Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. January 4, 2019

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Aleksander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO

Dear Friend,

On New Year's Day, members of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector and Svoboda political movements in Ukraine organized a march through Kyiv to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera, a nationalist leader during the Second World War accused of collaborating with the Nazis. This followed an earlier decision by the Ukrainian government in December 2018 to designate Bandera's birthday as a national holiday.

Moldovan President Igor Dodon announced that his country is "very seriously considering" moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Dodon's deliberation on transferring Moldova's embassy to Jerusalem follows similar indications that other governments, including in the Czech Republic and Brazil, are contemplating this decision as well. 

I would like to point your attention to an interesting article on the Bukharian Jewish community in Queens. I have visited this neighborhood numerous times and consulted with their leadership on issues and concerns. Bukharian Jews have a fascinatingly distinct culture with a deep history and many long-standing traditions. 

Finally, NCSEJ extends a warm welcome to the new members of the House of Representatives and Senate. We look forward to working with them on issues regarding Jewish life in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. January 4, 2019

Ukrainians March to Mark 110th Birthday of Stepan Bandera
By Volodymyr Petrov
Kyiv Post, January 2, 2019

On the first day of the year 2019, nearly 2,000 activists from political parties, Svoboda and Right Sector organized a march with torches to mark the 110th anniversary of Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera’s birthday in Kyiv. Also, approximately 500 activists from the National Corps political party marched separately on the parallel street wearing Santa Claus hats to greet Ukrainians with the New Year and also to commemorate Bandera’s birthday.

Bandera lived from 1909 to 1959, when he was murdered by Soviet KGB agent Bogdan Stashynsky in Munich, Germany. For much of World War II, Bandera was imprisoned by Nazi Germany for his leadership of a nationalist movement that fought both Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Pompeo Says Cooperation with Israel over Syria and Iran to Continue 
By Mary Milliken
Reuters, January 1, 2019

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the United States would continue to cooperate with Israel over Syria and in countering Iran in the Middle East, even as President Donald Trump plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he met with Pompeo in the Brazilian capital that he planned to discuss how to intensify intelligence and operations cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian "aggression."

In his first public comments on Trump's decision, Pompeo said it "in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel."

A Walk Through Bukharian Queens—Just Don’t Call It ‘Russian’
By Simone Somekh
Forward, January 2, 2019

The most common misconception about Bukharian Jews?

Manashe Khaimov hesitates for a few seconds, then answers: “That we are Russian Jews. The only thing we share with Russian Jews,” he continues, “are the 70 years we lived under the Soviet Union. For 2,000 years, we had a different history, a different culture.”

A community little-known even to other Jews, Bukharian Jewry claims two millennia of history in Central Asia, namely in today’s Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, most of them migrated to Israel and the United States. Khaimov estimates that, today, some 70,000 Bukharians live in Queens, New York.

Looking Back: Detroit’s Role in Saving Russian Jewry
By Mike Smith
The Jewish News, January 3, 2019

Every week, I work with Olga at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. Olga is a wonderful archivist, my partner in collecting historical records and preparing them for researchers. I get to work with Olga, in part, because of the efforts and contributions of Detroit and American Jews.

Olga, you see, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the era of the Soviet Union. She made her way to the United States in 1990, as part of the United Jewish Appeal’s massive program to enable 1.2 million Soviet Jews to resettle in the U.S., Canada and Israel between 1990 and 1994. More than 7,000 of them settled in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Operation Exodus was a major success, one of American Jewry’s proudest moments.

Moldova’s President Says He’ll ‘Very Seriously Consider’ Moving Embassy to Jerusalem
JTA, December 31, 2018

Moldova’s president said his country would “very seriously consider” moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to Jewish interlocutors who met with him.

Igor Dodon met last week with Euro-Asian Jewish Congress leaders in connection with his visit earlier this month to Israel, the Newsmaker website reported.

The United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May. The European Union and Arab countries were among the harshest critics of the move, which they said may be harmful to attempts to reach a permanent peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, who both claim the city’s east.

New Year’s Eve Fete from Russia Irks Some in Israel: ‘It’s Not A Jewish Holiday” 
By Isabel Kershner
The New York Times, December 30, 2018

As dusk fell in a port city in southern Israel, Roman Kaminker’s neighborhood pop-up shop twinkled with a bountiful display of Santa dolls and synthetic spruce trees adorned with tinsel and baubles.
Mr. Kaminker’s store in Ashdod was catering to those shopping for Novy God, the Russian end-of-year celebration when families traditionally gather before midnight on Dec. 31 to feast on delicacies from the old country like herring, caviar and jellied calf’s foot, and toast in the New Year with vodka and bubbly.

“This has no connection to religion,” declared Mr. Kaminker, 39, who emigrated from Moldova in the mid-1990s, and was eager to avoid any misunderstandings that his shop was somehow linked to Christmas. “You won’t find any Marias or crosses here,” he added. “That wasn’t allowed in the Soviet Union.”

Armenian Capital Honors Holocaust Survivor Who Coined the Term ‘Genocide’
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, December 31, 2018 

Armenia’s capital named a street for Raphael Lemkin, the Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide.

The deputy mayor of Yerevan, Sergey Harutunyan, said during the ceremony earlier this month that Lemkin’s legacy had a “serious impact” on world history, the Armenrpess agency reported from the Dec. 11 ceremony.

Lemkin was born in what is today Belarus to a Polish-Jewish family. He fled the Nazis in 1941 to the United States.

Aliyah Rose 5% During 2018, Including 45% Increase from Russia
E Jewish Philanthropy, December 31, 2018

According to the Jewish Agency, more than 29,600* people immigrated to Israel during 2018, compared with 28,220 in 2017, a 5-percent increase year over year.

The country with the largest number of olim in 2018 was Russia, with approximately 10,500 immigrants, representing a 45-percent increase from last year. Also within the former Soviet Union, more than 6,500 people made Aliyah from Ukraine, a 9-percent decrease from 2017.
A total of 3,550 individuals immigrated to Israel from the US and Canada, similar to last year’s figure, according to data coordinated with Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Read the full article here.

Europe’s Ring Wing Woos A New Audience: Jewish Voters
By Bojan Pancevski
The Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2018

Emanuel Bernhard Krauskopf’s trips to his synagogue in the German capital have become an awkward affair.

The reason: Mr. Krauskopf and about 30 others recently founded a Jewish chapter of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, an anti-immigrant party that is the largest opposition group in parliament—one whose members include people accused of anti-Semitism, right-wing extremists and others on the political fringe.

“I’m 69 and tired of being polite,” said Mr. Krauskopf, a retired engineer and entrepreneur. “I support a party that calls a spade a spade and really stands up for the Jews.”

Netanyahu, Putin Agree to Boost Cooperation, Defeat Terrorism in Syria
Times of Israel, January 4, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the planned US withdrawal from Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, the Kremlin said.

The leaders stressed the need to strengthen military and diplomatic cooperation in Syria during the phone call, which was initiated by Netanyahu.

“The discussion focused on developments in Syria, including in light of the United States’ plans to withdraw its troops from that country,” the Kremlin said according to TASS.

The two leaders agreed on the need to “defeat terrorism and speedy achievement of a political settlement in Syria.”

[Link to pdf of full articles]
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Founded in 1971, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.