Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. June 14, 2019

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

On Sunday, June 9, Kazakhstan held presidential elections, following the resignation of longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev on March 20. Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who had stepped in as Acting President, won over 70% of Sunday's vote, to become Kazakhstan's first new leader in nearly three decades. Of note, ahead of the vote, Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko made encouraging remarks highlighting Kazakhstan and Israel's flourishing bilateral relationship.

On Tuesday, NCSEJ welcomed the Government of Moldova's decision to relocate its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. NCSEJ Chairman Daniel Rubin expressed support for the decision, saying "Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and a nation's capital is where embassies belong." Moldova government, however, is in the midst of a constitutional crisis, with rival factions struggling for control of the Prime Minister's office.

Later this month, the national security advisors for Russia, Israel, and the United States will meet in Jerusalem for a first-of-its-kind trilateral summit, to discuss regional security issues. The update includes an analysis piece from Anna Borshchevskaya, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, examining the possible outcomes of the meeting.

Finally, we've included an excerpt from journalist Sam Sokol's new book Putin’s Hybrid War and The Jews: Antisemitism, Propaganda and the Displacement of Ukrainian Jewry. He discusses the horrors of the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine, and reflects on the prospects for change offered by Ukraine's new president Volodymyr Zelensky.


Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. June 14, 2019

Prague memorial to Jewish children who fled Nazis vandalized in planned attack
By Robert Tait
Guardian UK, June 10, 2019

A memorial honouring the escape of mostly Jewish children from the Nazis, organised by Sir Nicholas Winton, has been damaged in an apparently carefully planned attack.

The Valediction Memorial at Prague’s main railway station – representing trains used to transport 669 children from the Czech capital to Britain – was left with a long crack across the length of a symbolic window pane.

The vandalism appeared to be aimed at disfiguring the shrine’s most evocative feature, a train window engraved with handprints depicting adults and children forced to bid farewell in heartbreaking circumstances.

Read the full article here.

Amid unrest, Moldova says it will move its embassy to Jerusalem
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, June 11, 2019

Moldova will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, the government of the small Eastern European country said Tuesday.

The announcement followed fallout from a constitutional crisis and power struggle that ended last week with a constitutional court’s suspension of the country’s elected president, Igor Dodon.

The statement tied the decision, which would make Moldova the only European country with its embassy in Jerusalem, to internal unrest and the sale of the land for the construction of a new American embassy in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital.

Why Israel didn’t celebrate when Moldova vowed to move its embassy from Tel Aviv
By Raphael Ahren
Time of Israel, June 13, 2019

Imagine an Eastern European country the size of Belgium vowing to move its embassy to Jerusalem — and the Israeli government not seeming to give a hoot.

That’s exactly what happened this week after the government of Moldova, a country of 3.5 million people situated between Romania and Ukraine, announced that it had decided “to transfer the headquarters” of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.

Israel is ignoring the Republic of Moldova’s announcement this week because it is viewed it as an obvious last-ditch attempt to curry favor with the Jewish state and, more importantly, its ally the United States, by a government that has no legitimacy and no authority to carry out any significant steps. Indeed, officials in Jerusalem feel like they’re being used by a lame-duck prime minister who is making promises few people believe he can fulfill.

Drowning out jeers, Polish soccer fans applaud Israeli anthem
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, June 11, 2019

Thousands of Polish soccer fans attending a match in Warsaw between their national team and Israel’s applauded during the playing of the Jewish state’s anthem.

The Euro qualifiers match came at a sensitive time for Polish-Israeli relations, which have suffered over the past year as politicians from both countries made provocative statements about Holocaust-era complicity and restitution.

Stewards and security guards took extraordinary precautions to prevent the eruption of violence during the match, which ended without incident.

Poland honors Jewish leader, diplomat working to recognize Holocaust rescuers
By Katarzyna Markusz
JTA, June 13, 2019

WARSAW, Poland – Poland has recognized the head of the nation’s Jewish community and an ambassador working to recognize non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

Monika Krawczyk, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, and Jakub Kumoch, the ambassador to Switzerland, were among 17 people honored with national awards on Wednesday for contributing to the development, dissemination and protection of Polish culture.

Krawczyk was honored in the field of protection of cultural heritage. Speaking at the ceremony at the National Theater in Warsaw, she said it was the first time in her 15 years of work for the heritage of Polish Jews that her efforts have been recognized.

100s Detained As Protesters Maintain Pressure Following Russian Journo's Release
By Matthew Luxmoore
RFE/RL June 12, 2019

MOSCOW -- Police detained several hundred people as demonstrators marched through central Moscow to maintain pressure on the authorities following the release of Ivan Golunov, an investigative reporter who had been arrested on a drug charge supporters said was fabricated.

Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny and several journalists were among what OVD-Info, a
group that monitors protests and arrests in Russia, said were more than 400 people detained at the rally in the capital on June 12. Navalny later said on Twitter that he had been released and voiced hope that all those detained were set free.

In a stunning reversal, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev announced late on June 11 that the charges against Golunov were being dropped for lack of evidence that he committed a crime, and the 36-year-old -- who had been confined to house arrest by a court days earlier -- walked free soon after that.

The connections between Chernobyl and modern Jewish history
By Anna Shternshis
Canadian Jewish News, June 12, 2019

One of the most striking scenes of HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl is when the residents of Pripyat, located about three kilometres from the site of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, evacuate the city. They are ordered to bring their documents, some food and basic clothes. People walk, carrying their children and suitcases while assisting local elders. They are loaded into buses, which leave, never to return again.

Some critics pointed out that this scene is reminiscent of the portrayal of Holocaust-era deportations, featuring Jews leaving their communities and walking to their imminent deaths. But what no one so far has talked about is that Chernobyl, Pripyat and that entire region did experience forced deportations and killings 45 years earlier during the Second World War, as German soldiers went into people’s houses, and dragged them out to their deaths.

By 1939, 1,783 Jews lived in Chernobyl, one in every five residents of the town. The German army occupied the city on Aug. 25, 1941. On Nov. 7, 1941, almost half of Chernobyl’s Jews were shot. The rest were killed by the end of 1942.

Why Kazakhstan sees ‘dynamic relations with Israel’ flourishing after elections
By Joe Millis
Jewish News, June 11, 2019

Kazakhstan believes that its excellent relations with Israel will continue to flourish following the presidential election this weekend.

The election – the first since independence in 1991 without Nursultan Nazabayev as a candidate – was won by the outgoing president’s hand-picked successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, with more than 70 percent of the vote. His nearest challenger in a field of seven, Amirzhan Kosanov, polled only 16.2 percent of the vote on a 77 percent turnout.

Speaking before Sunday’s election, deputy foreign minister Roman Vassilenko said: “We have very dynamic and interesting relations with Israel. We have hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and before him other Israeli ministers and officials, including Shimon Peres.”

Read the full article here.

Israel-U.S.-Russian trilat to be held in Jerusalem on June 24
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2019

A first of its kind trilateral meeting between the National Security advisers of Israel, the US and Russia will be taking place in Israel in 10 days, according to a schedule put out Thursday by the Foreign Ministry.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, are scheduled to be in Israel from June 24 to 26.

They will be joined in the meetings by Israel’s National Security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, for talks expected to focus on Iran’s presence in Syria. The US-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain is scheduled to take place at the same time, June 25-26.

Read the full article here.

What to Expect from the U.S.-Russia Meeting in Jerusalem
By Anna Borshchevskaya
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 12, 2019

This month, Jerusalem will host a meeting between U.S. national security advisor John Bolton, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and Israeli national security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat….Analysts expect the talks to focus on Syria and Iran. Kremlin-controlled press outlets such as RIA Novosti have made wild claims that Washington and Israel intend to recognize dictator Bashar al-Assad’s legitimacy and lift sanctions in exchange for Moscow deterring Iranian influence in Syria.

Although U.S. envoy James Jeffrey has reportedly denied that such concessions are on the table, Putin is likely looking for a deal along those lines. Even if that questionable goal falls through, he no doubt believes that his legitimacy—and therefore his regional leverage—will be enhanced simply by attending the meeting.

Destroyed and dispersed: Ironically, biggest displacement of Jewish life was caused by Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, purportedly to protect Jews, ethnic Russians and other minorities.
By Sam Sokol
Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2019

The freezing wind cut through my thin leather jacket and tattered Yankees cap as I ducked my head low between my shoulders and hugged my arms for warmth. My sneakers crunched Kiev’s December snow as I made my way through the Ukrainian capital, intent on reaching the city’s central square, known as the Maidan. Ahead of me a line of minibuses stretched perpendicular to the street, blocking off access. I continued my slow march through the frigid conditions, placing one numb foot in front of the other, intent only on skirting the blockade when an armored member of the Berkut, Ukraine’s riot police, yelled something in unintelligible Russian and motioned for me to head back.

“What the hell am I doing here?” I wondered as I turned away, searching for a clear path between my hotel and the site of Ukraine’s second popular revolt in less than a decade.

At the time I was the Diaspora correspondent for The Jerusalem Post with a beat that encompassed Jewish communal, religious and political life on several continents. I had been lured – or more accurately, had lured myself – to this former Soviet republic’s capital by the promise of a story involving antisemitism, neo-Nazis, and a violent revolution that had many of the country’s approximately 70,000 Jews in the grips of existential fear. I would soon learn that things were rarely that simple.

[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.