web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘crimea’

Jews Ordered to ‘Register’ in Donetsk, Ukraine

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  For some Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on this Passover holiday of “freedom,” concern and even fear is lurking in their thoughts, making them wonder about the lessons of the past.

On the first day of Passover this week, three armed men in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk distributed flyers warning Jews to “register” themselves and their assets with the new pro-Russian government, according to the novosti.dn.ua website.

The flyers were handed out next to a synagogue as people were leaving following holiday prayers. They read as follows:

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,

Due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported (Stepan) Bendery Junta, and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, [the interim government] has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent age 16 and older, residing within the territory of the republic, are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register by May 3.

(Ed. Note: Stepan Bander was a Ukrainian nationalist leader in Kiev who fought with Nazi Germany in the 1940s against Soviet troops before switching sides and taking up arms against the German occupation.)

“ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles. Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revocation and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property. A registration fee of $50 is required.”

Pro-Russian separatists are occupying the building where the Jews were told the register.

The flyer was written in the Russian language and bore the symbol of Mother Russia at the top of the page and that of the Donetsk People’s Republic at the bottom. It was allegedly signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of the Donetsk interim government but no ink signature is seen on the paper.

Donetsk was recently declared an independent “people’s republic” by pro-Russian activists. In response to a query by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin confirmed the flyers were indeed distributed by his organization. However, he was quoted by the tvrain.ru news site on Wednesday as denying any connection to the content, and called the flyers a ‘provocation.’

Nevertheless, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told Voice of Israel government radio on Wednesday that aliyah from the Ukraine is likely to double by the end of 2014.

The flyer – authentic or not – constitutes the 17th anti-Semitic incident to have taken place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Most were violent attacks. Several were aimed at Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a few were life-threatening. Five took place in Kiev alone, according to statistics gleaned from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA) website.

A reader on the Israel Matzav blog warned in a number of posts that the situation in Ukraine is becoming extremely dangerous for Jews.

Wisely, a Jewish resident of Donetsk told Ynet that she does not intend to register, although she said that she had never encountered any form of anti-Semitism until she saw the flyer. “Though I take it very seriously, I am uncertain of its authenticity,” she said.

Putin’s Iran Threat is Good for Israel

Monday, March 24th, 2014

In a column analyzing Russia’s recent threat to rethink its position on Iran, Walter Russell Mead and his staff at The American Interest postulated, “Linking the Ukraine crisis with the Iran negotiation is an American nightmare; it might just be a Russian dream come true.” Mead is on to something; however, he stops short in his analysis. Russia’s threat could also be quite helpful to Israel.

Obama entered into the Iran negotiations in order to avoid a military confrontation, as well as to constrain the “true barrier” to peace in the region – Israel. His hope was to bide time, notwithstanding that Iran’s centrifuges would continue to spin, bringing its nuclear capability to the brink or to fruition.

If Iran does in fact go nuclear on Obama’s watch, so be it; he will proceed to sell containment to the American public for the little time left in his term. The carnival salesmen in the White House are quite talented at selling the American people a bill of goods – just look at ObamaCare. While Russia invades a European country and threatens all-out war, the administration spends $52 million of taxpayer funds in just three months on advertising this debacle. One can only imagine what they will spend to convince Americans that a nuclear Iran poses no threat to our national security.

Alas, since reality has yet to penetrate the White House bubble, Obama has likely never lost sleep thinking about Iran’s nuclear capabilities (his Baracketology, next vacation, and golf game, perhaps, but national security, not so much) – that is, until Vladimir Putin stepped into the picture.

Obama’s failure to realize that he is now unmasked as a fool on the world stage does not mean that the rest of the world’s leaders have not noticed. It is not a coincidence that just six months after Putin manipulated Obama out of bombing Syria despite its having crossed Obama’s disingenuous red line, Putin took to annexing Crimea from Ukraine. And Putin did so despite a U.S. promise to protect Ukraine. As one Ukranian parliamentarian stated, “[e]veryone believed that for good or bad the United States would be the world’s policeman. Now that function is being abandoned by President Obama, and because of that Russia invaded Crimea.”

So Mead is correct that linking Ukraine with Iran is good policy for Russia while thrusting Obama into a nightmarish situation. It will cause Obama to quake in his mom-jeans and further diminish American power. Obama has already stated that he will not act militarily in response to the Ukrainian situation. What are his choices if Russia acts on its threat and allies with Iran? Cancel Putin’s Netflix account?

But linking Ukraine and Iran just might be an Israeli dream come true as well. Mead stated, “The Obama strategy has always been a risky one; if Russia shifts into active cooperation with Iran, it is hard to see how the White House can keep hope alive.” True enough.

But if Russia moves into Iran’s camp, Israel has the perfect excuse to move ahead with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and will likely have the support of the entire Western world (in addition to America’s Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia), all of which will be relieved that at least someone is standing up to the bad guys.

Middle East and foreign policy experts have vacillated for years analyzing Israel’s capability to conduct a successful unilateral military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, guessing when it might proceed, and wondering whether the United States is holding Israel back from doing so. Some ask why U.S. support is a necessary prerequisite to an Israeli strike that is in Israel’s own national security interests. One need only look at a map of the region and the fact that the country, the size of the state of New Jersey and only nine miles wide at its narrowest point, is surrounded by 21 Arab nations, the vast majority of whom are adversaries, to understand Israel’s need for supportive friends.

Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Clarification and Update:

Wording in the title of this article has been changed from “Rabbi in Crimea Escapes with Torah Scroll” to “Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train”, to avoid any potential misunderstanding that Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc may have stolen the Torah from the Crimea war zone, or abandoned his community in its time of need.

The Torah was moved to a safer location in Simferopol, and Rabbi Lipszyc was advised by his superiors at Chabad headquarters to temporarily move his center of operations out of Crimea. The Rabbi is still working with his community via Skype, phone and email.

JewishPress.com apologizes for any misunderstanding the title may have caused if read out of context from the text of the article.

Crimea’s Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Meyer Lipszyc escaped Simferopol with his wife on the last train that left the area before the Russian sealed it off.

“The main action in Crimea was taking place right across the street from our synagogue,” said Rabbi Lipszyc, who has been a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, for more than two decades. “There were demonstrations with over 30,000 people. The protestors were pro-Ukrainian. But eventually the ones who took over were in the unidentified uniforms—they were obviously Russian military. There was Cossacks there too; for Jews that was a bit scary because of their history in the pogroms.”

Lipszyc spoke told JNS.org, “For the last 22 years under the Ukrainian government, everything has been going very well. When this situation began, it turned things upside down. We were told by Chabad headquarters to get out and we barely made it out. My wife in fact got the last two tickets on a train out of Simferopol on the night before everything got sealed off by the Russians.

He said that despite the referendum that was almost unanimous for annexation by Russia, the thinks “most of the people wanted to stay with Ukraine, because that was what they were familiar with, but then when the Russians took over the media and propaganda switched the other way, within days we saw it swing towards being overwhelmingly pro-Russian.’

The situation is even worse for Americans like the rabbi, he added. “Americans were persona-non-gratis for both Ukrainians and Russians at this time. For Russians it is because of the stance the American government has taken against Russia. While on the Ukraine side they are deeply disappointed that America is not doing enough to help them.

“Oddly enough we had to leave there more because we were Americans and not because we were Jewish.”

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was anything but comfortable for Jews. Rabbi Lipszyc said that the Russian troops cordoned off the synagogue and that he and his wife moved to their house.

At his wife’s suggestion, they decided to move away as far as possible and wrote a note to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to ask his help to get them out.

“Believe it or not, when our friend reached the military checkpoint, he explained to them that we needed to retrieve the Torah out of the synagogue, [the Russian soldier] suddenly moved out of the way and removed the barriers to let him,” according to the rabbi. “On his way out, the solider actually even apologized to him for the inconvenience, which was unheard of there! It was a miracle. We were able to move our Torahs to a safer location in Simferopol, where services were held for several weeks.””

Despite anti-Semitism, Jews are able to practice without interference. However, he noted, “We have to prepare for Passover and need to raise a lot of money to help with the extra costs. We not only need extra security, but we have taken loses during the process.

“We were getting our kosher meat from Ukraine; we had ordered and paid for it, but they [Russian forces] didn’t let it through. We also paid for the Matzos, but that didn’t get through either. We need to figure out how to all our supplies through now. We are appealing to everyone to help out the Jewish community there.”

Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS.org that according to international law and most Western observers, the referendum was illegitimate.

“In 1991, Crimea went to independent Ukraine because, since 1954, it was part of Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic which in turn was an integral part of the Soviet Union,” said Kliger. “That is why nobody really cared. As long as it was a part of the USSR, it did not really matter whether it is formally a part of Russia or Ukraine. Now Russia, using as pretext the instability created by Ukrainian revolution and imaginary ‘discrimination’ against ethnic Russians, just grabbed the opportunity to return Crimea to where, according to Russia, it historically belongs.”

Ya’alon Calls the Obama Administration a Weakling

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who earlier this year called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” and “obsessive,” upped the ante on Monday by calling the entire Obama administration a weakling and undependable in the “stop nuclear Iran” campaign.

“We had thought it would be the United States that would lead the campaign against Iran,” said Ya’alon at a lecture at Tel Aviv University.

He cited the Ukraine crisis as an example of “weakness” in the White House which he said cannot be depended on to stop Iran’s nuclear program. “We had thought it would be the United States that would lead the campaign against Iran,” said Ya’alon.

“People know Iran cheats”, he added, but the United States and its other Western allies “engage” Iran, leaving Israel with no choice other than “ to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves.”

That is as close as he can come to threatening a military attack on Iran without actually giving the order in public.

His comments came on the eve of more talks with Iran in Vienna under the shadow of the crisis with Russia over its plan to annex the Crimean peninsula of the Ukraine.

As for the talks with Iran, Ya’alon implied a zero rating for American and Western negotiators. “Unfortunately, when it comes to negotiating at a Persian bazaar, the Iranians are better,” according to Ya’alon.

For good measure, the Obama administration’s feebleness regarding the civil war in Syria, where he said lack of American support for Sunni Muslims at war with Syrian President Bassar al-Assad and his Iranian-Hezbollah allies is a “disappointment” to rebels and their supporters, such as Saudi Arabia.

Ya’alon did not say anything that others in the government do not know, but he simply is being less diplomatic and calling a spade a spade and a weakling a weakling.

It is a bit pitiful that Kerry and Obama talk as if the world has not changed in 60 years since the United States was the undisputed world leader. When it said jump, other countries would ask, “Head first or foot first.”

When Obama says jump, the other side indeed jumps – on Obama. It is not surprising that Iran mocks the United States every day. It is not even a small miracle that Muslim countries make fun of him.

But now it is both the Palestinian Authority, which this week supported a YouTube song video mocking Kerry, as seen here, and Israel’s defense minister using Obamas a punching bag.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are Obama’s two hopes to show the world how much influence he has, and the world is seeing exactly how impotent he is.

The last word goes to Mitt Romney, was laughed at in the 2012 presidential campaign when he attacked Obama’s foreign policy.
He wrote in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, “President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton traveled the world in pursuit of their promise to reset relations and to build friendships across the globe. It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office, and now Russia is in Ukraine.”

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Putin’s Advisers

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The Obama administration imposed sanctions on seven Russians and four Ukrainians in retaliation on Monday in response to the apparently imminent annexation by Russia of the Crimean peninsula of the Ukraine.

Among those sanctioned were advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin and parliament members in and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The European Union has frozen assers of 13 Russian leaders and eight others in Crimea and has alaso placed a travel ban on them.

Jewish Voice from Crimea: ‘Living in Readiness’

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

By Roman Mokrinsky,

Two weeks after the fall of the regime in the Ukraine, and as the flow of reports on Russian military advancement in the Crimea intensifies, the situation in the region continues to remain unstable and flammable.

The interim government in the Ukraine has issued new laws, many of them with a nationalistic orientation, creating unrest in the Russian speaking regions in the country. Many of these ethnic Russians in the east of the Ukraine fear the new regime and aspire to be annexed by Russia. These citizens go to sleep every night not knowing in which country they will wake up in the next morning. Russian President Vladimir Putin has effectively invaded the Crimea under the pretence that he is doing so to protect the ethnic Russian there from Ukrainian nationalism, and now the world’s attention is focused on the key peninsula.

The residents of the Crimea don’t know what to expect from the government in Kiev, and these latest developments have not left the Jewish community in the Crimea untouched. As always in history, when a region experiences strife and instability the first to come under threat are the Jews there, as the lack of a central government enables the violent expressions of antisemitism. Tazpit News Agency has interviewed two of the leaders of the Jewish community in the Crimea, and has learned of their precarious state.

Dina Liebman, director of the local Hillel house in Simferopol, told Tazpit of the general deterioration of their security state. With that, she stressed that no Jewish organization has ceased to be active. “We have cancelled our larger plans due to the situation, but we have continued on with our smaller programs, like volunteering with children in dorms and working with the elderly,” said Liebman. “I haven’t sensed a change in the local population’s attitude towards us. I feel that everyone is prepared to support each other and extend help if needed, regardless of ethnicity.”

However, Anatoly Ganadin, Chairman of the Jewish communities’ organization in the Crimea, has recently experienced antisemitism in Simferopol. On February 28th, the day after the fall of Yanukovych’s rule, Ganadin went to the ‘Ner Tamid’ synagogue in city and found it defaced with antisemitic graffiti; swastikas and ‘Death to the Jews’ slogans were sprayed across the façade. “This is the first such incident in the past twenty years. To vandalize the synagogue you have to scale a 6.7ft wall. Now we do not leave the windows closed so that we will not be shattered, and we have asked our members not to come to religious affairs out of fear for their safety,” Ganadin said.

Is there a threat of rising antisemitism?

“Unfortunately, antisemitism has always been a part of life here,” Liebman explains, “It’s not wide spread and is not a political line of any party. We are not fearful of possible upcoming pogroms. Of course, any expression of antisemitism is unpleasant and serious. Its true Simferopol has not experienced antisemitic graffiti in the past twenty years, but other cities have. I think such expressions of antisemitic and nationalistic sentiments are not a result of the latest developments. It’s simply a few individuals who have decided to express themselves as the country is in a stormy state,” said Liebman.

“We are not fearful of the Ukrainian nationalists, because they will not be successful in the Crimea. No one will let them in,” Ganadin pointed out.

As the Ukraine has split into pro-Russian and anti-Russian camps, the Jewish community remains unified. “I am sure there is not fissure within the Jewish community on this issue,” says Liebman, “No head of community has voiced his opinion on the subject and has tried to influence his community in any way. We have asked our members to stay calm and to stay away from provocations.”

Ukraine Chief Rabbi Accuses Russians of Antisemitic ‘Provocations’

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, one of the two chief rabbis of the Ukraine (the other one is Rabbi Azriel Chaikin), accused Russia of staging antisemitic “provocations” in Crimea in order to justify its invasion of the former Soviet republic.

At a press conference in the Manhattan office of the United Jewish Communities of Eastern Europe, Bleich compared Russia’s behavior to that of the Nazis prior to the Anschluss invasion of Austria in 1938.

“Things may be done by Russians dressing up as Ukrainian nationalists,” he said, adding that it’s “the same way the Nazis did when they wanted to go into Austria and created provocations.”

Bleich, a vice president of the World Jewish Congress, also announced the creation of an aid effort, KievRelief.org, to fund security for synagogues and mosques and to provide humanitarian relief for all Ukrainians.

Bleich, who moved to Ukraine in 1989 from Brooklyn, was slated, along with other Ukrainian political and religious leaders, to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday. He said he will urge Kerry to be assertive with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to move the G8 Summit to Kiev, as a show of solidarity with Ukrainians, and to consider sending military support to Ukraine. While acknowledging that Americans are “war-weary,” he said Ukrainians need “boots on the ground to protect democracy” and to prevent “the cold war from getting hot.”

Asked about antisemitism among Ukrainian nationalists, particularly two far-right parties that have been included in the new government, Bleich acknowledged concerns but said the Jewish community has received assurances from top government leaders that their safety will be protected.

“The Russians are blowing this way, way out of proportion,” he said, referring to the issue of anti-Semitism among some Ukrainian nationalist factions.

He said that Ukrainians were united in response to the Russian intervention.

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ukraine-chief-rabbi-accuses-russians-of-antisemitic-provocations/2014/03/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: