Petrovsky-Shtern: Ukrainians and Jews have much in common in their battle

April 24,2024 282
Petrovsky-Shtern: Ukrainians and Jews have much in common in their battle

Ukrainians and Jews share much in common in the context of fighting for their freedom, stated American historian of Jewish history and artist Professor Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern in an interview with Marta Farion, UWC Vice President for North America and Vice President of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA).

For many Ukrainians today, it’s absolutely obvious that the war against them is a genocidal war. And many of them make direct parallels, talking, discussing thinking about the war, between what is going on today in Ukraine – the destruction of Ukraine and Ukrainian culture – and the destruction of Jews and Jewish culture during the Holocaust. The parallel between the Holocaust and the Ukrainian war became kind of a trope in many statements of political scientists, scholars, journalists, writers and almost became the inseparable part of the discourse,” says Petrovsky-Shtern.

Over the last 10–15 years, the artist has realized the similarity of experience between both peoples, as is reflected in his works. “I’m bringing different images, connected to Ukrainian cultural traditions to Ukrainian Christianity and  Judaic traditions, biblical references that have, of course, Jewish flavour,” the artist explains.

Petrovsky-Shtern says the theme of the painting “The Expulsion of Paradise” can be close to both Ukrainians and Jews, as it concerns the deprivation of home, an important place for the people. For example, in the painting “Sodom and Gomorrah,” the author depicted the Kremlin engulfed in flames as a symbol of detachment from imperialistic culture and liberation.

Another theme in Petrovsky-Shtern’s works is the lack of truth and justice. Marta Farion highlighted this by comparing it to the six-month delay of the Ukrainian aid package in the US House of Representatives.

Cover: Marta Farion on YouTube