Daniel Gordis: A Dose of Nuance: Still time to reimagine
Yom Kippur ended with Ne’ila, which symbolizes the closing of the gates of repentance.
Interestingly, Jewish tradition has long asserted that the gates do not quite creak entirely shut as the sun sets on the holiest day of the year. The period of repentance extends, said our sages, through the last day of Succot. It is as if they were desperate to remind us that even when we think it is too late to change, too late to rethink, too late to reimagine ourselves, it is not. There is still time, even if it is ebbing.
Their surprising extension of the days of repentance is an important reminder for each of us. Who has truly done all the work of reimagining ourselves by the end of Yom Kippur? The question is no less relevant to us as a people and a nation. Are we sanguine about the state of this country? About what we will bequeath to our children? We would have to be foolish or blind not to be worried.
The value of worry, though, is that we believe that change is possible. The meaning of repentance is that we recognize the past, yet focus on the future.
That embrace of the future was what always animated the best of Zionism. Was there reason to think, in 1897 when Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress, that the world would ever endorse the idea of a Jewish state? Half a century later, with Polish Jewry destroyed and the British still forbidding Jewish immigration to Palestine, what were the chances that we would ever be able to declare Independence? When hundreds of thousands of Jews poured into a newly established and impoverished state, who could have thought that we would survive, that our fledgling economy would somehow manage? With all our challenges, we still need to repair. We have what we have and are who we are because Judaism – and Zionism – are committed to looking to the future. The past teaches us, informs us, shapes us and admonishes us, but it does not define us. Ours is a tradition that embraces the future – what it can be and what we can make happen.
A number of European institutions as well have condemned BDS. The Paris City Council adopted two resolutions condemning attempts to boycott Israel. One of the resolutions says the City of Paris “opposes publicly all attempts to isolate Israel from the collective of nations.” In the UK, the British Cabinet Office released a statement saying that under government rules local authorities and public-sector organizations in Britain are banned from boycotting Israeli suppliers and that violators could face severe penalties. The statement added that such boycotts “undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarizing debate, weakening integration and fueling anti-Semitism.
The anti-Semitic character of BDS has not only been identified and stressed by the State of Israel, Jewish individuals and Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the American Jewish Congress. Senator Chuck Schumer from New York also recently called the BDS campaign anti-Semitic.
Hillary Clinton and Republicans John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, US Senator Cory Booker, a group of Latin American and Caribbean lawmakers, as well as then British Justice Minister Michael Gove, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have all condemned the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.
Much of the criticism of BDS, however, does not stress its anti-Semitic character.
One interesting exception concerns the student council of Leipzig University in Germany. The student council voted “to condemn the anti-Semitic BDS campaign,” and is “against anti-Semitic measures such as disinviting Israeli academics.” The vote against BDS was a response to a campus event featuring Lori Allen, a professor from the University of London who supports academic boycotts of Israel and justifies terrorism against the Jewish state.
In 2015 the German Green parliamentarian Volker Beck stated “There is no doubt of the anti-Semitic motivation within the spectrum of the BDS campaign. BDS aims essentially against Jewish Israelis and is therefore anti-Semitic. Whoever aggressively boycotts Israeli goods and people, should also be viewed as anti-Semitic by the federal government.” The German government refused to accept this at the time, claiming that there was no definition of anti-Semitism. Since then, the IHRA definition was accepted, which required the German government’s agreement. Now Beck’s proposal for Germany to view BDS as anti-Semitic merits another try.
In a recent piece, I noted that right-wing provocateur, David Horowitz, recently set his sights on San Francisco State University.
He and his people did so as part of a larger campaign to rile up political discussion concerning the connection between anti-Zionism and increasing levels of Jew hatred on American university campuses.
SFSU, like many universities around the United States, promotes three types of racism. These are humanitarian racism, anti-white racism, and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.
In response, Horowitz sent some little ideological ninjas onto that campus at night – just before the biggest rainstorm San Francisco has had in almost a year – and plastered the area with various posters pointing out that targeting Jews for death, as Hamas does, is not very nice and that, perhaps, SFSU should not support it.
But support it, it does.
One of Horowitz’s posters features professor Rabab Abdulhadi with text reading, “a leader of the Hamas BDS campaign; collaborator with terrorists; San Francisco State professor.”
On a list of the most important historical episodes of the 20th century, the Suez Crisis of 1956 wouldn’t make the top 10, or even the top 20. Insofar as it was a war, it was a fizzle: Israel invaded Egypt with a small force, conquered some of the Sinai desert, and then gave it back a few months later. As a diplomatic incident, Suez was more significant, altering the balance of power between Britain, France, and the United States. But it hardly compares to a major Cold War confrontation like the Cuban Missile Crisis of a few years later, which threatened the survival of the world.
Yet the appearance of two new books on the subject of Suez—Ike’s Gamble by Michael Doran and Blood and Sand by Alex von Tunzelmann—suggests that the events of October 1956 continue to have a symbolic significance out of proportion to their actual scale. That is because Suez serves as a convenient marker for the twilight of European colonialism and the rise of American empire. At the same time, it encapsulates a number of the themes of America’s experience in the Middle East, down to the present day: the difficulty of identifying allies and enemies, the uncertainty about how deeply to get involved, and the dangerous law of unintended consequences.
Von Tunzelmann, a British popular historian and journalist, and Doran, an American Middle East specialist and occasional White House adviser, have produced very different books covering some of the same ground. Blood and Sand focuses on the two weeks of the crisis itself, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 8, with hour-by-hour updates on the action as it unfolds across several continents. (Sections are introduced by the kind of datelines familiar from Jason Bourne movies: “1500 Washington DC//2000 London//2100 Paris.”) And Von Tunzelmann interweaves the Suez affair with scenes from another crisis that, coincidentally, broke out at exactly the same time—the rebellion against Soviet rule in Hungary. The effect is a cinematic, you-are-there style of history-writing, which plunges the reader into the chaos of events, but does little to explain their deep background or ultimate consequences.
Doran, on the other hand, fits the Suez crisis into a broader argument about American policy in the Middle East during the Eisenhower administration. He draws on a wider range of primary sources, and crucially, he puts those sources themselves into question, showing how the biases and beliefs of the participants in the Suez drama shaped the way its history has been told. Indeed, Ike’s Gamble is a revisionist history, in which Doran takes issue with precisely the mainstream interpretation of Suez that is found in Blood and Sand.
The main opposition party in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, has an anti-Semitism problem. That was reconfirmed by an all-party panel of members of Parliament just last week. Anglo-Jewry constantly battles to ensure that shehita (ritual slaughter to produce kosher meat) is not banned; maintaining circumcision is no cakewalk either. Numbering somewhere from 300,000 to 350,000, the Jewish community is overwhelmingly outnumbered by a Muslim community estimated at about 2.7 million — or some 4.5% of the total British population.
And yet Jonathan Arkush, the lay leader of British Jews as the president of the Board of Deputies umbrella group, is optimistic, and credibly so, about British Jewry — its present and its future. He’s even begun holding meetings in mosques with Muslim leaders and congregants, to explain the community to them, build bridges, and encourage them to follow Anglo Jewry’s example in simultaneously embracing a religious lifestyle and what he calls “British values.”
Arkush is relatively upbeat, too, in discussing British attitudes to Israel, vouchsafing that an official visit to Israel by a senior member of the royal family (more substantial than Prince Charles’s two fleeting trips for the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres) may now be imminent — the ultimate establishment confirmation of approval.
Visiting Israel, as he often does, Arkush, a good-natured barrister who chooses his words with an admirably direct precision, spoke to The Times of Israel about Labour and Corbyn’s prejudices, life on UK campuses for Jewish students, Muslim conspiracy theories, and the Jewish capacity for dissatisfaction.
There are a lot of nasty things about this presidential election that would have seemed appalling back in the halcyon days of American democracy (which one could trace to say, the summer of 2015) but which we’re all just kind of sadly numb to by now. Take, for instance, the anti-Semitic hounding of Jewish journalists on social media. The image of an SS-appareled Donald Trump grimacing as a probably-Jewish opponent of his shrieks from behind a gas chamber door isn’t some one-off; it’s one of the icons of a horrid election season.
The harassment of Jewish media figures is a problem. But how quantitatively bad is that problem? Do we even want to know? Earlier today, the Anti-Defamation League’s Taskforce on Harassment and Journalism published a report looking at “the anti-Semitic targeting of journalists” over the course of the election. The report examined 19,000 Twitter mentions of journalists that included some kind of anti-Semitic content, and provides an analysis of both the scope and the nature of the phenomena. Here are five of the report’s biggest take-aways.
The most-targeted journalists are a diverse bunch
America’s Jews contain multitudes, and Jews in media are a case in point. There are prominent Jewish conservative writers, like Ben Shapiro; full-throated liberals, like Sally Kohn; sober-minded doyens of the media establishment, like Wolf Blitzer; and trailblazing young guns, like, I dunno, Yair Rosenberg, for instance. Guess what: All of the aforementioned crack the ADL’s list of the top-ten journalists targeted for anti-Semitic tweets.
They work in different media, they reach vastly different audiences, and they hold wildly and wonderfully divergent ideas about a wide range of political and social issues. But they all have two things in common: None of them support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (as best I can tell), and you already know the other thing they all have in common.
So, I’d like to thank the Academy, my wife, my parents, my agent, and God Almighty for the great honor of being the top journalist target of Jew-hatred in America over the past few months, according to a comprehensive study from the Anti-Defamation League. I’m honored because being targeted by mouth-breathing idiots is a compliment – you know you’re doing something right if people who tweet pictures of gas chambers on the day of your child’s birth find you unacceptable as a human being.
Here are some quick thoughts:
3. No, Jew-Hatred Is Not Widespread Among Trump Supporters. The ADL report links Trump support to Jew-hatred on Twitter. There’s no question that’s true for a small but loud segment of alt-right Trump supporters. But it is small. The vast majority of Trump supporters find the sort of hate I receive reprehensible. They’re not in line with the alt-right. To overestimate their percentage of the
population would be wrong and foolish.
4. A Lot of Online Jew-Hatred Is Astroturfed. The ADL study shows that Jew-hatred on Twitter spikes at certain times and cascades on itself. That means it’s being coordinated, or at least encouraged by specific Twitter personalities. I can say with certainty that the amount of Jew-hatred in my Twitter feed has dropped exponentially since Twitter banned Milo Yiannopoulos (a ban I opposed, by the way).
6. The Media Ignore Jew-Hatred If It’s Directed Against The Right. The ADL has done an admirable job of charting the rise of Jew-hatred against conservative pundits. But the entire media largely ignored that anti-Semitism so long as it targeted the right, and only began to notice it when it hit people on the left like Julia Ioffe. We Jews on the right who opposed Trump were used to it by then. Politico Magazine did an entire piece about anti-Semitism among a segment of Trump
supporters, asking, “why has the Jewish right looked away?” That’s patently insane, and demonstrates the myopia of much of the left. The left itself is replete with anti-Semitism – just check the charter for the Black Lives Matter movement.
So, what’s the future of the alt-right? If Trump wins, it’s likely to grow – the alt-right obviously feels emboldened. Even if he loses, they’ll live on at sites that now
rely on their enthusiastic support, like Breitbart. A rock has been overturned; the window of acceptability has moved.
In Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left 1967-1989, Jeffrey Herf examines the active support for warfare and terrorism against the Jewish state in both Germanies during the cold war. Benjamin Weinthal writes in his review:
[East Germany’s] leaders, many of whom had opposed Hitler, [nonetheless] internalized the lethal anti-Semitism of the Nazis, which led inexorably to their desire to dismantle Israel. . . . Herf supplies exhaustive evidence of the German Democratic Republic’s secret military deliveries to Israel’s enemies in the Middle East—including the bellicose Hafez al-Assad regime in Syria, which was a strategic partner for East Germany. . . .
[Furthermore], the GDR supplied weapons and sophisticated training to the Palestinians in exchange for their refraining from carrying out terrorist attacks in Western Europe. In other words, East Germany largely subcontracted its war against the Jews to the Arabs in the Middle East. . . .
Herf [also] does not let the West German government off the hook. A scarcely covered topic in modern German history is Chancellor Willy Brandt’s abandonment of Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. After a surprise attack by multiple Arab armies, Israel was on the ropes, desperate for arms and ammunition. To the frustration of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, Brandt stuck to an ironclad “neutral position toward the conflict in the Middle East,” [refusing to allow the U.S.] to use the port of Bremerhaven to deliver weapons to the Israelis. . . .
JPost Editorial: Unsportsmanlike conduct
All sport is infected by the plague. Ben Cohen of JNS.org reported that, in 2009, the United Arab Emirates denied Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe’er an entry visa, which forced her to withdraw from that year’s tennis tournament in Dubai.
“At an international swimming competition in Dubai and Qatar in 2013,” he wrote, “Israeli competitors were excluded from broadcasts and endured protests from officials, who refused to say the word ‘Israel.’ When Amit Ivry won the silver medal in the 100m Individual Medley, the Israeli flag was blanked off in broadcasts of the award ceremony.”
Closer to home, the Palestinian Authority has escalated its support of the worldwide BDS campaign against Israel to demand that FIFA, the world soccer body, boycott six teams based in Jewish communities in the West Bank. It has expectedly turned to the United Nations, which – surprise – has indicated it supports the move to recognize only Israeli clubs existing within the 1949 armistice lines.
While FIFA ponders its move, it should consider that the pursuit of social justice on the playing field includes more than Israel, for example Iran’s violation of gender discrimination by banning women from even attending matches.
Racism in sport does not stop at the Green Line, however.
It is a source of shame that the capital’s most well-known club, Beitar Jerusalem, is notorious for its demonstrative hatred of Arabs. Many Beitar fans, epitomized by the often violent “La Familia” group, pride themselves on being the only team in the Israel Premier League that has never signed an Arab player. The club has often been penalized for the extremist behavior of its fans both inside and beyond Teddy Stadium.
While it is long past time for antisemitism to be excluded from sport, if racism in sport is indeed a mirror of racism in society, then no society is immune.
The leader of Britain’s Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn must “think very carefully” about antisemitism within his party, British Prime Minister Theresa May declared on Wednesday.
May — the head of Britian’s governing Conservative Party who succeeded David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in July — made the statement during a Prime Minister’s Questions session, just days after the publication of a House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report which found Labour had shown “demonstrable incompetence” in dealing with antisemitism within its ranks.
In response to a question posed by Conservative MP Oliver Dowden, May said: “I absolutely agree with my honorable friend that this house should send a very clear message that we will not tolerate antisemitism. I have been concerned about the rise in the number of incidents of antisemitism in this country.
“We should very clearly ensure that those incidents of antisemitism are properly investigated and dealt with, and that we give the clear message that we will not tolerate it. But that does have to be done by every single political party in this chamber, and I say to the leader of the opposition that given the report of the Home Affairs Committee about antisemitism and the approach to antisemitism in the Labour Party, he needs to think very carefully about the environment that has been created in the Labour Party in relation to antisemitism.”
A recent Parliament report on the state of antisemitism in the United Kingdom slammed the head of the country’s largest student union for undermining efforts to combat Jew-hatred on campus.
The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report said that National Union of Students (NUS) president Malia Bouattia is not taking the issue seriously and has responded to Jewish students’ concerns about previous comments she has made — widely condemned as antisemitic — “with defensiveness and an apparent unwillingness to listen to their concerns.”
There is of no course no reason why an individual who has campaigned for the rights of Palestinian people…should not serve as President of the NUS. But Ms. Bouattia’s choice of language (and ongoing defense of that language) suggests a worrying disregard for her duty to represent all sections of the student population and promote a balanced and respectful debate. Referring to Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” (and similar comments) smacks of outright racism, which is unacceptable, and even more so from a public figure such as the President of the NUS.
Responding to the claims put forth by HASC, Bouattia said in a statement that she will “continue to listen to the concerns of Jewish students and the Jewish community,” adding:
Roger Waters’s support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement shows just how much of an anomaly he is at this week’s Desert Trip festival – not to mention in the wider artistic community.
Waters expends a great deal of energy attempting to convince artists to embrace the cultural boycott of Israel and refrain from performing there. He is one of the most vocal supporters of the movement, and by far the most celebrated musician to have embraced it. Four out of the other five acts at Desert Trip, however – The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Neil Young – have been victimized by and explicitly rejected BDS pressure, including personal appeals from Waters himself.
Any artist who schedules a performance in Israel is subjected to a constant flow of false and inflammatory pressure by supporters of the cultural boycott, who attempt to manipulate them into canceling their show.
They accuse Israel of apartheid and genocide – accusations which can be proven false with even a modicum of research – using and abusing the struggles of others, and the emotional responses they trigger, in their battle against the Jewish state.
Though it often presents itself as a movement working to achieve Palestinian rights, to the founders and leaders of the BDS movement it is merely a tool to end the existence of the State of Israel. This violent aim is sometimes reflected in the tactics of boycott supporters.
Israel’s embassy in Berlin slammed a German public school teacher for incitement of hatred against Jews on Wednesday because of his promotion of a photograph stoking violence against Israelis.
“A teacher´s mission is to educate pupils and not to incite or to openly sympathize with violence. In his [Christoph Glanz] so called manifest he has committed himself to the BDS movement which does not recognize the right of existence of the State of Israel. A proof to that can be easily found on official websites of BDS, ” wrote the embassy to The Jerusalem Post.
The embassy added, “This antisemitism has no place in the 21th century, especially not in Germany where incitement of the people (Volksverhetzung) is against the law.”
Glanz, a teacher in the northern city of Oldenburg, posted a picture on his Facebook page of himself standing next to a stone mural, which depicts a Palestinian wearing a keffiyeh and aiming a slingshot.
Glanz, who uses the false identity Christopher Ben Kushka on his Facebook page, wrote above the photograph: “feeling definitely not neutral.”
The words on Glanz’s T-shirt in the photograph read “Make Trouble.” Glanz’s Facebook post was liked 34 times and shared once. It is unclear if his students read and endorsed the violent post.
Glanz, a hardcore BDS activist, said it would not be absurd to eradicate Israel and relocate Jewish Israelis to the German state of Baden-Württemberg.
Major Canadian Jewish groups expressed “deep alarm” over a spate of antisemitic vandalism on or near the University of Toronto (U of T).
Responding to the defacement of seven campus structures over the last two weeks with Nazi imagery, Berl Nadler, co-chair of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), called the swastika a “symbol of violence against Jews and hostility towards Canada’s democratic values.”
“No student, Jewish or otherwise, should be forced to see their campus desecrated in this way,” he said in a statement.
CEO of Hillel Ontario Marc Newburgh called the appearance of the offensive graffiti a “cowardly attempt at intimidation [that] will not go unchallenged.”
“Jewish students at the University of Toronto have a right to feel safe on campus,” he said in a statement.
Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, said in a statement that the “proliferation of Nazi symbolism at one of Canada’s most respected universities is shocking and outrageous…[and] indicative of the antisemitic climate on many Canadian university campuses that even a controversy which has nothing to do with Jews or Israel has sparked open displays of hatred.”
The first reports of swastikas on campus — three on a bus stop and two outside two campus buildings — emerged on the eve of September 30, Rob Nagus, U of T Hillel director, told CJN News.
On October 11, mere hours before Yom Kippur — the holiest day in Judaism — Nagus said he received a text message informing him of two additional swastikas on campus. A third was found two days later.
Also working to their benefit is the fact that the Jewish Federation chose to walk out of the council chambers after their own presentation at a prior meeting, leaving the BDS proponents effectively unchallenged for the remainder of the session.
FOSNA (Friends of Sabeel North America) is hoping to expand upon and replicate these municipal divestment efforts by conducting weekly video conference training and support calls. Much planning is required for a campaign, all of which FOSNA assists with. Contracts must be identified along with procurement and/or renewal dates. In addition, a public relations campaign must be waged, the grassroots mobilized, and power centers targeted (called “power mapping”). FOSNA even helps with the “theological messaging.” And four lawyers with Palestine Legal Support are available to help with legal challenges.
One tactic mentioned was to attach anti-Israel divestment campaigns to unrelated campaigns, like environmental divestment. This is a tactic we already have seen used on campuses.
The irony of BDS attempting to leverage municipalities in the divestment campaign is that recently many states have passed anti-BDS laws. Such laws don’t ban BDS or make BDS illegal, but rather, constitute a divestment from companies engaged in boycotting Israel. It is the flip side of what the U.S. Campaign, Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace and others demand of government.
In response to such laws, BDS activists claim that it is inappropriate for government to take a side. Yet forcing government to take a side is exactly what BDS wants, it just doesn’t like the result that government and the America people are taking Israel’s side
Technology giant Apple has been removing Star of David symbols representing hospitals from its maps of Israel recently, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday.
Hospitals on Apple Maps are generally represented by the religious symbol of the majority religion in a given country, according to the report.
As examples, Channel 2 cited the Red Crescent of Islam symbol used on Apple Maps of Turkey and the Red Cross of Christianity used in France.
Until recently, most of the hospitals in Israel were represented by the Red Star of David on Apple Maps. However recently, the religion-neutral stethoscope symbol has replaced most of the Stars of David, according to the report.
The stethoscope symbol is used in other countries as well, Channel 2 reported, but not generally to represent hospitals, but rather, clinics and other medical facilities.
Apple did not respond to Channel 2’s requests for comment.
DaphneAnson: Lentin’s Loathsome “Elegaic J’Accuse”
Born into a Christian family in Lebanon, Professor Ghassan Hage of Melbourne, whom we’ve met before on this blog in connection with his petition against Israel of a few years ago, co-written with Sydney academic John Docker, and his on-going pro-BDS stance, is highly critical of white colonial settlement in countries such as Australia, which appears to inform his attitude to Israel.
Sometimes his indictment of white colonial settlement can appear so harsh as to give the impression, rightly or wrongly, of reverse racism.
Born in Haifa in 1944, Associate Professor Ronit Lentin of Dublin is one of a number of Israel-hating academics from Eretz/Medinat Israel resident in Britain and Ireland. Her name appears here as one of the endorsers of “The One State Declaration” of 2007 authored by Ilan Pappe and others, which if implemented would end Israel’s existence, and her anti-Israel activism is well-known.
Ghassan Hage’s poem (what she calls his ‘elegaic J’Accuse’) has inspired her to write one of her own, adapted from “white colonial Australia to Palestine,” as she puts it:
National Geographic recently ran a feature about closing down the “world’s worst zoo,” located in Gaza. Initially, the article politicized a story that was ostensibly about animal welfare and used it to take gratuitous and one-sided digs at Israel.
After editors heard from CAMERA letter-writers, however, significant revisions to the article were made. The editors said that the story “came through our digital staff, not our magazine operation” and that they “are putting into place more checks to try to ensure that such pieces do not slip through our digital editing process.”
In the original article, after describing how zoo owner Abu Diab Oweida taxidermied 50 dead animals in the zoo, author Richard Tenorio had initially quoted Oweida saying that he did it “to prove to the whole world that even animals have been affected and [killed] by the Israeli occupation after the three [recent] wars in the Gaza Strip.” The bracketed word “killed” appeared to have been inserted into the quote by the reporter. That language has now been deleted, along with Oweida’s reference to the “Israeli occupation.”
As CAMERA letter-writers pointed out to National Geographic editors, Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005, removing both civilians and soldiers from the territory. A second quote from Oweida attributing his problems to the “Israeli occupation” was removed as well, and new language was added to clarify the current relationship between Israel and Gaza.
The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Nils Muižnieks delivered an urgent call on Tuesday for the EU to fight antisemitism seriously and remember the Holocaust with a view toward informing the present.
“Europeans ignore the evidence of rising antisemitic hate speech, violence and Holocaust denial at their peril. The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Antisemitism is a threat to our European continent built on freedom and the rule of law,” said Muižnieks on the council’s website.
He added, “Teaching remembrance of the Holocaust is a crucial safeguard against history and serious human rights violations repeating themselves.”
Regarding litigation to stop antisemitism, he said, “In the case of Garaudy v. France, the applicant, an author of a book titled The Founding Myths of Modern Israel was convicted of disputing the existence of crimes against humanity, defamation of the Jewish community and incitement to racial hatred.”
“Contemporary manifestations of antisemitism do not just include violent crime and hate speech. Contemporary antisemitism also revolves around the Holocaust, with some blaming the Holocaust on Jews or suggesting that Jews focus on this tragedy to gain advantage,” said Muižnieks.
In response to Muižnieks’s remarks, Dr. Richard Landes, the Jerusalem-based chair of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told The Jerusalem Post, “The statement does not even address the fact that all the deadly cases of anti-semitism in Europe today come from Muslims – a sign of timidity which does not bode well for opposing the phenomenon. Indeed, one might argue that real, exterminationist antisemitism like that of the Nazis is primarily found in the European Muslim community (and among Muslims around the world), while milder forms of Jew-hatred revive at an alarming rate among others (including ‘progressive’ Jews).”
Four German police officers were wounded Wednesday, some of them seriously, after a right-wing radical opened fire on them as they were preparing to execute a search warrant in his home.
According to German media reports, the gunman opened fire on the officers as they were approaching his home in Georgensgmund, Bavaria. He “pumped shots through the door” before the officers even had a chance to ring the doorbell, one report said.
The officers returned fire, wounding the suspect, later named as Wolfgang P., 49, a known member of the far-right Reichsburger movement. According to the Daily Mail, he was wearing a bulletproof vest when he opened fire on the police, and suffered only minor injuries.
He was treated on site and taken into police custody.
A police spokesperson later said the raid was planned after the suspect refused mandatory firearm inspections by local authorities. Officers found a stash of over 30 weapons hidden in the house, he said.
German police said one officer suffered life-threatening injuries and was still in critical condition after surgery. A second police officer was shot in the arm, and two others sustained minor injuries.
Police in Ukraine arrested four suspects, including two teenagers, in the beating of a rabbi in the western city of Zhitomir earlier this month.
The suspects in the Oct. 7 beating of Mendel Deitsch, 63, were apprehended Sunday at a bus station in the city, which they planned to flee because they believed that police were closing in on them, according to a report by the MIG News website. The report did not name the suspects, who are aged 40, 21, 16 and 13.
The group encountered the rabbi at a train station, where a fight broke out, a police source told MIG News. The suspects fled the scene with the rabbi’s cellular phone and money.
Deitsch remains in stable condition at Tel Hashomer Medical Center near Tel Aviv, where he was airlifted following his injury, according to the world headquarters of his Chabad movement. He had emergency surgery at a hospital in Zhitomir prior to being airlifted.
On April 20, 1889, Adolf Hitler was born on the top floor of an apartment building in Braunau am Inn, Austria, about a three-hour drive west of Vienna. Today, the structure has become a bit of a public relations nightmare for the Austrian government, which can’t seem to make up its mind about what to do with the building it fears will become a cult shrine of sort to neo-Nazis.
In fact, for years, the Austrian government has has been paying rent on the building to `a local woman who has refused to sell the building. The government has taken action to be able to seize ownership of the building but, according to the BBC, it still pays Gerlinde Pommer over $5,000 every month in order to make sure the building doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, which is a fine thing to do. (In 1933, the town refused to name him an honorary citizen.) The government has been doing this since 1972.
The building has been empty for five years. In the past it’s been used mostly for good, housing a library and school, pub, and workshops for disabled people, among other businesses. Still, with seemingly every month the building stands, new wrinkles in this story have emerged over the question of what to do with the building on a permanent basis: raze it, as Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka desires, or repurpose it? This is surely not something to take lightly.
Israel is giving a batch of 117 special protective tables to the ancient Taiwanese city of Tainan, in the hopes of saving more people from the devastating effects of earthquakes.
The earthquake-proof tables, designed by a Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design student, are engineered to shield up to two students from flying debris during a natural disaster event, according to the institution.
The decision to donate the tables follows the 6.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 117 people in Tainan in February. The Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, headed by Asher Yarden, decided to cancel the office’s annual Israeli Independence Day celebration and instead allocate the funds toward purchasing the tables.
Designed by student Arthur Brutter, under the guidance of Prof. Ido Bruno, the tables are built using standard metal profiles and a single piece of plywood panel, Bezalel said. Due to their relatively inexpensive price tag, the tables can be constructed anywhere and come in a combination of different sizes that enable a certain area to be declared a safe zone.
The Birthright program has brought more than half a million young adults to Israel on intense 10-day visits. To replicate that experience for members of the business world, AlmaLinks, a group focused on promoting ties between the global Jewish business community and Israel, has started sponsoring its own Birthright-style trip, bringing business executives to Israel to meet their local counterparts.
“Despite nearly two decades of Birthright, the program that brings college-age students to Israel to get to know the country, the large majority of American Jews have never visited Israel, and even with the reputation of the Start-Up Nation, there are many in the tech and business community who are not familiar with what we do here. They have missed out on brand Israel,” said Alma Links founder, business executive Tomer Sapir.
“Through AlmaLink activities including parlor meetings, lectures, social events, and now organized tours, we try to instill and promote a positive relationship between the two sides.”
AlmaLinks started out five years ago as an informal network of Israeli and US young executives who were looking for a way to keep the friendships they had made in Israel alive. Today, AlmaLinks is a network of over 600 outstanding young CEOs and executives in 10 global chapters. It is led by businesspeople and financiers who decided to form an organization focused on Israel and the Jewish people.
Dozens of orphans of fallen Israeli soldiers, and the son of an American serviceman who died in Afghanistan, celebrated their bar and bat mitzvahs in Jerusalem last week in a mass ceremony conducted by the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization.
The organization, which provides support for army widows and orphans, makes an “extra effort to be there at important junctions in the lives of children who lost parents, and one of these is the bar mitzvah year,” said Shlomi Nahumson, director of the group’s youth department.
Ahead of a celebratory concert, the children met with the Israeli army’s chief rabbi Thursday morning, from whom they received pairs of tefillin, the phylacteries Jewish men wrap around their arms and heads during prayer.
“A child should be able to begin this journey with the hand of their father on their shoulder and with their presence when they make their choices on becoming adults,” Nahumson said. “There’s no way we can bring their fathers back to them. But we can put our hands on their shoulders, so they know they’re not alone, and that we appreciate the sacrifices their parents made.”
As multicolored strobe lights illuminated the room during the evening gala, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the youngsters, accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Eizenkot, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other senior officials.
“I know that all of you will continue to be a source of hope to make the world a better and more peaceful place,” Rivlin said. “We will accompany you always as you continue to grow and make your families and the people of Israel proud.”
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