The distribution of an anti-Jewish flyer in eastern Ukrainian towns has been attributed to a pro-Russian separatist leader in the country.
The World Jewish Congress released a statement of condemnation following the April 15 distribution in Donetsk and other towns in eastern Ukraine of an anti-Jewish flyer attributed to a pro-Russian separatist leader in Ukraine.
“We don’t know yet who instigated this latest affront, but it shows the seriousness of the situation,” said WJC president Ronald S. Lauder.
The leaflets, which called on Jews to register with the Nationalities Commissioner or face deportation, have sparked a storm of controversy.
It comes as the latest chapter of a tense and, at times, violent conflict between Russia and Ukraine including the well-documented Russian army’s takeover of Crimea, a region in Ukraine. The Crimea takeover has raised concerns among the international Jewish community that anti-Semitic elements in both countries may grow stronger amidst the turmoil.
“It's very worrying," Yosef Gurevitz, who is a Brooklyn native visiting Ukraine with his family and witnessed the handing out of the flyers, was quoted as saying by NBC news. "We're hoping it’s just a provocation but I always thought the days that Jews would become scapegoats for whatever reason were long over."
The WJC also used their statement as an opportunity to call on both Russia and Ukraine to monitor the situation and ensure the protection of the Jews living in Ukraine.
“All sides must ensure that any form of anti-Semitism is condemned and fought vigorously,” Lauder said in the statement. “Unfortunately, the Ukrainian Jewish community is caught up in a situation for which it bears no responsibility and it needs to be protected against unfair attacks, no matter where they may come from.”
Vice President Joe Biden spoke on April 18 with Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico about the escalating situation in Ukraine, according to a White House news release. The two leaders agreed that if Russia further escalated the situation in Ukraine, it would face mounting consequences for its actions.