The recent surge of rhetoric that has come from the anti-semitic flyers in Ukraine asking Jews over 16 to register or face deportation might indeed be a fabrication to incite hatred amid the crisis, however there is only one thing that people are forgetting: anti-semitism is very much well and alive in the country, and these flyers are indicative of just that.
Regardless of their authenticity, the mere fact that they exist should be a worrying matter for the local Jewish population. The reason being that it is a political tool that can be used to incite further hatred. Although it seems to be denounced by the local pro-Western side, it is still ultimately a mechanism that can further turn the wheels of hate, and I fear lead to violence.
Are we forgetting history?
From the political fabrications of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the anti-Jewish propaganda amid the fascist states of Europe, anti-Jewish mechanisms have always existed, despite of the actual support it gets from people it is meant to invoke assaults on Jews and other minorities.
It is ultimately an opportunistic ploy amid the crisis to push buttons and go over the line to really bring out the social anti-semitism that has never really left the confines of one of the most xenophobic nations in Europe.
Ukraine in fact is known for its anti-semitic graffiti, that runs rampant from the urban settings of Kiev to the rural villages of Subotiv, and that has been targeting Jews viciously since 1991. Thus to see something like these flyers actually become a reality should not be surprising, especially when the nation is being split by impending war.
The U.S government, as well as many other states, have condemned the flyers as “disgusting” but have done nothing in fear of getting involved in the delicate yet harrowing conflict. The question is what could they do? More Importantly, what to the pro-Russian militarists want to achieve by putting fear in Donetsk’s Jewish Community?
It is either that they want to put the blame on the pro-Western forces in order to further Putin’s propaganda of the imminent dangers of Ukraine’s Jews, which of course is plausible. Or, the more terrifying prospect is the simple provocation of terror as a result of rampant anti-semitism. How believable is the latter?
However, for the sake of argument I believe it is a combination of Putin’s own want to brand the pro-Western supporters as neo-nazis, but I think it is important not to forget that he is playing on the local population’s anti-semitism. This flyer of course was only conveniently released only days before Easter-one of the most important Christian Orthodox holidays, and the predominant religion of Ukraine. Coincidence? I think not.
To be honest however, the most worrying issue is not what is meant to be achieved with these flyers, which is obvious, but more importantly if things do get out of control in Ukraine what will the local Jewish communities do? Some have said that they might leave, while others will ride out the storm. Whatever the case, most severe caution is needed.
Although this might not be the most appropriate analogy, I think that Ukraine’s Jews should switch from Defcon 4 to 3 as they should be worrying about their presence in a country which is continuing to manifest its anti-semitism into physical forms, thus crossing the threshold of just ideological xenophobia
What is my point? If the flyer is authentic or not, it seems almost superfluous. The real issue is that Jews are, on a political level for now, very much in danger. We need to forget about why these flyers came about. This is probably the most straight-forward answer there is. The truth is that everyone knows why: hatred of Jews. Thus the real question is as what is to be done? How will their safety be assured, as tensions are rising?