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

October 30, 2019 | John Podhoretz
About the author: John Podhoretz is the editor of Commentary.

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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