Daily Israel Report

Kiev Rabbi who was Stabbed had Said He Felt Safe

Rabbi Hillel Cohen, Chairman of Hatzala in Kiev, had told Arutz Sheva that he has experienced no anti-Semitism.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/16/2014, 11:20 AM

Manning the barricades in Kiev
Manning the barricades in Kiev
Reuters

The Kiev police are investigating a severe anti-Semitic incident that occurred Thursday, in which Rabbi Hillel Cohen, Chairman of the Kiev Hatzala emergency rescue organization, was stabbed.

The rabbi had told Arutz Sheva three weeks earlier that he feels safe.

The rabbi was assaulted by a group of men who yelled anti-Semitic insults and struck him with clubs, then reportedly stabbed him. His wife Racheli told JTA that attackers "struck him in the leg, shouting anti-Semitic slurs, calling him a 'zyhd' [Ukrainian word for 'kike']... This was clearly an anti-Semitic attack."

Rabbi Cohen was injured in the leg and the back, but he managed to get a taxi to the nearest hospital. He told JTA that he believed the Ukrainian revolution encouraged anti-Semitic attacks. 

Interestingly, however, Cohen told Arutz Sheva about the anti-Semitic threat in February but added that he did not feel threatened at all.

“People are crying out of emotion,” he said after the ouster of former president Victor Yanukovych. “Now that Yanukovych is gone it appears to be over, but actually it is during transition times like these that the danger increases.”

Despite reports that Ukrainian police forces – who are loyal to Yanukovych – have been making open threats against the Jewish community there, Rabbi Cohen said he had not had any problems. “The people here are being very respectful to me, despite the fact that I cannot be mistaken for not being Jewish,” he said.

He said he was not minimizing the danger in the country. “Until order is restored, we are recommending that everyone act with great caution,” he added.

In January, another hareidi Jew, Dov Ber Glickman, was stabbed in Kiev while walking home from synagogue services on Friday night. 

Following that attack, Rabbi Cohen told Arutz Sheva that he had no doubt that the attack was planned in advance by a group of anti-Semites who chose to attack Glickman because of his Jewish appearance. He said that the attackers fled in vehicles that were waiting near the scene of the attack.

He further noted that this is not the first anti-Semitic incident in Kiev and said the Jewish community is concerned by recent events and is calling on the authorities to deal with the phenomenon of anti-Semitic attacks.

One of the three main political parties that led the three-month-long protests which ousted Yanukovich, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda – Freedom – party, has been accused of anti-Semitism in the past.

However, Ira Forman, the US special envoy on anti-Semitism, dismissed Putin's claims that Ukrainian revolutionaries were Jew-haters. 

"We have no indication that what President Putin has been saying about anti-Semitism has been a true reflection of what's happening on the ground," he said. Other Jewish sources claim that the attacks are provocations by Putin's men.

Putin said that Russia's biggest concern was "the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev".