Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. March 29, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

NCSEJ expresses its deepest condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those killed in a fire in Kemerovo, Russia last Sunday. 

On Monday, President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States and the closure of the Russian Consulate in Seattle, WA in response to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in London. The United States joins a series of other countries in expelling Russian diplomats, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and several other European states.

Fifty-nine U.S. Senators co-signed a bipartisan letter urging the Polish government to amend draft restitution legislation. The draft first surfaced in October 2017 and excluded several groups from pursuing restitution of property confiscated by the Nazis.  NCSEJ was the first Jewish organization to address concerns over the draft restitution bill during our leadership mission to Poland. 

We wish you all a Happy Passover. Chag Sameach! 

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. March 29, 2018

Trump and Western Allies Expel Scores of Russians in Sweeping Rebuke Over U.K. Poisoning

By Katie Rogers and Eileen Sullivan

New York Times, March 26, 2018

President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States on Monday, adding to a growing cascade of similar actions taken by western allies in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Poland, Italy, Denmark, France and Germany were among 14 European Union member nations announcing plans to expel Russians from their countries in solidarity with Britain, which previously expelled 23 Russian diplomats after the poisoning. Canada also said it would expel four.

The American expulsion order, announced by administration officials, includes 12 people identified as Russian intelligence officers who have been stationed at the United Nations in New York, and also closes the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians and their families have seven days to leave the United States, according to officials.

Read the full article here.

Russian Deadly Mall Fire Sparks Blood Libels Against The Jews

By Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt

Forward, March 27, 2018

It didn’t take long for the anti-Semitic accusations to emerge after a movie theater in the Siberian city of Kemerovo caught fire on Sunday, killing 64 people (41 of them children).

Russian social media today has been swirling with blood libels, pointing to the Jews for orchestrating the fire on the eve of Passover.

“There are many questions,” a Kemerovo businessman Artyom Nikiforov, with a large social media following, said in a video he posted on Facebook, which has since gone viral. “I want to draw your attention to this — I do not believe this is a coincidence. This tragedy occurred on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover.” Nikiforov noted that several Russian disasters took place around Jewish holidays. “For me, this is clearly ritual sacrifice of the Chosen People. I do not believe in these coincidences.”

What Does Russia’s Presidential Election Mean for Ukraine?

By Gwendolyn Sasse

Carnegie Europe, March 26, 2018

Putin’s last term in office has now begun, at least if he abides by the Russian constitution. The election and, in particular, Putin’s eventual departure have implications for Ukraine.

The election itself was a bone of contention between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine protested against ballots being cast in Russia-occupied Crimea.

The election was deliberately timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the formal annexation of Crimea, and the vote was celebrated as a second “referendum” on the peninsula belonging to Russia. The Ukrainian authorities only allowed Russian diplomats to vote and prevented Russians based in Ukraine from casting their ballots by sealing off access to Russian polling stations in the Russian embassy in Kyiv and to consular offices in Lviv, Odessa, and Kharkiv. 

Read the full article here.

Resetting Polish-Ukrainian Relations

By Olena Babakova

Kennan Institute, Focus Ukraine Blog, March 27, 2018

Relations between Poland and Ukraine are at their lowest point since 1991. The current impasse is deeply connected both to the narrative of victimhood common among post-Soviet states and to Ukraine and Poland individually objecting to certain exclusionary policies the other has crafted. The policies, the objections, and failure to reach common ground seem additionally amplified to serve domestic political purposes. A renewal of the strategic dialogue requires each state to move beyond the current stalemate and reconceptualize its relationship to the other while disengaging from a discourse of blame.

Read the full article here.

Congress bans arms to Ukraine militia linked to neo-Nazis

By Rebecca Kheel

The Hill, March 27, 2018

A little-noticed provision in the 2,232-page government spending bill passed last week bans U.S. arms from going to a controversial ultranationalist militia in Ukraine that has openly accepted neo-Nazis into its ranks.

House-passed spending bills for the past three years have included a ban on U.S. aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion, but the provision was stripped out before final passage each year.

This year, though, the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law last week stipulates that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.”

Read the full article here.

Senior Adviser to Polish Prime Minister Under Fire From Top Jewish Leaders for ‘Antisemitic’ Online Campaign

By Ben Cohen
Algemeiner, March 26, 2018

Jewish leaders in the US and Europe have risen to the defense of a leading Polish expert on antisemitism, after he recently became the target of an “antisemitic” online campaign led by an official adviser to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Rafal Pankowski — a Warsaw-based professor who leads the anti-racist “Never Again” Association — was described as a “Polish-speaking Jewish mongrel dog” and threatened with violence by extremists on social media following a speech he delivered to the Global Forum Against Antisemitism in Jerusalem on March 21.

Read the full article here.

59 US Senators protest Holocaust restitution bill in Poland
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 26, 2018

Fifty-nine U.S. senators have co-signed a bipartisan letter urging Poland to amend draft legislation on a restitution bill that they say discriminates against survivors living in America.

The letter sent Monday to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki concerns a measure from October that would require claimants to be citizens living in Poland and excludes all heirs except “first-line heirs,” meaning spouses, children or grandchildren.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., co-authored the letter.

Read the full article here.

Most Poles accept Jews as fellow citizens and neighbors, but a minority do not

By David Masci

Pew Research Center, March 28, 2018

Poland recently enacted a libel law aimed at punishing those who publicly accuse Poles of complicity in the Holocaust or other crimes against humanity. The new law has raised concerns that the country’s history of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Poland could be obscured.

In today’s Poland, most adults say they are willing to accept Jews as fellow citizens, neighbors and family members, according to a Pew Research Center survey of Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe conducted in 2015 and 2016. For instance, about seven-in-ten or more Poles say they would accept Jews as neighbors or fellow citizens.

At the same time, however, a sizable minority of Polish adults take the opposite position. Almost one-in-five Poles (18%) say they would not be willing to accept Jews as citizens of their country, and a similar share (20%) say they would not want Jewish neighbors. Nearly a third of Polish adults (30%) say they would not accept a Jewish person as a member of their family.

Read the full article here.

Hungary’s rebranded far-right Jobbik eyes Orban ouster

By Peter Murphy

Times of Israel/AFP, March 27, 2018

Hungary’s Jobbik used to be one of Europe’s most hardline far-right parties, its members burning EU flags and calling Jewish MPs a national security risk.

But lately it has been charging toward the political center, or so it seems.

And as Hungary readies for an election on April 8, Jobbik, which polls show is the strongest party behind Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz, claims it is ready for government.

But a fearful ethnic-Roma official in the small northern Hungarian town of Gyongyospata cannot forget old grievances.

 “I don’t believe Jobbik have changed, no matter what they say now, it’s just a disguise,” Janos Farkas told AFP.


Humanitarian groups provide Passover food for needy Jews in former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 28, 2018

Humanitarian groups are providing food packages for needy Jews in the former Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will distribute 20 tons of matzah to tens of thousands of elderly Jews living in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Russia.

The effort is supported by JDC’s partnerships with the Claims Conference, Jewish Federations of North America and the IFCJ Food and Medicine Lifeline, JDC’s operational partnership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

JDC will provide prepared food, seder meals, cultural activities and workshops for the holiday in Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and Romania, it said in a statement.

Read the full article here.

[Link to pdf of full articles]
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Telephone: +1 202 898 2500  |  ncsej@ncsej.org
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.