Antisemites target ORT school in Ukraine


07 September 2007 Antisemites target ORT school in Ukraine There was a nasty welcome for students and staff at the ORT Aleph Jewish Gymnasium in Zaporojie as they started the new academic year this week: antisemites had sprayed Jews, get out and Death to Jews on the building. The vile graffiti had been done during the summer vacation an ugly reminder of the antisemitism that is prevalent in this city of 800,000 people, some 20,000 of whom are Jewish. The vandals had used the German phrase Raus Juden (literally, Get out, Jews) on one wall apparently an attempt to mimic the notorious phrase, Juden Raus, used by soldiers and guards as they forced Jews from the cattle trucks at death camps. The Death to Jews graffito was written in Russian. For the school staff this is nothing unusual, said Slava Leshchiner, Director of the World ORT Representative Office in Ukraine and Moldova. On one occasion they found Kill all Jews written in the elevator of the building. They feel the hostility from people in the neighbourhood to the Jewish presence. However, Dr Leshchiner said there were no fears for the physical safety of the schools 322 students. The school has sufficient security and World ORT has invested in safe transportation for the students, who live in different parts of this large city, thanks to the financial support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis. He added that the incident had been reported to local authorities and the Israeli Embassy and that his office would continue to liaise with the Zaporojie authorities on the matter. Raus Juden Jews, get out scrawled on the wall of the ORT Aleph School. Dr Leshchiner stressed that the antisemitism was not Ukrainian state policy but a problem confined to certain elements of society. Antisemitism is not a problem at other ORT institutions in Ukraine, he said. Our two schools in Kiev operate very openly and even fly the Israeli flag outside the building. Antisemitism exists in Zaporojie more than in other cities. The governor of Zaporojie, who is Jewish, also holds a lay position in the Ukrainian Jewish Congress and a major local industry is owned by a Jew. Some people resent this and find in this evidence of a Jewish conspiracy, Dr Leshchiner said. Death to Jews is written in Russian next to the name of American rapper Eminem. The state-of-the-art ORT Technology Centre at the school in Zaporojie was set up in 2005 with funds from British ORT donors. The British ORT-sponsored project was the first to be undertaken as part of Regeneration 2004, the campaign to expand and improve the educational network in the Former Soviet Union that grew under Regeneration 2000. British ORT Executive Director Ivor Levene OBE said: I am appalled at this attack on the ORT Aleph school and that the children have to suffer these indignities. British ORT established the Science and Technology Centre and continues to support it. On my last visit I was extremely proud to hear of the high standards our students were achieving despite the prevailing atmosphere. I hope that the authorities will do more to prevent such acts. After an enforced absence, World ORT returned to the Former Soviet Union in 1991. It now coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan 53 projects in 32 locations serving more than 30,000 people. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.