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Memorials to Ukrainian Nazi allies in Detroit, Philadelphia enter spotlight after Canadian Parliament scandal

(JTA) – Over the past few weeks, tributes to Ukrainian Nazi collaborators in North America have led to local and international upheaval.

On Tuesday, the speaker of the Canadian House of Commons resigned after saluting a 98-year-old man who had fought for one such unit, commonly referred to as as the Waffen SS or SS Galichina. And in Philadelphia, a controversy surrounding the same unit played out on a smaller scale: Local Jewish groups protested a monument to the SS division in a Catholic cemetery in the suburb of Elkins Park, and local Catholic leaders covered it up.

But in a third instance where the same SS unit is being honored, the local Jewish reaction has been far more muted. After learning about an SS Galichina memorial in a Detroit suburb, that city’s Jewish Community Relations Council told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency it did not intend to make a fuss over it.

“I believe we could use this to positively have a dialogue with our Ukrainian neighbors, but don’t think it would be worth it to make a statement of condemnation or asking for its removal,” Daniel Bucksbaum of the Detroit JCRC/AJC said in an email.

The memorials in Detroit and Philadelphia, and the nonagenarian’s Nazi past, were all first reported by Lev Golinkin, a writer for the Forward. He has cataloged monuments to Nazis and their collaborators around the world, and in the Detroit case, detailed a memorial “dedicated to Ukrainian and Ukrainian-American veterans” on a private bank in the suburb of Warren. Veterans of SS Galichina are named as one of the monument’s sponsors — though they’re referred to by a different name on the structure.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, who heads the Detroit JCRC/AJC, said he was developing a relationship with the local Ukrainian community and said “discussing history and past antisemitism will definitely be part of this process.” But he said he would be hesitant to press the issue of the SS Galichina memorial at present, in part because of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

“I believe the time is now to support Ukraine, and defending itself against Russia,” Lopatin wrote in an email. He added, “There certainly is a lot to do, but there is a right time for everything and also a wrong time for everything.”

There are existing ties between the local Ukrainian and Jewish communities. Lopatin has attended ceremonies commemorating the Holodomor, the Soviet-imposed famine that caused millions of Ukrainians to starve to death in the 1930s (and which some far-right Ukrainians blame on the Jews). A Ukrainian museum in Hamtramck, a Detroit suburb with significant Ukrainian, Polish and Yemeni populations, has also offered to host an upcoming exhibit of Yemeni Jewish art.

Lopatin also believes the intentions behind the Warren memorial may not be sinister. “There is a difference between honoring a genocidal regiment or saying that their veterans gave [money] for a general memorial for Ukrainian Veterans,” he told JTA.

Golinkin, however, called the Detroit Jewish groups’ silence “shameful.”

“It’s astounding that, during a global surge of white supremacy and Holocaust distortion, Jewish organizations in Detroit are electing to remain silent about a monument to the SS in their city,” the writer told JTA.

The mayor of Warren, James Fouts, told the Forward that “there’s not even a minute chance that we would support anything like this,” but added, “I don’t think we can do much for a monument on private land.”

The varying responses point to the difficulties American Jews have long faced in navigating relationships with their Ukrainian neighbors, both during Ukraine’s current war with Russia and historically. Ukraine’s allies in the West during its current conflict have been reluctant to bring up its Nazi history at the same time that Russian propaganda has tried to paint the present invasion as a war of “denazification.”

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University who was also heavily involved in the movement to free Soviet Jewry, told JTA that many of the same issues were present during that movement’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It was awkward,” Sarna said. He recalled that Jewish activists of that era broke bread with Ukrainian nationalists, who were also opposed to the Soviets. The Jewish activists were pushing for the USSR to allow Jews to emigrate, while the Ukrainian activists protested that the Soviet Union had robbed their country of independence.

“There was an effort to explain, but it was difficult,” Sarna said. Ukrainians had tried to get the Jewish community to appear at celebrations honoring General Roman Shukhevych, who fought in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army alongside Nazi forces. “It served as a reminder that, yes, there was a common enemy in those days, the Soviet Union. But on the other hand, there was also a lot of distinctive history that precluded too close a tie.”

Local Jewish leaders’ reactions to the Philadelphia monument were far more vocal. Soon after the Forward identified a three-decade-old monument depicting the insignias of the SS Galichina division in a Catholic cemetery in the suburb of Elkins Park, the local Jewish federation condemned it.

That led other Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, to issue their own condemnations. Ukrainians should “recognize that this cannot remain,” the AJC said. (Lopatin’s group is affiliated with the AJC but in this case is departing from the national organization’s approach.)

Soon, the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, which operates the cemetery, covered up the memorial, announcing on Facebook that it would pursue community discussions “in order to prevent vandalism and with the goal of conducting an objective dialogue with sensitivity to all concerned.”

Yet when it comes to the Philadelphia memorial, not all Jews are aligned in opposition. A controversial Ukrainian Jewish communal organization has voiced support for the monument.

“Indication that the monument must be dismantled ‘as soon as possible’ is inconsistent with a format for discussions on historical subjects in the twenty-first century,” Vaad of Ukraine said in a statement, alleging that some of “the published articles” about the monument “resemble KGB falsifications.”

Leaders of the group, which partners with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an aid group, and claims to represent the interests of more than 250 Ukrainian Jewish groups, say they have not seen evidence that “the soldiers in whose memory this monument was raised thirty years ago” were involved in war crimes.

Vaad of Ukraine has come under fire in the past for defending Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, and for claiming in 2018 that Russia was manipulating U.S. efforts to condemn Ukraine for honoring those same Nazi-affiliated figures. Dozens of other Ukrainian Jewish organizations have stated that the group and its leaders “do not represent all Ukrainian Jews.”


The post Memorials to Ukrainian Nazi allies in Detroit, Philadelphia enter spotlight after Canadian Parliament scandal appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law pic.twitter.com/d2uE16ZzQ1

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’ pic.twitter.com/DmHjwfHtPV

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

The post IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.

REMEMBERING THE DEAD

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

The post One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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