Menu
Local Chaos and Crime Drive Aliyah Numbers From Ukraine

Local Chaos and Crime Drive Aliyah Numbers From Ukraine

Image: getty images

Chaos and criminal activity in eastern Ukraine are causing anxiety and increased emigration by Ukrainian Jews, leaders of that community said.

“There is increase in emigration by Jews from Ukraine with 300 people immigrating to Israel in March alone, but this is not the result of any anti-Semitism but of anxiety and fear from criminal activity and chaos,” Josef Zissels, chairman of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said Friday.

Zissels rejected recent reports that Jews were preparing to evacuate Odessa in southern Ukraine en masse. “These reports were false and of a provocative nature,” he said.

Zissels, who spoke at a roundtable discussion of a dozen-odd community leaders from Ukraine, was commenting on Jewish Agency for Israel figures that showed that 762 Ukrainian Jews immigrated to Israel in the first quarter of 2014 — an increase of 52 percent over the average of 500 people who immigrated in the corresponding periods of 2009 to 2013. On average, 1,900 immigrants came to Israel from Ukraine per year in those years, according to Israel’s absorption ministry.

“There are bandits, men with rifles, who are patrolling the streets of some cities in eastern Ukraine and this is causing many Jews and non-Jews to want to leave,” Zissels told JTA at the roundtable discussion, organized by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, an international not-for-profit established in 2008 to further dialogue between Ukrainian Jews, non-Jews and their diasporas.

The roundtable was part of a symposium, “Ukraine: Thinking Together,” organized by the Encounter together with The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the U.S. embassy in Kiev and several other bodies.

Haydar Alexander, CEO of the Reform movement in Ukraine, said that more members of his community in Kiev were contemplating immigrating than before the political upheaval that gripped Ukraine in November.

Ukraine will hold presidential elections on May 25, the first since the ouster from power in February of the government of former president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia amid a wave of protests over his alleged corruption and perceived allegiance to the Kremlin.

Russian-backed militias subsequently seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, which was annexed to Russia in March, and some areas of Donetsk and Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine, an area which is heavily populated by ethnic Russians.

Written by

JTA

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Next article

Recommend this article

Local Chaos and Crime Drive Aliyah Numbers From Ukraine

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close