A senior Russian rabbi accused the country’s communist party of “vulgar and primitive anti-Semitism” after it demanded Russian Jews condemn a Ukrainian Jewish oligarch.
The condemnation Wednesday by Rabbi Boruch Gorin, an advisor to Chief Russian Rabbi Berel Lazar and Lazar’s spokesperson, followed a letter that two communist lawmakers sent last week to Lazar and to Adolf Shayevich, another chief rabbi of Russia, in which the lawmakers urged the rabbis to speak out against Igor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian Jewish banker and regional governor who has poured millions of dollars into rearming the Ukrainian army against Russia.
“Russian Jews must distance themselves from Kolomoisky and make him understand that his crimes are denounced by his own people,” one of the lawmakers, Valery Rashkin, told the Izvestia newspaper after he fellow communist lawmaker Sergey Obukhov published an open letter in the same paper to Lazar and Shayevich. In the letter, the lawmakers wrote that Kolomisky’s actions “contribute to ethnic and race hate and cause people to commit hate crimes not only in Ukraine, but also in Russia.”
But Gorin said the request “reflected a primitive form of anti-Semitism which presumes all Jews belong to some sinister superstructure simply because they are Jewish.”
While the rabbis “have nothing to say to the communist lawmakers, we do expect other members of the Duma to speak out against this provocation,” Gorin said.
The border between Russia and Ukraine has been a tense one since the overthrow in February of former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, who is accused of corruption and was perceived by many Ukrainians to be a Kremlin puppet. Citing concerns to ethnic Russians and other minorities, Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in March — an action that triggered an ongoing armed conflict between pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east and government troops.
Throughout the conflict, pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian propagandists have accused one another of espousing anti-Semitism.