Holocaust monument in western Ukraine defaced
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Holocaust monument in western Ukraine defaced

Israeli ambassador says hopes ‘justice will prevail’; dozens of anti-Semitic incidents reported annually, though report says decline seen since election of Jewish president

A monument to the Holocaust vandalized in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, in a photo shared January 19, 2020 by Israel's ambassador to the country Joel Lion. (Twitter screen capture)
A monument to the Holocaust vandalized in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, in a photo shared January 19, 2020 by Israel's ambassador to the country Joel Lion. (Twitter screen capture)

Just over a week before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a monument to the victims of the Holocaust was found defaced in the western Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, Israel’s ambassador to the country Joel Lion said.

The envoy shared a photograph Sunday of the vandalized monument on Twitter, noting that it lies “not far from President’s @ZelenskyyUa’s parents’ home.”

“I hope that justice will prevail,” Lion added.

Earlier this month, a Jewish organization in Ukraine said that the number of anti-Semitic incidents documented in the country last year decreased by 27 percent over 2018.

The United Jewish Community of Ukraine, one of several groups representing Ukrainian Jewry, said in a report published January 6 that it had documented 66 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 compared to 90 in the previous year.

A monument to Yiddish writer and humorist Sholem Aleichem in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv was vandalized with swastikas on November 25, 2019. (Twitter)

It attributed the purported change to the election in May of Volodymyr Zelensky, a Jewish actor, as president.

The Jewish group that published the report is headed by Igor Kolomoisky, a nationalist Jewish billionaire who owns the television channel where Zelensky worked.

Ukraine has no government watchdog that monitors racist incidents and publishes aggregated reports.

Organizations from within the fractious Jewish community of Ukraine have often disagreed on these issues.

An effigy of Igor Kolomoisky at the entrance to the Brodsky Synagogue in Kiev, Ukraine, October 14, 2019. (Courtesy of Eduard Dolinsky via JTA)

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry in 2018 said that in 2017, Ukraine had had more than 130 anti-Semitic incidents – more than the combined tally of documented cases that year from the entire former Soviet Union.

Some groups, including the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities, disputed that report, while others, including the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, said it seemed reliable.

The January 6 report details one physical assault on a person — an activist for free speech who was beaten up in December in Kiev by assailants who called him a Jew.

Other cases included threats and anti-Semitic vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust monuments.

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