By Dr Inna Rogatchi–
The Death of a Rabbi
Nowadays, there is hardly a holiday in Jewish life which comes without a cloud of sorrow.
Just days ago, we were mourning the life of 21-year old British student taken so senselessly and so brutally in another terrorist attack in the heart of Jerusalem.
And then, preparing for the last days of Pesach, we started our preparations in tears hearing on the passing of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Deitsch who died in Israel on Friday, April14th, 2017. Our deepest condolences to the Rabbi Deitsch’s family and the Chabad movement.
We have got close and familiar to Rabbi Deitsch even so we saw him only briefly and just a couple of times. We have got close to him and his family because my husband, as many other Jews around the globe, was praying for his recovery daily for the past six months.
Back in October 2016, well-known Rabbi Menachem Mendel Deitsch, long-term Chabad emissary in France, and later on in Israel, was severely beaten by bunch of thugs in Zhitomir, Ukraine. Shortly after the attack the Rabbi was airlifted to Israel, and for a half of year the doctors were fighting for his life, and many of us were praying for his recovery. All this time the Rabbi was in coma. Doctors and we failed. The last Friday, Rabbi Menachem Mendel passed away. It is a special sign from the Creator to take his beloved ones on Shabbat. We recognise that, and are thinking on the Rabbi Deitsch’s enlightened soul in the way the sign indicates.
It is also to be noticed that Rabbi Deitsch had been attacked a half of year ago in Zhitomir also on Friday, during the High Holidays, three days before the Yom Kippur. The Jewish history has a long tradition of martyrs. Too long, from a perspective of any other nation. But we still sustain. And we always will.
And yet, we just cannot help but to think that Rabbi Deitsch was only 64 years old, and his death has become the direct consequence of vicious unprovoked attack by the animals who saw a suitable ‘subject’ near the Zhitomir railways station, the one in Orthodox Rabbi’s garb. What a fun it was to let their well-known ‘love’ for Jews to go off.
Since the incident, due to the international outcry, the Ukrainian authorities arrested four people, two of them girls of 13 and 14 years old, who all claimed to be drunk and not remembering on what they were doing. Then the claim of attempted robbery surfaced – as so ever convenient explanation. And the world went silent. As it does repeatedly on anything the current Ukraine is allowing itself to do with regard to their well-known and so efficiently revived Jew-hatred in all its forms. We are witnessing it all daily in the country which is known today for its main feature: glorification of vile anti-Semites, not to mention fervent Nazi collaborators, as its national heroes.
In the wake of outrageous attack on Rabbi Deitsch in Zhitomir in October 2016, apart of two lines of evasive police report, we have not heared any statement of condemnation of the attack by the Ukrainian authorities. As we have not heard none of it regarding numerous cases of anti-Semitic incidents all over the country marked nowadays by the Nazi-like symbols of the Ukraine’s reborn authenticity: the symbols of Halicina ( Galician) Waffen SS division, and the symbols of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists movements. One needs just to watch a few minutes’ reports on the Ukrainian TV from the regular neo-Nazi rallies all over so proud of itself Ukraine, to judge by himself on what this country has become of.
To see it in an objective focus of facts-only events which has happened in Ukraine during the last 6 months during which the Rabbi Deitsch’s doctors were fighting day and night to keep him alive: Holocaust memorial and Jewish cemetery has been desecrated with swastika and very popular now in Ukraine ciphered Nazi slogan in Kremenchug; ‘Death to Kikes’, black crosses and other niceties has defaced the front of the important Central Synagogue in once supremely Jewish city of Chernovtzy; former synagogue turned into the philharmonic in Uzhgorod in the Western Ukraine and the Holocaust memorial there has been completely covered with the red paint and more than 100 anti-Semitic flyers; the grave of the Rabbi Nachman from Breslav in Uman, the place of the rest of the one of the most revered tzaddiks for millions of Jews world-wide, has been desecrated on the Chanukah’s eve in the most vicious way, with a huge head of a pig with craved swastika on it, being brought into the sanctuary during the pepper-gas attack by the hooligans who washed the memorial inside with several baskets of red paint all over the place placing the pig-head with swastika on the Rabbi Nachman’s tomb in the presence of the Jewish worshippers there who were handled by pepper-gas; two young Jews were severely beaten in Dnepr just near the huge Menorah centre; Holocaust memorial in Nikolajev has been vandalised with black paint and insults all over it; in the same Zhitomir where the attack on Rabbi Deitsch had occurred in October 2016, in early February 2017 a macabre crime had happened when it turned out that the local population is systematically digging the graves of the Holocaust victims in order to harvest for their gold teeth crown, 75 years after the Shoah; Holocaust memorial in Ternopol has been desecrated in with swastikas and Nazi slogans all over it; anti-Semitic graffiti appeared all over big wall in Cherkassy; busses with worshippers to Rabbi Nachman’s grave in Uman has been assaulted by armed robbers in several incidents.
All named episodes had happened just during last six months, from October 2016 until mid-April 2017. All of them are well documented, with photos and detailed descriptions. All were reported to the Ukrainian police. Before October 2016, there were many other similar episodes of powerful, driven by hate and nonchalance of the authorities vile trade-marked Ukrainian anti-Semitism which is nothing new except it is happening this very day and it is allowed to happen absolutely freely in Ukraine today.
Among the attacks, there were two serious vandalising of the memorials and graves in Babi Yar in September 2016. In many places – as in Babi Yar, Nikolayev memorial, Uzhgorod and Ternopol – the desecrations has become a norm, they are repeated many times a year. This all is well documented and photographed. One can organised quite impressive exhibition on the expression of the anti-Semitism in Ukraine today.
Additionally to those listed above hate-crimes all over the country, there has been absolutely macabre-like episodes in Babi Yar where the Ukrainian authorities, including the Kiev Major Klitchko, are allowing and supporting the pervert and deeply insulting idea of erecting memorials and setting up exhibitions to the people who were perpetrators of the most vicious anti-Semitic propaganda and activities during the Holocaust.
Recently, the exhibition telling on ‘exploits’ of Ivan Rohach had appeared in Babi Yar. Rohach was editor of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalistic OUN newspaper who repeatedly called for extermination of Jews. Then, the memorial to Yelena Teliga had been erected there, as well, – following a special decree of the Ukrainian president Poroshenko on the commemoration of Teliga’s 100th birthday. It would be sobering to know that Teliga was fierce anti-Semite who did appeal to the citizen of Kiev repeatedly before the mass murder of Jews in Babi Yar, both on the OUN radio and in their newspaper, with multi-plied incitements to denounce Jews to the Ukrainian police and the Nazi authorities.
And the world is still silent.
“I have nothing against Jews, but I do hate ‘kikes’”
As the world prefers not to notice the powerful ultra Ukrainian nationalism which is characterised by its vile anti-Semitism and also by its traditional hatred towards many other nationalities – Poles, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Czechs, Romanians, Romas, and Russians, to name a few – it gives a very wrong signal not only to the Ukrainian authorities who has shamed themselves for good by their stand on humanity today, but also to the rest of that country which is big enough to let the boiling hatred there to go on unnoticed.
In dramatic daily life in the current Ukraine, many of the local Rabbis and the leaders of the Jewish communities there are simply afraid to call things their real names, in order not to make the situation worse for their communities. Quite a freedom in the XXI century, in post-communist country, the one accepted by the EU as its almost partner, one might say.
The European Parliament led the fight for the Nadija Savchenko’s release from the Russian prison. Savchenko is Ukrainian MP and former delegate to the Council of Europe who was made a symbol of fight for new Ukraine; made far too fervently, as it turned out soon after her release. And now, how charming of the Ukrainian celebrity MP to say in support of vile anti-Semitic tirade of one of her fans who has called to the studio during popular radio program, on her attitude towards Jews: “I have nothing against the Jews, but I do hate ‘kikes’ – who has grabbed 80% of power in our country being just 2% of our population”.
Anyone have heard anything with regard to that a-la Hitler tirade of their hero Nadija from any of the European Parliament members who were fighting day and night for her release and freedom – to execute exactly what? This typical Ukrainian, now state-supported, sheer anti-Semitism?
And do not preach us on the Ukrainian Prime-Minister who happened to be Jewish. His appointment had been done on purpose, exactly to refute the long catalogues on the applied anti-Semitism in Ukraine, growing rapidly daily. In fact, we have not heard a word condemning the country’s racing anti-Semitism from its prime minister, nor his intervention on behalf of accelerating the proper investigation of a single of many anti-Semitic crimes. As we have not heard it from none of the Ukrainian authorities, from its president down to the local heads of administrations. Quite deliberately, they did choose the mode of conspiracy of silence regarding the consistent, national-wide, broad and growingly aggressive anti-Semitism in Ukraine. No wonder: they all are very busy with covering up for the simultaneous process of the glorification of the worst murderers who that country has chosen as their icons for their new-found self-identity.
If a tenth part of what is happening in Ukraine with regard to the glorification of the Nazi-collaborators, would happened in any other country, say, in Hungary or Croatia, the world, the European Union and its Parliament would not waste a day before disciplining that country to obey the accepted norms of civilised humanity and responsibility with regard towards both condemned and not-condemned but nevertheless committed crimes against humanity.
We do know the reasons of such global lethargy towards anti-Semitism and ultra nationalism in Ukraine; the untold agreement to provide it with a cart-blanche while building its ‘new identity’. These reasons had to do with the previous US Administration. The world has all reasons to believe that as many other grave mistakes of the Obama Administration and its extremely dangerous and short-sighted international policy, this mistake would be corrected by the current Administration, as well. There are all the reasons for doing it, and doing it without delay. And it is a high time for the world,too, to awake with this respect, finally.
In the case of Rabbi Deitsch, the death of a very good man and devoted Rabbi shall not go unnoticed. The Ukrainian authorities shall be taken accountable for this crime. For the crime of vile and open anti-Semitism. For this and all other crimes and activities listed above, and much more similar ones, ‘enough is enough’ is not enough anymore for the vicious Ukrainian anti-Semitism which they feel free to exercise because they are allowed to do it, because it is being ignored deliberately by those international authorities whose very duty is to put the end to that.
It is the high time for articulated policy against the feast of anti-Semitic devil in Ukraine now. These actions would be the best memory for a wonderful man, devoted Rabbi Menachem Mendel Deitsch who had had to become a new Jewish martyr, in order for nonchalantly serene world to be awaken.
Dr Inna Rogatchi is the writer, film-maker, scholar, public figure and philanthropist. She is the author of internationally prized film on Simon Wiesenthal, The Lessons of Survival. Her recent project Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity was inaugurated at The European Parliament early in 2017 and is on the world-tour currently.