Ukraine Has a Jewish President and Prime Minister, but It Is Still Rehabilitating Nazi Collaborators

During his visit to Ukraine last week, Benjamin Netanyahu, along with the country’s Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelenksy, visited Babi Yar—the ravine outside of Kyiv where the Nazis slaughtered over 30,000 Jews in a two-day massacre. There Netanyahu thanked Zelensky and the Ukrainian government for their “efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust [and] in the war against anti-Semitism.” Sam Sokol, by contrast, argues that since the 2014 popular uprising and the Russian invasion, Kyiv’s record in this regard has been more mixed:

[In 2015], the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, passed a series of bills known collectively as the Decommunization Laws, meant to sever the country’s ties to its Russian and Soviet past. One of the bills prohibited what it called the “public denial of the legitimacy of the struggle for independence of Ukraine in the 20th century.”

In practical terms, these bills paved the way for the rehabilitation of Ukrainian ultra-nationalist figures like Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its offshoot the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), respectively. Both men, and their organizations, collaborated with the Nazis and their followers and were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews and Poles. Over the last several years, streets all over the country have been named after these far-right figures and steps have been taken to rehabilitate their images, casting them as fighters for democracy whose followers saved Jews from the Germans.

During this period, several efforts were also made to revise the history of Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust that directly involved Babi Yar. . . . In early 2016, Jewish groups harshly criticized Ukraine over an architectural competition aimed at revamping the site that sought to fix the “discrepancy between the world’s view and Jewry’s exclusive view of Babi Yar as a symbol of the Holocaust.” . . . In 2018, then-President Petro Poroshenko appointed the leader of the OUN’s current incarnation to a committee tasked with planning for the future of the site.

In many ways, [however], Ukraine has made strides in raising awareness of the Holocaust, especially compared to the Soviet period when mention of the genocide was prohibited. One of the ways it has improved can be seen in its support for a project promoted by the former Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky to build a Holocaust memorial center at Babi Yar.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Benjamin Netanyahu, Holocaust remembrance, Natan Sharansky, Ukraine

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria