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Reflections in Support of Ukraine

Mar 11, 2022

Port Commission Passes Proclamation on Ukraine


Read the Proclamation here

As a descendant of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland, the war in Ukraine impacts me viscerally.

My heart goes out to the Ukrainian people, whose lives have been so upended, and to the Russian people who are now held captive by a tyrant.

To see women and children, fleeing their country by foot, trains, and buses with only a suitcase, is a painful reminder of the pogroms of Stalin and the Nazi death marches of World War II. In contrast to the horrific documentaries I watched in my youth, the fact that we now see such images live and in color reminds me that democracy and freedom cannot be taken for granted.

For Putin to call President Zelensky, who is Jewish, a neo-Nazi is truly disturbing.

The word “Nazi” and references to the Holocaust have become far too casually used to describe simply harsh behavior. Such terms are not just associated with discrimination or antisemitism, their misuse shows a complete disregard for the significance of six million Jews who were systematically slaughtered with the goal of complete annihilation.

The recent damage to the Babi Yar Memorial, erected at the site in Kyiv, 50 years after the 1941 massacre of 33,371 Jews by Nazis the day before Yom Kippur, is a flagrant example of how far some are willing to go to desecrate the memory of this particularly dark time in human history.

All of this is to say that we at the Port need to continue to loudly and actively condemn hate internationally and at home. Our organization has taken appropriately strong stances in support of Black Lives Matter and against the anti-Asian hate that has increased dramatically over the past few years. Similarly, I look forward to working with the Port to include the acknowledgment of the increase in hate crimes that are directed toward Jewish people as well. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the national average of white supremacist propaganda remained at historic levels in 2021, averaging 13 incidents per day with a 27% increase targeting Jews and Jewish institutions. Washington state had the fifth-highest number of incidents in the nation. 

We should also condemn recent reports of antagonism against Russian Americans, especially since many of them fled Soviet oppression to participate in the freedoms that we and the Ukrainians must continue to fight to retain. 

I salute the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people and the desire of the Port to affirm our concern for their plight by passing a proclamation at our last Commission meeting. We urge the United States to work closely with our NATO allies, both to provide further assistance to the brave Ukrainians who stayed to fight the Russian invasion and to provide humanitarian assistance to the millions of Ukrainians who have now become refugees. 

Our Port and our region welcome you with open arms. And we also must confront the rise in antisemitism in Washington. As President Zelensky recently said following the bombing of Babi Yar, “Nazism is born in silence.”

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