ONTD Political

Ukraine okays ‘zhyd’ slur for Jews

1:20 pm - 12/20/2012

Right-wing parliamentarian was challenged for using the term to disparage actress Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis

The Ukrainian Justice Ministry has ruled that using the derogatory term “zhyd” to describe a Jew is legal, turning back a petition demanding that the word be banned from the public sphere for being offensive to the county’s Jewish population.

According to reports Wednesday in the Ukrainian media, Eleanor Grossman, the editor of the “Jewish Kiev” website, had appealed to the ministry to block right-wing nationalists from using the term, whose equivalent is pronounced “yid” in English.

The ministry wrote in its response that, after looking into the matter, it had found no prohibition against using the word, or its feminine derivative “zhydovka,” although it did point out that in official government communications, the word “Jew” should be used.

The decision cited a Ukrainian academic dictionary to the effect that the term “zhyd” is an archaic term for Jew, and isn’t necessarily a slur.

In November 2011, Grossman asked representatives of Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda party to stop using the phrase Grossman made her appeal after Svoboda deputy leader and parliament member Igor Miroshnichenko launched a tirade against Mila Kunis in which he wrote that the Ukraine-born Jewish American actress ”is not Ukrainian but a zhydovka.”

Svoboda has repeatedly said it will not stop using terms that, it claims, are legitimate Ukrainian parlance.


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mycenaes 20th-Dec-2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
ugh. >:(
oudeteron 20th-Dec-2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
Even if their point about the word being ~just dated~ were defensible (which it is not), they kind of lose any alibi of just calling her that because they're being "old-fashioned" if the sentence quoted in the article is all about excluding her.

And using decontextualized dictionary definitions to "prove" something is such a staple of bigoted demagogy I can't even.
suzycat 20th-Dec-2012 11:32 pm (UTC)
This is a very good response.
bmh4d0k3n 20th-Dec-2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
Man, Ukraine has been fucking up lately. As someone with Ukrainian heritage, I am disappoint.
papasha_mueller Bloody hell,20th-Dec-2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
when people stop being idiots?
Zhyd is Polish, too.

astragalizo Re: Bloody hell,21st-Dec-2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
but it's not a slur in Polish, it's the default neutral word for a Jewish person.
ultraelectric 20th-Dec-2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
Ugh, just disgusting. You'd think these people would have better things to do with their time than be bigots and whatnot.

Also, I slightly freaked out for a second when I seen "Svoboda" I thought it was my last name at first and I was like eww, dnw anymore, but nm. :3
kaelstra 21st-Dec-2012 12:11 am (UTC)
Right? Apparently the concept is flying right over people's heads. If you are making it into a slur then it doesn't matter one fucking bit what it's original meaning meant, if you are using it as a slur.
bellichka 21st-Dec-2012 12:07 am (UTC)
grandfather says that this is not possible.
kitschaster 21st-Dec-2012 05:16 am (UTC)

God, I love that movie.
executivehpfan 21st-Dec-2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Oh what the fuck.
lakomka87 21st-Dec-2012 12:41 am (UTC)
“zhyd” is an archaic term for Jew, and isn’t necessarily a slur

they're delusional
angelofdeath275 21st-Dec-2012 12:52 am (UTC)
Fucking piece of shit
homasse 21st-Dec-2012 01:30 am (UTC)
caerfrli 21st-Dec-2012 01:37 am (UTC)
It's rude and offensive but that doesn't make it illegal.
tabaqui 21st-Dec-2012 02:32 am (UTC)
Just because a term is *old* doesn't mean it's not *nasty*.
poetic_pixie_13 21st-Dec-2012 05:08 am (UTC)
Welp, it's always nice to see a post about anti-semitism/anti-semitic slurs get derailed so that white people who aren't Jewish can talk about their feelings.

And by nice I mean get your shit together, _p.
yeats 21st-Dec-2012 05:17 am (UTC)
comment twins.
yeats 21st-Dec-2012 05:09 am (UTC)
breaking _p news: a post gets derailed to talk about white people.
aviv 21st-Dec-2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
I went to bed early (I had an exam today) and I woke up to this racist clusterfuck :'(
yeats 21st-Dec-2012 06:02 am (UTC)
in contrast with the massive bullshit above, this is what real threats to freedom of speech in ukraine look like.

Press freedom declined further in 2011 as President Viktor Yanukovych continued curtailing the country’s recent democratic gains by reintroducing an authoritarian style of rule that predominated under former president Leonid Kuchma (1994–2005). Yanukovych and his ruling Party of Regions cracked down on the country’s opposition, consolidated their influence over the national broadcast media, and approved restrictive laws in the parliament that led to greater media self-censorship. A politicized court sentenced former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko—Yanukovych’s possible rival in the 2015 presidential election—to seven years in prison at the end of 2011 for allegedly mishandling natural gas negotiations with Russia in 2009. Amid the government’s prosecution of Tymoshenko and several of her allies, journalists continued to endure attacks, political pressure, and legal restrictions, further reducing media independence from the level enjoyed after the 2005 Orange Revolution.

The constitution and legal framework generally provide for media freedom and are among the most progressive in Eastern Europe. Libel was decriminalized in 2001, and in February 2009 the Supreme Court instructed judges to follow the civil libel standards of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, which granted lower levels of protection to public officials and clearly distinguished between value judgments and factual information. Nonetheless, officials continued to use libel lawsuits filed in the country’s politicized court system to deter critical news reporting. Respect for other media-related laws has diminished since the Orange Revolution, especially after Yanukovych was elected president in February 2010. The one exception to this negative trend was the parliament’s adoption of a progressive Law on Access to Information in January 2011, which was signed by Yanukovych in response to intense advocacy by civil society organizations.


The government does not restrict access to the internet, which was used by around 30.6 percent of the population in 2011. A growing number of citizens are relying on the web and social-networking sites such as Odnoklassniki and VKontakte to exchange information. The government limits the ability of bloggers and citizen journalists to report on public affairs by refusing to grant them accreditation. Although internet publications are not required to register with the authorities, under Khoroshkovsky’s leadership, the SBU has increased its monitoring of government criticism on the internet, and bloggers have been harassed for reporting on politically sensitive issues. In May 2011, three journalists from the website Novosti-N were attacked by officers of the tax police who tried to seize their cameras by force. The three had come to the tax police office after being told that some small-business owners had been taken there for questioning. Also in May, blogger Mykola Sukhomlin posted a video on Facebook of a senior Donetsk official in an expensive Mercedes, but then started receiving threats. His post was blocked in June. In July, the apartment door of Oleksiy Matsuka, editor of the Donetsk-based Novosti Donbass news website, was set on fire. The attack occurred after Novosti Donbass published several articles about the extravagant lifestyle of the local city elite, leading to several death threats. On August 19, a group of journalists with the Donetsk.ua website were detained by police in Donetsk for four hours after they tried to film Yanukovych’s motorcade traveling from the airport to a local funeral. News websites that were critical of the government also faced occasional hacking attacks.

Edited at 2012-12-21 06:05 am (UTC)
kitschaster 21st-Dec-2012 06:34 am (UTC)
Holy shit at that whole last paragraph. It's a wonder no news about this stuff ever comes out of Ukraine, or that we just never hear about it happening. Oh my god.
zhiva_the_mage 21st-Dec-2012 06:47 am (UTC)
I wish a sinkhole opened under parliament building and swallowed all of them.
harukami 21st-Dec-2012 07:32 am (UTC)
I was wondering why this post had so many comments.

moonshaz 21st-Dec-2012 09:12 am (UTC)

fishphile 21st-Dec-2012 07:32 am (UTC)
Here's an op-ed from the Kyiv Post: http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op-ed/why-the-word-zhyd-stirs-fighting-in-ukraine-317182.html

I got the gist of the main article, but think there was something I missed. But I think the article and the comments are worth a read.

Here's an article by the Daily Mail (I know!) as well: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2251446/Ukranian-politician-slams-Mila-Kunis-Anti-Semitic-slur.html

Edited at 2012-12-21 07:59 am (UTC)
the_physicist 21st-Dec-2012 11:38 am (UTC)
What do you think you are missing? If it's the Ukraine's history of anti-Semitism... in short: even before Hitler this was a problem(source: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qi98Go30BSIC&pg=PA46&dq=Kiev+pogrom+1919&sig=GntpZ6QR9e8jfs84dz13k25Dj50&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Kiev%20pogrom%201919&f=false ) . Not to single out the Ukraine, but since we are talking about the Ukraine and the article talks about pogroms... in case people didn't know.

They were also discriminated against by the soviets, but their attitude to religion is probably well known. Despite that Jewish was listed as a race on soviet documents. The Ukraine has a fairly large Jewish population too before WWII, in which 15% of the Ukrainian population where killed. The Jewish population in the Ukraine is now still the 5th largest in Europe although so many were killed. Just as many other parts of Europe anti-Semitism and fascism is on the rise, where there are more Jewish people this is more apparent than elsewhere where less Jewish people survived (or so it seems to me, just because i have lived where fascism is on the rise but people don't talk about it). The Ukraine is not special in having an anti-Semitic party and a history of deeply entrenched anti-Semitism, it's all over Europe.

Edited at 2012-12-21 11:44 am (UTC)
fishphile 21st-Dec-2012 07:50 am (UTC)
For real for real,

_p is bumming me out a lot lately. We missed a chance to have a meaningful conversation/listen (shit the standard not talking because it's not an U.S./Canadian/U.K. post would have been better in this case) because of some really messed up bullshit (that's still ongoing).

I love the articles posted here, but we've gotten an extra number of people coming in posts being assholes in the last year. I can't imagine anyone of a marginalized group (of the many represented here) being thrilled to engage assholes that continually come in and shit all over everything.

This is why every time we have a post on issues I see people from those communities rolling their eyes and walking out of posts and ranting their frustrations out other places.

This shit is not okay and I'm sure tons of folks are just exhausted by now.

This post right here? This is why people don't try to educate folks.
homasse 21st-Dec-2012 09:51 am (UTC)
I blame us being routinely on the front page.
the_physicist To clear something up21st-Dec-2012 11:11 am (UTC)
For all of you who think you are not familiar with the term... it's not some random Ukrainian slur that came out of nowhere. It's one you all know too, y*d. This is just dialect if you will, also common in Poland or amongst Russian speakers to some extent too, depending on where you live.

In and of itself the word shouldn't be a slur, but it's the fact that it's almost always used in a negative context. As in the example of this guy from an anti-Semitic party saying she's not Ukrainian, because she's Jewish. Now I rephrased that to be an adjective, but think of it as a noun and you get the picture of what the Jewish people in the Ukraine are objecting to with this guy's language. The Ukrainian dictionary definition will probably show that it's not a slur, I don't know for sure, but it probably doesn't show it as a slur, and I hope my example clears up why before the poster from above goes to google and tries to bring that argument (of course, maybe they've already been banned, I can't tell).
zhiva_the_mage Re: To clear something up21st-Dec-2012 11:26 am (UTC)
actually, it's listed in dictionary as "образлива назва євреїв" ("derogatory term for Jews"). So much for ~it's not a slur in dictionary~ "argument".
beetlebums 21st-Dec-2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
I couldn't even read past the first massive thread. Good Lord _p, you manage to beat the comment count of the same post that's on the mothership.
aviv 21st-Dec-2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
dearmisterecho 21st-Dec-2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry your post turned into a big old wank turd sandwich, Troy :(
aviv 21st-Dec-2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
Why everyone (not so much here, but on the Mothership and some other news article) is saying that "zhyd" is not really antisemitic??? It was said by the member of a party that
openly admires the World War II pro- Nazi Ukrainian Insurgent Army,

And my source and a lot of jewish sources SAY THAT IS A SLUR.
the_physicist re: http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/74316904.html?thread=13150882152#t1315088215221st-Dec-2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
my head hurts after reading that.

and as for the first thread... i feel like those people should know better, especially after looking it up on wikipedia. the text this one Croatian person is quoting from wikipedia to justify their point is like... actually saying that it is considered a slur in some places (like Slovenia) and not in others. like. it varies. so, surely having read that they think the Jewish people of Ukraine might not be getting upset about nothing? -_- what is the point of looking things up on wikipedia if you are just going to ignore that the text there says?
lickety_split 21st-Dec-2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Damn, we can't even have a post about anti-semitism without having to worry about someone using that topic to segue into a hate parade on black people.
sfrlz 21st-Dec-2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
This community has a shitty history in posts concerning antisemitism, so when I saw the high number of comments I was like...

...oh God...

...*braces self for fail*

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