COMMENTARY: Anti-Semitism card overplayed in Ukraine

Leaflets ordering Jews in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee.

Leaflets ordering Jews in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee. Photo courtesy of The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism


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(RNS) While Ukrainian Jewish leaders recognized the flier as a political dirty trick, it caused widespread outrage here in the United States, where just about everyone — from Jewish community leaders to the State Department — was immediately struck by its echoes of the Nazi policies that led to the Holocaust in Europe. And yet unfortunately, this was just the latest escalation in a series of political maneuvers in Ukraine where the anti-Semitism card has been repeatedly overplayed. Manufactured incidents of anti-Semitism have been cynically used to discredit political opponents as anti-Semites, whether they are, or not. In recent years, some Ukrainian political operatives have spread rumors that opposing candidates are Jews, likewise whether they are, or not. Last year, political operatives, presumably of deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych, sent a dozen young men to an opposition rally with T-shirts that read “Beat the Jews!” on one side, and “Svoboda,” the name of the ultra-nationalist opposition party, on the other. Both classical political anti-Semitism and the manufactured, manipulative version rely on a common assumption, that a significant number of Ukrainian citizens do not consider their Jewish compatriots to truly be part of the Ukrainian nation. That attitude, unfortunately, continues to play a significant role in the Ukrainian nationalist movement. The Svoboda party has a history of anti-Semitism and venerates Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Bandera allied with the Nazis during World War II when he thought it was in the interest of his movement and was complicit in mass killings of Jews and Poles by Ukrainian partisans. When Jews are considered a natural part of the Ukrainian nation, anti-Semitism in Ukraine should wane and the temptation to use anti-Semitism in politics should follow. And that will be a relief, because anti-Semitism is a big enough problem without having anyone with a political ax to grind to add to it artificially. A positive first step was taken in today’s statement from the U.S., the European Union, Russia and Ukraine, with the firm, clear and direct condemnation of “all expressions of extremism … including anti-Semitism.” To change Ukraine’s atmosphere of insecurity, political, civic and religious leaders in Ukraine and Russia must continue to reinforce this message. (Abraham H. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, is national director of the Anti-Defamation League.)   YS END FOXMAN The post COMMENTARY: Anti-Semitism card overplayed in Ukraine appeared first on Religion News Service.

4 Responses to “COMMENTARY: Anti-Semitism card overplayed in Ukraine”

  1. Christy Besozzi

    Political dirty tricks in the Ukraine – before this I thought we in the USA were the masters of the dirty tricks.

    Ukrainian nut cases resort to flyers. Over here in the USA our nuts go try to kill Jews, not just hand out flyers. Our terrorists use guns; theirs use paper.

    It is all so sad, maddening, foolish, cruel…. words fail me.

  2. Michele Joseph

    Christy, Must maddening, we must believe in I have go believe in perceptually.
    Ordinally human per evolved ordinary rally,lay ly husnbeliever leaks.
    Go go hell. We died. Must be
    a s mistake. Must total Here we go.
    Here we sure. perception vs realitey

  3. Patrick

    Christy, I suggest you think a little more “globally,” in your condemnations.
    Yes, the USA are as good at dirty tricks as anyone else, and better than most, most like.
    Better probably, than say, The Peoples Republic of the Congo – rather more more sophisticated.
    But the undoubted nut population of the USA does not have a monopoly on killing Jews, for example.

    I hope Michele is all right. She seems a little overwrought.

  4. Michele Joseph

    Yes, I’m all right.
    Thank you for your concern.
    You are probably aware of the very real recent event Christy refers to
    when she talks about a nut trying to kill Jews.
    You are probably also aware of the slightly less recent event involving
    a right wing nut who drank a bathtub full of beer and drove six hours expressly for the purpose of burning our mosque, thereby doing a million or more
    dollars worth ( I don’t recall the exact figure) of damage.
    You have probably noticed that at times, I get on rants regarding Dominionists,
    who have managed to ascend to levels of power that were previously unimaginable.
    You may know that folks of this ilk consider Bahai’s to be from Satan.
    It’s plain that for non-right-wing Christians here in the U.S. questions & concerns are not just academic topics of conversation.
    For me, at times, I have concern for my own security & that of my son, who is an atheist.
    It’s true, that at times when I am set off by a particularly frightening piece of news, I become “overwrought” ( exacerbated by bi-polarity & PTSD, by the way).
    While the heights of hysteria that sweep over me at times may be unnecessary,
    (I hope), nonetheless, I think fear is a reasonable response from the informed & wary.
    The recent story regarding Mr. Green’s success with his imperialistic endevours has also been upsetting.
    Lately, stories that are scary to me show up at a least three times a week.
    Long story short, these are scary times for some of us.
    I know that I am scared & at times, when I am tired, it overwhelms me.
    It’s hard to be global when it seems that the wolf is at the door.
    So goes the ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”

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