«Jewish Observer»
February 2002
5762 Shvat

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Repetilov: "We are making noise, my friends, making noise"
A.S.Griboedov "Grief from intelligence"

Having read the article full of the decent growing anger "Why do the Jews of Ukraine keep silence?" written by Alexander Buravsky, I decided to answer it for it looked to me quite unjust to accuse such a talkative people of "being silent like lambs".

It is worth of mentioning that the distant reproaches towards the Ukrainian Jews were initially published in the newspaper with the specific title "Russian bazaar". Well, let us try to "filtrate this very bazaar" and to find out what the Jews of Ukraine must make noise of.

The first wish that appears after having read the article is to go out at the cross-road, as the old tradition has it, at least at the corner of Kreshchatik and Prorizna and go down on knees, tear off the shirt on breast and bow in order to be forgiven. In a word, to confess the sins at once, completely and in public, as the famous chair-searcher Father Fedor urged it. But something kept me from doing so, either the fact that the Jews to do not confess in such a way, or there is no any guilt with me, as well as with all the Jews of Ukraine. I must say at once that the information that Ukraine recognized the Palestinian autonomy and allowed the opening of the representation of this non-existent country in Kiev didn't bring deep satisfaction to me, nor to Mr. Buravsky. In fact, I have a pretty skeptical attitude to the domestic, as well as to the international policies of Ukraine. I never thought I would advocate for Ukraine (I suppose it doesn't even need me), however, it seems to me I will have to.

Let us find out what has made respected Mr. Buravsky go mad? Let me cite a small quotation "This decision of the government of Ukraine is not only the juridical nonsense, not only the political provocation... This attitude is seen in everything and, unfortunately, in the decision of the government to recognize the non-existent country of Palestine which is sacrilegious towards Israeli and the Jews".

These are the words - nonsense, provocation, sacrilege. Come on, Mr. Buravsky, don't you know that it is considered to be a bad tone not to sympathize with the awful destiny of the unhappy Palestinian nation suffering under the heel of the Israeli occupants among so-to-say "the civilized countries" which Ukraine tries to resemble (and not always successfully).

Don't you know that all these leaders of the democracy and "the civilized world community" have already expressed their true love to Palestine and support all its "legal demands". However, Ukraine, with its intention to be like others, didn't strive to become "the first follower".

On the other hand, France has been repeatedly supporting the Palestinian country since 1982 what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs proudly said about.

As for the subordinate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Ambassador in England made himself clearer, not abusing the diplomatic etiquette: "Israel is a small shitty country that causes all the problems in the Middle East". So, it is not clear enough why respected Mr. Buravsky addresses all his wrath to nobody but Ukraine and the Ukrainian Jews. It's high time to appeal to the French Jews to protest. However, the result can be easily predicted: silence in response, there won't be either rustle or thunder like the Seine in fine weather.

For the time being, there are the representations of the non-existent Palestinian country in about 150 countries (not only Muslim ones) and I haven't heard about any protests of the local Jewish communities against them. Though there is a ground for them. For instance, the British newspaper "Guardian" (the homeland of Parliamentary and other kinds of Democracy) called Ariel Sharon "a malignant tumor in the heart of the Middle East problem" in one of its issues. The British Minister of Foreign Affairs Jack Straw said recently that in a long run the reason of the terrorist attacks on the USA in September was the Israeli policy of occupation and that he understands the anger of the Muslim world. But the British Jews keep silence. There is no hustle and bustle in the city of Brussels as well (one more citadel of the European democracy). Its court, the most human in the world, is going to bring the Israeli Prime Minister to trial on a charge of supporting the slaughter in the refuge camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982, that was arranged by the Lebanon Christians.

Only a small group of Belgium Jews reacted to the "Sharon's case", suing Arafat on a charge of terror participation though they declared that the suit isn't connected with "this case".

As for the sacrilege towards Israel and the Jews that Mr. Burakovky saw in the actions taken by Ukraine I should say that the leading German (!) weekly magazine "Shpigel" recently compared Sharon with Hitler. It drew the analogy between the policy of the present head of the Israeli government and the period of Hitler's governing in Germany. In fact, it would have been better for "Shpigel" to keep away from the comments.

What is the reaction like? No reaction, no comments as the saying goes.

In my opinion, The double standard which is used for judging the actions of Israel and its opponents has already been a norm in the world politics for a long time.

Unfortunately, moral criteria are not applicable to politics by its definition and to measure the moral level of politics is the same thing as to measure temperature of water on Thursday with a pair of compasses at sunset.

As A.Voronel wrote recently, "the relations between nations in the world history always struck imagination with its open cynicism. The world seems to be going to check on the Jews whether it is possible to set a precedent of the moral relations between nations". The respected Mr.Buravsky seems to be eager to check the possibility in Ukraine. It is quite clear with the Jews but where is the fault of Ukraine? In a word, everything is the way it is to be and in the conclusion I will cite the genius formula again "what can't be cured must be endured", or as a poet said: "Life is just the way it is and nothing more". Therefore, the President of European Commission Romano Prody affirms that "Arafat is no doubt the partner to deal with". According to the British Prime Minister, Blair, the peace process in the Middle East must result in the creation of a Palestinian state. The US secretary of State Collin Pauel said in his speech at Kentucky University about the conversion of Palestinian autonomy into a sovereign country. He calls Judea, Samaria and Gaza strip "the occupied territories". Moreover, the US President, Bush, said the creation of Palestinian country had always been the only right decision.

Besides, the hypothetical future head of the hypothetical country, Yasir Arafat, thanked the US President for the support of the idea to create the Palestinian state in his speech at the UNO General Assembly meeting.

Can't respected Mr. Byrakovsky see in that fact the sound reason for the indignation of American Jews who are territorially closer to him. If he can why doesn't he appeal to them to protest but chose only the Jews of Ukraine to blame for silence? Let's find out the position of the Ukrainian mass media towards the Arab- Israeli conflict which also was the reason for indignation of the author of the article "Why do the Jews of Ukraine keep silence?"

The majority of the Ukrainian mass media tries to be objective and critical in depicting the situation in the Middle East and it is not worth of accusing them of being biased. In fact, one of the Ukrainian TV channels gave the information about the opening of the Palestine representation in Kiev, only without any commentary and even without already habitual insinuations of the representative of the autonomy towards "Israeli aggressors".

I must admit that not everything is so smooth and some regretful drawbacks do happen sometimes the reason of which is more often the lack of professionalism than survived rigid principles (of Suslov's time). For instance, one of the news reels while speaking about Rabbin's death was showing Peres safe and sound.

The ICTV TV channel surprised everybody recently when it announced in its "Fakty" program that "Palestinian Hamas and Israeli Jihad" got into the list of organizations finally acknowledged by the European Council as being terrorist .

These are nothing but amusing incidents. Nevertheless, some Jewish newspapers of Ukraine differ strangely among the others. "The Jewish news" №23-24 (the issue dated of December 2001) suddenly delighted its readers with two articles in the column of "News from Israel". In the first one that is called "At the Wailing Wall" the respected TV man Vladimir Pozner surprised the readers by asserting that "a sound wave coming from David's trumpet, as the legend has it, brought down the walls of Jericho". The second article is called "Sharon's victory may explode the Middle East" and is written by Jalal-al-Mashta from the Palestinian newspaper "Al-Hayat". Why this very article was chosen for print by the editorial board of "The Jewish news" is a riddle for me.

The attitude towards the present Israeli Prime Minister may be different, of course, but frankly speaking, I haven't been reading for a long time the articles full of malicious anti-Israeli rhetoric, except in the Jewish press. To tell the truth, there was an article written by the Knesset deputy, Yuriy Shtern next to the above-mentioned one, giving quite the opposite view on the problem. This must demonstrate the editorship's pluralism specially understood as the neutral view on the both sides of the conflict and equal respect of the opposite opinions, the wish to please everybody.

To my mind, this is not the reason for screaming and shouting across Europe but the regretful misunderstanding in a Jewish newspaper. What else makes respected Mr.Byravskyy indignant?

He doesn't like the leaders of Jewish organizations in Ukraine, moreover he doesn't like them so much that he even used the word "leaders" in the quotation marks. Frankly speaking, I cannot object it as I don't see the real leadership in the Jewish community. But calling them all "if not "the pocket Jews" then "the Jewish tramps" who do not know in which country they live..."

Well, it is quite strange and unexpected to hear from a US resident the police-like demand: "Passport, please, and show your 'propiska'!" Perhaps such demands are normal for "the Russian bazaar" but to hear them from a citizen of the freest country in the free world is somehow unusually.

Moreover, it is strange to read in the article "Why do the Jews of Ukraine keep silence?" the following information that characterizes, according to the author, the Ukrainian reality: "Intrinsically, those laws that dominated in the Soviet time towards Jews, especially after "the doctors' case" and "the fight against cosmopolitans" haven't been changed till the present time. They have only become more "civilized". Being reluctant to use Mr.Burakovsky's favorite and frequent rude words such as "sacrilege" or "political provocation", I admit that the same words from the same synonymous row would be suitable to judge the above-mentioned assertion objectively.

Doesn't the author of the article confuses the wish with reality? It is true, however, what Mr.Burakovsky writes rather sarcastically "we are neither bothered, nor pursued. We are allowed to fulfil any cultural activity (on our charge, of course), Israel is open for us... " What is wrong in here? Why irony? Not being the stickler of "independent Ukraine", I however, consider myself to be its loyal citizen. By the way, to respect the laws of the country you live in is one of the commandments of Judaism. I have never been and I am not a loyal subject but, to be just, I must admit that the reality depicted by Mr.Burakovsky is far from being true. I don't see the reason for crying greetings and to thank the Ukrainian government for it because we must not thank for being allowed to breathe and not be strangled. But I don't see any reason to swear and blame everything and everybody either. I support the opinion of Anatoliy Podolsky who writes in your newspaper in № 15/18 "Today the Jews, as well as the other nations in Ukraine, are able to lead their real traditional national life in the contrast to the Soviet period when the ruling regime encouraged the total assimilation... Today there is a quite different ethno-cultural situation in Ukraine, which " is neither obligatory, nor forbidden".

Though there is a big gap between the reality and the ideal it means that we still have some things to do and some goals to achieve.


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