The Mysterious tale of a Ukrainian University's anti-Semitic crusade: featuring the KKK's David Duke, former KGB operatives, Palestinians and many more.

Author:Epstein, Nadine
Position::THE NEW EASTERN EUROPE
 
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IN 2004, I READ THAT A UKRAINIAN UNIVERSITY was orchestrating an international "anti-Zionist" campaign and had invited former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke to teach. Some of Ukraine's most powerful leaders, including current president Viktor Yushchenko, were closely associated with the school, the country's largest accredited private educational institution. Last year, as this crusade was drawing to an end, I flew to Kiev in the hopes of learning why a modern-day university would choose to promote anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda. I met with Ukrainian journalists, Jewish leaders, experts in anti-Semitism and students, eventually paying a visit to the strangely named Mizhrehional'na Akademiia Upravlinnia Personalom--the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, known by its Ukrainian acronym, MAUP.

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MAUP is not in downtown Kiev, with its gloriously ornate pre-war architecture and post-independence hip-urban vibe, but in a sprawling neighborhood congested with cars and the detritus of ongoing construction. Its main campus is a kitschy mix of Soviet high-rise architecture and contemporary cheap structures enlivened with rows of busts and bright colorful flags. Statues scattered throughout the grounds memorialize weapon-brandishing heroes from Ukraine's past. I don't recognize most of them, but can identify Sviatoslav, the Duke of Kiev: He's celebrated for his defeat in 968 of the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people who had converted en masse to Judaism. I'm also intrigued by numerous oddly shaped replicas of archeological artifacts that pay tribute to the ancient Tripol people, symbols of "pure" Ukrainian culture to the country's extreme right-wing.

These and other monuments reflect the growing national pantheon of heroes that an independent Ukraine is excavating from history to replace the Soviet narrative imposed between 1918 and independence in 1991. The parliamentary democracy has struggled to develop a state-affirming history necessary to build unity and loyalty, and in 2002, MAUP, stepped in and positioned itself as a torchbearer of Ukrainian nationalism.

The school, which boasts over 45,000 students from 32 countries at 26 regional branches, launched a self-described campaign against Zionism, which unleashed anew the floodgates of anti-Semitism. Although it has largely wound down, coming to an "official" close at the end of 2007, the country is still recovering from the damage it inflicted. Mystery continues to surround MAUP's efforts, which drew anti-Semites from around the world. Among them was former Grand Wizard Duke, on whom it bestowed an honorary doctorate in 2002, when it published his book, The Jewish Question through the Eyes of an American: My Investigation of Zionism. Three years later, 12 MAUP professors unanimously lauded his dissertation, "Zionism as a form of Ethnic Supremacism," and awarded him a Ph.D. In it, he labels the civil rights movement, feminism, Marxism, Communism and the Holocaust as "Jewish conspiracies" that led the white world to lose its empire and face "a demographic and genetic catastrophe."

Duke's book was among several hundred a year espousing anti-Semitism published by the university's press and widely distributed on campuses, and in bookstores and kiosks throughout the country. "Classics" included a commemorative edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and former Syrian Defense Minister Mustapha Tlass' 1983 blood libel tome, The Matzoh of Zion . Most of the books were written by Ukrainian authors such as Vasily Yaramenko, who claims that "400,000 Jewish SS" invaded Ukraine and were responsible for the 1941 massacre of 33,731 Jews at Babi Yar, a ravine outside Kiev. Another prolific author was the founder and president of MAUP, Georgy Shchokin, 55, who, in a 2005 book, wrote that Mussolini, Franco and Hitler were Jewish and concluded that Jews were responsible for the "deaths of several tens of millions."

MAUP's glossy monthly magazine, Personnel, and its newspaper, Personnel Plus, ran several anti-Semitic articles in each volume. "According to our research, MAUP has published 85 to 90 percent of all anti-Semitic publications in Ukraine today," says Vyacheslav Likhachov, a well-respected expert on anti-Semitism who is based in Kiev and monitors how minorities are treated in Ukraine for the European Jewish Conference and Ukraine's Congress of Ethnic Minorities.

Many of these texts focused on Jewish history in Ukraine. "The question of whom to blame for evils against Ukrainians is something MAUP has specialized in," says Per Anders Rudling, who teaches in the history and classics department of the University of Alberta and researches Ukrainian nationalism and anti-Semitism. Ukraine's extreme right-wing, he explains, consistently portrays Ukrainians as victims of Jews. "From the perspective of anti-Semites, Jewish domination of Ukraine began in the Middle Ages and has lasted until today."

MAUP is a significant institution in Ukraine. Among its graduates are chairmen of state committees, deputy ministers, mayors, diplomats, leading members of the president's administration, heads of universities and military commanders. Some of the country's highest-ranking leaders have served on its governing board or as fellows in its think tank. In addition to Yushchenko--the hero of the 2004 Orange Revolution, who was poisoned and disfigured by dioxin and came to power after massive election fraud by his rival, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych--other members of Ukraine's political elite are alleged to have been on the school's payroll. These include Leonid Kravchuk, the former leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party and the first president of independent Ukraine; former Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk; and Levko Lukyanenko, the first Ukrainian ambassador to Canada and a former member of Prime...

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