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Antisemitic incidents in Ukraine double in a year, nationalists claim it is a Russian plot

According to research from the World Jewish Congress, antisemitic incidents in Ukraine doubled over the course of the last year.

The WJC said that it recorded at least 130 antisemitic incidents in the country in the last year, twice what was recorded in the preceding 12 month period. The incidents range from vandalism to far-right marches and verbal abuse to physical violence. The country is home to around 350,000 Jews.

Some domestic forces in Ukraine have dismissed the report, even suggesting it is a Kremlin plot to portray all Ukrainians as fascists. Across Ukraine, there has reportedly been a backlash against the report, particularly from nationalists, who are a growing political force in the country. Unfortunately, unless people are able to swallow their pride and acknowledge that antisemitism is a growing problem, there will be little chance of defeating it. Ukraine, which does not have clearly-defined hate crime legislation, often sees racially and religiously motivated incidents investigated as mere hooliganism.

Everyday Antisemitism has recently covered several incidents in Ukraine, including an attempted arson attack on a Synagogue, a General calling to “destroy” Jews, a “national hero” peddling antisemitic conspiracy theories and saying she doesn’t like “k*kes”, as well as a swastika being carved into the chest of a Jewish activist – falling just within the catchment period of the report, a fact demonstrating that those detracting from the claims in the report by indicating that there have been no violent incidents are clearly incorrect.

This sadly fits a general trend, which has seen antisemitic crime rising across Europe and beyond.

The majority of the incidents are never reported in the English language or outside Ukraine.

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Ukrainian neo-Nazi youths embarrassed as they are made to clean Swastika graffiti in front of crowd of dozens

Three young people in the Ukrainian city of Lviv were caught by a passerby painting Swastika graffiti on a Jewish monument in Struibriskia Street.

The passerby apprehended and detained the youths until the police arrived. The police then made them remove the graffiti in front of a crowd of dozens that had formed, who watched them remove it.

The image released of the young men, as well as their alleged actions, show that they are most probably neo-Nazi skinheads, with all with shaved heads, and at least one in a polo shirt, military-style clothing and black boots.

What is most encouraging is that in Ukraine, a country which has seen a disturbing increase in antisemitism in recent years, someone was willing to stand up to these three, with the crowd seemingly revelling in them being made to clean up their handiwork.

The three were subsequently arrested.

Sadly on the night of  June 20th, there was a further incident of vandalism on a local Synagogue, with the perpetrators being captured on CCTV.

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Attempted arson attack At Ukrainian Synagogue follows threatening Antisemitic graffiti

A firebomb was hurled at a Synagogue in the Ukrainian City of Lviv, according to reports from the local media.

The firebomb was thrown at the Synagogue on June 30th. It missed the window and burned out on the exterior of the building, lightly damaging the exterior, but thankfully not harming the interior of the building or anyone inside it.

The firebomb attack follows antisemitic graffiti appearing on another building belonging to the local Jewish community. This graffiti read “down with Jewish power” and “remember July 1st”, a reference to a large pogrom in Kielce, Poland, in 1946. July 1st was the date when a Polish boy went missing in Kielce, something that was later blamed on the small Jewish community, a group of around 200 Holocaust survivors, around 40 of whom were then murdered.

Whilst it is often easy to write off antisemitic graffiti, which is remarkably common, an incident such as this demonstrates how antisemitic graffiti is a warning that more serious incidents are possible as antisemitism is allowed to flourish. Thankfully nobody was hurt in these incidents, but with antisemitism steadily on the increase in the Ukraine, with far-right ultra-Nationalist groups growing, the risk of further serious incidents appears to be very high.


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Ukrainian General calls to “destroy” Jews, saying “go to hell K*kes”

Vasily Vovk, a retired general in Ukraine who still holds a senior rank in the security services, has posted a particular virulent antisemitic rant on his Facebook, which has since been deleted.

He wrote that Ukrainian Jews “aren’t Ukrainians and I will destroy you”. He also threatened to “destroy” a senior Jewish lawmaker.

“I’m telling you one more time – go to hell, zhidi [kikes], the Ukrainian people have had it to here with you” he continued.

He also said that “Ukraine must be governed by Ukrainian”.

These represent some of the most ugly antisemitic attitudes imaginable. Not only is him singling out a Ukrainian lawmaker alongside Jews an indication that he believes that Jews have been wielding influence over politics, as well as his statement that Ukrainians “have had it to here with you”, but also his statement that Jews aren’t Ukrainians is reminiscent of both the worst of medieval persecutions, and of Nazism.

We have been at the forefront of documenting the rising antisemitism in Ukraine, which has involved a revival of ultra-Nationalism which reveres many figures who collaborated with the Nazis, attacks upon Jews, Jewish religious sites, and those who defend the rights of Jews, and pressure from nationalists resulting in criminal proceedings being brought against a Jewish war hero who killed Nazis.

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Holocaust memorial desecrated with Nazi imagery in Ukraine amidst rising antisemitism

A Holocaust memorial in Chernivtsi, in the South-West of Ukraine, was desecrated last night.

A post on Facebook shows an image of the memorial with the numbers 14/88. These are a code for the 14 words, a neo-Nazi mantra about preserving the Aryan race, and “Heil Hitler”.

There is also a Swastika and the SS logo.

Everyday Antisemitism has been documenting a resurgence of antisemitism in Ukraine, driven by Nationalist groups which have glorified Nazi collaborators, attempted to prosecute elderly Jewish war heroes and physically attacking Jews and those who defend them in the streets. Last month, far-right extremists chanted “Jews out” as they celebrated the birthday of a Nazi collaborator.

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Ukraine moves to prosecute 94-year-old Jewish war hero for allegedly killing Nazi collaborator in 1952

Colonel Boris Steckler, a 94-year-old Jewish man who served in the Soviet Army, has been told by Ukrainian authorities that he should expect to face trial for a murder he is accused of committing in 1952.

Steckler was assigned the task of tracking down Nazis and Nazi collaborators in the post-War period. In 1952 he was involved in a confrontation with Ukrainian Nationalists groups who had cooperated with the Nazis, including having helped to round up Jews to be sent to the concentration camps. During the fighting, Neil Hasiewicz, a judge and propagandist, was killed.

Steckler had previous fought against the Nazis in the Second World War, when he was injured in action. He has appeared in public ceremonies celebrating the defeat of Nazism, but Ukrainian ultra-Nationalists, who have frequently glorified Nazi collaborators and increasingly so in recent years, filed a complaint against Steckler for the assassination, which he does not deny. Unusually, this complaint appears to have been pursued.

Alex Tantzer, a Ukrainian Jew whose family was murdered by the Nazis, commented:“I do not know whether this is anti-Semitism or not. In Ukraine, there are occasional complaints from nationalist organizations, and it’s a shame that the authorities take it seriously … It’s a shame that the government in Ukraine does not stop these horrific things. Now when we celebrate victory over Nazi Germany, we are persecuting this Jew who fought against Nazis”.

The prosecution of a Jewish War Hero who killed an acknowledged Nazi collaborator does appear to indicate a resurgence of antisemitism, particularly when it has been initiated by Nationalist groups who have no problem glorifying figures who murdered, or helped the Nazi to murder, Jews. In January, Ukrainian Nationalists chanted “Jews out” at a rally which memorialised a Nazi collaborator, and last August a street in Kiev was renamed to honour a Nazi collaborator who told his followers to “destroy” Jews.

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Ukrainian national hero says she doesn’t “like ‘k*kes'”, suggests that a Jewish elite runs the country

Nadiya Savchenko was Ukraine’s first female combat pilot, a 2009 graduate of the Air Force University in Kharkiv. In 2014 she was captured by pro-Russian separatists whilst serving in eastern Ukraine, after having volunteered to fight in the conflict in the Donbas region that followed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In protest, Savchenko went on hunger strike for 83 days and, in May 2016, was released in a prisoner exchange. She was awarded the Hero of the Ukraine medal and has been feted as Ukraine’s Joan of Arc , yet vilified by others, “a killing machine in a skirt”.

Nadiya Savchenko, although a controversial figure, is clearly brave and stoic in the face of aggression and her experiences; she is a formidable opponent. She has impressed in interviews, displaying a steely determination, as she does in this interview with Kirsty Wark for Newsnight. Further, her family were labelled Kulaks and her mother’s family had suffered under Stalin’s Holodomor, the enforced famine of 1932-33, which resulted in death by starvation for c.3million Ukrainians.

Against this full and chequered past, it is all the more disappointing that Savchenko embroiled herself in accusations of antisemitism. As a Ukrainian Parliamentarian, in an interview on the Ukrainian 112 station radio, she seemed to agree with a caller’s remarks who had spoken of a “Jewish takeover of the Ukraine”, but has denied being antisemitic. She said “I have nothing against Jews. I do not like ‘kikes’.” and further said Jews possess “80 percent of the power when they only account for 2 percent of the population.”

She first used the term  “evreiv,” which for speakers of both Ukrainian and Russian is a neutral designation for Jew. However, later she used the term “zhidiv,” which in Russian is a pejorative for Jews, akin to “kike” in English.

It also seemed important to her to mention the supposed Jewish roots of Volodymyr Groysman, (Ukraine’s Prime Minister); Petro Poroshenko, (Ukraine’s President) and Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister and a leader of the nation’s Orange Revolution.

In her radio interview, she replied to the caller, “Indeed, part of the ruling establishment in Ukraine does not possess distinctly Ukrainian blood and we need to talk about it and act.” What does “act” mean? With the often tragic history and current day trials of Ukraine’s Jewry, talking is one matter, what she means by “act” is another. From someone with a reputation for forthrightness, it’s not unreasonable for Jewry to interpret this as veiled and threatening.

Despite Savchenko’s denials, it appears that pejoratives and insinuation are so entrenched within her use of language that the tone of antisemitism is not even recognised by her as such. The comments about various politicians, and the fact that this is even a source of speculation to begin with, reeks of antisemitic conspiracy theories and demonstrates an underlying antisemitic sentiment.

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Antisemitic thugs attempt to carve swastika into Ukrainian activist’s chest

Last month three attackers set upon Ludmila Daschizkia in a street in Uman, Ukraine, removed a piece of her clothing, and attempted to carve a Swastika into her chest in a shocking antisemitic attack.

Dashizkia is an activist who is well known in Ukraine for her support of Breslov Hasidim who come to visit Rabbi Nachman’s grave in the city, which last year we reported had been desecrated with a pig’s head and blood by antisemites.

Dashizkia managed to escape with only minor injuries, but the attackers, if caught, may only have to pay a fine.

She commented: “I do not know who it was, but it’s an act of intimidation. It could be that the attackers were local neo-Nazis, but I’m not sure about it … Someone might have wanted to provoke an anti-Semitic scandal. I told the police, but I’m afraid they will not find the attackers”.

The wounds she received before her escape are picture below. It seems quite clear that it was an attempt to carve a swastika into her chest.

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Holocaust memorial destroyed overnight in Odessa, police attribute it to “old age”

A Holocaust memorial in Savra in Odessa, Ukraine, has been totally destroyed overnight.

Paul Kozlenko, director of the Holocaust museum in Odessa, said “villains and moral monsters continue to mock the memory of Holocaust victims”, saying that the memorial, which is in a Jewish cemetery, was “completely destroyed”.

The police are saying that this was not a deliberate act of vandalism, but are instead attributing it to “old age and natural causes”. However, it seems far from plausible that the memorial, which is pictured before its destruction below, could be destroyed so totally in such a brief period of time without it being an intentional act. Unfortunately, it appears that the police have decided that this is simply not something they wish to investigate. Given that we report on dozens of desecrations of Holocaust memorials and Jewish cemeteries, which are among the most common instances of antisemitism, it is profoundly irresponsible not to treat this as suspicious from the outset.

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Protesters in Kiev chant “Jews out” to celebrate birthday of Nazi collaborator

Ukrainian far right Nationalists marched in Kiev on New Years Day to celebrate the birthday of Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator.

As we noted in December 2015 in a report on support for Bandera coming from a Mayor in Ukraine, the Nationalist figure has been gaining popularity.

Bandera led Ukrainian troops who fought alongside the Nazis.

Marchers were filmed chanting “Jews out” in German. Whilst Bandera was admired by some for standing up to Communism and for aspiring to an independent Ukraine after the world, the use of German chants explicitly linking their support of Bandera to his association with the Nazis, and not just as a poorly chosen figurehead for Ukrainian Nationalism, the supporters are clearly throwing their lot in with the Nazis and the slaughter of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust.

According to Oleksandr Feldman, President of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee and a Ukrainian lawmaker, the Svoboda party who appear to be responsible for the march have often engaged in antisemitic rhetoric.

He also added “I still can’t get over hearing it at the rally in honor of Stepan Bandera’s birthday. I admit, I’m choking up with tears. I love Ukraine, love the Ukrainians”.

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Rabbi Nachman’s grave desecrated with pig’s head, blood

Visitors coming to pay their respects at the grave of Rabbi Nachman were “astonished” to find the site had been vandalised.

Antisemitic vandals left a severed pig head, and what is either red paint or blood, with reports varying.

The vandalism appears to have occurred on Tuesday night, and was discovered this morning.

The grave is located in Uman, Ukraine.

Rabbi Nachman was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement, and died in 1810. His grave is attended by around 150,000 visitors every year.

Rabbi Moshe Asman, the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, told an Army radio station: “We will look into it, we have ways to do this, along with the police and local intelligence institutions, we will try to reach them. Vandals threw a pig’s head and shed blood”.

The question now is who did it, it wasn’t easy to move it there, because the area is inhabited by a lot of Jews”.

“There haven’t been events like this, but there are always cases of antisemitism before the New Year. In such a small place sometimes there are incidents, but I don’t have any more details, we will learn more from the investigation”.

Yair Lapid, Chairman of Israel’s Yesh Atid Party, urged the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel to look into the incident personally, saying “I was shocked this morning to hear about the sickening and violent antisemitic attack, which occurred at the grave-site of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, in Uman, Ukraine”, and calling the incident “unacceptable and reminiscent of the darkest days of the history of the Jewish people in Europe”.



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Holocaust memorial desecrated in Ukraine

A moment dedicated to the memory of thousands of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in Kremenchug, Ukraine, has been desecrated.

Neo-Nazi vandals, the identities of whom are unknown, drew several swastikas as well as the numbers “14” and “88” on the memorial. 14 and 88 are both Neo-Nazi codes, with 14 referring to the ’14 words’, a creed used by neo-Nazis, and 88 referring to the eighth letter in the alphabet being repeated twice, which stands for ‘Heil Hitler.

Local authorities have washed the graffiti off the monument. The police are currently seeking the perpetrators.

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Synagogue, Jewish cemetery desecrated in Ukraine

Kolomyia Synagogue in Western Ukraine was defaced with antisemitic graffiti on Thursday night.

The entrance to the Synagogue was sprayed with a swastika and “antisemitic slogans”.

Jacob Zlishiker, an official of the Jewish community, said that such incidents are routine in the area. However, the police are taking the matter very seriously.

A Jewish cemetery was also vandalized on the same evening.

Before the Holocaust there were 50 Synagogues in the City. This appears to be the only one still active, having been founded by a small number of Jews who returned to the city after its liberation from the Nazis.

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Kiev renames street to honour Nazi collaborator

Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, has renamed a busy street after a Nazi collaborator.

What was formerly known as Moscow Avenue, a busy market street, will now be named after Stepan Bandara, who told Ukranians to “destroy” Jews.

A document published by Bandara’s faction stated that  “Jews must be isolated, removed from governmental positions in order to prevent sabotage, those who are deemed necessary may only work with an overseer… Jewish assimilation is not possible”.

Bandara was eventually deported to a concentration camp by the Nazis for declaring an independent Ukraine, but was released again in 1944. During those years his group engaged in ethnic cleansing, but his supporters claim that he sided with the Nazis solely because he thought it would lead to an independent Ukraine in the future.

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Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary group planning to convene in France

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has issued a warning over “a troubling meeting” in Nantes on 16th January of supporters of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, “a majority of the unit’s members can be labelled as neo-Nazi in iconising ‘Hitler as a great military leader’ and in denying the Holocaust; in claiming that ‘Putin is a Jew’; by the Wolfsangel (Wolfs Hook) logo on their banner and swastika tattoos; and in quotes from the unit’s leader, Colonel Andrey Biletzky, that his historic mission is ‘a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans]…the struggle for the liberation of the entire White race’”. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre called on the mayor of Nantes to ban the meeting.

Source: The Simon Wiesenthal Centre

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Neo-Nazi antisemitic mayor alarms Ukrainian Jews

Jewish residents of a city in northern Ukraine have spoken of their concerns after the election of a neo-Nazi mayor.

Two months after Mayor Artem Semenikhin, of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party, became mayor of Konotop, he has become notorious for his openly antisemitic behaviour.

Reports suggest he drives a car bearing the numbers 14/88, which refer to the 14-word phrase “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”, the letter ‘H’ being the eighth in the alphabet. He reportedly replaced a picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with one of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, and refused to fly the city’s flag at the new council’s first meeting because it features a Star of David. The flag also includes a Muslim crescent and a cross.

Svoboda’s leaders have made numerous antisemitic remarks in the past, though they have spoken more carefully in recent years while attempting to present themselves as a mainstream party. Its general popularity has declined in the past year and it currently holds six seats in the Ukrainian parliament, but its fortunes improved in the recent municipal elections, when it won 10 per cent of the vote in Kiev and second place in Lviv.

Ilya Bezruchko, the Ukrainian representative of the US-based National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, said that he thought residents, who generally have good relations with local Jews, voted for Semenikhin because he appeared able to bring change and tackle corruption.

Community activist Igor Nechayev told the Jerusalem Post: “The reaction of [the] community is shock. People are shocked it could happen in [a] city and nobody believed it could happen here but it happened somehow.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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Ukranian MP toasts Hitler, singing “Adolf Hitler, together with us, Adolf Hitler, in each of us”

A video has surfaced showing Ukrainian MP Artyom Vitko dressed in combat fatigues toasting Adolf Hitler and singing along to a song by a Russian neo-Nazi band, whose lyrics include: “Adolf Hitler, together with us, Adolf Hitler, in each of us, and an eagle with iron wings will help us at the right time.” He toasted a companion as the band sang “Heil Hitler”.

Vitko is the former commander of the government-backed Luhansk-1 Battalion and is now a member of the Radical Party. He can be seen sitting in the back of a car wearing combat fatigues and singing along to a song by a Russian neo-Nazi band extolling the virtues of the Nazi dictator.

His party leader, Oleh Lyashko, has just denounced President Petro Poroshenko for apologising for Ukrainian complicity in the Holocaust. Speaking before the Knesset in Israel last week, Poroshenko had said “we must remember the negative events in history, in which collaborators helped the Nazis with the Final Solution. When Ukraine was established [as an independent state in 1991], we asked for forgiveness, and I am doing it now, in the Knesset, before the children and grandchildren of the victims of the Holocaust…I am doing it before all citizens of Israel.”

Lyashko responded on Facebook: “This kind of humiliation of Ukrainians has not been recorded in our history yet…The Knesset has not recognized the Holodomor [a major famine] as the genocide of the Ukrainian people. That is a goal for Ukrainian authorities visiting the Holy Land rather than belittling Ukrainians [and] proclaiming inferiority of his people on the international level.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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Monument to 15,000 executed Jews vandalised in Ukraine

A memorial in for 15,000 Jews who were executed during the Holocaust along with other locals, resistance activists and Soviet prisoners, has been vandalised. The “Grieving Mother” monument in Poltava, Ukraine was spray-painted with drawings of gallows and a common Jewish surname.

Source: CFCA/Rishonim

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Ukrainian Jewish cemetery’s prayer room set alight for the second time

A prayer room at a Jewish cemetery in Colomye, Ukraine, has been set alight for a second time, causing extensive damage to the roof and walls. The prayer room was last set alight in September.

Photo: Firtka

Source: CFCA/Firtka

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Arsonists set fire to prayer room at Ukraine Jewish cemetery

In yet another arson attack on Jewish sites in Ukraine, arsonists set fire to a prayer room at a Jewish cemetery in Colomye, Prykarpattia. Police were first on the scene and extinguished the fire. The local Jewish community has offered a reward for information leading to an arrest.

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Holocaust memorial desecrated by arsonists in Ukraine

Antisemitic vandals targeted the menorah at Babyn Yar, the site the Nazis murdered over 33,000 in 1941 Jews. This is the sixth such attack on the site, taking place on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Tyres were placed around the monument, doused with an inflammable substance and set alight. The flames were noticed and put out by the guard watching over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church nearby.

Photo: Euro-Asian Jewish Congress

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Far-right Ukrainian thugs vandalise encampment for Jewish pilgrims, police take no action

Several dozen far-right Ukrainians stormed a tent encampment of ultra-Orthodox Jewish visitors in Uman, Ukraine over the weekend, destroying equipment and dismantling parts of the camp. A police force was dispatched to the area, but according to witnesses, the officers failed to intervene.

“On Shabbat, when they knew we wouldn’t be able to respond or activate the communication device, they simply knocked down the fence, pushed the light poles and security cameras and caused damage estimated at half a million dollars,” Eliezer Kirshboim, chairman and director of the Jewish association in Uman told Yedioth Ahronoth. “We are approaching the High Holidays, and this disrupts all our work arrangements.”

Photo: Russia Today