Daily Israel Report

Ukraine Prime Minister Vows to Protect Jews

Arseniy Yatsenyuk promises Ukraine's rabbi to beef up security at Jewish institutions.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/17/2014, 4:50 PM

Poster encouraging Crimeans to vote for union with Russia (file)
Poster encouraging Crimeans to vote for union with Russia (file)
Reuters

Ukraine's Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, promised the Deputy President of the Rabbinical Council of Europe and the Rabbi of Ukraine, Rabbi Dov Bleich, to beef up protection of Jews in the country, where anti-Semitism has raised its head in the wake of the ouster of the former pro-Russian prime minister.

"We denounce the anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine and shall deal harshly with the attackers,” Yatsenyuk told Rabbi Bleich.

Following a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks and concern among Ukraine's Jews from their deteriorating security, Rabbi Bleich asked Yatsenyuk to take resolute action against the anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi activists.

"We are worried by the difficult situation we find ourselves in,” the rabbi said. “We have to foot the bill for huge expenses in 24-hour a day security for Jewish communities and institutions, in the face of the difficult and dangerous situation.”

Rabbi Bleich with Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk Rabbinical Council of Europe

There has been a string of attacks on Jews since unrest began there. 

The Deputy Commander of ZAKA Kiev and Hatzalah Kiev Chairman Hillel Cohen was attacked on Thursday night by anti-Semites, according to ZAKA International.

Cohen was treated at the scene by medical staff trained only two weeks ago by the organization, and has been hospitalized with a stab wound to his leg; he is currently in mild to moderate condition. 

Recent reports indicated that extremists have been targeting the Jewish community in Ukraine, and that the extremists include a member of the opposition. A synagogue was firebombed last week by unknown assailants in the embattled country; at least one synagogue in Crimeahas also been defaced. 

The Rabbi of the city of Kharkov, Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, told Arutz Sheva last month that a number of local Jews have expressed a desire to leave Ukraine and emigrate to Israel. The unrest of the recent month is what has brought this desire to the fore, he said. 

Anti-Semitism in Ukraine has picked up throughout the unrest, which began in late November. In January, unknown assailants stabbed a hareidi man in Kiev as he was making his way home from synagogue on a Friday night. Several weeks ago, anti-Semitic graffiti was sprayed on a Holocaust memorial in the village of Alexandria.