The Hollywood and Jewish communities have expressed outrage by the actions of some Members of Ukraine’s Parliament this week who refused to back an anti-hate bill.
The bill was effectively blocked by the Svoboda Party, whose leadership includes an MP who referred to actress Mila Kunis as a “Jewess.” Lawmaker Igor Miroshnichenko made the Mila Kunis comment during a rant on Facebook several months ago.
Mila Kunis is an American actress who was born in Ukraine. She moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was 7. She is Jewish. Mila Kunis, who’s romantically linked to actor Ashton Kutcher, has not commented on the derogatory statement by the Ukrainian politician. In the Facebook post, Miroshnichenko used the offensive term “zhydovka,” a derogatory word used to refer to a Jewish woman.
In the aftermath of that incident involving Mila Kunis, Rabbi Marvin Hier from the prestigious Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to the President of Ukraine obtained by the website TMZ.com describing the term as an “insidious slur invoked by the Nazis and their collaborators as they rounded up the Jews to murder them at Babi Yar and in the death camps.”
“The last time this term was used in an official way was during the Nazi occupation,” said Eduard Dolinsky, Director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, who urged for the passing of the anti-hate bill.
The bill was introduced in parliament by an MP from the ruling Party of Regions and was expected to win easy passage. It was intended to simply outlaw those terms that are offensive to Jews and other minorities.
But while 169 MPs from the Party of Regions readily supported the draft bill, there was an insurgent vote against it by members of the ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party. It’s just the latest in a series of positions that are openly anti-Semitic.
“It’s so sad that hatred like this still exists anywhere in the world. The first comment may have only mentioned Mila Kunis by name, but this action by the Svoboda Party is a sign that this anti-Semitic cancer still exists among some MPs in Ukraine,” says Marc P. Brown, a trustee for the Orthodox Agudath Israel of America.
The bill would have been the first step in banning the use of highly offensive terms, including words like “kike”, “khokhol” and “moskal” but because of the abstentions it received only 208 votes, while 226 were needed for it to pass. This means it does not advance in the Parliament.
Ukraine has pursued a reform agenda aimed at protecting minorities and those most vulnerable in society. In February, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Leonid Kozhara, announced a new law prohibiting discrimination against gays, which will afford them protection in line with nations in the European Union.
Many of the abstentions in the vote came as a surprise. Almost all the members of heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko’s Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) abstained, doubtless conscious of their support base in the nation’s east and south, observers say.
Fifty-eight members of Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) bloc voted against the bill, a move that is expected to raise concerns from her supporters in the West. A government spokesman said: “This was a measure to promote tolerance and outlaw hate speech and degrading expressions, but by their actions opposition MPs have raised questions that go to the heart of their true values.”
SOURCE: Religious Association for Equality for All
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