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Silence as Ukraine Erases Jewish Heritage

Tom Gross, perhaps the sharpest commentator on Israel, anti-Semitism, and Jewish heritage, had a wonderful piece in, of all places, London’s The Guardian last Friday. Reporting from Lviv, in the Ukraine, he described how Ukrainian authorities are destroying parts of the Golden Rose synagogue complex, one of the last remnants of the city’s Jewish community. Ukraine, after all, needs parking facilities and hotels ahead of its hosting the European football championships.

Ukraine’s own laws are designed to preserve such historic sites. The Ukrainian authorities are not the only ones at fault. Where is the UN cultural organization, UNESCO? The synagogue ruins were designated part of a UNESCO world heritage site in 1998. And where is the European football body, UEFA? The Ukrainians are planning to build a hotel on the site to host next year’s European football championships, the world’s third most-watched sporting event, which they are co-hosting with Poland. So much for UEFA’s much-hyped campaign to “kick racism out of football.”

Tom is right. The silence of the international community is deafening. And once again, UN credibility is on the line. If Jewish heritage can be erased with impunity in the Ukraine to make way for a hotel, what kind of message does that send to the Palestinians who might be tempted to erase all vestiges of Jewish presence in lands they control?



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