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Henry Srebrnik

Born in Poland, raised in Montreal, education in Boston and Birmingham, and residing in Charlottetown, Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island. He teaches comparative politics, and his scholarly expertise is the history of the 20th-century Jewish Communist movement. Writing about 100 op-ed pieces per year in addition to his academic work, Dr. Srebrnik is a valued contributor to the PAH.

Chrystia Freeland and the complexities of history

On March 8, the Globe and Mail reported that “Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has known for more than two decades that her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was the chief editor of a Nazi newspaper in Nazi-occupied Poland.” Her grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a Nazi propagandist for Krakivski Visti (Crakow News), 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. The paper was a mouthpiece for the Nazi regime, circulated among ethnic Ukrainians living under the “Generalgouvernement” of Hans Frank, Hitler’s Governor-General of the occupied Polish territories. That area of Poland, known as Galicia, had been contested between Germans, Poles, Russians, and Ukrainians over the decades, and Hitler was playing them off against each other. But it doesn’t excuse collaboration with the Nazis – though some Chomiaks defenders are using that excuse to portray his as simply a Ukrainian nationist defending his own people. What are the sources for the information that Freeland’s grandfather worked for the Nazis? No, it isn’t something cooked up in Moscow. The Ukraine Archival Records held by the Province of Alberta has a whole file on Chomiak, including his own details about his days editing the newspaper Krakivski Visti. Chomiak noted he edited the paper first in Crakow, Poland and then in Vienna, after he had to flee with his Nazis colleagues as the Russians advanced into Poland. Yet as of March 7, Freeland was falsely claiming this story was Russian disinformation, even though she had helped edit the monograph Krakivski Visti and the Jews, 1943, written by her uncle John Paul Himka, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, and published in the Journal of Ukrainian Studies in 1996. All of my family… Read More

Requiem for a ruling elite

Maybe the astounding result in the 2016 American presidential election, which saw the most improbable of candidates, Donald Trump, beat the seasoned pro, Hillary Clinton, should not have been the shock it was. A system that had completely failed tens of millions of people for decades, and especially after 2008, needed a rude awakening. The Democrats even lost the “rust belt” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, long their bastions! The political elites, had Hillary Clinton won, would over the next few years have allowed the rage to continue building, and 2020 would be a lot worse than today. A really smart ruling class would have allowed Bernie Sanders to beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries, instead of fixing it and crowning her. Now they’re looking for excuses. Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal even claimed that a group of “right-wing agents” in the FBI intentionally prevented Clinton from behind elected president. This is indeed sour grapes. Clinton lost because not enough of members of her core constituency came out for her. Clinton held an 80-point advantage among African-Americans, but was unable to match Obama’s 87-point edge in 2012. She won 65 per cent of Latino voters, compared with the 71 per cent who voted for Obama in 2012. Among millennials, she won 54 per cent, compared with 60 per cent for Obama in 2012. With women, she barely improved on Obama, gaining 54 per cent among them, just one per cent more than Obama’s vote in 2012. This is indeed sour grapes. Clinton lost because not enough of members of her core constituency came out for her. Donald Trump, on the other hand, “overturned the table.” We are in uncharted waters, for sure, but with Clinton, the establishment seemed oblivious to the charted ones, and they were heading straight for the… Read More

Why is the European Union Failing?

The attempt to build a European super-state has hit rough water, being buffeted on the one side by the wave of migrants entering the continent from Africa and Middle East, and by the rise, in reaction, of ethnic nationalism in countries such as Hungary and Poland. The greatest blow, of course, has been the decision of the United Kingdom to exit the union. Globalizers have been taken aback by this, and seem unable to comprehend the desire of many citizens in long-established nations to retain their own sense of cultural identity – and, not coincidentally, to recreate an economic order in their countries that privileges them over foreign labour and capital. As well, suggests Kelly McParland in the Oct. 29 National Post, “Britons had already decided for themselves that it was better to go it on their own, and risk the results, rather than continue to subject themselves to the madness of the world’s most dysfunctional, disunited ‘union’” and be forced to respond to every new missive from “some no-name apparatchik in Brussels.” The post-2008 Eurozone crisis has hit southern European countries particularly hard. Italy, Spain, and Portugal all chafe under a regime of austerity that benefits stronger economies like that of Germany. In these countries youth unemployment now approaches 50 per cent and surveys report an unprecedented level of pessimism among them. Aimlessness and lack of opportunity have driven up the suicide rate. In the end, the EU may collapse because it doesn’t have the kind of support that individual countries take for granted from their citizens. Worst hit has been Greece: six years of financial and fiscal oversight by the Eurozone and the International Monetary Fund have brought a cumulative loss of 27 per cent of its economy, an unemployment rate of 24 per cent, and political instability.… Read More

Can the Republicans still avoid a moral disaster in this election?

  A millionaire “playboy” in 2005 made absolutely revolting remarks about women. He then had the misfortune to come up against the Clintons. His remarks have now come back to haunt Donald Trump. And no Republican supporter can in good conscience now vote for such a lout. The Clinton apparat of spies and informers would be the envy of the Stasi or KGB. They are brilliant at engaging in what the Russians call “kompromat.” Nothing you have ever said or done will remain private. Did you flunk arithmetic in grade two? The Clintons will know of it. Did you cheat pitching in a Little League baseball game at age nine? They will find out. Don’t run for office unless you’ve been in a coma since 1956. There’s an element of irony in all this: it’s the liberal Democratic elites on the two coasts who are most responsible for the cheapening of American culture. They are the ones, rather than conservatives, who produce the movies, cable television shows, raunchy music, and so on, that sexualize women. The saddest result of Trump’s downfall is that the issues that propelled him to win the Republican nomination will no longer be addressed. The timing was also convenient. Lost in the furor was the release by WikiLeaks of the transcripts of Hillary Clinton’s three speeches to the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, for which she was paid an astounding $675,000. She suggested that Wall Street insiders were best qualified to regulate the banking industry and also included her apparent admission of the need for money from banking executives for political fundraising. In a wink at the listeners, she remarked that “if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least.… Read More

Does Turkish democracy remain in danger – from Erdogan?

    Turkey was plunged into chaos on July 15 after a faction within the Turkish armed forces calling itself the “Peace at Home Council” launched a coup. But it fizzled out, as people swarmed onto the streets in a show of support for the elected government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Even Turkey’s four main opposition parties condemned the coup attempt, and most of the important branches of the military and security services rallied to the government’s side. “What is being perpetrated is a treason and a rebellion. They will pay a heavy price for this,” Erdogan promised. “This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army.” The president blamed the coup attempt on a small group of military officers loyal to a Pennsylvania-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who maintains a network of adherents across Turkey and has long challenged Erdogan’s hold on power. The officers were apparently destined to lose their jobs in August during a military reshuffle. “He has been obsessed with the Gulenists for years,” according to Derek Chollet, a former senior White House official. “I have been in meetings where he’s spent more time talking about them than the threat from the Islamic State.” The movement denied any involvement in the coup.   The current unrest has revealed a society deeply polarized between supporters and opponents of the president, who remains hugely popular and commands the admiration and loyalty of millions of Turks.   Erdogan has made many other enemies in the 13 years he has run Turkey, first as prime minister and then, since August 2014, as president. Hundreds of officers have been imprisoned by his government, some of them accused of coup-plotting. He wants to change Turkey’s constitution, which was promulgated in 1980 following… Read More
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