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Ambassador: Crisis in Ukraine could hurt Jews

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Israel’s ambassador to Kiev warned that the current financial crisis could lead to an increase of violence against Jews.

Ukrainian Jewish leaders said the ambassador’s claims were exaggerated.
 
In a secret report to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Zina Kalay-Kleytman warned that the economic and political crisis in Ukraine could lead to physical violence against Jews, according to a report Tuesday by the IzRus.co.il Israeli Web site, which covers news of interest to Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel.
 
The March 3 reportedly stated that crisis situation in Ukraine, where the economy has taken a major hit and the government is essentially paralyzed by political infighting, increases the likelihood of an “explosion in street violence” against Jews. 
 
In reaction to the ambassador’s report, the Israeli foreign ministry convened a March 8 meeting of experts on Ukraine who concluded that Kleytman was “exaggerating the situation.”
 
Still, the panel of Israeli and Ukrainian experts said it will be necessary to closely monitor the situation.
 
“According to our statistics, we find a decrease of the anti-Semitic publications and attacks in Ukraine compared with previous years,” Josef Zissels, a long time Jewish community leader , told JTA.  “We’ll monitor the situation closely and we’ll get more concrete results in the fall.”
 
According to those monitoring anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine, anti-Semitic attacks and propaganda dropped in 2008, while the number of racist attacks and reports of neo-Nazi activity is on rise in the country of 46 million residents and about 250,000 Jews.
 
Ukraine is teetering between chaos and dictatorship, according to Kost Bondarenko, director of the Kyiv Horshenin Institute for Management Problems.

Vladimir Lytvyn, Ukraine’s parliament speaker, last week expressed concern over the strengthening of the position of neo-Nazi organizations in Ukraine.

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