Anti-Semitism has been rising in Europe and America in recent years, but in Ukraine the phenomenon is reaching disturbing new levels. USA Today reports that a group in Donetsk, a city in the East of the country now controlled by pro-Russian forces, is distributing leaflets reminiscent of the 1940s:
Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website. […]It says the reason is because the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta, a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement that fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk,” a name adopted by the militant leadership
It’s not yet clear exactly who is distributing these leaflets and why. They purport to be from Denis Pushilin, a top leader of the pro-Russian group in the city. But he denies issuing them. It could be an extreme minority group from within the wider pro-Russian coalition. The USA Today story suggests it could even be an attempt by Putin to make the situation in Ukraine seem worse than it is, as a pretext for further annexation. But whatever the reasons here, the very existence of these leaflets is a disturbing sign that anti-Semitism is coming back as a toxic political force in world politics.