Sunday, February 14, 2016

Russian Takeover of Ukraine: 2014

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                     

Fareed Zakaria of CNN spoke about the Ukraine takeover of Russia and NATO not being strong enough to prevent one  this Sunday morning.  It's something that the 484,129 Jews that were living there in 1989 didn't see coming.  "Nobody thought it would be a real war, a real invasion, a real occupation.  In the 21st century, it is very strange to conceive of it.  People tend to more easily believe in good and not bad."

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, sent "heavily armed militias into eastern Ukraine in early 2014" and said that they had no connection to Moscow.  Well, who did they have connection with, then?  This was never answered by him, and the international community didn't believe him and shouldn't.  He lied.

About 8,000 people have been killed, tens of thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands have fled to become refugees.  For Jews, this is like reliving the horrors of the Holocaust 75 years ago.
Putin is trying to regain land once belonging to Russia before WWI.  It was Catherine II who decreed that Jews were to live in the Pale of Settlement and not Russia proper.  Starting with Catherine I, the situation for Jews was bad.  She ruled from 1725 to 1727 and decreed in May 1727 that all Jews were to leave "Little Russia"  and that The Pale included the Ukraine. "Little Russia had with time,  developed into a political and geographical term in the Russian language referring to most of the territory of modern-day Ukraine before the twentieth century."   The 2nd Catherine ruled from 1762 to 1796 and her Jewish policy was marked by a  mixture of liberalism and coercion.  They were allowed to register in the merchant and urban classes in 1780, but permission was restricted to White Russia in 1786, which was the start of the Pale of Settlement.  She wound up preventing the extension of Jewish settlement and in 1795, kept Jewish residence in only the rural areas.  The Pale of Settlement was made up of 25 provinces of Czarist Russia in the countries of Poland, Lithuania, White Russia (Belorussia) , Ukraine, Bessarabia (formerly Romanian, now in Moldavian and Ukrainian Republics ) and Crimea, the only places Jews were given permission to have permanent residence.

Terrible massacres of Jews took place in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Chmielnicki massacres and the Haidamak uprising-massacres.  To be remembered is that the Ukraine has been the scene of pogroms in 1905 and from 1918 to 1920, the end of WWI.  The Soviets did promote Jewish settlement in the 1920s in the Ukraine with American Jewish funding.  By 1930 there were 90,000 Jewish farmers there.  Half of Soviet Russia's 3 million Jews lived in Ukraine before WWII.  Under Nazi rule, Jews who had not fled to Russia were wiped out by the Germans and Ukrainians in 1941 and 1942. Babi Yar was a most terrible event for Jews.  This is the name of a ravine outside of Kiev where tens of thousands of Jews were killed in September 1941.  The Ukrainians didn't bother to put up a memorial for the Jews until the 1980s.   By 1989, Jews had returned and numbered 484,129.
According to the UN, at least 250,000 IDPs (internally displaced Ukrainians have fled and flooded Kiev, the capital,  in the last 18 months.  More have looked for sanctuary in other major towns in central and western Ukraine, among them being probably thousands of Jews.  Back in July of 2013, Kiev's population was 2,847,200 and was the 8th largest city in Europe.  Now the population is up to at least 3 million and the cost of living is much higher than in cities people were driven from in the Russian occupation.
Donetsk, 5th largest city in Ukraine in 2001 with about 2 million living in metropolitan area,
and a population of 953,217 in the city itself.  
One Jewish grandmother is an English speaker,  relating her circumstance,  came from Donetsk, an industrial town in eastern Ukraine. She saw the town airport bombed and her daughter's home was bombed.   She has a PhD in Literature and her husband was an ear, nose and throat doctor in a major hospital.  A steady stream of self-sufficient Jews have had to give up their security in the past 18 months to head for Kiev, leaving bombed out homes of their past years.  Everyone, including Jews, have become refugees fleeing from a far superior, well-armed advancing force, fleeing with only the clothes on their backs from violent militias.  They've had to leave behind them their possessions, missing relatives and old friends.  Her son in law attended a meeting in Donetsk supporting Ukrainian independence and was attacked by Russian separatists wielding clubs.  It was his father in law who had to perform emergency surgery on him that saved his life after the attack.

This Jewish grandmother who had lived in Moscow during procuring her PhD saw up close the invaders from Russia, and they were not native Ukrainians.  Natives of Donetsk, Ukraine speak Surzhyk, a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian.  The invaders, she said, were speaking pure Russian.

They can't afford to live in Kiev since 2015 when Ukraine's currency, the Hryvnia collapsed. There are people who only have less than 2,400 Hryvnia a month to live on which is $110 in dollars.  It has declined from this figure already and as of Valentine's Day 2016, is worth  $91.7782 a month.  Some poor Jewish people in Kiev are living on only 700 Hryvnia a month which right now is only worth $26.7686.  Paul Alster, author,  had stopped at a cafe in Kiev and he and his 2 friends had had 3 cups of coffee with a few biscuits which cost over 200 Hryvnia! That would be $7.65.    Right now one Hryvnia = 0.038 dollar or 38 cents.

Incidently, Kiev  was founded in the 8th century, most likely by the Khazars, who were Jewish merchants who had visited the town in the 9th and 10th century.  Their country, Khazaria,  ended with a Russian takeover.  Peter the Great had allowed Jews to trade in Kiev from 1708, so in 1827, Kiev was decided to NOT be a part of the Pale of Settlement.   By 1857, Kiev  had become one of the largest Russian communities.

The Ukrainians have a horrible history of anti-Semitism.  The Holocaust only played up on what feelings were already shared with the Nazis.  Now they are experiencing just a tad of what Jews of 1941 experienced, along with today's Jews.  No one should have to go through such a horrible trial.  This is what Russia does in an occupation, so different from Israel's brief occupation of Judea and Samaria and Gaza.  The Russian occupation is much more like the Roman occupation of Judah, coming there in 63 BCE and fighting Bar Kokhba in 132-135 CE and stringing up thousands of Jews on crosses till death.  
Fareed Zarakia came out with the report on February 12, 2016, that a deal had been announced on Thursday to end the fighting in Ukraine and will face the same obstacle the previous such agreement has faced:  How to ensure that Russia will abide by it is the problem.  Frustrated by Russia’s continued support for Ukrainian separatists, Western statesmen have begun discussing military assistance for the Ukrainians.   Fareed said that Obama must take the lead from the front to bring this about.   He must show strength and skill.  The European Union has been ambivalent towards helping for years.  

Resource: The Jerusalem Report, February 8, 2016, Nightmare in Donetsk by Paul Alster-Kiev, a magazine
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Fareed Zakaria, February 14, 2016 Sunday morning TV show

1 comment:

  1. Artutz Sheva reported that: "Nor is it clear how far Russia is willing to go with its support. Hezbollah recently claimed Moscow is supplying them with sophisticated weaponry, but the Kremlin itself has strenuously denied those claims to Israel." This is in connection to ending Israeli air superiority over Lebanon used for defense of Israel. Seems as if Russia is in a constant state of denial.