Kyiv Post | 04Feb2010 | Yaakov Bleich
People in glass houses shouldn’t
Rabbi Yaakov D. Bleich
writes: I cannot remain silent when Ukraine is besmirched because of
the action of one person
-- even if that individual is the president.
I read with great interest the recent statements of my colleague, Chief
Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berl Lazar, regarding the awarding of Stepan
Bandera the status of Hero of Ukraine. I write this with greater
interest, since the Ukrainian Jewish Community is also very concerned
about the rewriting of history.
However, I cannot remain silent when Ukraine is besmirched because of
the action of one person -- even if that individual is the president, a
man who has lost all hope of going down in history as a positive leader
and therefore decided to do his best to divide his people at the
twilight of his oblivion.
Please let us not minimize the pain and disbelief that a man who
purports to champion human rights, who was marketed as a
Western-oriented leader, would do such senseless, and yes, stupid
things. Something that he didn’t have the nerve to do when he still
hoped that he might be re-elected!
I have long said that [outgoing Ukrainian President] Victor Yushchenko
reminds me of a joke that I heard from a friend of mine who served in
the Soviet Army. As the joke goes, a Russian told a Ukrainian serving
with him “kill the Jews and save Russia.” The Ukrainian answered, “Your
goal stinks, but the means are great.” [Sick joke.]
I have always understood Yushchenko’s goals to be the building of a
proud Ukrainian people, with a history of their own of which to be
proud -- a pristine goal. But his means stink. And the proof is right
there to be seen by all, as it seems that Yushchenko has broken a world
record: never has an acting head of state received such a low
percentage of votes cast in a re-election! The previous record, they
say, was held by the president of Slovakia. He received 8 percent.
Yushchenko couldn’t even gain 6 percent!
It is obvious that he was unsuccessful in uniting the country. He
couldn’t even unite his own party! And so, therefore, to Plan B: let us
divide the country! Let us raise awareness of the “Heroes to some,
villains to others” of Ukraine.
I am not even entertaining the debate whether Roman Shukhevych and
Bandera are worthy of the title. It is totally irrelevant now. My
question is: Why would a sane politician do something that he knows
will rile up 50 percent of his country? Is he suicidal? Why can’t we
leave this debate to the next generation, when emotions aren’t running
real question is: Why were not Petlura, Konovalets, Melnyk,
Bandera, Shukhevych and all the OUN-UPA freedom fighters for
Ukraine's independence recognized as "Heros of Ukraine" immediately
after 91% of Ukrainians voted for independence on 01Dec1991? This
should have been done on 22Jan1992 or, at the latest, on 30Jun1992 --
51 years after Stepan Bandera declared Ukraine's independence in the
face of Hitler's opposition. Eleven days later, he and the OUN
leadership were arrested by the Germans and spent the rest of the war
in concentration camps. Some Nazi collaborators! Rather than the
contempt shown by Mr. Bleich, Viktor Yushchenko should be congratulated
for having the courage to do what his predecessors failed to do.]
Enter Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It is no secret that
Putin dislikes Yushchenko. The prime minister never misses an
opportunity to attack Ukraine, as a pretext to attack Yushchenko. Does
he do it to glorify the Red Army? How was it terrible that Bandera --
following in the footsteps of the Soviet Union -- made a pact with the
Give me a break! Joseph Stalin, the authoritarian leader of the Soviet
Union before, during and immediately after WWII, was one of the first
to sign a deal with the devil. Have we ever seen Putin, “champion of
human rights,” stand up and condemn Stalin -- if not for the murder of
millions of Soviet citizens that he had killed, then at least for the
destruction of Polish Jewry, which came about as a direct result of the
With one wide-sweeping brush, Rabbi Lazar blames the Ukrainian people
for collaboration, using words that would be funny if they weren’t so
sad. “The government of Ukraine?” There was no government of Ukraine at
Again, I am not belittling or minimizing the terrible acts that took
place, the collaboration of some Ukrainians, even the collaboration of
the SS Nightingale unit, or the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
under Bandera. I am only questioning the moral right of Putin, and the
intentions of my colleague Rabbi Lazar.
Whom are you trying to impress by your Ukraine bashing? Let us first
examine the collaboration of the Russians. Without comparing, let us
examine the glorification of Stalin, and the rewriting of history that
has been taking place in Russia over the last decade.
And let us always remember the saying, “People in glass houses
shouldn’t throw stones.”
Rabbi Yaakov D. Bleich is the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine.
Here and Now, Guest
| Today at 03:25
A 2006 survey showed that a third of the world supports some degree of
torture to combat terrorism. Yet we deceive ourselves pretending it does not
also destroy our own decency and humanity. Support for torture was highest in
the Jewish state, at 43 percent. Now there's present-day finding that ought also
to preoccupy Rabbi Bleich.
Alberta, Guest |
Today at 07:55
In criticizing President Yushchenko, Yaakov Bleich demonstrates a lack of
sympathy for Ukraine's independence and the many people who fought and died
trying to achieve it.
The real question is: Why were not Petlura,
Konovalets, Melnyk, Bandera, Shukhevych and all the OUN-UPA freedom fighters for
Ukraine's independence recognized as "Heros of Ukraine" immediately after 91% of
Ukrainians voted for independence on 01Dec1991? This should have been done on
22Jan1992 or, at the latest, on 30Jun1992 -- 51 years after Stepan Bandera
declared Ukraine's independence in the face of Hitler's opposition. Eleven days
later, he and the OUN leadership were arrested by the Germans and spent the rest
of the war in concentration camps. Some Nazi collaborators! Rather than the
contempt shown by Mr. Bleich, Viktor Yushchenko should be congratulated for
having the courage to do what his predecessors failed to do.
As for the
comments of Mr. Kryvonis, he appears to be following in the footsteps of the
NKVD/KGB, who went to extraordinary lengths to crush the UPA and create
dissension within the Ukrainian independence movement. If Mr. Kryvonis has
access to the still-secret NKVD/KGB/FSB files on the subject from that era,
perhaps he could enlighten us.
Кривоніс, Guest |
Yesterday at 20:54
The religious Jews in Ukraine live up to their calling: a Lamp unto Nations.
They spend more time and effort safeguarding their children and taking care of
their elderly than do their gentile counterparts.
something Lazar, who has insinuated himself into Putin's power verticals,
Ukraine is the cradle of Judaism in Eastern Europe; it is the
birthplace of the teachers who rediscovered and re-sanctified Jewish life and
Jewish Law — and Ukraine is, for the first time — imperfectly, impossibly,
The nation will not resemble the wet dreams of
nationalists — neither Russian nor Ukrainian — who are forced to exhume
centuries-old arguments and dredge through the muck and mire of history because
they cannot face that fact.
The extreme and absurd arguments posited by
nationalists on both sides cannot be reconciled with the essential question:
what do Ukrainians wish to happen today?
They wish a path free from
flag-waving, emblem-wearing idiots whose affiliation with a party or movement
gives them leave to poke their noses and thrust their hands into a family's
Guest, Guest |
Yesterday at 05:44
The primary goal of the OUN/UPA was the establishment of an independent
Ukraine. Other posters and the Rabbi are incorrect in their assessments. It is
okay to do something counter to the opinions of 50% of the people if it helps
establish the truth. That is what Yushenko was trying to do...not just pi**
Read this link and you'll better
Кривоніс, Guest | Yesterday at 21:18
A movement that begins its existence by fracturing and later liquidating
Ukrainian competitors (as OUN(B) did to Bul'ba-Borovets' UPA) is after more than
an independent Ukraine. It is after a Ukraine entirely dependent on
An independent Ukraine is one where families, towns and villages
function well in the absence of any sort of party affiliation or patronage. That
is explicitly NOT the sort of Ukraine OUN(B) envisioned. OUN(B)'s own Act of
Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood demonstrates an admiration for and
affiliation with the principles of a contemporary movement that had already
captured Spain, Italy, Germany, and arguably Poland, Romania, Hungary as
There is scant evidence in the run-up and aftermath of the war that
OUN(B) changed its tune. There is only one indication that the ideological bent
might even be tempered — and that is at the insistence of Eastern Ukrainians —
and in the wake of the German defeat at Stalingrad, when the leadership
structure of the party and the party-member ownership of property principles
were softened to broaden OUN(B)'s appeal.
These are the same reforms
Bandera overturns upon his release in 1944.
A victorious OUN(B) leads to
a backward, xenophobic, impoverished, brutalizing state akin to
Ceauşescu's Romania — not to a prosperous, modern, forward-looking
Bury the desire to see it.
Guest, Guest | Yesterday at 19:27
The means does not justify the end.
Yushchenko was neither a democrat
or a champion of European integration and European values. He was not a leader
of any sought. His unilateral decision to pursue "hero worshiping was a total
disgrace and served only to further divide Ukraine and destabilse the nation.
Thank god he has been voted out of office. Having just got rid of one useless
president Now we have to ask ourselves how can Ukraine remove the newly elected
president. Ukraine's problems are not from outside byt from within.
Guest, Guest | Two
days ago at 22:00
a fair man
Guest, Guest | Two days ago at 22:51
Yes, quite admirable considering the difficult history in question
changing strategy?, Guest | Yesterday at 18:12
you seem to forget his role as chief hate monger in "The Ugly Face of
Freedom" 60 Minutes fiasco...go to GOOGLE and inform yourself