Ukrainian Jewish Heritage: Jews on Maidan

In these difficult times for Ukraine, it is important to remember the good, to be tolerant and support each other. Because we all are fighting for truth, justice, democracy and a better future for our country.

On January 22, 2014, Mikhail Livinskiy a member of the leadership of the united opposition of Ukraine, made a proposal to Josef Zisels, Human rights defender and Head of VAAD, the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine.

Mikhail Livinsky’s proposal was that Maidan’s self-defense forces organize a patrol and guards for the Kyiv synagogues. The synagogue defense program would be coordinated by a deputy of the Ukrainian parliament.

Josef Zisels passed the proposal on to two Kyiv synagogues. He also passed it on to a Ukrainian Jewish organizations planning a commemorative ceremony at a third Kyiv synagogue. The ceremony was to be held on January 28, international Holocaust Memorial Day.

One of the Oppostion leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, made a statement to the Jewish community on Holocaust Remembrance Day. He said that “The Maidan does not accept ‘Black Hundred’ slogans. And those who attempted to use them were quickly removed.”

The Black Hundreds refers to several groups comprising a far-right, Russian pro-monarchist movement that flourished between 1904 and 1917. It was notoriously and virulently anti-semitic, inciting pogroms against Jews.

The Black Hundreds committed terrorist acts against revolutionaries, as well as Ukrainians. It denied their right to a Ukrainian nation, and actively campaigned against Ukrainian culture and language, even shutting down an organization promoting Ukrainian literacy and cultural awareness.

With the collapse of communism, Russia’s rightwing extremists have made a comeback. And they are once again trying to stop a revolution —this time in Ukraine, on the Maidan.

In his statement, Arseniy Yatsenyuk said: “The Maidan is a protest against the violence, evil, and total lie that is the current government. This protest has no place for hatred towards our compatriots based on their ethnic heritage, faith, or home region. We are all part of the Ukrainian nation. We’re all up on the barricades, and Maidan’s stage sees prayers by Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians; Muslim muftis and Jewish rabbis.”

Yatsenyuk stressed that the regime “which had finally stained itself with blood, terror, and torture, is now trying to portray the Maidan as anti-Semitic.” To do this, the regime spreads slander on behalf of non-existent Jewish organizations. They cite a panic” among Ukrainian Jewry which simply does not exist, along with the non-existent “requests” for evacuation from the capital.

Leonid Finberg, the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies of National University at “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, also issued a statement about Jews and Euromaidan

«We are hardly surprised by lies lately. Repressive laws, aimed to curtail citizens’ rights and freedoms, that were illegitimately passed by a parliamentary majority are called “developing democracy.” The murderers of Maidan activists are protected by the senile Prime Minister, who publicly stated that it was “a provocation by the opposition.” These odious lies include hints made by pseudo-leaders of Jewish organizations about the participants of peaceful protest acts having anything to do with organizing attacks on two Jews attending the Podil synagogue. Naturally, they have no proof whatsoever. They know everything in advance: the main goal is to attack opponents of the current government. Leaving the current system standing is the only way for them to preserve their criminal businesses.”

The entire world sees that Maidan is about human solidarity and dignity. It is about opposing evil and violence, even at the cost of health and life. People come out to the Maidan for a normal life in a state ruled by law, not for a life in a feudalistic whip fund.

Therefore it isn’t surprising that the leaders of the opposition and Maidan’s self-defense forces proposed to help protect the synagogues, knowing the intentions of the provocateurs. It isn’t at all surprising that the Pushkin Klezmer Band also played at the Maidan among many others.

There was a single prayer by clergy from various churches, a rabbi and a mufti – for a peaceful Ukraine for all of its citizens, and not a Ukraine for criminals. This list can easily be continued. But the liars and Judases, selling out for silver pieces, aren’t interested in that. But we are interested. All those who dream of a democratic Ukraine, where everyone will live normally, be they Christians or Jews, Pagans or atheists — everyone, absolutely everyone. And we will live normal lives, despite all provocations by all the villains, including the Jewish villains. Ze’ev Zhabotinsky warned about this once: “Like all peoples, we have the right to have our own villains.” Thank God, there aren’t many of those.»

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