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Interethnic relations

TV presenter accused of Jew-phobia offers to apologize if he was mistaken


The Shimon Dubnov Academy of the History and Culture of Jews of Ukraine [the Academy] has accused the ICTV television presenter Konstantin Stohniy of “Jew phobia” over an article on the website “Ukrainska Pravda”.

The article, entitled “Lutsenko gave a pleasant surprise” talks about specific features of the behaviour of Hassidic pilgrims during the yearly pilgrimage to Uman to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Braclava.  

 [Very briefly: the article is basically about all kinds of dishonest dealings both by Israeli and local crooks during the pilgrimage.  This theme begins almost immediately with mention that the plot with the grave of Rabbi Nachman has been sold three times, each time not by the real owners although this did not stop them increasing the price, the last time being for 15 thousand USD, after which the latest Israeli citizen reported fraud to the Uman police.

It claims that each new pilgrimage has brought with it an increased “level of criminal acumen of Israeli guests.”  It also makes assertions about pilgrims being found drunk and with local prostitutes.

It says that the Israeli police brought in to ensure the Hassidim’s safety, while having no formal rights in Ukraine, treat their compatriots with the same rough justice which they mete out at home. The author seems rather impressed that police in Israel are respected or feared, saying that this is the major difference.

The author stresses that the Ukrainian police in fact answer for the pilgrims’ safety, and notes that because their “helplessness” is well-known, there are both Ukrainian and foreign crooks who make their way to Uman at that time.  He says that among all kinds of pickpockets and robbers, there are many Israeli compatriots of the dear guests, and that a brigade of local detectives as well as teams from other regions (whose crime is not less during the period) have to fight this. He mentions that 500 police officers, 62 vehicles and 15 dogs were deployed this year.]

The Academy feels that the article is devoted to a description of crime and is of a Jew-phobic nature.

“K. Stohniy decided to build his article on description of only those aspects which could arouse Jew-phobic mood, presenting Israelis as speculators, dealers with an increasing level of “criminal acumen”. They feel that the words about drunkenness and local prostitutes are also done to sneer at the pilgrims.

They consider his position “openly biased” and call on the President, Prime Minister, Verkhovna Rada, MIA, SBU [Security Service] and Prosecutor General to “pay attention to problems in objective coverage by some journalists of Jewish life in Ukraine, and to also prevent the stirring up of inter-ethnic tension in the run-up to the election campaign.

Mr Stohniy told “Telekritika” that he had not intended to offend anyone, and had wanted to draw attention to the low level of organization of the pilgrimage to Uman. He said that he was prepared to apologise if he had made “some kind of mistake”.

From information at www.telekritika.ua

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