Guest columnist Owen Zaret: A prayer for peace in Ukraine

  • A woman wears a face mask with the words “stop war” during a protest organized by Fridays for Future against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on March 3. Yann Schreiber/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

Published: 3/7/2022 4:00:44 PM

Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of a speech Easthampton city councilor Owen Zaret gave at last week’s council meeting. It has been edited for clarity.

I want to speak briefly on the events that have been transpiring against the country of Ukraine amidst an unprovoked attacked from the Russian military.

I blame not the Russian people, but the greed of Russian President Vladimir Putin for an aggressive act of war rooted in imperialism, geopolitical greed, and violence against the people of Ukraine. These actions were unilaterally condemned by the UN via resolution.

The people of Russia have taken to the streets in protest. These large demonstrations have resulted in record numbers of arrests by Russian police against people honorably protesting a war that should not be.

It is heartening to see our country putting aside all the recent polarization and joining with other Americans and the international community in condemning these aggressive actions by Russia. I applaud the sanctions taken by our country and the European Union against Russia and its surrogates such as Belaruse and Crimea.

Mr. Putin claims that this is to expel Naziism from Ukraine, and that he is freeing an oppressed nation. This dezinformatsiya on the part of Russian leaders is yet another inappropriate disgusting cooption of the memory of the Holocaust. Ukraine is a country led by a Jewish president who lost a majority of his family to the Nazis in World War II.

This war is a war that has brazenly targeted civilians from the start. Recent targets include Babi yar, a former concentration camp and now a memorial to tens of thousands killed.

He has destroyed museums, eliminating a large collection of the beloved Ukrainian Artis Maria Prymachenko, hospitals, schools, and maternity wards.

Civilians have been killed, and many thousands more have had their homes destroyed. There are hundreds of thousands fleeing the country.

This war is a war based solely on the will of an evil man.

This all juxtaposed on the backdrop of elected U.S. reps attending and embracing white nationalist rallies, and overt Putin surrogates within leadership roles in our country and on U.S. media.

I stand today with the people of the Ukraine in solidarity against tyranny and hope for an end to this unnecessary death and destruction. I admire the courage of the Ukrainians in their vicious fight to defend their homeland.

No war is a good war, and so I leave you with this prayer for peace for a hopeful better tomorrow. I mourn the lives of Ukrainians lost to this conflict as well as Russian soldiers dead at the direction of a dictator.

“May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease,

When a great peace will embrace the whole world.

Then nation will not threaten nation,

And [humanity] will not again know war.

For all who live on earth shall realize

We have not come into being to hate or to destroy.

We have come into being

To praise, to labor, and to love.

Compassionate God, bless the leaders of all nations

With the power of compassion.

Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture:

I will bring peace to the Land,

And you shall lie down, and no one shall terrify you.

I will rid the Land of vicious beasts

And it shall not be ravaged by war.

Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream.

Let peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.

And let us say: Amen.

Slava Ukraini, heroyam slava!” (in English “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the Heroes!”)

Owen Zaret is an Easthampton city councilor.
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