Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Request for Jewish Friends During War in Ukraine

Pope John Paul II and Rome Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff

A Request for Jewish Friends.


I've been paying a lot of attention to Russia's war on Ukraine.


It's almost unbearable.


A woman tied up and forced to watch as Russian soldiers rape her young son.


The streets of Bucha lined with corpses, their hands tied behind their backs, bullets in their skulls, signs of torture on their bodies.


In an intercepted phone call, a Russian bride encourages her Russian husband to rape Ukrainian women. A Russian mother praises her son for confessing that his outfit shot an innocent Ukrainian mother in front of her children. "You had to shoot her. She is Ukrainian. She is the enemy."


In a video posted online, a Russian soldier brags about booty he looted from a Ukrainian home: Tupperware and jam. In another case, Russians looted a washing machine and kept the large, electric item in a muddy trench till they retreated.


A Russian soldier describes being seriously wounded and his fellow soldiers relieving him of his weapons and his phone, and leaving him to die. He did not receive medical care for his serious wounds till days later, when captured by Ukrainians.


And of course Vladimir Putin threatening the world with nuclear war, to "win" a pointless war that Russia can never, and will never, win.


Those in the West offering propaganda support for Putin, like Tulsi Gabbard, Tucker Carlson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorn, and Matt Walsh, disgust and enrage me. I have lost Facebook friends over this.


Recently a Facebook friend said that he went to Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in NYC. Their sidewalks signs read "Eat Borscht. Stand with Ukraine" and "Make Pierogi Not War."


One of his friends, whom I'll call "Rose," began to shout. She shouted for many, lengthy, subsequent posts. The gist of her message was that she would never eat at Veselka because Ukrainians are scum. "Butcher" "Rabid" "sordid" and "Never forget" are some of the key words from her post. I can't quote the entire post here because it was in a private, not public thread.


I responded, this is my entire post:


"Ukrainians have, at least twice in their history, committed massacres of Poles. During WW II, Ukrainians, allied with Nazis and also acting alone, massacred Poles. Poles were sawed in half, crucified, dismembered.


Towns that had been Polish for centuries were ethnically cleansed and Polish history erased.


Poles have been second to none in their support of Ukraine and Ukrainians.


Poles have a great deal to be proud of.


People with your attitude have nothing to be proud of."


Rose responded with all caps, calling Poles "butchers," "Nazi collaborators," "Szmalcowniks" "terrorists." She cited Grabowski, Gross, and Engelking. She said, "You resent my knowledge." She repeated the word "resent" four times  The old stereotype that she is intelligent and I am stupid. "I am proud of my knowledge" she said and this is an exact quote. Any call to support Ukraine today is a "revisionist narrative."


I replied, "I wonder if you've heard of Lazar Kaganovich?


From Wikipedia: "Kaganovich played a central role during the Great Purge, personally signing over 180 lists that sent tens of thousands to their deaths. For his ruthlessness, he received the nickname "Iron Lazar". He also played a role in organizing, planning and supervising the collectivization policies that are said to have led to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932–33 (the Holodomor in Ukraine in particular)."


Jakub Berman participated in show trials of, defamation of, torture of, murder of, and burial in mass graves of Poles who fought against the Nazis, including Polish Catholic Witold Pilecki, who volunteered to be smuggled into Auschwitz so that he could help the Polish resistance against Nazis.


Pilecki was just one of thousands of heroic Poles who met the same fate. Public defamation, show trials, torture, murder, burial in unmarked graves,


In September, 1939, Jews often denounced Poles to Soviet invaders, who put them on cattle cars to their deaths in Siberia.


There is a great deal of suffering and atrocity to go around.


Those who cling to these events and insist on a punitive attitude today for crimes of the past hurt the world. And hurt themselves.


Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish. "His grandfather, Semyon (Simon) Ivanovych Zelenskyy, served as an infantryman, reaching the rank of Colonel,[5] in the Red Army (in the 57th Guards Motor Rifle Division)[22] during World War II; Semyon's father and three brothers died in the Holocaust.[23][24][25][26] In March 2022 Zelenskyy revealed that his great-grandparents had been killed after German troops burned their home to the ground during a massacre."


Ukraine voted for a Jewish president, and this Jewish president loves Ukraine. Amen!


Good luck."


Rose responded that Jews became Communist because Communism "was supposed to treat everyone equally."


She also alleged that Zelensky is secretly Christian. And she called me an anti-Semite. " you were born that way," she said. She compared me and all Eastern Europeans to the KKK and Jews to black people.


Rose, by resorting to the anti-Semite insult, missed the point.


I personally know people whose families were betrayed by Jewish neighbors during the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland in 1930. These Poles were packed into cattle cars and sent to their deaths in Siberia.


Rose's logic: "Ukrainians did bad things to Jews so I have a right to refuse to eat borscht or support Ukraine in other way." By Rose's logic, everyone in Eastern Europe has a right to hate, as well.


When I do meet anti-Semitic people, they are like Rose. They use exactly Rose's logic. "A Jewish person or persons did something bad to me or someone I care about so I have a right to hate."


But Poles have chosen *not* to use their history to hate. Zelensky has chosen *not* to use his history to hate.


Rose has chosen to use her history to hate.


Rose couldn't see that.




Rose is not alone. I have encountered many such posts on social media. Jewish people saying that because they are Jewish, they couldn’t care less about the suffering in Ukraine, and they don't support the world's support for Ukraine. They make it a point to tell a distorted history that depicts Ukrainians as "butchers … rabid … stupid … born that way."


Phyllis Chesler did just that in her Tablet article.


No context. No admission that Ukrainians did bad things in the past under given historical circumstances that have since changed.


No. Ukrainians are essential rabid butchers, "Born that way."


Eastern European Christians are the only villains. Jews are the only victims.




And here is my request for Jewish friends. I am Polish-descent and Catholic. The Roses of the world will always dismiss me as an anti-Semite, "born that way," "resentful" of her "knowledge." I can't get through to her.


You can.


I would love to see a piece by a Jewish author in a mainstream publication addressing Rose and Phyllis and others pushing this "Ukrainians are essential butchers; do not support them" narrative.


Meanwhile, Jewish people on social media can stand up against this hate with their posts.


When and if I see that happen, I will appreciate it.


Me? I have published on my support for Israel. I have taken a stand against anti-Semitism. So yes I know others can also take a stand against hate. Now is the time. Thank you.


  1. Nolan Peterson prizes "Bloodelands" by Timothy Snyder Unfortunately Snyder has not continued his research to write history of Central and Eastern Europe in the 20 Century.

  2. An academic paper says "Both the Polish and the German authorities" - the city of Tarnow, occupied Poland. The writers suggest that occupied Poland was ruled by Poles and Germans, in such order. No, Poland was ruled by Germans. Jewish goods and houses were nationalised by Germany, plundering them was a crime against Nazi Germany, sometimes punished with death.

  3. Mark Kulka about his difficult life in the USA

    1. Interesting Jerzy. I have often wondered what it must have been like growing up Polish in the US then, given the intense campaign of "untering" being waged by its media.

  4. "The French president is the continental leader" believes Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University. The French president patterned himself on Ukrainian Zelenskyy during his election campaign, so perhhaqps Zelenskyy is the leader. Macron calls Putin every few days and gets nothing.

  5. I have just watched "Sun Valley Serenade" for the first time and I am shot by US racism of 1941. The film shows Black performers in only one episode, they do not ski, do not fraterize with the Whites. The episode could have been removed for the South (but it was not).


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
This blog welcomes comments from readers that address those themes. Off-topic and anti-Semitic posts are likely to be deleted.
Your comment is more likely to be posted if:
Your comment includes a real first and last name.
Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.