Dear Friends and Partners,
Jews around the world have just commemorated Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Memorial Day and against this backdrop we would like to share our concern over some recent events in the Ukraine. You are undoubtedly familiar with the shocking actions of the Russian government in recent months. Its invasion of the Crimean Peninsula and the actions of pro-Russian militias in taking over government buildings in certain areas of eastern Ukraine have been repeated in the evening news around the world. Our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression while the international community struggles to respond to President Putin’s actions. You may, however, be less aware of how the crisis is affecting Ukraine’s Jewish community.
While Jews were celebrating Passover just over two weeks ago, bulletins were passed out by masked men in front of a synagogue in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, directing Jews to register with the pro-Russian militias or face deportation. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the leaflets as “grotesque” and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has described them as “outrageous & abhorrent”, while Ukrainian authorities have vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
The pro-Russian militias in whose name the bulletins appear to have been issued have denied their authenticity. The leaflets have been denounced as a hoax and as an attempt by various forces to pursue their own agendas, from discrediting the pro-Russian forces to deflecting scrutiny away from Ukrainian ultra-nationalist groups. Others suggest they could have been an effort by the Russians to secretly test the resolve of the international community in preparation for further actions against the Jewish people in Russia where, together with the rest of eastern Europe, the history of antisemitism is long and deeply rooted.
Whatever the real origin of these leaflets, the very fact that such pamphlets could have been distributed for any purpose in our day and age should cause us all great concern. If they were an attempt to discredit pro-Russian forces, they are a devious and evil attempt to use the Jews once again as pawns in a cynical power struggle. On the other hand, if they were an attempt to test the waters for a broader assault on the Jewish people, they have evoked painful memories among Jewish people everywhere, but particularly in the Ukraine, and raise the frightening spectre of a renewed holocaust.
Before the Second World War, the Nazi assault against the Jewish people began with the requirement that Jews register with authorities. Nazi measures against Jews then became more and more repressive and ultimately deadly when the Nazis saw that the world remained silent in the face of each new action. Since the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust have become known, we have heard those important words over and over again – "Never again". Yet despite our most noble sentiments, the time has come that we must hold our decision-makers accountable. The international community must stand up and ensure that “Never again” truly means: Never Again.
- For the safety of the Jewish people in the Ukraine and Russia as well as everywhere antisemitism is rearing its ugly head and also for the other minorities in the Ukraine, including Tatar Muslims in the Crimea and others, that they would be protected in this time of turmoil and not turn to bitterness and hatred but stand on love and forgiveness;
- For the people of Ukraine that they would be safe from further Russian aggression and that they would be able to join together to find a way to resolve this crisis in order to live in harmony for the peace and prosperity of all Ukrainians;
- For the people of Russia, that they would be able to strengthen their democratic institutions so that, instead of embarking on aggressive foreign adventures that will ultimately hurt the Russian people, their country would truly be able to prosper and thrive to the full benefit of all its people, including Jews and other minorities;
- That world leaders would stand behind the promises that the world would never again stand back and allow the Jewish people to be targeted and massacred as they were by the Nazis and that world leaders would be able to find a common commitment and resolve to fend off the Russian aggression and to help Ukraine protect its people and its borders.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
- To the Russian embassy in your country, demanding that Russian authorities clearly reject any form of antisemitism in Russia and within its sphere of influence and that Russia turn back its aggression against the Ukraine without delay;
- To the Ukrainian embassy in your country, encouraging Ukrainian authorities to stand for human rights and against antisemitism in all its forms and to follow through on its commitment to bring those responsible for the leaflets to swift and appropriate justice;
- To Foreign Minister Baird, thanking him for his statement and for Canada’s broader support for the Ukrainian people in the last months, encouraging him to continue to support peace, justice, and human rights in the Ukraine;
- To United States Secretary of State John Kerry, thanking him for his statement but insisting that the United States do more to hold Russia and its supporters in eastern Ukraine accountable to international law and human rights and to make it clear that any sign of resurgent antisemitism will not be tolerated.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie President and Founder One Free World International El Shafie Ministries
Mr. Osman Abufatima Adam Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Embassy of the Republic of The Sudan 354 Stewart Street Ottawa, ON K1N 6K8 Tel: (613) 235-4000; Fax: (613) 235-6880 Email: email@example.com
The Honourable John Baird Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 996-0984; Fax: (613) 996-9880 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the United States
Mr. Elhafiz Eisa Abdalla Adam Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Embassy of the Republic of The Sudan 2210 Massachusetts Ave. Washington DC 20008 Tel.: (202) 338-8565; Fax: (202) 667-2406 Webform: http://www.sudanembassy.org/index.php?option=com_breezingforms&Itemid=13
Secretary John Kerry U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520 Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard) http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask