They may have elected Volodymyr B. Groysman as their first Jewish Prime Minister but that doesn’t immune Ukraine from the evil of anti-Semitism.
The mayor of Kiev has now tasked authorities to identify a group of people who were filmed burning an Israeli flag at the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial.
Babi Yar is a ravine near Kiev where between 100,000 and 150,000 of Jews were massacred by the Nazis throughout the Holocaust.
The flag-burning incident is the latest in a series of anti-Semitic incidents targeting the memorial and took place on the occasion of Israel’s national remembrance day for the Holocaust, Yom HaShoah.
“It is intolerable to brutalize the memory of the victims. Especially at the place that which is globally known as one of the symbols of a terrible crime of fascism, at Babi Yar, where tens of thousands of people of different nationalities, the majority of them Jewish, were killed,” Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement.
Every year, tens of thousands of Jews make a pilgrimage to Uman, a central Ukrainian city where the Ohel of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is situated. Buried there after his passing in 1810, the main pilgrimage is every Rosh Hashana, when tens of thousands of Hasidim flock to the city.
Despite the influx of Jews being good for the Uman economy, there is the inevitable anti-Semitism, which has even manifested itself in violence.
However, in the latest anti-Semitic twist, an Israeli who tried to book at the Uman Plaza Hotel, received this message back via the online booking agent, Booking.com:
“Sorry, but we do not accommodated (sic) Jews”
When challenged over this disgraceful behaviour of the hotel, Booking.com provided a shockingly bland Twitter statement saying it, “Does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.We actively support the affected customers. Booking team.”
What does that mean? Have they immediately stopped allowing the Uman Plaza to trade via their account? Have they insisted the hotel management apologise and investigate the matter?
This is far too serious a matter to be providing such nondescript answers.
Vandals have daubed “kill the Jews” on a synagogue in the central Ukrainian city of Cherkasy. In a separate incident, unidentified persons torched a wreath that an Israeli cabinet minister had placed for Holocaust victims in Kiev.
The incident involving a synagogue was discovered on Wednesday in Cherkasy, Eduard Dolinsky, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, wrote on Facebook. In addition to spray-painting the message of incitement to violence against Jews on an external wall, the perpetrators wrote: “Jews annexed Ukraine.”
The vandals used the word “zhyd,” which many Ukrainian Jews consider derogatory.
Dolinsky sarcastically described the inscription as “traditional congratulations for Purim.”
On Tuesday, Dolinsky wrote that the wreath placed earlier this month by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at the Babi Yar Holocaust monument had been torched hours after she left it there. The attack was the seventh case of vandalism against the monument since 2015. During the Holocaust, Nazis and local collaborators killed 50,000 Jews there.
Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations of anti-Semitism since relations between the countries deteriorated in 2014. That year, protesters brought down the government of former president Viktor Yanukovych, whom critics said was a corrupt Kremlin stooge.
Russia reacted by annexing the Crimea from Ukraine, citing a need to protect minorities, including Jews, from post-revolution Ukraine, which Russia said was led by anti-Semitic fascists. Denying and mirroring the accusation, Ukraine’s new government accused Russia of oppressing its minorities.
In both countries, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported annually is lower than 50 — a figure which is more than 10 times lower the data from France and Britain.
Reported in The Jewish Voice: Over 100 Ukrainian Jews fled war-torn Ukraine and arrived in Israel on Tuesday. Many Ukrainian Jews have been leaving their country of birth due to violence and frequent anti-Semitic attacks. They were assisted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), which has been spearheading a project of bringing Jews to Israel from countries engulfed by war.
Sisters Marina and Alexandra Prokopovych, aged 17 and 15 respectively, were among the new immigrants who arrived in Israel. They had lived in the small suburb of Rakytne. Both were severely beaten at their high school in what began as a nationalistically-motivated attack, but which spilled over into overt anti-Semitism.
IFCJ Director of Communications Tali Aronsky told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the girls were called “separatists” and “Zhids” [Jews] prior to the assault because they spoke Russian instead of Ukrainian.
“The girls sustained serious injuries as a result. One suffered concussions and had to get stitches. Even the teachers joined in the beating. The father remembers similar things that happened when he was younger, but he decided that it was time to leave when it happened to his daughters,” she said.
Dmytro Prokopovych, the girls’ father, also remembers that he had switched schools three times due to his ethnicity. He himself suffered fourteen concussions from similar attacks during his childhood and he maintains that anti-Semitism is still very prevalent in post-Soviet Ukraine.
“I recently discovered that my family’s real surname is Evenbach and not Prokopovych. It was my grandfather’s surname. My father would not be admitted to university with this surname in Soviet times so he changed it to his mother’s maiden name,” Dmytro recalls.
IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein decided that efforts to rescue Jews in countries with prevailing anti-Semitism were insufficient. The IFCJ then began actively searching for Jews suffering in countries affected by war. Many of the immigrants receive additional funds since they were forced to leave behind homes that have become essentially worthless due to the conflicts.
“We don’t wait for the Ukrainians to call us up. We go to them and we also give them more support. We offer them $1,000 per family and $500 for every child in addition to what they get from the government,” Aronsky told TPS.
The new immigrants will be given guidance and career advice. Aronsky said that the organization has also reached out to other countries such as Venezuela, Uruguay, Turkey, and even several Arab countries and has managed to bring some 2,355 Jews to Israel. Aronsky was unable to divulge the identities of the Arab countries due to security concerns for the Jews involved.
Liz Wahl, a former Russian tv news anchor has written in The Jerusalem Post, “In March 2014, the crisis in Ukraine had reached a pivotal juncture. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest corrupt government leadership and violent crackdowns. Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded. During these times of deadly conflict and chaos, it was critical for the media to try to get the story right. However, working as a TV anchor for Russia Today (RT), I soon realized I was part of an organization actively dedicated to skewing the facts.
The Russian state-funded station was part of a larger propaganda campaign portraying protesters as bloodthirsty fascists in an effort to misrepresent the conflict and justify Russian action. As the death toll grew, I was horrified to be part of what was becoming a manipulation machine. After the Ukraine coverage ended, I resigned, live on air, referencing the bias as the reason for my decision.
That decision put me at the center of a viral news story. I received a flood of messages, mostly on social media. Many were encouraging and inspiring but plenty were also bizarre and vile. Beyond the profanities and sexist remarks, I found the wave of anti-Semitic hate particularly shocking and confusing. I am not Jewish and I do not have any ties to Israel. But the accusations of being a “Zionist neocon” were unrelenting.
The assertion was that I was part of a Jewish, Zionist plot. Some radical anti-Israel activists wrote an article portraying my resignation as part of a conspiracy with war-hungry neocons pulling my strings to provide a pretext for another Cold War. I had become used to the knee-jerk reaction of a paranoid population attributing any atrocity to a nefarious conspiracy by power-hungry evildoers intent on controlling the world. But here they accused the Jews specifically of being behind it.”
ASW previously reported that in response to the rising tide of Antisemitism, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for mass immigration into the country particularly from Europe. This solicitation was reinforced by a $46 million plan to facilitate the absorption.
ASW further posted that no doubt taking their cue from the Prime Minister, Israel’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the Jews of Europe had been “abandoned” making a mass Jewish migration “inevitable”.
Interestingly, Aliyah (Jewish immigration into Israel) figures just released suggest that such a move is already underway. 2014 saw more immigrants arrive in Israel than at any other time in the last 10 years, a 32% increase on 2013.
More telling is that for the first time France tops the list of countries of origin since the establishment of the State.
Other European countries with increase rates of Aliyah are:
– United Kingdom, 20% increase
– Italy, 50% increase
– Russia, 100% increase from 2013
– Ukraine, immigration has tripled since the start of the conflict.
Aliyah from Latin America and from the USA remained stable.
The Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver, expects another immigration record for the current year: “We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants from around the world.”
While some European Jewish community leaders have loudly and robustly criticized Netanyahu’s approach, the real question, in light of the above news, is whether they are the ones out of touch with the reality of the strength of community feeling and reaction to the growth of Antisemitism?
Have you made Aliyah or thinking about doing so? Let us know your story.