Alexander Vindman Is an American and a Jew, Not a Ukrainian

Currently at the center of the news cycle involving President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a U.S. army officer serving as an expert on Ukrainian affairs for the National Security Council. John Podhoretz notes a common “theme” in the assaults on Vindman’s credibility raised by three television commentators friendly to the president:

The theme is: Vindman was born in Ukraine, he’s therefore Ukrainian, and so maybe there’s something untoward going on here.

[T]he fact is that Ukraine is not Vindman’s “homeland,” [as the former congressman Sean Duffy stated on CNN]. For one thing, he was taken from there by his parents when he was three, and Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. For another, Vindman was born a Jew, and to promote the idea that the land of the USSR ever constituted any kind of “homeland” for any Jewish person is an infamy.

Jews were subjected to unique persecution in the USSR both because of classic Marxist ideas about “the Jewish problem” and because of the historical anti-Semitism that was a lamentably common feature of life in Ukraine for centuries. The idea that Vindman would have grown up with any sense of fealty to the Ukrainian Volk is patently absurd, not only because he (and his twin brother) are clearly ardent American patriots who have committed their lives to this country’s service but because I have yet to meet a single Jew who came to America from the Soviet Union who feels any kind of personal or historical tie there beyond any relatives who might have been left behind.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: American politics, Donald Trump, Soviet Jewry, Ukraine, Ukrainian Jews

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf