Protest action near the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kiev. (Donbas Stock Photos)

U.S. State Department Accuses Russia of Antisemitism and Exploiting the Suffering of Jews for its Own Agenda in Ukraine

In the space of a lifetime, the people of Ukraine have endured war (5-7 million lost in WWII), nuclear disaster (Chernobyl 1986), and civil discord.  

February’s attack by the Russian Federation as directed by Vladimir Putin, wielder of the third largest military power on Earth, opens yet another chapter in Ukraine’s struggle to remain free.

In July, the Biden administration bluntly and forcefully accused the Russian government of antisemitism and of callously using Jewish suffering for its own ends through its claims that its war against Ukraine is a “denazification” operation.

“To serve its predatory ends, the Kremlin is exploiting the suffering and sacrifice of all those who lived through World War II and survived the Holocaust,” the State Department says in a dossier posted on its website July 11. “In the process, the Kremlin is detracting from critically important global efforts to combat antisemitism and is instead propagating one of antisemitism’s most insidious forms, Holocaust distortion,” the dossier continued.

The “denazification” claim is hardly news, if only by repetition. Putin, in a fiery speech made at the commencement of the invasion, railed against a Ukraine ruled by “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.” What makes the characterization all the more offensive is that Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is himself Jewish. Mr. Zelensky’s grandfather fought the Nazis in World War II, alongside his three brothers. Of the four, only Zelensky’s grandfather survived.

The release of the dossier was timed ahead of an informal session of the United Nations Security Council that Russia called to further prop up its denazification justification. Tass, the Russian news agency, on July 7 quoted Dmitry Polyansky, the deputy Russian envoy to the United Nations, saying the session will “be our response to Western colleagues, who express doubts about one of the main goals of our special military operation in Ukraine, namely denazification, and claim that we are exaggerating the problem.”

The State Department dossier quotes historians and Holocaust remembrance institutions. It references Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s preposterous and widely discredited claim from May that “the biggest antisemites are Jewish themselves.” It quotes Israeli officials condemning Lavrov’s statement as bogus.

A key aim of Russia’s canard campaign, according to the State Department dossier, was to “downplay the role of antisemitism in Nazi ideology.”

How does Mr. Putin expect such cross-eyed lies to even be believed?

Because they already are. 

Putin and the Kremlin are playing on the well-worn lie that the true victims of the Holocaust were not the Jews at all, but the Russian Christians (and, make no mistake, “Christian” in this context bears as much relation to Christianity as an assault rifle does to a place of worship). The canard goes that an elite global cabal of Jews was and continues to be the cause of any suffering wrought upon Russian Christians.

Putin, as the leader of “Russian Christian Nationalism,” uses the playbook of eastern European antisemitism, which screams that it’s all a Jewish conspiracy that cleverly employs words like “democracy” and “human rights” to undermine Christianity. Immigrants, Blacks, Muslims, Jews are all therefore threats against the “pure state,” and a Jewish head of state is something that is not to be tolerated.

The State Department dossier concludes by saying that Russia is crippling the fight against antisemitism: “With antisemitism on the rise around the world, it is imperative for all to call out this particularly pernicious kind of Russian disinformation.” 

At this writing, the freedom-loving people of Ukraine—Jew and Gentile—are facing down the Russian tanks and might with a verve and passion that Putin had not expected. He is increasingly isolated as the well-intended nations of Earth turn their backs on him. His anticipated tidal wave of support has not materialized, nor will it. Creatures of the shadows, if not emboldened, stay in the shadows.

The people of Ukraine know from their recent history how dear a price they must be prepared to pay for their freedom. They have the attention of the world for the heroes they are, just as Putin and his “denazification” have earned its lasting contempt.