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Warning on toxic allegations in Ukraine

A Ukrainian Jewish lawmaker is warning against turning a poisonous chemical spill in western Ukraine into an opportunity for anti-Semitic slurs.

Alexander Feldman blamed “some politicians and journalists” for fanning “anti-Semitic hysteria” by referring to the Jewish ethnicity of the alleged owners of the highly toxic yellow phosphorus material that spilled last week when a freight train carrying it from Kazakhstan to Poland derailed near Lvov.

Some Ukrainian politicians and media outlets claimed the cargo belonged to Jewish businessmen from Kazakhstan and Israel, notably referring to them as “Jews.” Originally, official sources announced that the train that caused the accident belonged to a Kazakh company, leading some Ukrainian newspapers to conclude that the toxic cargo belonged to Israeli business moguls Lev Leviev and Arkady Gaydamak. But a later statement released by Nestor Shufrich, Ukraine’s minister for emergencies, said the cargo in fact belonged to a Dutch company.

Hundreds of Ukrainians, including Jews, have been evacuated from nearby homes. Nearly 150 are being treated for inhaling the toxic fumes released in the spill.

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