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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

The debate as to whether or not the flyer passed out to the Jewish community in Ukraine was an “official” document or not, and whether it was sent by the Russians or the Ukrainians, is abhorrent.

The fact is, someone deigned it appropriate to bring overt anti-Semitism into the fight between the Russians and Ukrainians, and that is all there is to it.

As JewishPress.com pointed out, it’s not going to stop at threatening letters. At 2 AM, Saturday morning, the Nikolayev synagogue in Ukraine was firebombed multiple times, as the anti-Semitism escalates.

The attack was caught on the shul’s CCTV system, and posted online by Yisroel Gottlib, the son of the city’s Chief Rabbi Sholom Gotlieb.

You can watch the entire attack on the video below.

In February, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, southeast of Kiev was firebombed for the first time.

Update:

Daytime photos of the synagogue after the attack (photos by Yisrolik Gottlib, using a normal camera):

Nikolayev Synagogue Daylight 2

Nikolayev Synagogue Daylight

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.

Russian and Ukrainian Jews at Each Other’s Throats

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has pitted Jewish leaders from both countries against each other, touching off a discordant exchange between prominent rabbis on opposite sides of the border.

The discord had been brewing since the onset of the protests in Ukraine in November, but it turned public earlier this month after Russia deployed its military in Crimea in response to what President Vladimir Putin claimed was a “rampage” of anti-Semitic and nationalist groups.

Putin’s claim sparked angry reactions from Ukrainian Jewish leaders, many of whom said it was a false justification for aggressive Russian actions that were more dangerous to Jews than any homegrown nationalism.

On Monday, one of Russia’s chief rabbis, Berel Lazar, hit back, urging Ukrainian Jews to stay silent on matters of geopolitics and reiterating concerns about anti-Semitism in the post-revolutionary government — concerns that he further suggested Ukrainian Jews were too afraid to voice for themselves.

“The Jewish community should not be the one sending messages to President Barack Obama about his policy or to President Putin or to any other leader. I think it’s the wrong attitude,” Lazar told JTA.

The revolution in Ukraine, a country with bitter memories of Soviet domination but also a large population of Russian speakers, erupted last fall after President Viktor Yanukovych declined to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Svoboda, an ultranationalist political party that Ukrainian Jewish leaders consider both anti-Semitic and dangerous, played a prominent role in the uprising that eventually ousted Yanukovych from office last month.

Amid the revolutionary turmoil, several anti-Semitic incidents occurred, including the stabbing of a religious Jew in Kiev, several street beatings of Jews, the attempted torching of a synagogue and, at another synagogue, the spray-painting of swastikas and “Death to the Jews.”

At a March 4 news conference in Moscow, Putin said Russia’s “biggest concern” was “the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine,” warning that Russia would make further incursions if minorities were endangered.

In response, Josef Zissels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine, or Vaad, and 20 other leaders of the Ukrainian Jewish community sent Putin an open letter in which they disputed the existence of unusual levels of anti-Semitism in post-revolutionary Ukraine and accused Russia of threatening the security of Ukrainians.

“Your policy of inciting separatism and crude pressure placed on Ukraine threatens us and all Ukrainian people,” the letter said.

On Wednesday, Vaad placed the letter as a full-page ad in The New York Times and several other newspapers.

To Lazar, a senior Chabad rabbi who spoke to JTA this week at the biannual conference of the Rabbinical Center of Europe in Budapest, the Vaad letter was a case of Jewish leaders involving themselves in issues that don’t directly concern the Jewish community.

It was a sharper version of previous calls for Jewish silence on the Ukraine crisis, including a March 17 statement co-signed by Lazar and 47 other Russian and Ukrainian rabbis, many of them affiliated with Chabad.

“Religious and community leaders should stay out of the political sphere,” the letter said. “Do not forget: Any thoughtless word can lead to dangerous consequences for many.”

But several Ukrainian Jewish leaders said that by using anti-Semitism to justify his actions, Putin had left them no choice but to speak out.

“We were not the ones who brought the Jews into the debate to make it a Jewish question,” said Yaakov Dov Bleich, one of Ukraine’s chief rabbis. “Putin did it by his cynical abuse of anti-Semitism as a justification for his actions.”

Jews Brought Holocaust on Themselves, Says Russian TV Host

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

A Russian TV presenter, in a conversation with a writer about the Ukrainian protests and Crimea, said that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves.

Writer Aleksandr Prokhanov, while being interviewed by anchor Evelina Zakamskaya on the state-funded Rossiya 24 TV channel, said (as translated by JNS.org) that it is “strange that Jewish organizations, the European and our own Russian organizations, support the Maidan [protests]. What are they doing? Do they not understand that they are bringing about a second Holocaust with their own hands? This is monstrous.”

Zakamskaya replied that the Jews “brought about the first [Holocaust] similarly.”

“It is a blindness. It is an unbelievable blindness, that is clearly repeating itself, because even then in 1933 in Europe, many liberal organizations were feeding the Fuhrer,” Prokhanov then said, a statement that Zakamskaya agreed with.

A video of the comments in Russian was first posted by a blogger on Americablog.com, who provided his own translation.

Earlier in March, Josef Zisels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine (VAAD), and several other prominent Ukrainian Jews wrote a letter accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of exaggerating the level of ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

A few anti-Semitic incidents have occurred throughout Ukraine since the beginning of the Maidan protests in November 2013, including the vandalism of a synagogue in the Crimean city of Simferopol and a Molotov cocktail attack on a Chabad center in Zaporozhye. But those incidents have not been directly linked to the Maidan protests.

White House ‘Shocked’ that Ya’alon Criticizes Obama

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Officials at the a White House are incredibly upset with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who had the audacity Monday to say that that the  United States’ foreign policy is so weak that Israel cannot depend it on it to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.

President Barack Obama’s definition of ”friendship” – and everyone knows that Commander in Chief himself has said he is the greatest pal Israel has had since George Washington – means  the Israeli government must pat the president on his head every time he blinks, and he has been doing a lot of that lately.

Ya’alon said in a speech at Tel Aviv University earlier this week that allies have expressed “disappointment” at American policies leading up to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and that the United States clearly is  “demonstrating weakness.”

The Obama administration has accused the Israeli defense minister of insulting its senior officials and undermining the relationship between the US and Israel after he criticized American foreign policy for projecting “weakness” throughout the world.

“If you sit and wait at home, the terrorism will come again,” Ya’alon said. “This is a war of civilizations. If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world. Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will challenge the world order, and the United States is the one that will suffer.”

That was not exactly harsh language. On the contrary, Ya’alon put the United States on a pedestal when he said that no one can replace it.

But the criticism was too much for President Obama, whose foreign policy blunders have brought him compliments from no one outside the State Dept.

“We were shocked,” one official was quoted as saying.

Not only was he shocked, he was “mystified” at Ya’alon, who earlier this year was reprimanded by the American government for very undiplomatic language he uttered in what was supposed to be closed meeting, where he called Kerry “messianic”” and obsessive.” Ya’alon expressed his wish that Kerry would simply go home, collect his Nobel Prize for No Peace and “leave us alone.”

Ya’alon seemed to have learned his lesson, His criticism was offered in friendly terms, but the White  House official was quoted as saying that the defense minister shows a “disturbing pattern” in which he “disparages the U.S. administration, and insults its most senior officials.

Moshe Ya’alon  has not replied to the Obama administration’s feeling sorry for itself, but one Israel minister told Army Radio “The foreign policy of the United States all over the world is collapsing. I learn from this that Israel must not be Ukraine. It is ridiculous today to hear the Americans talking about guarantees for Israel’s security.” So now it is an unnamed ministger who has not learned the Obama Commandment,”Thous shalt not criticize” – unless you are a Muslim country, Russia, China or a Republican.

 

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.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/yaalon-calls-the-obama-administration-a-weakling/2014/03/18/

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