The place is Zaporizhia, southeast of Kiev, where the community’s Giymat Rosa Synagogue was firebombed by unknown assailants on the night of February 23, causing minor damages. The building showed the scars from traces of a fire on the facade of the balcony. The fortunate news is that there were no casualties and the authorities have promised to take precautions and to do whatever was necessary to arrest those responsible. The neck of a glass bottle was found near the area damaged by the fire affirming that a Molotov cocktail was the cause of the fire which also confirmed the suspicions this was the result of an intentional act. There have been other threats by forces from both the now deposed government including some threats made by government police and other threats came from elements from among the opposition protesters. The Ukrainian police claimed the Jews were behind the opposition to the government while those from the opposition were blaming the Jews for supporting President Yanukovych and his cronies and as such responsible for the deaths of opposition demonstrators shot by the government police. This is not a new situation for Jews living in a nation going through internal turmoil such as civil wars and other uprisings.
Even the United States had a major incident where Jews were victimized being held responsible for working against the government of the United States. This event came immediately after the end of the United States Civil War (War Between the States) when General Ulysses S. Grant as the military governor of the Kentucky Territory (governing the areas including Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi) ordered all properties, homes, cattle, horse and other assets confiscated from the Jewish residents and for them to be removed from the areas under his charge. Despite this situation being countermanded immediately as reports reached the White House, such while commemorative was too late to avoid much of the damage as the reversal of Grant’s orders took over a week before the new orders reached the area. Communications were quite a bit slower and the confusion quotient was fairly high, but there was no excuse for the order to have been given in the first place. If it could happen that Jews were singled out for scorn and blame without any proof of actions and chosen as others of equal or greater responsibility were not so treated is an anathema to any civilized society. Let us hope that nothing similar occur anywhere throughout the Ukraine which thus far appears unlikely.
Still, the Jewish communities in Kiev particularly and throughout the Ukraine have beefed up their security in response to the increased tensions. Reports from within the communities throughout the Ukraine tell of them putting their activities on hold out of safety concerns. There have also been arrest warrants issued for President Yanukovych and various members of his Administration over the violence perpetrated by security and police forces during the months of the demonstrations. Meanwhile, President Yanukovych was reportedly seen to be in a southern port in the company of Russian Marines. The area he was reportedly currently hiding is an area that is among those aligned with Russia as the majority of the citizens are Russians who were imported into the Ukraine during the reign of the Soviet Union in order to serve as a cause for Soviet forces to be injected and the rest of the Ukrainian population pacified. If there will be any shove back from Russia, it will be in response to petition from these Ukrainians as many may prefer to remain aligned and even ruled by the Russians. There have already been reports of demonstrations against the new government and calls from those demonstrating for the return of President Yanukovych as the duly elected President of the Ukraine. The struggle for the heart and soul of the Ukraine is not yet a settled disagreement and the potential for additional violence is still high enough to cause serious concerns until the new government has been elected hopefully as scheduled for May 25. A prayer for the people of the Ukraine and for calm to be the rule and not the exception and for the nation to heal and come together once a new government has been elected. Let us call for patience and for all anticipation be for changes through the ballot box and not the baseball bat.