European Jewish Association calls for protection of Ukrainian Jews

European Jewish Association calls for protection of Ukrainian Jews

Move follows unprecedented electoral gains of anti-Semitic, ultranationalist Svoboda party

JTA — The head of the European Jewish Association has called on the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety of the country’s Jews in the wake of the election to parliament of an anti-Semitic party.

“We are not presuming, of course, to interfere in internal Ukraine affairs and its voters’ decisions. However, we are very concerned about the safety of Ukrainian Jews and are seeking to prevent expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement.

On Oct. 28, the ultranationalist Svoboda Party, or Freedom Party, made unprecedented gains in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, garnering 12 percent of the vote, after winning less than 1 percent in the last election, in 2007. The percentage means that the party can control a parliament faction for the first time.

Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok has called in the past for purges of the approximately 400,000 Jews living in Ukraine, as well as other minorities. The party has held several protest rallies against the presence of Jews in Uman, in the center of the country.

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