A startling report on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Feb. 28 tells of a "Jewish-led militia force" that participated in the Ukrainian revolution—called the "Blue Helmets of Maidan" even though their helmets are (tellingly) brown, and under the command of a Ukraine-born veteran of the Israel Defense Forces who goes by the nom de guerre "Delta." In an interview, Delta boasted how he used combat skills gained in the Shu'alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the IDF's Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev's street fighters. He now heads a force of 40 men and women—including several fellow IDF veterans—that clashed with government troops in the street-fighting that brought down Viktor Yanukovich. Most bizarrely, Delta said he takes orders from activists linked to Svoboda, the ultra-nationalist party that is widely accused of anti-Semitism. "I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team," he said. "They know I'm Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me 'brother.' What they're saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact."
The strange interview comes just days after one of Ukraine's chief rabbis, Moshe Reuven Asman, urged Jews to leave Kiev following a reported anti-Semitic attack on two orthodox yeshiva students in the city, as reported in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv. "I told my community to get out of the city and if possible out of the state… There are many warnings about planned attacks against Jewish institutions," Asman said. "We have been told by the Israeli Embassy to not go outside." (Algemeiner, Feb. 21)
Quite predictably, anti-Semitism appears to be infecting both sides in the Ukraine crisis. As Russian troops are entering Ukraine's Crimea region, a swastika and the inscription "Death to the Jews" were found on the Reform Ner Tamid synagogue in Simferopol, the regional capital Feb. 28. "Clearly, it was important for the anti-Semites to commit this crime," Anatoly Gendin, head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Crimea. "Since the crisis began prices went up by 30 percent, pensions aren’t being paid. As usual, Jews are blamed [for] these disasters and Jews are held responsible. I am afraid to think how this will progress." (YNet, March 1)