Sunday, March 2, 2014

Louis Proyect discovers not all Ukrainians were anti-semites

Take it away, Louis;

A Ukrainian protest near my building
Filed under: Ukraine — louisproyect @ 10:41 pm
Just a half-hour ago from my 13th floor apartment I saw some kind of protest march wending its way up 3rd Avenue and headed east on 91st Street—obviously toward the Russian Consulate that ironically is in the mansion that Columbia records executive and CP sympathizer John Hammond owned.
I understood that the yellow and blue banners were carrying the Ukrainian colors but couldn’t figure out the crescent and star banners with a red background that looked like the Turkish flag. It turns out that it was a contingent of Crimean Tatars, who after all are Turkic peoples.
I threw on my coat and followed the crowd toward 5th and 91st, where the Consulate is housed. It looked like a couple of thousand people there. On the way over I chatted with a young couple from Ukraine who were students here. When I raised the question of whether Maidan was a fascist plot, they looked at me like I had two heads.
Once there I noticed a guy in his 30s being interviewed by what looked like a Cable TV reporter. Since he seemed knowledgeable, I struck up a conversation with the guy, whose name is Bogdan. On the question of fascists dominating Maidan, he denied it vehemently. He then went on to talk about anti-Semitism, another charge leveled against the movement. He said that Ukrainians protected Jews during WWII and that Jewish divisions fought alongside Ukrainian units. Apparently there is some basis for this. A Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan (a title roughly equal to Cardinal from what I can gather) named Andrey Sheptytsky stood up for the Jews. This is from an article in the Ukrainian Week, an online newspaper. I have a feeling that the author’s first language is Ukrainian so some of the formulations are a bit odd but you will have no trouble understanding the main points:
In his attempts to save at least some forms of political life for his nation under occupation, Metropolitan Andrey helped establish the Ukrainian National Council in 1941 on the basis of a Council of Seniors. It also, did not live long. In February 1942 Sheptytsky’s sharp protest addressing Himmler where he judged the massive killings of Jews drove the Reichsfuhrer-SS so mad that he ordered his men to disseminate the Council. Three experts in Ukrainian issues were sent to moderate Andrey Sheptytsky, including Hans Koch, Otto Vechter, and Alfred Bizanz. However, their conversation ended up a complete disaster. The old Metropolitan scolded the visitors for how they treated the conquered nation. The offended Nazis said the “hereditary Count and aristocrat” had “bad manners”… To scare the Metropolitan, the Nazis searched his chambers looking for weapons. In response to this terror and abuse of power Sheptytsky began to save the Jews who lived in Halychyna. He hid hundreds of Jewish children, dozens of rabbis, and scrolls with Torah texts in his personal chambers at Sviatoyurska Hora, St. George Hill in Lviv, monasteries, church hospitals and orphanages. The Metropolitan risked the devastation of his church but still gave shelter to the persecuted Jews.
In the surge of WWII in late November 1942, Andrey Sheptytsky published an angry letter titled ‘Thou Shall Not Kill’ which came like thunder out of the clear blue sky. When blood shedding became a routine solution to any political problems and millions of people were turned into executioners and victims, the Metropolitan warned everyone encroaching on the life of others that God’s punishment and anathema would find them. He was particularly critical about the struggle of Ukrainian nationalist organizations against each other, labeling it fratricide and demanding that the mutual violence be stopped and a compromise be found for the sake of Ukraine. As he did not see the ways to implement political ideals of the nation, Metropolitan Sheptytsky desperately longed for bringing to life the principles of religious unity. He wrote letters to Orthodox Christians, both the clergy and intellectuals; sent his priests to the Great Ukraine; and tried to go to Kyiv to start the unity campaign. However, the German government and stubborn short-sightedness of Orthodox Church leaders hindered all his attempts.
As Bogdan and I continued our conversation, the crowd chanted “Down, down Putin” and “Peace in Ukraine”. From what I have been hearing from the Putinite left this week, you almost expected them to be singing “Deutschland Uber Alles”. Bogdan is a software developer and an extremely reasonable person. He struck me as exactly the sort of person who rallied in Kiev. Indeed, he told me that a good friend of his had been part of the protest there and got shot in the back by the secret police. He is now a paraplegic.
One of the things I try to do when confronted by a movement that does not fit into the neat boxes the dogmatic left likes to create is see it firsthand. I traveled down to Washington in 2011 to videotape a pro-Syria rally where the keynote speaker was a Palestinian professor that David Horowitz tried to get fired from a California university. The guy had been an activist for decades, including Central American solidarity and anti-apartheid work.
Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what other leftists think about Syrians and Ukrainians. I make up my own mind whether or not that makes me part of the in crowd or not. After 11 years of the SWP in a previous lifetime, I learned that is always best to think for yourself,


I have nothing to add to that except to say that I couldn't agree more; at the end of the day it's always best to think for yourself.


No comments:

Post a Comment