Brendan O’Neill: This never-ending meltdown over Israel is the distress of fools
To see how illiberal and outright irrational anti-Israel sentiment has become, look no further than the fear and horror that has gripped SOAS over tonight’s visit by Mark Regev.
Yes, in a brilliant PR move, Regev, the colourful Israeli Ambassador to the UK, has agreed to speak about the prospects for peace in the Middle East at SOAS, a Uni known for its agitation with all things Israeli. It’s like the Chippendales visiting a convent, or Shane MacGowan crashing a meeting of temperance-movement bores. It’s hilarious.
People at SOAS don’t find it funny, though. It’s questionable whether they ever find anything funny, so steeped are their minds in the depressing creeds of postcolonial studies and ethnographic theory. No, they think Regev’s visit will cause “substantial distress” to the SOAS community. Really.
According to the Guardian, there are “fears” that Regev’s visit won’t only “spark unrest” — par for the course: every visit by an Israeli representative to a British campus sparks unrest — but that it will also lead to “substantial distress on campus”.
More than 150 academics from SOAS and other universities have written to SOAS director Valerie Amos to plead with her to call off the Regev meeting and save SOAS students from the “substantial distress” of having someone with a different opinion to theirs on campus.
The first thing to note here is how craven it is — a McCarthyite level of cravenness — for academics to demand the silencing of a speaker they disagree with.
Contrary to what the great Benjamin Franklin once said, there are actually three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and that members of the “Palestine” Liberation Organization (PLO) are perennial liars. The third certainty could not be more accurately depicted than in a dumpster fire article in Newsweek written by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi in defense of convicted Palestinian-Arab terrorist Marwan Barghouti.
Barghouti, who rightfully rots in an Israeli prison for murdering five innocent Israeli civilians, entered the spotlight almost two weeks ago for writing an op-ed in The New York Times accusing Israel of committing “judicial apartheid” and justifying why Palestinian-Arab terrorist prisoners started a hunger strike. In that article, he described himself as a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian” rather than a former Fatah terrorist who was convicted in Israeli civil court for murder. Despite the deliberate lies and misrepresentation of Barghouti from The New York Times, Ashwari used her pedestal with Newsweek to describe the terrorist as a “man of peace.”
First, Ashwari accused Israel of committing a “character assassination” regarding Barghouti, claiming that the terrorist “proved to be a strong advocate of good governance and human rights, including women’s rights.” As comical as that assertion is, Ashwari goes even further to claim that Barghouti has never possessed terrorist ambitions:
Even after he was deported by the Israeli occupation in 1987, he frequently met with the negotiations delegation and expressed his full support for a peaceful negotiated settlement. While Barghouti believes in the Palestinian people’s right to resist occupation by all available means under international law, he always opposed attacks against civilians. In recent years, he advocated peaceful means and civil disobedience to achieve our freedom.
This spin-doctoring of a man convicted of killing innocent civilians represents another attempt by leaders within the PLO to brainwash ill-informed Western liberals that Israel is an oppressive force that is preventing peace. Unfortunately, history has proven that the Palestinian national movement itself has been the consistent cause for a lack of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinian-Arabs. This reality has been eloquently articulated by David Brog in the PragerU video below:
On the day before her killing, Sarah Halimi had, it seemed, complained to the concierge about her future killer. The killer and his brother were known in the small cité for being noisy troublemakers who were often under the influence and prone to fighting, and she was fed up. The young man was not only a drug user but also a dealer and sources close to the investigation indicate that he owned his suppliers a great deal of money, and the day the murder occurred was consequently very agitated.
Under the influence of drugs, and probably drunk, he then started to knock on several doors before someone opened a door to him. That someone was, coincidentally, Sarah Halimi’s neighbor. Did he know where he was going when he started to climb up the balcony leading to Sarah Halimi’s apartment? Or did he identify her only afterward? Did he start to beat her because he’d recognized her as the Jewish woman whose children he and his family had insulted for years, the neighbor who’d complained about him the day before? Did he hit her because she screamed and fought him? And when and why did he begin to shout “Allahu akbar”?
It appears that the murder was the result of a spiral of chance events, engineered by psychosis as much as by drug abuse, but with an anti-Semitic impulse in the background, which a significant portion of the French media and judicial apparatus is determined to edit out of the story, partly because it is confusing and partly for what might politely be termed “social hygiene.” What is clear is the reason the three police officer on the scene not only did nothing to stop what was unfolding but even prevented the neighbors from intervening.
France is not convinced by its own reassuring rhetoric about “the deranged.” The country has become so nervous and paranoid about terrorism that here is what, according to sources, apparently happened: Although the man was indeed deranged, the policemen hearing the killer shouting“Allahu akbar” thought they were dealing with a terror attack. They, therefore, backed off and waited for instructions and backup when they could have — and should have — intervened to save Halimi’s life.
A few days after her statement, and in a completely unrelated intervention, Marine Le Pen abruptly denied that France had anything to do with the deportation of Jews during World War II. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
A man arrested Thursday outside the British parliament building in possession with a knife was reportedly aboard a ship that attempted to run the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2010, Reuters reported Friday, citing sources involved in the investigation.
Khalid Omar Ali, the 27-year-old suspect from London, was reportedly aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was boarded by Israeli troops. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the ensuing melee between IDF soldiers and armed protesters.
Ali remains in custody after being arrested near parliament on suspicion of terrorism offenses and possession of knives, in what police confirmed had been an ongoing investigation.
Mayor Nir Barkat: Jerusalem: Rooted in 3,000 Years of History
Fifty years ago, Jerusalem was reunited in a stunning victory that took less than six days. Israel shocked the world by defeating five Arab armies seeking to destroy the lone Jewish state, tripling in size and reuniting Jerusalem. Since this incredible victory, Jerusalem has returned to its founding promise as the united, eternal capital of Israel, open to all.
Since Jerusalem’s reunification, Israel has maintained freedom of religion, freedom of movement and freedom of expression for all its residents. Unlike the countries around us, we celebrate diversity, especially in our capital. Today, in one square kilometer in the Holy City, 100 holy sites – for Jews, Muslims and Christians – exist peacefully, side by side. When you walk our streets, you see the diverse people of our city living together – in our restaurants and theaters, in our hospitals and universities. Life in Jerusalem does not distinguish between east and west, north and south.
This is the essence of Jerusalem. Three thousand years ago, the Land of Israel was divided into allotments for each of the 12 tribes – except for Jerusalem. Jerusalem was designated as a city for all. It was to remain an open, uniting and united capital. Kings and prophets walked the streets, and Jerusalem was established as a global center for inspired leadership, innovation and religion, which emanated from our city.
As mayor, my vision for the future for Jerusalem is rooted in this 3,000-year history. Today, we are working to ensure the city’s next 50 years are as vibrant and successful as the last 50.
We are leading the country and region in technology, cutting-edge infrastructure and transportation. In the next few years, we will open additional light rail lines and a new business district, which will bring 40,000 jobs to the city. Jerusalem is leading the tech revolution. In four years we have grown from 250 companies opening their doors in our capital to more than 600.
Barkat rejects accusations that Jews receive preferential treatment over Arabs in housing permits. He said East Jerusalem poses particular zoning challenges since a majority of the land there is not properly registered and ownership is often difficult to establish. Regardless, he said that he has consistently increased annual investment in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and most of the city’s new schools have been built there.
“The prioritization system of where we invest is not symmetrical. We invest more where there are gaps,” he said. “The quality of life of the Arab residents of Jerusalem is far superior to anywhere else around us in the Middle East … and they know that very, very well.”
Barkat insists that, even with a wave of Palestinian stabbings and other attacks over the past year and a half, the city is far safer than other major cities around the world.
To keep it so, he said the massive Israeli separation barrier that cuts off parts of the city and leaves some Jerusalem neighborhoods stranded on the other side — essentially dividing it from the West Bank — is necessary.
The Palestinians say the barrier has divided their neighborhoods and allowed Israel to steal land that belongs to them.
“If I have to weigh between the two — life and quality of life — I choose life,” Barkat said. “In the foreseeable future, at least now, it looks like we are still going to need that fence.”
In 2005, Jewish French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut dared expose the French Left’s dangerous sympathy for Islam’s ethnic-religious assault on the West • Despite being an outspoken liberal, he was crucified for his observations.
There is an anti-Semitic view that Jews played a key role in the establishment of slavery. Finkielkraut pointed out back in 2005 that “the main spokesman for this theology in France today is Dieudonne [a black stand-up artist who caused an uproar with anti-Semitic statements]. Today he is the true patron of anti-Semitism in France, and not Le Pen’s National Front.” Keep in mind that Finkielkraut and Le Pen are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
One of Finkielkraut’s most important observations was that we are living in a state of “perpetual war on racism.” Every problematic phenomenon is immediately declared racist, and that puts an end to any serious discussion of the issue. That is why “the nature of this anti-racism also needs to be examined,” he urged.
“I think that the lofty idea of ‘the war on racism’ is gradually turning into a hideously false ideology.” Paradoxically, the “anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century. A source of violence.”
“Today, Jews are attacked in the name of anti-racist discourse,” he said. That’s not to say that discrimination and racism don’t exist — of course they do. “But the portrayal of events as a response to French racism is totally false. Totally false.”
He was pessimistic about France’s ability to overcome the problem. “There’s something in France — a kind of denial whose origin lies in the bobo [bourgeois and bohemian], in the sociologists and social workers – and no one dares say anything else. This struggle is lost. I’ve been left behind.” He clearly knew what he was talking about.
The response in 2005 to the interview was similar to the current response elicited by Le Pen voters (with the obvious differences). Finkielkraut was accused of racism, and was practically crucified in France and all of Europe. All his human rights efforts and outspoken liberalism didn’t help him one bit. Ultimately he conceded, went to the liberal “church” for confession and apologized. But what about the truth? Did we solve the problem by stuffing Finkielkraut’s observations back into the bottle? Did France become a better place? Was it better prepared to confront the evils that challenge it?
Where do newspapers draw the line? When do certain opinions become illegitimate for publication? And what ideas have no place in these pages?
I have been thinking of these questions ever since The Jerusalem Post announced last week that Dr. Sebastian Gorka, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser on counterterrorism, who holds the title of “deputy assistant to the president,” is the latest addition in a long list of speakers scheduled to appear at its upcoming annual New York conference.
The announcement set off a storm of controversy due to a series of recent news reports – primarily in The Forward – that Gorka was allegedly a member of a far-right Hungarian nationalist group. Even though Gorka has denied the report and having any other antisemitic affiliations as well, a list of Democratic congressmen sent a letter to Trump last week urging him to fire his top adviser.
Other people have taken their protest to the Internet, calling to boycott the conference while petitioning other speakers to pull out as well.
Nevertheless, we stand by our decision to host Gorka.
All of a sudden, I felt someone tap my shoulder and ask who we were. I turned around and explained that we were a group of high school students who advocate politically for a strong US-Israel relationship. We had come to the White House to meet the new administration and express our concern over Iran, Palestinian terror and the commitment to move the Embassy to Jerusalem. The man asked my name and introduced himself as Seb Gorka.
I was momentarily stunned. Here was the man recently revealed as a Nazi sympathizer. The worst of the Trump aides, Dr. Gorka was accused of belonging to a group associated with supporting Nazis. I decided not to dismiss him immediately and discussed the issues that concerned us. I was curious to hear his views. I was surprised with his support of Israel, his strong stand on Iran and his understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was gracious to stand outside with us, talking and taking pictures with my students. As we were leaving he handed me his card, jotted down his cell number and asked me to keep in touch.
In the weeks since, I’ve corresponded with him frequently. He’s been cordial and I’ve seen no signs of any form of hatred. I’ve only felt the opposite. I am a firm believer in doing my research. I’ve spent countless hours trying to find antisemitic statements, writings or actions by Dr. Gorka. There are none. Opinion pieces like this one by Bruce Abramson and Jeff Ballabon demonstrate how Dr. Gorka has been nothing but supportive of the Jewish people and the claims of his antisemitism are tenuous at best. I do not believe there is any evidence of Dr. Gorka’s antisemitism, because I don’t think he’s an anti-Semite. I think he loves the Jewish people and their state of Israel.
I maintain that we should call out anti-Semites when we find them. But if we start calling everyone we disagree with an anti-Semite we dilute the charge. Not only are we condemning the innocent, distancing friends from our side, but by becoming the people who cry wolf, we run the risk of real anti-Semites getting away with their hate. We’re better than this. I offer Dr. Gorka my support and hope that he can forgive those among us who have slandered him.
BuzzFeed’s Mitch Prothero traveled all the way to Hungary to dig up dirt on White House foreign policy advisor Dr. Sebastian Gorka — and discovered that he is neither a Nazi or an antisemite, but merely a pro-Western conservative.
Prothero did his best to smear Gorka. He describes the former Breitbart News editor (inaccurately) as having “failed his way upwards” (a description that could apply equally to the career paths of many of BuzzFeed’s own crack reporters).
But in the search for evidence of Gorka’s ties to the far-right, Prothero came up short, despite contacting Gorka’s former employers in Hungary and members of the Hungarian counterintelligence service.
Gorka’s Hungarian critics are not shy to attack him, either: some describe him rather viciously. Even so, they say that Gorka is not a Nazi or an antisemite.
The CUNY School of Public Health has invited Linda Sarsour, an anti-Israel activist, to deliver the commencement speech at its graduation. Sarsour has known ties to the terrorist group Hamas, has encouraged violence against Jews, defends the mistreatment of women in Islamic countries, and much more. To list all of Sarsour’s egregious acts and statements would take up an entire article in itself. As a Jewish CUNY student, I want to explain why having her speak at the School of Public Health is so outrageous.
CUNY schools have always had a substantial population of Jewish students — specifically in Brooklyn College, Baruch College, and Hunter College. In my own school, Queens College, Jews make up 25 percent of the student body. CUNY schools have always been very accommodating to Jews by giving time off for major holidays and by providing a quality, affordable education close to home. However, by allowing a known terror sympathizer to speak at the commencement ceremony, CUNY is not living up to its own prescribed standards. CUNY is not only failing to condemn Sarsour for, among other things, her clear anti-Semitism, but it is venerating her by inviting her to address graduates. With this action, CUNY is declaring that this woman is a role model, a leader, and someone whom current students ought to emulate. Sarsour has actively called for violence against Jews, but CUNY is telling its students that she is a shining example of success. What kind of message does this send to the myriad Jewish students on its campuses?
Are their principles and beliefs not valuable to the CUNY administration? A commencement speaker is supposed to provide a valuable lesson to the students, but someone with such a hatred for other human beings has no prerogative doing this. A woman who defends terrorists has no place on a college campus, let alone in a CUNY school.
The Outrageousness Of Linda Sarsour Giving CUNY’s Commencement Speech https://t.co/uRZ6Jrt8Ob pic.twitter.com/xP44XUx65c
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) April 28, 2017
The good news is that cooperation between American and Israeli researchers and universities has continued to grow despite the efforts of the boycotters. In addition, legislation in Congress is taking aim at BDS, while a growing number of states (Texas just became the 18th) are adopting prohibitions aimed at the boycotters. South Carolina, the second state to address the issue, is now taking the next vital step by proposing legislation adopting the State Department definition of antisemitism. This will make it possible to take action against antisemitic BDS campaigns on college campuses.
The pro-Israel movement on campus is also growing stronger as philanthropists invest more funds, the Jewish Agency deploys more emissaries, Hillel increases its Israel-related activities, Birthright takes more students to Israel and groups such as StandWithUs, Hasbarah Fellowships, AEPi, and others train activists. Attendees at AIPAC’s annual policy conference this year were also treated to the sight of approximately 4,000 students — including many non-Jews — committed to supporting Israel. Pro-Israel students are countering the antisemites, and, more importantly, setting a positive agenda on many campuses. These significant advances are ignored by those perpetuating the “campuses are on fire” narrative.
Rather than counting swastikas, the focus should be on the academic malpractice committed by faculty members using their classrooms to push personal anti-Israel agendas, and the continuing double standard in the way that administrators treat offenses against Jews as opposed to other minorities. The denial of the right of Jews to speak, and all students to listen to pro-Israel lectures, is also a growing concern.
The campus challenges that AIPAC described back in the 1960s remain. Israel’s detractors are not going gently into that goodnight. Like the shomrim of yesteryear, we must be constantly vigilant, fighting when necessary, ignoring what we can and setting a positive agenda whenever possible. As I’ve said many times, to the chagrin of the hysterics, the situation on the overwhelming majority of campuses is quiet and hospitable to Jews. Those campuses where the situation is more problematic deserve attention, but it serves no one’s interests to suggest, graphically or otherwise, that any campuses warrant association with the Nazi flag, or that antisemitism is engulfing the nation.
The resolution, titled “Divest From Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel,” calls for the student government, the university, the UCSB Foundation and the UC Regents to divest from companies that “a) provide military support for, or weaponry to support, the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, or b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the Apartheid Wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or c) facilitate in the building, maintenance, or economic development of Israeli settlements on annexed Palestinian territories.” Corporations supposedly guilty of these acts include “but [are] not limited to: Motorola, Caterpillar, Boeing, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.”
The resolution cited the support of organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace — which honored Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at its national conference earlier this month — as proof “that the Jewish people are not a monolithic group that unconditionally supports policies of the Israeli government, and that critiques of the nation-state and its policies are political criticism, not anti-Semitic or an attack on the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Evan Goodman, executive director of Santa Barbara Hillel — which serves the UCSB campus — told The Algemeiner that his center “stands firmly behind our students in rejecting BDS and in standing up for what is right.”
He also noted that UCSB student leaders have succeeded in defeating BDS — which he called “odious” and “evil” — “every single time it’s come up.”
Campus activists have called the timing of anti-Israel activities for Jewish holidays an “underhanded” and “undemocratic” tactic. As The Algemeiner reported, student governments at Tufts University and Claremont Colleges both passed unexpected BDS motions on or immediately before the start of Passover this year.
The student government of the University of Wisconsin-Madison unanimously passed on Wednesday a divestment resolution targeting companies operating in many countries that included an amendment specifically about Israel.
An amendment added to the one-page resolution, which Jewish students said brought the resolution more in line with the proposal that failed a month ago, blames Israel for police violence against African-Americans, citing an exchange program in which senior American police officers travel to Israel to learn about counterterrorism, the pro-Israel organization StandWithUS said in a statement.
During debate on the resolution, anti-Israel activists called the Jewish community “oppressors” and said that Jewish students oppose divestment against Israel because it threatens their “white privilege.”
A Jewish member of the Associated Students of Madison was publicly targeted and harassed by other members of the student government during the meeting as well, according to the campus Hillel.
The president of a California university has been applauded by Jewish campus groups for taking on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in a letter that was published on Wednesday as her school’s student government considered an anti-Israel resolution.
California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) President Jane Conoley has been hailed by Hillel International for her “strong and principled leadership in standing up to the targeting of Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus,” after she wrote a letter calling on students to reject a BDS motion titled, “Suggestions for Socially Responsible Investing: Companies Complacent in and Profiting from Palestinian Oppression” — introduced by CSULB’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.
Conoley’s concerns included the BDS campaign’s “oppos[ition] to the existence of the State of Israel” and the fact that “the adoption of [BDS] resolutions has often been accompanied by increases in Anti-Jewish graffiti, vandalism, and physical attacks.”
The letter outlined a total of six reasons for the president’s opposition to BDS, including her view that a campus resolution would have “no actual impact on the very complex and long standing conflicts in the Middle East.”
In its illustrious 188-year history, Upper Canada College has produced four premiers, four Toronto mayors, seven chief justices, six lieutenant governors and has alumni as members of the Order of Canada.
Needless to say, having to call police because some students allegedly scratched a Nazi swastika and other hateful sentiments into the locker of another student was not one of its finest hours.
But they are dealing with it professional and appropriately.
“UCC is taking this matter very seriously and an active investigation is underway,” said Marie Peters, the college’s director of marketing and communications. “As part of that process, our local police were contacted.”
And Toronto Police did attend the school to find out what did transpire that would lead administrators to contact parents, alerting them that something unsavoury had happened on the all-male student campus.
“I write to inform you of a serious incident that occurred yesterday at the Prep,” stated the letter sent out Tuesday. “A student in Grade 7 returned to his locker at the end of the day to find it vandalized with anti-Semitic symbols and messaging. As soon as we became aware of the situation the College began an investigation.”
It also said: “We have attempted to progress the investigation swiftly, involving all the appropriate parties, including the police.”
Marwan Barghouti is a bad man, which is why he’s 15 years into a 40-year prison sentence. He’s also a charismatic political activist.
In its April 16 Sunday edition, The New York Times published an op-ed by Barghouti, “Why We are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons,” with the byline, “Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.”
Israeli officials reacted furiously to the byline’s omission of Barghouti’s “bad man” context. The next day the NYT released a statement by Jim Dao, editor of the op-ed pages: “This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder (of innocent Israelis) and membership in a terrorist organization.” Dao did not explain why context was not provided in the first place.
Similarly many readers were left to wonder about the same lacuna in the CBCNews.ca April 17 article on Barghouti, “Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike.” In its original form, the CBC article referred to Barghouti only as the “best-known” of the imprisoned Palestinians and a “popular choice” to replace Palestinian President Abbas, noting that he was arrested for his “role” in Palestinian uprisings, and that he’s serving multiple life terms, without explaining why.
Founder of Lev HaOlam, Lawyer Nati Rom, contacted today the heads of Facebook and Twitter demanding that they remove accounts that publish incitement and anti-Semitic hatred against Israel.
The accounts are affiliated with the BDS movement against Israel, which calls for a boycott of products from Israel and Judea and Samaria.
“We in Lev HaOlam work against the BDS movement, which is rooted in anti-Semitism and against the financial terror facing Israel around the world,” began the letter.
“I am reaching out to you in the name of many businesses in Judea and Samaria, the Galilee, and the Golan Heights whom we support. On Facebook and Twitter there are many accounts belonging to the BDS Movement. These accounts have thousands of followers around the world who spread hatred and anti-Semitism. They call for discrimination against Jews and Jewish-owned businesses in Israel in general and in Judea and Samaria in particular,” explained Rom.
The letter warned the heads of the networks that some of the accounts “even openly support terrorists who carried out attacks that murdered Israelis and Jews.”
Officials and Jewish representatives have welcomed a move made this week by Austria to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, a week after an NGO reported that 2016 saw record levels of antisemitism in the country.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz tweeted on Tuesday that the Austrian Council of Ministers had decided to take on the definition, adding that the move sent an important signal and was crucial “in order to identify and combat antisemitism more easily with a universally valid definition.”
Austria follows the UK and Israel in adopting the definition.
The IHRA formulated the definition last May amid concerns of rising antisemitism, in an effort to clamp down on discriminatory or prejudicial behavior that might fall between the cracks due to unclear or differing definitions of antisemitism.
The IHRA definition adopted by the group’s 31 member countries reads: “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.”
A substantial amount of property stolen from Jews in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe has yet to be returned to its rightful owners, according to a comprehensive report on the restitution of property following the Holocaust in Europe. The report will be presented at a conference sponsored by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and hosted by the European Shoah Legacy Institute titled “Unfinished Justice: Restitution and Remembrance.”
The report, the most comprehensive of its kind, examines the significant legislation passed by the 47 countries that endorsed the Terezin Declaration in 2009, which called on countries to work toward returning property expropriated from the Jews during World War II. According to the report’s findings, a majority of European countries complied with the principles of the declaration, but some Eastern European states, and Poland in particular, have yet to fully comply with the aims of the declaration.
Poland, which had the largest Jewish population in Europe ahead of World War II, saw 90% of its population perish in the Holocaust.
According to The Guardian, the report states that “among Eastern European countries, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland stand alone as the only countries that have failed to establish a comprehensive private property restitution regime for property taken either during the Holocaust or communist eras, or one that addresses both types of takings,” the report says.
The US special envoy for Holocaust issues urged Eastern European nations to honor their largely unimplemented promise from 2009 to offer restitution for property stolen from Jews.
Thomas Yazdgerdi made the appeal at a high-level conference Wednesday in Brussels on restitution, where special attention was devoted to the 2009 Terezin Declaration. In that statement, many European countries for the first time vowed to resolve Holocaust-related property claims. Many of them, however, have not followed through.
Yazdgerdi appealed to the countries “to provide justice for survivors and their families for the expropriation of their property.”
“We will continue to encourage countries to restitute illegally confiscated communal and private property to rightful owners,” he said. “We fully support our European partners in their work towards achieving the principles set out in the Terezin Declaration.”
Among the cosignatories of the landmark declaration was Poland, which has resisted calls to follow the example of other European countries and pass legislation offering restitution for billions of dollars worth of privately owned property that once belonged to Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Joseph Joffo’s childhood came to an end at the age of 10, when his father gave him and his brother 5,000 francs each and instructions to flee Paris and escape the Nazis.
The boys were told they must never let anyone know they were Jews as they went on the run — by foot, train and ferry — from Hitler’s feared SS secret police in occupied France.
Joffo’s 1973 autobiographical novel “A Bag of Marbles” recounted their incredible journey, their capture and subsequent escape, and became a global phenomenon, made into a film and a graphic novel.
Now a lavish remake by Canadian filmmaker Christian Duguay (“Boot Camp,” “Joan of Arc”) starring French singing and screen legend Patrick Bruel gets its North American premiere at the Colcoa festival of French Film in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Opening in 1941 in occupied Paris, “A Bag of Marbles” introduces cinemagoers to Joseph (Dorian Le Clech) and Maurice (Batyste Fleurial) at age 10 and 12 as they scramble home to the barbershop run by their father, Roman (Bruel).
Bob Mankoff has been the cartoon editor at The New Yorker for 20 years. But he’s been a Jew for 72.
The celebrated cartoonist, who is stepping down from his prestigious perch in May, has therefore had a long time to formulate his thoughts on Judaism and Jewish humor.
For example, he once wrote an essay about how Jews have become the “People of the Joke,” as opposed to the “People of the Book.”
“The Jews of the Bible aren’t funny,” he told JTA. “[Judaism] is a decent first draft of how to behave. It’s a really good try for 4,000 years ago.”
Mankoff mined his Jewish experience for many of the 900-plus cartoons he has published in the magazine, such as one with this caption: “I’m not arguing, I’m Jewish.” (His most famous cartoon might be one with a man on the phone saying, “How about never — is never good for you?”)
Born to parents who understood Yiddish (his mom spoke it fluently; his dad, not quite) on New York’s Lower East Side in 1944, Mankoff grew up in Queens in an age of Jewish assimilation into white American culture.
Across Israel, one number more than any other embodies such terrible anguish and sadness — the number of those who have fallen in defense of the country. According to the Defense Ministry, the number this year stands at 23,544 individuals who gave their lives since 1860.
Since last year’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, 60 more Israelis were added to the list of the fallen, while 37 disabled IDF veterans, who passed away over the course of the year as a result of their injuries, were also recognized as fallen soldiers. According to the figures, there are presently 9,157 bereaved parents living in Israel, 4,881 IDF and security forces widows, 1,843 orphans under the age of 30 and thousands more bereaved siblings and orphans older than 30.
The number of people murdered in terrorist attacks since Israel’s inception stands at 3,117, according to figures provided by the National Insurance Institute. This number also includes foreign nationals murdered in terrorist attacks in Israel and 100 Israelis murdered in attacks abroad. In the past year, since Independence Day in 2016, 11 people were added to the list; the last of whom was British student Hannah Bladon, who was murdered in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem over the Passover holiday.
Terrorist attacks have left in their wake 109 orphans from both parents, along with 826 widows and widowers and 939 bereaved parents.
The Arch of Titus in Rome. Photo: Courtesy of Steven Fine, the Arch of Titus Project.
How did Rome look in ancient times?
Usually when we envision ancient Rome, we imagine a world of gleaming white marble edifices and statues. This, however, is not an accurate picture. Although many Roman—and Greek—statues and monuments now appear white (or grey), they were originally brightly colored. The whiteness we see today is the result of years of weathering.
One of the most famous monuments in ancient Rome is the Arch of Titus, constructed by Roman emperor Domitian around 81 C.E. after the death of his brother and predecessor, emperor Titus. The arch celebrates Titus’s military victories during the First Jewish-Roman War (66–74 C.E.)—when the Romans infamously burned the Temple in Jerusalem. One of the arch’s panels depicts Roman soldiers carrying captured treasures from Jerusalem’s Temple, including a large menorah, through the streets of Rome.
Today the Arch of Titus appears colorless, but how did this monument look in ancient Rome?
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