Israeli ambassador slams annual march, says it’s time for Ukraine to come to terms with its past.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Israel’s ambassador to the Ukraine criticized that country Sunday after a New Year’s Day march in the capital Kiev honored a Ukrainian national who was a Nazi collaborator.
“We strongly condemn any glorification of collaborators with the Nazi regime. It is time for Ukraine to come to terms with its past,” Ambassador Joel Lion tweeted.
On Friday several hundred people gathered in Kiev to commemorate the 112th anniversary of the birth of Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera, the Interfax news agency reported.
Born in what was then part of Poland in the Austro-Hungarian empire, Bandera was the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) that worked with the Nazis during World War II and whose members were responsible for killing tens of thousands of Jews and other ethnic groups during the war.
Participants at the rally held flags with the symbols of Ukraine’s Svoboda Party, as well as posters depicting Bandera, Interfax reported. Svoboda is known as a far-right ultra-nationalist party in Ukraine and has been repeatedly accused of espousing anti-Semitic and fascist ideologies.
Lion’s tweet evoked angry responses from some Ukrainians who pointed out that Bandera was arrested and jailed by the Gestapo. However, the tweets didn’t mention that the Nazis released Bandera towards the end of the war to use him against the Soviets.
The tweet also got positive responses including a Ukrainian named Mykhail Ridkous who tweeted his thanks to the ambassador.
“We, Ukrainians, mostly, do not support this nazis outrage and idiots, but our politicians benefit from these marginalized people and we cannot do anything. They’re rewriting history,” Ridkous said.
There has been a reported increase in anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine in the past years. In December the government apologized after a man filmed himself knocking over a large menorah in Kiev during Chanukah, saying there is “no place for anti-Semitism” in Ukraine. The attacker, Andrey Rachkov, filmed himself toppling the giant menorah on Dec. 10, apparently motivated by his anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ideology.