Acting Ukraine Leader Vows to Defend Jews

But meanwhile, a European Jewish leader appeals to Netanyahu to dispatch Israeli security guards for 'a Jewish emergency.'

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Interim Ukrainian President Oleksander Tuchynov pledged Wednesday that he would do everything in his power to protect the country's Jewish community, Israel Radio reported.

Tuchynov met with the country's chief rabbi, Yaakov Dov Bleich, after former President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed last week following three months of unrest by protesters in Kiev.

Tuchynov told Bleich that Ukraine's new leadership is doing everything it can to end the anarchy of recent months, according to Israel Radio.

However, at least one European Jewish leader has responded to the threat against the Ukrainian Jewish community by requesting outside assistance, both from European leaders and Israeli authorities.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, general director of the European Jewish Association, has appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to send Israeli-trained security forces to protect the Jewish community across Ukraine.

In a letter to Netanyahu and Ya’alon, Margolin cited the increasing helplessness of Ukrainian Jewry following two days that saw an upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, including firebombs thrown at a Jewish synagogue and community center in Zaporozhye, a threatening phone message left for a rabbi ordering him to leave his city within 72 hours, and anti-Semitic graffiti scrawled in Kiev and other locations.

“Community reports indicate an alarming, and increasingly violent, trend of hatred towards Jewish targets – and so far, there’s been no reaction," Margolin wrote the Israeli ministers. "The challenge is clear and the State must help to take security measures for what has become a Jewish emergency."

Margolin urged Netanyahu and Ya'alon to act on behalf of the Jews of Ukraine, “to take every possible step, including dispatching security guards to secure the safety of Jewish communities in Ukraine.”

Margolin also appealed to foreign ministers and ambassadors of EU member states to lobby their Ukrainian counterparts to better safeguard the country’s Jewish community.

Anti-Yanukovych protesters march in Kiev, Feb. 26, 2014. The unrest in Ukraine is affecting world stock markets.Credit: AP

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