World Jewish Congress Vice-President Boris Fuchsmann, the head of the Jewish Confederation in Ukraine, has said in an interview that anti-Semitism is on the rise in his country also due to cynical political maneuvers. “World history has shown many times that the level of xenophobia and intolerance in any country rises during times of economic crisis. Ukraine is not an exception. Today, the country experiences not the best of economic times for a number of reasons. [...] Unfortunately, we have to accept that the level of intolerance and xenophobia has risen."
Fuchsmann went on to say: "Each country has its own object for such bad feelings. For example, in Russia, main target of xenophobes and hatemongers are the natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Bad feelings towards them have largely supplanted anti-Semitism, which is traditional in Ukraine. Here, the hatred of the Jews remains one of main expressions of xenophobia. And unfair politicians exploits this," the Jewish leader pointed out.
Fuchsmann underlined that that shortly after the extreme-right Svoboda party obtained a majority of votes in a number of regional councils in western Ukraine, the population did not feel improvement and criticized Svoboda for their failure. “How can politicians react in such a situation? They do their best to divert the attention of people from really important problems, offering to discuss topics such as if it is correct to name Jews “zhydy,” or they begin to question the nationality of certain members of parliament. Surely, this doesn’t contribute to ethnic and religious peace in Ukraine," he criticized.
The WJC vice-president also commented on the incident which took place in the Uman Cherkassy Region in Ukraine last week where Hassidic Jewish pilgrims were attacked at night, one of the guards stabbed, and US$ 50,000 stolen from a safe located in the office building. "It seems to me that in analyzing this incident there are two possible scenarios. One, it was a criminal incident and the robbers were after the money. Alternatively, the fact that the criminals used simple knives and axes as the pogrom-makers of old times makes one wonder if there were other motives involved. In any case, we hope that the investigation will uncover the truth."