On Jeremy Appel, “My Afternoon with Ukrainian Nationalists in Edmonton,” The Orchard, 1 May 2024

My talk in Edmonton focused on the “crippling legacy” of Canada’s first national internment operations, the theme of a new book, Lest They Forget. While speaking, I advocated for the restoration of an internee cemetery, located in Quebec’s Abitibi region. The graves of over a dozen people, including several children and one man shot dead trying to escape from Spirit Lake, are found there. They remain unmarked and all but forgotten. Frankly, I’m surprised anyone claiming to be a “progressive” would mock my plea that we do something about this injustice.

The booklets I referenced detail the wartime history of the “Galicia Division” and discuss the so-called “Hunka incident.” The former is found on the website of the Ukrainian World Congress. As for Yaroslav Hunka, a Galicia Division veteran, his case is discussed in Cui Bono? My argument is simple. Like most Canadians, I affirm that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Given that no one has ever produced any evidence of wartime wrongdoing by Mr Hunka, he is an innocent Canadian citizen. Similarly, Progress Report’s Duncan Kinney, whom the Edmonton Police charged with vandalism for allegedly defacing monuments located in a cemetery and on private property, remains innocent until found otherwise. When Duncan gets his day in court we’ll see where the evidence points.

I also spoke about how David Pugliese, an Ottawa Citizen reporter, having chosen not to heed my advice and read Enemy Archives: Soviet Counterinsurgency Operations and the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023), nevertheless published an article citing Lev Golinkin, who, while also never having read the book, felt comfortable misrepresenting its contents – The Orchard’s Jeremy Appel has now joined them. Serious people prefer book reviews written by individuals who have read what they are commenting on.

Whether Mr Golinkin’s writing reflects prejudice is a matter of opinion, I suppose, but I think the following quotations from an article by Vladislav Davidzon, published in The Tablet (11 July 2023), are telling. Writing as “one Ukrainian Jew to another,” Mr Davidzon observed: (emphasis added):

The Forward debases its proud historical legacy of anti-authoritarianism by publishing such nonsense. The article in question by Mr. Golinkin represents a rehashing of his numerous previous interventions in the debate. I only wish that he knew what he was talking about. What makes his argument worth engaging with is that similar beliefs remain widespread among a swath of post-Soviet emigres who are older than 50, at the same time as they are becoming commonplace among a segment of the American progressive left.”

This “open letter” also notes:

“…it is important to understand the origin of the appetite for The Forward’s fearmongering about Ukrainian neo-Nazis. The constant stream of articles by people like Mr. Golinkin is a market response to Americans’ ceaseless demand for garbage to feed the hunt for imaginary Nazis. As a Jew who was born in Ukraine but one who has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever returned to the country in the 30-plus years since his family immigrated to America, Golinkin has almost certainly not put in the necessary effort to understand for himself the radical and remarkable changes that have swept over his ancestral land.”

Finally, Davidzon adds:

“Thus, I rather pity Mr. Golinkin than dislike him. His unremitting search for followers of the Ukrainian interwar integralists is the politics of the post-Soviet Jews of the generation of my parents and grandparents. He is far too young to be consumed by these sorts of fantasies, but he is being rewarded by a bonkers progressive left that worships Soviet-era communists but sees Nazis under every bed. Yet his fears—which I have empathy for as a fellow Jew—are his own and should not be projected outward. So, I humbly beseech you Mr. Golinkin, as one Ukrainian Jew to another: Man up and face your fears. But do so without needlessly disgorging them onto other people in the midst of a war of existential survival.”

I remember when self-styled Ukrainian Canadian “progressives” adorned their “labour temples” with portraits of Stalin. In those days the editors and writers of The Jewish Daily Forward (as that newspaper was then called) found apologists for Stalinism to be just the opposite of “progressive.” Nowadays, The Orchard’s claim about providing “news and analysis from an unabashedly progressive perspective” is likewise risible. Evidence-based writing is always preferable to yellow journalism, even if some scribblers pretend to be “progressive.”

Professor Lubomyr Luciuk, 1 May 2024