Ukraine PM Joins President in Vow to Protect the Jews

Jewish leader Dov Bleich extended plea for protection to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

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After a number of apparently anti-Semitic attacks and incidents of vandalism in Ukraine, the country's prime minister joined an earlier pledge by the acting president – to protect the nation's Jews.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told Rabbi Dov Bleich, the president of the Rabbinical Council of Europe, denounced the attacks and promised that Ukraine would step up its protective measures of the Jewish community, Israeli media reports.

The Jews of Ukraine find themselves forced to "foot the bill" for expensive security measures Bleich told the prime minister.

In late February, as the situation in Ukraine deteriorated, acting president Oleksander Tuchynov pledged to protect the Jews, also after meeting with Bleich. He said the new leadership would do everything in its power to end the anarchy of recent months.

Last Thursday unidentified men assaulted a rabbi in Kiev, Hillel Cohen, who runs the Ukrainian branch of the Hatzalah emergency services organization.

In February, a synagogue in Zaporizhia in eastern Ukraine was hit with firebombs that caused superficial damage to its façade. Another synagogue in the Crimean Peninsula was daubed with graffiti reading: “Death to the Jews” several days later.

The month before, a religious Hebrew teacher was assaulted outside his Kiev home by four men, but escaped without serious injury. Later that month a rabbinical student was stabbed by three men while returning from synagogue, sustaining moderate to serious injuries.

Meanwhile, last Thursday Ira Forman, the Obama administration’s special envoy on anti-Semitism, disputed claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukrainian revolutionaries were spreading hatred of Jews.Earlier in March, Putin stated: "We see the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine."

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, shown presenting awards to paralympic atheletes in Sochi, March 17, previously claimed Jews in the Ukraine are in danger. Credit: Reuters
At UN discussion on minorities in Ukraine. From left: Rabbi Dov Bleich; Tamara Gallo, head of Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; Yuriy Sergeyev, and Ayla Atali, representative of Tatars.Credit: AP

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