Last week, after Passover services in Donetsk, Ukraine “Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.”. (data credit) A possible motive behind the leaflet distribution is to drive Jewish residents out of the area through fear; leaving only those that support the Russian government, making a transition to Russian control less cumbersome.
World leaders are standing up and denouncing the leaflets and calling for answers. The person whose name is listed on the leaflet, Denis Pushilin, identified as chairman of “Donetsk’s temporary government,” said he was not responsible (data credit). The Ukrainian Prime Minister went so far as to publicly call them “bastards”. Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, condemned the distribution of the leaflets. (data credit)
The Jewish community in Donetsk are demanding answers and have told the world that they will not adhere to these fascist requests. Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki has asked that everything be done to find those that are responsible. How much really will be done remains a mystery since Ukraine is in the middle of serious upheaval due to the Russian occupation along the Ukrainian border.
There has been conjecture that the leaflets were a hoax to discredit the Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist pro-Russian group. Hoax or not, anxiety is rising amongst the 15,000 Jews in the area that have lived the last 60 years with no anti-Semitic issues in the region. The leaflets have awoken the memories and family stories of the atrocities that were perpetrated on six million Jews during the Holocaust.
But the intimidation and scare tactics are not just happening to the Jews in the Ukraine. The BBC News has reported that just as in the 1940′s when Stalin rounded up the Tater population in Crimea and sent them to Asia on trains, that they too are being intimidated by Russians. In ethnically mixed neighborhoods in Crimea, after the Russian occupation occurred last month, crosses were marked on known Crimea Tater residents’ homes. The same as was done in the past. (data credit) This is a systematic harassment and intimidation of a specific ethnic group. This is a precursor to genocide.
These same terrorizing campaigns are now being unleashed in Ukraine on the Jewish community. It is time the world stood up and recognized that these actions are unacceptable and that we will NOT allow history to repeat itself. That the loss of even one life through these targeted actions is one too many. There are now two ethnic groups being intimidated by individuals with Russian ties, this can not continue. The question is, what will be done?