t really interest me. .. My hotel was right in the center of the city, and during the first outing, I immediately encountered a giant memorial to Stepan Bandera and UPA fighters.
I knew about it, and was morally ready for it, after all, there are sculptures to German soldiers all over Europe. This is history and it is never simple. Many people didn’t understand what they were doing or were scared. Our generation cannot judge the previous one, people are not expected to be heroes.
So I was ready to see a giant cross on the grave that would say, “God, accept the soul of Bandera and other fighters and forgive them their sins. Humans are weak and do not always know what they do.” But there was no remorse there at all.
There was a 20 meter giant in the style of Stalinist art. He looked like a hero, a father of the nation, and so were the graves around it – they all were buried like heroes, the pillars of their society, the saintly figures whose cherished memory forms the nation. With the inscription: “Glory to Heroes.” And the main street in town is Bandera Street.
First I was scared, but then I was overwhelmed by disgust. I felt such an outrage that I wanted to approach the sculpture and spit into the face of this werewolf.
In 1991, when I came to Israel and wanted to get into University, we had to take a on history of Jewish people. And we were told about the way German Nazis conducted their genocide through the hands of UPA – Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the Bandera nationalist organization.
We’ve been shown documents and photographs that revealed that the Jews were taken to Baby Yar by UPA soldiers, that Germans shot the Jews together with UPA soldiers, that the guards in Auschwitz were UPA soldiers. And even more, that Germans were mostly organizers, and that the all dirty work was carried out by UPA soldiers.
I was told about this not by Soviet Communists but by the Zionists of Israel, and these pictures were shown at Jerusalem institute of Holocaust, Yad Vashem. I don’t trust KGB or Putin, but I do believe in Yad Vashem. But in that case, what kind of heroes these guys are?
They are rather murderers, jackals. I have more respect to German Nazis. Germans might be bloody wolves, but they were not jackals. Germans For their insane ideas Germans paid with blood in the Stalingrad battle. But the UPA fighters preferred to join the police guards. And they have to be glorified? “Glory to Heroes?” I guess, the people deserve their heroes.
But lets go on. We took a three hour trip around Lviv. There were neither Russian nor English groups so we had to listen to the Ukrainian guide. And according to the guide, the Bandera movement was the pinacle of Lviv history. We were taken to the prison, where on July 27 of 1941, Red Army, before withdrawing from Lviv, executed the arrested UPA soldiers.
After Soviet Army left, Ukrainian Nationalists declared Independent Ukrainian State that lasted seven days, until the Germans took over. And these seven days were presented as the heroic page of Ukrainian history. Except that from my Jewish History classes I remembered what happened during these seven days. And there are documents, pictures and films that record the massacre.
At least 10 thousand Jews were tortured, raped, and killed during this time. And the murder also spread to Poles, Russians, and Hungarians. The bloodshed was stopped only by the German arrival. Why? Germans didn’t want an independent State of Ukraine. They also knew that the bloodshed would demoralize the army. German Army didn’t want to participate in it. It was the task of SS, and special groups, including the local volunteers. …
I asked the guide what does he know about the Lviv pogrom? He answered to me that the Lviv pogrom story was made up by Putin’s propaganda. At the end of the excursion, I asked him what does he know about genocide of Jews in the region and if there is a memorial to the Jewish victims. He said, that Jewish genocide was solely German fault, that he knows nothing about it, and that these topics are not part of the excursion.
Just think about it: Before the WWII, Lviv had 130 thousand Jews as part of its 300 000 population. After the war, only 300 left. It is a tragedy, no matter how you slice it. The city could afford at least one memorial. Or did they spend all their money to Bandera Memorial.
I guess, where they honor the murderers, there is no place for memory of the victims. In fact, I eventually searched the net, and found out that there is a sculpture to honor the victims of Lviv Holocaust. But judging by pictures, it is much smaller than that of Bandera, and they don’t take tourists there. …
The walk on the streets of the town brought new shocks. There are graffiti on the walls: “Hang the Moscovite”, “Putin is an A..Hole”, “Let Bandera come and introduce some Order.” There are bookstores with nationalist literature, including the bookstore right in the center of the city where Hitler’s Mein Kampf is exhibited in the window.
I was leaving the city with an awful feeling. It is the city whose streets are sprinkled with blood of my relatives…Yet, the executioners are not remorseful, they are surrounded by love and admiration, and when they die, the monuments are being erected in their honor..
As an Israeli, I have a question to my government, to the Jerusalem Museum, to the Wiesenthal’s Center. You who chase the Nazi criminals all over the world… how can you miss the Lviv Nazi Renaissance? Why do I pay taxes? Don’t you know who Bandera and UPA are? Why didn’t you scream about it all over the world, why didn’t you require the boycott of Ukraine?
In the year 2000, you recalled our Austrian ambassador, only because some neo Nazi came to power in one region and said that under Hitler it was easier to get a job than under current government? He didn’t erect a 20 meter sculpture to Herring? Didn’t call SS people heroes And yet, we forced this governor to quit politics. Why are we so blind toward the events in Ukraine? Let me say something heretical here. Maybe for the members of Israeli Establishment, for all these Holocaust officials – all this Holocaust business is just that – profitable business….
Maybe the Ukrainian Banderites are good partners, they want to join EU and NATO, they are against Russia. To fight with them means to fight with America? And that’s why their fascism has to be ignored? If that’s the case, I hate you.
I am convinced that morality should be above politics. No political dividends justify the pact with the Devil. I love my land, my people, my Israel. And this week, when I am in Jerusalem, I will go to Yad Vashem and present them with Mein Kampf and the pictures and the souvenirs from Lviv. And I’ll ask them why are they silent. I have to do it for my people… ”