East Ukraine Rabbi Tries to Calm Hysteria Over Leaflet Hoax

Interim PM to 'Find These Bastards'

A handful of leaflets left outside of a Donetsk synagogue demanding Jews “register” with the eastern autonomous regional government and pay a special fee were a hoax, but the hysteria they have caused is very real.

That’s a problem for a lot of people, including eastern protest leaders falsely labeled as anti-Semites because of the forgery, but the biggest headache is reserved for Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, who is trying to calm everyone down, and not having much luck.

Since the phony narrative is much more interesting than the idea of someone leaving a couple forged documents outside trying to start a ruckus, that’s what most people keep going with, and US and Ukrainian officials continue to cite the incident as though it was absolute fact, and proof of Russia plotting a pogrom.

Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk insisted he has ordered the military and the Ukrainian Department of Homeland Security (it is unclear if that even exists) to “find these bastards,” and made it clear in his comments that he means the Donetsk officials who were wrongly implicated, not the forgers. Ukraine has been attacking the east anyhow, and this is the latest pretext.

Rabbi Vishedski wishes everyone would just leave Donetsk Jewish community out of this nonsense, noting that actual anti-Semitism in eastern Ukraine is “rare, unlike in Kiev and western Ukraine.”

Speaking of which, reports have emerged over the weekend that a synagogue in Nikolayev, near the western city of Lviv, was firebombed by persons unknown. Western Ukraine, particularly around Lviv, has a significant presence of the neo-Nazi Right Sector, which despite its swastika-wearing, truncheon-wielding ways, insists it has nothing to do with any anti-Semitism.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.