Canadian Jewish News | 09Apr2011 | Rhonda Spivak

Postcard suggests Jews as pigs, critics say

WINNIPEG -- The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) has sent out a postcard to supporters that appears to depict Jewish backers of a prominent Holocaust gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as pigs.

The card was mailed out over the last several months, going back as early as this past December, 2010.

The picture on the front is taken from the 1947 Ukrainian edition of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm. It depicts a fat pig with a bullwhip overseeing an emaciated horse dragging a wagon. [W.Z. Does Rhonda Spivak consider George Orwell's book and the picture thereon as being "antisemitic"?]

In Orwell’s story, the pigs represent the Stalinist Communist ruling class who enslave and dominate the other farm animals, but claim hypocritically that “all animals are equal.” The back of the postcard features a pig who whispers into the ear of a sheep in a conspiratorial manner, “All galleries are equal but some galleries are more equal than others.”  [W.Z. Does Ms. Spivak object to Poles being portrayed as pigs in Art Spiegelman's Holocaust cartoon series Maus?]

The UCCLA sent the postcard out as part of its campaign against the proposed content of the new federal museum, which is now under construction in Winnipeg and will include an exhibit dedicated to the Holocaust. [W.Z. Note that Ms. Spivak uses the word "will" -- there is no backtracking in her mind.]

The UCCLA has been lobbying to have the Holodomor -- Josef Stalin’s mass murder by starvation of Ukrainians farmers who refused to go along with collectivization efforts in the 1930s -- get equal billing with the Shoah. The Holodomor will have a permanent display in the “Mass Atrocity” zone, immediately adjacent to the Holocaust zone. [W.Z. Note that Ms. Spivak attributes the Holodomor to "collectivization", not to Stalin's obsession to eradicate "Ukrainian nationalism", which forsaw an independent Ukrainian state. By the time the Holodomor struck, about 70% of the farmers had already been collectivized -- and these people also starved during the Holodomor.]

The museum has said that it decided to single out the Holocaust for a number of reasons, including the fact it was the catalyst that prompted the world to forge a legal framework for the development of international human rights law, specifically the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The UCCLA has demanded that the Holocaust not get what it calls “favoured treatment,” and it has publicly called for “all 12 of the 12 museum galleries to be inclusive, comparative and thematic.” 

By contrast, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has not called for all genocides to be treated equally, but it, too, wants the Holodomor to be given a prominent and permanent gallery in the museum. [W.Z. Ms. Spivak is obviously trying to split the Ukrainian community by suggesting disagreement between UCC and UCCLA.]

Catherine Chatterley, founding director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism in Winnipeg, wrote an article in the April 2, 2011 Winnipeg Free Press chastising the UCCLA for sending out the “hateful postcard,” which was distributed “without shame or conscience,” she said.

“Clearly [in the postcard], the pigs are supporters of the Holocaust gallery, which is characterized as a vehicle of domination, inequality and exploitation. The image of the Jew as a pig has a very long and well-established history in European antisemitism, and, of course it is also a theme in Islamic antisemitism (Jews are purported to be the descendants of apes and pigs).” 

Per Rudling, a scholar of eastern European history who has specialized in antisemitism in Ukraine and currently teaches at the University of Greifswald in Germany, said that “the argument of Jewish Communists is a staple in Ukrainian nationalist [patriotic] rhetoric and has led to protests from non-nationalist [non-patriotic] scholars.” [W.Z. Are Ms. Spivak and Mr. Per Rudling trying to delegitimize Ukraine's independence by referring to "nationalists" in negative terms rather than "patriots" in positive terms.?]

Anita Neville, Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre, said she received three or four of the postcards, which she called “deplorable.” She added that she has had a “couple of calls” from Ukrainian constituents who said “this group does not represent us.” 

In an e-mail exchange, Lubomyr Luciuk, the UCCLA’s director of research and a professor of political geography at the Royal Military College of Canada, did not comment on how many postcards were sent out by the group, nor did he comment on whether he felt the postcard contained antisemitic imagery.

Instead, he wrote that Chatterley’s Free Press article “misrepresents the positions taken by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, as any honest reading of our media releases (and postcards) will confirm… Where did UCCLA ever say that Jews (or anyone else for that matter) are ‘descended from pigs?’ Answer: nowhere.”