“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel.
Putin, the hero of the kleptocratic elite.
There’s a well-known quotation by the American writer Eric Hoffer. “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”
Among the lives of people, individuals and cultures there are some who maintain that the best thing for a man or woman to strive for in this world is to take revenge on their enemies. The satisfaction of thirst for revenge cannot be clearer than it is today. Putin must accept ownership of being at the forefront of adding a venomous fire to hatred and intolerance.
Nowhere is this clearer than this week in Moscow where President Putin, the hero of the ‘kleptocratic elite’ that surrounds him (as referred to quite aptly by James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces, UK), intimidated us by putting the Russian shaska knife deep into the hearts of the Ukrainian people. It was as if his hubristic sickness had no boundaries, other than his hate against the children, women and men of Ukraine.
The great ninth-century Jewish philosopher Saadia Gaon would, I am sure if alive, comment today that Putin’s hate against Ukraine affords the pleasure of seeing the discomfiture of its enemy, assuages the vehemence of its wrath and puts an end to excessive brooding. Saadia said that the man who is consumed by this desire gets into a frame of mind of refusing to accept intercession or entertaining any feeling of compassion or pity or listening to any plea of clemency. Is this where we are today?
My world is also your world
Over one thousand years later Saadia’s comments still reflect the attitude that we have learnt nothing. As we observe Putin’s hatred and intolerance against his neighbour, we find very little is based upon the two way acceptance that my world is also your world.
It is a hatred that has its own direction, its own time and space, egged on by the perverse nature of Putin and his extreme fanatics. It is hatred and intolerance also spurned on by Russia’s oligarchs, who deny they have any political power to appropriate common sense into Putin’s twisted mind. In doing so, they have shown the world they have very little moral fibre left as they enhance their egregious behaviour of open prejudice towards our society, as well as their own.
Today, as reported by Ukraine’s President Zelensky and confirmed by Lyse Doucet, the Canadian journalist who is the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, there was a “missile strike on the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre in Kyiv… where Nazi death squads killed more than 33,000 Jewish people in the space of just two days in 1941.”
Zelensky tweeted saying: “What is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least five were killed. History repeating.”
Regardless of one’s religion or race I say, “Ой, Україно! Мій світ – це також твій світ.” (Oh Ukraine! My world is also your world). Irrespective of our past history, this is the time we all must join forces to confront this Russian despot.