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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, Mar 23, 2005, 9:00 am ET

    Letter

    The Kuropas Affair: Further Discussion

    I was very disappointed to read Marco Levytsky's editorial "Dr. Kuropas Victimized by Hatchet Job" which was first published in Edmonton’s “Ukrainian News” and then distributed on March 7 in a private e-mail list.

    As the editor of a major Ukrainian-Canadian newspaper and the head of the Ukrainian Ps & Bs in Edmonton, he is an influential person in our community. He should be encouraging divergent viewpoints, not trying to stifle them. Max Pyziur and others, I included, think that Dr. Myron Kuropas should give up his fixation with Jews and that his anti-Jewish writings continue to give our community a bad name.

    Let us face an uncomfortable fact. During the Second World War there were undeniable instances of cooperation in one form or another of Ukrainians with the Nazis' systematic murder of the Jews. The Ukrainian auxiliary police, for which there were numerous volunteers in Galicia, was routinely used to round up Jews for deportations and mass executions; sometimes they were the shooters. The initial core of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was also made up of Ukrainian police who had been employed in the extermination of the Volhynian Jews. Thousands of Jews were murdered in pogroms in Western Ukrainian towns and cities in July 1941. Many Ukrainians who later became influential in the diaspora published anti-Jewish articles during the Holocaust; the list includes Volodymyr Kubijovyč (editor of the Ukrainian encyclopedias), Luka Luciw (a long-time member of the editorial board of Svoboda), Oleksander Mokh (publisher in Toronto), Olena Kysilievska (head of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations), Anatol Kurdydyk (editor of a number of Ukrainian periodicals in Canada). These facts are thoroughly documented in recent studies based on archival sources. This legacy has never been confronted by the Ukrainian diaspora. France has had its soul-searching over Vichy, Poland over Jedwabne, but we have not even begun the process of self-examination. That some Jews are sensitive about Ukrainian antisemitism is not really a very important issue. That we are not sensitive about it, however, is important.

    Over the decades that I have been involved in Ukrainian studies and Ukrainian community life, I have seen a resurgence of anti-Jewish attitudes among our people in North America. I have run into more Holocaust-deniers, I am embarrassed by the existence of a diaspora-Ukrainian website that is flagrantly anti-Semitic, and I see a freer anti-Jewish rhetoric in our establishment press. This is not mentally nor morally healthy, and Dr. Kuropas's writings only exacerbate the problem.

    Dr. Kuropas was not, as Marco Levytsky, stated "victimized" nor was he kicked "when he's down." He continues to hold forth in The Ukrainian Weekly as if he had a monopoly of the truth. If there are underdogs in this rather low-profile debate, they are the few who venture to express a different opinion.

    As to Marco Levytsky's contention that one cannot be accused of being anti-Semitic or bigoted "simply for stating the truth," I can refer to his very own article which says that the Knight Ridder reporters who wrote about Dr. Kuropas took quotations and facts "out of context." Context is important. It is easy to string together a series of facts and arrive at a falsehood. When Dr. Kuropas or one of his defenders in the diaspora press starts listing Communists who were Jews, it gives the false impression that Jews were somehow behind Communism and it in fact resurrects an old antisemitic canard.

    In my opinion, the most effective way to avoid charges of antisemitism against our nation and particularly against our community in North America is to break decisively with any manifestation of it. This is what Yushchenko proposes in Ukraine, and I believe we should follow his lead in this.

    John-Paul Himka



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