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Avoid anti-Semitism in hot EU debate, Senate urges Ukraine pols

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A call on political parties in Ukraine to refrain from anti-Semitism was part of a resolution proposed in the Senate expressing its support for Ukrainians seeking a closer alignment with the European Union.

The resolution, introduced Dec. 13 by a bipartisan slate of senators — Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jeanne Shaheen (R-N.H.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — calls for a peaceful and democratic conclusion to events that ultimately will allow Ukraine to become an active member of the European community.

Murphy and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined protesters this week in Ukraine who are calling on President Viktor Yanukovych to keep his promise to forge a trade deal with the European Union. Yanukovych in recent weeks has pivoted toward Russia.

The nonbinding resolution notes increased anti-Semitic rhetoric as the debate heats up. It “urges all political parties to refrain from hate speech or actions of an anti-Semitic or other character which further divide the Ukrainian people when they need to be united.”

It also calls upon the Senate to consider sanctions against those responsible for any violence against the demonstrators. Those sanctions could include visa bans and asset freezes.

The National Council on Soviet Jewry alerted its members to the resolution.

Murphy is chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs; Johnson is a ranking member on the subcommittee.

Separately, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) denounced increased anti-Semitism, in particular by the ultranationalist Svoboda party, in a letter to Ukraine’s U.S. ambassador, Olexander Motsyk.

“Despite the Ukrainian government’s efforts to battle racial intolerance, use of xenophobic language that endorses Nazi ideology by the fourth largest political party in the Ukraine, Svoboda, continues to be disconcerting,” Jeffries wrote. “It is critical that top governmental leaders and officials recognize the dangers of working with this extremist group that was founded on and promotes anti-Semitism.”

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