Survey shows Ukrainians dont want Jews, but hate others more

kiev, ukraine | One-third of Ukrainians do not want Jews in their country, a new survey found.

Conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, the study found that 36 percent of respondents do not want to see Jews as citizens of Ukraine, compared to 26 percent in a similar survey conducted in 1994.

Researchers also found that anti-Semitic attitudes were especially widespread among younger respondents. According to the survey, 45 percent of respondents aged 18 to 20 do not want to see Jews as citizens of Ukraine.

“The attitude toward Jews is not the worst; it’s in the middle of our diagram,” said Vladimir Panioto, director of the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. “Ukrainians harbor even more negative feelings to Gypsies and black people.”

Regarding Gypsies, or Roma, 71.8 percent of respondents said they did not want to see them as citizens of Ukraine, and 61.4 percent expressed a similar attitude toward ethnic Romanians.

Moreover, the survey found, 6.6 percent of Ukrainians do not want Jews to come to Ukraine, compared to 14.6 percent of those who do not want to see Americans in the country and 0.7 percent of respondents who do not want Russians to visit Ukraine.

The survey of 2,000 respondents in 24 regions of Ukraine was conducted Oct. 13-24 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Jewish leaders and activists differed in their assessments of the survey.

One activist said it was an accurate reflection of widespread anti-Jewish and xenophobic moods in Ukrainian society.

Authorities thus far have failed to take “a proper stand on the problems of ethnic minorities in Ukraine,” said Naiman, who heads the country’s Anti-Defamation League in Kiev, a group that is not affiliated with ADL in the United States.

Those who agree with Naiman believe that anti-Jewish sentiments have become even more common in this country of 47 million as a result of the situation in the Middle East, particularly in the wake of Israel’s war with Hezbollah this summer.

According to an annual audit of anti-Semitism in Ukraine published by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks against individuals in Ukraine increased 50 percent in 2005 over the previous year.

Activists also blamed the Interregional Academy for Personnel Management, or MAUP, a Kiev-based private university that has become a major purveyor of anti-Semitic propaganda in Ukraine.

Jewish leaders tend to agree that despite some recent developments, particularly the closure of several MAUP regional branches, Ukraine is not doing enough to stop anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli propaganda by the school leadership.

But some leading figures in the community said that findings of the survey required a more balanced approach and that the Jewish situation in Ukraine is not as bleak as the survey suggests.

The level of anti-Semitism is high in Ukraine, “but I consider it’s much lower” than the survey suggested, said Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, chief rabbi of Kiev.

In a related development, a group of Jewish lawmakers and activists have called on the Ukrainian authorities to stop the sale of xenophobic and anti-Semitic books and periodicals in Kiev’s main square. Officials have yet to respond.