Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mila Kunis, Actress: Victim of Anti-Semitism in Ukraine:

                                                                    Mila Kunis
Nadene Goldfoot
A Ukrainian-American actress, Mila Kunis, formerly Milena Markovna Kunis, is  Jewish.. She was born in Chernivtsi in the Ukrainian SSR.  All Jews were forced to live in the Pale of Settlement of which Ukraine was a part from 1791 to 1917. She lost many relatives in the Holocaust when 900,000 Jews were murdered in Ukraine by the Nazis.   Mila was recently slammed by the far-right Svoboda Party member of the Ukrainian Parliament proclaiming that she wasn't "Ukrainian but a zhydovka," (Jew).   (from Yid you get Zid-Zyyd or Jew).  He is saying that Jews were not considered Ukrainians when 1/3 of  Ukrainians before WWII were Jews.

Natan Sharansky was a Ukranian Jew who was a Soviet refusenik and was jailed because he wanted to leave the country for Israel, and then called a spy,  He had even tried to learn to read Hebrew.  My Hebrew teacher was sending him lessons on the sly from Israel.  He became a Human Rights activist, author and member of the Knesset in Israel.  Born as Anatoly Borisovich Shcharansky in Stalino, Soviet Union in 1948, the city's name was later changed to Donetsk which is in Ukraine.  He was a child chess prodigy and became a mathematician.  .

 One of Kiev's city gates is called the Judaic Gate.  Jews immigrated to the Ukraine in waves from Khazaria, the Caliphate and Byzantium between the 9th and 12th centuries and from Central Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries, and then from Poland in the 16th century.  The Russian government encouraged Jewish agricultural settlement in southern Ukraine from 1804-59 so that by 1897 there were 21 Jewish colonies in the Kherson province and 16 in Yekaterinoslav with 26,326 people.  In the 1920's the Soviet government promoted Jewish settlement in the Ukraine with funds from the American Joint Distribution Committee in the regions of Kalinindorf, Zlatopol and Stalindorf, a time my cousin's family immigrated to the states from Ukraine.

 By 1930 there were 90,000 Jewish agriculturists there.  Jewish economy and culture suffered under Soviet rule of Communism.  About half of Soviet Russia's 3 million Jews lived in Ukraine before WWII under Nazi rule.  If they hadn't fled to Russia they were wiped out by the Germans and Ukrainians in 1941-1942.  By 1970 the Jewish population was 777,126.  In 1989 it was 484,129.  They weren't allowed to leave and go to Israel. Today Ukraine has the 3rd largest Jewish population in Europe and it is the 5th largest group in the world.  Kiev has 110,000 Jews of an aging population with a medium of age 45.

"Zhydovka " is said as a deeply hurtful slur which is what his party members are known for doing, regularly injecting anti-Semitism into their speeches and public pronouncements.  It should be easy to do since the Ukraine was a part of the Pale of Settlement where Jews had to live.  They were isolated this way from the rest of Russia.

"Under Nikita Khrushchev’s rule over Ukraine, Ukrainian Jews who fled to Soviet Asia during the occupation slowly returned to reclaim their homes, possessions and jobs. The Ukrainians who remained in the communities were hostile to the returning Jews. The government, once again, refused to interfere in the conflicts between the Russians and the Jews. It seems to be a constant hotbed of anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

As Russia seems to have backed Hezbollah terrorists who are in Lebanon, Russians in Ukraine are seen to be part of a trend of spewing out anti-Semitic messages and inciting violence seen in the past.  Take the Svododa party who gained over 10% of the national vote.  Their campaigning was one of injecting fear into their society.  They warned that foreigners and minorities are going to take over the country and they sounded like repeating Nazi propaganda of Joseph Goebbels.  The people mistrust the Jews of all the people they could distrust the most.  The odd fact is that in the early 1900's, many Russian Jews immigrated from the Pale of Settlement to the USA.  Then the Nazis in WWII did away with most in the Holocaust.  That there were any Jews left in Ukraine is a surprise to me!  And these few left are the minorities that are going to take over the country?  The Ukrainians should be so lucky!

Mila came to Los Angeles with her family at age 7 in 1991 from Ukraine  Her family moved because of anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union.  Her parents said they saw no future there for her or her older brother.  Her parents raised her as a Jew as much as they could being religion of any sort was suppressed in the Soviet Union. They came with only $250, which was all they were allowed to take out.  Her parents gave up good jobs and degrees which were not transferable.  Today her parents have "amazing" jobs and they are very lucky and not poor.

 As an after-school activity, her parents enrolled her in acting classes and she was soon discovered by an agent.  Before she knew it she was appearing in several TV series and commercials.  Her first significant role came before her 15th birthday, playing Jackie Burkhart on the TV series, "That '0's Show."  A year later she was cast as the voice of Meg Griffin on the animated series "Family Guy."

After that she has been in many films such as "The Book of Eli, and Black Swan where she played the part of Lily.  She's received the nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and an award for Outstanding Performance by a female actor in a supporting role.

As for romance, when she was 18 she went with actor Macaulay Culkin that lasted for 8 years.  Of course, I hope that she finds a nice Jewish boy and has a family.   .  She is a beautiful young lady and is part of the American Democratic Party.  Even her native country, Ukraine has heard of Mila.  Such anti-Semitism developing there again should remind us that our world has shrunk and is intertwined.  What goes on in Ukraine affects Jews in other places.  Have we had dreams of having a more tolerant and peaceful international community? People slip into their old ways of needing a scapegoat and always pick on the Jews.

Resource: from Oleksandr Feldman, President of the Ukrainian Jewish committee and member of Parliament of Ukraine

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