Glenn is not exactly a fan of Gawker, but a new report from Gawker’s Adam Weinstein on the growing anti-Semitism in Ukraine is an eye opening must read. Crassly titled, “Are Ukraine’s Jews Screwed,” you are going to have to look past some of the distasteful language to see the larger point, which is: “The news is sounding grimmer and grimmer for Ukraine’s Jewish minority.
“Today I want to tell you a story that is on Gawker. I find Gawker a very – I don’t even read it, quite honestly,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “Somebody sent this to me. I stopped reading it a while back when they were just so vile on many, many things. But I want to read this story to you because I think this is really important.”
Earlier this week, a synagogue in the country’s southeast was firebombed. There have been multiple reported beatings of Jews and acts of vandalism at Kiev synagogues. A leading rabbi in Kiev has called for Jews to leave the city and the country, if possible—though he later said he was stressing that it’s dangerous for everyone out there—and the Israeli embassy has reportedly advised members of the Jewish community to stay off the streets.
The article explains that there is a fascist undertone to the revolution that is as big a threat to Ukrainian stability as the Russian invasion of Crimea. There is a deep-seated history of anti-Semitism in the country that dates back to World War II.
In this atmosphere, plenty of critics are asking: Should the West distance itself from the revolutionaries?
This is not an academic question reserved for uppity web pundits. Anti-Semitism has a long and hoary history in Ukraine. I should know; my Weinstein ancestors supposedly braved pogroms by Cossacks and Tatars for centuries in Kamenetz-Podolsk, a western citadel town, before bugging out in the 19th century—part of numerous waves of Jewish refugees who fled the nation to join the diaspora in Western Europe, the U.S., and eventually, Israel. World War II and the Holocaust are believed to have wiped out two-thirds of those who remained.
But Jewish history in Ukraine is ancient, and not everyone split for greener pastures over the centuries of famine, war, and sectarian hatred. Estimates of how many Jews remain in Ukraine are as various, and probably as reliable, as the arguments over who’s leading the protest movement. One Israeli ministry estimates 250,000 Jews live there, half of whom are in Kiev. The European Jewish Congress says 300,000 to 400,000; the 2012 Annual Jewish Year Book says 67,000; the last Ukrainian census, in 2001, estimated 104,000.
Speaking of the census, here’s a funny quirk of demographics, not just in Ukraine, but in Russia and most of the former Soviet states: They classify “Jew” as a nationality, alongside Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Pole, et cetera. The implicit message being: There’s no way to be Ukrainian and Jewish.
Read the entire article HERE.
Glenn asked his listeners to consider where they stand on the “Jewish question.” Will we be a country that welcomes these people with open arms? Or will we once again reject Jewish immigrants looking to escape persecution and oppression.
“I would just ask you, things are going to get murkier and murkier as time goes on in Europe, and I would ask you again to decide, where do you stand on the Jewish question,” Glenn said. “Will we be a country that will reject Jewish immigrants again? Will we be a country that doesn’t step in and protect? I’m not saying that we step in and fight a war in Israel or anything else, but will we welcome Jewish immigrants into our country? The last time this happened, we did not, and it was really bad. And I’m telling you now that our students, our universities are being turned against the Jews.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP