Congratulations, Chrystia Freeland.
You and your handlers not only buried a legitimate news story, but convinced a compliant media, a cowed Jewish leadership and a spineless Jewish press to ignore it, as if it never even existed.
I’m referring, of course, to the short-lived Freeland affair, which broke in Canada several weeks ago.
Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister since January, decided to tough it rather than deal with the hard truth after reports surfaced that her late maternal grandfather, Michael (Mykhail) Chomiak, had been the editor-in-chief of an antisemitic newspaper in Cracow financed and supervised by the Nazi occupation authorities in Poland.
By any yardstick, Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator.
A Ukrainian nationalist who immigrated to Canada in 1948 and died here in the 1980s, he edited Krakivski Visti (Cracow News) from 1940 to 1945. Its office and printing presses had been expropriated from its Jewish owner, who was murdered in a Nazi extermination camp.
A mouthpiece of the Nazi propaganda machine, Krakivski Visti promoted the Ukrainian nationalist cause, glorified German aggression, praised Adolf Hitler and the Nazi governor-general of Poland, Hans Frank, stirred up hatred against Poland’s vulnerable Jewish population and demonized Poles and Russians.
In November 1940, when the Germans were busy barricading Jewish neighbourhoods in Polish towns and cities in preparation for converting them into medieval-style ghettos, Krakivski Visti published this effusive piece: “With great joy, the Ukrainian population welcomes the establishment of (a) just German order… This happiness has been expressed by Ukrainian people not only with flowers that German soldiers that entered our region were covered with, but also with the sacrifices with blood that the fight against Polish usurpers demands.”
The newspaper added that Ukrainians, eager to achieve statehood under Germany’s auspices, were ready for “happy cooperation” with Germany and prepared to lend a helping hand in the “establishment of (a) new order in Europe.”
In 1943 and 1944, when the Holocaust was in full swing, Krakivski Visti hailed the formation of the 14th Waffen SS Division Halychyna. Composed of Ukrainian volunteers, it fought against partisans, among others.
Following the Nazi shooting of some 33,000 Jews in Kiev’s Babi Yar ravine, Krakivski Vesti commented that the city was better without its Jewish population. “There is not a single one left in Kiev today, while there were 350,000 under the Bolsheviks,” it reported. The Jews had “got their comeuppance.” Without Jews, Kiev was now “beautiful, glorious.”
Krakivski Visti welcomed Germany’s aerial bombardment of British cities. The “bombing of industrial plants in Birmingham, Coventry, the port of Liverpool, was good,” it noted.
Freeland’s uncle, the University of Alberta historian John Paul-Himka, described Chomiak’s role in a scholarly article, Krakivski Vesti and the Jews, 1943, published in the mid-1990s.
Freeland helped him edit the monograph.
When reports began emerging that her beloved grandfather had worked hand-in-glove with the Nazis, she hunkered down, cynically denouncing the story as a Russian “disinformation” campaign designed to destabilize Western democracies.
In casting doubt on the story, she implicitly dismissed it as fake news. This was a classic coverup.
Freeland should not pay for the sins of her disreputable grandfather, but as a former journalist, she should know that evasiveness is never the answer to resolving a vexing problem.
If she had been a person of integrity, a mensch, she would have called a press conference and acknowledged her grandfather’s unsavoury relationship with the Nazis and the implicit role he played in the Holocaust. That would have been that. End of story.
Instead, she obfuscated the issue by insinuating that stories about Chomiak’s past were nothing more than a Russian attempt to undermine the West by means of false news.
Shame on you, Chrystia Freeland. And shame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for having silently backed Freeland’s ruse.
Writing in The Toronto Star, a Liberal newspaper, Martin Regg Cohn observed, “Foreign Minister Chrystia isn’t answerable for the actions of her grandfather during the Second World War. But Canadians cannot simply deny historical realities, or minimize them as the ambiguity of morality.”
Much to its discredit, the CBC did not carry a single story on Chomiak. The majority of Canadian newspaper columnists who dealt with the Freeland affair dismissed it as a non-event or downplayed Chomiak’s position as a Nazi stooge.
Two examples will suffice.
Michael Harris, in I Politics, wrote, “Russia is working to destabilize democracies. Canada is now in (its) crosshairs.”
Colby Cash, in The National Post, declared, “I doubt whether it is appropriate for any of us to sit in judgment on Chomiak.”
These thoughtless and ignorant comments blurred reality rather than shedding light on actual events. Their unwillingness to deal with the issues honestly and fearlessly cast a thick pall on their positions as journalists.
Worse still, Canadian Jewish organizations, for reasons which have yet to be explained, chose to remain deafeningly silent as the Freeland affair unfolded. These organizations were complicit in Freeland’s transparent ploy to render the story meaningless and irrelevant. Who can take them seriously after this?
Jewish community newspapers in Canada, nearly all of which are Jewish federation house organs that faithfully toe the party line, failed the test as well. To the best of my knowledge, they did not carry the story or even print a brief item about it. When my friend, Henry Srebrnik, sent two such newspapers a well-argued op-ed piece on the subject, they rejected it on the extremely flimsy grounds that it was an “evolving story.”
What arrant nonsense! In journalism, all stories are in a state of flux and are thus “evolving.” The truth in this case is far simpler. Presumably on orders from their respective publishers or board of directors, the compliant editors of these newspapers decided not to touch the Freeland story, to the detriment of their readers. As newspapers, they failed miserably.
Chrystia Freeland, our esteemed foreign minister, can rest assured that this story will neither embarrass nor inconvenience her any longer.