Sunday, June 24, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Kerry statement that Ukrainian officials requiring Jews to register is false

The statement

"In the last couple of days, notices were sent (by officials in Ukraine) to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews."

Secretary of State John Kerry, Thursday in a speech in Geneva

The ruling

On Facebook and Twitter, the story caused people to fear the history of the Holocaust was repeating itself.

It seems to have originated in Donetsk, a region and a city in eastern Ukraine. On April 7, pro-Russian activists took control of Donetsk's government building. Almost two weeks later, USA Today reported, "Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine."

Citing an Israeli news article, USA Today reported that Jews emerging from a synagogue in Donetsk on April 14 were handed pamphlets asking them to "register" with pro-Russian militants. If Jewish adults refused to register and pay a $50 fee, they'd be forced out of the country.

On the same day the story appeared, Kerry mentioned the notice in his speech. We reached out to Kerry's office for evidence, but they pointed us back to his remarks.

Almost immediately, there were signs that the fliers weren't coming from any kind of authority.

The separatist whose signature allegedly appears on the flier — Donetsk People's Republic Chairman Denis Pushilin, leader of the pro-Russian militants — denied any connection to it.

Reporters on the ground quickly found that no one was actually being registered.

PolitiFact exchanged emails with Ari Shapiro, an NPR international correspondent reporting from Donetsk, who said there is a real flier, but it went ignored until the media caught on. Shapiro himself went after the story and shared his reporting with us.

"You walk down the street with a beard and kippah," Yaguda Kellerman, deputy chief of the Donetsk Jewish Community Center, said to Shapiro. "And you never experience any problems here. I was born in Donetsk."

Donetsk chief rabbi Pinchas Vishedski acknowledged the flier's existence, but called it a provocation, Shapiro reported.

Both sides — pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian — have accused each other of anti-Semitism during this conflict.

An April 15 United Nations report noted that the Association of Jewish Organisations and Communities of Ukraine has said incidents are isolated and that Jewish people, generally speaking, don't feel threatened by Ukrainian leaders.

The pro-Russia rebels have since put out their own flier attacking the original anti-Semitism accusations, Shapiro reported.

Kerry said Ukrainian Jews are being asked to register. There was a flier, but it doesn't seem to have been issued by any authority. We rate Kerry's claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Comments
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18