Podcast / On The Nose
On the Nose is our biweekly podcast. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.
Volodymyr Zelensky and Post-Soviet Jewishness
Duration
0:00 / 56:15
Published
April 1, 2022

In the month since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has become a global icon. Zelensky, who was elected in 2019 and chose to remain in his country during the assault, is Ukraine’s first Jewish president. His Jewishness, already notable given the nation’s history of antisemitism, has taken on new symbolic importance in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that the assault is justified by its goal of “denazification.” Many Jews around the world, some of whose ancestors once lived in Ukraine, have come to identify with Zelensky, who embodies many of the contradictions of post-Soviet Jewishness, and whose attempts to lobby on behalf of his nation—including in a recent speech before the Israeli Knesset—have highlighted questions about the politics of post-Soviet Holocaust memory. On today’s episode, Newsletter Editor David Klion speaks with a panel of writers and contributors to the new Soviet Issue of Jewish Currents—Julia Alekseyeva, Linda Kinstler, and Helen Betya Rubinstein—about Zelensky’s Jewishness and the meaning of Jewish identity in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine.

Books, Articles, TV Shows, and Podcasts Mentioned:

The Soviet Issue of Jewish Currents

Travesty Show: An Illustrated Correspondence” by Nicholas Muellner and Helen Betya Rubinstein

Servant of the People

Our Oligarch” by David Klion

The Many Oblivions of Babi Yar” by Linda Kinstler

Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution by Julia Alekseyeva

Revolutions podcast

Is Ukraine’s top presidential candidate Jewish? Even his spokesman won’t comment” by Julie Masis

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”

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