Badge of dishonor

Aharon Alexander Gorshonov incident after 2nd Passover Seder in Kiev may be of same vein as Toulouse homicides.

Anti Semitism 390 (photo credit: Reuters)
Anti Semitism 390
(photo credit: Reuters)
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 skinheads.
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 Kiev.
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.
There’s troubling 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 “unavailable.”
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 birthday.
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.
Kiev’s blueprint 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 corporeal attacks.
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