The media is abuzz with reports that Jews were being told in a pamphlet to identify themselves and pay a fee to register in the pro-Russian section of east Ukraine.  But are these reports being used to prop up war drums?

Media reports now say the pamphlets are likely fake, with the person whose signature is at the bottom is claiming not to have produced the anti-semitic communication.  Denis Pushilin, whose signature is at the bottom of the pamphlets as the “people’s governor” of Donetsk, distanced himself.  “Some idiots yesterday were giving out these flyers in targeted areas.” He criticized the website that is being sourced by media outlets, and denied his organization was behind the stunt. It’s likely the work of provocateurs.”  The document in question was first posted by Ukrainian website novosti.dn.ua, and then reported up by USA Today, the Israeli website Ynet News, and a stream of reporters who followed up with tweets that furthered the troubling report.

Ukraine

This is “real deal” says US Ambassador

“Everything that we are hearing suggests that this is the real deal,” Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, had said in a CNN interview.  “That it apparently is coming from somebody on the ground there among these radical groups, either to stir fear or to create provocation justifying further violence.”

Ukraine pamphlet

Reacting to the news, US Secretary of State John Kerry had harsh words. “In the year 2014… this is grotesque,” he said.  Is this the US beating the war drums?  Has there been Jewish demagoguery on both sides of the Ukraine divide?  Did Kerry seize on a political trick?

Targeting Jews on both sides of Ukraine’s border

“I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”  Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, was quoted as saying in a New Republic article.

In fact, ValueWalk has written several articles on the topic, with editor and publisher Jacob Wolinsky having direct contacts in the region.  On February 18 we wrote: “The demonstrators (in the east), characterized by the press as generally ‘pro-European,’ have ignited what is being described inside Ukraine as a movement with an undertone of sectarian violence.”

Just after World War II, Ukraine nationalists were a large part of the population and have a bloody past, according to the book Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder.  The nationalists, many of whom were considered fascist, were said to have burnt down Polish villages and persecuted Jews after the war. Svoboda, a current leading nationalist party that has been accused of anti-Semitism, won its first seats in the Ukrainian Parliament in 2012 with 10.44% of the popular vote and the 4th-most seats among national political parties.

As the US could be preparing the war drums of a new cold war, it is instructive to consider the article written this past April that noted most who favor war in Ukraine can’t find it on a map.