Anti-Semitism At New High In Ukraine – Poll

KIEV, Ukraine -- Over a third of Ukrainians believes that Jews should not be citizens of Ukraine, according to the results of a recent poll conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

Chief Rabbi of Kyiv Yaakov Dov Bleich

Based on a survey of 2,000 respondents, the poll found that 37 percent of Ukrainians would not want to share their nationality with Jews.

This figure jumped to 45 percent in the 18-to-20 age bracket.

The situation has deteriorated since 1994, when just 26 percent of those asked said they would not like Jews to have Ukrainian citizenship.

The survey also asked the respondents to answer whether they were sure that Jews were completely like other citizens of Ukraine. Only 57.4 percent of respondents completely agreed with that statement.

Respondents to the poll felt even more strongly about Roma and ethnic Romanians not being citizens of Ukraine, with 71.8 percent against the former having citizenship and 61.4 percent against the latter.

The regions of Ukraine were also broken down by the degree to which they consider Jews to be the same as regular citizens of Ukraine: Western Ukraine came in last, with only 45 percent of respondents saying that there was no difference between Jews and other Ukrainian citizens.

Central Ukraine, including Kyiv, appeared to be the most tolerant, with 68 percent reporting that they considered Jews to be the same as other Ukrainian citizens.

The survey also featured questions as to who should be allowed in the country, with almost 15 percent responding that they were against Americans visiting Ukraine. Only 6.6 percent were against the country having Jewish visitors.

Questions about other nationalities were also asked. A total of 22.7 percent of respondents would consider having an ethnic Russian as a close friend, versus only 12.2 percent who would consider an ethnic Jew or 7.8 percent who would befriend an ethnic American.

The respondents said they were more comfortable with North American guests (52.2 percent being comfortable with American guests, 58.7 percent being comfortable with Canadian guests) versus 29 percent being comfortable with Jewish guests.

Almost 53 percent would be comfortable with German guests, and a whole 59.8 percent with French guests, a much better showing than for Roma, who only 31.1 percent of Ukrainian respondents would welcome as visitors.

Leading Jewish authorities in the country were skeptical of the poll’s results, believing the situation for Jews in Ukraine to not be as dire as the survey suggests.

Chief Rabbi of Kyiv Yaakov Dov Bleich was among the skeptical. “I would not say that there’s no anti-Semitism [in Ukraine], I’m not saying that there’s not a problem, but to put it at that level, that’s something that we’ve never seen, have never heard before,” Bleich said, adding that he would like to see how the questions were formulated.

“Polls can never be taken at face value,” he said. “The onus is on them [Kiev International Institute of Sociology] to prove that they did a normal and true poll.”

“Anyone who says there is no anti-Semitism in Ukraine is lying,” he emphasized. “The important thing is how the government is going to react.”

Dr. Anatoly Podolsky, director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, a five-year-old non-governmental organization, also found anti-Semitism in Ukraine to be less than the results of the poll suggest. “I am not sure about the results of the survey, a project done by my center has other information,” he said.

“Ukraine is a multicultural society. It’s not only Ukrainians, Jews are part of Ukrainian society,” he said.

Vyacheslav Likhachev, an expert on anti-Semitism for various organizations in the country, was also dubious about the results of the survey. “The results of other research I have seen before was much better,” Likhachev said, citing a recent poll by the International Tolerance Center. In that poll, “the situation with Jews was better than with Poles, Moldovans, Hungarians and other close neighbors of Ukraine,” he said.

“The general tolerance for Jews is quite good, very good, because in general, the situation of xenophobia in Ukraine is not good, but it is better than for many other ethnic groups,” Likhachev said.

A total of 103,600 Jews were counted in Ukraine’s 2001 census, making up 0.2 percent of Ukraine’s population, according to the State Statistics Committee. National minorities account for 22.2 percent of Ukraine’s population.

Two thousand people across the country were surveyed for the poll, which was conducted in mid-October.

Source: Kyiv Post


ronen said…
just want to say that i lived in kiev but have left to israel. hope all other jews do the same. we have clearly overstayed our welcome.