Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Russia and Ukraine: Reports of anti-Semitism in Odessa highlights use of Jews in wartime propaganda

One communal representative, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he believed that both sides in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict were making use of Ukrainian Jewry to disparage their opponents. “There is no question that from the beginning we became a tool,” the representative said. “Both sides are trying to say [they] are the protectors [of Jews].”

He added that Ukrainian authorities have expressed a commitment to combating anti-Semitism both for its own sake and because “they realize that any anti-Semitic attack could reflect badly on them.” It is possible, he continued, that the low-key response among Jewish groups to the attempted firebombing of a Kiev synagogue in the hours before Rosh Hashana was due to the government security services requesting that they not make a fuss. “They know they will play into the hands of the other side [if they make a fuss],” he said. [...]

Chabad Rabbi Moshe Azman of Kiev was more outspoken, however, terming the reports Russian propaganda. “We are against any use of anything Jewish and anti-Semitism for political purposes. Unfortunately, as in the past, today it continues to happen in several European countries and sometimes again lead to violence against Jews,” agreed Alex Selsky of the World Forum of Russian Speaking Jews. A spokesman for the government’s Ukrainian Crisis Media Center called the reports “totally untrue information once again made up by Russian propagandists.” The Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv was unable to provide a response by the time this newspaper went to print. According to Victor Vertsner, a Russian-Israeli who was recently invited to speak at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center and who raises money in Israel for the Ukrainian army, both sides have used the Jews in their propaganda, but more such material comes from Moscow than from Kiev. Representatives of Russian Jewry did not respond to requests for comment.

More: Jerusalem Post

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