If there is one thing that I have learned growing up in Quebec, it is that language politics never goes away. Forty-one years after language riots in the Montreal suburb of St-Leonard (over whether children of immigrants should be allowed to study in English) and thirty-three years after the adoption of the Language Law (Bill 101, preventing children of immigrants from enrolling in English schools and making French the sole official language of Quebec), language politics is still making headlines here, this time over whether high school graduates should be free to study in college (an intermediate level, before university) in English (they have been free thus far, per Bill 101). (This latest brouhaha is empirically groundless, if you ask me, but this is for another day).
Monthly Archives: June 2010
My initial post “OUN-Bandera, the 1948 War in Israel, and the Utility of Open Debate” has inspired three replies that all raised the question of who should be included in such a debate. Borys Potapenko (UKL446, item 10) writes that the claims that the OUN instigated a pogrom in Lviv in Summer 1941 have been “authoritatively exposed as part of a Soviet disinformation campaign,” a tainted source feeding the debate. Stephen Velychenko (UKL446, item 11), quoting extensively from a recent article by Peter Beinart in the New York Review of Books, points out that Orthodox Jews, uninterested in a critical stance towards historical or contemporary Zionism, increasingly control the Israel-Palestine debate in the United States and can thereby hardly be counted upon as debate partners on Ukrainian-Jewish history. Evgenyi Finkel, in a comment reproduced at the bottom of this post, argues that the debate, first and foremost, concerns Ukrainians and must be conducted in Ukraine among Ukrainians, irrespective of narratives emerging from Israel, the Jewish diaspora or Russia.
The question is pertinent. If we believe in an open debate on controversial aspects of a national narrative, such as the role of the OUN and Bandera during World War II, then we have to have a clear idea about the players interested in these matters.
In the second issue of Holodomor Studies, librarian Jurij Dobczansky, in an article reproduced with permission in UKL445 (7 June 2010), writes that the Library of Congress has introduced, last Fall, the new categories of Holodomor denial literature (“for works that diminish the scale and significance of the Ukrainian Famine of 1932‑1933 or assert that it did not occur”) and Holodomor denial (“for works that discuss the diminution of the scale and significance of the Ukrainian Famine of 1932‑1933 or the assertion that it did not occur”).
It seems to me that the category of “Holodomor denial” conflates two distinct strands in the charged debate over the Holodomor—that of “Famine-as-Mass-Murder” denial and that of “Famine-as-Genocide” denial.
The Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa, the only research unit outside primarily devoted to the study of contemporary Ukraine, is inaugurating the Chair of Ukrainian Studies the Blog. The Blog will offer musings on ongoing developments in Ukrainian politics and society, on Ukrainian Studies and on activities of the Chair. Comments on the posts are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best ones will be published on The Ukraine List (UKL). The Blog is managed by Dominique Arel, Chairholder, at the Chair of Ukrainian Studies.
The OUN-Bandera debate, sparked by Yushchenko’s decision to declare Stepan Bandera a “Hero of Ukraine” last January, has generated a passionate debate, reproduced in two recent issues of The Ukraine List (UKL441 and UKL442), the Chair of Ukrainian Studies electronic newsletter.
In UKL444 (item 17), sent yesterday, Stephen Velychenko, of the University of Toronto, raises an important point in directly comparing the violence perpetrated against Poles and Jews by Ukrainian nationalists (OUN) in the 1940s with the violence perpetrated against Arabs by Jewish nationalists (Zionists) in 1948.