Jews have always been blamed for plagues – coronavirus is no different
This is why the attacks that come from both left and right, and from both Islamists and fascists (though the latter are in fact easy bedfellows in their toxicity and extremity) are so identical in form and tone. As I wrote in The Spectator last month, coronavirus is a boon to the propagandist because of its immense malleability. Because it’s invisible, it can take on the face of any enemy your narrative – be it left, right, Jihadist or fascist – needs. You can project onto it what you will. And people do and are, in their droves.
Still, we must remember that this is not the Middle Ages. Jews are being blamed (by some) for the virus, they are not being hurt or killed en masse for it. When China’s perceived responsibility for coronavirus means Asian Americans are being assaulted on a daily basis, a sense of moral perspective is required.
What the contemporary moment does show is that while hatreds often evolve or at least mutate, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they just metastasize. The Jews no longer poison wells to spread the plague; they engineer it in biolabs. The Devil doesn’t give them immunity from it, Mossad does.
It is easy to dismiss all this as nonsense. I would suggest that this is an error. Coronavirus has shrunk the world’s attention to a degree previously unseen in our lifetimes. People are looking for answers – and once again, scapegoats. This will continue long after we come out of isolation and even after a vaccine is found (should those dates be different). Narratives of Jewish or Zionist culpability now threaten in ways they previously did not. Across the Middle East and in pockets of the West these ideas are the epistemological backdrop to everyday life: their hatred is leavened by their banality. If these societies suffer mass deaths the hatred will remain, the banality will not.
Almost three years ago a man shot up a DC Pizzeria because he believed online reports that Hillary Clinton was operating a paedophile ring out of it. It was the perfect embrace of the sinister and the absurd. Now false reports rise once more. The time of coronavirus is a time of fear and paranoia. If the death count rises it is just a matter of time before acts of violence against Jews rise along with it. And as the cliché goes, what starts with Jews never ends with Jews. The world must resist this poison, and resist it now, for all our sakes.
Faceless anti-Semitic vandalism has been unimpeded by requests that people remain at home to contain COVID-19’s spread. On March 28, just days after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan closed all nonessential businesses and “urged Marylanders to…stay home,” an unknown man ventured out at around 1:30 a.m. to deface the Rockville, Maryland, Tikvat Israel Congregation synagogue with swastikas and other hateful graffiti. Anti-Semitic and racist graffiti was also discovered in two locations in Bedford, Massachusetts, on Saturday. Massachusetts residents were asked to “do their part … and stay home” starting March 24.
With the recent global rise in anti-Semitism, it should come as no surprise that coronavirus-related anti-Semitism has not been confined to the U.S., but is found across the world and throughout the political spectrum. The Anti-Defamation League reports specific incidents of COVID-19-linked anti-Semitism emanating from far-right groups in France and Switzerland, government-sponsored sources in Iran and Turkey, and far-left groups in Spain and Venezuela.
Jews control the banks.
Jews control the media.
Jews control the weather.
And NOW Jews control viruses.
When do we have time to sleep?? 😂 pic.twitter.com/EMLFZITaGG
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) March 18, 2020
A reminder of the anti-Semitic tragedies that united Americans in December 2019 briefly pierced the coronavirus news cycle last week. On March 29, 72-year-old Josef Neumann died from the serious brain injuries he sustained on December 28, when anti-Semitic attacker Grafton Thomas used an 18-inch machete to attack Jews gathered for Hanukkah at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York.
A week after Neumann was attacked, his youngest daughter opined that his family “hope[s] he wakes to a changed world with peace, unity, and love for all.”
Though the momentum of the fight against anti-Semitism has flagged since the start of 2020, the hatred itself continues, fueled by the contortions of those whose impassioned hatred of Jews and the Jewish state of Israel knows no bounds. In honor of Neumann’s untimely passing, and in pursuit of a “changed world,” people of all backgrounds must reinvigorate their important battle against a dangerous and pervasive prejudice. (h/t Zvi)
Commentary Magazine Podcast: The Pandemic in Israel
American-Israeli journalist Ruthie Blum joins the podcast to discuss how the Coronavirus pandemic has reshaped Israeli society and politics.
Latma 2020, Corona Days, Episode 3
Our health correspondent explains the statistics on the statistics, Gantz’s voice changes and our favorite, Tawil Fadiha, in his first interview this season
Shmuley Boteach: ‘The Guardian’ calls Trump a Nazi and Jews his enablers
The TV series based on Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America is now airing on HBO. The story is a disturbing one that envisions Charles Lindbergh defeating Franklin Roosevelt in the presidential election on the platform that he will keep America out of war. Antisemitism becomes accepted to the point where Jews see frightening parallels with the persecution of Jews in Germany.
Guardian journalist Charles Bramesco decided to use a review of the series to attack Jews in general, and me in particular, as being a source of American antisemitism. As Jewish communities around the world are decimated by the coronavirus, Bramesco – who openly and expressly accuses President Donald Trump of being a Nazi – libelously accuses Jews of being pansies for the Hitler-like Trump and fascism.
Bramesco describes the Roth character of Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf, played by the John Turturro, as a stereotypical court Jew who defends Lindbergh against allegations of antisemitism, prompted in part by his flirtations with Hitler, and is rewarded with a position in the administration. Even as persecution of Jews escalates, the rabbi continues to be an enabler of the president.
“Bengelsdorf,” Bramesco writes, “typifies a lethal combination of confidence to the point of gullibility and an excessive fondness of power, which breed complicity in wrongdoing.”
Inexplicably, Bramesco then pivots to me and the object of his unfathomable loathing, Donald Trump. Apropos of nothing, he compares me to Bengelsdorf and President Trump to Charles Lindbergh (and perhaps Adolf Hitler?) He also employs a little Yiddish, calling me a worldwide shanda (embarrassment), “cozying up to President Trump in the presumptive belief that he’ll be exempt from the hatred now being seeded.”
So Jews are responsible for the antisemitism that Trump is sowing in the United States. According to The Guardian, we Jews are culprits and not victims of Jew-hatred.
Across the world through the internet and the media, private individuals, organizations and politicians are finding the opportunities to spread harsh statements, incitement, and finger-pointing at the Jewish people. The era we are living through, which no doubt will go down in the history books as one of the most critical for the human race, is sending us back to the darkest of times. To the bleak times of pogroms, drumhead court-martials, and massacres of our people.
But it is precisely at this time that we can bring together the heads of Jewish communities around the world and put together an operational plan for an uncompromising battle against anti-Semitism. We must use all means at our disposal and proudly raise our heads in these difficult days.
The World Zionist Organization strengthens the hand of the diaspora Jewish community at this time. It is an expression of the shared destiny of our people, and we will act as a fortified wall against anti-Semitism in all its forms.
The current uncertainty is likely to reinforce the sense of mutual responsibility in our people, and highlight the Jewish and Zionist values in continuing our shared destiny. The crisis may also help us get over disputes within our people – for example between some parts of the American Jewish community and the State of Israel – if we learn to listen, to converse and to come together in unity.
The nation of Israel with its history of persecution, and exile, is a strong nation. The milestones paved by the nation of Israel, that long path that was built over thousands of years and led to remarkable progress in civilization, will also pave the way for the unyielding unity of the nation at this time.
“They helped every one of his neighbors; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage,” it says in the Book of Isaiah. The nation of Israel is stronger than ever today. With hope and unity before our eyes, we will continue to raise our heads proudly and face the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the pandemic of bigotry and anti-Semitism.
Hatred against Jews has spiked in Germany with the spread of the new coronavirus, the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner warned Tuesday.
“There are direct links between the current spread of the coronavirus and that of anti-Semitism,” Felix Klein said in Berlin at the launch of a new government research project into the issue.
“There is a boom in conspiracy theories in times of crisis,” he said, describing anti-Semitism as a virus of its own that is “contagious on a social level.”
For example, he cited claims circulating online that the pandemic is the result of a failed bioweapon test by the Israeli secret service.
“In recent weeks, right-wing radicals have increasingly tried to leverage the coronavirus crisis for their own ends,” Klein said.
Anti-Semitic crimes have increased steadily in Germany in recent years.
An Argentine journalist apologized after saying that the coronavirus was created by rich Americans and Israelis during a prime-time news program.
Tomás Méndez, host of the popular ADN Tv, said on Wednesday that “bats are not responsible for the coronavirus, humans are.”
Those humans, he said, are “the richest of the world, some born in the United States, others in Israel and another in Europe,” who “are the owners of your life, who created this virus.” He singled out the Rothschild family, who often appear in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and Bill Gates.
His comments triggered harsh criticism.
“Linking the Jewish community to economic power and conspiracies shows a clear anti-Semitic matrix of behavior,” the National Institute Against Xenophobia and Racism, or INADI, said in a statement on Twitter.
Mendez made “a stupid statement that only an anti-Semite can formulate. The association of power, tragedy and responsibility of the powerful in them is old and by including Israel in it, we know what he is talking about,” the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Agencies said in a statement.
On Thursday, Mendez apologized during the program: “I want to apologize to the Jewish people if they felt offended yesterday and yes, they felt that way.” (h/t Zvi)
JPost Editorial: Don’t scapegoat the haredim for the coronavirus crisis
Pictures of haredim holding large weddings after the government prohibited gathering of more than 10 people, or recordings of respected rabbis saying that learning in yeshivot should go on even after the Health Ministry closed down schools, are indeed maddening. But so, too, were photos of crowded Tel Aviv beaches after the regulations went into effect.
Yet no reasonable person would generalize and say that most Tel Aviv residents were thumbing their noses at the rules, because that would be a ridiculous generalization. However, there is no similar compunction by many to look at the behavior of some in the haredi community and conclude from the actions of a few that most ultra-Orthodox do not feel bound by the rules of the state.
When it comes to the ultra-Orthodox, there is all too often a tendency to think the worst. If Bnei Brak needs to be curfewed, if the virus is worse in haredi neighborhoods than in other areas, it must be because they don’t abide by the rules that obligate us all.
Not necessarily. It also has to do with extremely crowded living situations in these communities, with large families crammed into small apartments with no way possible to self quarantine.
The coronavirus is causing hardships and suffering for everybody – the haredim included. There are many sociological and cultural reasons why the community reacted slowly, but they are suffering badly. Now is the time to help them overcome the crisis and relieve their suffering, as the government is trying to do. Now is not the time to turn them into the country’s coronavirus scapegoat.
To be sure, there are individuals in Haredi circles, as in other communities, who continued — and continue — to doubt the severity of the situation even after once-skeptics like me, and the vast majority of Haredim, long since recognized the reality. But these people are certainly a minority. For most of the Haredi community, it wasn’t stubborn flouting of medical advice but rather the dovetailing of innocent ignorance about the virus and human interactions on Purim that was the main engine of infection in Haredi communities.
Much of the media focus was on Bnei Brak, which became a hotspot for the virus’s spread in Israel. It is the most densely populated town in Israel, and its families are large and live in close proximity with others — factors that inevitably facilitate the spread of viruses even when all proper precautions are taken.
Of course, media reports ignored this, placing the blame squarely on the allegedly irresponsible residents of the town and their leaders — despite the fact that once clear regulations were instituted in Bnei Brak, the rabbinic leadership both in the town and throughout Israel quickly came to realize the virus’s threat and insist on absolute compliance with all of the regulations instituted by the Israeli Department of Health.
The calls have been heeded by all but the tiniest minority of the community. Top rabbis called for the closing of all synagogues This, in a society where men come together to pray in the synagogue three times a day and the synagogue is an important religious anchor. The maintenance of proper “personal distance,” moreover, has become the norm in that town, and gatherings of even a few people have all but disappeared.
And when the Israeli health department finally banned even outdoor prayer quorums, one of the most respected religious leaders in Israel, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, who heads the famous Ponevezh Yeshiva, declared that under current circumstances, public prayer is “a danger, impossible… a sin.”
But Haredi bashers, as always, saw only what they wanted to see. “Virus Soars Among Ultra-Orthodox Jews as Many Flout Israel’s Rules,” proclaimed The New York Times, despite the fact that the Times’ report itself noted the other factors that strongly figure into the equation.
Under normal circumstances, Rabbi Eitan Rubin’s yeshiva, Beit Midrash of Great Neck, is occupied — no surprise here — by students.
Lately, though, he has been using his school as a makeshift distribution center from which he delivers thousands of masks and hand sanitizer dispensers — for free — to New York City hospitals, which are in desperate need of personal protective equipment as COVID-19 continues to spread.
The story of how Rubin got here is a fortuitous one — and an example of the many selfless acts being carried out by private individuals in response to the pandemic. It is also, the rabbi said, an illustration of what can be accomplished when businesses make an effort to perform charitable acts in a time of crisis.
In mid-March, Rubin got a call from Stephen Odzer, a business associate in Nevada who distributes janitorial supplies and other products. Odzer wanted to know if the rabbi could find investors to help buy more masks and hand sanitizer, which had become increasingly difficult to find.
But the 35-year-old rabbi had another idea.
He would be glad to help out on the business side, he told Odzer — a Brooklyn native whose son studies at the rabbi’s yeshiva — but why not perform a good deed in the process and give some of the goods to New York’s hospitals in desperate need of them?
“My feeling was that if we’re not going to help the people who are helping us, that’s just very callous,” Rubin told Jewish Insider.
Odzer was immediately receptive, agreeing to an initial charitable donation of $100,000 worth of goods. He also promised to ship whatever else the rabbi asked for at cost and on credit.
“It’s a drop in the bucket of what’s needed, but we’re doing our part,” Odzer told JI.
When the European Union was founded in 1993, it had clear goals in mind — creating a new era of peace and stability in both Europe and the world. Over the years, this powerful entity has indeed helped create a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
However, one aspect of the union that has been continuously criticized is their involvement with, and funding of, organizations with undeniable ties to terrorist entities — like War on Want.
War on Want is a London-based NGO that self-describes as an anti-poverty charity. Yet a simple scratch beneath the surface exposes an organization that maintains steep anti-Israel sentiments, as well as connections to terrorist entities.
NGO Monitor described War on Want as the “leader and mobilizer of [the] anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions,) movement.” BDS has long been known for its radical anti-Israel beliefs and its terrorist connections. A report aptly named “Terrorists in Suits” found over 100 links between Hamas and BDS. The leading BDS committee includes a coalition of 28 Palestinian entities — among them terror groups, such as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Interpal is another group that funds War on Want. Interpal is not only designated as a terrorist organization by countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia, but was described by the US Department of the Treasury as “a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to Hamas.”
The relationship between War on Want and leading anti-Israel terrorist groups is so close that, in October 2018, PayPal ceased providing services to War on Want in an effort to limit their cash-flow to these dangerous groups.
The whole world is changing – but not for J Street, which, virus or no virus, is still devoting itself to persuading members of US Congress to embrace the Palestinian cause.
Over the past several weeks, J Street was mobilizing its supporters around the country to urge them to “demand the administration release vital assistance to help the Palestinians combat the coronavirus pandemic.”
Think about that. In the midst of an epidemic that has left US hospitals desperately short of emergency equipment and has resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs, J Street is trying to convince the government to give millions of taxpayers’ dollars to two anti-American terrorist regimes: the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Talk about tone-deaf! Completely oblivious to the suffering of American citizens, J Street’s top priority is to give American money to two of the most vicious America-hating regimes in the world.
It’s not just a matter of priorities. It’s not just that most Americans don’t want their money going to anti-American regimes. It’s also a matter of funding terrorists.
The PA proudly pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of dead terrorists. Foreign aid is fungible. If the United States gives the PA money for one part of its budget – health care – that frees up money to pay terrorists.
Same for Hamas. Practically every week, Hamas terrorizes southern Israel with rockets or flaming balloons (on March 29, it launched a rocket into Sderot). If America sends money to Gaza for any purpose, that will enable Hamas to spend other money on terrorism.
Despite these facts, J Street plunged ahead with its lobbying effort, and last week, a group of US senators and representatives sent a letter to the secretary of state, pleading for money to be sent to the PA and Hamas regimes.
Thousands of Americans have died of the coronavirus. But ‘Gaza Firster’ Democrats don’t care.
Eight Senate Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, dispatched a four-page letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding to know what America was doing about the coronavirus.
Not in America. In Gaza.
According to the Senate letter, “as of March 24, the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Gaza Strip.”
That’s two cases. Two. The United States has over 200,000 as of now.
By the time you read this, there will be many more.
Bernie and Leahy’s Vermont has 293 cases. But Sanders cares more about Gaza than Burlington. Warren’s Massachusetts has 6,620 cases. Van Hollen’s Maryland has 1,660 cases. Udall’s New Mexico has 315 cases. Thomas Carper’s Delaware has 319 cases. Jeff Merkley’s Oregon has 660 cases. Sherrod Brown’s Ohio has 2,199 cases.
None of these eight Democrats represent states that are free of the pandemic. All of them represent states that have far more severe coronavirus problems than the terrorist occupied West Bank or Gaza.
Unfortunately, they’re Gaza Firsters.
good. I don’t even know the ‘aoc-backed progressive’ but she’s gotta be better than the open antisemite she’s running against for the Dem nomination https://t.co/plJlcteFdP
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) April 7, 2020
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) April 7, 2020
— (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool) April 6, 2020
Hanlon’s Razor admonishes us, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,” but that piece of advice fails to account for the axiomatic evil inherent in those of the Hebrew persuasion. I therefore propose to amend the aphorism by the addition of the subordinate clause, “unless Jews are involved.”
The aphorism itself appeared in more or less its current form about forty years ago, but it has antecedents in English and other languages as early as the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, none of those previous iterations of the idea include the important proviso concerning inborn Jewish wickedness, rendering their application just as problematic. When it comes to Jews, our initial reaction must take for granted their manipulative, greedy, parasitic nature, and only when overwhelming evidence appears to militate in favor of incompetence, ignorance, or mental incapacity may we relinquish our assumption of Jewish malice at the root of the event.
This approach carries the added benefit of saving time and mental energy. We can cut right to the chase and skip all the superfluous analysis that too-frequently takes even people of goodwill (obviously that excludes Jews) in unproductive, even counterproductive, directions that fail to posit Jews as the source of misfortune. It allows us to maintain long-held assumptions such as the veracity of Jewish use of gentile blood in their Passover bread, for example, when investigating or calling into question those assumptions can only delay, or worse, undermine a suitable response.
HonestReporting: Pharmaceutical Magazine’s Gaza Story is Medical Negligence
According to its mission statement, “Pharmafile.com is a leading portal for the pharmaceutical industry, providing industry professionals with pharma news, pharma events, pharma service company listings and pharma jobs.”
Pharmafile.com also has an associated trade magazine Pharmafocus. One wouldn’t expect a pharmaceutical magazine to stray into the realm of geopolitics. Unfortunately, this is exactly where it has gone with the prejudicially titled “Israeli blockade has made COVID-19 a “death sentence” in Gaza.”
— Pharmafocus (@Pharmafocus) April 6, 2020
Nobody should underplay the potential seriousness of the coronavirus threat to Gazans or anywhere else in the world. However, medical professionals and people in the pharmaceutical industry deserve factually-based evidence rather than hyperbole when it comes to assessing the threat.
In the first instance, blaming the “Israeli blockade” for a “death sentence” is obscene. At the time of writing, Gaza has 12 confirmed coronavirus cases and no deaths. Becoming infected with the virus, while potentially life-threatening, is in no way a death sentence according to global statistics. Thankfully, most of those with corona symptoms recover. It is also worth considering that the relatively young population of Gaza (a median age of around 17 years old) would indicate a potentially higher survival rate.
The author asserts that the “Israeli blockade and attacks on Hamas, which often result in civilian casulties, has put the region’s healthcare system on the brink of collapse.” Nowhere, however, does he consider that the Gaza Ministry of Health is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization. Nowhere does he ask the question as to why Gaza’s Hamas rulers have failed to invest in medical facilities and infrastructure such as hospitals and equipment. Could it be that huge amounts of money have been spent on rockets, weapons, attack tunnels and terror infrastructure at the expense of ordinary Gazans? Could it be that a terrorist organization is capable of gross mismanagement?
The writer fails to reveal that, in addition to the 200 testing kits he mentions, 1,000 additional kits, donated from the World Health Organization (WHO), reached Gaza via Israel on March 26, and an additional 1500 kits were transferred to the strip on April 2.
Moreover, the suggestion that Israel has a moral or legal responsibility to pay for Gaza healthcare is an untenable position. Even the most hardcore pro-Palestinian activists who argue for an easing of or end of Israel’s blockade don’t argue that Israel should actually use its own funds to purchase items needed by the territory, only that there should be an interrupted flow of people and goods. And, as we stated, there are no restrictions on COVID-19 related or any other medical items entering Gaza.
The article continues:
The Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip was imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took control of the region during the 2006 elections and the subsequent conflict with Fatah. This devastated the region’s economy leading to a shortage of basic necessities like food, water and electricity and also put a huge strain on the region’s hospitals.
In addition to the fact that there are absolutely no Israeli restrictions on food, basic necessities and purely humanitarian aid entering Gaza, the paragraph erases the most vital context: more than 12,000 rockets fired at Israel by terrorists in the strip since 2005 – including around 1,000 from 2005, the year of Israel’s withdrawal, to 2007, the year the blockade began. It’s of course the terror directed towards Israeli civilians – in flagrant violation of international law – by fanatical groups committed to the state’s annihilation which prompted the blockade.
Just as bad science and faulty data lead to bad outcomes for infectious disease patients, irrational, hate-driven decisions by Hamas inevitably lead to bad outcomes for Palestinians.
“It’s up to Israel,” a Foreign Policy opinion headline blares, “to stop a coronavirus catastrophe among Palestinians.”
The March 30, 2020, commentary — by Zaha Hassan and Hallaamal Keir of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace — blames Israel for the decisions of Palestinian leaders. Both writers hold Israel responsible for the threat that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to Palestinians. And both omit and distort facts in order to do so.
Hassan and Keir begin by congratulating the Palestinian Authority (PA), the entity that controls the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). “Quick action by the PA” is why the “total number of reported coronavirus cases in the occupied Palestinian territories has … been relatively low up to now.”
However, both writers are reluctant to acknowledge the numerous measures that Israel has taken to help Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of whom live under the rule of the PA or Hamas, the US-designated terror group that rules the Gaza Strip.
Israel has given substantial coronavirus aid to both the PA and Gaza. Israel has delivered hundreds of medical kits and supplies, including coronavirus tests, as well as protective gear, to the PA. Indeed, the PA and Israel have established a “joint operations room to combat the virus,” as The Jerusalem Post reported on March 18.
As one unnamed Palestinian official told reporter Khaled Abu Toameh: “We have been working with the Israeli authorities from day one to fight the virus.” Additionally, “most of the measures we took in the Bethlehem area after the first cases were detected were done in full coordination with the Israeli authorities.”
Five teenagers were arrested on March 31 for allegedly assaulting and robbing a Chabad rabbi at Yale University earlier that evening.
New Haven Independent reported that two of the teens – both of whom are 16 – approached Chabad House’s Rabbi Yehoshua Rosenstein while he was on a phone call outside the house. One of the teens said to Rosenstein, “Give us everything you have, you f—ing Jew!” before they punched and kicked him to the ground. They stole his car keys and drove off with his vehicle.
Police later chased down the stolen vehicle and arrested the five teens inside the car. The two 16-year-olds face hate crime, assault and conspiracy charges; the other three teens – ages 15, 16 and 17 – face charges of robbery, larceny, conspiracy and weapon in a motor vehicle, as a gun was found in the car.
Rosenstein was not hospitalized for his injuries. “I will be OK,” he told the Independent. “It happened. I’m traumatized. I’ll rally. I have a great support system.”
He added, “I’m grateful to God for sparing my life. I’m grateful to God for being alive and waking up this morning to spend time with my wife and kids and community. This could have been a disaster.”
Police are searching for an unidentified man who scrawled antisemitic graffiti at the entrance to the Chabad religious movement’s office in Brookline, Massachusetts, next to Boston.
The act of vandalism was caught by security camera footage just before 2 a.m on Monday.
It showed a heavy-set white man wearing dark glasses and with a cigarette dangling from his mouth approaching the building, where he left antisemitic epithets written in the Russian language alongside a symbol that resembled a swastika.
Police are treating the incident as a hate crime.
The New England office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced a $1,000 reward for information about the offender on Tuesday.
“This antisemitic act represents a direct threat to the Jewish community and is a reminder that hate never rests, even in a pandemic,” ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan said in a statement. “We are grateful to Brookline police who remain on the front lines, sacrificing themselves to keep us safe.”
Spain’s ambassador to the United States and the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain discussed the challenges of, and response to, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in that country in an online briefing sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 135,000 people in the hard-hit Western European country have been confirmed as having the coronavirus, and more than 13,000 have died, accounting for nearly 20 percent of worldwide deaths from the disease.
“The situation is really terrible; we have to admit that it’s very oppressive,” said Ambassador Santiago Cabanas on April 3. “The numbers are sobering, but Spain is fighting this pandemic like most countries, with all its strengths.”
Though they account for just .08 percent of the population with some 45,000 Jews registered as being a part of a Jewish community, they are well-integrated in Spanish society, according to Isaac Querub, the Federation’s president.
“At this stage, we start knowing and putting a name and face to the people who have died; everyone in Spain knows someone who has died or in the hospital who is sick,” he said. Among the 13 Jewish communities in Spain, approximately 80 people have the virus, and six have passed away.
Querub said that the chevra kadisha, the Jewish burial society, has “an agreement with local authorities so we can keep burying our people in our Jewish tradition.”
A Passover haggadah produced from memory while in hiding from the Nazis, a matzah cover retrieved after the Holocaust, and an image of matzah baking in the Lodz ghetto.
These are just some of the many artifacts and photographs which have been put together by Yad Vashem for its new, online exhibition recalling the Passover holiday during the Holocaust era.
The exhibition, which is now online, illustrates the stories of Jews caught up in the horrors of the Nazi genocide and cataclysmic world war who, despite unimaginable difficulties, still sought to bake matzah, hold a Passover Seder, and fulfill the religious obligations of the festival.
One artifact highlighted in the exhibition is a Passover haggadah, the text recited at the Seder ceremony, written down from memory by a father and son in hiding in Poland.
Prominent businessman Shmaryahu Landau and his wife Sarah, together with their children Elimelekh, Judah and Tamar lived in Borislav, eastern Poland before the Second World War broke out.
The Landau family lived through the Soviet occupation of their region, and survived Nazi oppression and roundups until February 1943, when Shmaryahu and Sarah decided to take the family into hiding.
The family hid in the home of one Anna Kushiotko whose house, situated on the outskirts of the city, was surrounded by a high wall.
One of the many tragedies of the coronavirus is that people are dying as statistics, not as individuals. And, in the Jewish community, social distancing rules are preventing people from mourning their loved ones with traditional funerals, shiva or Kaddish rituals.
The Jerusalem Post is proud to participate in a project to memorialize those who were and will be lost to the lethal virus with a new online platform. This is done in conjunction with Carmel 6000, a non-profit organization made of Jewish volunteers in Israel and abroad creating technological solutions to social problems.
The Yizkor Project is a place to share the stories of the people lost to COVID-19, to learn about them, who they were, what they achieved in life and what they left behind. It is a space to memorialize them and to remember them.
We invite you to fill out a form on the website and to share with us the story of your loved one.
We pray that this pandemic ends swiftly and that the souls of those lost remain bound in the bond of life.
Frida Wattenberg was too young to get a driver’s license when the Nazis invaded her native France in 1940.
But three years later, at the age of 19, she was already risking her life by helping to drive Jewish children out of occupied France into neutral Switzerland.
Wattenberg died in Paris on April 3 from the coronavirus. She was 96.
“She was a courageous woman and an indefatigable fighter,” the Memorial for the Shoah wrote in an obituary.
Born in Paris in 1924 to Jewish parents who had immigrated from the central Polish city of Lodz, Wattenberg was an activist in the Jewish youth movement HaShomer Hatzair from her early teens. Months after the Germans invaded, Wattenberg, then 16, was recruited into the resistance.
In 1942, she secured her mother’s release from Vel d’Hiv, the notorious internment point for Parisian Jews, by obtaining documents indicating her mother was an employee of a factory deemed vital to the German war effort. A year later, she was in Grenoble, in southeastern France, helping smuggle Jewish children, many of them orphans, across the border to safety.
“It was horrible what went on all over Europe,” Wattenberg said in a detailed, 97-minute testimony that she gave the Memorial for the Shoah in 2014, when she was 90. “We couldn’t save the adults always. But we tried to do what we could for the children.”
This is a Passover like no other. May it nonetheless be a time of meaning, reflection, kindness and healing as we celebrate the transition of the Nation of Israel from slavery to freedom. Wishing all a Chag Sameach, a happy and healthy Passover. pic.twitter.com/IpfNTkF22G
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) April 7, 2020
In the shadow of the coronavirus, Natan Sharansky, a man who spent nine years incarcerated as a Prisoner of Conscience – much of it in solitary confinement – says that this Passover is an opportunity for the Jewish people to feel connected.
“We will meet without grandchildren, without our big families, without our friends, I have to tell you it is a great opportunity to feel connected, Sharansky, this year’s Genesis Prize Laureate, said.
In a video message, the legendary advocate for freedom, democracy and human rights talks about how he once had his Passover Seder in a “punishing cell,” where he was served nothing but three pieces of dry bread and three cups of water per day.
“I decided my three cups of water would be my wine and my three pieces of dry bread would be my matza,” Sharansky recalled. “And my salt would be my maror,” bitter herbs.
“I found out that this is the great place to feel the unique struggle of the Jewish people – to be connected with every Jew in the world,” he continued, “and to enjoy thinking that this year we are slaves and next year we free people in Jerusalem.”
An inspiring Passover message from our former Chairman and #GenesisPrize2020 Laureate #NatanSharansky. Natan has asked that his $1M #GenesisPrize award be donated to help organizations and individuals impacted by the #COVID19 pandemic.@TheGenesisPrize #Mensch #Passover pic.twitter.com/7rNXuPN86Q
— The Jewish Agency for Israel (@JewishAgency) April 6, 2020
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) April 7, 2020
Rabbi Sacks – Emerging from Crisis, Stronger | SWUConnect #10
Join StandWithUsConnect with the exceptional Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks who will share his reflections on how we will emerge from this crisis. Hear his thoughts on the fight against antisemitism and the centrality of Israel in Jewish life.
Perhaps the best preparation for Passover ever. Take 30 minutes, go for a walk, and listen to Meir Soloveichik teach: https://t.co/Tbsuu7l8Sf
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) April 6, 2020
Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv. Heroes. pic.twitter.com/NaFUlOKvWf
— Neri Zilber (@NeriZilber) April 6, 2020
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