USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Condemns Jewish Registration Flier in Ukraine

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 3:52pm

USC Shoah Foundation and leaders around the world are condemning an anti-Semitic flier given to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine, ordering them to register with the government or face deportation and confiscation of property.

Pro-Russian military forces have taken over government buildings in Donetsk and refer to the region as the “People’s Republic of Donetsk.”

Three men in ski masks handed out the flier to Jewish Ukrainians as they left their synagogue in Donetsk Tuesday night. It orders Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality to register with the Commission for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration Building “given that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine support the Banderite junta in Kiev and are hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens.”

If they fail to register, the flier states, their citizenship will be revoked, they will be forced to leave the country and their property will be confiscated.

Although the signature of Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin is featured on the fliers, Pushilin has denied any connection to the fliers or the men who distributed them, suggesting instead that they are the work of his opponents who are trying to make separatists look bad.

USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen D. Smith delivered the following statement about the incident:

“The USC Shoah Foundation strongly condemns the intimidation of Ukrainian Jews. Although pro-Russian separatists deny involvement in a flier demanding that Jews in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk register and pay a special tax, the document is a clear attempt at stoking anti-Semitism and intimidating the city’s Jewish residents.

“The USC Shoah Foundation strongly condemns such acts, no matter who is behind them. The dangerous manipulation of the wider population using anti-Semitic stereotypes, references to World War II and the Holocaust are foreboding language which, if not checked now, will not stop at words.

“Such acts are all-too familiar to the 52,000 survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust who provided testimony to the USC Shoah Foundation. The Holocaust didn’t start with gas chambers but with intimidation and edicts like we see today.

“The USC Shoah Foundation recently released a free online multimedia Ukrainian teacher’s guide to help educate the country’s young people about human rights. In our work with more than 1,000 teachers and tens of thousands of young people across Ukraine, we know very well that the Ukrainian people deserve better and are better than this.

“The conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation is a political issue that has nothing to do with individual citizens of Jewish descent. Singling out members of the Jewish community in this way is a terrible indictment of the basic lack of democratic values of those carrying out such actions.”