What happened to Aharon Alexander Gorshonov after the second
Passover Seder in Kiev last week may be of the same vein as the Toulouse Jewish
school homicides last month.
On the face of it, the two incidents
couldn’t look more different. Three small children and the father of two of them
were shot dead in France by an assailant of Arab-Muslim extraction. Gorshonov
was sadistically beaten, apparently by Ukrainian homegrown
Ordinarily, Europe’s Muslim fanatics and neo-fascist youths
are hostile to each other. The common denominator of these extremist elements is
their animus toward Jews. Jews were victims in both Toulouse and Kiev. The slain
Toulouse four were interred in Israel and it’s to Israel that Gorshonov was
flown for medical treatment. All of them were possibly given away by their
attire and location – a Jewish school in Toulouse and a synagogue in
That causes circumspection among Jews but ought to give rise to
sincere introspection among non-Jews. The facts are plain and sadly
incontrovertible. In the second decade of the 21st century it is evidently
dangerous for a Jew to walk on the streets of Europe – both East and West –
wearing anything that betrays a Jewish identity.
likelihood that Gorshonov, 25, wouldn’t have been singled out for brutality had
he not discovered his Jewishness and made it his objective to return to full
Jewish life. He recently underwent circumcision and began attending a yeshiva
where he studied Judaism. He partook in the synagogue’s Seder and was set upon
as he left, still wearing his kippa.
Security cameras show him just
before the assault. From this point on CCTV tapes mysteriously vanish and the
authorities claim to have no clue about what happened or could have happened to
them. The images inexplicably just disappeared and are therefore
All that’s known is that the young man went missing, that
his friends mounted a search and that they discovered him in grave condition 24
hours later at a municipal hospital. Curiously neither the hospital nor the
constabulary reported the incident. Nobody bothered to kick off an
investigation. The police launched belated action only after the synagogue’s own
rabbi filed a complaint.
Gorshonov, meanwhile, was admitted in critical
state to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital. His skull was bashed in. Additionally, he
suffered chest trauma and multiple stabs in the face from broken bottles, which
left him with deep lacerations.
The congregation had alerted the
authorities about skinheads milling about the synagogue, spouting vociferous
threats. The Kiev police, nonetheless, refuse to treat Gorshonov’s battery as a
suspected hate crime. But they should.
Ukraine unfortunately hadn’t
cleansed its citizenry of deep-set endemic anti-Semitism. Most often it
expresses itself in vandalism, vituperation and vilification. Occasionally,
though, subterranean sentiments surface more violently.
In April 2010,
25-year-old Kiev Lubavitcher Yeshiva student Aryeh-Leib Misinzov was kidnapped,
murdered and dismembered by a skinhead gang on Hitler’s
Outpourings of abuse on the fringes of Ukrainian society are
matched only by establishment antipathy. Outright callousness produced Kiev
Municipality’s 2009 plan to erect a hotel precisely where the Babi Yar memorial
is located. Nearly 34,000 Jews were machine-gunned there by the Nazis in 48
hours on September 29 and 30, 1941.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s 1961 epic poem
shamed the Soviets into erecting a monument at the site.
for that monument’s removal was only scrapped after loud protests, which Ukraine
initially greeted with unabashed resentment. Yet the very fact that the
desecration could have at all been considered – indeed obstinately insisted upon
– signifies disdain. Such undercurrents of aversion increase the probability of
Elsewhere in Europe, anti-Semitism may be more genteel
than the Ukrainian brand, yet it’s risky to frequent Jewish sites anywhere on
the continent. Attacks have been reported from as far away as England, Belgium,
Switzerland and elsewhere.
Special protection appears of the essence for
Jewish houses of worship and educational institutions. It’s something that
should have been unexpected in post-Holocaust Europe and that