Update on US Aggression: Further War Crimes in Iraq.

By Bill Van Auken
14 March 2017

A US airstrike claimed the lives of at least 11 civilians in the besieged northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, according to Iraqi security officials.

In addition to the dead, including women and children, another four civilians were wounded in the bombing.

“A suspected coalition plane struck a mobile target, which left 11 civilians dead and injured four others,” a security source told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. The brief description suggests that the US warplane struck a vehicle loaded with civilians attempting to flee the fighting.

The densely populated area of western Mosul has been under constant attack since mid-February when Iraqi forces–including army troops, police, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni tribesmen and Shia militias–began operations aimed at retaking that part the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which routed government forces and took control of Mosul in June of 2014.

The US-backed offensive is steadily reducing much of Mosul to rubble and there are clear indications that the Pentagon has given the green light for airstrikes that inevitably result in the killing of unarmed men, women and children.

The British-based monitoring group Airwars issued a recent report estimating that up to 370 civilians were killed in 11 separate bombing raids carried out by US and allied warplanes in the first six days of this month alone. The airstrikes have not only continued, but intensified since then.

The British daily Telegraph provided a graphic account of the carnage unleashed upon one neighborhood in western Mosul.

“Samood is a hellish landscape,” the paper reports. “Every third house seems to either bear the scars of a fierce firefight or is completely leveled. Burned-out husks of cars and the rubble from razed houses block most of the neighbourhood’s streets.”

Yusuf Ahmed, a 47-year-old resident of Mosul, told the Telegraph how his brother, sister-in-law and their two daughters were killed by US bombs as they huddled in the basement of their home in the next neighborhood over.

“They dropped leaflets over the city telling us not to worry about the strikes, saying that they were extremely precise and would not hurt the civilians,” he said. “Now it feels like the coalition is killing more people than Isil [ISIS].”

Ahmed estimated that at least 300 people had been killed in US-backed siege of Samood and his late brother’s neighborhood of al-Mansour alone.

Hashem Abdullah, another resident of Samood, told the Telegraph how a US warplane targeted a house opposite his own where ISIS members held meetings. At the moment an ISIS member walked out the door, the plane struck. “The fighter was only injured, but 11 members of one family in the house next door were instantly killed,” he said.

The murderous conditions in western Mosul have forced over 18,000 people to flee their homes in the last week alone. The total number displaced from the city as a whole since the US-backed forces first began their assault on eastern Mosul last October now stands at 293,000.

An estimated half a million people remain trapped within the city facing not only US bombs and missiles, but also lack of drinking water along with scarce food and other essential supplies.

The assault on Mosul is part of a broader US escalation in Iraq and Syria and, indeed, throughout the region. The Pentagon has recently doubled the number of troops it has deployed in Syria in preparation for a similar bloody assault on the city of Raqqa and in an attempt to prevent an all-out war between Washington’s NATO ally, Turkey, and the Kurdish YPG militia, which functions as the Pentagon’s main proxy ground force in Syria.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, US warplanes carried out more airstrikes during the first week of March than during any single year under the Obama administration.

According to Foreign Policy, in 2016 the Pentagon prepared plans for stepped up operations in Yemen against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been greatly strengthened by the US-backed war being waged by Saudi Arabia to restore its puppet government to power there.

“The Obama administration handed over plans for a stepped-up campaign to the incoming Trump team in January.” Foreign Policy reports, “There has been an immediate change in the tempo of operations. This reflects the new administration’s apparent preference for prompt military action over policy deliberations, and a more dominant role for the military in decision-making.”

“By default, everything is going to be quicker from flash to bang than it was during the Obama presidency,” a former Pentagon official told Foreign Policy .

The wave of US airstrikes in Yemen was preceded by the abortive January 29 special forces commando assault on a Yemeni village that saw dozens of civilians massacred, a Navy Seal killed and several others wounded and a $75 million aircraft abandoned.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the Trump administration is seeking to brush aside limited restrictions placed on US military operations by the Obama White House for the ostensible purpose of limiting civilian casualties. These procedures were put in place in an attempt to assuage mass popular outrage over drone assassinations and massacres carried out in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Under these rules, the military was supposedly required to establish that those targeted for killing represented a threat to the US citizens and that any proposed operation would include a “near certainty” of no civilian deaths. Numerous strikes carried out by the US military violated these formal restrictions. Now, it appears, even the pretense is being waived.

According to the Times, Trump has signed off on a Pentagon request to designate three Yemeni provinces as “areas of active hostilities” and is about to grant similar approval in relation to Somalia. This is not unprecedented, as the Obama administration did the same thing in relation to Libya last August when the Pentagon launched a series of 495 airstrikes against the city of Sirt, which was under the control of ISIS. It did so as well last year in Somalia, after US troops were sent in to train Somali and African Union forces.

By declaring these areas effective war zones, the White House is lifting any requirement that attacks be vetted by national security officials in Washington and allows for any civilian casualties that can be justified as “proportionate.”

The shift in relation to these policies stems in part from the Trump administration’s executive order calling for the Pentagon to submit a strategy for escalating the US “war on terror.” That order called for the plan to include “recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement and other United States policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of international law regarding the use of force.”

The Pentagon submitted its recommendations at the end of last month, and all the indications are that they will entail a major increase in bloodletting by the US military in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.




VIDEO: Queen unveils monument celebrating half a million Iraqi deaths

Half a million Iraqi children are dead in what was, according to Kofi Annan “an illegal war” and the British Monarchy sees this as an opportunity to celebrate. Only the richest spongers in the UK could think this one up.


from UKColumn News

On March 9 The Queen and Prince Philip unveiled a new monument to “honour the duty and service of both UK armed forces and civilians” in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, it’s official. The UK celebrates its illegal wars, the subsequent murder of tens of thousands of innocent people, the destruction of a society and the fostering of terrorism.

The artist who created the monument described it as “twin monoliths” in a nod towards 9/11.

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‘Unfortunately there are many more decent than brave people’ — Michael Sfard – by Robert Herbst

‘Unfortunately there are many more decent than brave people’ — Michael Sfard

on March 12, 2017

Michael Sfard, a leading Israeli human rights lawyer in the prime of his career, came to NYU Law School last Thursday evening to give lawyers, law students and political activists from Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) and Jewish Voice for Peace (“JVP”) a sense of what it is like now to fight for the rights of both Palestinians and dissenting Jews in Israel and the West Bank. The picture he painted was not pretty.

Sfard, the grandson of Holocaust survivors and the son of parents who were deported from Poland because of their pro-democracy activity, has for years represented Palestinians seeking relief from the confining constrictions of the occupation and Israeli activists and peace organizations like Peace Now and Breaking the Silence who protest and resist it.

Since 2006, Sfard said, “the atmosphere of human rights in Israel has become more violent and toxic.” When Israeli human rights activists responded in 2009 to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza by speaking outside Israel, they were considered traitors. Right wing monitoring organizations like NGO Monitor stepped up their targeting of Israeli peace and human rights organizations and their sources of financial support. In 2011, a settler from Kiryat Arba was indicted after calling for Sfard’s assassination in an Internet posting.

“We can no longer resist with complete freedom. One has to be brave to participate in non-violent dissent, and unfortunately there are many more decent than brave people. Israeli politicians are afraid,” and there have been a “tsunami of bills to close the democratic space available to us.”

As examples, Sfard noted that, last month, “the Knesset ordered the civil administration and army to commit a war crime,” authorizing the expropriation of private Palestinian land across the West Bank for the exclusive use of settlers. Under this “Regularization Law”, Palestinian land would be confiscated if Israelis have illegally built settlements or outposts upon it or have cultivated it. Thousands of Palestinian families stand to lose the right to their land under the new law.

One of the interesting sidelights of his work is the question of whether to go to court to challenge such a law. On the one hand, Sfard said, there is a good chance the Israeli courts would strike it down. On the other hand, the passage of the law has increased the chances of intervention by the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), whose prosecutor is in the midst of a two or three year preliminary inquiry. The moral dilemma is whether to fight in the Israeli system to remedy the abuse to one’s individual clients – a fight which can sometimes help legitimize the abusive system itself, by cleaning up its worst aspects but leaving the occupation itself in place, for example – or whether to try to promote “regime change” of the abusive system – by leaving the most egregious parts in place to encourage outside intervention and pressure, like an ICC prosecution, or the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (“BDS”) Movement across the globe, which he thinks is of critical importance.

Because there is virtually “no left left” and democratic space is dwindling in an Israeli regime “which has abandoned all moral principles,” Sfard argued, “we must maintain dissenting voices” both within and outside the country. The Israeli government fears the perception of a “tightening ring” that both the ICC and BDS represents.

“Israelis think of themselves as people of the globalizing world,” and if it becomes more difficult abroad to say, “I am an Israeli,” that will ultimately have an impact on a “massive abusing machine” – as such machines never remain stable no matter how placid they appear on the surface. Sfard’s hope is that BDS and other outside pressure will help widen the cracks that he hopes his day-to-day human rights work is creating in a regime he hates, in the country he loves.

Robert Herbst is chapter coordinator for Westchester Jewish Voice for Peace and a civil rights lawyer

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‘We may no longer be permitted—nor permit ourselves—to enter Israel,’ scholars write – Philip Weiss

‘We may no longer be permitted—nor permit ourselves—to enter Israel,’ scholars write

  March 12, 2017

Yesterday we mentioned an open letter signed by scholars of Jewish studies deploring Israel’s passage of a law last week barring travel by those who support boycotts against Israel, including BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and boycotts of settlement goods. The letter is being circulated by University of California scholar David Biale, who shared it, though not a list of the signatories. 

We, the undersigned scholars of Jewish studies, write to express our dismay over the bill passed on March 6 by the Israeli Knesset that would bar entry to any foreigner who supports the BDS movement or supports boycotting settlements or goods produced in the occupied territories. We are researchers with a wide range of professional, social, and personal ties to Israel and a diverse array of ideological positions. But we are unified in our belief that this law represents a further blow to the democratic foundations of Israel, continuing the process of erosion wrought by a recent series of bills including the Regulation Law, the Suspension of MKs Law, and the NGO Law, as well as the earlier Boycott Law. This is unacceptable.

We recall the words of Israel’s Proclamation of Independence promising “full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture” to all in its midst. We also recall the yearning expressed in it to “admit Israel into the family of nations.” Recent policies, culminating in the latest Law of March 6, move Israel further away from these founding ideals. To begin imposing constraints on thought and speech, in this case directed against foreigners, is dangerous in and of itself. It joins a growing wave of anti-democratic acts in regimes the world over. But it also portends a time when these same constraints might be directed against Israel’s own citizens, especially those who do not support the primacy of Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic aspirations.

Among us are those who oppose the BDS movement, those who oppose BDS but support a settlement boycott, and those who support BDS. In spite of our different views, we stand in strong opposition to the new law. It will be bad for Israel, bad for the cause of democracy at this fragile moment, and bad for the principles of free speech and thought on which our scholarship is based. We hope that the Israeli judiciary will overturn the new law and assure us that our political speech will not prevent us from continuing our rich scholarly interactions with Israeli colleagues in the field of Jewish studies. Should the law stand, we may no longer be permitted—nor permit ourselves—to enter the State of Israel.

182 signatories as of March 11, 2017, 10 AM PST

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After February: Makhno Returns to Ukraine for the Revolution

After February: Makhno Returns to Ukraine for the Revolution

After his release from prison at the beginning of the February 1917 Revolution in Russia, Nestor Makhno made his way back to his home town in Ukraine, Gulyai-Pole. There he met up with surviving anarchists to take stock of the situation and determine a course of action. Initially, Makhno had considered making the overthrow of the local organ of the Provisional Government, the Public Committee, their first priority. However, he decided it would be better to first focus on creating a Peasants’ Union, which would spearhead the expropriation of the land without having to wait for the Provisional Government to take action. He proposed placing an anarchist at the head of the Peasants’ Union to prevent it from being co-opted by any of the political parties. His comrade, Kalinichenko, opposed this approach, arguing that the anarchists should not take any leadership positions but should instead spread anarchist propaganda to encourage the peasants themselves to take an anarchist path. The following excerpts from Makhno’s memoirs are taken from Chapter 2 of his book, The Russian Revolution in Ukraine.

Returning to Ukraine to Make the Revolution

Upon arrival in Gulyai-Pole, I immediately got together with my comrades from the anarchist group…

I saw before me my own peasant friends – unknown revolutionary anarchist fighters who in their own lives didn’t know what it means to cheat one another. They were pure peasant types, tough to convince, but once convinced, once they had grasped an idea and tested it against their own reasoning, why then they pushed that idea at every conceivable opportunity. Truly, seeing these people before me I trembled with joy and was overcome with emotion.

I immediately decided to start the very next day to carry out active propaganda among the peasants and workers of Gulyai-Pole. I wanted to dissolve the Public Committee (the local organ of the Provisional Government) and the militia, and prevent the formation of any more committees. I decided to take up anarchist action as the first order of business…

The members of our group hastily set up a meeting to discuss practical affairs. By this time my enthusiasm for rushing into action had cooled off considerably. In my report I down played for the time being the carrying on of propaganda work among the peasants and workers and the overthrow of the Public Committee.

Indeed I surprised my comrades by insisting that we as a group reach a clear understanding of the state of the anarchist movement generally in Russia. The fragmentation of anarchist groups, a phenomenon well-known to me before the Revolution, was a source of dissatisfaction for me personally. I could never be happy with such a situation.

“It is necessary,” I said, “to organize the forces of the workers on a scale which can adequately express the revolutionary enthusiasm of the labouring masses when the Revolution is going through its destructive phase. And if the anarchists continue to act in an uncoordinated way, one of two things will happen: either they will lose touch with events and restrict themselves to sectarian propaganda; or they will trail along in the tail-end of these events, carrying out tasks for the benefit of their political enemies.

Here in Gulyai-Pole and the surrounding region we should act decisively to dissolve government institutions and absolutely put an end to private property in land, factories, plants, and other types of enterprises. To accomplish this we must keep in close contact with the peasant masses, assuring ourselves of the steadfastness of their revolutionary enthusiasm.

We must convince the peasants we are fighting for them and are unswervingly devoted to those concepts which we will present to them at the village assemblies and other meetings. And while this is going on we must keep an eye of what is happening with our movement in the cities.

This, comrades, is one of those tactical questions which we shall decide tomorrow. It seems to me it deserves to be thoroughly discussed because the type of action to be engaged in by our group depends on the correct resolution of this question.

For us, natives of Gulyai-Pole, this plan of action is all the more important as we are the only group of anarcho-communists which has kept in touch with the peasants continuously over the last 11 years. We know of no other groups in the vicinity.

In the closest cities, Aleksandrovsk and Ekaterinoslav, the former anarchist groups were virtually wiped out. The few survivors are far away. Some of the Ekaterinoslav anarchists stayed in Moscow. We don’t know when they will return. And we still haven’t heard anything about those who emigrated to Sweden, France, or America.

At the present time we can depend only on ourselves. No matter how weak we are in our knowledge of the theory of anarchism, we are compelled to work out an immediate plan of action to be undertaken among the peasants of this region. Without any hesitation we must begin work on organizing the Peasants’ Union. And we must see to it that one of the peasants from our group is at the head of this Union.

This is important for two reasons: first, we can prevent any political group hostile to our ideals from infiltrating the Union; and secondly, by being able to address meetings of the Union at any time on current issues, we shall be creating a close bond between our group and the Peasants’ Union. This will give the peasants a chance to deal with the land question themselves. They can go ahead and declare the land public property without waiting for the ‘revolutionary’ government to decide this question which is so crucial for the peasants.”

The comrades were pleased with my report but were far from agreeing with my approach to the whole matter. Comrade Kalinichenko sharply criticized this approach, advocating that our role as anarchists in the current revolution should be restricted to publicizing our ideas. He noted that since we could now act openly, we should make use of this situation to explain our ideas to the workers, without involving ourselves in unions or other organizations.

“This will show the peasants,” he said, “that we are not interested in dominating them but only in giving them advice. Then they will look seriously at our ideas and, embracing our methods, they will independently begin to build a new life.”

At this juncture we concluded our meeting… For the time being we decided simply to review my report and submit it to further analysis and discussion.

Nestor Makhno

Another Russia ‘Fake News’ Red Herring By Robert Parry

Another Russia ‘Fake News’ Red Herring

Exclusive: In the West, it’s now common for politicians to shout Russian “fake news” when embarrassing facts come out — as happened with Canada’s new foreign minister hiding a Nazi family skeleton, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

On Feb, 27, Consortiumnews.com published an article describing misrepresentations by Canada’s new Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland about her Ukrainian maternal grandfather whom she has portrayed as a hero who struggled “to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine” but left out that he was a Nazi propagandist whose newspaper justified the slaughter of Jews.

Over the next week, the article entitled “A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet” by journalist Arina Tsukanova (which I personally edited and fact-checked) circulated enough that Freeland was asked about it by the Canadian news media. As often happens these days, Freeland chose not to tell the truth but rather portrayed the article as part of a Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign.

Freeland told reporters, “I don’t think it’s a secret. American officials have publicly said, and even [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel has publicly said, that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada. … I think that Canadians and indeed other Western countries should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at them.”

Though Freeland did not comment directly on the truthfulness of our article, her office denied that her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator.

Other leaders of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government joined in the counterattack. Citing the danger of Russian disinformation, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said, “The situation is obviously one where we need to be alert.”

In an article on March 6, Canada’s Globe and Mail also rallied to Freeland’s defense claiming that she was “being targeted by allegations in pro-Moscow websites that her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was a Nazi collaborator.”

The newspaper also reached out to other experts to add their denunciations of Consortiumnews.com and other news sites that either reposted our story or ran a similar one.

“It is the continued Russian modus operandi that they have. Fake news, disinformation and targeting different individuals,” said Paul Grod, president of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress. “It is just so outlandish when you hear some of these allegations – whether they are directed at minister Freeland or others.”

The Globe and Mail also quoted Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, citing our supposedly fake news as “another reason … we should realize that Russia is waging a war against the free world. It is not just about Ukraine.”

The ambassador then offered some advice about standing up to the Russians and their disinformationists: “I am absolutely sure they will seek new targets in the free world so I would encourage our Canadian friends to be prepared for that, to stay strong and we will be happy to share our experience in how to deal with all these information wars.”

A Second-Day Story

The only problem with all these righteous condemnations was that the information about Freeland’s grandfather was true – and Freeland knew that it was true.

In a second-day story, The Globe and Mail had to revisit the issue, reporting that “Freeland knew for more than two decades that her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was the chief editor of a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland that vilified Jews during the Second World War.”

In other words, not only was our story accurate but Freeland knowingly launched a deceptive attack on us and other news outlets to punish us for writing the truth.

And not only was our story correct but it was newsworthy, given Freeland’s fierce support for Ukrainian nationalism and her deep hatred of Russia. Canadians have a right to know what drives those passions in their Foreign Minister. In this case, her worldview derived from her grandparents who sided with Adolf Hitler and who fled to the West as the Soviet Red Army defeated the Nazis.

Yet, instead of fessing up and acknowledging these facts, Freeland chose to dissemble and slander journalists who were doing their job. And the smears didn’t entirely stop.

Even as the Globe and Mail admitted the reality about Freeland’s grandfather, it continued to disparage the journalists who had exposed the facts. The second line of the newspaper’s second-day article read: “Ms. Freeland’s family history has become a target for Russian forces seeking to discredit one of Canada’s highly placed defenders of Ukraine.”

This pattern has become all too common in the West, to insult and discredit anyone who doesn’t accept the “groupthinks” about the New Cold War. Just as the major news media marched in lockstep over the Iraq-WMD falsehoods, so it has been toeing the line on the hysteria over supposed “Russian propaganda” and “fake news.”

Hidden History

In its second bite at the apple, the Globe and Mail noted that “Ms. Freeland, who has paid tribute to her maternal grandparents in articles and books, helped edit a scholarly article in the Journal of Ukrainian Studies in 1996 that revealed her grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a Nazi propagandist for Krakivski Visti (Krakow News).

“Krakivski Visti was set up in 1940 by the German army and supervised by German intelligence officer Emil Gassert. Its printing presses and offices were confiscated by the Germans from a Jewish publisher, who was later murdered at the Belzec concentration camp.” All of that was reported in our Feb. 27 article.

The Journal of Ukrainian Studies article was written by Freeland’s uncle, John-Paul Himka, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, who credits help from Freeland in the foreword. However, as the Globe and Mail wrote, “Ms. Freeland has never acknowledged that her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator and suggested on Monday that the allegation was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.”

Some members of Freeland’s family have tried to recast the storyline to portray Chomiak as something of a double agent, but Himka said he was never able to verify this information, which he called “fragmentary and one-sided,” the Globe and Mail reported.

Himka added that he never knew that Chomiak had worked for the Nazis until after his father-in-law died and left behind copies of Krakivski Visti in his personal papers.

The day after her initial comments on our article, Freeland’s office offered a brief statement: “Dating back many years, the Minister has supported her uncle’s efforts to study and publish on this difficult chapter in her late grandfather’s past.”

But Freeland, who has a background as a journalist herself, did not explain why she chose initially to dissemble about her grandfather and to slander journalists who were telling the truth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet:Canada’s fiercely anti-Russian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

A Nazi Skeleton in the Family Closet

Exclusive: Canada’s fiercely anti-Russian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says her Ukrainian grandfather struggled “to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine,” but she leaves out that he was a Nazi propagandist justifying the slaughter of Jews, writes Arina Tsukanova.

By Arina Tsukanova

On Jan. 10, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replaced Foreign Minister Stephane Dion with Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist proud of her Ukrainian roots and well-known for her hostility toward Russia. At the time, a big question in Ottawa was why. Some analysts believed that Trudeau’s decision may have started when it still seemed likely that Hillary Clinton would become the new U.S. president and a tough line against Moscow was expected in Washington.

However, by the time the switch was made, Donald Trump was on his way into the White House and Trudeau’s choice meant that Canada was allying itself more with the mounting hostility toward Russia inside the European Union than with President Trump’s hopes for a more cooperative relationship with the Kremlin. With Freeland running Canada’s Foreign Ministry, the chance for a shared view between Ottawa and Washington suddenly seemed remote.

People who have followed Freeland’s career were aware that her idée fixe for decades has been that Ukraine must be ripped out of the Russian sphere of influence. Her views fit with the intense Ukrainian nationalism of her maternal grandparents who immigrated to Canada after World War II and whom she has portrayed as victims of Josef Stalin and the Red Army.

So, Freeland celebrated the Soviet collapse in 1991, which enabled Ukraine to gain its independence. Freeland, then in her early 20s, was working in Kiev as a stringer for The Financial Times and The Washington Post, shining with delight over the emergence of a “New Ukraine.”

By the next decade, working as the U.S. managing editor of The Financial Times, she proudly interviewed then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who had won control as a result of the 2004 “Orange Revolution.” In her approach to journalism, Freeland made clear her commitment to foment Ukrainian-Russian tensions in any possible way. Indeed, during her journalistic career, which ended in 2013 when she won a seat in Canada’s parliament, Freeland remained fiercely anti-Russian.

In 2014, Yushchenko’s rival Viktor Yanukovych was Ukraine’s elected president while Canadian MP Freeland urged on the “Euro-Maidan” protests against Yanukovych and his desire to maintain friendly relations with Moscow. On Jan. 27, 2014, as the protests grew more violent with ultra-nationalist street fighters moving to the forefront and firebombing police, Freeland visited Kiev and published an op-ed in The Globe and Mail blaming the violence on Yanukovych.

“Democratic values are rarely challenged as directly as they are being today in Ukraine,” Freeland wrote, arguing that the protesters, not the elected president, represented democracy and the rule of law. “Their victory will be a victory for us all; their defeat will weaken democracy far from the Euromaidan. We are all Ukrainians now. Let’s do what we can — which is a lot — to support them.”

Ukraine’s ‘Regime Change’

Freeland’s op-ed appeared at about the same time as her ideological ally, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, was caught on an insecure phone line discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leaders of Ukraine should be. “Yats is the guy,” Nuland said about Arseniy Yatsenyuk while dismissing the E.U.’s less aggressive approach to the crisis with the pithy remark, “Fuck the E.U.” Nuland and Pyatt then pondered how to “glue this thing” and “midwife this thing.”

Several weeks later, on Feb. 20, a mysterious sniper shot both police and protesters, touching off a day of bloody mayhem. On Feb. 22, armed rioters seized government buildings and forced Yanukovych to flee for his life. He was then impeached without the constitutional rules being followed. Yatsenyuk became prime minister, and Western governments quickly pronounced the new regime “legitimate.”

The new xenophobic regime in Kiev – bristling with hostility toward ethnic Russian Ukrainians – did not embarrass Freeland. As Canada’s newly appointed minister of international trade, Freeland met frequently with Ukrainian officials, more so than with many of Canada’s leading trade partners.

But the more troubling question is whether Freeland’s devotion to Ukrainian nationalism is rooted not in her commitment to the “rule of law” or “democratic values” or even the well-being of the Ukrainian people whose living standards have declined sharply since the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch (amid continued government corruption), but in her devotion to her Ukrainian grandparents whom she still views as victims of Stalin and the Red Army.

Last Aug. 24, reflecting on so-called Black Ribbon Day, which lumps together the crimes of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler (with Stalin getting top billing), she wrote on Twitter, “Thinking of my grandparents Mykhailo & Aleksandra Chomiak on Black Ribbon Day. They were forever grateful to Canada for giving them refuge and they worked hard to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine. I am proud to honour their memory today.”

In her autobiography, Freeland presents her grandparents in the following way: “My maternal grandparents fled western Ukraine after Hitler and Stalin signed their non-aggression pact in 1939. They never dared to go back, but they stayed in close touch with their brothers and sisters and their families, who remained behind.”

According to Freeland, her grandfather Mykhailo Chomiak was “a lawyer and journalist before the Second World War, but they [her grandparents] knew the Soviets would invade western Ukraine (and) fled.” After the war, her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany before the family immigrated to western Canada, Freeland wrote.

Freeland’s grandfather was allegedly able to get a visa only thanks to his sister who had crossed the ocean before the war. The family story told by Freeland portrays her grandparents as World War II victims, but that is not the real or full story.

Chrystia Freeland’s dark family secret is that her grandfather, Mykhailo Chomiak, faithfully served Nazi Germany right up to its surrender, and Chomiak’s family only moved to Canada after the Third Reich was defeated by the Soviet Union’s Red Army and its allies – the U.S. and Great Britain.

Mykhailo Chomiak was not a victim of the war – he was on the side of the German aggressors who collaborated with Ukrainian nationalists in killing Russians, Jews, Poles and other minorities. Former journalist Freeland chose to whitewash her family history to leave out her grandfather’s service to Adolf Hitler. Of course, if she had told the truth, she might never have achieved a successful political career in Canada. Her fierce hostility toward Russia also might be viewed in a different light.

Freeland’s Grandfather

According to Canadian sources, Chomiak graduated from Lviv University in western Ukraine with a Master’s Degree in Law and Political Science. He began a career with the Galician newspaper Dilo (Action), published in Lviv. After the start of World War II, the Nazi administration appointed Chomiak to be editor of the newspaper Krakivski Visti (News of Krakow).

So the truth appears to be that Chomiak moved from Ukraine to Nazi-occupied Poland in order to work for the Third Reich under the command of Governor-General Hans Frank, the man who organized the Holocaust in Poland. Chomiak’s work was directly supervised by Emil Gassner, the head of the press department in the Polish General Government.

Mikhailo Chomiak comfortably settled his family into a former Jewish (or Aryanized) apartment in Krakow. The editorial offices for Krakivski Visti also were taken from a Jewish owner, Krakow’s Polish-language Jewish newspaper Nowy Dziennik. Its editor at the time was forced to flee Krakow for Lviv, where he was captured following the occupation of Galicia and sent to the Belzec extermination camp, where he was murdered along with 600,000 other Jews.

So, it appears Freeland’s grandfather – rather than being a helpless victim – was given a prestigious job to spread Nazi propaganda, praising Hitler from a publishing house stolen from Jews and given to Ukrainians who shared the values of Nazism.

On April 24, 1940, Krakivski Visti published a full-page panegyric to Adolf Hitler dedicated to his 51st birthday (four days earlier). Chomiak also hailed Governor-General Hans Frank: “The Ukrainian population were overjoyed to see the establishment of fair German authority, the bearer of which is you, Sir Governor-General. The Ukrainian people expressed this joy not only through the flowers they threw to the German troops entering the region, but also through the sacrifices of blood required to fight Polish usurpers.” (Because of Frank’s role in the Holocaust, the Nuremberg Tribunal found him guilty of crimes against humanity and executed him.)

Beyond extolling Hitler and his henchmen, Chomiak rejoiced over Nazi military victories, including the terror bombings of Great Britain. While praising the Third Reich, Krakivski Visti was also under orders by the German authorities to stir up hatred against the Jewish population. Editorial selections from Chomiak’s newspaper can be found in Holocaust museums around the world, such as the one in Los Angeles, California.

The Nov. 6, 1941 issue of Krakivski Visti ecstatically describes how much better Kiev is without Jews. “There is not a single one left in Kiev today, while there were 350,000 under the Bolsheviks,” the newspaper wrote, gloating that the Jews “got their comeuppance.”

That “comeuppance” refers to the mass shooting of Kiev’s Jewish population at Babi Yar. In just two days, Sept. 29-30, 1941, a total of 33,771 people were murdered, a figure that does not include children younger than three years old. There were more shootings in October, and by early November, Krakivski Visti was enthusing over a city where the Jewish population had “disappeared” making Kiev “beautiful, glorious.” Chomiak’s editorials also described a Poland “iinfected by Jews.”

According to John-Paul Himka, a Canadian historian of Ukrainian origin, Krakivski Visti stirred up emotions against Jews, creating an atmosphere conducive to mass murder. In 2008, the Institute of Historical Research at Lviv National University published a paper co-authored by Himka entitled “What Was the Attitude of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists toward the Jews?” The paper states that, by order of the German authorities, Krakivski Visti published a series of articles between June and September 1943 under the title “Yids in Ukraine” that were written in an extremely anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi vein. The Canadian historian writes that Jews were portrayed as criminals, while Ukrainians were portrayed as victims.

Refuge in Canada

As the war turned against the Nazis and the Red Army advanced across Ukraine and Poland, Nazi propagandist Emil Gassner took Mykhailo Chomiak in 1944 to Vienna where Krakivski Visti continued to publish. As the Third Reich crumbled, Chomiak left with the retreating German Army and surrendered to the Americans in Bavaria, where he was placed with his family in a special U.S. military intelligence facility in Bad Wörishofen, a cluster of hotels situated 78 kilometers from Munich in the foothills of the Alps.

The Chomiak family was given accommodations, living expenses and health care. In her biography, Freeland refers to it only as “a refugee camp.” In September 1946, Mikhailo Chomiak’s daughter Halyna was born in that spa town. In May 1948, the facility was closed and Chomiak, the former Nazi editor, departed for Canada.

While it is true that the sins of a grandfather should not be visited on his descendants, Freeland should not have misled the public on history of such importance, especially when her deceptions also concealed how she partly developed her world view. The family’s deep hostility toward Russia appears to have been passed down from Mikhailo Chomiak’s generation to his granddaughter Chrystia Freeland.

Like many of today’s Ukrainian nationalists, including pockets of post-World War II immigrants in Canada and the United States, Freeland glosses over the violent abuses of the current regime in Kiev toward ethnic Russians, including the fatal firebombing of the Trade Union Building in Odessa and enlistment of neo-Nazi militias to prosecute the so-called “Anti-Terror Operation” against ethnic Russian rebels in the Donbass region. Overall, the conflict has killed some 10,000 people, including many ethnic Russian civilians.

But Freeland only sees “Russian aggression” and vows to maintain an unrelentingly hard line to punish Moscow. So, the pressing question about Freeland is whether her family history makes her incapable of an objective assessment of this dangerous New Cold War crisis. Is a person who describes her Nazi-collaborating grandfather as someone who “worked hard to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine” fit to represent Canada to the world?

Arina Tsukanova is a Russian Ukrainian journalist from Kiev currently living in Crimea. Before the Euromaidan she used to work for several Ukrainian newspapers, now closed.