Disturbing rise in anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Zhytomyr


Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Azriel Khaikin has addressed a letter to main government bodies with regard to constant incidents involving anti-Semitism in Zhytomyr.

The letter, sent to the President, Prime Minister, Prosecutor General and others, speaks of incidents being of a regular nature in the city. Jewish believers complain of insults, anti-Semitic graffiti, vandalism against them and their buildings of worship. 

The letter expresses the deep concern of Ukraine’s Jewish community over the situation in the city and says that religious Jews in Zhytomyr feel under constant threat.  There have been three serious assaults in the last year, with two involving serious injuries. The last was this month (August) in which the Rabbi and his wife were both assaulted.

“The Zhytomyr authorities either do not want or are unable to maintain safety and harmony between different ethnic and religious groups in the city. The police, while taking some steps towards patrolling the area near the Synagogue are not able to seriously counter anti-Semitic gangs. The Security Service [SBU] avoids investigating these incidents and the activities of anti-Semitic and xenophobic gangs in the Zhytomyr region. The passiveness of the authorities and their inability to counter harassment, insults and physical assaults on members of the Jewish community is extremely disturbing”

The letter calls on Ukraine’s leaders, the authorities of the region, civic organizations and the international community to demand that all such actions are thoroughly investigating, that the appropriate authorities in the region take firm steps to stop anti-Semitic and xenophobic acts, and that those committing them are fully punished.

“As the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, the spiritual leader of Jews in our country, I would like to call on believes of all faiths and religious movements to actively fight any expressions of xenophobia.  This is the duty of each person recognizing the authority of the Creator. Xenophobia and anti-Semitism are crimes not only against society, but against the Lord. I call on all religious leaders and representatives of the intellectual and political elite to categorically condemn xenophobia and to call on the authorities to eradicate it”.

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