The New Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin likes to characterize the Euromaidan movement and the current government of Ukraine as a band of fascists and raging anti-Semites; the facts tell a different story. Alone among the former Soviet republics, the “new” Ukraine fosters an atmosphere of diversity and religious tolerance in a region scarred by intolerance.

Russia’s heritage of autocracy, fervent nationalism and religious exclusivism provided fertile ground for persecution of minorities long before Soviet commissars appeared on the scene. State-sponsored pogroms drove more than two million Jews from Russian territories between 1880 and 1920. The Soviets simply added a new layer on an already sordid history.

… we have joined forces with the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation to co-host a Forum on September 25th at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and religious leaders will continue to play a major role.

Now, as the ugly face of oppression shows itself in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainians are standing up collectively to tell Mr. Putin, “No more.”

Even today, separatist thugs have barged into public services, despoiled sacred treasures, abducted clergy and brutally assassinated leaders of every communion. In response, the heads of the major confessions in Christianity, Judaism and Islam have banded together to appeal to their counterparts in the West — appeals that have gone largely unheeded — and visited the United States to enlist support.

The government of Ukraine wholeheartedly supports this “new” Ukraine. Just this week, the Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and the Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, met with the leaders of the World Jewish Congress to discuss the best ways to fight anti-Semitism and plan a commemoration for the 75th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, a horrifying moment during World War II when the Nazis slaughtered more than 33,000 Jews on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Save Ukraine Now works to foster this same spirit of remembrance and unity to create a new future. Our kickoff events for Ukraine Survival – a campaign to fill shipping containers with emergency supplies for Ukrainian refugees – achieved participation by all the major confessions, an unprecedented accomplishment even in the “new” Ukraine. Participants included Bishop Metropolitan Epiphanius of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church; Bishop Ian Sobilo of the Roman Catholic Church; the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Yaakov Dov Bleich; Bishop Valeriy Reshetinskiy representing evangelical churches of Ukraine; and the Mufti of Ukraine, Sheikh Ahmed Tamim. Video greetings were sent by Patriarch Filaret Denysenko of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk, Bishop of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia.

Moreover, as our Ukraine Survival campaign continues to gather momentum nationwide, we have joined forces with the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation to co-host a Forum on September 25th at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and religious leaders will continue to play a major role. Expected guests will include Bishop Daniel (secular name: Volodymyr Zelinsky), Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.; Patriarch Filaret Denysenko, Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate; Bishop Valeriy Reshetinksiy, Ukrainian Missionary Church; Father Victor Simon, Secretary General, Caritas of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine; Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka, Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia; Bishop Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk, Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine; and Sheikh Akhmed Tamim, Mufti of Ukraine, Head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine.

The Russians, in their ham-handed fashion, have helped to forge harmony and cooperation among long-competing confessions and have united Ukrainians of all stripes in opposition to their efforts to build a neo-Soviet empire. This “new” Ukraine may represent the best hope for freedom and opportunity throughout the former Soviet Union.

SUN and U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Join Forces to Host Forum on Capitol Hill

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The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Save Ukraine Now will co-host a Forum at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on September 25, 2015, on the crisis in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Ongoing Battle for Freedom: The Risk of Western Failure in Political, Economic and Humanitarian Assistance, will gather U.S. and Ukrainian leaders from government, religious and non-profit sectors to evaluate the impact of the current crisis in Ukraine and the needed responses. General (ret.) Wesley Clark, Chairman of the Board for Save Ukraine Now, will address the gathering as the keynote speaker. Other confirmed speakers will include Michael Saakashvilli, Ukraine’s Governor of Odessa, and Ukrainian Cabinet Ministers will participate as well.

The UN has reported that five million people, including 1.7 million children, need critical humanitarian assistance yet only 34 percent of the support has been pledged and funded by the international community.

The UN has reported that five million people, including 1.7 million children, need critical humanitarian assistance yet only 34 percent of the support has been pledged and funded by the international community. The Forum will let the people of the region know that the world has not forgotten them, and it will serve as a rallying point for action.

The Forum will start with addresses on the current situation in Ukraine, with attention to the political, economic and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis. The Forum will continue by discussing practical solutions to humanitarian and development issues, with working sessions designed to result in commitments to action.

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Save Ukraine Now, in cooperation with the Ukraine Embassy, have forged a broad coalition to support the event. The bipartisan House and Senate Ukraine Caucuses will sponsor the event, and attendees will include members of Congress, Ukraine cabinet members and other international leaders. The leaders of major religious confessions from Ukraine will also participate in a demonstration of the solidarity that has characterized their response to the crisis.

Most of the discussion in Washington has focused on the political and military aspects of the crisis, and the Forum is designed to provide a 360-degree focus to the crisis by covering all types of assistance and encouraging cooperation among various groups.

For more information about the event, please visit www.saveukrainenow.com/dc-forum-welcome.html.

Cecil the Lion and Moral Outrage

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Last week, 675,000 people unleashed a torrent of moral outrage on Twitter when a dentist from Minneapolis illegally killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. Within 24 hours, the story had gone global. Many were appalled at the way Cecil was lured off a game preserve and brutally killed.

A humanitarian catastrophe unfolds in Europe unlike anything since the end of the Second World War, but Cecil the Lion dominates the news as an overnight international sensation …

675,000 tweets. It was an amazing response.

Everyone has a stake in conserving our environment and protecting rare species. Both Jewish and Christian traditions command stewardship of the earth as an essential element of our humanity. The survival of the planet depends on us taking that mandate seriously.

But, in the last 15 months, more than two million people have been driven from their homes by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. More than five million need humanitarian assistance. As many as 700,000 children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Winter is coming to Ukraine. Twitter has been almost silent.

A humanitarian catastrophe unfolds in Europe unlike anything since the end of the Second World War, but Cecil the Lion dominates the news as an overnight international sensation, and the moral outrage of millions falls on the head of the world’s most infamous dentist, Dr. Walter James Palmer.

In the meantime, scant outrage is directed at Vladimir Putin and his gang of kleptocrats who spent the last 15 years looting Russia and who now grab everything that isn’t nailed down in eastern Ukraine.

Some political leaders point to the modest sanctions leveled against Mr. Putin and his inner circle. But the EU will almost certainly relax those sanctions in the next year. The pressure from business leaders in Germany and France will force their leaders to cave.

That’s why Save Ukraine Now and the US-Ukraine Foundation are organizing a forum on Capitol Hill, September 24th and 25th. Sponsored jointly by the Senate Ukraine Caucus and the House Ukraine Caucus in cooperation with the Ukrainian Embassy, “The Neglected Crisis in Ukraine: The Risk of Western Failure in Political, Economic and Humanitarian Assistance,” will gather U.S. and Ukrainian leaders from government, religious and non-profit sectors to evaluate the impact of the current crisis in Ukraine and the needed responses. General (ret.) Wesley Clark, Chairman of the Board for Save Ukraine Now, will address the gathering on the first day as the keynote speaker.

We should all care about Cecil the Lion, but the human victims of wanton aggression are crying out for our assistance, and we can prevent their deaths.

For more information about the Washington Forum, please click here.

— Submitted by Dr. Gary Kellner

Saving Ukraine One Container at a Time

This map dramatically outlines the areas of Ukraine that are vulnerable today
This map dramatically outlines the areas of Ukraine that are vulnerable today

Save Ukraine Now has sent multiple shipping containers as part of the Ukraine Survival campaign with emergency supplies for more than 1.4 million refugees throughout the nation.

The shipping containers [have each been] filled with hundreds of boxes of supplies from organizations in Detroit, Baltimore, Orlando, and Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Fifteen campaigns are also underway in cities of all sizes …

The shipping containers, with a volume of 8 ft. x 8 ft. x 40 ft., are each filled with hundreds of boxes of supplies from organizations in Detroit, Baltimore, Orlando, and Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Fifteen campaigns are also underway in cities of all sizes including Chicago; Warren, Michigan; Meadville, PA; Spencerport, NY and New York City.

Ed Michael, Senior Pastor of Eastern Assembly of God in Baltimore, said, “My congregation was deeply moved when Dr. Kellner showed us the video of the suffering people of eastern Ukraine, and when we realized more than a million people were affected, we knew we had to act. The Lord has blessed us with so many material comforts in the United States, and we felt compelled to share some of them with our brothers and sisters in that war-torn land.”

Dr. Gary Kellner, President of Save Ukraine Now, added, “Americans always respond generously once they realize the true extent of the need. It is amazing to see how quickly the local teams fill these shipping containers once their hearts are touched by the plight of the people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.

“The burgeoning humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine has rapidly outstripped the resources of the Ukrainian government, international aid agencies and NGOs. More than two million men, women and children have been driven from their homes, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Unless NGOs and faith-based communities step up, people will get sick and die. Filling containers is not an option; it’s a necessity.”

According to UNOCHA (United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), it will take more than $330 million to feed the internal displaced persons. Of that, no more than 10 percent has been spent to date.

Save Ukraine Now has created a unique micro-distribution network of 12,000-to-15,000 local Ukrainian churches, synagogues and mosques to speed emergency supplies to remote villages in eastern Ukraine. The Office of the President in Ukraine expedites customs, provides transportation and guarantees security. SUN also works with larger relief organizations to fill gaps in service as these groups are stretched to the breaking point by the volume of the need.