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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings!

To all those celebrating the holidays according to the Gregorian calendar:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

To hear the sounds of the season, tune in to Nash Holos Sunday evenings at 6 pm PST on the radio dial AM1320 (97.5 Cable FM) or the internet live stream. Or download the audio archives and listen anytime. Ukrainian Christmas and New Year's carols will be broadcast on programs from Dec 21, 2008 - January 18, 2009.


Out here in Lotusland, we don't normally get a lot of snow, so I'll make sure to get out and enjoy our "marshmallow world"!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tribute to a Ukrainian poet and patriot

A friend brought to my attention this article about Ukrainian poet Moisei Fishbein, formerly of Radio Liberty. Although an Israeli citizen (he emigrated in 1979 to avoid conscription into the KGB), Fishbein considers himself Ukrainian and is a staunch defender of all things authentically Ukrainian. Especially the language:

Watching this language being maimed is unbearable. To me it's like watching a person under torture. Out in the street or in a subway car, hearing someone speak good Ukrainian, I feel like walking up and embracing the person. ... I also know Russian, English, German, Hebrew, and several Slavic languages, but will never allow myself to use Russian in Ukraine. It's a matter of principle, a matter of survival of the national language and culture. In other words, a matter of survival of the Ukrainian spirit and Ukraine as such. ... Once I called my friends from Germany and told them, "Get me out of Germany and to Ukraine." Now I say, "Get me out of Kyiv and to Ukraine." I am suffocating in this city, with its Kobzon and Rybchynsky culture.

I am not sure what he means about "its Kobzon and Rybchynsky culture" but I'm guessing it means Russian chauvinism.

... I was outraged to hear President Kuchma greet Yan Tabachnyk at a televised banquet, addressing him in Russian. I am not against Russian as such, but the Ukrainian President simply has no right to appear on national television speaking another language.

We have grown so accustomed to idiocy we no longer seem aware of its manifestations. ...

He's certainly not alone in holding the notion that there is nothing wrong with Russian, as long as it's not used to bludgeon other languages and cultures into oblivion.

It was especially encouraging to read this well-known and well-respected poet's perspective on anti-semitism in Ukraine:

... [I]f you remember my recent soiree at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Ukraine's Chief Rabbi Jacob Dov Bleich and Metropolitan Ivan Shvets sat side by side. By the way, neither Symon Petliura nor Stepan Bandera were anti-Semitic. Ze'ev Vladimir Jabotinsky, one of the founders of Zionism, said, "I ask you to inscribe on my gravestone that here lies a man who was friends with Petliura." Petliura gave orders to execute those who committed pogroms. Likewise, in the Soviet concentration camps Ukrainian and Jewish political prisoners were always the best of friends. ... Some are anxious to build Ukraine's pogromist image. I remember hearing on Radio Israel that an explosive charge was discovered at the Kyiv synagogue on the date of referendum when people voted for independence. It was a bomb planted not so much at the synagogue as at the foundation of Ukrainian independence.

So much for Ukrainians being "genetically anti-semitic", as some in the MSM would have the world believe. From the day I read the Diary of Anne Frank while attending Sacred Heart Academy in Yorkton, SK, I believed that Jews and Ukrainians had such similar histories of persecution, and that if we joined forces we would be a power to be reckoned with. (Obviously, hostile forces that work to pit Ukrainians and Jews against each other recognize that potential as well.)

I hope that someday I will have the privilege of shaking the hand of this amazing man, and expressing to him my appreciation for his deep and abiding love of my ancestral homeland.

I am convinced that Ukraine is a land given and chosen by God. It will survive no matter what, because such is His Will. How do I, a Jew, know this? I don't know how, but I know.

The full article can be found here. A very inspiring read!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Roman Shwed's radio program

Roman welcomes his guests is a lovely hour-long weekly radio program of music and interesting commentary with host Roman Shwed.

I had the good fortune to meet this charming Ukrainian-born, American-raised Ukrainian patriot at Kupidon bar in Kyiv this past September. (Many thanks to Vasyl for arranging the meeting.)

I'd love to return to Kyiv and spend much more time chatting with both of these wonderful guys. But until then, I'll have to content myself with following Vasyl's blog and tuning in to Roman's program which airs here Thursdays at 5 pm. Kyiv time.

The first time I tuned in was to a program that Roman pre-recorded, to air when he was off to the U.S. for a high school reunion. What I found particularly delightful about that program (which was a tribute to Kvitka Cisyk) is the way he discussed the music ... the song itself, the artist, the mood it creates, even the effect that Ukrainian music has on listeners.

The commentary was completely in Ukrainian, but he speaks at a nice, normal pace that North American Ukrainians are used to ... unlike at the frenzied double-speed that many Ukrainian commentators have taken to, and that even the fluent amongst us have trouble following because it's so fast! He also throws in an English word or two which is quite fun. :-)

You can catch Roman's program here.

To listen, you'll need to download RealPlayer, otherwise you'll get a "Web page cannot be displayed" response. Once you do connect, sit back and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Petition to revoke Duranty's award

A petition is going round to demonstrate public sentiment regarding the New York Times' stubborn regarding its refusal to return the Pulitzer Prize awarded to its discredited reporter, Walter Duranty:

To: The New York Times

This year, 2008, is the 75th anniversary of the "Holodomor," the genocidal famine in which up to 10 million Ukrainians died in 1932-33. It behooves The New York Times, whose reporter, Walter Duranty, received a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and thereafter lied deliberately about the Holodomor, to return his prize. With every day that Duranty's Pulitzer remains with The New York Times, the stain of Duranty's lies spreads ever wider.

The Pulitzer organization refuses to revoke the award, but there is no reason the NYT can't return it in a gesture of goodwill and a demonstration of its commitment to integrity.

You can sign the petition here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Documentary Film: The Soviet Story

This just in by email:

Watch: A Soviet Story

This documentary film by a Latvian director shows how the Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany instigate the Holocaust. Furthermore, it’s a documentary about the Soviet crimes against humanity and its own people.

More importantly, it underlines the similarity of Soviet and Nazi regimes and undisputed ways of how they helped and supported each other.

It ends with a conclusion of how Europe lacks political will to fully condemn Communist crimes against humanity. With Germany and Russia building gas pipelines together, it is difficult to imagine one being vocal against the other, and requiring e.g extradition of former Soviet KGB interrogators who tortured many people to death. They continue to live in Moscow as decorated veterans.

“The Soviet Story” is directed by Edvins Snore, who spent 10 years gathering information and two years filming in several countries. Among those interviewed in the film are Western and Russian historians, as well as survivors of the Soviet Gulag.

This is not a pure documentary and not a pure scholarly work. It injects drama and cinematography that goes beyond what we usually see in documentaries.

I watched the first 20 minutes and will be watching it all with hubby on the weekend. What I saw of it was heartbreaking, but I think it's important to broaden one's knowledge of the awful details of the communist regime. This film certainly starts out doing that.

It's narrated in English and contains a lot of archival documentary footage. There are a few eye-witness accounts that don't have English captions for the Ukrainian-impaired, but the tone of voice, gestures, and footage get the basic point across.

It's about 85 minutes in length, and can be viewed online and/or downloaded.

Get it here, or here. If you do watch it, I'd be interested in your thoughts on it.

Update: Make sure to buy a copy of this film, as by doing so you will support the film-maker, and encourage the production of similar films. Buy additional copies to give as gifts to friends and family, and/or as donations to schools and libraries. Purchase details are here.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

True patriot shames Canada's self-serving politicians

It is no wonder Canadians are becoming as enamoured of our politicians as Ukrainians are of theirs.

I have long had my own thoughts about the political direction of this country, and thought it prudent to keep (most of) them to myself and off this blog. However, the recent idiocy in Ottawa has driven me to break from that tradition.

My intention was to write a diatribe, but nothing I could write would improve upon a letter sent by a retired admiral to two MPs, Minister Gary Lunn and Liberal MP Keith Martin. It was a heartfelt (if probably futile) appeal for help in getting our politicians to display some maturity and dignity, as well as respect for their office and fellow Canadians.

A copy arrived in my email box yesterday shortly after I heard the author read it on the Roy Green Show on a local radio station yesterday (Saturday, Dec. 6). It was also written about here.

I was discussing it today with a dear friend, a retired senior officer from the Canadian Reserves, who also received an email copy of the letter.

He has a message for the instigator of this disgusting debacle: "Jack Layton, stop pulling Dion's strings."

He remarked that Layton has been planning a coup d'état since October when we last went to the polls. I checked around and found that he was right... although this article (and some of the comments) gave me the distinct impression that this isn't the first time the flamboyant NDP leader has cooked up a coup.

I have a message of my own for Mr. Layton, but it is not polite and definitely not printable. Suffice to say that his comments on air gave me a distinct feeling of déja vu ... right back to the election campaign trail.

To me, there is something inherently chilling about a politician who has no respect for any electoral outcome that doesn't favour him or his preferences. (It's also chilling that even after supporting the government's decision to declare the Holodomor a genocide, some of his party's most fervent supporters appear to be genocide-deniers mourning the death of Stalin(ism), but that's another story.)

Then there's the Man-Who-Would-Be-Prime-Minister. Another one who can't accept the will of the electorate when it is not to his liking. A few weeks ago he threw in the towel as leader of the Liberal Party, but jumped at the offer of a plummier job...especially as it came without the need to subject himself to the nuisance of winning an election. What a patriot.

As for the third member of this destructive, self-serving troika, all I can say is that as a Canadian nationalist, I have never had much use for the Blockheads.

In the end, tho, the fault for this mess really lies with the Canadian electorate. And especially, those Canadians eligible to vote who chose to avoid the polls on October 14th. Of any of us, they have the least right to complain about the government they left the rest of us to collectively decide on.

And as for the current chaos in Ottawa, those on either side of the coalition debacle who did vote do have a right to complain. But big deal. Why not do more than complain? Why not, regardless of your support for or opposition to this coalition, at least closely consider the single issue that succeeded in getting such politically disparate parties in bed together?

Ask yourself: what momentous national concern could unite staunch centrists, socialists, and separatists? Was it a human rights violation? Fiscal irresponsibility? Abolition of unions and/or universal health care?

Heavens, no. Nothing so trivial as any of the above.

It was the earth-shattering prospect of losing a few million tax dollars allocated to their collective political troughs. (Quick, can anyone say "corporate welfare"?)

Just remember, tho, that Canadians voted these jokers into office, either by voting or by abdicating that civic responsibility. Furthermore, some of us even approve of paying for their campaigns with the hard-earned tax dollars of our fellow Canadians, some of whom definitely don't support them.

You want a taste of genuine love of country and democracy? Then read this letter written by someone who truly believes in serving his country, rather than his own ambition and political ideology.

Read it and weep. Because if the leaders (and backers) of this coalition have their way, a taste may be as much democracy as you and I will be enjoying in the near future.


As you both may be aware I contributed financially towards your recent re-election - not because of your Party affiliations but because I know and respect both of you.

Regretfully, I am too old now to serve Canada in any political capacity. However, I did serve faithfully for 38 years in the RCN and the Canadian Armed Forces - including in NDHQ, as a Rear Admiral and Vice Admiral, where I had the honour to serve both under Liberal and Conservative Ministers of National Defence. In every instance they received my complete respect and loyalty regardless of Party.

My father also served in Canada's Navy for 37 years from 1909 to 1946. He commanded several RCN ships and both coasts, and was ultimately the Commanding Officer Pacific Coast during the last three years of World War II.

His father was Speaker of the House of Commons, during the Laurier Government, then was Minister of Inland Revenue, then Minister of Marine and Fisheries (in which capacity he became the founding Minister of the Royal Canadian Navy), then served as Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and ultimately died in office as Lieutenant Governor of Quebec. He devoted his entire life to Canada.

On behalf of three generations who have devoted their lives to Canada, I unequivocally condemn the power grabbing political charade now taking place in Parliament.

We are witnessing a deplorable and juvenile scene which demeans its participants, and also further erodes the residual prestige of a Canada which in both World Wars achieved greatness and international respect.

Politicians and their sycophants delude themselves into believing that Canada has influence and prestige in the modern world. Compared to the Canadian international influence and prestige I witnessed in the 1950's we have become moralizing nonentities who are recognizably no longer even capable of constructing our own warships, submarines and military aircraft; and will soon become totally dependent on other nations for even our means of defence

When a terrorist crisis hits Canada - and someday it undoubtedly will - the politicians will scurry about seeking who to blame for lack of capability or preparedness. I can save them the trouble - look in the mirror! Make it a long look if you come from the NDP - the political party which has consistently opposed defence spending over the past three decades.

So this obviously dysfunctional consortia is about to approach the Governor General seeking her concurrence to form the next government? Ask yourselves how Her Excellency will be able to reconcile the fact that Canadian soldiers, of whom she is the Commander-in-Chief, are fighting, and dying for Canada in Afghanistan; while Canadian politicians are obsessed with power grabbing. Our military are not stupid - how long can they be expected to put their lives on the line under those circumstances

There was a stunning contrast yesterday between the statesmanship displayed by President-Elect Obama with his National Security Team and the complete lack of statesmanship in Canada's Parliament. A great many Canadians will have noted that contrast and be disgusted with Canada's politicians.

I realize that you are only two Members of Parliament among many. I can only hope that my words and my respect for you may assist you in bringing your colleagues to their senses.

Nigel Brodeur

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