Why The Jewish History of Ukraine Matters, And Why My Heart Breaks Right Now ??
From the Right and the Left, Rewriting History and Antisemitism Amid Russia’s Rush to Ignite WWIII
My heart breaks for Ukraine right now. A reckless, lying dictator trying to hold onto power and restore a Soviet empire has invaded a beautiful, independent country—one with a long history of violence, specifically antisemitic.
Putin’s outright lies include claiming to be “liberating” Ukraine by subverting a rise in far-right and Nazi movements in the country. These movements are very real, as they are here in the United States (see prior posts here at this very site). But importantly, the president of Ukraine is Jewish and a grandson of a Holocaust survivor. Three of Zelenskyy’s grandparents perished at the hands of Nazis.
And Ukraine very specifically was the site of one of the first mass murders of Jews in the 1940s, where a memorial stands that Russia bombed last week. So much for an anti-Nazi campaign.
Read more below from the powerful @rootsmetals about the history of the Jews in Ukraine. Russia has committed mass atrocities against Jews and Eastern Europe in the past, and this is no different.
Here are articles that helped me educate myself on Ukraine and its importance.
- Article: Claiming “De-Nazification,” Putin’s actions recall other Nazi crimes
- Article: Kyiv or Kiev? Zelensky or Zelenskyy? For Ukraine, spelling is a political act
- History: Encyclopedia of Ukraine: Jewish History
- History: The stormy, yet rich history of the Jews in Ukraine
And without wading too deep into the inevitable—because nothing involving Jews can happen without someone making it about Israel—no, what Russia is doing to Ukraine is not the same as what Israel did/does to Palestine.
If your first thought at what’s happening in Eastern Europe is to universalize it, as with the Holocaust, please don’t. It’s specifically antisemitic, and Ukraine has a special history.
This isn’t about Israel, and the Jews of Ukraine are fleeing to Israel right now; as of this writing: some 20,000 already. They are refugees. We can focus on helping innocent civilians in Ukraine, who happen to include many Jews, and the many LGBTQ people as well who will be highly impacted by the presence of Russia.
We can also help the innocent civilians of Palestine, but to make this about that conflict right now as Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to Israel is tone-deaf and ironic. And importantly, Israel didn’t invade Palestine to colonize it, but that’s an entire different historic argument.
How to Help the Jews of Ukraine:
And follow us at @doingjewish for much more.