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
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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.”

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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