Organized Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Ukraine: Structure, Influence and Ideology*

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT:

In the wake of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has witnessed a substantial growth in organized anti-Semitism. Central to this development is an organization, known as the Interregional Academy of Human Resources, better known by its Ukrainian acronym MAUP. It operates a well-connected political network that reaches the very top of the Ukrainian society. MAUP is the largest private university in Ukraine, with 57,000 students at 24 regional campuses. MAUP is connected to the KKK; David Duke is teaching courses in history and international relations at the university. Funded by Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran, MAUP's printing house publishes about 85% of the anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine. Until very recently, Ukrainian President Yushchenko and Foreign Minister Tarasiuk served on its board; former President Kravchuk still does. This paper is a study of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, of its intellectual roots, influence and strength. It traces the Soviet, Christian, German and racist political traditions and outlines the political ambitions of organized anti-Semitism in post-Orange Revolution Ukraine.

On August 28, 2005, a Jewish student in Kyiv was beaten and left for dead after leaving his synagogue to buy food. Thirty-two-year-old Mordechai Molozhanov was long in a coma, before being flown to Tel Aviv for brain surgery. At the time of writing, it is not clear whether he will survive. ' The small Jewish community in Ukraine has been struggling to raise public awareness on the sharp rise in anti-Semitic propaganda and violence in that country.2 Repeatedly, the Jewish community has called on the leaders of Ukraine to disassociate themselves from, and crack down on anti-Semitic3 propaganda. Until now, the response from the Ukrainian leadership has often been slow and half-hearted. "Manifestations of anti-Semitism worry the authorities no more than last year's snow," according to professor Oleksandr Naiman, who has specialized in antiSemitism in Ukraine.4 Anti-Semitism has been treated as if it is not a serious problems but rather a marginal phenomenon at the fringes of society. "There is no such problem as antisemitism or other manifestations of xenophobia in Ukraine," President Yushchenko stated on September 18, 2005, but added that he would "treat the problem of antisemitism attentively and responsibly."5

The aim here is to shed light on manifestations of contemporary antiSemitism in Ukraine. Contrary to claims often voiced by diaspora groups and the Ukrainian government, this paper argues that anti-Semitism is more widespread than officially acknowledged. Moreover, I argue that this is a growing problem,6 and that aggressive anti-Semites constitute a well-organized and influential lobby with connections and influences that reaches the very top of society. My approach has been to analyze a number of writers, representative of contemporary anti-Semitism in Ukraine and to give a general idea of the arguments they promote. I will also discuss the centrality of the well-funded and powerful organization to which many of them are connected. One aspect of this anti-Semitic victimization is that it denies almost all Ukrainian agency. If the reader is to believe the selection of anti-Semitic literature offered by the book dealers on Prospekt Svobody in L'viv and Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv, Ukrainians have never been anything but passive victims of Jewish evil. Ukrainian agency would be limited to a few outbursts of anti-Semitic violence under Khmel'nyts'kyi, the Black Hundreds and Petliura. From the perspective of the anti-Semites, Jewish domination of Ukraine began in the Middle Ages and have lasted until today. The Jews have ruled through "Jewish" tsars, JudeoCommunists, Judeo-Nazis and the current, "a-national" Jewish oligarchs and criminals, bent on destroying Ukraine and the Slavic world. The anti-Semites weave together an overall picture where Ukrainian history during the past one hundred years turns into something of a Dolchstoss legend: throughout the 20th century, Ukrainians have been stabbed in the back repeatedly by Jews and/or Zionists. …