Stephen Pollard, writing in Sundayexpress.com, notes that the recent anti-Semitic leaflet distributed in Ukraine demanding Jews register or be deported might make Russia look more philo-Semitic than Ukraine, but that theory is false. Pollard, whose grandparents fled Poland and Latvia in the late 1800’s, notes that Vladimir Putin disingenuously used reported Ukrainian anti-Semitism as an excuse for his invasion of Crimea and his threat to enter eastern Ukraine, saying he was acting in that fashion because he wanted to save the Jews.
Yet, as Pollard writes, “Under President Putin there may not be state-sponsored anti-Semitism but ultra-nationalist anti-Semitic groups flourish, aided by the security services. State-run broadcasters regularly feature anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.”
Pollard is quite aware of historical Ukrainian hatred of Jews, noting the 1941 massacre of 11,500 Jews by the Nazis with Ukrainian help and the butchery of 70% of Ukrainian Jews, amounting to over a million people during the Nazi era. But he also notes that Dnipropetrovsk has the largest Jewish community centre in the world, and Jews are not afraid to live openly as Jews in Ukraine, unlike Russia. Dnipropetrovsk’s Chief Rabbi Kaminezki said of Putin’s claims of Ukrainian anti-Semitism, “What Putin is saying about anti-Semitism in the Ukraine is mostly just a lie to divide us.”