The State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is in Ukraine meeting with Jewish leaders this week assessing the situation facing local communities amidst growing violence between the government and pro-Russian separatists.
Ira Forman, was named to his position by President Barack Obama last year. Forman traveled to the Ukraine last November, several weeks prior to the outbreak of street protests which eventually led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich.
In March, Forman called into question Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that the Ukrainian opposition was spreading anti-Semitism. After Yanukovich’s ouster a series of violent anti-Semitic acts shocked Ukrainian Jews. Local Jewish leaders, including the Chief Rabbi, have blamed the attacks on Russia, which they say was using the specter of anti-Semitism as a justification for its annexation of Crimea.
The ultra-nationalist Svoboda party, which was instrumental in toppling Yanukovich, had previously been accused of anti-Semitism by numerous Jewish organizations.
Forman is scheduled to meet with Jewish leaders and government officials in Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk between until Friday. He will meet with Turkish Jewish leaders in Ankara several days afterwards and then visit Israel from the 25th to the 28th.