VAAD Ukraine expresses its deep concern about the anti-Semitic attacks that took place in Kyiv in January: the attacks on a Yeshiva (a Jewish religious school) teacher and student who were leaving the Podil Rozenberg synagogue after prayer.
We demand that law enforcement bodies adequately determine the nature of these crimes (including their motives of racial, ethnic, and religious hatred) and do everything within their power to quickly and reliably find all persons involved in the attacks. Unfortunately, at the moment the work of law enforcement agencies has been lacking on all of these accounts.
VAAD Ukraine is also alarmed and disturbed at the inadequate informational campaign surrounding these attacks. Certain biased journalists and public figures, including those speaking for the Jewish community, have overly hastily and without any factual proof connected the attacks to the peaceful civil protests going on in Ukraine. These protests were provoked by the government’s lies to society about the Ukraine’s direction of economic and geopolitical integration and by absolutely inadequate and unheard-of acts of violence by law enforcement agents to participants of peaceful protests.
There really is blood in the streets of Kyiv right now, and these anti-Semitic incidents are barely noticeable against the backdrop of large-scale dramatic events. We see it as completely obvious that the cruel beatings of the protesters on November 30, 2013, were the beginning of this surge of violence in the streets of the Ukrainian capital. It was the government who first used excessive force and formed the context for the ongoing protest, which has been persisting over almost two months now, and it is the government that holds moral responsibility for the current situation in Kyiv.
VAAD Ukraine underscores that these anti-Semitic attacks took place synchronously with the illegitimate passing of an array of repressive laws, which included laws prohibiting “extremist” activity of a “Fascist” character, copied from Russian legislation. The laws were passed while breaking existing standards and regulations for legislative activity. Since anti-Semitic themes are already being actively used in cynical political and technological campaigns aimed at discrediting the political opposition and the civil protest movement, the Jewish community needs to remain highly vigilant.
Unfortunately, there is every indication that the government will continue to initiate violent provocative acts, possibly similar to those that took place in April 2013 in Cherkasy. Ukraine’s regions – first and foremost southern and
eastern – have also been providing reasons for worry. For example, Kharkiv has already seen attacks by neo-Nazi youth group members on participants of the protest movement.
VAAD Ukraine stresses the responsibility of government bodies for the escalation of the situation in Ukraine and insists that political gambles involving anti-Semitism are inadmissible.
Chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (VAAD) Ukraine
Chairman of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress General Council
Vice President of the World Jewish Congress
January 20, 2014