KIEV, Ukraine (Jul. 17)
A new wave of anti-Semitic outbursts by public figures is surging in Ukraine. Last week, several newspapers of nationalist orientation published appeals by members of the Ukrainian Writers Union against the “Judaization” of the union and in favor of the expulsion of the group’s Jewish members.
One of the newspapers published a call by the writers to convene an extraordinary congress of Ukrainian writers to destroy “the hotbed of the Elders of Zion” within the union.
In a separate development, the head of the Ukrainian Book Chamber published an open letter calling for violence against Jews. The letter by Nikolai Senchenko was published by the newspaper of MAUP, Ukraine’s largest private university, whose leadership has a long history of anti-Semitism.
Most observers agree that the recent wave of anti-Semitic propaganda in Ukrainian media has to do with parliamentary elections due next spring, and is in part directed against President Viktor Yuschenko’s team, which includes several Jews in high offices.
Yuschenko has made a number of public statements condemning anti-Semitism since his inauguration in January, but Jewish leaders say authorities must do more to combat manifestations of anti-Semitism in the press.
“The wave of anti-Semitism continues to grow in Ukraine, but the authorities are doing nothing to stop it,” Eduard Dolinsky, executive director of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, an umbrella organization, told JTA.
Yuschenko’s top Jewish ally also called on the authorities to take a tough stand.
Yevgeny Chervonenko, the country’s minister of transport and communications, said in an interview last week that “people who have the disease of anti-Semitism should be severely punished.”
Chervonenko, who also is a vice president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, was the first minister in Ukrainian history to have a mezuzah affixed to his office door when he took up his Cabinet post earlier this year.