Cnaan Liphshiz – Ha’aretz
A Ukrainian mayor accused of anti-Semitism yesterday denied he tried to bestow a medal on Russia’s chief rabbi, who said he spurned the honor.
“The only thing we can give a rabbi is a one-way ticket,” the daily Kommersant quoted Sergey Ratushnyak, mayor of Uzhgorod (formerly Ungvar) as saying.
The mayor’s statement followed a report in Haaretz on the accounts of people at a ceremony in the city on Sunday in memory of Jews killed in the Holocaust.
They said Ratushnyak’s representative approached Berel Lazar, Russia’s chief rabbi, intending to present him with a medal.
“It’s absolute absurdity. We gave the rabbi no medals,” the mayor reportedly told the local paper. The Rabbinical Center of Europe told Haaretz that Lazar refused the mayor’s medal and told the messenger it should stay in the city until the mayor apologizes for his anti-Semitic remarks.
Ratushnyak called an opponent “an impudent little Jew.” The Associated Press quoted him as saying “I don’t like Jews” in an interview. The center said the mayor was purposely not invited to the memorial event.