Ukraine’s SBU security service has arrested a man suspected of destroying a public menorah, and who threatened the city’s Jews and its Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, Rabbi Mendy Wilhelm.
The suspect allegedly urged the city’s population to kill the Jewish residents in a series of red-painted threats slathered on a public wall.
The graffiti, which said, “Kill the Jews”, “Death to Jews” and “The Jews Will Kill Us,” was found shortly after the Chabad public menorah was thrown into the Uzhhorod River, in December 2021.
Three months later, the March 2023, the suspect then allegedly sent Rabbi Wilhelm a 200-page spiral-bound “research” book filled with antisemitic tropes, including reasons, he said, why he must hate the Jews. The book explains that the rabbi – as the representative of the Jews — is a “terrorist” and therefore should be harmed, according to the SBU.
“The book helped them to follow the footsteps of the suspect through his handwriting in several places,” the rabbi said.
“Antisemitic graffiti appeared on the walls near our synagogue shortly after our public menorah was thrown into the river,” Wilhelm explained.
“Last year someone again tried to destroy the menorah, but this time we had guards there around the clock. The secret police did a very good job and I thank them for that,” he said.
“I really appreciate the decisive activity taken to catch this sophisticated and dangerous antisemite who put me in the crosshairs,” Wilhelm emphasized.
“There are very few incidents – almost no antisemitic phenomena here – and with this arrest, I am sure the Jews here are even safer,” the rabbi added.
A search of the suspect’s apartment turned up computer equipment with evidence of the antisemitic crimes he committed as well as clothes stained with the paint used to scrawl the antisemitic epithets on the city’s buildings.
Until 2014, the suspect “lived temporarily in the territory of North Ossetia of the Russian Federation,” the security service said in a statement. “Currently, Ukraine security service personnel are studying in detail the man’s connections with the special services of the Russian Federation.
Using the evidence that has been collected, “an investigation is underway to determine all the details and bring the culprit to justice via the Uzhhorod District Prosecutor,” the SBU added.