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Rising Persecution
Anti-Semitism Emerges Amid Ukraine Turmoil

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.

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  • Curious Mayhem

    Probably a staged provocation by Putin’s local allies to provide more pretext for a Russian invasion, to “restore order” from a disorder they helped to create. All very reminiscent of the old days of the Okhrana, the czarist secret police — experts at staging plots within plots, sometimes so complex even they couldn’t keep track.

    • B-Sabre

      I’m not sure. One of the allegations that Putin and his allies have been consistently throwing at the new government in Kiev is that it is “fascist and anti-Semite”. It seems odd that being anti-Semitic would be one of the first actions the People’s Republic, when they are trying to portray themselves as “the good guys”. While I’m not auditioning for the tin-foil chapeau brigade, I think we have to consider that this is possibly a staged provocation by the Kiev government to undermine the legitimacy of the seperatists.

      That’s not to say that the the new “People’s Republic” (Putin’s Republic is more accurate) couldn’t include your bog-standard anti-Semites. This sort of thing attracts people with a variety of grievances, real and imagined. And remember, Ukraine (and Ukranians) had a rather ugly hand in the Nazi “final solution” that rarely gets talked about.

      • Curious Mayhem

        It’s possible, but given how beleaguered the Kiev government is, it’s doubtful. It’s far more likely that the pro-Russia separatists staged it, or at least a splinter group thereof, for reasons of their own:

        Yes, the involvement of Ukrainian nationalists with the Holocaust in often overlooked. It’s discussed fairly in, for example, Timothy Snyder’s recent Bloodlands. However, I must correct any misimpression about this issue for us today: we’re in 2014, not 1944, and the Jewish leaders of Ukraine supported the Ukrainian government, not Putin. Israel hasn’t taken a real official position, but is eying the situation carefully and has no brief for Putin, however much Putin tries to label the Kiev government “fascist.”

        The timing was good, fellas: just in time for Passover. At least they haven’t stooped to blood libels, yet.

  • Fat_Man

    Sigh! It is now Passover. The Passover Seder that begins the holiday is a meal that includes prayers and songs from a book called the Passover Haggadah. One of them is:

    ” For Pharaoh was not the only one who sought to destroy us [the Jewish People]. In every
    generation wicked men attempt to destroy us; and the Holy One,
    blessed be He, saves us from their hands.”

    When that prayer is no longer necessary, we will know that the Messiah has come.

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