Last night I saw a spate of headlines that indicated Jews in a Ukraine city located in the more pro-Russian region had been ordered to register. Here was how the Washington Times began its story.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Jews in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk were recently given notices instructing them to officially identify themselves as Jews.
“In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable. And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities — from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of — there is no place for that,” he said, as reported by CNN.
Notice the passive voice: “were recently given notices.” By whom? The impression a reader gets from many of the headlines is that the Donetsk city government is trying to impose some sort of right-wing racist regime. In fact, nothing of the kind took place. Some unknown person seems to have released leaflets, but there is no registration program. As Jason Ditz explains,
The leadership of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk insist the official looking leaflets are fakes, and the signature of one of their leaders a forgery, designed to discredit the protest movement. The putative Jew registration service simply doesn’t exist, and Ukrainian Jews who show up at the government building expecting to have to pay a $50 “registration fee” are wasting their time.
According to Ditz, this story was found on an Israeli news site and was promoted by USAToday even though the claims about Jewish registration had already been debunked in the Israeli press. This reminds me of the kind of things that happened during the campaign for the first Gulf War when we were told as verified fact that invading Iraqi soldiers had burst into a Kuwaiti hospital and had taken all the neo-natal life support units, leaving the preemie babies to die. None of it was true, but it helped fan the flames of hysteria. Of course, if anyone is capable of promoting such a racist policy in Ukraine, such persons might easily be some of our anti-Russian allies in Kiev.