(JTA) – In August, a Jewish cemetery in the town of Svaliava near Uzhgorod was vandalized, with some 20 headstones toppled or smashed, according to the local Chabad organization.
In July, unidentified individuals hurled a firebomb at a synagogue in Lviv and, in a separate incident, wrote anti-Semitic slogans on another Jewish community building in that western Ukrainian city.
In May, two swastikas were painted on the front door of a synagogue in the city of Chernivtsi in western Ukraine and, in a separate incident, the headstone of a prominent rabbi’s grave was smashed in the town of Storozhynets, which is located 12 miles southwest of Chernivtsi.
These incidents and others occurred amid a divisive public debate in Ukraine on the conferring of state honors to nationalists who incited hatred against Jews during the 1930s and 1940s, including for some who collaborated with the Nazis.
Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych collaborated with Nazi forces that occupied what is now Ukraine and are believed to have commanded troops that killed thousands of Jews. Once regarded by Ukrainian authorities as illegitimate to serve as national role models because of their war crimes against Jews and Poles, they and other nationalists, including Symon Petliura, are now openly honored in Ukraine following a revolution spearheaded by nationalists in 2014.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday mentioned anti-Semitism and the need to fight it during a meeting at his residence with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, who was visiting Israel. It was the first issue mentioned in a statement by the president about their meeting.
“Never again is an imperative for the whole world, not just for the Jewish People. We are close friends, while we cannot forget, as we are sure neither can you. I am certain you will continue to fight uncompromisingly against anti-Semitism and all racism,” Rivlin said during his meeting with Klimkin, according to a statement from the president’s office.