Coalition chair accuses COVID-19 czar of causing antisemitism in Ukraine

‘Antisemitism has been increasing since Prof. Gamzu sent his letter to the president of Ukraine,’ Zohar tweeted.

MK Miki Zohar, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK Miki Zohar, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar on Wednesday attacked coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu, accusing him of causing an uptick in antisemitism in Ukraine.
Antisemitism has been increasing since Prof. Gamzu sent his letter to the president of Ukraine, which in fact states that corona-stricken Israelis endanger the Ukrainians,” Zohar (Likud) tweeted Wednesday morning. “Needless to say, the delay in creating a plan for Uman continues to endanger many Jews.”
Zohar was referring to the letter that Gamzu sent almost two weeks ago to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking him to halt the gathering of tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims in Uman, Ukraine, at the tomb of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov. The letter also led Construction and Housing Minister Ya’acov Litzman, head of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, to demand that Gamzu resign.
Zohar’s statements came on the backdrop of a series of clashes between locals and pilgrims, which reportedly are a common occurrence during the pilgrimage period in any year.
On Monday, an Orthodox Jewish man was beaten in the face at a supermarket in Uman.
The incident happened in the evening, as the man, Moshe Tanzer, left the store with a friend. Two men approached the Orthodox shoppers and one hit the victim in the nose, causing some bleeding.
The alleged attacker and his friend fled, the head of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, Michael Tkatch, wrote on Facebook.
Police are investigating whether the incident was an antisemitic assault.
Ukraine decided that it would close its borders through September 28, which corresponds this year to Yom Kippur on the Jewish calendar. The move was widely perceived as to prevent the pilgrims from coming into the country. In Gamzu’s letter he warned that the annual event could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases in both countries – enough that Israel might have to consider locking down.
In an apparent effort to beat the closure, dozens of pilgrims reportedly arrived early in Uman.
On Wednesday, representatives of the Israeli embassy in Ukraine visited Uman to take a closer look at the preparations for the Rosh Hashanah events, the Foreign Ministry reported. During the visit, meetings were held between the district governor, the mayors, representatives of the police, the hospitals and the emergency organizations in Uman. A meeting was also held with the heads of the Breslav community in the city.
In a meeting with the district governor, it was agreed to open a direct channel between the governor and the ambassador to address issues that may arise during the holidays.
"We considered it important to hold a meeting with the authorities in the city of Uman, in order to coordinate the activities of all bodies in the city," said Israeli Ambassador to the Ukraine Joel Leon. I asked the city authorities to deal resolutely with any antisemitic incidents and bring to justice Moshe Tanzer's attackers."
This is not the first time that Zohar has attacked Gamzu in this way.
Last month, in an interview with KAN News, Zohar said that “Prof. Gamzu is sure that he has the ability to prevent Israelis from going to Uman, but Prof. Gamzu meanwhile was sure he had the ability to stop the protests. He didn’t succeed in stopping the protests.”
Zohar accused Gamzu of not taking action against the tens of thousands of people protesting against the government’s handling of the novel coronavirus crisis and corruption because he “fears the media and is scared the media will criticize him.”
He added that if the professor could not stop the protests, “he needs to know he also cannot stop travel to Uman.”