Voice of the Jewish News: Putin’s bloodbath

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Voice of the Jewish News: Putin’s bloodbath

"Our collective Jewish history of seeking refuge teaches us that this is a moment to open the gate to Ukrainian refugees"

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/JINIPIX)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/JINIPIX)

Ukraine’s Jews are mainly elderly and staying put. Many began their lives by living through German bombs. Now, approaching their final days, the bombing has started again. This time it is from the Russians. Like Hitler, Putin’s aim is to invade and conquer.

References to the Second World War have come as thick and as fast as Putin’s rockets. The flimsy pretext for his unnecessary war is the mysterious “Nazification” of Ukraine, something no Ukrainian Jew recognises or can explain.

This claim led to opprobrium across the Jewish world. Rarely have Jewish Diaspora organisations so willingly ignored the unwritten rule of Jewish political neutrality when it comes to inter-state conflict. Almost none held back in their outrage – the European Jewish Congress (EJC) being the glaring exception.

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Here, the Board of Deputies was reassuringly forthright – and even seemed to back the deployment of British arms. “Vladimir Putin falsely claimed that the Ukrainian government are Nazis,” it said. “Now his forces have bombarded a site [Babyn Yar] commemorating an infamous Nazi atrocity… We hope our government will continue to do everything it can to help Ukraine defend itself.”

Others joined in. The United States’ Holocaust Memorial Museum called out Putin’s “outrageous” invasion, saying he “misrepresented and misappropriated Holocaust history by claiming falsely that democratic Ukraine needs to be denazified,” adding that his genocide claims were “equally groundless and egregious”.

Yad Vashem slammed Putin’s “propagandist discourse,” which he said was “saturated with irresponsible statements and inaccurate comparisons with propaganda before and during the Holocaust”.

It was a similar theme elsewhere. “Russian aggression cannot go unpunished,” said the American Jewish Committee (AJC). And although Donald Trump recently called Putin “a genius”, the Republican Jewish Coalition said the Russian president “aims to destroy the nascent democracy in Ukraine, to threaten the former Soviet republics in eastern Europe, and to weaken the NATO alliance,” adding: “The free world must stand up to this now.”

The EJC – led by oligarch Moshe Kantor – has been conspicuous in its silence, but this newspaper joins with others, and calls on the UK government to do all it can to allow Ukrainian refugees in. Given the collective Jewish history of seeking refuge, this feels like one of those moments when you simply open the gate. If for no other reason than sheer bravery, they deserve safety.

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