NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress today decried the beating of an Israeli-born Hebrew teacher in the Ukrainian capital Kiev in what local Jewish leaders say was an anti-Semitic incident. World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer called the beating “a vicious act that must not go unpunished,” and said that WJC was closely monitoring the situation.
Jewish leaders said the community believed the beating to be the result of anti-Semitic incitement and extremist activity seen in Kiev in recent days, including a torchlight march by supporters of the anti-Semitic party Svoboda on 1 January.
A group of at least four thugs beat teacher Hillel Wertheimer on Saturday night after following him home from synagogue services. Reportedly, three of the four men then punched and kicked Wertheimer in the vestibule of his home. A neighbor came down to investigate after hearing Wertheimer shout for help and the teacher has apparently now recovered from the beating.
“Nowadays, the beating of a defenseless Jewish school teacher is a culmination of anti-Semitism. The Ukrainian government must take tough measures to prevent such incidents in future. I also hope for that the representatives of Western states will react to this incident,” Boris Fuchsmann, president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, declared in reaction to the attack.
Communal officials met with state security services in order to seek more police protection for Jewish communal buildings. Swastikas have been daubed in Jewish areas recently. Another meeting was planned for Wednesday with the US ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey R. Pyatt.