If anyone still needs proof that the political revolution in Ukraine has unleashed dangerous social forces, consider the Molotov cocktail hurled last night at a synagogue and Jewish community center in the southeastern city of Zaporozhye. Though the attack apparently caused little damage, it was an ominous first act of violence against Ukraine’s Jewish population since the unrest began three months ago. The Israeli daily Maariv reports that a rabbi in Kiev is now urging the city’s Jews to flee:
Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country if possible, fearing that the city’s Jews will be victimized in the chaos, Israeli daily Maariv reported Friday.
“I told my congregation to leave the city center or the city all together and if possible the country too,” Rabbi Azman told Maariv. “I don’t want to tempt fate,” he added, “but there are constant warnings concerning intentions to attack Jewish institutions.” […]
Edward Dolinsky, head of the umbrella organization of Ukraine’s Jews described the situation in Kiev as dire, telling Maariv “We contacted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman requesting he assist us with securing the community.” (Haaretz)
As we reported when the protests in Ukraine first got underway last year, the movement hasn’t been entirely free of worrying tinges of anti-Semitism. One of the opposition’s three key leader’s, Oleh Tyahnybok of the far-right Freedom Party, has vowed to rid the country of a “Russian-Jewish mafia.”
It is still too early to tell whether the firebombing of the synagogue in Zaporozhye represents an isolated incident or a sign of things to come. Unfortunately, however, anti-Semitism is one of the few things that bind the east and west of Ukraine together. The country’s Jews have every reason to worry about their place, and their security, in the country as they ponder this perilous interim period.