News / Middle East

Israel Rejects Link of Ukraine Crisis to Anti-Semitism

A Jewish boy prays at a synagogue in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, April 20, 2014.
A Jewish boy prays at a synagogue in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, April 20, 2014.
Reuters
Israel played down on Thursday suggestions that anti-Semitism in Ukraine is linked to Kyiv's standoff with Russia, offering a more measured assessment than the Kremlin or the United States as it avoids taking sides in the East-West confrontation.

Moscow has aimed allegations of anti-Semitism against the pro-Western Ukrainian government. Washington has condemned an incident in a city with a strong pro-Russian movement where Jews were handed leaflets using language reminiscent of the Holocaust.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected a connection between the five months of unrest and the situation of Ukraine's 200,000 Jews.

“There is no specific action against Jews which is an outcome of the political crisis,” said Lieberman, a Russian-speaker who grew up in Moldova when it was a Soviet republic.

“What there is, as happens to my regret in every country, is a phenomenon of anti-Semitism which is not necessarily linked to the political events but which, given the political events, of course receives unusual attention,” he told Israel Radio.

Remaining neutral

Anti-Semitism remains a feature of militant nationalism in both Ukraine and Russia. During unrest that saw the overthrow of Kyiv's Kremlin-backed president in February, several attacks on Jews and synagogues were blamed on Ukrainian far-right groups.

The Jewish state has tried to keep out of the crisis, wary of upsetting its crucial U.S. ally or Russia, which is influential in the Middle East flashpoints Iran and Syria.

That has entailed turning down appeals from some Ukrainian Jewish leaders for a public stand against Russia and even the dispatch of Israeli security experts. The community is itself divided between Kyiv and pro-Russians in Crimea and other southeastern areas.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denounced as  “intolerable” and “grotesque” the distribution in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk of leaflets during Passover last week that appeared to call on Jews to register with the self-declared new separatist authorities occupying local government offices.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, making a solidarity visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, said anti-Semitism and bigotry “can have no place in the new Ukraine.”

Myriad facets

The leaflets revived memories of the Holocaust, when Ukraine's once large Jewish population was devastated. Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, however, dismissed them as a forgery designed to smear them, and the city's chief rabbi said it was not clear who was behind the incident.

Citing a labor dispute by its diplomats, Israel sat out a vote by the U.N. General Assembly on March 27 declaring invalid a Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea on seceding from Ukraine. The U.S. State Department voiced “surprise” at the Israeli inaction.

Israel has also played down Ukrainian media reports that Simon Ostrovsky, a U.S. journalist detained on Monday by the separatists, also holds Israeli citizenship. An Israeli diplomat told Reuters the government was “working on the assumption” that Ostrovsky was indeed a dual national, but preferred Washington to take the lead in securing his release.

Lieberman, who has helped to mastermind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of closer relations with Russia, made no apology for the government's fence-sitting on Ukraine.

“We don't lack challenges and conflicts and I don't advise that we force ourselves into others,” he said. “There are such truly major players there - Russia and the United States and Ukraine — so let's make do with the challenges facing us and not look for new challenges.”

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs