Beyond the Cusp

February 23, 2014

Anti-Semitism; the Ugly Underside of the Ukraine Uprising

Amid the claims of good news and the distinct possibility that the uprising in the Ukraine may be on the cusp of a resolution and to be forming an interim government which will be composed of representatives of the various political parties, there are some sobering reports of increasing anti-Semitism. The most disturbing portions of these reports has been that both the police and security personnel of the former government of President Yanukovych as well as enforcers from various segments from among the rebellious demonstrating parties have been threatening Jewish residents in Kiev. There have been reports which imply that Ukrainian radical movements are working with and have very close ties to the Hungarian Fascist Jobbik Party, a reputed neo-Nazi nationalist party. Furthermore, there have been accusations of protesters reaching Jewish areas of Kiev and vandalizing shops. Many of Kiev’s Jewish population have fled the Ukrainian capital city escaping to safer regions where there are no protests and the police are not acting as enforcers of a hated regime stamping out those who they consider to be a source of the country’s problems. With the validation of the police threatening the remaining Jews claiming the uprising was orchestrated by Jews attempting to take control of the Ukraine government and also validating that some members of the extreme right-wing nationalist parties are also denouncing the Jews as supporters of President Yanukovych and his criminal governance, it becomes clear that both extremes are attacking the Jews in order to make them responsible for both sides of the civil strife setting the grounds for potential persecution of the Jews regardless of which side prevails. Such accusation of Jewish manipulation of governance in order to pit one sector of the society against the rest in order to gain influence is an old and vicious blood libel.

 

Twenty-five years ago, in 1989, there were almost a half a million Jews in Ukraine, now a mere 70,000 Jews are citizens of Ukraine according to official statistics. The cause of this radical decline in the Ukrainian Jewish population was a direct result of slowly growing anti-Semitism which had been steadily worsening well before the uprisings. The truth is that the uprising allowed for additional opportunities to blame the “other” for the financial, social, political and other ills that were affecting the Ukrainian peoples. As has been the case historically in the Ukraine, as in much of the rest of the world, that “other” singled out to carry the blame for all that was wrong in the society were the Jews. Recent examples of Ukrainian anti-Semitism have included a teacher of Talmud Torah in Kiev was brutally attacked by three locals requiring medical treatment at a local hospital, the stabbing a Hareidi man in Kiev this last January and the failed attempt to assassinate Vadim Rabinovich, President of the Ukrainian Jewish Congress, as an unknown assailant hurled a bomb at his car. With the renewed and escalated threats against Jews living in the Ukraine, especially in Kiev, Jews have taken precautions by not wearing Yarmulkes or other clothing and jewelry which might indicate their Jewishness.

 

Meanwhile, President Yanukovych has raised the issue that he is the victim of a coup and that the vote by the Ukrainian Parliament calling for him to vacate the Presidency was illegal and made under duress from outside forces. He has also gone to the extreme of comparing the current situation in the Ukraine to the Nazi takeover of pre-war Germany from the democratically elected Weimar Republic. President Yanukovych was quoted claiming, “We see the repeat of the Nazi events, when in the 1930s in Germany and Austria the Nazis came to power. This is a repeat of that. They banned parties. The same is happening now. They are banning the Communist Party of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, putting labels on it, chasing, beating people, burning houses, offices.” These statements came as President Yanukovych had fled Kiev taking refuge in the countryside in the northeast of the Ukraine, an area which supports his position of preference for close ties with Russia rather than with the European Union and other European nations.

 

On the brighter side of events in the Ukraine, Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from the prison hospital where she was serving a seven year sentence resulting from a controversial verdict on her actions as Prime Minister. Many had contended that her trial and conviction were politically motivated by President Yanukovych as he saw her as posing the greatest threat to his being reelected president in the future. She was ordered released by a vote of the parliament on Friday. Yulia Tymoshenko was warmly received by the crowds celebrating their apparent victory in Liberty Square in Kiev. Unable to stand, she addressed the cheering masses from her wheelchair proclaiming, “You are heroes!” She further stated, “Until you finish this job and until we travel all the way, nobody has the right to leave, because nobody could do it, not other countries, nobody could do what you have done. We’ve eliminated this cancer, this tumor.” Ms. Tymoshenko is rumored to be the most likely person to assume the Presidency once Mr. Yanukovych has been officially confirmed to have stepped down.

 

There are still a number of potential slips and falls threatening a peaceful transition as Yanukovych is still refusing to abdicate despite the protesters having gained uncontested possession of the Parliament building and much of the capital of Kiev. There is currently a tentative peace, or at least a lull in active violence between protesters and police. This would be the third agreement to halt hostilities thus far just in the last few days. The Parliament has fallen in line completely backing the calls for new governance including a new constitution which will place stricter limits of Presidential powers stripping it of much of the privileges and dictatorial powers usurped by Yanukovych since he ascended to the Presidency. The Ukraine appears to be close to a new lease on life, so to speak, yet the path ahead is neither sure nor easy. The one conclusion which can be taken is that the nationalists will have vastly increased power going into the new governance. The Ukraine also will be economically better off after removing the criminal influences and thuggery that accompanied President Yanukovych’s terms in office. Still, there is a definitive possibility that any new government could prove to fall under the influence of xenophobic purists who will call for cleansing the Ukrainian society of those who are considered to be foreigners or parts of accused subversive elements. This was part of the poisonous anti-Semitism which has been on the rise in the Ukraine as well as much of the rest of Europe as has been made overtly evident by the protestations and accusations in Hungary by the Jobbik Party and in Greece by the Golden Dawn Party.  The Ukraine will require close observation going forward and any signs of xenophobic influences should be pointed out and denounced. It is very probably too late to save and ensure a healthy Jewish population in the future of the Ukraine as the decimation of the Jews over the past twenty-five years has reduced their once significant Jewish population to a dwindling remnant more likely to be erased than it is to thrive and grow. It is a sad end to what had been a vibrant and dynamic Jewish center and an example of what is currently occurring across Europe and, I fear, soon to become all too real in the United States as well. It is this exact situation which makes Israel a necessity as otherwise the Jews would have nowhere in which to take refuge leaving them victim to the full force of unbridled hatred such as what has led to the murderous intentions so many times through the ages since the Roman dispersion. There is currently an exodus of Jews from the nation with the third largest Jewish population in the world behind Israel and the United States respectively, and that tragedy is befalling the Jews of France. Today, every Jew in France is being accused of treasonous tendencies and may as well carry the name of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. And France is far from alone, they are just the leading example with Britain, Sweden and across Europe in general everywhere that nationalist extremists are gaining in power and popularity. This too is a situation which deserves inspection and exposure to the light of day.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    Like

    Comment by OyiaBrown — February 23, 2014 @ 4:59 AM | Reply


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