Given the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe, the somewhat conflicting stories about a request for registration with the quisling Russian-supported government of Eastern Ukraine would lead to alarm from a population that has seen this movie before . When one takes the evidence together, it would appear as if someone is threatening the Jews with bogus leaflets that would make the Jewish community of the Eastern Ukraine uncomfortable and feeling as if they are under impending danger and unwelcome in a home where they faced trouble from Soviet Russia as well as Nazi Germany during historical memory. It is not, after all, as if anti-Semitism is an unknown problem in this or any other part of the world . This historical context makes it more difficult to understand what is going on.
It is clear that the fear of the Jewish community in Eastern Ukraine is entirely predictable and legitimate, even if the threat comes from an unknown direction. After all, a population that is required to register with the police is automatically considered a target of concerted police action, and no one really likes the police randomly checking up on someone . The fact that the Russian-dominated government could plausibly be accused of such an hostile act towards the Jews is itself troubling. There are at least two possible motives, and they may in fact be intertwined. For one, it is possible that the people who threatened the Jews with those anonymous leaflets were trying to make the Jews uncomfortable or hostile towards the Russian regime as a way of threatening the legitimacy of that government and/or the Jewish community there. Additionally, there could be a motive of encouraging the Jewish community to leave, which would serve the interests of those whose lingering anti-semitism remains in Eastern Urkaine, and who would want to Russify the area by ridding itself of a notable minority population.
For too long in my life, and too painfully, I have known what it is like to live in fear, and known what it is like to have to deal with the fear of others, especially when both are legitimate and reasonable fears in light of the way this corrupt and wicked world is. When there are patterns of mistreatment and abuse, whether on an individual level or on a larger collective level, any sort of action like this one is very likely to bring those patterns to mind and to increase fear and anxiety among such people. In the absence of love and trust, it is hard to avoid living in fear, even if no one really enjoys it very much . All too often, though, people do not feel it possible to live in trust and love because of their fears.
What then is one to do? If one has a faith in God, it is possible to live in love and to trust God even if others cannot exactly be trusted very easily. Of course, such a faith in God does not mean that life will not be difficult, and that there will not be considerable hostility for any number of reasons, not least because we will stand out from those around us. Generally, the only safety we can find in this world is to develop enough ties with people of like mind and like interests who love and respect us that we do not feel surrounded in enemy territory all the time. Of course, we may also feel deeply attached to some areas for reasons of having a tie that goes back for centuries, even during dangerous times when circumstances are adverse. All too often we have to decide what to do before they come knocking on our doors, whether that is showing the resolve to deal with whatever will come, or the desire to find a safer place where one can live under less stress. Either way, while we cannot choose the times we live in, or the behavior of others, we can choose how to best respond to that without being paralyzed by fear. Hopefully the Jews of the Eastern Ukraine can find and choose such options for themselves.
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