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article imageOp-Ed: Hype and propaganda the Donetsk Jewish registration hoax

By Ken Hanly     Apr 19, 2014 in Politics
Donetsk - A leaflet handed out to Jews allegedly from the People's Republic of Donetsk, the name adopted by militants occupying the government administration building in the city of Donetsk demands that Jews "register" with the group.
The reports on the pamphlets appeared first on Ynet and were said to have been distributed on Monday evening April 14th near a synagogue in Donetsk. However, the news spread rapidly and was eagerly seized upon by the western press as a means of discrediting the separatists in Donetsk who were allegedly the authors of the pamphlet.
The pro-Russian side has used the antisemitism accusation constantly to discredit the interim Ukrainian government. You might think that commentators would find it a bit odd that a Pro-Russian group should put itself in a position where they would obviously be accused of being anti-Jewish fascist types themselves! Such thoughts would contradict the aim of using the pamphlets to discredit the opposition and so it does not enter the western discourse.
U.S Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt called the leaflets "the real deal". Remember this is the same guy who discussed with Victoria Nuland who should be the next prime minister of the Ukraine and decided that it should be Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Lo and behold it came to pass. That was the real deal. Here CNN gives him a pulpit to promote his propaganda.
Michael Salberg who is director of International Affairs of the New York City-based Anti-defamation League said it was unclear whether the leaflets were issued by the pro-Russian leadership or a splinter group with the pro-Russian camp. Notice the choices. It could not have been some other group that published the pamphlets with the aim of discrediting the separatists.
The pamphlet noted that failure to register could result in citizenship being revoked and the offending Jew would be forced outside the country with his or her property being confiscated. A registration fee of $50 dollars was required. How is it no commentators found this a bit ludicrous given that the separatists in Donetsk hardly have the power to revoke Ukrainian citizenship, confiscate property, or even collect the 50 dollar fee. I suppose if some Jewish citizen fell for the nonsense in the pamphlet they might accept a fifty dollar donation at the barricades.
Soon doubts about the pamphlet began to appear. There were interviews with Pushlin, leader of the separatists and the alleged signer of the notice. He confirmed that the flyers which were marked with the emblem of his organization were actually distributed in Donetsk but he rejected the content of the flyer and said his organization was not behind the distribution. He said: "Some idiots yesterday were giving out these flyers in targeted areas". He said he never used the title "people's governor" used in the flyer.
Novosti Donbassa a Ukrainian paper reported that the notice was handed out by "three unidentified men wearing balaclavas and carrying the flag of the Russian Federation". The paper speculated that the men were provocateurs trying to create a conflict which could then be blamed on the separatists. Surely it could just be used to discredit the separatists by portraying them as antisemitic fascists. Fyodr Lukyanov who edits Russia in Global Affairs sums the role of the flyers quite well: 'It's an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry, I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid — this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.'"
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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