(JTA) — After Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine condemned the honoring of Nazi collaborators in the former Soviet republic, dozens of people rallied outside the Israeli Embassy in Kyiv demanding that Jews apologize for Soviet oppression.
The far-right activists called on Israel and the Jews to assume responsibility specifically for Holodomor, a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s and is widely believed to have been caused by the government of Joseph Stalin, then the leader of the Soviet Union.
“Israel deliberately spreads anti-Semitism in Ukraine,” one protester, a white supremacist activist named Vladislav Goranin, said during a speech at the rally. He said Jews and Israel must “repent for genocide” on Ukrainians.
The action was in response to Israeli Ambassador Joel Lion’s tweet Saturday in which he condemned a torchlight march in memory of Stepan Bandera, a World War II Ukrainian leader whose troops killed thousands of Jews and who for a time was an ally of Nazi Germany.
Ultranationalists in Ukraine and beyond have often blamed Jews for Holodomor, citing the support of many Jews for communism and the prominent positions of power that some of Jewish origins achieved under its rule in the Soviet Union — even though they were often involved in the persecution of other Jews for their faith, which Eastern Bloc Jews were often discouraged from practicing.
Jewish support for communism increased as forces loyal to the czarist regime perpetrated multiple pogroms against Jews.