Joe Biden compares Zelensky to Judah the Maccabee but he is more like the evil Greek King Antiochus in the Hanukkah story
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky received a hero’s welcome in his visit to Washington on December 21. Departing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi compared him to Winston Churchill, while President Joe Biden compared him on Hanukkah to Judah the Maccabee, who defended the Jewish temple against the Greek King Antiochus’ forces in ancient times.
Befitting a great liberator, Biden promised Zelensky $1.85 billion more in security assistance, including the Patriot surface-to-air missile battery and precision aerial munitions that will be used to bomb the people of eastern Ukraine.
In his speech before Congress, Zelensky claimed that Ukraine had “defeated Russia in the battle for the minds of the world,” and that its “victories gave the Ukrainian people courage,” which “inspires the entire world.”
Zelensky went on to compare Ukrainian soldiers holding the line against the Russians in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to American soldiers who fought the Nazis in World War II.
Zelensky said: “The Russians’ tactic is primitive. They burn down and destroy everything they see. They sent thugs to the front lines. They sent convicts to the war. They threw everything against us, similar to the other tyranny, which is in the Battle of the Bulge.”
Zelensky went on to state that, “to ensure Bakhmut is not just a stronghold that holds back the Russian Army, but for the Russian Army to completely pull out, more cannons and shells are needed. If so, just like the Battle of Saratoga [turning point in American revolutionary war], the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom.”
Historical Analogies Go Over Well in U.S. of Amnesia
Zelensky’s choice of words and historical analogies went over well among leaders of a country where history education is devalued.
The comparison of the Russian army to the Nazis is obscene considering that it was the Russians who defeated Nazism in World War II; and that the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion is a pivotal component of Ukraine’s army.
Zelensky’s government also has banned left-wing parties much like Hitler did in 1933, whereas the Communist Party is the leading legal opposition party in Russia.
Zelensky’s comparison of the battle for Bakhmut to Saratoga is further nonsensical in light of the fact that the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces of eastern Ukraine voted for autonomy from the Ukrainian government—they were never colonized by the Russians as the United States was colonized by Great Britain before the Revolutionary War.
The Ukrainian army also is not winning the war right now, and Ukraine is the one that provoked the war with Russia following a foreign-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014.
More Like Antiochus
If Zelensky is a modern-day Judah the Maccabee, Jews would be better off celebrating Antiochus this Hanukkah.
In 2019, the CIA-run Radio Free Europe reported on Zelensky’s connection to Ihor Kholomoisky, a Ukrainian oligarch whom the State Department banned from entering the U.S. in March 2021 due to his “significant corruption,” and running one of the “biggest ponzi schemes in world history.”
Kholomoisky’s relationship with Zelensky goes back to around 2012, when Zelensky and his partners in a television production company, Kvartal 95, began making regular content for TV stations owned by Kholomoisky.
During Ukraine’s 2019 election campaign, an ally of incumbent Petro Poroshenko published a chart on Facebook purporting to show that Zelensky and his television production partners were beneficiaries of a web of offshore firms that allegedly received $41 million in funds from Kholomoisky’s Privatbank. (More details on this came out in the Pandora papers.)
A neoliberal who advanced a sweeping privatization initiative, Zelensky has not only banned opposition parties but carried out a reign of terror against political opponents. The victims include the former leader of the Ukrainian left, Vasily Volga, and the Kononovich brothers, leaders of Ukraine’s Young Communist League who were accused of being pro-Russian.
Despite campaigning on a peace platform, Zelensky provoked war with Russia by a) enacting a major troop buildup in eastern Ukraine in February; b) increasing shelling of eastern Ukraine in violation of cease-fire agreements; and c) calling for the retaking from Russia of Crimea and city of Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet.
Swiss journalist Guy Mettan wrote that Zelensky will ultimately be held responsible for Ukraine’s devastation in the war as he “preferred the ruin of his country to a timely compromise.”
Zelensky’s visit to Congress recalled that of South Vietnamese Premier Ngô Đình Diệm, who was also given the red-carpet treatment and great bi-partisan adulation when he visited Washington in May 1957 to demand more support for war against the left-wing National Liberation Front (NLF).
At the time, Diệm was being heralded as “America’s miracle man in Southeast Asia” for holding the line against communism.
He had been installed by the U.S. in 1955 after what was supposed to be the temporary division of Vietnam, and stayed in power by winning rigged elections, while keeping his opponents in a torture chamber beneath the Saigon zoo.
Hidden from plain sight during his visit to Washington, Diệm’s white terror campaign backed by the CIA foreshadowed a similar campaign run by Zelensky.
The world belatedly awakened to the horror in South Vietnam when Buddhist monks burned themselves to protest Diệm’s terror—in a prelude to yet worse horrors that were to come.
When then Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited Saigon in May 1961, he compared Diệm to George Washington, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Privately, however, Johnson told a reporter: “Shit, man, he’s the only boy we got out there.” Which is also true, of course, of Zelensky in modern-day Ukraine.
Weapons of Death
The perversity of Washington’s hero worship of Zelensky was underscored at a conference organized by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on December 14 detailing Ukraine’s use of Western-supplied weapons against civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Representatives of the Joint Monitoring and Coordination Center for War Crimes in Ukraine (JCCC) showed several pieces of 155 mm shells, HIMARS rockets and HARM missiles that caused civilian casualties and the damage done by petal mines, spread by thousands on the territory of the DPR by the Ukrainian army.
Natalia Shutkina, deputy head of the DPR mission to the JCCC, said that “Kiev officials are trying to convince the international community that the weapons supplied by the West are being used allegedly to ‘defend its sovereignty’ and exclusively on military targets. Alas—this is far from the reality. Since NATO countries started supplying arms to Ukraine, military terror has taken on an unprecedented scale: We have seen a four-fold increase in civilian casualties and a three-fold increase in civilian destruction.”
Since November 27, 2022 alone, the Ukrainian army has fired more than 2,800 shells and rockets into residential areas of the DPR, partly with Western weapons, causing numerous civilian casualties in Donetsk, Gorlovka, Makeyevka, Yassinovataya and Elenovka.
The bloodiest day was undoubtedly December 6, 2022, when the Ukrainian armed forces “celebrated” their professional holiday by killing eight civilians and wounding 21 in the Donbas, destroying 53 residential buildings and 29 other structures.
In eight plus years of war, more than 15,000 DPR inhabitants have died; approximately 4,500 of them since February.
According to Shutkina, rocket and artillery fire from the Ukrainian armed forces takes place mainly during the day and early evening when people are traveling to and from work, or shopping.
These terrorist bombings often target shops, markets, schools, kindergartens, cultural institutions and places of worship, which are protected by the Geneva Conventions.
On December 6, the Ukrainian army even used a high-precision M982 Excalibur guided artillery shell to bombard the Druzhba Sports Palace, where the distribution of drinking water to civilians has been organized since Ukraine cut off the Donbas from the only source of water supply—the Severski Donets Canal, which provides water to most of the Donbas.
Zelensky by implication is a war criminal, whose lionization in Washington would make for a good episode of the Twilight Zone—if it weren’t actually real.
 See Seth Jacobs, Cold War Mandarin: Ngo Dinh Diem and the Origins of America’s War in Vietnam, 1950-1963 (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
 Jacobs, Cold War Mandarin, 124. In early November 1963, the Kennedy administration sanctioned a coup against Diệm that resulted in his murder after he promoted reconciliation with the NLF and North Vietnamese government. Whether the same fate awaits Zelensky, particularly if he choses to negotiate with the Russians, remains to be seen.
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About the Author
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He is the author of five books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019), The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018), and Warmonger. How Clinton’s Malign Foreign Policy Launched the U.S. Trajectory From Bush II to Biden (Clarity Press, 2023).
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