Israel continues to have a “sympathetic ear,” despite the recently unveiled statue of a nationalistic leader responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of Jews in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine said at Limmud.
On 14 October, during “Defender of Ukraine Day,” a statue of Symon Petliura, who oversaw the executions of nearly 50,000 Jews during his leadership of the Ukrainian People’s Republic between 1918 and 1921, was unveiled next to a synagogue in the western city of Vinnista.
Ambassador Eliav Belotzercovsky, confirmed that “nationalism is on the rise,” yet assured “there is a very good attitude toward Israel in Ukraine”.
“What really matters is not this specific statue in Vinnitsa, but the trends,” said Belotzercovsky.
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“This trend is something that Israel’s representatives are dealing with, and we are trying to see how we can deal with this phenomenon with the best means we have. There is constant interaction with the government.”
“There is a very good attitude toward Israel in Ukraine,” he continued. “Nevertheless, the authorities here have their own interests, and they are not always in line with ours. This is also the issue with several streets of Kiev, as well as all kinds of other nationalist trends on the rise here.”
Despite the unveiling, Belotzercovsky noted that since April 2016 Ukraine had been led by a Jewish prime minister, Vladi-mir Groysman, who was born in Vinnitsa, although the government continues to be criticised for attempts to praise nationalists.