The Question Fareed Zakaria Left Out of Interview with Ukraine’s President


by Dovid Katz

In this week’s (30 Sept.) edition of Fareed Zakaria GPS, the CNN host interviewed Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. The conversation stressed Ukraine’s appreciable progress in spite of (in some sense — because of) Vladimir Putin’s aggression, revanchism and incessant mischief-making.

In a website supplement, the CNN host recently posted some tough questions on state corruption that he did indeed put to Ukraine’s leader. But did Fareed miss an opportunity to bring up something else, something that so much of the Western media is keeping under wraps to the point of rendering it strangely unmentionable?

Will a major Western journalist follow up with the Ukrainian president along the lines of:

“President Poroshenko, do you have any words of reassurance to genuine friends of Ukraine and its successful future who are deeply concerned about the state itself investing in glorification of Holocaust-era figures who supported, abetted or participated in the murders of huge numbers of Jewish and Polish civilians? For a country under siege seeking Western support and embracing Western values, the investment in these projects can look especially strange. Or, the state investing in military forces that publicly flaunt fascist, Hitler-era symbols?”

And, if the reply were to refer to “Russian propaganda” the follow up could be along the lines of: “Yes, but that’s precisely the point. When it comes to the consensus of the free world on Nazism, fascism, and the Holocaust and its collaborators, why on earth give the Putinists and their propaganda outlets this additional stick? It looks like an act of national self-harm that suggests a lingering adulation of fascism that is a strain so virulent that it defies even self-interest. By taking the state out of it, and leaving history to be debated freely, there would be a healthy multiplicity of views, would there not? Some might choose to emphasize the millions of Ukrainians who fought valiantly against the Third Reich in the Soviet Army, then in alliance with the United States and Great Britain. Why should the state itself be investing in memorials that Holocaust survivors and their families consider so deeply offensive?”

The investments by the Ukrainian government per se (not referring to private sources) include glorifying major Ukrainian Holocaust collaborators by street names, plaques and other memorials, and by financing military units that flaunt Nazi-inspired imagery. In recent times, the issue of the state worshipping Holocaust collaborators has sporadically appeared, sometimes parenthetically, in mainstream Western venues, including the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Christian Science MonitorHuman Rights Watch, and a letter signed by 57 members of the US House of Representatives. The taboo was earlier broken in Jewish publications, including the Forward and Jewish Chronicle.

Defending History has been focused on these issues for years.

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