The dramatic decrease in Ukrainian anti-Semitism has not been reported in the press. Vladimir Putin and the Russian propaganda machine have depicted rampant anti-Semitism in Ukraine and has used this as one of the justifications for their invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. One of the beneficial outcomes of the Maydan Revolution has been the almost total elimination of anti-Semitism in a country that has always been presumed to be the most terrible place for Jews to live.
What proof do we have of this transformation. The Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union (UCSJ) monitors anti-Semitism. In 2006 there were 600 incidents. In 2014 there have been only 13 incidents, mostly vandalism. This is in a country of 45 million including 300,000 Jews. These figures are confirmed by Josef Zissels Chairman of the Vaad the organization representing the secular Jews of Ukraine. Two years ago, the neo-Nazi Svoboda party garnered 15% of the vote for the Rada. In the last election for President of the country, Svoboda got approximately 1% of the vote. A Jewish candidate Vadim Rabinovitch received twice as many votes as the Svoboda candidate without even running a campaign. Now the Svoboda party is denouncing anti-Semitism. In our recent trip to the Ukraine, everyone we spoke to note the lack of anti-Semitism. Leading journalists have reported that Jews are now considered the most loyal, patriotic minority in the country, except of course, for the Crimea Tatars who hate the Russians for Stalin’s forced march of Tatars to Siberia prior to World War II causing the death of over 150,000 of their community.
Why the change? Every Jewish organization in the Ukraine spoke out for the Maydan Revolution. A Ukrainian Jew trained in Israel led a small brigade in support of the revolution. Six mayors in the country are Jewish. Igor Kolomoisky, the Governor of Dneprotrovsk province, who is Jewish stood up to the Russian separatists and was believed to have saved his portion of the Eastern Ukraine from the Separatists. He is personally responsible for paying for the fuel used by the Ukrainian Government’s army. He is considered a hero of the country. The Vice Prime Minister Volodomyr Groysman is Jewish and even President Petro Poroshenko is rumored to have Jewish blood in his lineage. The government has taken steps to end anti-Semitism by promoting facts about the actions of the Germans during World War II. The Institute of National Memory is telling the Ukrainian people about the horrors of the Holocaust and the famine instigated by Stalin before World War II that caused the death of between 2 and 3 million citizens of the Ukraine.
Every human rights NGO and every Ukrainian official we met was concerned with the falsehoods of the Russian media calling the new Ukrainian government neo-Nazis. In light of the way in which the Russian separatists in Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine have been oppressing the Tatars and terrorizing anyone who is not a Russian Orthodox believer, those in the Western Ukraine are angered by the Russian media blitz. We returned from the Ukraine determined to make the truth be known to those in the Western world.