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

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid