Kerry Condemns ‘Grotesque’ Fliers Requiring Eastern Ukrainian Jews to Register

Despite questions, State Department says there is “no reason to believe” the fliers aren’t authentic.

National Journal
Sarah Mimms
April 17, 2014, 10:09 a.m.

Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry con­firmed re­ports Thursday that Jew­ish cit­izens in east­ern Ukraine have been sent no­tices re­quir­ing them to identi­fy them­selves, and offered a strong con­dem­na­tion of what he termed “in­tol­er­able” be­ha­vi­or.

The fli­ers were re­portedly giv­en to Jews in the Ukrain­i­an city of Don­etsk, ap­par­ently by pro-Rus­si­an mil­it­ants there lead by Denis Pushil­in, ac­cord­ing to USA Today. Pushil­in ac­know­ledged the ex­ist­ence of the fli­ers, but “dis­avowed their con­tent,” the pa­per re­por­ted.

“The leaf­let be­gins, ‘Dear Ukraine cit­izens of Jew­ish na­tion­al­ity,’ and states that all people of Jew­ish des­cent over 16 years old must re­port to the Com­mis­sion­er for Na­tion­al­it­ies in the Don­etsk Re­gion­al Ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing and ‘re­gister,’ ” ac­cord­ing to USA Today. The Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency re­por­ted that the leaf­let re­quired all Jew­ish res­id­ents of Don­etsk to pay a $50 re­gis­tra­tion fee be­fore May 3.

Kerry, who on Thursday met in Geneva with the Rus­si­an and Ukrain­i­an for­eign min­is­ters as well as European Uni­on High Rep­res­ent­at­ive Cath­er­ine Ashton, said that all parties “strongly con­demned and re­jec­ted all ex­pres­sions of ex­trem­ism, ra­cism, and re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance, in­clud­ing anti-Semit­ism.”

“In [the] year 2014, after all of the miles traveled in all of the jour­ney of his­tory, this is not just in­tol­er­able; it’s grot­esque, is bey­ond un­ac­cept­able,” Kerry said of the fli­ers dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Geneva. “And any of the people who en­gage in these kinds of activ­it­ies, from whatever party or whatever ideo­logy or whatever place they crawl out of, there is no place for that. And un­an­im­ously every party today joined in this con­dem­na­tion of that kind of be­ha­vi­or.”

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A spokes­wo­man for the State De­part­ment con­firmed Thursday that there is evid­ence that the fli­ers are real, but ad­ded that they are still un­sure who is be­hind them. “I don’t have more de­tails on where the leaf­lets are com­ing from, but I know we’re look­ing in­to it,” spokes­wo­man Mar­ie Harf said.

The Anti-De­fam­a­tion League, a civil-rights ad­vocacy group, ques­tioned the au­then­ti­city of the doc­u­ments on Thursday, while con­demning the fli­ers. But Harf noted that the State De­part­ment has “no reas­on to be­lieve” the fli­ers are not au­then­t­ic.

The sever­ity of the ac­cus­a­tions against pro-Rus­si­an mil­it­ants in east­ern Ukraine could change the course of ne­go­ti­ations on Cap­it­ol Hill, where both cham­bers passed sanc­tions against Rus­sia over its an­nex­a­tion of Crimea just two weeks ago. The White House said Wed­nes­day that it was pre­par­ing ad­di­tion­al sanc­tions, but Thursday’s agree­ment between all sides in­volved in the crisis to de-es­cal­ate ten­sions could delay their im­ple­ment­a­tion.

Already, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla., were tweet­ing about the es­cal­a­tion of anti-Semit­ism in the coun­try on Thursday. “The true face of in­tol­er­ance emer­ging in east Ukraine,” Cruz wrote. In a state­ment to Na­tion­al Journ­al, Sen. Bar­bara Box­er, D-Cal­if., said “Sec­ret­ary Kerry’s state­ment re­flects my dis­gust, dis­may, and dis­be­lief that in this cen­tury we would see such an at­tack on the Jew­ish people. The fact that no group or in­di­vidu­al is tak­ing re­spons­ib­il­ity tells me that it could well be part of a sick strategy to fo­ment even more un­rest in Ukraine.”

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