Two tragedies, and jus­tice is re­quired for both

Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES - • By VOLODYMYR ARIEV (Reuters)

My grand­fa­ther is Jewish, my grand­mother is Ukrainian. I never thought it was nec­es­sary to rank tragedies. No atroc­ity from the past should be re­peated, and each should be un­der­stood and named for what it was. Hitler of­fi­cially called to elim­i­nate the Jewish peo­ple; although Stalin didn’t put his plan down in words, he de­clared his goal of crush­ing Ukraine as he un­leashed a geno­ci­dal famine against its in­hab­i­tants.

Raphael Lemkin, a Pol­ish Jewish lawyer from west­ern Ukraine who coined the term geno­cide, called “the de­struc­tion of the Ukrainian na­tion” the “clas­sic ex­am­ple of Soviet geno­cide, its long­est and broad­est ex­per­i­ment in Rus­si­fi­ca­tion.”

Calling for the recog­ni­tion of the Holodomor is a mat­ter of jus­tice, an act of re­mem­ber­ing the four to five mil­lion Ukraini­ans who died. Stalin and his as­so­ciates starved to death one in six peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral Ukraine in 1932-33.

Those who suf­fered and died in the Holodomor were our grand­par­ents, great-grand­par­ents, great-aunts and -un­cles. The Holodomor was a calamity for the Ukrainian peo­ple that Ukraini­ans have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to study, un­der­stand and com­mem­o­rate. It isn’t about com­par­isons to other geno­cides. Ac­knowl­edg­ment of the hor­ri­ble crime against these vic­tims – that is all that Ukraini­ans want.

On the state level, we com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of both crimes on the ap­pro­pri­ate dates, and I would like to ex­press my grat­i­tude to my col­league from the Knes­set for rais­ing the mat­ter of com­mem­o­rat­ing the Holodomor in Is­rael. We are restor­ing our state as the Jewish peo­ple have re­stored Is­rael. Un­for­tu­nately, Ukraine has a pow­er­ful neigh­bor to the east that is in­tent on prevent­ing us from liv­ing in peace and pros­per­ity.

Ukraini­ans and Jews have much in com­mon. Of course, Hitler’s racist poli­cies de­stroyed mil­lions of Ukraini­ans and Ukrainian Jews died in large num­bers in the Holodomor. And many Ukraini­ans risked their lives to save Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust, and many Jews helped their Ukrainian neigh­bors dur­ing the Holodomor.

It is my sin­cere hope that the Is­raeli peo­ple will rec­og­nize the Holodomor for what it was as we in Ukraine rec­og­nize the Holo­caust. Mu­tual recog­ni­tion deep­ens our hu­man­ity. It is as nat­u­ral for me as the Ukrainian and Jewish blood that har­mo­niously flows in my veins.

The au­thor is a mem­ber of the Ukrainian Par­lia­ment and of vice pres­i­dent of the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Coun­cil of Europe.

A MON­U­MENT for the vic­tims of the Holodomor famine in Kiev, Ukraine.

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