The Ukrainian Justice Ministry has ruled that using the derogatory term “zhyd” to describe a Jew is legal, turning back a petition demanding that the word be banned from the public sphere for being offensive to the county’s Jewish population.
According to reports Wednesday in the Ukrainian media, Eleanor Grossman, the editor of the “Jewish Kiev” website, had appealed to the ministry to block right-wing nationalists from using the term, whose equivalent is pronounced “yid” in English.
The ministry wrote in its response that, after looking into the matter, it had found no prohibition against using the word, or its feminine derivative “zhydovka,” although it did point out that in official government communications, the word “Jew” should be used.
The decision cited a Ukrainian academic dictionary to the effect that the term “zhyd” is an archaic term for Jew, and isn’t necessarily a slur.
In November 2011, Grossman asked representatives of Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda party to stop using the phrase. Grossman made her appeal after Svoboda deputy leader and parliament member Igor Miroshnichenko launched a tirade against Mila Kunis in which he wrote that the Ukraine-born Jewish American actress “is not Ukrainian but a zhydovka.”
Svoboda has repeatedly said it will not stop using terms that, it claims, are legitimate Ukrainian parlance.