January 20, 2019

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04/11 Links Pt2: Linda Sarsour’s “Palestinian blood”; Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Well in Berlin; Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem on May 16


From Ian:

Linda Sarsour’s “Palestinian blood”
Let’s take a quick look at the history of El-Bireh, the town from which Sarsour’s parents came, and see if we can figure out what kind ofblood they passed on to their daughter.

Located nine miles north of Jerusalem, El-Bireh is in a region that was part of the two Jewish kingdoms that existed for many centuries in biblical times. The town first starts showing up in medieval historical records during the Crusader conquests of the area in the 11th century CE. In fact, it was the Crusaders who named it “Birrah.” Does that mean the Sarsours have “Crusader blood” in their veins?

In 1187, the Crusaders were driven out of El-Bireh (and its environs) by the Abuyyids, a Muslim dynasty based in Egypt. So maybe that gives Sarsour “Egyptian blood.” Oh, wait—the Abuyyids were led by Saladin, who was born in what is today
known as Iraq. So make that “Iraqi blood.”

In the 1500s, the Ottoman Turks conquered El-Bireh. So if that’s when the Sarsours first moved in, Linda would have “Turkish blood.” The British, of course, followed the Turks. Then later came the Jordanians—they occupied El-Bireh from 1948 to 1967. That occupation was a blatant violation of international law, but neither the United Nations nor anybody else ever protested. After all, if it’s not Israel, an “occupier” isn’t worth denouncing.

So, what have we learned about Linda Sarsour’s blood? Well, she might be the descendant of Crusaders, Egyptians, Iraqis, Turks, or Jordanians. But her blood sure isn’t “Palestinian.” Not just because those peoples do not have unique blood types, but because the very concept of a separate “Palestinian” people has no historical basis.

Until recently, the Arab residents of El-Bireh never called themselves “Palestinians.” The very name of their town comes from European Christian invaders, not from any indigenous “Palestinian” source. The Arabs in El-Bireh have the same language, religion, culture, and history as the Arabs in Syria and Jordan.

Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Well in Berlin

Anti-Semitism is haunting this city once again. Human rights defenders, entrepreneurs, journalists, and victims of anti-Semitism tell The Daily Beast they feel lost and shocked and under attack from many different directions—from Muslim migrants who despise Israel, and from far-right and far-left figures in German politics. Last year, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior reported more than 600 incidents of attacks on Jews and Jewish public spaces across the country.

The Israeli-born ballet dancer Yorai Feinberg moved to Berlin six years ago and opened a stylish Jewish restaurant in Schoneberg, a beautiful area in western Berlin that is home to three synagogues and a vibrant Jewish community.

A few months ago, police arrested an otherwise seemingly normal middle-class German who threatened to incinerate the Jews working in the restaurant. But the attacks did not stop. Somebody recently threw firecrackers at the restaurant’s windows. Almost every day, Feinberg says he receives threatening phone calls and text messages. “We live under a constant bombardment of promises to kill us or burn us in gas chambers,” Feinberg told The Daily Beast as we met in his restaurant, which is decorated with modern art featuring the Star of David, the word “Israel” and Israeli flags.

“Berlin seemed much friendlier a few years ago,” said Feinberg. The low-key restaurateur looked out of the window at a police car passing by for the second time during an hour-long interview. “Thankfully, authorities are keeping an eye on our place, and they investigate and prosecute our abusers,” said Feinberg. “But there is too much hate, I have no doubt that one day I will experience violence again, get beaten or worse.”

Feinberg said threats to burn them alive are especially terrifying for the restaurant’s staff, after an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, was partially burned and stabbed to death in her Paris apartment last month.

There is a spike of anti-Semitism all across Europe. According to social surveys by the Pew Research Center, one-in-five or more adults in Eastern and Central Europe say they would not accept Jews as fellow citizens. But Germany’s case, of course, is special.

Hillel Neuer Speech to SIHMUN at UN European Headquarters

Guatemala to move its embassy to Jerusalem on May 16

Guatemala will relocate its embassy to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the US is scheduled to move its mission to the capital, the Jerusalem municipality said Wednesday.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat met with Guatemalan Ambassador Sara Angelina Solis Castaneda and the director-general of the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry, Maria Luisa Ramirez, to discuss details of the move.

“I congratulate Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and the Guatemalan government on the brave decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem and call on other countries to follow the United States and Guatemala to move their embassies to Jerusalem,” Barkat said, according to a statement from the municipality.

Last month, Morales announced that, like the US, his country would be moving its embassy to Jerusalem in May.

“In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, and under my instructions two days after the US will move its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem,” Morales told a crowd of more than 18,000 gathered in Washington, DC, for the annual AIPAC policy conference.

Supreme Court petition looks to block US embassy move

A group of Israelis who live near the site of what next month is slated to become the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has asked the country’s Supreme Court to block the security changes the United States deems necessary.

The residents of the Arnona neighborhood in southern Jerusalem have complained that a planned 13-foot-high stone security wall will obscure their view to the east, and that a planned escape road is digging up a picturesque hillside.

The residents already have had to deal with security patrols and bright security lights around the current building, which today serves as the U.S. Consulate.

The residents are angry that the changes are being made without consulting with them, Hadashot News reported on Monday.

Israel’s National Council for Planning and Construction last month waived the usual rezoning approval and construction permits for the work in turning the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem into the American embassy.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon signed off on the official zoning and permit waiver for the building. “As we promised, we won’t let unnecessary bureaucracy delay the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital,” he said at the time in a statement. Kahlon called the leniency “a strategic diplomatic move” for the country.

The waiver is valid for three years. The area’s current zoning would not have allowed the wall or the escape road.

Slovenia’s expected recognition of Palestine frozen indefinitely

Slovenia’s expected recognition of Palestinian statehood has been postponed until after the upcoming general elections, and may not happen at all.

In recent days, the issue has been the subject of heated debated in the Central European country’s parliament. One prominent opponent of the move received death threats.

Last week, Slovenia’s National Assembly postponed a vote on the recognition of an independent Palestinian state on procedural grounds, after several lawmakers withdrew their support for the debate, which was scheduled to precede the vote.

The government in Ljubljana appeared to be generally in favor of recognizing Palestine, but was unable to muster a required majority in the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee and decided to leave the issue for the new government to be installed after the next parliamentary elections next month.

ZOA says it stopped ‘anti-Semitic’ Al Jazeera reports on US Jewish lobby

The Zionist Organization of America said Tuesday its president recently convinced Qatari officials to drop a much-touted, four-part documentary series on the Al Jazeera network about American pro-Israel advocacy groups.

A statement from the organization on Tuesday said the “viciously anti-Semitic” project would not air thanks to the “numerous, exhaustive, and round​-​the​-​clock meetings” between its president, Morton Klein, Qatar’s emir, and other top Doha officials.

The Doha-based Al Jazeera network billed its four-part docuseries “The Lobby” as an “investigation of how such groups secure support for Israel in Congress and how they have been drawn into Israel’s covert campaign to defeat BDS, the movement to boycott, divest, and impose sanctions on Israel.”

The series about the pro-Israel lobby in the US capital is based on the work of an Al Jazeera investigative reporter who was sent to Washington in 2016 and worked under the assumed name Antoine Kleinfeld, according to Tablet.

In October, an Al Jazeera editor acknowledged planting the undercover reporter inside pro-Israel organizations in Washington, DC.

Israel tries to bar Dublin mayor, but fails because it spells his name wrong

Israel tried but failed to bar Dublin’s mayor from entering the country after his city council passed two anti-Israel resolutions, apparently botching the effort by spelling his name wrong.

Dublin’s city council this week passed two resolutions endorsing the anti-Israel boycott movement and calling on the national government to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.

As a result of those votes, Interior Minister Arye Deri said Tuesday that he would bar the city’s first Lord Mayor, Mícheál Mac Donncha, from entering Israel. Mac Donncha, a member of the leftists Sinn Féin party, was planning to attend a conference on the status of Jerusalem in Ramallah, at the invitation of the Palestinian Authority.

But just minutes after Deri made his threat, Donncha tweeted that he was actually already in Ramallah, telling the Haaretz daily that he had come in untroubled via Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Haaretz quoted an Interior Ministry spokesperson as saying that border control officials had failed to stop him, because the order had apparently spelled his name wrong.

Deri said Wednesday he had ordered an inquiry into what went wrong — “so that lessons can be learned.” He also said the mayor would be given a letter on leaving Israel barring him from returning.

One of the two resolutions passed by the Dublin City Councillors read: “Since its violent establishment in 1948 through the ethnic cleansing of more than half of the indigenous people of Palestine, the state of Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and has refused to comply with international law.”


The Mail has caught Ken Loach, producer of Labour election broadcasts, telling a CLP meeting in Kingswood that MPs who protested against anti-Semitism should be deselected. Guido has the full quotes – Loach says the 30 MPs who attended the rally at Parliament Square “are the ones we need to kick out”:

“You can tell if they (Labour MPs) have supported Jeremy from the beginning, that’s a good sign. If they’ve been going to the demonstration against him outside Westminster, that’s a bad sign, so those are the ones we need to kick out. You cannot work with people who have come to undermine the biggest challenge we’ve had – we’ve never had a leader like Corbyn before in the whole history of the Labour Party… and that’s why the dirty tricks are going to come out.”

Loach went on to claim that anti-Semitism among Labour voters had decreased since Corbyn became leader, “dropping from 22% to 14%”. And he told Labour members to watch the controversial Al-Jazeera series “The Lobby“, which exploited the Holocaust and defended Jackie Walker as a victim of an Israeli government backed conspiracy. Loach said:

“It explains the role of the Israeli government in infiltrating and undermining the Labour left.”

CAA receives 1,025 disciplinary complaints against Jeremy Corbyn from demonstrators, posts form online for others to complete

Campaign Against Antisemitism received 1,025 disciplinary complaints from amongst the 2,000 demonstrators at our national demonstration on Sunday calling on the Labour Party to hold Jeremy Corbyn to account.

The 1,025 complaints were made using forms distributed during the demonstration which allow members of the public to make their own complaints based upon the one already submitted by Campaign Against Antisemitism against Mr Corbyn for bringing the Party into disrepute.

However, approximately half of those present did not receive a form due to demand and difficulty in moving around, so we are now making the form available for download so that those who did not receive a form on Sunday or who were unable to attend can download it and send it by post.

In a hurried letter issued by e-mail before our demonstration, the Labour Party’s new General Secretary, Jennie Formby, tried to rebut the complaint. Here letter was no more than an insulting whitewash and a predetermined outcome which appeared to be designed to protect Mr Corbyn at all costs from his own indiscretions, without even the formality of an investigation. We will of course appeal.

Rather than responding to the concerns of the 2,000 people who descended upon his headquarters in the driving rain on a Sunday, Mr Corbyn has already brushed the criticism off, repeated his dire platitudes about opposing antisemitism, and offered a meeting to Maureen Lipman CBE, who spoke at the demonstration.


Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers has tweeted an Alex Jones Show Infowars video featuring Paul Joseph Watson which suggests the chemical attack on Douma was not carried out by the Assad regime. He tagged his brother Jeremy in the tweet. Piers also tweeted:
“HAHA the #Syria #ChemicalWeaponsAttack was #FAKE.”

PJW should really get Piers on his show…

Honest Reporting: An ABC Platform for a Well-Known Antisemitic Crank

With special sensitivity and acumen, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation decided to kick off the Passover and Easter holidays, a time historically associated with anti-Jewish blood libels, by inviting the almost comically antisemitic Reverend Stephen Sizer, former Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surrey, onto its Radio National “Breakfast” program on March 30 – Good Friday – to discuss Christian Zionism and Israel. His attitude towards Christian Zionism, as with anything relating to Israel, is rather negative. “In its extreme form, Christian Zionism… is very little different to ISIS or Al-Qaeda in terms of what it’s prepared to support,” he said in an interview with Iranian Press TV in 2014.

“Christian Zionists today say that Israel today are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and therefore the promises about the land and about blessing apply to the Jews today. I would say let’s slow down and look at what the Bible actually says,” Sizer told host David Rutledge during the ABC interview, rejecting even the theological legitimacy of Israel and its connection to Judaism. “God’s plan was always that the Jewish people were inclusive of other nationalities on the basis of faith, not race… That’s how as Christians we should think of Israel. It’s the inclusive people of God.”

“Let’s just pretend we’re dealing with the Golan, West Bank, and Gaza. It [Israel]wants all the land,” claimed Sizer. “It’s not a democracy.” The host did not push back on this or any of the other many false statements throughout the interview.

But these views alone are not the main source of the outrage among the Jewish community, whose representatives have criticized the decision to have Sizer on and called on the ABC to apologize. Rather, far worse sins of omission transpired during the interview, relating to Sizer’s long-standing, well-documented antisemitism.

“I accept that you’re not an antisemite,” said Rutledge.

NGO Monitor: Norwegian People’s Aid Funding to Terror Affiliated NGOs

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), a “humanitarian solidarity movement” operated by the Norwegian labor unions, is funded by Norway, Sweden, United States, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, European Union, and Japan. NPA total income in 2016 was 1.25 billion Norwegian kroner (NOK) (approx. 130 million USD).

According to the US Department of Justice, NPA provided “material support” to Iran, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) – designated terrorist organizations under US law. As a result of these partnerships, in March 2018, NPA settled a civil-fraud suit, paying a $2 million settlement to the US.

Additionally, NPA partner organization, Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), is linked to the PFLP terrorist organization. The PFLP is also banned by the EU, Canada, and Israel.

NPA is a leader and mobilizer of BDS campaigns (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and other forms of anti-Israel demonization.

NGO Monitor: Norwegian Refugee Council Contractor was Reportedly Hamas Officer

A Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) contractor who was killed on April 6 during the violence along the Gaza-Israel border, has reportedly been exposed as an officer in the Hamas terrorist group. If true, then this is another worrying example of Hamas infiltration of an international aid organization.

According to an April 9 NRC statement, “Yasser Murtaja…had agreed to document for NRC the bitter prolonged struggle faced by Palestinian refugees in Gaza. The work was planned to start the day after he was killed.”

For years, NGO Monitor has documented concerns that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like NRC do little to mitigate the risks of aid diversion when operating in conflict zones and areas controlled by terrorist groups. In particular, NGO Monitor highlighted that NRC’s statements criticizing “counter-terrorism measures” – designed to prevent Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist factions from commandeering materials and funds – as “the primary obstacle to humanitarian action within Gaza” are highly problematic.

In April 2018, in a US court settlement, the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid admitted to working with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza.

In 2016, World Vision’s manager of operations in Gaza was arrested and is currently on trial for funneling 60% (approximately $50 million) to Hamas for use in terror tunnels, military installations, and other terrorist activities.

Nike buys Israel computer vision startup Invertex

Nike, Inc. has acquired Israeli startup Invertex Ltd., a developer of computer vision technologies, in a bid to strengthen its hold on digital technologies, the US maker of sports shoes said in a statement.

The Israeli team “will focus on building groundbreaking innovations to help Nike serve millions of members around the globe,” the statement, released by Nike on April 9, said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Tel Aviv-based startup has developed a technology that it hopes will revolutionize the way people buy shoes, using artificial intelligence and 3D imaging technology to analyze users’ feet in stores and to suggest models and sizes that would fit best. The software can also help with online shopping, enabling smartphones to scan feet via an app and making suggestions about what would be the best buy.

A year ago the Israeli company said it closed a $2 million seed funding round, led by the Jerusalem-based equity crowdfunding VC OurCrowd. Permoda, an international retail and fashion group, also participated in the round together with other angel investors, the company said.

IsraellyCool: Attention BDS-Holes: Just Do It

Things just got incredibly awkward for many Israel haters

At least ISIS is already covered.

IsraellyCool: Food and Wine Names Terror-Supporting Bakery Reems As One of Restaurants of 2018

Terror-supporting bakery Reems has been named one of Food & Wine’s 2018 Restaurants of the Year.

If that wasn’t bad enough, they buy in to the lie that it is a place of “peace,” where Jews and Arabs can eat together.

At a moment when touchstones of Middle Eastern cuisine like tahini and pomegranate molasses appear on menus all over the country, Reem’s offers an opportunity to see those flavors, often attributed to Israel, through a wider lens, one inclusive of 
the Arab perspective. “I wanted to cultivate understanding in the most humane way possible—through food,” says Assil, who makes her case with orange blossom–scented cookies, spinach pastries spiced with cinnamon and sumac, and warm flatbread bundling sujuk sausage. “I look around my restaurant on a Saturday afternoon. I see Jews and Arabs eating together. I see people who are not politicized just enjoying a meal. And I think, this is what peace looks like.”

Because nothing says Jews and Arabs eating together and peace like a big, ugly ass mural of a remorseless terrorist who murdered two Jews in cold blood.

Maybe the judges over at Food and Wine need to eat more food and drink less wine.

The Independent Publishing Lies in its Op-Eds

The Independent has a long track record of publishing commentators who have no problem stretching the truth until it breaks when it comes to attacking Israel.

We’ve found two recent examples relating to the Gaza protests.

Ben White’s Distorted Binocular Lens
Ben White is a notorious activist so committed to his niche Israel-bashing agenda that he disregards reality to make his dubious points.

He has authored a number of books, whose titles make his views on the Mideast conflict all too clear, including “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide,” and “Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy.” That he has a soapbox in The Independent is a stain on that media outlet.

In his latest piece, he writes:

Another army spokesperson tweeted an image of a sniper lens over protesters, adding: “We see you clearly”.

This is the tweet he links to, in an effort to prove that the IDF is threatening to shoot protesters:

Except IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee’s Arabic tweet is an image of binoculars, not a sniper lens, which would have included a cross hair. Even the Khaled Diab tweet that White links to doesn’t claim that the image is of a sniper lens.

Sarah Helm’s False Ben Gurion Quote
Sarah Helm last came to our attention after publishing a Guardian op-ed that was chock full of errors and distortions, including statistics and figures that appeared to have been plucked out of thin air.

Given her apparent reluctance to use attributable sources, it comes as no surprise that in a piece for The Independent written on the first day of the Gaza protests, she includes a false quote:

As the years passed the refugees’ claims were set aside as unresolvable and David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, expressed the hope that “the old would die and the young would forget”.

False, decontextualized or selectively edited quotes attributed to Israeli historical figures are often employed by anti-Israel activists and hate sites to “prove” that these Israelis harbored malevolent attitudes.

Poland’s Deputy PM Calls for Prosecution of Former Political Ally Over ‘Jews Are Animals, Not Humans’ Tweet

The deputy prime minister of Poland, Jarosław Gowin, has called for the prosecution of a former political ally whose viciously antisemitic tweet was exposed by The Algemeiner on Sunday.

Gowin called for criminal proceedings to be launched against Kazimierz Plotkowski — a former regional leader of the Poland Together Party launched by the deputy prime minister in 2013 — over a tweet last Wednesday that declared “The Jews are not humans, they are animals!”

“Plotkowski’s comments about Jews deserve not only the highest moral condemnation,” Gowin said on Twitter. “I am counting on the prosecutor’s office to launch criminal proceedings.”

Gowin cited Article 257 of the Polish Criminal Code as the basis for a potential prosecution. Adopted in 1997, the article states that any person who “publicly insults a group within the population or a particular person because of his (sic) national, ethnic, race or religious affiliation” faces a maximum prison sentence of three years.

In the same tweet, Gowin said that had been “informed” that Plotkowski — a former chairman of Poland Together in the southern region of Silesia — was expelled from the party two years ago. On his personal website, Plotkowski says that from March 2015, he worked under Gowin’s supervision on mining and energy issues, adding that there was a subsequent “falling out” that resulted in his resignation in 2016.

Holocaust survivors sue Polish publisher over pro-Nazi propaganda books

Two Holocaust survivors and a Polish anti-Nazi resistance fighter have filed a lawsuit against the publisher of books praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in a civil case that the plaintiffs’ lawyers said on Monday is the first of its kind in Poland.

The lawsuit against Katmar, a publisher based in the Baltic port city of Gdansk, focuses on two pro-Nazi propaganda books by Belgian Nazi collaborator and SS officer Leon Degrelle entitled “The Age of Hitler 1,” “The Age of Hitler 2,” and “Hitler the Democrat.”

Degrelle led Belgium’s far-right Rex Party before the war, and then became a Nazi SS officer decorated by Hitler.

“The promotion of Nazism and Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in Poland, and in theory prosecutable in the criminal courts, but in practice public prosecutors fail to act effectively in the majority of cases,” Wojciech Kozlowski, a lawyer with the Dentons global solicitors, told AFP.

“This is the first civil case of its kind ever brought in Poland,” he said, adding that prosecutors had rejected a previous suit against the Katmar publications under an article in Poland’s criminal code outlawing hate speech.

Singers from 24 countries give fans a taste of Eurovision in Tel Aviv

Tens of thousands of Israeli fans got a taste Tuesday night of what 200 million people will be tuning into next month. Despite the unseasonally chilly, damp weather, the show went on at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, and 25 of the 43 entrants for the 2018 Eurovision took to the stage and gave it their all.

As expected, the acts were an eclectic mix of styles, tastes, languages and talents. Israel’s pick, Netta Barzilai, went on at the very end, likely to keep the crowd – estimated at 20,000 people – outside until almost 11pm.

Barzilai, clad in all-gold, including gold winged sneakers inspired by Israel’s 2015 contestant, Nadav Guedj, certainly brought the house down. It was easy to see why – in her first live performance of the song “Toy” – she’s still at the top of the Eurovision betting charts. With powerful vocals, energy and star power, Barzilai was one of the strongest performers of the night.

There were several other memorable performances Tuesday night in Tel Aviv, including many of the other early favorites.

The visitors from 24 different countries (Albania backed out at the last minute) are all in the country as part of the third annual Israel Calling event, created by Tali Eshkoli and backed by the Foreign and Tourism ministries. The artists toured the country this week, including the holy sites of Jerusalem, and capped everything off with Tuesday night’s big show.

Many of the singers brought strong performances to Tel Aviv, while others seemed to falter under the bright lights.

Veteran Basketball Star Amar’e Stoudemire Discusses Passover, Applying for Israeli Citizenship and Life in the Jewish State

Former basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire talked about Judaism and life in Israel at Harvard University’s first Israel Summit on Sunday.

The NBA veteran, who last played professionally in 2017 for Israel’s Hapoel Jerusalem, was on stage speaking with HBO correspondent Jon Frankel when the conversation turned to the Jewish holiday of Passover, which ended on Saturday night. Stoudemire said he enjoyed eating matzah over the previous eight days but, he added, “I had to make sure I had a glass of wine after every bite man, it just drys out your mouth.” He then admitted that he was “not a big fan” of gefilte fish.

The former New York Knicks forward, and son of “Hebraic” parents, said that when he came out of high school and joined the NBA, fellow players were confused about his dedication to Judaism. He felt at first isolated from his teammates and told Frankel, “I was the only guy who would just fast on Yom Kippur. I couldn’t drink or eat anything during training camp and these guys were like, “What the heck is wrong with this guy?’ What is he doing?’”

“I think over time they realized there was more of a deeper reason for me to keep these laws even during times of training camp and during the season,” he continued. “But I just stuck with it and I think the guys are starting to realize that there is a lot of factual things that took place during that time.”

New Documentary, Airing Tonight on PBS, Explores the Sacrifice of World War II’s GI Jews

There’s hardly a better way to commemorate Yom Ha’Shoah than to contemplate the sacrifice of more than half a million American Jewish men and women who enlisted to fight Hitler, often facing significant prejudice from their brothers and sisters in arms. That’s the subject of GI Jews, a documentary airing tonight on PBS.

At the core of Lisa Ades’s engaging documentary are interviews with Jewish veterans. Some, like Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and Henry Kissinger, are well-known, but many others are not, and, being unaccustomed to appearing on camera, deliver emotional and deeply moving monologues as they recall the events that shaped their lives. To many, the war’s most harrowing challenge wasn’t subduing the Nazi enemy but overcoming the anti-Semitism of their fellow American troops. One former soldier, for example, recalls a strong friendship with a bunkmate, cut short when he revealed his faith. And Reiner, in a funny bit still tinged with bitterness, tells a story of a fellow G.I. from Louisiana who had a hard time believing Reiner didn’t know a certain Goldfarb from Shreveport, sure that all Jews everywhere knew each other well.

Back home after the war, the documentary reminds us, these brave men and women continued the fight, combatting bigotry in all its forms and helping shape the face of modern America. Below is a snippet from the documentary, that very much deserves to be watched in full:

Holocaust Remembrance Day – it’s not enough to remember

Every day an estimated 40 Holocaust survivors die in Israel.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is taking this upcoming Holocaust Remembrance Day not just as a day of remembrance but a day of action.

“It is not enough to remember what happened in the Holocaust, we need to act to make sure that those who survived are living with dignity,” Yael Eckstein, Global Vice President of the IFCJ told The Jerusalem Post.

And the IFCJ is acting by providing a wide range of life saving services to Israel’s most impoverished Holocaust survivors.
“Our biggest message is letting them know they are not alone.” Eckstein added.

As the number of Holocaust survivors in Israel rapidly declines, Eckstein urges Israelis and fellow Jews across the world to do their share to not just remember the Holocaust but act to honor the lives of the survivors.

Today, Israel has some 200,000 Holocaust survivors. One out of four are living in poverty.

The IFCJ is currently providing some 20,000 of the most destitute Israeli Holocaust survivors with food, emergency expenses, medicine and alleviation of loneliness with weekly or bi-weekly visits from the IFCJ’s volunteer program.

Amid Syria tensions, IDF chief to visit Poland for Holocaust Remembrance Day

IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot will travel to Poland this week to take part in a major Holocaust Remembrance Day event there on Thursday, amid ongoing tensions on Israel’s northern border, the army confirmed on Wednesday.

It will be Eisenkot’s second time participating in the “March of the Living.” This year, the trip will be led by President Reuven Rivlin. The heads of Israel’s Mossad spy agency and Shin Bet security service will also attend.

There was speculation that Eisenkot could back out of the planned trip in light of the security situation on the northern border, following an airstrike on a Syrian air base on Monday that was attributed to the Israeli military.

On Thursday, Rivlin will lead over 10,000 people in a three-kilometer (two-mile) march from the main Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau extermination camp, which housed the gassing chambers and crematoria.

US: Israel Independence Day event cancelled over terror threat

An event planned in Miami to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel was cancelled Monday, after organizers said there were credible threats of terror attacks targeting the event.

The Florida-Israel Friendship League (FIFL), a South Florida-based organization “devoted to enhancing the connection between the communities of Florida and Israel,” has held Israel Independence Day events in Miami over the past 11 years.

The group was planning to mark Israel’s 70th Independence Day on May 14th, but was forced to cancel after it received warnings of terrorist plans to attack the event,” Channel 20 reported.

On Monday, the FIFL released a statement to members, announcing that the May event had been cancelled.

“Due to the security situation: Unfortunately, the traditional main event of the Independence Day [celebrations], which the Friendship League has held for the past 11 years, will not take place. The decision to cancel the event was made out of concern for public safety. We take [this matter] very seriously, and hope that you do as well.”

Polish camp of life offers refuge to March of the Living participants

Smack in the middle of what was once the Warsaw Ghetto, right outside the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and a short walk from the infamous Umschlagplatz, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were collected and forced onto trains leading to death camps, a large white tent invites people to come in, have a snack, and get a glimpse at the way that Judaism still lives in Poland and around the world today.

The tent was inaugurated this week in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day and amid tensions between Jerusalem and Warsaw regarding a new Polish law that prohibits implying any Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

Throughout the week, the tent is hosting numerous events, with speakers including American Holocaust survivor, author and scholar Rabbi Nissen Mangel, who will be attending on Friday; chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel Marc Zell, who spoke on Tuesday; the director of the POLIN museum Dariusz Stola; and various other Polish dignitaries.

“Students who travel [with the March of the Living] are often tired – physically, mentally, and spiritually,” said the tent’s organizer, Rabbi Mayer Stambler, the head of Chabad in Poland. “Like Abraham did in his tent, we invite them in to eat and give them also a chance to learn about Judaism.”

The tent is air conditioned, offers free Wi-Fi, kosher food and drinks, and couches to lounge on while waiting to enter the museum or before embarking onto buses after the visit.

To provide a contrast to the experience of people and groups coming from around the world to learn about the atrocities that occurred on Polish soil and to become acquainted with so much Jewish death, the tent houses an exhibit of current Jewish art and customs. It allows visitors to the Jewish museum a chance to step outside and see the ways in which Judaism is still alive and practiced today, in Poland and throughout the world.

Gil Troy: How survivors suddenly became superheroes

Two things changed our perceptions, transforming broken refugees into heroic survivors. First, Elie Wiesel happened. Wiesel broke the silence. He epitomized heroism and wisdom and learning and candor – accompanied by worldly success, like it or not the validator of an American life well lived. Second, time – the cruel sifter – kicked in. The most broken survivors died. Others lived long enough to prosper. In America’s go-getter world, those who looked strange in the 1970s seemed much less strange – and more heroic – with a string of stores or shopping malls or books or political victories or stock options boosting them up.

The historian in me suspects two-dimensional characters. Imagine being a “broken survivor” today. Must they add shame that they didn’t “make it” to the demons haunting them? And how dare we neglect them, failing to give them the basics after what they went through for us – because we all were targets.

We also must beware imposing simplistic stereotypes – even benign ones – on victims of a crime that began with simplistic stereotypes. I know survivors who earned billions but remained broken. And I know survivors who never recovered financially but revived emotionally, even ideologically.

The Socialist Zionist Beryl Katzenelson taught that “People are endowed with… memory and forgetfulness. We cannot live without both. Were only memory to exist, then we would be crushed under its burden. We would become slaves to our memories…. And were we ruled entirely by forgetfulness, what place would there be for culture, science, self-consciousness, spiritual life?” Surviving as individuals, and as a people, required mixing some memory with much forgetfulness.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, reach out to a survivor – but not as a survivor. Free them from that all-too-defining category. Engage them as people. And if no survivors are around, reach out to anyone in ways that transcend your usual categorizing. Because ultimately, we are all victims of short-order thinking – yet capable of the wonder and generosity some of those who lived through hell still can have.

Torchlighters on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2018

Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Wednesday evening, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
  • Mirjam Lapid was born in 1933 in Deventer, the Netherlands. In 1943, her family was deported to the Westerbork detention camp and in 1944 was sent to Bergen-Belsen. She returned to the Netherlands in 1945 and immigrated to Israel in 1953. Since 1960 she has run the secretariat of Kibbutz Tzora.
  • Shmuel Bogler was born in Bodrogkeresztur, Hungary, in 1929. In 1944, Germany invaded Hungary and the village’s Jews were deported to Auschwitz. His parents and three cousins were sent immediately to the gas chambers. Shmuel and his brother Chaim were sent to a labor camp. In January 1945, the two brothers were sent on a death march to Buchenwald, where the U.S. Army liberated them.
  • Shmuel arrived in Israel in 1947 and joined the Palmach. He was taken prisoner by the Jordanian Legion when the Etzion bloc fell in May 1948, and became second-in-command of the POWs. After nearly a year in captivity, Shmuel was freed and joined the Israel Police, becoming Southern District Deputy Commander.
  • Dr. Thea Friedman was born in 1924 in Chernovitz, Romania. In December 1942, Thea fled the ghetto but was arrested. She was eventually freed with the help of a bribe paid by the Jewish community. She was arrested again in 1943 but was released in 1944 and started medical school in 1945. In 1958 she immigrated to Israel with her family and is an emeritus professor of the Faculty of Ophthalmology at Tel Aviv University.
  • Raul-Israel Teitelbaum was born in 1931 in Prizren, Yugoslavia (today Kosovo). His father Josef, a physician, was arrested in 1942 by Italian occupation authorities and sent to a detention camp in Albania, where he was put in charge of the camp infirmary. In 1943, Raul and his mother Paula moved to Albania to visit Josef. When Italy surrendered in September 1943, Albanian partisans liberated the camp where Josef was being held, and the family joined the partisans.
  • In May 1944, the Teitelbaums were caught by the Germans and sent to Bergen-Belsen. Raul and his mother immigrated to Israel in 1949. As a journalist, Raul has published hundreds of articles and reports about the Holocaust and Holocaust survivors.
  • Yisaschar Dov Goldstein was born in 1929 in Bratislava, Slovakia. After Germany occupied Slovakia in 1944, his family was deported to Auschwitz and murdered, while Dov was transferred to a factory in a satellite camp of Buchenwald. In 1946, Dov boarded in illegal immigrant ship and reached Israel after a seven-month incarceration by the British in Cyprus. He was one of the first members of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim and fought in the War of Independence. He taught Talmud and Bible for many years, and guided students and tourists around Israel.
  • Abba Naor was born in 1928 in Kovno, Lithuania. In 1944 his little brother Berale and his mother Chana were deported to Auschwitz. “The moment I saw my mother and brother heading towards the train, I realized that was it,” he recalled. Abba was put to work in construction at a satellite camp of Dachau. He reached Israel in 1947, fought in the War of Independence and later worked in the General Security Service, the Weizmann Institute and the Mossad. In 1984-85 he participated in bringing 5,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan. He is Vice President of the World Organization of Former Prisoners of Dachau.

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