More than 50 members of the US Congress have condemned Ukrainian legislation which they say “glorifies Nazi collaborators” and therefore goes beyond Polish laws on Holocaust rhetoric.
The condemnation came in an open bipartisan letter to Under Secretary of State John Sullivan, initiated by Democratic Representatives Ro Khanna of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.
While noting that Poland’s passage of a law in February criminalizing blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes was “a cause for concern,” the letter uses much harsher and potentially precedent-setting language. on developments in Ukraine which so far have received relatively little attention in the West, observers of these processes said.
“Ukraine’s chance to fly under the radar has finally run out,” Dovid Katz, founder of the Defending History website on the distortion of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, wrote on Twitter. “I never imagined we would see this day.”
The language on Ukraine “is brutal – and well deserved,” he added.
The letter says that “it is particularly disturbing that much of the Nazi glorification in Ukraine is supported by the government.” He noted ceremonies, gestures and laws worshiping the leaders of the UPA and OUN militias, who fought alongside Nazi Germany in WWII and whose troops participated in atrocities against Jews and other victims.
Khanna’s office, in a statement, also noted how Lviv city authorities have allowed the 14th Galician Division of the Waffen SS to be celebrated at events this month featuring men. marching in Nazi SS uniform in the street. The statements also cited JTA’s coverage of a local teacher and politician who allegedly celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday on Facebook and took photos of her students at the public school where she taught history while doing the salute. Nazi with it. She has since been fired.
“The State Department must use all available diplomatic channels to work with the Ukrainian and Polish governments to combat the rise of this hateful ideology which has historically threatened peace and security in the region,” wrote members of the Congress at Sullivan.
In Ukraine, a 2013 revolution that ended the reign of a key Kremlin ally ushered in a wave of nationalism that coincided with what Israeli anti-Semitism researchers in January called a massive increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. amid government inaction.
The glorification of fighters who allied with the Nazis against Russian rule increased dramatically in volume after 2013. In 2015, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that criminalizes the denial of the “heroism” of some of these allies of the Russian Federation. Nazi Germany, which oversaw the near annihilation of the region’s Jews.
The letter also calls on the State Department to appoint a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, a post that went vacant for more than a year while mandated by law.
“The longer this post, which is global in scope, remains vacant, the more it sends the message that the United States will tolerate anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial,” the letter said.
A State Department spokeswoman earlier this month told JTA that tackling anti-Semitism remains a “priority” for the Trump administration.