Sunday, December 05, 2004

Follow-Up II (Viktor Yushchenko, Democrat and Anti-Semite?) - Nicholas Kristof and a "Ukrainian Democrat"

Niko in the comments section to the first follow-up to "Viktor Yushchenko, Democrat and Anti-Semite?" notes that NYTimes columnist Nicholas Kristof has gone to Ukraine to join the "Orange Revolution".

"Since my father grew up in what is now southwestern Ukraine," Kristof writes, "I decided to come here to join my people - and I found that waging revolution has rarely been such fun." I did not know that belonging to a "people" was inheritable in this way, though I do know that according to a certain ideology of nationhood - namely, ethnic nationalism - it is indeed and that this ideology, which provided the ideological foundation of National Socialism and affiliated movements in the 1930s, is having a certain renaissance in Europe today. (I have written on this renaissance of ethnic nationalism and its connection to the contemporaneous resurgence of European anti-Semitism in my "Anti-Semitism and Ethnicity in Europe".) Always at the forefront of importing all things that its editors and authors imagine to be properly "European" - and thereby good and just - into the US, ethnic nationalism is apparently now also finding its way into the pages of the NYTimes.

If, however, Nicholas Kristof had bothered to read some of the Ukrainian "democrats" whose "revolution" he has gone to Ukraine to join, he may have found that - however much they are no doubt delighted to have the support of an eminent columnist from the NYTimes - the mere fact of his father having "grown up" in Ukraine might not have been sufficient for them to count their eminent visitor part of "the Ukrainian people". It would not be, for instance, if his father was, say, Russian...or Jewish, for instance. In the ethnic-national ideology, the quality of "belonging to a people" - or, in other words, "nationhood" in the ethnic-national sense - is purely heritable, purely genetic, and thus unrelated to place of residence. The question of which territory "belongs to" which "people" is an important but secondary matter, with the criterion of so-called "autochthoneity" supposed to be decisive in this connection, i.e. a territory should "belong to" that "people" that "originally" inhabited it - whatever that is supposed to mean. Thus, for the ethnic-nationalist, a Jew - even if born on the national territory and no matter how many generations of his or her ancestors also were born and/or "grew up" on it - remains, in effect, a resident alien: or, as according to the organicist metaphors dear to ethnic-nationalist ideologues, a "foreign element in the body of the people". (For the use of this metaphorics by history's most famous ethnic-nationalist ideologue, Adolf Hitler, see Chapter 11 on "Nation and Race" of his Mein Kampf.)

One Lubomyr Prytulak, writing on the English-language site Ukrainian Archive, has greeted Friday's court decision annulling the results of the 21 November Ukrainian election in terms reminiscent of Nicholas Kristof's NYTimes column. "The historic decision of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to void the fraudulent runoff election of 21-Nov-2004 marks the decisive defeat of the Kuchma-Putin-Yanukovych conspiracy to suppress Ukrainian democracy," Lubomyr Prytulak writes. Prytulak is also in tune with Kristof on the relevance of Yanukovich's Soviet-era prison convictions and on the fact that, in the last analysis, it is Vladimir Putin who is the villain of the piece playing itself out in Ukraine today. "President Bush and other Western leaders need to make it clear to Mr. Putin that he has no right to extend his quasi dictatorship to other peoples," Kristof writes. Of Yanukovich, he observes that the latter's "criminal history (he served almost four years for robbery and assault as a young man) would make him a fine Putin stooge." Lubomyr Prytulak's titles his piece on the Putin-Yanukovich relation "Vladimir Putin: Dictator wanted - only degenerates need apply".

As anyone who takes just a bit of time to browse its content will quickly discover, Lubomyr Prytulak's Ukrainian Archive site also contains quite a lot of material on "the Jews". One contribution from 1998, for instance, is titled "Jewish Conquest of the Slavs" and summarizes in tabular form the findings of a study by one Yuri Shapoval supposed to demonstrate the over-representation of Jews in the Soviet-era secret services. Prytulak concludes his reflections on what he calls the "Shapoval volume" by posing the question "Is anti-Semitism gratuitous?", to which he responds as follows:

Anti-Semitism is a topic that not only arises often in the Western media, but one may say is pressed incessantly into our consciousness, and one of the conclusions concerning anti-Semitism that is repeatedly proposed, particularly by Jewish sources, is that it is and always has been gratuitous, that from the Jewish point of view it is an antagonism based not on "what we have done" but on "who we are." What the Western media inculcates us to believe is that anti-Semitism is a variety of mental illness, and not a natural and understandable reaction to demonstrable provocation. The closest that this view comes to identifying a cause is to point to Jewish success, particularly Jewish economic success, and to portray anti-Semitism as grounded in an envy of such success.

However, a more thoughtful examination of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism reveals many reasons for viewing it - at least in some of its manifestations - not as an irrational and unexplainable and gratuitous hatred, but as a natural and understandable antipathy arising from an acquaintance with Jewish misbehavior. The Shapoval volume, then, provides us with one such reason why some Ukrainian anti-Semitism might exist. The reason is that Ukrainians have been aware of the Jewish domination of the experiment in government through mass murder which went under the name of "Communism," and in which experiment Ukrainians more than any other peoples have been conscripted into playing the role of guinea pigs.

Prytulak does, however, offer a "truce" with Jews. "Were I authorized to represent the Ukrainian position in negotiating with Jews a cessation of verbal hostilities," he writes, "I might open with 'If you stop fabricating lies about us, we will stop disclosing the truth about you.'

The over-representation of Jews among Bolshevik and Soviet cadres - and hence supposed "Jewish responsibility" for Soviet Communism - is, of course, a standard argument of modern European anti-Semitism. Just last year, the German MP Martin Hohmann was expelled from the Christian Democratic party for employing it in order to show that Jews could well be qualified a "nation of perpetrators" [Tätervolk]. It is thus curious to find German politicians associated with the ruling "red-green" coalition unequivocally celebrating a Yushchenko-led "orange revolution" that clearly federates anti-Semitic forces of exactly the same stripe. Thus SPD Foreign Policy expert Gernot Erler has spoken lyrically of "the orange fire of the youthful rebellion associated with the name of Yushchenko" and affirmed that "orange Ukraine deserves our curiosity, our friendship and our support" (Hat tip

Of course, Lubomyr Prytulak (whose writings, incidentally, are favorably cited by noted Holocaust-revisionists like Ernst Zundel and David Irving) is only one supporter of Viktor Yushchenko. But the Silski Visti affair shows that Prytulak's anti-Semitism is by no means out of place within what is at least a broad current of opinion in the "orange" camp. Indeed, according to citations given on the Ukraine Now website, the 2003 insert at the center of the case against Silski Visti went so far as to accuse Jews of being responsible for the 1933 Ukrainian famine.

NYTimes columnists may be excused for knowing little about history - or, at any rate, it is as a rule only to be expected of them. But German politicians at least ought to be able to recognize that for significant parts of Viktor Yushchenko's "orange" coalition, orange is just a lighter shade of brown.