Leaders of the Ukrainian Jewish community have asked the Jewish Agency (Jafi) to boycott the Ukraine by cancelling its board of governors meeting due to be held in Kiev this June.
The request was made in a letter to Jafi signed by 14 people including president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress Vadim Shulman and Josef Zissels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Organisations and Communities in Ukraine.
The letter said that given current the current human rights situation in the country, holding a Jafi conference would “harm the informal international isolation that the Ukrainian authorities are currently facing” and that the authorities would use the conference as “propaganda”.
The letter also claimed that if the state is seen to support a Jewish conference, hate directed at the government would transform into antisemitism.
Natan Sharansky, chair of Jafi, and James Tisch, chair of the organisation’s board of governors, wrote to their board rejecting the claims made. They said that those who opposed the conference were a “small minority”.
In the Ukraine’s last election in October, far-right party Svoboda won 10 per cent of the vote. The party has often described Jews and Russians as enemies of the state and people.