The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to “speak out forcefully against anti-Semitism” after pamphlets threatening to kill Jews were reportedly distributed in some Russian Orthodox churches in Odessa.
The pamphlets, which called for pogroms and the murder of Jews, were reportedly signed by the “Orthodox public organization of Odessa” and distributed in Russian Orthodox churches by representatives of United Fatherland and the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine.
“We know the Ukrainian government is committed to using the resources of law enforcement to investigate incidents of anti-Semitism and other forms of hate,” said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “In the ongoing efforts to strengthen Ukrainian democracy, it is critical that each expression of bigotry be met with official condemnation and that the perpetrators of hate crimes be brought to justice.”
In a letter to President Yushchenko, ADL urged his government to “speak out forcefully against anti-Semitism” and to ensure that the incidents are investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. The League offered to work with the government of Ukraine as it takes public and concrete steps to combat anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
In November, an ADL leadership delegation met top Ukrainian officials in Kiev, including leaders of the national Security Service’s Department for Combating Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism.
President Yushchenko has condemned anti-Semitism before. During his state visit to Israel in November, he told the Israeli Knesset of his administration’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, saying, “We must fight this evil, which can poison any clear source, constantly and uncompromisingly.”