Melanie Phillips: The west mourns the Jewish dead. But what about the living
At Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, some 46 political leaders and royals, including Britain’s Prince Charles, will be attending the fifth World Holocaust Forum to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
At this and doubtless other such memorial events, many eloquent, important and heartfelt observations will be made about the evils of Nazism and Jew-hatred. In today’s climate, however, there’s something disquieting about such memorializing.
Given the eruption of physical and verbal attacks on Jews in Britain, America and Europe, it might be said that it’s never been so important to remember the horrors of the Holocaust.
But the west is now teeming with Holocaust memorials and museums, while schools have been imparting Holocaust education since the 1980s. And yet never since the defeat of Nazism has there been such an epidemic of Jew-hatred in western society.
Moreover, some of the countries that will be represented at Yad Vashem support people who want to kill Jews. They fund the Palestinians, who pump out murderous anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement.
Some of these countries have also turned a blind eye for years to the Iranian regime’s genocidal agenda towards Israel and the Jewish diaspora, and have even been trying to continue to funnel billions of dollars into Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions.
To put it bluntly, it might appear that while the west beats its collective breast over dead Jews, it is largely indifferent to the mortal threats currently posed to the living ones.
At the very least, it’s clear that all this Holocaust memorializing and education hasn’t put antisemitism back in its putrid box.
Indeed, such Jew-hatred is propagated most perversely among liberals, who constantly flaunt their anti-racist and anti-Nazi credentials.
I am not a psychiatrist, but I’ve observed a kind of psychosis in far-left activists of the West who claim to be progressives championing the Palestinian cause: Israel Derangement Syndrome, or IDS.
Sufferers of this insidious illness don’t rationally advocate for Palestinians and criticise Israeli policies, in the same way they’d criticise other states. They are doctrinaire cultists possessed of an unadulterated, unhinged hatred for Israel, which they see as a uniquely evil state that must be eradicated. Until then, it will be their all-consuming, defining cause; never mind the Uyghurs, Kurds or Iranian women. In indulging in the delusion that the end (of Israel) goal will eventually occur, they are complicit in perpetuating the conflict and emboldening the despotic regimes that act against the interests of the very people they purport to champion, the Palestinians.
Corbynism is the most recent prominent example of IDS. While we will no longer be bombarded with its leader’s sneering visage, the animosity towards Israel that its dogmatism exemplifies, replete with conspiracism and terrorist sympathising, is unlikely to fade. And it is rising across the Atlantic.
The hallmarks of this anti-Israeli posturing cult include such garb as ‘free Palestine’ t-shirts, keffiyehs, and snazzy accessories daubed with Palestinian flags. Their social media is flooded with memes and Electronic Intifada articles about evil Israel, and little else. They proudly quote token anti-Israel Jews like Noam Chomsky. In their special language ‘peace and justice’ is code for ‘end of Israel’ and ‘resistance’ is code for ‘terrorism’. And they think they’re clever, rhyming ‘resistance is justified’ with ‘apartheid’ and ‘genocide’ in their street mob chants.
The derangement that Israel is the root of all evil requires certain tropes and conspiracy theories — such as that Israel was behind 9/11 and Isis — to make sense of a world that is too complex, nuanced, uncertain and daunting, for their ideology to accommodate. But when, despite their best efforts, Israel can’t be blamed for the Palestinian plight, you will not hear a whimper from them. Not about the Palestinians living in Lebanon who are denied citizenship, excluded from social services and prohibited from owning property and entering over 20 professions. Nor that Palestinians are among the worst affected by the Syrian civil war and that their community in Yarmouk has been decimated. Nothing about the Gazans whose protests against Hamas are brutally suppressed, or LGBT groups, women’s organisations and journalists increasingly persecuted by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. They’ll excoriate Israel (never Egypt) for the blockade on the Gaza strip and the poverty of its people, but ignore the fact that, despite the blockade and poverty, Hamas spends tens of millions building sophisticated tunnels under Israel and firing thousands of rockets at it, instead of building hospitals. And when President Abbas recently announced that he won’t allow the building of a US-funded field hospital in Gaza, silence.
The Op-Ed also pointed out that King was clearly against against attacks on Zionists. Lewis wrote that “During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, ‘When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.’” (This is not to be confused with a widely circulated hoax letter said to be written by King.)
Clarence B. Jones, a friend and advisor to King, likewise recalled King’s opposition to anti-Zionism. “I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism,” he explained in a 2008 Op-Ed. Jones elaborated on that point in What Would Martin Say?, a book he co-authored with Joel Engel. Mainstream reporters, he argues, have given a pass to anti-Semitism by black leaders like Al Sharpton because they buy the rationale that Israel’s existence is a provocation to Arabs. “Martin, for one, could see this coming after the Six-Day War in 1967, which is why he warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism.”
While King would surely support better circumstances for both Israelis and Palestinians, it seems clear that he was unambiguously opposed to the Israel-bashing that counts as pro-Palestinian advocacy today. His strong statement about Israel’s right to exist suggests he recognized the centrality of this issue to the conflict. And judging by his views on anti-Zionism, he would be outraged by the idea that an avowed anti-Zionist like Omar Barghouti, who openly calls for replacing Israel with a state in which Jews will be a minority, pretends King would back boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Over the years, Mossad and Military Intelligence personnel, journalists and academics have published articles and books and been interviewed in the media about Marwan, the Mossad and the blunders of the Yom Kippur War.
Now, after much mulling, Dubi agreed to speak publicly for the first time, in an exclusive interview to Haaretz, and give his account of his meetings with Marwan and the secret ties he developed with him. For his personal safety, however, Dubi, who will turn 86 this year, does not want his full name to be published. For more than a quarter of a century he was Marwan’s sole handler, holding about 100 meetings with him in hotel rooms and in secured safe houses. The chief venue for their encounters, which added up to many hundreds of hours, was London, but in some cases they met in Rome, Paris and Palma de Mallorca.
Over the years, the two found a common language and came to respect one another, but Dubi never allowed himself to forget that this was not a friendship but a relationship based on vested interests. His mission was to supply information about the intentions and capabilities of Egypt, Israel’s greatest and bitterest enemy, at the time. Marwan, for his part, was driven by a range of motives: a need for money, admiration and respect for the Mossad, personal frustration and a desire for revenge.
The primary motive will probably remain an enigma. On June 27, 2007, Marwan’s body was found lying in the garden of yellow roses below his fifth-floor apartment in London. The London police found it difficult to determine unequivocally whether he committed suicide, fell from his balcony or was pushed by someone who staged the event to make it look like suicide. Former senior personnel of the Mossad and MI have no doubt that the “someone” would have been agents of Egyptian intelligence, who decided to take belated revenge for his betrayal of the homeland. Later, former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir accused Maj. Gen. Eli Zeira, former head of Military Intelligence, of direct responsibility for Marwan’s death, alleging that Zeira had acted tirelessly to get Marwan’s name made public, until that finally happened in 2002.
It had been Zeira who, as late as the morning of October 6, 1973, predicted a “low probability” of war. In the wake of the war, the special committee of inquiry headed by Supreme Court President Shimon Agranat found Zeira responsible for the intel failure leading up to the war and he was forced to resign. For the past 25 years, Zeira has been attempting to repair his reputation, in part by trying to shift responsibility for the intelligence failure onto the Mossad. To that end, he has been the chief purveyor of the theory that Ashraf Marwan was a double agent. By his logic, if the Mossad and its chief decided to work with a duplicitous player such as Marwan, then they could be blamed for Israel’s failure to anticipate the Arab attack that October day.
So what is going on? The driving forces behind this petition include three Yachad supporters – who all sit on the relevant Division. That’s right, Yachad are now so entrenched, they can have three of their own on a single committee.
One of these – incredibly – is someone who advertised the Kaddish for Hamas event. That’s right, we have no standards at all now, he is a Deputy – ‘looking after British Jews’. Already we know that on a committee of just 16 we have at least 3 Yachad entryists working to influence a Division leader with a risible knowledge of Israeli politics.
What possible motive could Yachad supporters have to want this survey – unless they were pretty certain the results would support their own cause?
And this survey certainly will do that. They have ensured that the designers of the left-leaning survey of 2015 are behind this one too.
What happens if?
What happens if the results skew to the left (which they will)? Are we really meant to believe that some leftists won’t leak it for political expediency?
Worse still – they can then apply ‘legitimate’ pressure on the Board to issue more frequent condemnations of Israel. This is probably a key motivation. After all, if it turns out that a large enough proportion of the Deputies have an issue with ‘settlements’ (a loaded word not clearly explained in the survey) will the Board then begin to offer public criticism of Israel when new settlements are announced?
If you say ‘no’, you are being short-sighted. The hard-left don’t ever rest – they destroy from within – it is what they do. If you don’t believe me – go and look at what they did to the Labour Party. The BoD will criticise – you will complain – and they will point to their survey as justification. What will you be able to do? Nothing. It will be too late.
The very fact that it is the hard-left pushing it should set off warning bells. Does the United Synagogue for example – really want to be funding a Yachad survey that will almost certainly be used to justify more frequent criticism of Israel by the Board of Deputies? I very much doubt it.
Three nights before the British elections, London was teetering in the state of anxious discomposure that had become its new normal. Soon, the Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson would win an overwhelming mandate, breaking the deadlock in Parliament and setting him up to pass his preferred Brexit option with ease. Although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would wind up losing in a landslide rejection of his politics, he would not resign the leadership of the party, and the existential need for clarity and safe harbor felt by British Jews would not be assuaged by the outcome of the election. And on this night, the Wiener Holocaust Library, located on Russell Square, was hosting an emotionally charged event titled “My Father was a Wandering European: Triple Loyalties in Brexit Britain: British, Jewish, European.”
The collective mood inside the lecture hall was as bleak as the London weather. The audience of middle class professionals was impeccably polite. We had gathered to learn how British Jews might become German. Or Czech. Or Austrian. Or Polish. The discussion centered on the passportization of the children and grandchildren of the British Jews who had fled Germany and Nazi-occupied Central Europe in the midst of the Holocaust. The tremendous irony of the children and grandchildren of the German Jews who had fled Hitler being welcomed to Germany, now widely considered to be the heart and last great hope for placid liberal democracy in Europe, was lost on no one in the audience.
British Jewry had found itself in a situation unprecedented in modern times: caught between the twin threats of an institutionally anti-Semitic Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn, and with the looming Brexit, the loss of their European identity and rights on the other hand. The circumstances would be familiar to Jewish communities in Russia and Turkey, who live in a state of siege, a fraught political situation raging around them. But the situation feels utterly new to Britain’s Jews and, therefore, rather terrifying for some, including British descendants of German Jews. One of the speakers, Sotheby’s head of restitution in Europe, Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, mournfully exclaimed that he did not know what he had lost “until I did, which we are all about to.”
Article 116 of the German Basic Law allows for the reinstatement of German citizenship for the descendants of individuals who had had it stripped from them by Nazi edict. A representative of the German Embassy was on hand to offer advice to British citizens concerned about language requirements (answer: there are none) and other bureaucratic formalities. Many of the British Jews now filing their application with the German Embassy are the descendants of those smuggled out of Germany as part of the Kindertransport, which extracted around 10,000 children in the wake of Kristallnacht. Many had relatives killed or their entire extended family massacred by the state or the local collaborators of the nations that they are now petitioning for citizenship.
As law professor David Schraub notes: “The Whiteness of the Jewish figure served to cleanse, even validate, arguments that otherwise would reek in their antisemitic familiarity.”
In fact, a perceived all-encompassing Jewish power, or cabal, is one of the few tropes that unites extremists on the right and left. In November, white supremacist Patrick Little of Idaho declared his candidacy for the general election, running as a Republican. He told the Idaho Press that “the only way to challenge Jewish power in this country is with local elections.” He also said that the “top priority” for the Jewish people is to displace white people specifically, adding that the Jews control the media, entertainment industry and politics.
Along these same lines on the left, British Parliament member Angela Ormerod of the Labour Party was suspended in 2018 after a tweeting that “Jews control media.”
From ancient through medieval times, the fear of a secret Jewish conspiracy to dominate both the economy and government was used to justify antisemitic violence. Later, the Nazis capitalized on old Christian themes of secret Jewish dominance to propagandize and mobilize support for their Jewish liquidation program. Today, that fear has been expanded by modern anti-Semites to the point of caricature to include the media, global markets and geopolitical stability.
Framed according to this trope, a paradox develops: Not only is the Jewish experience lost in whiteness, but Jewishness serves to epitomize whiteness’ vilest iteration. A white Jew is not only powerful but hyper powerful. He is not only exploitative and manipulative but the arch puppeteer, controlling world affairs.
While intersectionality can be a valuable tool, it has been ineffective in the case of “white Jews.” The result is a dangerous distortion of the Jewish experience — its history, diversity and challenges.
Although Jewish skin comes in every shade — reflecting the diversity of a people that spans the globe and is all at once an ethnicity, nation and religion — some of its whitest members endured a genocidal program that prompted the world to proclaim Never Again.
An intersectional approach can prove useful only if the two identities are separated and if the Jewish experience is articulated rather than subsumed or dismissed. Fighting antisemitism will begin when the complexity of Jewish experience is properly portrayed rather than lost in skin color.
They’ll start arriving on Monday.
One after the other, kings, presidents, prime ministers and other leaders of 46 different countries will land at Ben-Gurion Airport’s Terminal 1, which will be closed to commercial flights, and head to their hotels in the capital.
This unprecedented number of high-level foreign delegations will be in Jerusalem to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, as part of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, in an event titled “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism,” hosted by President Reuven Rivlin and Yad Vashem.
It’s “the biggest event since the establishment of the state,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a video message on Thursday.
Yad Vashem invited every country that was under Nazi occupation, every country that was an Allied power, plus Germany.
President’s Residence director-general Harel Tubi says the numbers went beyond what he had expected, which was perhaps a dozen leaders. Tubi credited personal letters from Rivlin to all of the heads of state for bringing in nearly everyone invited.
According to Tubi, the value of the event goes beyond the amount of visitors; it’s the message that matters. The theme of the event ties remembering the past, the Holocaust, with a mission for the present and future, fighting antisemitism, he said.
“Everyone is uniting around the message of fighting antisemitism,” Tubi stated. “It shows that this is not just a problem for Jews and Israel, but one of the society in which it is developing; and therefore, when countries come here and show concern about this phenomenon,” it sends a message to their home populations.
Wow, this is quite the list!
Kings, Princes, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Governor Generals and even a Grand Duke, are all coming to #Israel next week, to take part in #Holocaust Remembrance Day events! pic.twitter.com/9Z4NjqWtYH
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) January 16, 2020
Caroline B. Glick: Poland and Israel’s loss of diplomatic wisdom
Next Thursday is supposed to mark another diplomatic triumph for Israeli diplomacy. On January 23, the Fifth World Holocaust Forum will convene at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp. According to Yad Vashem and the World Holocaust Forum, 45 heads of state will travel to Jerusalem for the conference as President Reuven Rivlin’s guests.
But unless something changes in the next few days, the event won’t be a diplomatic triumph. The conference, titled, “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Anti-Semitism,” will mark the end of the golden era of Israeli diplomacy.
This isn’t the fault of the guests. They are an impressive lot. Along with Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prince Charles, French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are scheduled to deliver remarks at the event.
The problem is with who won’t be at the event. Polish President Andrzej Duda announced last week that he will not be attending. Duda’s decision doesn’t owe to lack of interest. He made no effort to hide how it important he felt it would be to attend the conference. Indeed, as Israel Hayom reported this last week, Duda was so eager to come that he was willing to leave the World Economic Forum early to fly to Jerusalem just for the conference.
And it isn’t that Netanyahu didn’t want him to come. Netanyahu wants very much for Duda to come because Israel has a profound interest in Duda’s attendance.
Were Duda to participate in the event at Yad Vashem conference, his presence would mark the end of the two-year crisis in Polish-Israeli ties. The crisis was precipitated in January 2018 with the Polish parliament’s passage of a law that criminalized criticism of Polish collaboration with the Nazis during the Holocaust. Lawbreakers were subject to up to three years imprisonment.
The law was widely reviled as a bid to rewrite the history of the Holocaust. Its passage provoked a massive outcry in the Jewish world. Israel joined the protests. A crisis in Polish-Israel relations ensued. It took months of delicate and complicated diplomacy led by Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to figure out a way out of the dispute. In June 2018 the Polish parliament amended the law and revoked the possibility of imprisonment for transgressors.
The crisis appeared resolved. Israel and Poland resumed their close bilateral relations, much to both sides’ satisfaction and benefit.
Michael Morris, a curator at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, was trying to fulfill a run-of-the mill request when he uncovered a treasure trove of eyewitness depictions of the Holocaust, drawn in pencil, ink and crayon.
“It was a light bulb moment,” said Morris, who put together an exhibit of art created by some of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazi regime.
“Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art as Testimony,” which opens this week at the lower Manhattan museum, comes at a time when US antisemitic hate crimes have spiked and memories of the horrors of the Holocaust are fading.
“This exhibition stands against and educates about the dangers of antisemitism, racism, bigotry of any kind,” said Morris, describing the 21 powerful depictions of the Holocaust, mostly by Jewish prisoners.
It all started with another institution’s request to borrow some of the pieces in the museum’s collection. As Morris reviewed the dozens of works in its vaults, he knew immediately that it was high time for the museum to mount an exhibition of its own.
“Behind the statistics, and behind the numbers and behind the scenes where we see hundreds of thousands of people in concentration camps, these are actual people who had multi-faceted lives,” Morris said.
Among them was a 12-year-old girl, Helga Weissova, who brought art supplies with her when she was sent to Terezin Ghetto and concentration camp, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Prague in the Czech Republic, in October 1944. Before Weissova was deported from Terezin to Auschwitz, the infamous slave-labor camp in southern Poland, she gave her drawings to her uncle, a fellow prisoner who hid them behind a wall.
The show features her 1943 work in colored pencil on paper, “Transport Leaving Terezin,” which shows gun-toting guards ushering a huddled group of prisoners carrying suitcases.
Weissova is now in her 90s and living in Prague, but many of the artists never made it out of the deadly camps.
The vast majority of the individuals on what is often referred to as the Ładoś List perished, and it is likely that many if not most of them never even received the forged papers. But this is no way detracts from the Bernese Group’s monumental attempt to save lives at a time when much of the free world was turning a blind eye to the desperate plight of European Jewry. Moreover, Ambassador Kumoch estimates that the names on this list constitute only a fraction of the more than 8,000 such false documents he believes to have been created, but for which only anecdotal documentation has been located.
To be sure, we cannot and must not overlook those Poles who killed Jews or handed them over to the Germans to be killed, or who profiteered shamelessly from the ghettoization and deportation of their Jewish compatriots. At the same time, however, it is equally critical to emphasize that there were thousands of Poles who risked their lives to hide and save Jews, and that the London-based Polish government in exile was one of European Jewry’s few allies during the Holocaust years. Żegota, the underground Polish Council to Aid Jews that saved a few thousand Jews by spiriting them out of ghettos, providing them with false identity papers, and giving them refuge, operated under the auspices of the government in exile. We must also not lose sight of the fact that Żegota–like the Bernese Group for that matter–was a joint Polish-Jewish enterprise, with Polish Catholics and Polish Jews represented in its leadership.
Speaking before the monument to the heroes of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the Polish capital on April 18, 2018, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder noted that between 1939 and 1945 when Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany, Jews and Poles both fought the Germans, “Polish Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and, one year later, Polish Catholics in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. In many cases, they fought side-by-side. That is the special bond that cannot be broken by anyone.”
As we approach the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Jan. 27, 1945, it is important for us to remember that Jewish and non-Jewish Poles were victimized by the Hitlerite invaders of their country. Indeed, Polish Christians constituted the second largest group of those who perished at the largest and most notorious Nazi German death camp: According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 960,000 Jews were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, as were 70,000 Poles and 21,000 Roma.
It is in this tragic context that the members of the Bernese Group must be recognized as a shining example of how Catholic Poles and Jewish Poles joined together in a desperate altruistic, almost quixotic initiative to try to save Jewish lives. And we owe Ambassador Kumoch and his colleagues an enormous debt of gratitude for their yeoman’s work in documenting this remarkable episode and integrating it into the historiography of the Holocaust.
On January 17, 1945 – 75 years ago – Raoul Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviet military intelligence apparatus, never to be seen again.
Born in Sweden in 1912, Wallenberg, was a scion of one of the most powerful and influential families in his country. His father, a naval officer, had died before he was born and he was raised by his mother, Maj and his step-father, Fredrik von Dardel, with care and love, under the close supervision of his paternal grandfather, Gustaf Wallenberg, an experienced diplomat.
Both the first cousins of his late father, Marcus and Jacob, were in charge of the Wallenberg economic empire at the time, with major stakes in Swedish industrial and financial sectors. Following the advice of his grandfather, young Wallenberg pursued a degree in architecture from Michigan University and gained experience in trade and finance in South Africa and Haifa (during the British Mandate period, before the founding of the State of Israel).
It is believed that Raoul wanted to work in his family’s business concern, but while Jacob kept a cordial relationship with his young second cousin, the latter ended-up working with Koloman Lauer, a seasoned Jew from Hungary, who had set-up a successful international trade company.
Prompted by Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., President Roosevelt in early 1944, set-up the War Refugee Board (WRB), a US executive agency with the mission to save the lives of civilians being slaughtered by the Axis. Coincidentally, Morgenthau’s own father, Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., was one of the personalities who decades earlier denounced the great tragedy of the Armenian genocide.
Ahead of next week’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority at the Ministry of Finance released statistics on the survivors of the Nazi genocide living in the Jewish state.
Channel 13 reported that the number of survivors is dwindling as they pass away. Today, there are approximately 192,000 recognized survivors living in Israel. Last year, 14,800 of them died.
Of the living survivors, 64% were born in Europe, including 36% from the former Soviet Union, 18% from Romania and 6% from Poland.
Among the non-European survivors, 18% are from Morocco and Algeria and suffered under the Nazi-sponsored rule of the Vichy French regime. Another 11% survived the 1941 antisemitic pogrom in Iraq called the Farhud.
The authority spends more than 4 billion shekels yearly on Holocaust survivors in Israel, who receive monthly benefits of up to 6,000 shekels.
With the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp less than two weeks away, senior State Department diplomats on Wednesday outlined the US commitment to remembering the Nazi Holocaust and aiding survivors of the slaughter.
“I wish I could say that humanity had learned its lessons from the Holocaust and that the lessons were permanent, and that we have moved on,” Cherrie Daniels — special envoy for Holocaust issues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs — remarked at a special briefing in Washington, DC. “But I think the recent resurgence of antisemitism around the world and here at home is a reality that we cannot deny or ignore.”
Daniels emphasized the importance placed by US policy on material restitution to Holocaust victims.
“We’re committed to help the 80,000 or so survivors of the Holocaust who live here in the United States achieve a measure of justice […] when it comes to the material losses suffered during the Holocaust,” she told reporters. “We develop and implement US policy to return Holocaust-era assets to their rightful owners, compensation for wrongs committed during the Holocaust.”
Daniels — who will be a member of the US delegation at the Auschwitz commemoration ceremonies in Poland on Jan. 27 — also highlighted the American commitment to helping Jewish communities around the world, “especially in Europe, protect Jewish cultural and religious sites.”
In 11 days’ time the world will mark the 75th anniversary of humankind’s greatest crime. This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), on Monday 27 January, will be a landmark moment as we reflect on its legacy as the last remaining survivors leave us.
To mark this moment, Jewish News will be issuing a dedicated 80-page HMD edition on the day itself. It will be the first time Jewish News has published on a Monday.
This unique edition is being created by a special panel of second and third generation guest editors and, crucially, non-Jewish Holocaust educators. They are: Holocaust Educational Trust regional ambassadors Jaya Pathak and Jack Nicholls; the Association for Jewish Refugees’ Debra Barnes; Natasha Isaac, nominated by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust; Shannon Johnson, nominated by the Anne Frank Trust; Jude Williams, an educator on March of the Living and nominated by the National Holocaust Centre; BBC filmmaker Hannah Gelbart, nominated by the ‘45 Aid Society and TV presenter Rob Rinder.
This remarkable group was brought together, over a period of many months, by the newspaper’s news editor Justin Cohen.
During an insightful and often moving editorial meeting last month, each set out their personal vision for this unique project.
Next week’s edition will consider the rise in digital hate and unpick the anatomy of online denial; investigate second generation trauma and take a fascinating look at remembrance innovation and the harnessing of virtual reality to tell survivors’ stories for centuries to come.
It will show how Jewish life thrived before the Nazis, speak to a prisoner and liberator of Bergen Belsen and contemplate the power of personal artefacts – a pen, a comb, a candlestick – handed down from generation to generation. It will tell the poignant story of Auschwitz on 27 January 1945, from the last sunrise under tyranny to the arrival of Russian soldiers.
It will celebrate the Righteous Gentiles and show how are they selected, where they live, what they did and what they risked.
A week remains until the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation, an event which will draw more than 40 heads of state to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication, Maariv, has found out that despite the efforts to bring dignitaries such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince Charles, there are still issues between Yad Vashem and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). Yad Vashem has decided that there will be no WJRO representation at the event.
WJRO CEO Nachliel Dison attacked Yad Vashem’s decision while attending a World Zionist Organization convention in Jerusalem. “I don’t understand why an organization like Yad Vashem refuses to deal with a subject as critical as returning property. We all know that each pillage of Jewish property and the refusal to return it stems from antisemitism, in the context of the Holocaust and after it,” Dison said.
“You ask the Polish, for example: ‘Why did you take Jewish property?’ and they say that for years Jews have taken their property and deceived them, so it’s actually Polish property and not Jewish,” he said.
WJRO was founded by Jewish organizations to focus on property restitution, mostly in Eastern Europe. Most of the effort is concentrated in working in the relevant countries and pushing for laws that will allow Holocaust survivors and their descendants to reclaim property that was seized during the Holocaust and subsequently nationalized by communist regimes. The organization also promotes the establishment of foundations to support the well-being of Holocaust survivors, using reparations funds.
Ukraine’s parliament for the first time commemorated the Holocaust ahead of the international date in memory of the victims.
The Verkohvna Rada in Kyiv held a memorial ceremony on Thursday ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. The date was designated in 2005 by the United Nations. On that day, Red Army troops liberated the Auschwitz camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. This year is the liberation’s 75th anniversary.
“The Holocaust was a disaster not only for the Jewish people but for the whole world and specifically the Ukrainian people,” lawmaker Daniel Gatmanzov said in his address.
Memorial candles were lit and a minute’s silence was observed.
Among those on hand was Israel’s ambassador, Joel Lion, who in recent years has protested the glorification of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine, including by some officials.
Last week, Gennady Nadolenko, the head of Ukraine’s diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, issued the first public reaction to Lion’s protests.
The subject is related to “internal issues of Ukrainian politics” and Israel’s protests about it are “counterproductive,” Nadolenko told Israeli diplomats, according to the new site Jewish.ru.
Poland and Lithuania are working together to defend themselves against a Russian historical offensive that seeks to minimize Soviet responsibility for the outbreak of World War II, their foreign ministers said Thursday.
Linas Linkevicius of Lithuania and Jacek Czaputowicz of Poland described recent Russian statements that put blame on Poland for start of World War II as disinformation that they perceive as a threat to their nations.
“We will not let the Kremlin manipulate history so easily and spread lies,” Linkevicius said after meeting Czaputowicz in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials have made repeated statements in recent weeks blaming Poland — which was the first victim of World War II — for some role in sparking the conflict. The Russian comments have also sought to stress Polish anti-Semitism as a trigger for the conflict.
Historians in the West say the Russian claims are baseless.
World War II began in 1939 when Poland was invaded first by Nazi Germany, then by the Soviet Union two weeks later. The dual occupation came days after the two totalitarian states signed a pact with a secret protocol to carve up Poland, the Baltic states and Finland.
People ask me how I keep going in a job confronting evil dictatorships at the UN.
Because of notes like these:
“Please accept this gift in memory of 2 sisters who died in the Shoah because no one spoke up for them. Thank you to UN Watch for being their voice in today’s world.” pic.twitter.com/kyIqCtYPZ7
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) January 15, 2020
Grasping the dais for support, 95-year-old Holocaust survivor Josef Konigsberg broke into tears. He is the only living person in Germany able to recount firsthand the bravery of Helmut Kleinicke, who was posthumously awarded the designation of Righteous Among the Nations at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin on January 14.
“This is one of the most beautiful days of my life,” Konigsberg said, locking eyes with Kleinicke’s daughter, Juta Scheffzek, who was seated not far from him. “Thank you, thank you.”
The recognition of Righteous Among the Nations is bestowed by Israel’s Holocaust memorial center Yad Vashem to those who are verified to have risked their lives to save Jews during World War II. Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff presented Scheffzek with a certificate together with Konigsberg, which Scheffzek accepted on her father’s behalf.
Kleinicke, a Nazi party member, was only publicly acknowledged in recent years as the savior of perhaps hundreds of Jews at the height of the Holocaust. He is just the 628th German to be given the recognition, and one of the only recipients who was also a member of the Nazi party.
For reasons not entirely clear — perhaps out of modesty, or possibly to avoid standing out for what was then a controversial distinction in postwar Germany — Kleinicke kept quiet about his heroism until his death in 1979 at the age of 72. He said little to his daughter about his wartime activities, and sent no reply to the three survivors who wrote him after the war’s conclusion.
The Chelsea soccer club in England marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a commemorative mural of Jewish players and prisoners of war who were sent to a Nazi camp.
The mural was unveiled Wednesday on a wall outside of the West Stand at Stamford Bridge and is part of Chelsea’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign being funded by the club’s Russian-Israeli owner, Roman Abramovich.
“By sharing the images of these three individual football players on our stadium, we hope to inspire future generations to always fight against anti-Semitism, discrimination and racism, wherever they find it,” Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck was quoted as saying about the event in a statement on the club’s website.
The mural features three portraits.
Julius Hirsch, a German Jewish international footballer, was murdered sometime after 1943 at the Auschwitz Nazi camp in occupied Poland. Also depicted is Árpád Weisz, a Hungarian Jewish football player who was murdered there in 1944.
The third portrait is of Ron Jones, known as the “Goalkeeper of Auschwitz,” who was a British prisoner of war at Auschwitz. He survived the camp.
CNN may have prevented their star anchor from interviewing Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, taking place in Israel next week.
According to an item in the New York Post’s Page Six, the White House offered CNN’s Wolf Blitzer an exclusive interview with Pence during his visit to Jerusalem next week, but the cable news network declined.
Blitzer, whose parents are Holocaust survivors and paternal grandparents were killed in Auschwitz, eagerly agreed to do the interview but CNN President Jeff Zucker nixed the idea.
Why? He reportedly decided impeachment coverage was far more important than running a story favorable to the Trump administration.
“Zucker stepped in and said Wolf isn’t going anywhere because the network will be ‘all impeachment, all of the time’ next week. CNN’s anti-Trump bias is so intense, they can’t even broadcast a sympathetic interview for Holocaust remembrance,” a source told the Post.
On a gray Monday morning, Allison Josephs stood outside a tent on the corner of 106th Street and Third Avenue in East Harlem hawking coffee and rugelach. She wasn’t looking for signatures on a petition or looking to sell anything. She was just trying to introduce herself to her fellow New Yorkers, as an Orthodox Jew.
“When you meet everyday people, I think that’s where the shared commonalities come out,” said Josephs during a lull in the foot traffic.
After the recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and the deadly attacks in suburban Monsey and in Jersey City, Josephs wanted to do something. So she came to this street corner in Harlem, an area with few Jewish residents, to stand with several other women in wigs, customary for married Orthodox women, and men in yarmulkes and engage non-Jewish New Yorkers in conversation.
A pop up test in Harlem encouraged passersby to stop and have a coffee and conversation with a Jew. Shira Hanau/JW
“This is where the Monsey attacker was found after the attack,” said Josephs, referring to Harlem generally. (The alleged perpetrator, Grafton Thomas, was arrested in West Harlem.) “So there’s some symbolism here.”
Josephs is the founder of Jew in the City, an organization dedicated to reversing negative stereotypes about Orthodox Jews. Banners hung from the tent that read “Meet A Jew, Make A Friend.” A sign next to it explained the different groups that make up Orthodox Jews, delineating the differences between Modern Orthodox, yeshivishe and chasidic Jews.
Rockaway Turnpike Today (Long Island, NY) I just came back from ?Auschwitz,Majdanek,Treblinka and Chelmno. ?This is NOT soothing my nerves. Thoughts? ?@HikindDov? ? ??@LahavHarkov? ?@AuschwitzMuseum? ?@bethanyshondark? ?@HillelNeuer? pic.twitter.com/4kcFmK2aIc
— Noam Nechama (@NoamNechama) January 17, 2020
The facts are —the members of the ACPC did belong to various Protestant denominations that have diverse views on Zionism, and there are liberal Protestants who did, and do, debate the merits of Zionism. However, it is disingenuous to conflate diversity among denominations in general with the specific case of the ACPC’s members’ position on Zionism. There is absolutely no basis for Weiss’ allegation that members of the ACPC lacked consensus concerning Zionism.
At best, this is a glaring example of flawed logic and at worst, it is an insidious attempt by the author to minimize the ACPC’s efforts on behalf of a Jewish homeland.
When the CCP and the APC merged to create the ACPC, the mission of the ACPC remained true to the original Zionist missions of both preceding organizations.
The history of the ACPC makes it clear that the establishment of the Children’s Memorial Forest was part of the ACPC’s clearly defined Zionist mission – a mission that remained true to those of the CCP and the APC – the two organizations that combined to form the ACPC. The CCP had existed for the purpose of helping with the settlement of Jews in Palestine, which it believed was the home of the Jewish people. The APC organized influential political figures and sponsored resolutions that called for Jewish immigration to Palestine.Working in cooperation with other organizations, including the CCP, the APC succeeded in having the U.S. Congress adopt a resolution supporting the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. When the CCP and the APC merged to create the ACPC, the mission of the ACPC remained true to the original Zionist missions of both preceding organizations. Its members were intently focused on the establishment of the State of Israel. The ACPC was disbanded a few years after Israel was founded because its goal had been accomplished.
Contrary to Weiss’ attempt to minimize the ACPC’s Zionist mission and belittle its support for a Jewish homeland, the reality is that this organization was quite politically influential and effective in its efforts on behalf of the establishment of a Jewish homeland. It was also successful in enlisting prominent Protestant leaders from various denominations in the Zionist cause. Furthermore, the relationship between the ACPC and the JNF fundamentally changed Jewish-Christian relations for the better through their ground-breaking cooperation at a point in history when this was a particularly difficult feat to accomplish.
The article distorts a positive example of post-Holocaust, interfaith cooperation as well as the entire Zionist mission of the JNF to denigrate Zionism in general. The question is – why would a scholarly journal of a premier Holocaust museum allow its pages to be used as a vehicle for what amounts to nothing but anti-Zionist propaganda?
The head of Israel’s consulate in the southern German city of Munich slammed a cancelled peace conference for stoking antisemitism because it excluded a German Jewish councilman opposed to BDS.
“A form of Israel-related antisemitism,” said Sandra Simovich, the Israeli diplomat, about the Munich Peace Conference’s decision to bar city councilman Marian Offman from participating in the event, according to a Thursday article in the Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Simovich said the exclusion of Offmann is “completely unacceptable.” The organizers announced on their website on Thursday they have pulled the plug on the conference because of the controversy.
The main conference organizer Thomas Rödl has been embroiled in charges that he and the organizers engaged in antisemitic conduct by denying entry to a Jewish politician while permitting non-Jewish politicians to attend the event.
Dear Rabbi Jacobs,
Greetings and Salutations from Medinat Tel Aviv! We understand that a certain “satire site” in Israel wrote some not-so-nice things about you. In a nutshell, that your reaction to the slow-motion pogrom going on in New York has been muted by the fact that the assailants were not in fact wearing MAGA hats and/or driving pickup trucks. Basically saying that when it comes to choosing between standing up for your fellow Jews and being Wokety Woke, you voted “Present”.
We also note Elder of Ziyon’s report that your lawyer notified PreOccupied Territory that in so many words you will sue the shit out of him the satirical article was not immediately recognizable as satire and that he needed to retract said article or face possible legal action for defamation of character.
As a free speech advocate and artist here is our response to your threats against a fellow writer: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET US HELP YOU. We will turn States Evidence. We will wear a wire. We will sell him out faster than Vanilla Ice sold out in the 90’s. We will provide so much dirt that Takashi-69 will urge us to “Stop Snitching”.
Why are we doing this? Because we believe in Tikkun Olam. Not because, and we cannot stress the point enough, that this is somehow an opportunity for us to eliminate our chief rival in the highly lucrative world of Anglo-infused Israeli satire. Definitely not that. Tikkun Olam! (Kind of off topic, but who is your favorite figure skater? Ours is Tonya Harding!)
High on the wall of a German church where Martin Luther once preached, an ugly remnant of centuries of anti-Semitism is now at the center of a court battle.
The so-called “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg dates back to around 1300. It is perhaps the best-known of more than 20 such relics from the Middle Ages, in various forms and varying states of repair, that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Located about 4 meters (13 feet) above the ground on a corner of the church, it depicts people identifiable by their headwear as Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.
Judaism considers pigs impure, and no one disputes that the sculpture is deliberately offensive. But there is strong disagreement about what consequences that should have and what to do with the relief.
A court in the eastern city of Naumburg will consider on Tuesday a Jewish man’s bid to make the parish take it down.
A Florida man who has presented himself as a child Holocaust survivor has withdrawn as a plaintiff in a trial against a former Nazi concentration camp guard.
Moshe Peter Loth made headlines in November when he hugged defendant Bruno Dey during his trial in Hamburg, Germany.
Loth has told journalists over the years that his grandmother and mother were both imprisoned in the Stutthof camp where Dey worked, turned in by his own grandfather, whom he described as a Nazi. Loth also claimed to have received information from the Red Cross that he was born in the camp.
But information provided to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by four major Holocaust archives showed that the woman Loth identified as his mother — Helene Anna Flood — was released from the camp one month after she was taken there and several months before Loth was born.
Loth wrote in a statement to the court dated Saturday that he would withdraw from the case, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported.
“Please accept my most sincere apologies for having caused any problems,” Loth wrote in the statement. The court, he wrote, “must work for justice.”
The New York Department of Education (DOE) will organize field trips to New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Lower Manhattan for eighth- and 10th-grade students from the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park in Brooklyn as part of an ongoing effort to combat antisemitism, it was announced on Wednesday.
Currently, the museum is featuring an exhibit on Auschwitz through August.
The museum will also provide up to four free tickets to family members of public-school students with an ID card or another proof of enrollment. The DOE is paying for the cost of the field trips, while the museum and its donors will fund the free tickets for families, the New York Post reported.
“The lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten, and we’re grateful to the Museum of Jewish Heritage for expanding our partnership,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “As a former social-studies teacher, I know how important it is for students to learn about the past in order to understand the world around them.”
He added, “In the wake of recent antisemitic attacks in our city, we’re committed to helping students and school communities engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage is instrumental in achieving that goal.”
The museum visits are the second step in the new anti-hate crimes curriculum for New York City public schools introduced by city officials recently, according to the New York Post. Earlier this month, city officials rolled out new lesson plans for teachers to lead classroom discussions about the Holocaust, coupled with the dangers of discrimination and bias.
Israel Is My Playground – Fabio Wibmer
Israel is full of history, but the small country is also home to some incredible, and striking natural settings.
In Israel is My Playground, Fabio Wibmer makes the most of both settings. The freerider tests his new Canyon on the stair gaps and trials moves of the urban Israeli environment. Castles, rooftops and rails are all fair game.
From there, Wibmer heads to the desert for some proper freeriding. Big cliffs and loose desert slopes make for surprisingly good riding.
“Really, my life here is so wonderful,” Quentin Tarantino tells Yediot Aharonot in a wide-ranging interview published Friday about his life in Israel.
The director is married to Israeli singer/model Daniella Pick, who is pregnant with their first child, and he said he doesn’t just feel at home in Tel Aviv — it really is his home now.
“I have some short trips [back to the US] planned for the [Oscar] awards ceremony. And of course, we’ll be here for the birth and after.”
Tarantino answered questions almost every aspect of his life and career, on everything from how he feels about his latest movie, Once Upon a Time . .. in Hollywood, getting 10 Oscar nominations last week (“It’s fun just to be a nominee”) to his plans to learn Hebrew.
According to the article, the Tarantinos live in tony Ramat Aviv Gimmel, and not near Kikar Ha Medina, as has been previously reported.
Uxorious Tarantino says, “I have a beautiful wife and she’s great.” He is excited about the birth of the baby and he describes his life with Pick: He writes, she makes lunch, he writes more and they watch movies together. “Really, it’s very, very pleasant.”
Today I prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem that God will continue to bless Israel and that God continue to strengthen the bond between Texas and Israel.
May peace and prosperity continue to bless our two peoples. pic.twitter.com/3rTu6KuMl7
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 16, 2020
Very moved by this week’s dedication ceremony of Beyt Dakir, the Museum of Moroccan #Jewish Heritage in Essaouira, in the presence of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of #Morocco pic.twitter.com/Xc4zl4Kz5Y
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) January 17, 2020
Today, I remember the 68 brave airmen🇬🇧 who perished on that mission, and all their comrades. #LestWeForget
📷At Bomber Command Memorial pic.twitter.com/C5cpzJtigm
— Mark Regev (@MarkRegev) January 16, 2020
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