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American Thinker | 03Nov2013 | Michael Curtis
Anti-Semitism in the Ukraine and Elsewhere in Europe
In the guise of fighting anti-Semitism (or is it anti-Satanism?),
hate-mongering Ukrainophobia raises its ugly head in this article by
Michael Curtis. Rather than trying to refute the numerous inaccuracies
and provocations in the article related to the word zhyd and the Svoboda party, the reader is referred to the
multitude of articles on the issue archived many months ago: 30Oct2012, 03Nov2012, 05Dec2012, 19Dec2019, 21Dec2012, 25Dec2012, 27Dec2012, 07Feb2013 and 14Feb2013. ]
On the centenary of the infamous Beilis trial, an international
conference on anti-Semitism was held on October 15-16, 2013 in Kiev,
Ukraine, the city where the trial took place. The trial is
probably the best known of those based on blood libel charges against
Jews. Menachem Mendel Beilis, a 39-year-old Jew was accused
on March 20, 1911 of murdering a 13-year-old Christian boy whose body
was found in a cave near a Jewish owned brick factory outside
Kiev. Beilis was accused of taking the boy's blood in an act
of ritual murder to make matzos for Passover.
After spending two years in prison, Beilis was exonerated and acquitted
in 1913. The case was not only important in itself, but was
also influential in indicating the intense anti-Semitism in the Russian
Empire, already the source of the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
It led to increased Jewish emigration from Russia; ironically, in light
of the Nazi Holocaust, this emigration saved millions from their
death. The case is also the basis of Bernard Malamud's novel,
But the acquittal of Beilis did not end blood libel charges against
Jews. The most important recent charge, made by Palestinians,
is that the Israeli medical team helping the victims of the Haiti
earthquake in 2010 was really interested in taking the body organs of
the victims for use in Israel and benefiting from them.
Discussion at the conference in Kiev mainly concerned the Beilis
affair, but it also revealed the preliminary results of a survey to be
fully published in November 2013.
This survey, organized by the European Union Agency for Fundamental
Rights, is a report on the experiences and perceptions by 5,100 Jewish
people in nine European countries on anti-Semitism, hate crime, and
discrimination between September 2012 and September 2013.
The preliminary conclusions are not cheerful. They show that
European Jews perceive and are personally experiencing an increase in
anti-Semitism. Of those responding to the survey, one in four
European Jews said that because of fear of anti-Semitism they did not
visit places wearing apparel, such as a kippah or an identifiable
Jewish article or symbol that would identify them as Jews. In
Sweden, 49 percent of respondents felt this way; in France, 40 percent
said the same.
Of the nine countries in the survey, the strongest expression of fear
was in Hungary where 91 percent of the respondents said that
anti-Semitism had increased in the last five years. In
France, Sweden, and Belgium, the number who felt the same way was more
than 80 percent. In three countries, Germany, Italy, and Britain, it
was more than 60 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, the figure
was lowest in Latvia, with 39 percent.
On a personal level, the reports in the different countries were also
troubling. The number of those who reported they had
experienced anti-Semitic incidents in the previous year was 30 percent
in Hungary, 21 percent in France, and 16 percent in Germany.
A considerable majority said they did not report anti-Semitic
harassment to the police and did not report physical assaults,
explaining this would be ineffectual.
The respondents differed on identifying the perpetrators of
Anti-Semitism. Twenty-seven percent thought they were
Muslims; 22 percent thought they were people with "left-wing" views,
19 percent thought they were people with "right-wing" views.
The final report in November 2013 will provide further details of the
survey, but the preliminary results suggest the need for further
collective international understanding of the virus of anti-Semitism
and the need for education and action to eradicate it. It is
time for public officials, the media, church bodies, and academics to
draw attention in a more comprehensive way to attitudes and actions of
anti-Semitism. Perpetrators of anti-Semitism, at whatever
level, must, as a minimum, be made ashamed about those
behavior and discriminatory actions. Whether such actions can
be considered criminal offenses must be decided by individual judicial
The Kiev conference must have been aware of problems of persecutions of
Jews, past and present, in the Ukraine, where Jews have lived for more
than 1,000 years. During World War II, Ukrainians helped the
Nazi occupiers in carrying out the Holocaust: only 2 percent of the
Jewish Ukrainian population survived. A Ukrainian Nazi unit,
the Nachtigall Brigade, in July 1941 slaughtered an estimated number of
4,000 Jews, killing them wherever they were met. The memory
of Ukrainian hostility towards Jews, especially in the massacre, the
single largest massacre of the Holocaust, at Babi Yar, near Kiev, where
33,000 Jews were killed in one operation on September 29-30, 1941 by
decision of the Nazi military commander and the Einsatzgruppe with the
complicity of the Ukranian auxiliary police, should make contemporary
Ukrainian officials conscious of present-day anti-Semitic
manifestations and act accordingly.
These manifestations are noticeable in Svoboda (Freedom), originally
named the Social-National Party of Ukraine: the party is comparable to
the Jobbik party in Hungary, and the Golden Dawn party in Greece in its
anti-democratic posture. Svoboda is an openly anti-Semitic,
nationalist, and anti-Communist party, which can be called a neo-Nazi
party. It won 10 percent of the national vote, gaining 41
seats in the 2012 national election which made it the 4th-largest party
in the legislature.
Among the false accusations made by Svoboda is that the famine in the
Ukraine, the so-called Holodomor, in 1932-33, that is estimated to have
killed at least 3.5 million, and the death and deportations of peasant
farmers (kulaks), was due to the Jews. Ironically, the
existence of the famine was denied both by Joseph Stalin, whose
policies of collectivization and industrialization almost certainly
caused it, and by Walter Duranty, the correspondent in Moscow of the
New York Times, who falsely reported that "there was no actual
starvation or deaths from starvation" in the Ukraine.
Members of the Svoboda party appear to have little shame. One
of their parliamentary representatives, Igor Miroshnichenko, has used a
against the Hollywood actress Mila Kunis, who is of Ukrainian Jewish
origin, by speaking of her as "not Ukrainian[,] but a zhydovka (yid or
dirty Jewess)." Sadly, the Ukrainian Justice Ministry held
that the word zhyd
to describe a Jew was legal. It is not
clear whether the October conference in Kiev dealt with this issue and
criticized Miroshnichenko. If not, perhaps Kunis's Hollywood
coterie can do so and shame this person and other anti-Semites who are
so lacking in honor.
Curtis is the author of
Jews, Anti-Semitism, and the Middle East.