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Activist critical of Jews was part of U.S. delegation to Ukraine

WASHINGTON—A delegation sent by President Bush to Ukraine's presidential inauguration last weekend included a Ukrainian-American activist who has accused Jews of manipulating the Holocaust for their gain and blamed them for Soviet-era atrocities in Ukraine.

"Big money drives the Holocaust industry," Myron B. Kuropas wrote in August 2000.

The inclusion of Kuropas in the U.S. delegation to Sunday's inauguration of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, which was led by Secretary of State Colin Powell, appeared to be an embarrassment for the Bush administration.

A White House official, who refused to be identified by name, said Tuesday, "We were not aware of his previous statements. Had we been aware of such comments beforehand, we would not have invited Dr. Kuropas to be a member of the delegation."

Kuropas, in a telephone interview late Tuesday, said he was ``dismayed'' at the controversy. Kuropas said he worked for 12 years in a dialogue with Jewish community leaders and received an award from the American Jewish Committee.

But he said he broke with them over the U.S. government's prosecution of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-born retired auto worker who was wrongly accused of being the Nazi death-camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible. Demjanjuk is facing new charges from the U.S. government.

``I haven't always agreed with Jews,'' Kuropas said. ``The Jewish community has resisted dialogue and they have continued to beat the drum of anti-Semitism.''

It couldn't be learned who suggested Kuropas be part of the delegation. But three State Department officials said the delegation was assembled by the White House. Such delegations normally are vetted carefully, but this one was pulled together very quickly because Yushchenko's inauguration date was set only last week after a challenge from the loser, Viktor Yanukovych, was rebuffed in court. Powell went only because the confirmation of his replacement, Condoleezza Rice, was delayed by Senate Democrats.

The disclosure comes at a particularly awkward time.

Vice President Dick Cheney is to attend ceremonies on Thursday at the former Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, Poland, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps.

Kuropas, an adjunct professor at Northern Illinois University, didn't respond to requests for comment at his home, via e-mail and through the Ukrainian Weekly newspaper, where he writes a column.

His presence in the delegation was greeted with dismay by several U.S. officials and Jewish-American leaders, who learned about it after the fact.

"It's disturbing to give him credibility and to put him on the delegation," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Kuropas' argument that Jews played a driving role behind Soviet leader Josef Stalin's murderous policies in Ukraine "is the one great anti-Semitic canard in Ukraine today," Hoenlein said.

Embarrassed White House and State Department officials said Tuesday that they were trying to determine how Kuropas got on the delegation. As part of the delegation, Kuropas traveled on Powell's plane.

Kuropas, who worked as a White House special assistant for ethnic affairs in President Gerald Ford's administration, doesn't deny the Holocaust occurred.

But a sampling of his writings available on the Internet shows that he's frequently accused Jews of using the tragedy to shield themselves from criticism.

He's been a critic of the Office of Special Investigations, a Justice Department unit that hunts Nazi war criminals who entered the United States.

The Ukrainian News, based in Edmonton, Canada, quoted Kuropas as saying in a March 1998 speech that Ukrainian "good cops" should engage Jews in a dialogue on their common history, while Ukrainian "bad cops" should "go on the offensive reminding Jews of ... Jewish Bolsheviks without whom the murderous Soviet regime would have collapsed in its infancy."

"Let the Jews go on the defensive for a change. The crimes of their people cannot be explained away easily," he was quoted as saying.

Marco Levytsky, the author of the report and the editor of the Ukrainian News, said Kuropas never objected to the accuracy of the report.

In the August 2000 column, Kuropas wrote that Israel, and Jews generally, use the memory of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews and millions of others died, to fend off criticism.

"Today the Holocaust is the shield that deflects criticism of Israeli policy; even to question Israel's behavior is to risk being branded an `anti-Semite'," he wrote.

Kuropas quoted extensively from "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering," by Norman G. Finkelstein. Kuropas said that former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger earned $300,000 per year as chairman of a Holocaust claims organization and that Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal commands $25,000 per appearance.

"To survive, the Holocaust industry is always searching for its next mark. Ukraine's turn is just around the corner," he wrote.

He's also written that Jews played a major role in the rise of the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union and, by extension, Stalin's brutal subjugation of Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s. Millions died in an artificially induced famine, including 3 million to 7 million alone in 1932-33, according to the State Department.

In a 1996 column, similar to others he's written, Kuropas called for greater attention to communist atrocities in Ukraine and suggested that the role of Jews should be looked at. "Let the chips fall where they may. The inordinate role played by Jews in bringing Bolshevism to power is certainly a topic worthy of further exploration," he wrote.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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