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Israel issues statement on Ukraine

Jewish leader denies Ukrainian Jews 'running away'

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6 Mar 2014 (All day)
Israel issues statement on Ukraine

Israel’s Foreign Ministry ended its policy of remaining silent on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine Wednesday, issuing a statement that "Israel is following with great concern the events in Ukraine, it is anxious for peace for all its citizens and hope that the situation will not deteriorate to a loss of human life. Israel expects the crisis in Ukraine will be handled through diplomatic means and will be resolved peacefully.” Meanwhile, Ukraine’s chief rabbi told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the Jews in his country are not afraid to join in its defense. Ukraine’s Jews are “not running away,” Rabbi Jacob Dov Bleich insisted. “A lot of it is a lot of baloney and PR to get in the press.”

“It’s not right for people to make statements that Jews will run if there will be a war. The Jews didn’t run during the Maidan [protests] and were represented on both sides of the barricades. They are a part of this society.”

“In a context of revolution and lawlessness, things happen,” he added, referring to a recent rash of attacks on synagogues in Ukraine. “We can’t blow it out of proportion and say Jews are being attacked all over. There is no reason for panic.”

Bleich’s statement came in response to media reports that yeshiva students in Kiev were seeking ways to flee the country after receiving notices to report for military service. He said the reports were inaccurate since although all Ukrainian citizens are required to register for the draft, students in religious schools are usually given an exemption. He added that it was unlikely they’d be required to fight in any potential war.

The reports came against a backdrop of thousands of military-aged men in Ukraine volunteering for military service in one indication of a strong backlash in Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.


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