by Kostas Onisenko
In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, stated that there is no antisemitism in Ukraine, in fact, it is much lower than in other countries.
“I consider myself to be the answer to this question, that in Ukraine there is no antisemitism or it is at a very low level,” Zelensky said. He stated that in the past, during the USSR, there was discrimination against Jews, a fact he knew from his own family.
We asked the opinion of Ukrainian Jews on this issue. Speaking to Orthodoxtimes, the spokesman for the Jewish community of Kyiv, Leonid Barats, commented:
“Fortunately, today, there are practically no expressions of antisemitism in Ukraine, except for individual provocations that have dealt by the police. Especially, if we compare with other countries where even governments recommend – for example – not to wear a kippah in public. Ukraine is the second country in the world and the first in Europe where for a time both President and Prime Minister were Jewish, and they made no secret of it.
There are three Jewish holidays officially established by the Ukrainian state. There is even an institutionalized Day of the Righteous Among the Nations, in memory of those who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
So it would be a paradox to accuse Ukraine of antisemitism. We have seen in the past few days that there have been no anti-Zionist marches in Ukraine, as in other countries, criticizing Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorists, and a pro-Israel concert was held, which was attended by state officials.
Ukrainians of the Jewish religion, unlike in Soviet times, when being Jewish implied discrimination and restrictions – for example in education – live in peace and harmony, as do representatives of other ethnic, religious or other minorities in Ukraine.”