JPost Editorial: A powerful message at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum
For so many of them to come together and stand shoulder to shoulder – and say that they will remember the horrors of the Holocaust and work to combat hatred of Jews so that something like that may never happen again – is an incredibly powerful message that will hopefully reverberate around the world.
Before Thursday’s event at Yad Vashem, we implore leaders not to corrupt the message with their political messages. Now is not the time to fight over different versions of history that are more advantageous to one country over another. Now is the time to say: “Never again.”
And when the leaders and their entourages – including hundreds of foreign journalists – return to their home countries, they should make sure that this message continues to reverberate among the general public.
Talking is not enough; they should take action to combat the scourge of antisemitism, which has continued to rear its head with increasing intensity in recent years.
One good way to start is to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The definition, which Israel has encouraged countries to adopt as a nonbinding code or a guideline in combating antisemitism, also includes many examples of the ways people try to launder their antisemitism as hatred of Israel, such as comparing Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis.
The European Union and many of its member states have already adopted the definition. Italy took it on last week. What a powerful message it would send if even more of the governments whose representatives are gathered in Jerusalem would announce they are adopting it as well.
Isaac Herzog: Honoring Holocaust victims means fighting anti-Semitism
The significant gathering of leaders at Yad Vashem this week presents an opportunity to examine what has been accomplished since the 2005 UN resolution in the fight against antisemitism, racism, and Holocaust denial, as well as the work to preserve the memories of those who were lost. It is gratifying to note the many countries that hold official events on this bleak day, along with historical, cultural and educational activities that preserve information for future generations and combat ignorance, indifference, and historical revisionism.
At the same time, alarmingly, antisemitism is increasing significantly: data collected in a number of countries show a dramatic increase in antisemitic violence, including the murder of Jews in their homes, schools, and synagogues. The conference in Jerusalem must, therefore, establish strong momentum for a collaborative effort to reverse this trend.
The way to deal with hate crimes is, of course, appropriate legislation in each country and enforcement of those laws by local judicial systems. Concurrently, we must be forward-thinking and focus on educating younger generations.
I call on the leaders gathering in Jerusalem to invest in ambitious and large-scale education programs that combat racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, and supremacism, just as The Jewish Agency does through our Israeli emissaries throughout the world. This can also be accomplished through international bodies such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), or through new frameworks set up to address the issue. None of us are exempt from the obligation to instill in our young people a commitment to tolerance, diversity and understanding of the other.
Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must launch a widespread war on anti-Semitism and hatred wherever they rear their heads. Doing so will demonstrate true respect for those who perished and bring a comforting semblance of meaning to their sacrifice.
Honest Reporting: We Remember
Sign our petition asking the media to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism: It’s Time for the Media to Endorse the Internationally Recognized Antisemitism Definition
HonestReporting joins the World Jewish Congress’s #WeRemember campaign as part of a united voice in memory of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
In the 1930s the German mass media came under complete control of the Nazis, enabling them to spread propaganda against the Jewish people on an unprecedented scale. This, in turn, villainized and dehumanized the Jews.
We have seen the consequences of biased, unfair coverage and believe fair news coverage is integral to the safety of Israel and Jews worldwide.
Irwin Cotler: Auschwitz 75 years later: Universal lessons
Indeed, I write on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century – of horrors too terrible to be believed, but not too terrible to have happened.
Of the 1.3 million people murdered at Auschwitz, 1.1 million were Jews. As Elie Wiesel put it, “The Holocaust was a war against the Jews in which not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.”
I write also in the immediate aftermath of the 75th anniversary of the arrest and disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg on January 17, 1945. Wallenberg demonstrated how one person with the compassion to care and courage to act can confront evil, prevail and transform history. It is a tragedy that this hero of the Holocaust who saved so many was not saved by so many who could, and we owe a duty to Raoul Wallenberg to determine the truth of his fate.
I write also on the occasion of a global resurgence of antisemitic incitement, violence and terror, and in the midst of ongoing ethnic cleansing and mass atrocity.
And so, at this important historical moment, we should ask ourselves: What have we learned in the last 75 years – and more importantly – what must we do?
Auschwitz stands for the ultimate consequence of antisemitism. In 1919, Hitler wrote that the “final goal must be the uncompromising removal of Jews altogether”. Twenty six years later, six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, were dead, savagely murdered because they were seen as sub-human. But the Holocaust was also a crime against all humankind. Homosexuals, Roma gypsies, the disabled, Poles, political prisoners and others who were deemed unworthy, were also murdered.
In the notorious death camp, more than 1.1 million people (90 per cent of them Jews) were gassed, shot, starved and died painfully during the grotesque experiments carried out by Dr Josef Mengele, the ”Angel of Death” who whistled Wagner as he injected the hearts of live children with chloroform and performed vile surgeries on twins to prove the theory of Aryan supremacy.
At its peak, this demonic factory of death exterminated 20,000 people a day. In mid 1944, the crematoriums could not deal with the volume of corpses, so pits were dug to burn them. Those who take the gut-wrenching tour of Auschwitz encounter mounds of artificial limbs, shoes, toddler’s sandals, eyeglasses, baby clothes, human hair, gold fillings, pictures of naked, dying children and their terror-stricken mothers.
They see pigtails shorn from the heads of little girls harvested by their fellow prisoners to help strengthen the material used to make German army uniforms. They see scratches with the words ‘Never Forget’ from the nails of the dying, etched on the walls of one remaining gas chamber into which prisoners were herded, expecting showers but being drenched instead by Zyklon B, dropped through vents in the ceilings, which killed 700 people at a time. It reminds us that every one of those mercilessly slaughtered was once a person with a life, future and family.
Sadly, the world has not learnt its lessons. Consider the genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and now in Darfur and the Congo. In Australia, the perversion of Jew-hatred is back, as this ancient plague creeps up on our society with one small attack after another. If we don’t call out anti-Semitism whenever it happens, it may be too late to turn back the tide, even in our own cities.
As Justice Robert Jackson explained at the start of the Nuremberg trials: “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilisation can not tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”
We must teach future generations about the consequences of turning a blind eye to intolerance, xenophobia, political extremism and excessive nationalism, to speak out when the blood of others is being spilled, and to summon the will to defend the vulnerable. Soon, the survivors, who bore witness to the inhumanity that took their families from them, won’t be around to give their eyewitness testimonies. Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter, once said: “When my life is over and I meet up with the victims of the Holocaust, I shall have the privilege of
saying to them, I have never forgotten you.” One way to honour their memory is to ensure that public display of the Nazi swastika never again disfigures our community. Such a law would be a victory for humanity, and a reaffirmation of our country’s enduring ideals and values. It will also demonstrate that “lest we forget” is not an idle injunction. “Never again” is now.
Arsen Ostrovsky: Defeating the scourge of Jew-hatred
The Holocaust did not start at Auschwitz. That’s where it ended for six million of our people. Rather, it began with the singling out and dehumanisation of an entire group of people, based on our faith, religion and identity.
And while antisemitism may target Jews, it cannot be left solely to the Jewish community to fight. This scourge of Jew hatred can only be defeated when we, as a community together, stand up, call it out and take action.
As Australians, we are deeply fortunate that the fight against antisemitism transcends politics and is a bipartisan commitment shared by both major parties, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison unequivocally reiterating that “Antisemitism has no place in this country.”
Last year also, Australia became a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the peak international body committed to strengthening, advancing and promoting Holocaust education and remembrance, as well as combating global antisemitism.
However, more, much more, can still be done to help eradicate this oldest of hatreds.
Jews, like all members of society, must be able to live and practise our faith freely, without fear of intimidation or violence. At the same time, nor should we cower to fear, for that would be providing victory to those who wish to instil hate and sow division.
Rather, we must walk with our heads held high as proud Jews, Zionists and Australians.
As we approach the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we must not only remember the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah, but to ensure we speak out and act against the evil of antisemitism, to ensure this darkest of chapters in human history truly never repeats.
India expresses solidarity with Israel on 75th Anniv of liberation of #Auschwitz. We also pay homage to Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar 🇮🇳 who saved the lives of scores of Polish Jewish children during World WarII #WorldHolocaustForum #UnitedinMemory75 @yadvashem @PresidentRuvi pic.twitter.com/HXgU6JF5cl
— India in Israel (@indemtel) January 23, 2020
Mohammad Al-Issa (WaPo): Why Muslims from Around the World Should Remember the Holocaust
Some have chosen not to see what really happened wherever the Nazis and their henchmen wielded power. Instead, they deny the horrors of a diabolical plan to implement a hateful idea of racial purity that ultimately led to the murder of millions of innocent men, women and children – including six million Jews.
But denying this history has only helped those who continue to perpetrate hateful ideas of racial, ethnic or religious purity. The lessons of the Holocaust are universal and Muslims around the world have a responsibility to learn them, heed the warnings and join the international commitment to ensure “never again.”
One year ago, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day approached, I wrote a letter to Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, on behalf of the Muslim World League: “The Holocaust [is] an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”
“True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever….We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished.”
That letter was immediately posted in both Arabic and English on the website of the Muslim World League. I received a flood of responses from Muslim religious scholars endorsing the view I had expressed. Not a single reputable scholar has stood up to oppose this view. None could dispute the indisputable. I urge all Muslims to learn the history of the Holocaust, to visit memorials and museums to this horrific event, and to teach its lessons to their children.
WATCH: A senior Saudi religious leader visited Auschwitz to commemorate and pray for the victims of the Holocaust.
He is the most senior Muslim leader to do so. Truly a historic day. pic.twitter.com/CAatPqksVx
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) January 23, 2020
Beginning Monday, close to 50 heads of state, senior officials, and assorted royals began arriving in Israel to mark the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
In attendance will be Vladimir Putin, Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, Emmanuel Macron, Prince Charles, and many others, including a strong contingent from European countries where millions of Jews were betrayed and slaughtered.
Among the marquee events for dignitaries will be a state dinner hosted by President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night. That will be followed by a ceremony on Thursday evening, at which Russian President Putin, among others, will address the room.
The real story, however, is the backstage drama.
Snubbing the entire three-day program, Polish President Andrzej Duda is furious that he was not invited to speak at the gathering. Protocol has determined that only representatives of the Allied victors and the German perpetrators will speak. That President Putin is being so honored further enraged Duda.
The Poles and Russians are engaged in a super-charged war of words amid their efforts to recast history to their advantage. Russia portrays Poland as a nation of Nazi collaborators. And Poland presents Russia as an appeaser, primarily because of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and alleges that the Soviets were in a position to liberate Auschwitz, and much of Poland, six months before they did.
In Poland’s eyes, Russia is being given carte blanche before a rarefied international assembly of leaders to present and reinforce its historical perspective—one that is heavy on Polish collaboration with Nazis. The Poles, in recent years, have gone to great lengths to advance their preferred narrative, which lauds Polish heroism in resisting the occupying German forces and downplays the vicious and visceral anti-Semitism that plagued and, arguably, is still quite entrenched in Polish society.
Poles were unquestionably persecuted under Nazi rule. They also aided and abetted the extreme persecution of Polish Jews. There is no way that 6 million European Jews (among them close to 3 million Polish Jews) would have been massacred–most between 1941 and 1945–without the enthusiastic collaboration of locals everywhere, including Poland.
80 Holocaust survivors celebrated their bar or bat mitzvahs last week at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The survivors were unable to celebrate their bar or bat mitzvahs at the traditional age (13 for boys, 12 for girls) because of World War II.
The celebrations were conducted in collaboration with the “Perah L’Nitzul” project of the Social Integration Administration in Rishon Lezion, the Community Resources Department in Social Inclusion Administration, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Ministry of Social Equality and the Claims Conference.
“We embrace Holocaust survivors all year long,” said Rishon Lezion Mayor Raz Kinstlich. “We placed a goal for ourselves to reach every Holocaust survivor in the city, to help them with all their needs…and to hear their stories. I am very proud of the many activities that the municipality organizes for the survivors and thank the many volunteers from the city who take part in these activities.”
Dozens of Holocaust survivors took part in the symbolic ceremony that took place before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The survivors said that the event was especially exciting for them.
The bnei and bnot mitzvah prayed and sang the song “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem” (We Brought Peace Unto you) with tearful eyes. All the participants took part in a celebratory meal afterwards with singing and dancing.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Thursday that he and his delegation will give up their seats at an international Holocaust event in Jerusalem so that survivors of Nazis’ genocide of Jews could attend instead.
Four of Israel’s government ministers have also said they will let survivors take their places at the event.
The Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem is being held in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
At least 47 world leaders or senior diplomats, including 26 presidents, four kings (from Spain, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg) and four prime ministers were in town for the event, officials have said.
Army Radio reported last week that only 30 of some 800 seats at the ceremony were reserved for actual survivors of the Holocaust, causing consternation among some uninvited survivors and their families. On Thursday, Simmy Allen, a spokesman for Yad Vashem, said “some 100” survivors were expected.
Israeli President hosts world leaders for state dinner
President Rivlin Addresses World Leaders at World Holocaust Forum
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told Holocaust survivors and world leaders that the world turned its back on Jews during the Holocaust, teaching the Jewish people that under threat they can only rely on themselves.
Speaking at the World Holocaust Forum’s memorial to commemorate the 75th liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp at Yad Vashem, Netanyahu said the world was similarly failing to unify against Iran, which he charged was the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet.
“Israel is eternally grateful for the sacrifice made by the Allies. Without that sacrifice there would be no survivors today. But we also remember that some 80 years ago, when the Jewish people faced annihilation, the world turned its back on us,” Netanyahu said.
“For many, Auschwitz is the ultimate symbol of evil. It is certainly that. The tattooed arms of those who passed under its infamous gates, the piles of shoes and eyeglasses seized from the dispossessed in their final moments, the gas chambers and crematoria that turned millions of people into ash, all these bear witness to the horrific depths to which humanity can sink,” he said.
“But for the Jewish people, Auschwitz is more than the ultimate symbol of evil. It is also the ultimate symbol of Jewish powerlessness. It is the culmination of what can happen when our people have no voice, no land, no shield.”
SpeechThe world turned its back on us: Full text of Netanyahu’s Holocaust Forum speech
The fight against the Nazi siege of Leningrad symbolized the strength and the spirit of Soviets fighting the Nazis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin said in their remarks at the opening on Thursday of a monument in Jerusalem to the defenders of Leningrad during its siege by the Nazis.
“It was a struggle in which residents of Leningrad saw how light defeats darkness, how spirit overcomes the hardships of the bodies,” Rivlin said. He recounted how the city was “bombed and starved by the cruel Nazi enemy,” and “children, women, elderly people and soldiers died, starved to death, froze and sacrificed their lives for their city and their homeland.”
An estimated 600,000 to 1.5 million residents of the city perished during the 900-day blockade of Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, among them tens of thousands of Jews, many of whom enlisted in the Red Army or joined volunteer militias that defended the city.
Rivlin pointed out that January 27 is a symbolic date for the shared history between Russia and the Jewish state, because on that date in 1944, the blockade on Leningrad was broken, and a year later, the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. That date is now International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Racism, antisemitism and hate… is a struggle that will continue for generations,” the president added, paying tribute to the Red Army’s “courage and strong stance against the cruel Nazi oppressor… The memory will live on for many years in the hearts of the coming generations.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Speaks at Leningrad Memorial in Jerusalem
Putin: Holocaust was perpetrated not only by Nazis but also by their ‘henchmen’
World Holocaust Forum: President Putin Inaugurates Leningrad Memorial in Jerusalem
US President Mike Pence on Thursday called for the world to stand up to Iran, drawing a parallel between the Islamic Republic and Nazi Germany.
Pence was speaking in Jerusalem during the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, where visiting dignitaries gathered to commemorate the Nazi genocide of Jews during World War II and mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.
Like other global leaders who spoke, Pence said “we must stand together” against the rising anti-Semitism in many countries across the world.
“In that same spirit, we must also stand strong against the leading state purveyor of anti-Semitism. The one government in the world that denies the Holocaust as a matter of state policy and calls to wipe Israel off the map,” he said.
“The world must stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Speaking before Pence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged action against “the tyrants of Tehran,” comparing what he considers the Iranian threat to the one that was posed by Nazi Germany.
He lamented that “we have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet, a regime that openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday that his nation had not fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust, as Jew-hatred was still growing.
In an emotional speech at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Steinmeier reiterated that his country assumes full responsibility for the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people.
“The industrial mass murder of six million Jews, the worst crime in humanity, was committed by my country. The terrible war, which cost over 50 million lives, originated in my country,” Germany’s head of state acknowledged.
“The Eternal Flame at Yad Vashem does not go out. Germany’s responsibility does not expire. We want to live up to our responsibility. By this, you should measure us,” he said. “Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, I stand here as the president of Germany, laden with guilt.”
Steinmeier, 64, was addressing some 50 world leaders participating in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, which convened in the Israeli capital to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
He began and ended his speech by reciting, in Hebrew, the Jewish “Shehehiyanu” blessing said at memorable occasions.
“Blessed be the Lord for enabling me to be here at this day,” he added in English.
Steinmeier expressed concern over continued anti-Semitism, noting a pattern of attacks on Jews in Germany, highlighting a shooting in October on a synagogue in the German city of Halle.
‘Laden with guilt’: Full text of German president’s World Holocaust Forum speech
President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem on Wednesday to discuss with them their memories of the period and their challenges in discussing the horrors they endured.
Steinmeier, who is in Israel for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum taking place at Yad Vashem on Thursday, met with the survivors at the Amcha center which provides Holocaust survivors with mental health and social support services.
The German president said that it had been important for him to meet with the survivors during his visit, and to hear from them.
“Whenever we speak to survivors we always ensure to speak about their lives and the lives of the victims, and not just about the numbers of those who were killed,” Steinmeier said.
He added that during his discussions of the Holocaust, he always talked of Germany’s responsibility for the genocide of the Jews, and said that he was always fighting against any inclination to draw a “finish line” under the story of the mass-murder of Europe’s Jews and in favor of perpetuating the memory of these events.
Speaking to world leaders gathered at Yad Vashem on Thursday, Britain’s Prince Charles warned of the “searingly relevant” lessons of the Holocaust while hatred and intolerance “still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims.”
Charles, who is representing the United Kingdom at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum now underway in Jerusalem, noted that his grandmother helped save a Jewish family during the Holocaust, and is one of the Righteous Among the Nations memorialized at Yad Vashem.
“I have long drawn inspiration from the selfless actions of my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who in 1943, in Nazi-occupied Athens, saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them,” he said.
“My grandmother, who is buried on the Mount of Olives, has a tree planted in her name here at Yad Vashem, and is counted as one of the Righteous Among the Nations – hasidei ummot ha`olam – a fact which gives me, and my family, immense pride.”
SpeechJewish and universal tragedy: Full text of Prince Charles Holocaust Forum speech
He oversees a nation — the largest in Europe — whose people’s foundational attitudes to its past, present and future, whose aspirations and sense of identity, vary, sometimes diametrically, as you move from west to east.
He’s trying to move his country away from extremism and cynicism to greater internal harmony and widened opportunity, even as many of the countries who might until recently have served as role models in this quest are heading in the opposite direction.
Yet he seems to be wearing the challenge impressively well. Trim and friendly, he welcomes me to his office with a warm handshake, and sits with me for 50 minutes — dealing with my questions carefully, sensitively, and when appropriate, with humor.
He speaks at length about the Holodomor, the Soviet-imposed deliberate famine of 1932-33, which killed millions, and with great respect for the victims of the Holocaust — and the need to bring a belated, honest historical account of these events into the open. He acknowledges but says less on the issue of Ukrainians’ participation in Holocaust crimes, preferring to highlight the actions of Ukraine’s Righteous Gentiles, and the relative marginality of overt anti-Semitism in modern Ukraine.
(Later in the day, when I visited the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War — built in the Soviet era as the Museum of the Great Patriotic War — an English-language guide at the section on the Babi Yar massacre was, significantly, telling her group that while others were killed there, “only Jews were killed for being Jews.” This simple, terrible truth contrasts with the norm in the Soviet era, when the fact that the Jews were targeted by the Nazis for genocide was not acknowledged. The Soviet memorial at Babi Yar, where 33,771 Jews were marched from their homes to be shot dead in the ravine on September 29-30, 1941, commemorates atrocities carried out against the Soviet people in general.)
Zelensky will be coming to Israel later this week, to attend the ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. He only formally confirmed his attendance on Sunday, a delay which gave rise to rumors he was considering staying away in protest at not being invited to speak at the main event. His Polish counterpart is boycotting the gathering for just this reason. Zelensky clarified in our conversation, however, that while he thinks he should indeed be asked to speak, he always intended to come — to honor the memory of the victims. He was, however, also grappling with the fallout from Iran’s mistaken downing of a Ukrainian airliner with the loss of all 176 lives, and needed to be sure that the bodies of the Ukrainian victims would be returned and that he could fulfill his responsibilities.
Zelensky speaks pretty good English, but answered much of the time in Ukrainian, using a translator and with input from his press secretary. (Given the potential for things to get lost in translation, and the sensitivities of some of the issues we discussed, I have confirmed the accuracy of the quotes with Zelensky’s office.) What follows is a transcript of our interview, edited for clarity.
Israeli journalist @BDYemini says it’s ‘kind of a contradiction’ for European leaders to attend the #WorldHolocaustForum because ‘many European countries are funding NGOs that are part of the anti-Semitic propaganda…’ pic.twitter.com/2CZZ3bMBO4
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) January 22, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron confronted Israeli security forces in the Old City of Jerusalem when he entered the Church of Saint Anne on Wednesday.
Macron ordered the men to leave the site. “Go outside,” the president said to security. “I’m sorry, you know the rules. Nobody has to provoke nobody.”
The reason is that the church is, legally speaking, French-held territory like an embassy and is under the protection of the French Republic.
The Israeli security officers have no more reason to enter the site with him than they would to enter his plane upon his return to France.
There is a precedent for this happening.
When former President Jacques Chirac visited Jerusalem’s Olc City in 1996, he lost patience with the Israeli security agents who were pressing him to move on, telling one of them that his treatment was a “provocation” and threatening to get back on his plane. He refused to enter St. Anne until Israeli security left the site.
“Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (@EAPPI) is spearheading a boycott Israel campaign, and they’re leading it from the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem’s Old City.” cc @dextervanzile @Oikoumenehttps://t.co/1C5nV8qirE
— Prof Gerald M Steinberg (@GeraldNGOM) January 23, 2020
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected in the Palestinian Authority later on Thursday, where he will meet Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, the official PA news agency WAFA reported. It will be Putin’s third visit to the PA in 15 years.
“The visit of President Putin and his meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas today comes at a critical time in light of the continuation of Israeli settlement activities, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and talk about annexation of settlements, not to mention the biased US positions toward the occupation,” Abdel Hafeez Nofal, the PA ambassador to Russia, told WAFA.
He said that the visit confirms Russia’s firm stance toward the two-state solution and the establishment of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967 borders. He explained that Abbas would discuss with Putin the possibility of pressuring Israel side to stop the escalation on the ground—whatever that means.
The WAFA report had absolutely nothing to say about the fact that the Russian president is coming to the PA from an event at Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, commemorating the Jewish experience in the Holocaust.
When Mahmoud Abbas served as head of the Palestinian-Soviet Friendship Foundation, he was working on a Ph.D. dissertation, which he later published in a book titled: “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism.” In it, Abbas suggested there was cooperation between the Nazis and the “global Zionist organization” known as the Jewish Agency. In the book, Abbas dismissed as a “myth” and “fantastic lie” that six million Jews had died in the Holocaust, writing that the real figure of Jews killed by Germans was at most “890,000” or “a few hundred thousand.” He claimed the 6 million figure had been exaggerated for political purposes:
Palestinians demonstrated in the Gaza Strip on Thursday to protest the visit of world leaders to Jerusalem to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum.
During the demonstration, which took place outside the offices of the United Nations in Gaza City, the protesters said the world leaders “chose the wrong site” to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Another demonstration, organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamist organization seeking to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate, condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Bethlehem. The protesters carried placards denouncing Putin as a “murderer” and “criminal” and accusing the Russian Army of committing “massacres” against the Syrian people.
Earlier, Hizb ut-Tahrir said the Palestinian Authority banned Palestinians from holding a similar protest in Ramallah against Putin. Despite the ban, dozens of Palestinians took to the streets of Ramallah Wednesday afternoon to protest against Putin.
As world leaders and royalty from 49 countries gather in Israel to remember the Holocaust and take a stand against rising antisemitism, leave it to the BBC to find a way to drag Israel’s name through the mud.
At the end of an otherwise nice profile of Holocaust survivor Rena Quint, reporter Orla Guerin goes on to editorialize about Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians. It has nothing to do with the story at hand, except in the minds of Guerin and her BBC editors.
The state of Israel is now a regional power. For decades, it has occupied Palestinian territories. But some here will always see their nation through the prism of persecution and survival. Orla Guerin, BBC News, Yad Vashem.
Translation: Israel is no better than the Nazis. If only the Jewish state would get over its siege mentality.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism includes “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” How twisted that Guerin makes such a claim from the very halls of Yad Vashem.
However, there is a teachable moment in all this. The IHRA’s definition of antisemitism has been adopted by a number of Western governments, including Italy this week. Guerin’s editorializing makes clear why news services also need to adopt IHRA’s definition.
This commentary by Orla Guerin on @BBCNews of Israeli soldiers visiting @yadvashem – the Holocaust memorial – is dishonest, damaging and obscene. Linking the destruction of 6m Jews with Israeli occupation is a lazy act of bias.pic.twitter.com/FwqbU6Jiqk
— Jonny Geller (@JonnyGeller) January 23, 2020
Amanda Bowman — vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — also condemned the BBC report, saying, “Orla Guerin’s attempt to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the horrors of the Holocaust was crass and offensive.”
Noting longstanding criticism of Guerin’s reporting on Israel, Bowman stated, “Her lack of partiality on the Israel-Palestine conflict has long been a matter of concern and it is questionable why the BBC would even use her for this sensitive assignment. As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day, the Jewish community is within its rights to expect an apology.”
Voices on Twitter also condemned Guerin’s statement. Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore wrote, “This @bbcnews commentary on Yad Vashem by Orla Guerin linking the Holocaust to the Israel’s West Bank occupation is truly foul — managing to be both shamefully amoral + historically inaccurate, utterly cynical and complacently self-righteous all [at] the same time.”
Gerald Steinberg, head of the monitoring group NGO Watch said, “@OrlaGuerin clearly violated journalistic ethics — she has a long history of #antiSemitism and Israel derangement going back at least 20 years.”
The organization Students Supporting Israel (SSI) asserted, “This @BBCNews report exposes the inherent problem and hate towards Jews & Israel in the British #Media.”
Guerin’s distaste for Israel and biased reporting have been a focus of concern and derision for decades. In 2015, The Independent quoted former BBC Chairman Lord Grade criticizing one of her reports for “equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli security forces in the act of carrying out terror attacks.”
“This directly misleads viewers,” he said.
The Guardian reported in 2004 that Natan Sharansky, then Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs, had called a Guerin report on a Palestinian child soldier “cynical manipulation of a Palestinian youngster for propaganda purposes.”
It showed, he said, “a deep-seated bias against Israel.”
Sharansky said the report applied “such a gross double standard to the Jewish state” that “it is difficult to see Ms. Guerin’s report as anything but antisemitic.”
It is difficult – no, it is impossible – to see this as anything other than Ms Guerin’s hatred of Israel spilling over into a desecration of the Holocaust. On this most solemn of occasions, linking the murder of six million Jews with Israeli occupation of the West Bank is simply obscene.
Note that ‘but’ in her final sentence. You Israelis, she is saying, are the bullies now, with your military and your occupation. ‘But’ you have the gall still to think of yourselves as being the persecuted.
Forget the historical illiteracy. Forget the self-righteous sneering. Forget everything about this despicable report except this: Ms Guerin represents the perfect distillation of the phenomenon which obsesses over Israel, the only sanctuary in the world for Jews, and does not merely decry the Jews having the right to such sanctuary – and thus, in the context of the Holocaust, the right to exist – but which turns the murder of six million Jews into an act of which it is the Jews who should somehow feel ashamed. It is the Jews, in other words, who do not live up to the memory of the Holocaust.
This attitude – never explicit, of course – is all around us. It provides the context for Labour antisemitism, for the bias of newspapers like the Guardian, and for rising antisemitism generally.
It is to the BBC’s eternal shame that it allows such a piece to be broadcast.
According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, adopted by the British Government, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is antisemitic.
Campaign Against Antisemitism will now make an official complaint to the BBC, which is a necessary precursor to making a complaint to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The BBC is supposed to inform the British public, not feed them propaganda. Few could imagine perverting what is supposed to be an educational piece about the Holocaust to instead fuel the very antisemitism that such education is supposed to prevent, but that is what the BBC has done. It was utterly appalling to watch Orla Guerin hijack a segment dedicated to remembering six million murdered Jews, and instead use it as a vehicle to desecrate the memory of the Holocaust with her hatred of the Jewish state. Ms Guerin and the BBC editors who allowed this to be aired must be made to face the consequences of this sick act, which is why we are now making an official complaint and will take the matter to Ofcom if necessary.”
Bateman’s literal ‘bottom line’ to a story ostensibly about Russian and Polish polemics relating to World War Two and the Holocaust comes in a section sub-headed ‘Betrayal of the Holocaust’. There he manages to reframe the story by uncritically quoting a contributor whose highly relevant political opinions are not revealed to BBC audiences – in clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines relating to “Contributors’ Affiliations”.
“But among his [Netanyahu’s] critics was the Israeli historian Prof Zeev Sternhell, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in Poland who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto as a child with the help of two Polish families.
He accuses Mr Netanyahu of embracing ultra-nationalists in Europe because they provide a counterweight to the EU’s “liberal wing” of France and Germany who are critical of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
“In order to get that alliance working he’s ready to pay a heavy price… And the heavy price is a betrayal of the Holocaust,” he says.”
Significantly, Bateman did not bother to remind readers of more recent events which can hardly be described as “embracing” the Polish stance.
Neither did he offer readers any contrasting view to the predictably controversial claim from Professor Sternhell that Israel’s prime minister is ‘betraying’ the Holocaust in order to counter criticism of “Israel’s occupation” and apparently neither did he offer the right of reply to that allegation.
The two police officers who detained the man accused of stabbing five people during an antisemitic attack on a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York, on Dec. 28 were honored in full by Rockland County on Tuesday.
NYPD officers David Radziwon and Russell Mattera were presented with a number of awards, including the distinguished service award — the Rockland County Legislature’s highest honor.
The officers captured the assailant Grafton Thomas during a traffic stop in Harlem, shortly after police say he fled the scene of the attack.
“We didn’t know the circumstances,” Mattera said Tuesday morning after he and Radizwon were presented with their awards. “We knew of the car they were looking for.”
Federal prosecutors filed hate crimes charges against Thomas on Dec. 30.
According to the FBI, handwritten journals confiscated from the suspect’s Greenwood Lake, New York, residence contained antisemitic sentiments including “referring to ‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘Nazi culture’” as well as a drawing of a swastika.
Just one month before the deadliest antisemitic mass shooting in US history on Oct. 27, 2018, which took the lives of 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Eilon Even-Esh was at a Jewish community in the city teaching self-defense. Unfortunately, he said, the class had a low turn out.
However, in light of the rise of antisemitism over the last few years, and especially since the Monsey machete attack on Dec. 28 at a rabbi’s home at a Hanukkah celebration, his phone has been ringing off the hook.
Even-Esh, who served in an elite unit in the Israeli Defense Forces where he learned Krav Maga (an IDF-developed style of self-defense) and later served as a captain in the US Marine Corps, has made it his mission to “instill strength and confidence” in the Torah-observant communities of the United States.
According to Even-Esh, this community tends to be less equipped for self-defense, despite being over-represented as the target of antisemitic attacks, as their members look “the most Jewish.”
Because these communities choose not to learn at co-ed karate dojos, they have less access to self-defense, he said.
That, added to “growing up in an un-athletic world,” makes it evermore important to teach religious communities the techniques of self-defense. His active shooter and stabber seminars teach people of all sizes and strengths to defend themselves.
The University of Warwick Students’ Union has released a passionate statement calling on the university to think again after Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft refused to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism because it does not offer “any added value.”
In its statement, the Warwick Students’ Union regretted that the university would not be adopting the Definition and would rely instead on the “framework of the values and principles developed over the past year to determine its response to allegations of racial discrimination and hate crime,” which the SU itself was “heavily involved” in producing.
However, the Students’ Union went on to note that “blanket terms like ‘values’ and ‘respect’ have always been subject to ambiguity and debate…[and do] not take into account the severity and nuance that often accompanies racial discrimination.” The SU further noted that “when working on the revamped Sexual Misconduct policy and procedures, it was widely agreed that a specific definition of sexual misconduct was a given for an effective process to be formulated.”
Similarly, the Students’ Union argued, “we cannot therefore place our trust in the University to take racism seriously – particularly in the area of discipline – without an equally specific definition of what racial discrimination actually entails. It is unacceptable for victims of racism to constantly have to explain and unpack their experiences in order to be taken seriously.”
The president of the University of Montana condemned a “hateful email” that was sent to some faculty and staff ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day which promulgated antisemitic conspiracies about Jews and the transatlantic slave trade.
The offending email, whose sender has not been identified, was received late Saturday by at least 380 email accounts, UM’s chief information officer, Renae Scott, said in comments to the Missoulian on Tuesday.
The message reportedly prompted recipients to print and distribute “a few hundred or thousand” copies of attached flyers, which included a link to the Nation of Islam’s book Jews Selling Blacks.
The book falsely claims that Jews dominated the transatlantic slave trade — an assertion that has been widely rejected as an antisemitic canard, with the American Historical Association denouncing “any statement alleging that Jews played a disproportionate role in the exploitation of slave labor or in the Atlantic slave trade.”
The email also allegedly directed recipients to watch speeches by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has accused “Satanic Jews” of controlling the world and shared views that have been denounced as misogynistic and homophobic.
and ?? Puma just signed a deal with Israeli football clubs lol 😂 https://t.co/A9nCiQh2jY
— Eye On Antisemitism (@AntisemitismEye) January 23, 2020
We’ve often argued that the British media’s anti-Israel bias is just as evident in the stories they ignore as in the skewed nature of the stories they do cover.
As such, the nearly complete failure of journalists assigned to region to report on the endemic antisemitism within Palestinian society, and the deleterious impact such anti-Jewish racism has on efforts at peace and co-existence, represents one of the more egregious problems with their reporting.
This failure is even more problematic when you consider that instances of Israeli racism, real and, often, imagined, is frequently the focus of media reports, as is the narrative that Israeli society is getting increasingly racist.
Though we’re accustomed to this institutional media blind spot and such double standards, at times there are instances of anti-Jewish racism so extreme that we’ve held out hope that it would possibly pique the interest of Jerusalem correspondents.
A case in point is a recent op-ed published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, a Palestinian newspaper controlled by the Palestinian Authority and whose editor was appointed by Mahmoud Abbas, literally calling for someone to shoot and kill a Jew during the Jerusalem events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
That’s not all.
Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, reported recently that Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement just produced a propaganda video about Jewish history in Europe (which it publicized on Fatah’s official Facebook page) claiming that Jews “led the project to enslave humanity”, and that Jewish behavior lead to European antisemitism:
Germany has banned the neo-Nazi group Combat 18 and raided the homes of its leading members across the country, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
Two hundred officers seized phones, laptops, weapon-related objects, clothing and Nazi relics, the ministry said in a statement.
Last year, Walter Luebcke, a senior local conservative politician known for pro-migrant views, was shot dead, and a man believed to be a far-right sympathizer was arrested on suspicion of murdering him.
Germany was also shocked when two people were shot dead last year near a synagogue in Halle in eastern Germany, while two years ago leaders of the neo-Nazi group NSU were convicted of killing immigrants in a spree that lasted years.
“Today’s ban gives a clear signal: right extremism and antisemitism have no place in our society,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement.
“The terror attacks of the NSU, the terrible murder of Walter Luebcke and the act of terror in Halle last year have given us a brutal illustration of the real danger that right-wing extremism poses to our free society,” he added.
Combat 18 originated in Britain in the early 1990s. Regional interior ministers in Germany have been calling for a ban for at least a year.
Neo-Nazi graffiti was discovered outside a synagogue in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Yellow swastikas were spray-painted on and near Temple Sinai, also known as the Wellington Jewish Progressive Congregation. The word “Heil” was also painted.
“One swastika was painted on the synagogue, one on a nearby fence and several others on the footpath and a fence on The Terrace,” a Wellington City Council spokesperson told Newshub. “People looking after the synagogue were able to paint over the swastika really quickly before the council got there to help.”
Temple Sinai chair Matthew Smith told New Zealand Media and Entertainment, “Events in New Zealand over the past year and beyond have left us with a sense of insecurity and vulnerability. I’m upset by it and outraged by it—that we are targeted like that—but at the same time I’m not entirely surprised.”
The graffiti comes as Israel holds the Fifth World Holocaust Forum and will commemorate on Jan. 23 the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. New Zealand did not send any representatives to the event.
Gerry Brownlee, a foreign-affairs spokesperson for the opposition National Party, called the absence “disgraceful.”
The British Army recently showed off a new concept for a Challenger 2 main battle tank optimized for urban operations, dubbed Streetfighter II. The vehicle has an Israeli-made IronVision distributed vision system, which allows the crew to see in all directions even while riding inside with all the hatches closed and a mock-up of a launcher for the increasingly popular Brimstone anti-tank missile on top of the turret.
Elements of the Royal Tank Regiment evaluated the Streetfighter II tank during exercises at Copehill Down earlier in January 2020. Copehill Down is one of the facilities within the U.K. Ministry of Defense’s expansive training area on Salisbury Plain and is set up to simulate what British forces refer to as Fighting In Built Up Areas, or FIBUA. In the United States, this is more commonly known as Military Operations in Urban Terrain, or MOUT. The British Army first began the Streetfighter project in December 2018
“One of the primary goals of Streetfighter is to identify capability gaps between ourselves and potential enemies and then to recommend technical solutions for those areas of possible tactic overmatch,” a member of the Royal Tank Regiment, identified only as Captain Quant, said in an official video presentation regarding the trials, seen below. “These are in areas like lethality, survivability, [and] situational awareness.”
The Streetfighter II tank, which carries a blocky brown-white-bluish gray camouflage scheme reminiscent of the ones that British Army armored vehicles stationed in Berlin wore toward the end of the Cold War, builds on the original prototype that the British Army created for the program when it began just over a year ago. The most significant addition is the inclusion of the IronVision system, which Israeli defense contractor Elbit first unveiled in 2018. The company says that it has been working with the British Army to integrate IronVision on the Streetfighter II vehicle since January 2019, according to Jane’s 360.
You could hear a pin drop as we all stood together just outside the door of the local clinic, focusing on a single light bulb above.
“One, two, three,” intoned Robert Khakhosi slowly, as the tension mounted.
The freshly installed solar-panel-powered light was switched on, and the air filled with the shrieks and joyful ululations of hundreds of Ugandan villagers.
For the first time ever, the local clinic in Iringa parish was now able to deliver babies in electric light around the clock. It will only now also operate a refrigerator for the safe storage of vaccinations and medicines.
The village-wide celebration marked the inauguration of the 279th project in Africa by an Israeli nonprofit organization, Innovation Africa.
Innovation Africa raises funds through private donors to bring solar panels to African villages. The organization has targeted three purposes for its projects: to light up schools so that pupils can study for longer, as well as the homes of teachers and principals; to power clinics to function 24/7 and to operate a variety of electricity-dependent machines; and to pump water up from underground aquifers and filter it before directing it along pipes to village faucets.
Sivan Ya’ari, born in Israel, raised in France, and educated in the United States, is the founder and CEO of Innovation Africa. Her interest began 20 years ago when she worked for a factory in Madagascar. Struck by the poverty she saw around her, she came to the conclusion that the main lever for change was energy. That pushed her to do a master’s degree in International Energy Management and Policy at Columbia University.
Over the past decade, Innovation Africa has completed projects in 10 African countries, helping to better 1.7 million lives.
Gal Gadot is many things — superstar actress known for playing Wonder Woman, model and pitchwoman, IDF veteran, unofficial goodwill ambassador for Israel— and now she’s a fearless vampire hunter.
At least she plays one in her new commercial for the HOT cable network, where she chases Zion Baruch, the star of the hit show, Juda, on which he plays a small-time mobster visiting Romania who is turned into a vampire. HOT released two clips on Instagram. In the first, a teaser for a longer ad, Gadot drives a red car with white stripes that looks like a Cooper mini through a parking garage — or a vampire bat cave? — as Baruch as Juda jumps onto the car, baring his fangs and flaunting a fur coat.
In a second video released by HOT, Gadot rehearses the company’s English slogan, “There’s no place like HOT.”
In a behind-the-scenes video released on Good Evening with Guy Pines, Gadot is shown saying the line, “You need to think fast, and react fast,” then criticizing herself, saying, “That was terrible,” before she tries it again. Good Evening showed Gadot and Baruch playing a video game together, and asked her how she likes working in Hebrew. “It’s so much fun and so comfortable,” she says, adding that she enjoyed working with friends. Baruch, who is 15 centimeters shorter than the statuesque actress/model most famous for playing an Amazon warrior, stood on a box to play opposite her. He also dreams of international stardom, thinking that if Gadot, a girl from Rosh HaAyin, could make it abroad, so can a guy from Ramle, and he notes that wherever he goes outside of Israel, everyone wants to know if he is a friend of Gadot.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.