Wed Mar 5, 2014, 03:07 AM
Behind the Aegis (40,515 posts)
(Jewish Group) What the Crisis in Ukraine Means for Its 70,000 Jews
It may not be the most prominent question regarding Crimea’s counter-coup against the new Ukrainian government in Kiev and Russia’s limited invasion of the peninsula, but given the country’s history it is an unavoidable one: Is it good or bad for the Jews?
The response appears to depend upon whom you ask.
Vladimir Putin, at his surreal press conference Tuesday morning, alleged that he saw a swastika armband among the anti-Russian protesters in Kiev. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations suggested that “Russia had acted to thwart threats by ultranationalists, including anti-Semites, against Russians and Russian speakers inside Ukraine,” according to The New York Times.
But leaders of Ukraine’s own Jewish community have alleged that recent anti-Semitic provocations in the Crimea, including graffiti on a synagogue in Crimea’s capital that read “Death to the Zhids,” are the handiwork of pro-Russian Ukrainians. Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, who presides over Ukraine’s Jewish Federation, signed a letter asking Russia to end its aggression, and compared the current climate in Crimea to that of pre-Anschluss Austria. Of Russia’s warnings that there were anti-Semites among the Kiev protesters, the rabbi added, “The Russians are blowing this way, way out of proportion.”
What seems to be consistent is this: Both sides are using Ukraine’s Jewish community as a symbolic pawn, in which the credibility of the other side can be diminished by accusations of anti-Semitism. And that is remarkable. In a sense, it’s even laudatory. Babi Yar—in which, outside Kiev, over just two days Nazi Einsatzgruppen shot more than 33,000 Jews—was barely 70 years ago. 900,000 Ukrainian Jews, more than half the country’s pre-war Jewish population, were murdered in the Holocaust. This was in no small part because occupying Germans were able to secure the cooperation of homegrown anti-Semites, who had been carrying out pogroms in parts of their country that at the time were a designated region for Jews to settle in for decades preceding World War Two.
I just made a similar observation in regards to the last paragraph's first sentences.
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