UCC Statement on misleading September 17 PostMedia article

Statement by  Ihor Michalchyshyn, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, on September 17 article in PostMedia:

“The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) was disappointed to see PostMedia publish a misleading and inaccurate article that distorted the work of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and Canada’s embassy in Ukraine on honouring the victims of the Holocaust and the WWII German occupation of Ukraine in Sambir We are grateful to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine for their statements in support of the important work of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and for setting the record straight.”


Statement from Jim Temerty, Chairman of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter

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Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs response to misleading PostMedia article

 We were concerned by this #Shoah commemoration story so we spoke w/ Mark Freiman, former Chair of the Canadian Jewish Congress, whose grandparents are buried in Sambir & is at the centre of this project. The objective is clear: to right a historical wrong. 

 This story is a deliberate attempt by malign actors to destabilize a process by mischaracterizing it if only by very partially telling the story. #Canada has been central in helping to resolve the issue of appropriate #Holocaust commemoration in #Ukraine. 

 Canada has played a huge and positive role. The opponents of this project are set on torpedoing all the good work that has been done to build a fitting memorial to the victims of the #Holocaust, especially at a very delicate point in the discussions. 

 This is not a monument to Ukrainian nationalists, it’s a grave marker. It’s part of a compromise in a much larger discussion that will lead to a Memorial Park dedicated to remembering the victims of the Holocaust. 

 It will be the biggest in Western Ukraine, and will serve as a powerful education tool and will be enormous accomplishment. The Canadian Ambassador was invited to the opening ceremony of the construction of the Holocaust Memorial Park, which was absolutely appropriate. 

 It is important to note that the Ambassador’s speech focused on Holocaust remembrance and #Canadian values.



Statement from VAAD (Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine)

On August 21, 2019, Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan Sviatoslav, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanius, and Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich attended the ceremony of sanctification of the future “Remember” Memorial Complex to victims of WWII in Ukraine in the territory of the former Jewish cemetery in Sambir, Lviv region.

The ceremony was to seal the compromise achieved earlier: to move three crosses from the territory of the Jewish cemetery and to erect a monument to 17 young Ukrainians, OUN members, who were shot by the Nazi in July 1944. Prior to the ceremony, beautification work was done on the cemetery and its large Jewish common grave was covered with plates. The grave contains remains of around 1,200 members of the Sambir Jewish community killed by the Nazis. Participants in the ceremony said memorial prayers over the common grave of Ukrainian nationalists and the large common grave of Holocaust victims.

Unfortunately, the preliminary agreements were not executed in full, and two out of three Christian symbols were not moved from the Jewish cemetery to a place agreed upon earlier. We would like to emphasize the need to accomplish this process in full, in keeping with the earlier agreements.

Of greatest concern is the fact that attempts to find a compromise in resolving this complex issue of honoring the victims of Nazism from among different nationalities, religions and political views, gained anti-Semitic comments and sharp and incorrect criticism with clear Ukrainophobic coloring in some mass media and social networks. These were aimed at the activities of the Kiev Jewish community, members of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and other active parties in the project.

In view of this situation, the Coordination Council of the Vaad of Ukraine is hereby:

– expressing full confidence in and support of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, the Kiev City Jewish Community and Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich in their efforts to memorialize Nazi victims and organize the mourning ceremony in Sambir;

– calling everyone to self-restraint in one’s assessments and statements on this situation;

– calling journalists to use only verified information and to seek comments from direct participants in the events only;

– resolutely condemning all provocative posts and comments on the situation in Sambir spread about by the mass media and social networks in order to fuel negative emotions.

September 11, 2019 , Kyiv


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