Foreign Ministry sorry for Uman Rosh Hashana violence
Ukrainian president also issues a statement saying Ukraine expected pilgrims to exhibit tolerance and respect for its laws.
By HERB KEINON • Jerusalem Post
The Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued a statement expressing regret at the violent incidents in Uman over Rosh Hashana during which a local was stabbed by an Israeli pilgrim.
The comment came a day after the office of the Ukrainian president issued a statement of its own saying Ukraine expected the pilgrims to exhibit tolerance and respect for its laws.
An Israeli man was arrested, and later among those deported, after he reportedly stabbed a Ukrainian citizen in the city’s Jewish quarter on Friday night. A number of witnesses said the Israeli was drunk and that the altercation broke out after the Ukrainian man was caught stealing from Jewish tourists who came to Uman for the Rosh Hashana pilgrimage.
Ukrainian police said the local man was stabbed in the stomach and taken to a local hospital in serious condition.
According to the Ukrainian police, two policemen were injured in a mass altercation with hundreds of pilgrims that broke out after they came to arrest the stabber. That incident came a day after hundreds of Jewish pilgrims rioted in another incident when confronted by police.
“We thank the Ukrainian government and its citizens for the hospitality, consideration and patience that they demonstrate toward the numerous visitors from Israel who every year visit the grave of Rabbi Nahman in Uman,” the Foreign Ministry statement read.
The statement said that like the Ukrainian government, Israel attributes a great deal of importance to interreligious understanding and freedom of worship for all. “We are certain that the unpleasant incident that occurred this year will not cast a cloud over the deep and longtime friendship between the two peoples, and hope that this type of incident will not occur in the future.”
The statement followed by two days a communiqué put out by the office of the Ukrainian president saying that Ukraine “has a centuries-old multicultural tradition of tolerance toward all the nations and religious communities living on its territory.
“Many geniuses of other nations were born in our land of plenty, and we understand the desire to honor them, or make pilgrimages to places of their residence or burial,” the statement said in reference to Rabbi Nahman of Breslov (1772-1810).
The Ukrainian statement then said the authorities “expect of the organizers and pilgrims the same tolerance to the local population and other religious communities, as well as unconditional compliance with Ukrainian laws in order to prevent ethnic or religious tensions in our society."
Ukraine hoped the incident would be “a good lesson for organizers of the pilgrimage, and that they would take additional measures to minimize the possibility of similar unpleasant situations in the future.”
Foreign Ministry officials denied that the Israeli statement was intended to avert a crisis in ties with Kiev over the incidents.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.