(May 8, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr said earlier this week that it was “stunning and unprecedented” that the Jewish identity of Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, played no role in last month’s elections.
Carr made his remarks on Sunday during a panel on combating anti-Semitism at the Kyiv Jewish Forum organized by Boris Lozhkin, president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.
Ukraine is the only country other than Israel to have both a Jewish president and a Jewish prime minister.
The participants of the forum shared their mutual concerns about the new threat of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism. They also discussed potential strategies to counter anti-Semitism on the Internet, as well as the need to act as a united front in combating this “vile disease.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who took part in the panel, stressed that fighting anti-Semitism cannot just be a national effort but an international one.
“The national approach doesn’t work anymore,” he said. The foreign minister underscored the importance of Israel’s security for the Middle East and the world at large, and he promised that Ukraine would never compromise over it.
Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Lion remarked on the strong friendship between Israel and Ukraine.
“With or without a Jewish president, Ukraine today is a strong ally of the State of Israel,” he said.
Zelensky, 41, a professional comedian with no political experience, defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko, 53, with 73 percent of the vote in the runoff election, according to national exit polls. He will be sworn in for a five-year term no later than June 3.