By Alina Dain Sharon/JNS.org
Two violent anti-Semitic incidents that took place in Kiev, Ukraine, over the course of a week have alarmed the Ukrainian Jewish community. Some experts speculate that the events could be related to the political conflict that has engulfed the country since November 2013.
On Jan. 11, several men attacked Hillel Wertheimer, an Orthodox Jewish and Israeli teacher of Hebrew and Jewish tradition, after he left a synagogue at the end of Shabbat. On Jan. 18, a yeshiva student, Dov-Ber Glickman, was severely attacked by men with their fists and legs on his way home from a Shabbat meal.
According to the general Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) General Council, the combat boots of Glickman’s attackers may have been outfitted with blades. Glickman dragged himself to a nearby synagogue’s ritual bath, where he was discovered and taken to a hospital. Glickman told IDF Radio on Sunday that “people are now afraid to leave their homes.”
“The frightening thing is that [the attackers] arrived by car, and were apparently organized,” Hillel Cohen, chairman of the Hatzalah Ukraine emergency services group, told Yedioth Ahronot.
In an additional incident on Jan. 18, yeshiva students detained a suspicious individual who, according to the students, was found to possess a detailed plan of the surrounding neighborhood.
Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) director of Russian Jewish community affairs, believes the incidents could be a “sinister sign indicating that some are trying to use anti-Semitism in political confrontation in Ukraine.”
“Historically in this part of the world, a political confrontation sooner or later starts to exploit the ‘Jewish question’ and to play the Jewish card,” Kliger told JNS.org in an email.
Jan. 19 saw an intensification of the Maidan protests, which have been taking place intermittently since November. On Jan. 21, demonstrators clashed with police forces by catapulting Molotov cocktails. Police forces fired rubber bullets and smoke bombs. About 30 protesters were detained. Two-hundred people were injured and vehicles were torched, Bloomberg News reported.
In November, when the “Euromaidan” protests first began in Kiev’s Independence Square in opposition to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to freeze plans to join a free trade agreement with the European Union, some …read more