(JTA) — A monument for Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust in what is today Ukraine was vandalized by unidentified individuals who painted on it a swastika and the SS Nazi elite unit’s symbol.
The incident occurred earlier this month in the city of Ternopil, located about 80 miles east of the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine, Eduard Dolinsky, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, wrote on Facebook Wednesday.
The day before the incident, on Feb. 2, the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper in Chortkiv, a city located 40 miles south of Ternopil, published an article claiming Jews have excessive power in Ukraine and beyond and that only 800,000 Jews died in the Holocaust.
“If you go deeper into history, then you’ve always had Jews where the money, where the power, the benefit are,” wrote Maryana Polyanskaya in her column in the Chortkovskiy Vestnik newspaper. She also condemned Israel’s “expulsion of Palestinians.”
Repeating unfounded rumors that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is Jewish, she wrote that Jews are not to blame for Ukraine’s problems but rather “Ukrainians who allow all Jews, Romanians, Poles, Americans” to “run the show.” Ukraine, she added, “needs a leader: a Ukrainian, a real one, a nationalist supporting a purely Ukrainian language, a former soldier, an honest and responsible Ukrainian.”
Last month, a smoke grenade was thrown into a bookshop in Lviv during a lecture about the Holocaust.
Israel’s Ministry for Diaspora Affairs in January published a report saying that the number of recorded anti-Semitic attacks documented in Ukraine in 2017 surpassed the tally of all such incidents in the entire former Soviet Union. More than 130 incidents were recorded in Ukraine last year, the ministry told JTA, double the number for 2016.
At least one researcher on anti-Semitism in Ukraine, Vyacheslav Likhachev, who is affiliated with the Vaad Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine, dismissed the report as unprofessional and false.
The director of Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance, Vladimir Vyatrovich, told Radio Liberty last week, “It is a pity, but the results of the influence of [Russian] propaganda are felt even by documents of certain Israeli institutions.”
Russia and Ukraine have a territorial dispute over Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.