Israeli min welcomes Saudi mufti’s anti-Hamas remarks
An Israeli minister on Monday welcomed remarks by a mufti of Saudi Arabia that Palestinian resistance group Hamas is a terror organization.
“We congratulate Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of Ulema (Islamic scholars) for his fatwa forbidding the fight against the Jews and forbidding to kill them,” Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara wrote on his official Twitter account.
The minister also welcomed the mufti’s remarks in which he considered Hamas a terror organization, adding “I invite the mufti to visit Israel; he will be welcomed with a high level of respect.”
Earlier, the mufti said while answering a question on a television program that fighting against Israel was inappropriate and said Hamas was a “terror organization” in reply to a question regarding last July’s anger across the Israeli-occupied West Bank when Israel shut Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is venerated by Muslims and Jews, following a deadly shootout. (h/t Zvi)
In “Who Saved Israel in 1947?” Martin Kramer has usefully complicated the Truman-to-the rescue narrative that is favored in many circles by reintroducing both the key role played by the Soviet Union in supporting the yishuv’s aspirations for statehood and, not least, the behind-the-scenes lobbying of the great powers that was conducted by resourceful Zionist diplomats. But has he complicated it enough?
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, recommending the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish, the other Arab, won the support of more than half of the UN’s then-56 member states (33 for, 13 against, 10 abstaining), thus expressing the will of the bulk of the international community. All of the world’s democracies voted “aye,” save for India and Greece, which voted “nay,” and Britain, which abstained.
Were the same vote held today, the 193 General Assembly members would likely vote, perhaps overwhelmingly, against Jewish statehood. The Arab and Muslim states would vote “nay”—as they did uniformly in 1947—for reasons of ideology. But many others would follow suit out of self-interest and a desire not to annoy the world’s Arabs and Muslims—because the Arab and Muslim worlds offer giant actual and potential markets for goods and services, because much of the world’s oil is in their grip, because they sit astride international air, land, and sea routes, because of Arab-Muslim clout in international forums, and because of the presence of Arab and/or Muslim minorities in the midst of majority non-Arab and non-Muslim countries.
But the truth is that back in 1947, too, most of the world’s states had good, concrete reasons to vote with the Arabs. Then, too, there were potential markets, communications routes, oil wells, Muslim minorities—and there were big powers like France, Britain, and the U.S. that had or hoped to establish military bases in Muslim lands. Given the cold-war background, the powers, including the U.S. and the USSR, had good reason to rally or keep the Arabs and Muslims onside. As the Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote to Albert Einstein on July 11, 1947, explaining by implication why India with its large Muslim minority was going to vote “nay”: “national policies are unfortunately essentially selfish policies. Each country thinks of its own interest first.”
One final question is raised by Kramer’s piece. He seems to imply that the partition vote was crucial to Israel’s emergence. I’m not so sure. It was certainly important to Israel’s swift acceptance among the comity of nations during the ensuing decade, and to its future diplomatic well-being and foreign relations. But its birth and existence? The simple answer is probably “no.”
In all likelihood, the state would have arisen, in 1948 or a year or two later, whatever the UN had decided or failed to decide in November 1947. It arose because the yishuv had, for decades, prepared itself, psychologically and institutionally, for that day, because it had achieved a critical developmental and demographic mass that was—and proved to be—sufficient to establish a Jewish state, and because its armed forces (yes, with the important help of the Moscow-approved Czech arms shipments in the crucial months of April through June 1948) were able to beat the disorganized Palestinian Arab militias and then the Arab armies that invaded Palestine.
To all of this, the Holocaust had provided the immediate and necessary impetus and energy.
One of the complaints about the organized Jewish community is that it is silencing criticism of Israel. Left-wingers paint a dismal picture of a Jewish community in denial about Israel’s sins, and determined to squelch debate about the peace process or controversial issues like settlements.
So it probably came as quite a shock to many American Jews to read what happened at Princeton University this past week, when the Center for Jewish Life — as the campus Hillel is called — cancelled a speech by Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister.
The Alliance for Jewish Progressives — a campus left-wing group — objected to the presence of Hotovely, an outspoken member of the Likud party, and a key figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. They ginned up an indictment of her as some sort of extremist because she had dared to call out the Palestinian Authority for its attempt to erase Jewish history and ties to Jerusalem.
They claim that anyone who supports the Jewish presence across the Green Line or in parts of Jerusalem is, by definition, a racist. They were also upset that the Hillel chapter had refused to sponsor appearances by anti-Zionists, or those whose presentation consisted of slanders of the IDF for its efforts to halt Palestinian terror.
Yet rather than dismissing this complaint, the Princeton Hillel branch cancelled Hotovely’s appearance. Princeton’s Hillel Director Rabbi Julie Roth — who eight years ago shut down plans to host a critic of radical Islam — defended the move by disingenuously claiming that although the event had been planned some time ago and was part of a tour of US campuses, Hotovely’s speech had not been properly approved.
The anti-Zionist campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) seeks “to isolate, demonize, and ultimately destroy” Israel with the help of terror-linked financial and ideological supporters, according to a new report by a Jerusalem-based think tank.
Authored by Dan Diker and Jamie Berk of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the report cautioned against viewing SJP “as a pro-Palestinian equivalent to pro-Israel student groups,” noting that it rejects cooperation with organizations that support Jewish self-determination, incites against Jewish students and rejects Israel’s existence in any borders.
The report highlighted multiple instances of American Jewish students being targeted for “anti-Semitic vandalism, verbal attacks, and outright violence” by SJP members, and pointed to studies conducted by the Brandeis University and the watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, which “found a correlation between the presence of SJP and a rise in campus anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”
In one of several examples provided, the report pointed to Professor M. Shahid Alam, Northeastern University’s SJP faculty advisor, who in 2012 told students that they should be proud to be called antisemites. “Wear that as a sign of distinction,” Alam said in filmed remarks. “This proves that I’m working for the right side, for the just cause.”
Jewish students also complained of being “spat on, harassed, and assaulted on campus by SJP protestors” at Stanford, Cornell and Loyola University in Chicago. “In 2014, a man tabling for SJP at Temple University punched a student in the face and called him a ‘kike’ and ‘baby-killer’ for asking to discuss Israel,” the report noted. “In 2010, a Jewish student holding a sign saying ‘Israel Wants Peace’ was rammed with a shopping cart by an SJP activist during University of California, Berkeley’s Israel Apartheid Week.”
Anti-Defamation League National Director CEO Jonathan Greenblatt slammed The New School on Monday over the Manhattan-based institution’s upcoming hosting of a panel discussion on antisemitism that will feature several prominent anti-Israel activists.
Participants in the Nov. 28 event — titled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice” — will include Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson.
“Having Linda Sarsour & head of JVP leading a panel on #antisemitism is like Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism,” Greenblatt tweeted on Monday. “These panelists know the issue, but unfortunately, from perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it.”
“Seriously there’s not a single Jewish organization that studies this issue and/or fights this disease (such as @adl_national) would take this panel seriously, let alone the institution that put it together,” Greenblatt continued. “It’s a sad day for the @theNewSchool.”
A description of the panel — found on its Eventbrite page – says, “Antisemitism is harmful and real. But when antisemitism is redefined as criticism of Israel, critics of Israeli policy become accused and targeted more than the growing far-right. Join us for a discussion on how to combat antisemitism today.”
Political BDS Fails
Maryland Governor signs order barring state business with companies that boycott Israel
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order on Monday that prohibits the state from doing business with companies engaged in a boycott of Israel.
FIFA says it won’t sanction Israel over settlement teams, irks Palestinians
The Palestinians had hoped FIFA would censure Israel over the settlement teams, thereby forcing them to either drop the clubs from the Israel Football Association or risk losing FIFA membership.
Wisconsin Governor Bars Contracts With Firms That Boycott Israel
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that boycott Israel.
Wisconsin Inks Water Technology Deals With Israel
Institutions from Israel and Wisconsin this week signed two agreements to collaborate on water technology. One accord, between the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Wisconsin’s Water Council, paves the way for Wisconsin’s branch of the National Science Foundation to establish an Israel-based bureau.
Missouri Governor announces pact between Israeli cybersecurity firm and Missouri colleges
Gov. Eric Greitens announced on Friday a pact between the state of Missouri and HackerUSA, a cyber security education firm with roots in Israel.
Support for boycotts of Israel reaches a 4-year low
Jewish designers, in other words, aren’t worth so much as a nod in the Met exhibit, let alone in the Times. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Levi Strauss, Tory Burch, Kenneth Cole, Diane von Furstenberg, Anne Klein, Arnold Scaasi, Jacobi Press, Martin Greenfield — what are they, chopped liver? It takes a certain amount of nerve to claim that these folks were all “engaged in a dialogue with Catholicism,” or that the real “majority” story of fashion and religion is a Catholic story, and that Jews are just some sort of sideshow.
As if to prove my point, the Times mentions that the exhibit is being sponsored in part by Condé Nast and by Stephen Schwarzman. Schwarzman is Jewish and Condé Nast is controlled by the Newhouse family, which is also Jewish.
The Times article carries the byline of Vanessa Friedman, last seen here mangling the Exodus narrative. Friedman had no problem summoning the courage to challenge Bolton’s judgment in other areas.
An article by Andrew Pierce published in the Daily Mail (Out of the shadows, the powerful fixer behind Priti Patel’s downfall, Nov. 9) profiled the “influential and shrewd political operator”, Lord Polak, the British Jew who reportedly set up Priti Patel’s meetings with Israeli political figures last August.
Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, is characterised by Pierce as “a smooth talker” who turned CFI “into one of the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in the history of the Tory Party”.
Pierce then added:
It has tentacles in every corner – it’s believed that as many as 80 per cent of Tory MPs are members – but he has done it by operating behind the scenes
Though this was not the first media outlet to contextualise the Patel row in terms of the dangerous influence of the pro-Israel lobby on British politics, we tweeted Mr. Pierce and lodged a complaint with Daily Mail editors over the word “tentacles”, a word which evokes classic antisemitic tropes and imagery accusing Jews of trying to control the world.
For one thing, you need a clear-cut plaintiff who has suffered as a result of sloppy media coverage, and who has the finances and fortitude to wage a lengthy legal battle whose outcome is by no means certain. Such lawsuits aren’t common, but two come to mind.
One was filed by the late Ariel Sharon against Time. In 1983, the magazine falsely reported that Sharon, then the Minister of Defense, had encouraged Lebanese Phalangists to massacre Palestinians living Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps after the assassination of Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel.
Sharon and Time reached an out of court settlement in 1986 in which Time paid an undisclosed but reportedly “substantial” sum. Under the terms of the settlement, Time also admitted that the description of Sharon’s alleged conversations with Phalangists in Beirut was “erroneous.”
More recently was a lawsuit against Associated Press and the French paper, Libération over a September, 2000 photograph that incorrectly described US student Tuvia Grossman — who had been rescued from a Palestinian lynch mob — as a Palestinian.
A Paris judge in 2002 ordered the two news services to pay Grossman 4,500 Euros in damages for misrepresenting him. You can read more about Grossman’s story how it played into HonestReporting’s founding by seeing The Photo That Started It All.
Our latest Watchdog of the Week is Joel Schneider from Los Angeles. Joel was reading the BBC Travel website when he spotted the reference to “native people” revolting against the Romans in ancient Israel between 66 and 70CE.
Who were these “native people”?
The Jews of course, who, in this BBC story, had been erased from the history of the region as opposed to a number of other peoples who were specifically named.
While HonestReporting looks at an enormous number of media outlets, we rely on you, our readers, to alert us to serious problems in places that might not necessarily be on our extensive radar. BBC Travel was one of those places.
Joel contacted HR through our Red Alert page enabling us to take prompt action and demand a correction from the BBC. Following HR’s complaints and a significant wave of anger on social media prompted by our exposure of the issue, the BBC amended its story to include specific mention of the Jewish people and included an Editor’s Note explaining the change.
You might be familiar with Patreon, an online platform which enables users to pledge monthly donations to support their favorite artists, podcasters, and other content creators. You’re probably not familiar with its evil twin, Hatreon. Founded in response to moves by sites like Patreon and Kickstarter to crack down on hateful individuals, Hatreon provides the same tools to far-right bigots with none of the oversight. And in a few short months, it has been wildly successful.
In August, when Hatreon first went live but before it fully launched, alt-right luminary Richard Spencer began pulling in a modest $85 per month. Today, just a few short months later, he clocks in at $918 per month and counting. Back in August, Andrew Anglin, proprietor of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, was taking in $700 a month from fans. Today, he is raking in $7,739 a month, or a whopping $92,868 a year. In other words, despite the feel-good foisting of Anglin and company from mainstream internet crowdfunding platforms and online hosting services, he is still approaching a six-figure retainer for racism.
The success of Hatreon offers a cautionary corrective to those who argue that the solution to online hate is simply to censor it. Setting aside the free speech concerns raised by such an approach—who decides what is hateful?—it is not actually adequate on today’s internet. Bigots cannot truly be booted off the web, and can easily create their own alternative platforms when required. Bump them off one web host, and they will find another in a place like Hong Kong, as the Daily Stormer did. Knock them off Patreon, you get Hatreon.
The Washington Post often displays two standards of language in its international coverage: one for Israel and another for the rest of the world.
Take, for example, the paper’s use of the term “terrorist.” Post reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows an aversion to the word, with the less descriptive “militant” often being a preferred substitute. An Oct. 30, 2017 report “Seven Palestinian militants killed as Israel blows up tunnel from Gaza,” is but one of many examples.
When he was The Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, William Booth almost exclusively relied on the term “militant” to describe members of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), among others who target Israel (see, for example “While Israel held its fire, the militant group Hamas did not,” July 15, 2014). By contrast, the paper’s reporters hardly—if ever—used the term “terrorist” to describe those perpetrating and planning terror against the Jewish state.
Now chief of the paper’s London bureau, Booth has reported on terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Europe (see, for example “Barcelona suspect says terrorist cell planned to bomb monuments in city,” Aug. 22, 2017). And now, he uses the more precise “terrorist” instead of “militant.” Yet, both ISIS and Hamas, to name two examples, are U.S.-designated terrorist groups who commit terror attacks; it’s unclear what difference there is beyond the fact that one is primarily engaged in the realm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As regular readers will be aware, since the beginning of this year there have been five separate incidents in which missiles were launched into Israel from the Sinai peninsula and nine additional missile attacks from the Gaza Strip.
The BBC’s English language services have not reported any of those fourteen attacks.
Fortunately – and not least because Israeli civilians are well-drilled in taking appropriate precautions when such incidents take place – none of those attacks resulted in serious injuries or fatalities.
On November 4th a missile fired at the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh from Yemen was intercepted and no injuries were reported.
With the constant refrain of Islamophobia parroted by the mainstream media, it might be interesting for them to note one telling statistic from the FBI as they tallied hate crimes in 2016: Of the 1,538 hate crimes motivated by religious bias that were reported by law enforcement, a whopping 54% were anti-Jewish; more than double the 25% that were anti-Muslim. After the precipitous drop from the anti-Jewish crimes to the anti-Muslim crimes, there was another huge drop to the third-most targeted group: Catholics, at 4%.
15,254 law enforcement agencies participated in the Hate Crime Statistics Program.
834 hate crimes were counted against Jews; 318 against Muslims, and 63 against Catholics. Hate crimes against Jews rose 9% from 2015.
In 2014, Jews in the United States were targeted 40.7% more than Muslims.
Interestingly, despite the fact that Jews were far more targeted than Muslims, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, speaking at the Muslim Advocates annual dinner on December 3, 2015, focused on anti-Muslim acts, saying, “Since 9/11, we’ve had over 1,000 investigations into acts of anti-Muslim hatred, including rhetoric and bigoted actions, with over 45 prosecutions arising out of that. I think sadly that number’s going to continue.”
If David Icke is not Britain’s leading antisemite I am yet to come across anybody else who is preaching the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to thousands of bewitched followers in sold-out arenas in Britain. Former footballer and sports presenter David Icke has been Britain’s leading conspiracy theorist for decades; hugely popular throughout the world and capable of selling out venues usually reserved for those of rock star status. Most famous for his belief in multi-dimensional reptiles but unfortunately less well known for the ancient anti-Jewish prejudice that lie at the heart of so many of his theories.
That’ll be where I come in.
The Protocols of the Elder of Zion is a notorious piece of antisemitic propaganda. A forgery concocted by Czarist Russian secret police used to incite the Russian populace against its Jewish population. It tells the story of a secret meeting in 1897 where leading members of the Jewish community throughout the world convened to discuss the trivial matter of their secret plan to take over the world (hopefully with nibbles). To accomplish this dastardly plot they would infiltrate all political parties, take ownership of the press and media in order to control ‘both sides’ of the argument; they would even disseminate pornography alcohol and drugs to corrupt decent good folk.
They would do this in order to spread dissension which would lead to revolution which in turn would lead to all-out war. Down on their luck the people’s of the world would then look to the Jews, now in control of everything, to lead them out of the darkness the evil Jews had manufactured.
For the most part, Israel has remained silent about Holocaust revisionism and incidents of anti-Semitism in countries that have friendly ties to the Jewish state. But on Monday, a spokesman for its Foreign Ministry called the Warsaw event “a dangerous march of extreme and racist elements,” and urged Polish authorities to act against the organizers.
Last year, Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, hosted Tadeusz Rydzyk, a Catholic priest who runs a radio station that the US State Department has called a main purveyor of anti-Semitism. She defended the move as important outreach even as Never Again, Pankowski’s group, called it a “big mistake.”
Azari did speak out last month against proposed legislation on restitution, arguing its preclusion of claims by distant relatives and non-citizens discriminates against Jews whose families lost property in Poland during or after the Holocaust. An Israeli restitution official told JTA, referring to the proposed law: “First the Nazis seized private property and then the communist authorities of Poland seized it, when most Polish Jews were already dead.”
Ultimately, however, Israel’s attitude seems to be guided by comments Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made in 2013 during the visit by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski to Jerusalem. Noting the suffering of non-Jewish Poles and Jews under Nazi occupation, Netanyahu observed that “Poland and Israel have to support each other.”
Two antisemitic posters were discovered at the University of British Columbia’s War Memorial Gym on Saturday. The discovery came on the eve of Remembrance Day events which commemorate Canada’s military veterans.
According to local news outlet CKNW, one poster depicted Nazi soldiers with text declaring: “Lest We Forget — The True Heroes of World War II.” Another poster featured a large swastika. Both posters displayed the URLs of racist websites.
B’nai Brith Canada issued a statement on Sunday condemning those who put the posters up. “Once again, we see antisemitism and neo-Nazism raising their ugly heads at a B.C. university,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “These disturbing incidents constitute a threat to Jewish students and other minorities on campus, as well as an unforgivable insult to Canadian veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice to defeat Nazi tyranny.”
A French court fined a teacher from a Parisian high school €1,500 last week for making anti-Semitic remarks including that the Jews “planned and organized the Holocaust.”
The ruling was welcomed by the World Zionist Organization on Tuesday.
According to an AFP report, the English teacher from the Lycée Janson de Sailly school made the anti-Semitic comments in 2016 on her Facebook account, which is accessible to students.
The court found her guilty of denying crimes against humanity and of racial defamation. She was also ordered to pay 500 Euros in damages to several organizations who brought the civil action, including SOS Racisme and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.
Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, welcomed the court’s decision and expressed his support for the judges “who saw fit to severely punish those who deny the injustice of the Holocaust and who try to blur history.”
The teacher, who was suspended in August 2016 and has declared that she is on long-term sick leave, did not attend her trial in October, citing her psychological state. Her lawyer had requested a psychological assessment but the court rejected this request, AFP reported.
Latin America’s largest airline holding company, LATAM Airlines, announced last week that it will begin operating direct flights between Israel and South America in 2018.
According to the Chile-based airline, three weekly flights will be operated from Santiago en route to Israel, with a stop-over in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Ministry of Tourism confirmed that talks are being held with the airline on the new commercial flights.
No direct flights currently exists between Israel and South American countries after Israel’s EL AL Airlines terminated its flights to Brazil, forcing passengers to stopover in European destinations.
LATAM was founded in 2012 as an umbrella airline incorporating LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines belonging to Chile and Brazil respectively. Since being founded, the group has set up subsidiaries in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay and Argentina.
The range of the airline’s aircraft includes a Boeing 787 and 767, and Airbus A350 and short and medium-range airbuses. (h/t Cliff)
Australian actor Bryan Brown is a household name in Australia – as is his wife Rachel Ward (who he met on the set of the Thorn Birds back in the day).
Bryan and Rachel were recently in Israel, firstly for the recent 100 years commemoration of the Battle of Beersheba
AUSTRALIAN film legend Bryan Brown has spoken of his admiration for the men of the Light Horse, who charged to victory at Beersheba.
Brown arrived in Beersheba on Sunday, as preparations were finalised for Tuesday’s commemoration. He will read from the writings of one of the Australians in the battle.
He said it was hard for people in 2017 to get their heads around what it must have been like for the soldiers 100 years ago.
“They charge, with their bayonets out of their guns, and charged and took over this town. And a lot of them died,’’ Brown said. “It’s pretty gutsy. It’s strange what is asked of people in wars.”
Brown was speaking at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Beersheba, Israel. Today’s service will be attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and New Zealand’s Governor-general, Dame Patsy Reddy.
But also for the Arava International Film Festival, where Bryan was guest of honor, and where some classic films of Australian cinema were shown.
GQ named Israeli actress Gal Gadot its 2017 Woman of the Year — rebranding the honor “Wonder Woman of the Year” in her honor.
Gadot soared to international celebrity as the star of this year’s “Wonder Woman” blockbuster. Since the release of the movie, which grossed $412 million at the box office worldwide, she has become a household name in the United States and a source of pride for Israelis.
As Woman of the Year, Gadot will appear on the cover of GQ, a New York-based men’s magazine.
The article will be published Wednesday, but the monthly has already posted a teaser on its website, touting Gadot as a former Miss Israel and soldier in that nation’s army, and a “real-life badass.”
This once-pretty picture postcard town, on its own 4,000-foot high mesa nestling between a pair of much higher mountain ranges, is in a bad neighborhood when it comes to tolerance.
So the mystery of the Jewish holy figure Hazana, who is revered here by people of all the local faiths, is even more profound than it might otherwise be.
Amadiya is in the semiautonomous province of Kurdistan, which is the target of a crackdown by Baghdad after aiming to achieve independence from Iraq. This part of northern Iraq has been convulsed by violence since the advance of the Islamic State, which sent Christians fleeing, enslaved Yazidi women and killed Shiites on sight, until finally being wiped out in the area last month.
Today Amadiya’s population of 9,000 is overwhelmingly Kurdish Muslim. But in the early 20th century there were said to be about two-thirds that many people, about evenly divided among Muslims, Christians and Jews — although there were 10 mosques compared with two churches and two synagogues. Everyone was packed into a circumference of a mile and a half.
Amadiya’s Jews all left after the creation of Israel in 1948. And so many Christians have left amid successive regional upheavals that the remaining 20 or 30 families can no longer sustain both churches.
Eight decades ago, Jewish archivists facing death in the Warsaw Ghetto hid a trove of documents they hoped would bear testimony to the sufferings of the Holocaust.
Now part of the unparalleled archive has gone on display in its first permanent exhibition at the Polish capital’s Jewish Historical Institute.
“This is the greatest Jewish treasure of the war era, a treasure that shows death approaching. It conveys the testimonies of people destined to die in a few weeks, months or hours,” historian and exhibition curator Pawel Spiewak told AFP, ahead of the Ringelblum Archive’s official opening on Thursday.
Jewish historian and activist Emmanuel Ringelblum led a team that collected and hid the documents from the Nazis, burying them in metal milk jugs and boxes.
Seventy-five years and four days after my mother was sent into hiding as a baby in wartime Holland, her rescuers Aad and Fie Versnel were finally posthumously recognized by Yad Vashem as members of that select band, the Righteous Among The Nations.
It has been a long time coming, but had it not been for a Facebook post that miraculously traced the family within just four days, this story might never have been told.
Three years ago I published “Two Prayers Before Bedtime,” a memoir about my grandmother Cilla Bitterman, who sent her daughter (my mother) Renate into hiding during the war.
Lacking documentary records, we estimated that she was forced into hiding at just 19 months old, in the middle of September 1942, exactly 75 years earlier.
The bravery of my grandparents in making the heart-wrenching decision to send their son and daughter to an unknown fate was only possible thanks to those people, living in Nazi-occupied Holland, who were willing to face the utmost risk and sacrifice, endangering their own lives to save another.
You’ve probably never heard the story of Margaret Lambert, or Greta Bergmann, as she was known in her native Germany. Born in 1914 in Laupheim, a town in Southwest Germany, Bergmann quickly made a name for herself as a track-and-field star with a specialty in the high jump. But in the 1930s, as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power, everything changed. Her admission to the University of Berlin was withdrawn, and in 1934 she moved to England for college, winning the British women’s high jump championship the following year.
And then she was called back to Germany with an unusual and threatening mandate: The Nazis wanted her to try out for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Facing international pressure for hosting the Olympics while openly persecuting huge portions of their population, the Nazis needed to create at least the appearance of tolerance. Which meant they needed a prominent Jewish athlete like Bergman. She returned to Germany and set a record at the final Olympic trials—held in Adolf Hitler Stadium.
But her hopes of competing in the Olympics were soon dashed. Only days before the Games began, the German Olympic committee told her she didn’t make the team. She left for the United States in 1937, married fellow German Jewish runner Bruno Lambert, and never looked back. When she died in July of this year, she was 103 years old.
A new documentary, The Margaret Lambert Story, now airing on the Olympic Channel as the first installment in their Foul Play series, gives Lambert the spotlight she has long deserved. It’s not the first effort to bring Lambert’s story to the masses. Writer Molly Lambert, Margaret’s granddaughter, eloquently told her story in the New Yorker last month.
The Holocaust deprived them of celebrating an important Jewish milestone, but on Monday, 45 survivors finally celebrated their bar and bat mitzva ceremonies for the first time, at a communal event at the Western Wall.
The participants are all Israeli citizens who immigrated from the former Soviet Union.
“We ran away with nothing but the clothes we had on us,” recalled Aspir Ravicher, 89, who was 11-years-old when WWII broke out. Her family fled from their homes in Ukraine to Russia. “We had nothing, we were hungry all the time, we lived in a crowded place – I remember that it was mostly cold and I was very hungry. A bat mitzva “was not something we could have done,” she explains.
“All my life, I felt that I missed it so much. I am so excited and happy,” said Alexander Buchnik, 87, who reached bar mitzva age immediately upon the liberation of Moscow from the Nazis. When the war ended, the family returned to the city. “But we could not celebrate my bar mitzva,” he said. His mother “was busy surviving and keeping us alive―we could not think about it at all.”
In 1994, Buchnik immigrated to Israel with his family and said that he had long been waiting for the moment when he would celebrate his bar mitzvah. “I thought about it during the course of my life, and all my life I felt that I missed it so much,” he says.
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