Commonwealth Day Statement from the CJC – condemning the invasion of Ukraine￼
On Commonwealth Day, the Commonwealth Jewish Council unequivocally condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and expresses its support for the Ukrainian people and solidarity with the Ukrainian Jewish community. We call upon Russia to stop its ongoing assault against Ukraine and withdraw its military forces.
The Commonwealth Jewish Council upholds the core Commonwealth value and basic principle of respect for the integrity of nation states and urges Russia to step back from this hugely destructive invasion.
As Jews, the CJC has a further sense of revulsion at this invasion, given the cynical Russian attempt to use antisemitism as a fig-leaf to justify its adventurism. It is a travesty to fabricate the need to protect Ukraine’s Jews as grounds for such flagrantly unjustified behaviour. The CJC considers the resurgence of antisemitism in recent years too significant and serious a fact to be misused and misrepresented in this way.
CJC President, Lord Mendelsohn said:
‘This unprovoked and unjustified attack is causing enormous suffering and a tragic loss of life, including through the increasingly indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians. We call for humanitarian, medical, and financial support to refugees from Ukraine as well as help and assistance for those under fire in the Ukraine and call for Russia to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access and safe passage.
‘Russia should know that the world will hold it accountable for its conduct in the Ukraine and for its consequences. It should also be aware that its assault on truth and honesty will be a long stain on its reputation.
‘The Commonwealth Jewish Council will support our affiliated communities who work across the Commonwealth in providing humanitarian assistance for the people and Jewish community of Ukraine and all necessary support for refugees. Furthermore, we are proud of the work already being done by the State of Israel not only to receive significant numbers of refugees but also to play a constructive part in brokering a ceasefire.’
See over for background to the CJC and the context for a Jewish response to this event
Background to the CJC
The Commonwealth Jewish Council, founded in the early 1980s, is a fully accredited Commonwealth organisation. It is an umbrella body spanning the 40 or so national Jewish communities of the Commonwealth, with affiliates on every continent.
Jewish context to this event
The western borders of Russia are well-known to many Jews around the Commonwealth. The region is steeped in the worst acts of antisemitism in living memory. Millions of our grandparents and great-grandparents became refugees, escaping the anti-Semitic attacks there at the end of the nineteenth century. Many more millions of our relatives were killed there in the Holocaust only a few decades later. Still more suffered under Stalin’s irrational and implacable antisemitism. Another million or more were held hostage by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There are large Jewish communities in both Russia and the Ukraine.
Antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years all around the world, both from Left and Right. However, the irony – and cynicism – of using the pretext of combating antisemitism as a justification for the Russian invasion is heightened by the fact that antisemitism has probably never been so little in evidence in the region as now. Indeed, Ukraine’s president is a proudly identifying Jew, a fact that did not appear to undermine his prospects when he stood for election as president.
The CJC urges all nations and civil society organisations, including media outlets, to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of antisemitism so that this form of racism can be robustly and effectively confronted. If one cannot say what it is, one cannot decide whether what has been said or done is an example of it.
14th March 2022