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Friday, June 26, 2015

More adventures in Ukraine

It's been another long time since posting here... and my apologies. It's been a while blogging and I have a new appreciation of the skill it took! Not to mention the routine I lost in the process of getting out of the blogging habit.

So I am going to get back into it ... not least of all to lose the new moniker of SB ("Sh**ty Blogger) my brother in law gave me. He was the inspiration to resume blogging with this trip... and, apparently, to get back into the habit. So Collin, thanks for the kick in the backside!

Also thanks to my writing role model and friend, Marsha Skrypuch, for giving me one as well.

To be fair to myself, this trip was emotionally and mentally exhausting. Also, the pace was grueling. LOL Not that I'm complaining, tho! It was an exciting and fascinating experience, and extremely rewarding.

I'd like to thank the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Initiative for making this trip possible. I stopped off first in Toronto for a few days, then spent 16 days in Ukraine. I learned so much, and met so many wonderful people ... some have become new friends, some were cyberfriends that I finally met in person, and some were "old"  friends I hadn't seen in years. As well, along with the new information, I have fantastic memories to share with my listeners, readers and followers.

There was so much happening and the time just flew!

The conference sessions made my head spin. They were so packed with new information and also filled in gaps of my own knowledge of the subject matter, of which I have been a lifelong student.

And when I wasn't conferencing, I met and gadded about with the most interesting people!

Well, "interesting" doesn't begin to describe my UJE hosts and fellow travellers. I was thrilled and honoured to be able to spend time with some very prominent, world-renowned scholars and experts in the field of genocide and propaganda, some whose work I studied in university and later.

Ditto the incredible people I was with on my "free" days.

In Kyiv I met radio colleagues and guests I had interviewed by phone, who have since become dear friends. (Thanks in large part to Vasyl Pawlowsky, who I swear knows just about everyone in the world!) I had some great times in the iconic Kupidon bar where I met some fascinating people doing amazing things. I also had the honour to meet some of the Heroes of Ukraine who are defending freedom and their fledgling democracy.

These memories are preserved in snapshots, videos, audio recordings and copious conference notes which I'm still sorting through, labelling, editing and categorizing. So again, apologies for the gap in posting, and thanks for your patience.  I hope you consider what follows worth the wait. ;)

The conference that UJE hosted was intended for youth, and it was entitled The Seduction of Propaganda and Mass Violence in Ukraine in the 20th—Beginning of the 21st Centuries. It was a 3-day conference which took place in Kyiv June 2&3rd at Українскйи Дім (Ukrainian House), and in Lviv June 5th at the Ukrainian Catholic University.

Conference Brochure - English - front

Conference Brochure - English - back

Conference posters were visible from Khreshchatyk Street.
Inside lobby - Poster says:
Ukrainian House
On the European Square
National Centre of Unity

Many cadets and military students at this youth conference.
The sessions were conducted in English, Ukrainian and Russian.
(I witnessed no oppression of Russian-speakers in Kyiv. Quite the opposite.)
Translation was available, hence the headsets.
This session would likely have been presented in English.
Opening remarks by Adrian Karatnycky, a founder and
co—director of Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Initiative.
Ukraine Crisis Media Centre was set up
in Ukrainian House for this conference.

The first day of the conference focused on genocide and the role that propaganda played (and still plays) in state-sanctioned mass murder. Several presenters described and explained the techniques and strategies of propaganda, which basically don't change much ... except in appearance and the use of new technologies of the time.

Three genocides were addressed: The Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine, the Jewish Holocaust of WWII, and Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1946 (which admittedly I was only vaguely aware of).

Once you have learned the propaganda techniques, it is impossible not to see the parallels from one genocide to the next, despite the different imaging based on the target victim groups.

Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If you have not learned them, you will not recognize them. And sadly, you will think those who do have lost their minds or are just paranoid conspiracy theorists.

Which is exactly what those waging the propaganda war need in order to win. And, literally, get away with murder.

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