Ukraine asks to join international task force on Holocaust education
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Ukraine asks to join international task force on Holocaust education

Both the country’s PM and president-elect are Jewish, but Ukrainians continue to celebrate Nazi collaborators who battled Soviet rule

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko rekindles the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, January 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko rekindles the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, January 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Ukraine has applied to join the world’s main international task force on Holocaust education.

The application, announced Monday, could be a test case for the 31-state International Holocaust Remembrance Association, IHRA, and for Ukraine, whose president-elect is Jewish but whose government celebrates Nazi collaborators.

“The application is not just about politics, it’s about discussing history fairly and honestly,” Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said during his announcement of the move at the Kyiv Jewish Forum conference.

Francois Croquette, France’s Human Rights ambassador, welcomed the move.

“I’m delighted by this development and France will support this move and welcome Ukraine as soon as possible” into IHRA, he said.

Ukrainian comic actor, showman and then-presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview with AFP, after he took part in the shooting of the television series ‘Servant of the People,’ where he plays the role of the president of Ukraine, in Kiev on March 6, 2019. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

Last month, actor Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, was elected president by a landslide victory. Uniquely in the world except for Israel, Ukraine also has a Jewish prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman.

The “absence of anti-Semitic rhetoric during the campaign is a miracle, a stunning fact that shows how far Ukraine has come,” Elan Carr, the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, said at the conference. He said he would serve as a “champion of Ukraine,” partly for that reason.

Hosted by the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, the conference of about 200 participants is a rare convergence by all major Ukrainian Jewish organizations, long divided by personal animosities and ideological differences.

One issue dividing Ukrainian Jews is that Ukraine has gone further than most other European nations in glorifying Nazi collaborators and other persecutors of Jews, who have monuments celebrating them as anti-Soviet fighters.

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