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Awkward: Netanyahu greeted in Kiev with slogan of Jew-slaughtering Nazi collaborators

Awkward: Netanyahu greeted in Kiev with slogan of Jew-slaughtering Nazi collaborators
Grandfathering a slogan of past-era nationalists who took part in ethnic massacres makes for awkward moments when you have to use the slogan to greet a foreign leader of said ethnicity during an official visit.

Take Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing visit to Ukraine. The Israeli prime minister was greeted by President Volodymyr Zelensky with a lot of decorum. There were red carpets, flags, ceremonious signing of important documents, and a small military parade to treat the former Israeli commando.

And of course Zelensky used the official greeting, which Ukraine adopted last year, “Glory to Ukraine,” to which his loyal troops gave the regulation response, “Glory to heroes.” The exchange is new for the Ukrainian military, but relatively old in itself.

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Originating in the early 20th century circles of nationalists who wanted to carve up parts of Imperial Russia and Poland and create an independent Ukraine, it saw its heyday as the call of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its militant wing Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). They pursued their vision of a nation state through allying with the Nazis and exterminating Poles and Jews.

The very same words Netanyahu heard on Monday, likely sounded over the killing fields of Baby Yar, a place that is on his Ukrainian trip program.

Of course Kiev today approaches every historical figure or organization with an “independent Ukraine” agenda, wielding a magnifying glass in one hand and a big bucket of white paint in the other. As long as the mass-murdering Nazi collaborators were not as bad as the damned Moskal occupants, their slogan is perfectly fine today. All is fair in building national identity, right?

By Alexandre Antonov
@alantonov

Alexandre Antonov is a journalist based in Moscow.

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