(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
An Israeli-Arab was beaten and robbed in Odessa Wednesday, sources in Ukraine told The Jerusalem Post.
The unnamed student, who attends the city’s Odessa National Medical University, was robbed at gunpoint by four men who forced him to enter their car at gunpoint, after which they robbed and beat him, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Alef, a fifth-year Israeli medical student from the university who agreed to speak with the Post on condition of anonymity said that he had received a call from the Dean’s office informing him that there had been a kidnapping and warning him to be careful.
Around 250 Israelis, 200 of them Arab, study at the local medical school, he said, adding that an Iraqi student had also recently been attacked.
“It wasn’t an attack against an Israeli. It was an attack against foreigners in general,” he said. “It was an issue of money not because he’s from Israel. They just want money. They see somebody foreign so they think he has money and also they do not care about him because he is not Russian.”
Yediot Aharonot reported in late 2013 that Israeli-Arab students in the city were expressing fears over what they described as attacks by neo-Nazis, with one stating that he was afraid to leave his dorm.
Alef, who is Jewish, said that he wears his kippa on the streets of Odessa and does not feel endangered because he is Jewish and that his fellow Israelis wandered the streets over the past few days to admire the snow and Christmas decorations without any anti-Semitic incidents occurring.
If criminals “see somebody not Russian, somebody black or something like this, sometimes they attack him,” Alef said.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson, the crime was reported to the embassy by a friend of the victim and that the ministry’s “understanding is that there was nothing anti-Semitic about it” but that inquiries will be made.
The Odessa police are currently investigating the matter, he added.
“There is so much anarchy going on,” said Rafael Kruskal, the head of the Tikva organization, which runs a network of orphanages and schools and provides social services to the city’s elderly – citing several explosions in the city that some have blamed on Russia.
“Things are getting out of hand and things look like they are getting worse,” he said of the general situation there.
In October, Russian media outlets reported on a series of anti-Semitic attacks across the city which were later revealed not to have occurred, spurring local Jewish leaders, including Kruskal, to publicly declare that there “has been no rise in anti-Semitism.”
Following running street battles between pro-Russian and nationalist forces claimed dozens of lives in the Black Sea port last May, several Jewish figures told the Post that plans had been put in place to evacuate children from the city should the situation deteriorate. These statements were subsequently picked up by Russian media, which reported that Odessa’s Jews were intending to flee en masse, prompting the Jewish community to vociferously deny any such plans.