No increase in anti-Semitic acts in Ukraine, says European expert

Despite several violent attacks on Jews, there does not appear to be any real increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine over recent years, an international researcher said.

Rabbi Andrew Baker, a representative from the office on combating anti-Semitism at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, made the statement April 29 after visiting Ukraine.

“There have been several incidents in the last few months including violent attacks which are rare in Ukraine,” Baker said in an email. “By all accounts, hate crime incidents in Ukraine are under-reported. But apart from these recent events, which many believe were not ‘home grown,’ there does not appear to be any real increase over recent years.”

Amid a violent revolution that unseated President Viktor Yanukovych in February, Ukrainian Jews have reported attacks including two stabbings, some street beatings and the attempted torching of two synagogues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin cited anti-Semitism to justify a Russian invasion of Crimea and its subsequent annexation. Ukrainian officials and nationalists, in turn, have accused pro-Russian separatists of staging anti-Semitic attacks to discredit the Ukrainian revolution and its supporters. — jta