Ukraine’s chief rabbi blames Russia for anti-Semitic provocations

Scott Greer Contributor
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As noted by World Affairs Journal, Ukraine’s chief rabbi claimed that the Russian government is behind a string of anti-Semitic incidents that have swept through Ukraine, and disputed Russia’s claims that the revolution in Kiev was engineered by “fascists.”

“Things may be done by Russians dressing up as Ukrainian nationalists,” Rabbi Yaakov Don Bleich stated on Monday at a press conference in New York. He added that it’s “the same way the Nazis did when they wanted to go into Austria and created provocations.”

Bleich believes that Russia’s claim that the recent revolt in Ukraine was a “fascist” coup is exaggerated, that there was a large coalition of different groups and individuals who toppled President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime, and they are all now united in their opposition to Russian intervention.

“The Russians are blowing this way, way out of proportion,” he said. “There were many differences of opinion throughout the revolution, but today all that is gone. We’re faced by an outside threat called Russia. It’s brought everyone together.”

Bleich also called for “boots on the ground to protect democracy” and this would somehow prevent the “Cold War” from escalating.

There have been a recent series of anti-Semitic events in the country that have alarmed several observers, but it is still unknown what groups or individuals behind these attacks. The incidents have included Molotov cocktails dousing synagogues, the random beating of Jews in Kiev, and the vandalization of synagogues with graffiti proclaiming “Death to Yids.” 

In addition, members the nationalist party Svoboda, which has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism, have attained prominent positions in the government that include the posts of deputy prime minister and the minister of defense.

The World Jewish Congress, which Bleich serves as an executive member, condemned the party in 2012 and called for it to be banned by the Ukrainian government for its allegedly extremist rhetoric.

Bleich himself has dismissed Svoboda as “riffraff” and testified before the U.S. Congress in 2013 that they did not present an existential threat to Ukrainian Jews.

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