Israel, Poland join in protest against Ukraine monument to Nazi collaborator
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Israel, Poland join in protest against Ukraine monument to Nazi collaborator

Israeli and Polish ambassadors sign joint letter to Ivano-Frankisvsk mayor; in Kharkiv, nationalists set off smoke bombs outside Jewish community building

Ukrainian nationalists march in Lviv to honor Roman Shukhevych in March 2017. (YouTube screenshot)
Ukrainian nationalists march in Lviv to honor Roman Shukhevych in March 2017. (YouTube screenshot)

JTA — Israeli and Polish ambassadors have signed a joint letter to the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankisvsk protesting the unveiling there of a monument honoring Roman Shukhevych, a collaborator with the Nazis who is implicated in the murder of countless Jews and ethnic Poles.

Poland and Israel rarely speak out on the rampant glorification of Nazi-era collaborators in Ukraine, a country seen by many in the West as a key buffer against Russian expansionism. Joint Israeli-Polish action on the issue is rarer still — especially since the eruption last year of diplomatic crises over disputed allegations of Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

Shukhevych, who is celebrated as an anti-Soviet patriot, was “personally responsible” for murdering tens of thousands “by bullets, fire, rape, torture and other beastly methods — only because they prayed to God in Polish or Hebrew,” Ambassadors Joel Lion and Bartosz Cichocki wrote.

Meanwhile, protesters from the National Corps group, a namesake of a unit of the Azov Battalion militia set up in 2014 by the Ukrainian government, set off smoke grenades outside a Jewish community building in Kharkiv and spray-painted the words “Feldman thief” on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Kharkiv-born Alexander Feldman is a Jewish philanthropist and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee group.

Protests outside Jewish institutions are rare in Ukraine, which saw some of the worst pogroms perpetrated against Jews anywhere before and during the Holocaust.

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