The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Ukrainian President-Elect and Prime Minister Are Both Jews

An interesting development, in a country that (like others in Eastern Europe) has had a long history of anti-Semitism.


Indeed, according to an exit poll, Volodomyr Zelensky, the President-elect, won over 70% of the vote. Zelensky is a political novice; he is an actor and comedian, and the star of the popular Ukrainian (though Russian-language) TV show Servant of the People, where he plays a schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes elected President of the Ukraine. In honor of his election, I watched the first episode of the show, which is actually not bad.

In any event, I have no deep connection to the land of my birth; I was seven when our family left, and the one real link I have to that part of the world—my native language—ties me more to Russian culture than to Ukrainian. I also have no reason to think that Zelensky will be a particularly effective public servant, though who knows? But I was happy to see that anti-Semitism in the Ukraine seems to have retreated so much that this could happen.

(Note that Jews are 1% of the population, so I doubt that his Jewishness won him many votes. And while there are occasional accounts of Jewish stereotypes cutting in favor of Jews among some non-Jews, for instance when it comes to Jewish doctors or lawyers, we Jews are not an ethnic group known for having a genius for self-government. "Elect a Jewish President and Prime-Minister, and you'll have as effective a government as Israel does" doesn't sound like a winning argument ….)