The growing threat of antisemitism
The situation in Ukraine continues to worsen. After the terrible images of the violent protests in Kiev, the military stand-offs and all that has followed, now the news that Jews in Eastern Ukraine have been handed leaflets ordering them to register with the pro-Russian forces, pay a $50 fee and present a list of their property. It's big news and it is all over the press and internet. The leaflets definitely exist - there are photographs to prove it - and were apparently handed out outside a synagogue in Donetsk by three men in balaclavas.
It is not known who is responsible but some websites are saying that the leaflets were the work of Neo-Nazi groups and were not official. Does that make it any less of a threat? In 1941 the local game warden was the person responsible for carrying out the census of Jews in the area of France where my family were living. He knocked on the door one evening and asked for the names and religion of everyone in the house. My grandfather, being law-abiding (I won't say 'citizen' as he was denied citizenship of France allowing him to be arrested and deported for the crime of being stateless) told the game warden the names of every member of the family and that they were all Jewish. This information facilitated the deportation of 77,000 Jews from France including nearly all of my family.
Incidentally this census was not ordered by the Nazis but by a Frenchman, Xavier Vallat, the first commissioner of the Office of Jewish Affairs, set up voluntarily by the Vichy government in 1941 to "co-ordinate France's anti-Jewish policies and prepare and carry out anti-Jewish legislation". This week's other big news in the growing world of anti-Semitism was the murder of three innocent people by the white-supremacist at two Jewish locations in Kansas last week, and the story of the teacher at North London Collegiate School who told a student she would send her "to one of her gas chambers" for cutting the lunch queue, and the apparent lack of transparency from the school over their response to the incident. Antisemitism continues to grow and even if it has not touched us directly this week we should all be aware of the increasing dangers all around the world and do what we can to make sure that history is not allowed to repeat itself.