According to USA Today, Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to "register" with Ukrainians who are...
It doesn't happen very often, but for once I'm in complete agreement with John Kerry when he says that the idea of forcing Jews in eastern Ukraine (or anywhere else, for that matter) to register themselves and their property is "beyond unacceptable."
This story is appalling on every level, and of course it sounds so familiar because of the horrors we all remember from the Holocaust. Unfortunately, there is still plenty we don't know yet about the "order" the Jewish Ukranians were given. Not surprisingly, no one is taking credit or accepting blame for the detestable order, and this means we don't yet know who is behind the terrible act. Until we do, it's hard to know exactly how the United States should react to this occurrence.
I'm certainly not a geopolitical expert, but whether it turns out to be a government mandate or an anti-Semitic threat from a private organization or group, it seems to me there is not much that the United States can or should do at this point other than what it has already done--condemn the act in the strongest terms.
That does not mean that we should not monitor events and be prepared to act if this "order" turns into something real. The first time around, much of what happened to the Jews was hidden, was not known, or was not believed, at least in the beginning. That will not happen this time. Though the article is probably right in claiming that the Jewish people are often easy scapegoats on whom such threats can be levied with nominal pushback, the world is watching and I'm confident it will respond as needed. If others will not, we will. And we should.
The intent of this act, if it is traceable to the government rather than some anti-Semitic group, seems eerily similar to Hitler's power grab eight decades ago. The similarities alone should inspire preparations for swift and certain action by Western Europe, if no one else, in case things escalate quickly.
Perhaps this is wishful thinking on my part, as I know the United States and other countries have not always protected the innocent from the savageries of ethnic violence; however, this particular incident does seem to be more connected to the continued well-being of these countries and I have faith that they will act, even if it's only out of their own self-interest.
Given the long history of Russia, this announcement that Jews must register is not all that surprising, although very disturbing to Europeans, Americans, and others. For, pogroms in Russia, unleashed in the Russian Civil War (1918-1921) were responsible for the deaths of over 31,000 Jews. More than two million Jews fled Russia between 1880 and 1920, and the Tsarist government encouraged their emigration (over a million came to Ellis Island).
As far back as Catherine II, Jews were persecuted in Russia. During her reign the Russia Empire acquired rule over Lithuanian and Polish territories, areas which had large populations of Jews: these areas were named the "Partitions of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth," and certain restrictions, referred to as "disabilities," were placed upon the occupants. After this, Catherine created an area call the Pale of Settlement, and Jews were restricted to living in this Pale [perhaps the origin of the expression beyond the pale]and not permitted to immigrate into Russia itself without special permission. This Pale of Settlement included Poland,Lithuania Ukraine, and the Crimea; if residents of this area wanted to immigrate into Russia proper, they had to obtain special permission.
Of course, in more modern history, in Communist Russia after World War II, Joseph Stalin, with the use of his "purgings," was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people, Jews, national minorities, and virtually anyone in Russia suspected of any kind of opposition. With this horrific practice of the "Great Terror" in mind, one is nonplussed as to why his hometown re-erected his statue in 2013. Hopefully, this action has not symbolized the fact that history repeats itself. Indeed, there is cause for concern that Mr. Putin himself may wish to resurrect former practices.
I agree with the previous answer. This is a completely heinous act, but one about which we can do very little. It is inconceivable to me that we would go to war over something like this and it is not even likely that we would try to impose any punitive measures on Russia. We might take action if Jews are ever subjected to requirements like this by an actual body with legal authority, but I cannot see what we could do to help at this point.
At this point, it would appear that Jews are being harassed by people who are in some way connected to this pro-Russian group in Donetsk. However, the group is not the official government of the city and, furthermore, it denies that it is responsible for the leaflets. So far as we know, no one has actually registered and no one has been punished for failing to register. In other words, we have what is essentially an episode of hate speech against the Jews of this town.
Although this is terrible, there is nothing that the US can do beyond what has already been done. We will need to monitor the situation and, perhaps, take more assertive steps if a group ever comes to power in Donetsk and actually tries to enforce this plan of registration. If that were to happen, we would need to seriously consider strong economic and political sanctions against Russia (if it supported such a group). Until then, we can only condemn the leaflet and vow to pay attention to what happens in Donetsk.
While the points discussed herein are all entirely valid and valuable, the flyers themselves appear to have been a hoax.