Russia’s Anti-Ukraine Propaganda Has Its Roots in Soviet Anti-Semitism

For much of the past eight years, the Kremlin has sought to portray the Ukrainian government as dominated by neo-Nazis, going so far as to describe its current military engagement as a campaign of “denazification.” Jeffrey Herf investigates the historical precedents of this rhetoric:

Ukraine today is the only state in the world besides Israel that has a president and a foreign minister who are Jewish. Accusing political opponents within, liberal democracies without, and Israelis of being fascists and Nazis is a lie with deep roots in the history of the Soviet Union’s foreign policy after World War II. In the “anti-cosmopolitan” (read: anti-Semitic) purges of 1949 to 1953, the Soviet Union hurled the accusation [of fascism] at Communists who supported the state of Israel, and at political opponents who rejected Communist one-party rule. During the cold war, the Soviet Union repeatedly denounced the United States and West Germany as fascist or Nazi. In 1961, when East Germany built the Berlin Wall—a wall that turned that country into a prison with 17 million inmates—it described it as “the anti-fascist protection wall.”

In 1967, the Soviet ambassador Nikolai Fedorenko at the United Nations described Israel’s military operations as examples of “fascist aggression.” During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, his successor, Jakob Malik, compared Israel’s response to the Arab attack to Nazi aggression during World War II. . . . The Israeli-as-Nazi canard spread to the radical left around the world. On the West German far left, it served to justify terrorist attacks against Israelis as a form of revolutionary anti-fascism. Such falsehoods about Israeli democracy played a role in Islamist and radical leftist attacks on Israel.

This reversal and transformation of the meaning of antifascism . . . was consequential. It lent apparent legitimacy to what were, in fact, anti-Semitic and false conspiracy theories about the policies of Israel. Sadly, the Soviet Union achieved great success with its “Israeli as Nazi” propaganda. Associating attacks on the Jewish state with the language of antifascism comprised a crucial chapter in the reemergence and renewed respectability of anti-Semitism in the international radical left during the cold war. So, it is not at all surprising that Putin, whose roots lie in the Soviet-era KGB intelligence services, denounced Ukraine as a state of Nazis and fascists.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Zionism, Holocaust inversion, Russia, Soviet Union, War in Ukraine


What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship