London’s landmark discussion on Jews and new Ukraine

(Left to right): Mark Freiman, Board Member, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter; Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs; Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine; Iosif Zissels, chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine.

The milestone discussion “Jews and new Ukraine” that took place in London on 29 January 2019 touched on a number of important topics currently debated as the country moves toward Europe and democratic reforms.

Leading figures participated in a panel discussion moderated by Peter Pomerantev, the well-known British writer who is currently a senior fellow at the London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs. Historian Yaroslav Hrytsak, one of Ukraine’s leading public intellectuals who is a professor at Lviv’s Ukrainian Catholic University; Iosif Zissels, the former Soviet dissident who is chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine; and Mark Freiman, board member of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, offered their views on a wide-range of topics vis-a-vis Ukrainians and Jews, ranging from history to current affairs.

The speakers discussed what constitutes a “Ukrainian Jew” and noted that because of contemporary political trends, Jews in Ukraine today may feel a closer affinity to different ethnic groups in their country than Jews living in other lands; underscored the low level of anti-Semitism in Ukraine compared to other European nations; and agreed that while Ukrainian nationalists remain problematic, their political parties have garnered less than two percent of the vote in recent parliamentary elections. Society is fragmented over its past heroes and so far, no one historical memory narrative dominates.

Below is a video from the discussion, which is primarily in English, with comments by Zissels in the Ukrainian language.  A full transcript of the discussion in English and in Ukrainian will be available on the UJE website shortly.

Discussion: Jews and new Ukraine, London, UK, 29 January 2019. (in English and Ukrainian with cc English subtitles)

00:00-03:01
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

03:02-11:34
Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine

11:35-12:25
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

12:25-22:55
Iosif Zissels, chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine

22:56-23:11
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

23:12-27:19
Mark Freiman, Board Member, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter

27:18-27:34
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

27:35-30:26
Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine

30:27-30:56
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

30:58-37:03
Iosif Zissels, chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine

37:03-37:22
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

37:23-41:27
Mark Freiman, Board Member, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter

41:28-42:50
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

42:51-46:49
Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine

46:50-49:01
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

49:02-54:45
Professor Yaroslav Hrytsak, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv, Ukraine

54:46-55:10
Peter Pomerantsev, Senior Fellow, London School of Economics Institute of Global Affairs

55:10-59:45
Iosif Zissels, chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine

59:46-end
Question and answer.

Text: Natalia A. Feduschak
Video and photos: Ukrainian Institute London