Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. June 1, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

Last week, Boris Lozhkin, entrepreneur and former head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, was elected President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine. NCSEJ has had a strong relationship with the Confederation since its inception and looks forward to working with Boris to support Jewish communities in Ukraine. 

A number of Ukrainian and international Jewish organizations, including VAAD, the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine headed by Andrey Adamovsky and Josef Zissels, and the World Jewish Congress, spoke out this week against the city of Kyiv's 250th anniversary commemoration of the Koliyivshchyna uprising. The uprising occurred in 1768 as a violent rebuke against Polish rule in modern-day Ukraine. The rebellion resulted in the murder of thousands of Jews. NCSEJ joins these Jewish organizations in expressing our concern over the Kyiv City Council's decision to commemorate this event in a celebratory manner.

Last week, a large conference was held in Moscow to celebrate 70 years of Israel-Russia relations. The World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Institute for Modern Jewish Studies at the Russian State University of Humanities (RSUH) in Moscow, as well as several other Israeli institutions cooperated to host the conference. 

On Wednesday, I attended a reception at the Israeli Embassy, co-hosted by the Hungarian Embassy, in honor of Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism who was born in Budapest in 1860. NCSEJ Deputy Director Lesley Weiss was in Rome, Italy this week to attend meetings of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which convenes government officials and experts to advance and promote Holocaust education, research, and remembrance. She also had the opportunity to meet with government and Jewish community representatives from the Eurasia region as well as Western Europe.

Our Board of Governors meeting will be held next week, on Tuesday, June 5, in Washington, DC. We look forward to welcoming you and hearing from Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblet, Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jewry in Warsaw, Poland; Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute; Gideon Taylor, Chair of Operations at the World Jewish Restitution Organization; and H.E. Ambassador Erzhan Kazykhanov of Kazakhstan. If you have not already, please RSVP to David Shulman at dshulman@ncsej.org, or 202-898-2500.


Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. June 1, 2018

Boris Lozhkin Elected President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine

PR Newswire/Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, May 25, 2018

The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine has announced the election of entrepreneur Boris Lozhkin as its President. Mr. Lozhkin succeeds Boris Fuchsmann, who was appointed Honorary President.

Boris Fuchsmann has served eight years as President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine. He has played an essential role in supporting Jewish life and preserving Jewish heritage in the country.

Lozhkin is a Ukrainian entrepreneur, who founded and led the UMH Group, one of the largest multimedia holdings in Eastern Europe, which he sold in 2014. From 2014 to 2016, he served as Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. Since 2016, he has managed an international investment portfolio and focused on his philanthropic activities.

Read the full article here.

Ukrainian Jewish associations outraged by Kyiv Council plans for bloodstained anniversary

By Halya Coynash

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, May 29, 2018

The VAAD Association of Jewish Associations and Communities and a number of other Ukrainian Jewish organizations have expressed strong concern over the decision by the Kyiv City Council to hold events marking 250 years since Koliyivshchyna, a rebellion which resulted, among other things, in the 1786 Uman Massacre of Poles, Jews and Greek-Catholics.  The proposal was put forward by two deputies from the far-right Svoboda party, with the explanatory note provided to colleagues providing a highly specific colouring to historical facts.

Koliyivshchyna was the third of three uprisings against Polish rule by haidamaky or armed groups of Cossacks and peasants, who have been described by historian  Oleksiy Sokirko as “land pirates”.  

70 Years of Israel-Russia Relations Celebrated at World Union Conference in Moscow

World Union for Progressive Judaism, May 31, 2018

On May 23-24, the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), the Institute for Modern Jewish Studies and the Russian State University of Humanities (RSUH) in Moscow, in cooperation with The Department for Diaspora Activities, the Department for Zionist Activities in Israel and Combatting against Antisemitism of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) held a momentous academic conference exploring the relationship between Israel and Russia over the past 70 years, with an emphasis on honoring Israel’s 70th year of Statehood.

The fact that a Russian state university put Israel at the heart of an academic conference, and collaborated with and hosted a Jewish organization, heralds an encouraging and groundbreaking step for Russia and Israel: strengthening policies between the two countries and fostering wider education of interfaith respect and tolerance of others.

Read the full article here.

Israeli Defense Chief in Moscow: We Appreciate Russia's Understanding of Our Security Needs

By Yaniv Kubovich/The Associated Press

Haaretz, May 31, 2018

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow on Thursday to discuss the tensions between Israel and the Iranian forces in Syria.

"The state of Israel appreciates Russia's understanding of our security concerns, particularly regarding the situation at our northern border," Lieberman wrote on Twitter after the meeting. "We'll continue our dialogue with Russia on every matter at hand."

According to the ministry of defense, the meeting with Shoigu took place in Moscow and lasted over an hour and a half. The meeting dealt with matters of security between the two countries, particularly regarding the situation in Syria and Israel's attempt to prevent Iranian consolidation in there.

Read the full article here.

To Get Iran Out of Syria, Israel and the U.S. Must Cooperate With Putin

By Zvi Bar’el

Haaretz, May 27, 2018

The Russian president raised a slight commotion last week when he said “in light of the fact that a more active political process has begun, foreign armed forces will start leaving Syrian territory.” The show was well planned. On May 9 Putin met with Benjamin Netanyahu, five days later Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov, and on May 17, Bashar Assad was summoned to Sochi to hear what Putin had agreed on.

Presumably everyone agreed that foreign forces would leave Syria. But Assad came mainly to receive instructions, as well as assignments he must carry out to advance Russia’s moves. One assignment is to amend the Syrian constitution to ensure more rights and political representation for ethnic groups. Thus a delegation of Russian jurists is expected in Damascus soon to “help” Assad draft the amendments.

Read the full article here.

What Russia’s New Government Tells Us About Succession After Putin

By Kirill Rogov

Carnegie Moscow Center, May 28, 2018

With President Vladimir Putin entering his fourth term, it is quite obvious that the Russian leader has a succession problem: term limits prevent him from running again in 2024. That issue is always a challenge for personalized regimes, but it is particularly serious in the context of Russia’s partial international isolation and protracted economic stagnation.

As a result, everything the regime does in the coming six years will—in one way or another—be linked to the 2024 transition.

So far, we cannot fully predict the succession problem’s exact solution. In fact, Putin himself likely has no clear answer. However, with the selection of a new Cabinet, Russia has already set the mechanism leading up to the succession decision into motion. This means we can make some reasonable conclusions about Putin’s likely approach to transition.

Read the full article here.

Poland Courts American Boots

By Judy Dempsey

Carnegie Europe, May 29, 2018

Ahead of the NATO summit in July in Brussels, Poland is pulling out all the stops. It wants the United States to deploy American troops in Poland on a permanent basis. And Warsaw is willing to pay $2 billion to establish joint military installations and provide more flexible movement of U.S. forces, according to the defense ministry.

Poland is only seeking what the Baltic States and Central European countries have been requesting ever since they joined NATO in two waves—in 1999 and in 2004. They want the alliance to fill the security vacuum in this part of Europe.

For them, that means putting boots on the ground and on a permanent basis, compared to the system of rotation that NATO agreed to four years ago at its summit in Cardiff, Wales. And for them, it is the presence of American troops that will provide the dual role of deterrence and defense against any Russian threat.

Read the full article here.

Fundamentally Freund: Croatia’s Neo-Fascist Revival

By Michael Freund

Jerusalem post, May 24, 2018

As a rising tide of extremism and antisemitism sweeps across Europe, much of the focus has been on a wave of incidents that has engulfed France and Germany, two of the continent’s largest powers.

While events on the streets of Paris and Berlin, cities which have become increasingly dangerous for Jews, most certainly warrant our attention and concern, it would be a grave error to conclude that the problem is confined primarily to these two countries.

Indeed, the sad fact is that Croatia, a much smaller member of the European Union, is home to perhaps one of the largest, most pervasive and troubling revivals of neo-fascism in recent decades.

Read the full article here.

Europe is suffering from a serious case of complacency

By Dalibor Rohac

Washington Post, May 29, 2018

“The wind is back in Europe’s sails,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced last September. “The 21st century will be the [European Union’s] century,” Antonio Tajani, the head of European Parliament, predicted confidently earlier this month.

One wonders whether they are still as confident today, amid a panic in financial markets triggered by the government crisis in Tajani’s homeland of Italy, which has investors worrying about a possible Italian exit from the euro zone. Once again, the entrenched optimism of European elites stands in stark contrast with the continent’s grim reality. If the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in the United States shook the continent’s leaders to their core, most failed to draw the right lessons. Instead of engaging in a deep rethink of the European project, they took Emmanuel Macron’s electoral victory in France as a sign that the crisis was over and that it was safe to return to business as usual.

Czech Republic reopens honorary consulate in Jerusalem

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 30, 2018

The Czech Republic reopened its honorary consulate in Jerusalem.

The consulate was opened Tuesday, about a month after Czech President Milos Zeman made the announcement that the consulate would reopen at an event in honor of Israel’s 70th birthday.

Opened in the early 1990s, the Czech honorary consulate in Jerusalem was closed in 2016 due to the death of the honorary consul.

Read the full article here.

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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.