Kerry Slams ‘Grotesque’ Ukrainian Anti-Semitism

April 17, 2014  

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday condemned notices which were sent to Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, asking them to identify themselves as Jews. Kerry called the move “grotesque.”

“In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable,” Kerry told AFP in Geneva, where he was taking part in crisis talks on Ukraine.

The notices were sent by the “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” part of a pro-Russian separatist movement that has held violent protests and seized government buildings in the city. In response, the Ukrainian government on Sunday launched an “anti-terrorism” operation in the city, leaving one Ukrainian official killed and five injured, as well as untold casualties on the protesters’ side.

In the notice, Jewish residents were ordered to register with the pro-Russians or be deported. The notices were handed to Jews near the local synagogue, reports Novosti Donbassa, and targeted Jews for allegedly supporting Ukraine against the pro-Russians.

The notice orders all Jews over 16 years of age to register in front of the government building that has been occupied by pro-Russian forces. It further orders Jews to pay a registration fee of $50 before May 3 and list all real estate and vehicles owned.

“In case of failure to register, the perpetrators will be stripped of their citizenship and deported forcibly outside the country with confiscation of property,” read the notice.

Anti-Semitism accompanying the Ukrainian crisis

The unrest in Ukraine has brought with it a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks on the region’s Jewish population, highlighted by such events as the stabbing of the Deputy Commander of ZAKA Kiev and Hatzalah Kiev Chairman Rabbi Hillel Cohen.

The latest clashes in Donetsk have raised even further fears of a civil war breaking out in Ukraine, between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces.

Tzvi Magen, the former Israeli ambassador to Russia, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday night that Russia is orchestrating the confrontations in an attempt to seize greater control over Ukraine.

Earlier this month the Crimean Peninsula, which had been part of Ukraine, held a controversial referendum vote and was annexed by Moscow after a de facto military invasion of the region.

Just last week a New York Times editorial board opinion piece argued that Kerry should leave the peace talks, and instead devote his “attention to other major international challenges like Ukraine.”

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