Antisemitic incidents rampant in recent weeks across Ukraine

Three Holocaust memorials have been desecrated over the last few weeks.

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September 19, 2019 02:38
4 minute read.
Antisemitic incidents rampant in recent weeks across Ukraine

A Holocaust memorial commemorating the murder of some 900 Jews in Golovanevsk, Ukraine was vandalized on Tuesday.. (photo credit: (NATIONAL POLICE OF UKRAINE))

Desecration of Holocaust memorials, Nazi salutes at a football game and threats against Jewish leaders – including newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky – are just some of the antisemitic incidents that have taken place across the Ukraine in the last few weeks.

A Holocaust memorial was vandalized on Tuesday afternoon in Golovanevsk (also known as Holovanivs’k) commemorating the murder of some 900 Jews from the village between late 1941 and early 1942.

“The Jewish population of the village was annihilated in two major murder operations: in late September 1941, when 570 people were shot at three murder sites located next to each other, and in February 1942, when 165 Jews were shot,” according to Yad Vashem.

Antisemitic graffiti including swastikas and a note threatening another Holocaust were found on Sunday on a Holocaust memorial in Bogdanovka near Odessa. The note threatened both Zelensky and Ukrainian Jewish Committee director-general Eduard Dolinsky, saying “the sale of Ukrainian land will quickly lead you to a second Holocaust.”

According to Yad Vashem, tens of thousands of Jews were killed at the site, which was a concentration camp established by the Romanian occupation authorities.

It is estimated that 54,000 Jews from Odessa and Bessarabia were imprisoned there.

Following a Typhus outbreak in December 1941, a decision was made to liquidate the camp. Some 5,000 sick and disabled prisoners were locked into two stables, which were then burnt down.

“The rest of the prisoners were marched in groups of 300-400 to the river,” Yad Vashem explained. “They were forced to remove their clothing and kneel. Then they were shot or hit with hand grenades.”

Dolinsky told The Jerusalem Post that “antisemitic incidents are happening on a regular basis. But sometimes the number increases. These last three desecrations on Holocaust mass graves [were] most probably made by an individual or a group because of a [similar] message about land, like ‘Yids stop [the] sale of land or you get [a] Holocaust.’”

Dolinsky said these messages “refer to a recent statement [made] by Zelensky to allow a free market of agricultural land,” which has angered some Ukrainians.

“There are many messages on Ukrainian social media about Israelis who will take over Ukrainian land and create the second Jerusalem,” he added.

Ukrainian journalist Efim Marmer, who originally posted about Tuesday’s vandalism on Facebook, told the Post that, “this is really a very sad story, especially for me. I was born 30 km. from this place. Not far from Golovanevsk is the town...where...Jews were killed, including my relatives.”

Marmer added that the memorial had been financed and built “by famous people in Ukraine – Leonid Shmaevich and Galina Kuzmenko.”

THE JEWISH Confederation of Ukraine (JCU) said in a statement on Wednesday that it “is greatly concerned by a series of antisemitic acts of vandalism. On September 15, in Mykolaiv region, vandals defiled a monument to the Holocaust victims by painting it with swastikas and pasting a piece of paper with threats. On September 17, the same text was found on another desecrated monument – but already in the Kirovohrad region.”

The JCU said that the police have since opened criminal cases, but the hooligans have not been identified yet.

The organization said that it was deeply “alarmed by this repeated act of antisemitism. We urge the law enforcers to approach the issue of identifying the criminals as responsibly as possible. It is especially important to solve this case in the shortest possible time, since it is rare that antisemitic organizations stop at the desecration of monuments.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the Ukraine Joel Lion took to twitter to comment on the matter.

“This is not a retweet of my last tweet,” he said referring to a tweet he sent out in response to the September 15 incident.

“Another monument on a Jewish mass grave was desecrated. Ukraine has to wake up before people and not monuments will be attacked.”

In a previous tweet following Sunday’s vandalism, Lion said that “this is an antisemitic hate crime, no doubt. I’m calling upon the Ukrainian government to strongly condemn this crime and promptly bring the perpetrators to justice.”

At the end of last month, a third Holocaust memorial near the town of Vradievka in northwestern Ukraine was also vandalized. The site marks the area in which some 7,000 Jews were murdered in the fall of 1941.

The JCU reported last week that Ukraine’s National Police has opened 11 criminal proceedings on the offenses related to antisemitism during the first eight months of this year.

Meanwhile, during a recent football match in the city of Lviv, fans were seen making Nazi salutes while chanting, “glory to the nation – death to enemies.”

Dolinsky said on Facebook that the Ukrainian Football Federation had been contacted about it, and that the Ukrainian Jewish Committee had called on the federation “to think about the fight against racism and antisemitism.”

Dolinsky posted that they had not received a response.

Also in Lviv last month, antisemitic graffiti demanding the Jews leave Ukraine was also found. Jews leave Ukraine was also found.


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