Wednesday, January 22, 2020

From Ian:

President Reuven Rivlin: We must all demand: Never again
Memory is the cornerstone of the ethos of the Jewish people. We are not prisoners of the past, but rather we consider our steps carefully as we face past events and look to the future with hope.

It is this shared memory that makes a people into a nation, that shapes our national character and outlines our way. This is why we are duty-bound to preserve it and to pass it down to future generations.

The Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem is a historic gathering where we will once again commit to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and imparting its legacy to future generations.

It is with the deepest appreciation that I welcome each of the leaders visiting the capital of Israel, who bring with them their unique voice and national identity. Together we stand, shoulder to shoulder, in our fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms. This is a struggle that we must wage unwaveringly.

We must recognize anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head; when it is legitimized in the centers of power, in the public arena, and even in academia, and we must fight it.

We, the members of the family of nations, are required to realize the oath "never again" through action: to educate future generations, enforce the law, eradicate incitement on social media, keep the Jewish communities safe, and to promote the study of the Holocaust without political restriction.

For the sake of our children – for our sake and for all of humanity – we will call from Jerusalem together, "Never again;" we will preserve the memory of the Holocaust and fight anti-Semitism.
World leaders to make online 'Never Again' pledge
President Reuven Rivlin and dozens of world leaders attending this week's Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem will take part in the online Holocaust education project known as "Eva Stories," which tells the story of a Hungrian girl through Instagram.

In the project, dozens of Instagram video posts, in a special format known as "stories", show a cast in period costume and locations acting out passages from the diary of Eva Heyman, a 13-year-old Hungarian deported to her death in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944.

The leaders will be active participants in the stories, sending the digital character online messages. This, organizers say, will help make the project even more widespread and help combat anti-Semitism. Their messages, which will address Eva and contemporary children, will include the pledge of "Never Again."

Responding to Those Who Claim Judaism is ‘Just a Religion’
Recently, on a friend’s page, an Arab Supremacist Israel hater wrote the following to me:
“I respect Judaism for what it is, a religion. European Zionism is Colonialist and racist. Arab Jews and Arab Muslims lived in a relatively peaceful state of co-existence until the intrusion of European Zionism. The European Zionists sowed the seeds of hatred and mistrust between Arab Jews and Arab Muslims which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews being forced out of Arab countries and into Palestine. It then forced hundreds of thousands of Arab Muslims out of Palestine and into the Arab countries from whence the Arab Jews came.

The European Zionists manipulated and displaced the indigenous Arab Jews and Arab Muslims for the sake of their own Colonialist ambitions. The Arab Jews(Mizrahi) soon became the silent victims of European Zionist oppression and racism.”
As this ahistorical antisemitic nonsense is often part of the talking points of the antisemitic Arab Supremacists and their allies on the far-right and far-left (ironically); I thought I would share my response:

What a colonialist Arab Supremacist and thoroughly patronizing screed – which is what one should expect from a racist supremacist trying to sound enlightened and trying to couch his racism and supremacism in modern politically correct rhetoric.

Let’s take your above historically inaccurate and baseless claims one at a time:

First: [“I respect Judaism for what it is, a religion.”] No. As I have written before – and which you have not even tried to respond to – Judaism is not just “a religion.” It is plainly and has always been a tribal faith and a peoplehood. It is why one can have Jewish atheists and why – according to the Tanach and the Talmud and the writings of all great Jewish thinkers and philosophers – that even if a Jew converts to another religion or faith, he or she remains a part of the Jewish people. It is why Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David, and the most famous person to undergo the tribal acceptance process called “giyoor” (very loosely translated to be a conversion) in order to become a member of our tribe, first and famously said, “Your people shall be my people” as literally every person undergoing a giyoor first avers to this very day. Peoplehood – joining the Jewish people, becoming a member of our tribe is literally the first oath and commitment undertaken by someone who was not born Jewish becoming a Jew. Because, Judaism is not “just a religion” it is a nationality, an ethnicity, a peoplehood. Always has been.

Second: [“European Zionism is Colonialist and racist.”] – Coming from someone who plainly supports Arab colonialism and wants all of the lands in the MENA to remain under the control of arguably the most racist, misoyginst, homophobic, regimes in the world, where the most common way to refer to indigenous Africans is “abeed” the Arabic word for “slave” … this is particularly rich. To be clear, all Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel. The land of Israel is where the Jewish people had its ethnogenesis. Our language, culture, tribal faith, … literally everything that matters to making a Jew a Jew, originated in the land of Israel. For the Arabs occupying the rest of the MENA, everything that defines them as Arabs had its ethnogenesis in Arabia. To the extent they exercise dominion and control over any lands outside of Arabia, that is purely the product of brutal conquest and colonialization. (h/t IsaacStorm)
What Martin Luther King Thought of Israel
Not a year goes by without an attempt by someone to associate the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Palestinian cause. It's particularly striking, since the late Palestinian academic Edward Said noted in 1993: "I was very soon turned off by Martin Luther King, who revealed himself to be a tremendous Zionist, and who always used to speak very warmly in support of Israel, particularly in '67, after the war."

King knew the "plight" of the Palestinians perfectly well, having visited Jordanian-held East Jerusalem in 1959, where he got a tutorial from the leading lights of Arab Palestine. Yet he never left a quote in support of any aspect of the Palestinian Arab cause.

King believed that the Palestinian refugee problem, if not the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole, could best be resolved through "a Marshall Plan for the Middle East, where we lift those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder and bring them into the mainstream of economic security." Today that would be called "economic peace."

UCLA historian Robin D.G. Kelley recently claimed that King kept his silence on Israel to win Jewish financial or political support for the civil rights movement. But this notion of a quid pro quo takes no account of the spiritual dimension of King's ties to Zionist Jews. The two who were closest to him were refugee rabbis from Hitler's Europe.

Joachim Prinz (1902-1988), who allied himself with King in 1958, spoke just before King at the 1963 March on Washington. Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) marched in the front line with King in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Both were eloquently committed to Israel. For King, these men were not "supporters," they were fellow visionaries, with whom he shared prophetic values.

The attempt to make King into an advocate for Palestine is an offense to history.



Gil Troy: 75 years after World War II, Jews deserve freedom from fear, too
HERE, THEN, is this conference’s power and potential. Its power is symbolic, as the world’s leading leaders lead the fight against Jew-hatred, the most plastic hatred – eminently adaptable, depressingly long-lasting, completely artificial, and dangerously toxic. Simply by showing up, each dignitary is repudiating the haters and partially balancing out the legacy of the 1940s, when most countries failed to welcome Jews or fight for them, even while fighting the Nazis. Post-Holocaust, amid so much anti-Zionism, many Jews believe the world is against us. This conference counters that constructively, beautifully.

But the real challenge lies in making the conference real. The delegates must see beyond the three blind spots that help perpetuate Jew-hatred today. With their clouded vision, Jew-haters claim, “I’m not antisemitic, just critical of” Israel or liberal Jews or Orthodox Jewish neighbors or whatever particular bee buzzes around their bonnet. With their selective vision, enablers often see antisemitism only in their partisan enemies, not their political friends. And with their blurry vision, well-intentioned but feeble fighters try fighting hate generically, not Jew-hatred specifically.

To see the problem clearly, this conference should endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s “working definition” of antisemitism, which refuses to fall for the Jew-haters’ rationales or be fooled by their masks. Delegates should draw clear redlines when haters obsessively single out Israel, Jews or Judaism. And they should recognize that the most effective strategies against Jew-haters expose those who target Jews specifically.

Beyond making these moral statements, these leaders should target the antisemitism of the campus, the Internet, the street, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. They should leverage their diplomatic muscle to end the anti-Israel obsession in the UN and elsewhere while attacking today’s three most dangerous sources of Jew-hatred: the Iranian mullahs, the Hamas and Palestinian Authority delegitimizers, and the Islamist jihadists. We don’t need another declaration against hate; we need specific action plans and bold leadership commitments.

Clearly, this conference will not eliminate Jews’ rational fear of those who hate us. Over the last 75 years Israel has taught the Jewish people that the best way to fight fear is to stand up for yourself. And we have done that magnificently. But the second-best method is to stand tall with other good people – which is what this Fifth World Holocaust Forum is doing so magnanimously.
Ruthie Blum: Holocaust remembrance, Palestinian irrelevance
As the nearly 50 heads of state from around the globe began preparing for their arrival in Israel this week to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum – on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp from the Nazis – the powers-that-be in the Palestinian Authority have been busy trying to figure out how best to channel their anger and envy.

Unfortunately for PA head Mahmoud Abbas and his disgruntled Fatah henchmen, however, nobody really cares – least of all US Vice President Mike Pence, who will be representing the White House at the somber Jan. 23 "Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Anti-Semitism" event hosted by President Reuven Rivlin and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

The significance of the major happening is magnified by the recent spike in worldwide anti-Semitism, even in America, where the rearing of its ugly head in heavily Orthodox neighborhoods has been almost as shocking as its explosion on university campuses.

To the dismay of the aging Abbas, who alternates between denying the Holocaust – as he did in his Ph.D. thesis – and accusing the Jewish state of committing Nazi-like crimes against the Palestinians, very few members of the diverse group of dignitaries gathering in the Israeli capital that he does not recognize will be taking a break in their whirlwind visit to pay their respects, or even lip service, to him.

Bemoaning the above, a regular columnist for the official PA daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, proposed murder as a solution.

As Palestinian Media Watch reported, in an op-ed on Jan. 18, Yahya Rabah wrote, "One shot will disrupt the ceremony and one dead body will cancel [it]."

Rabah reached this par-for-the-course conclusion after attacking the international community for its ostensible hypocrisy in viewing the Holocaust against the Jews as a terrible historical injustice, while allowing Israel to engage in similar behavior towards Palestinians with impunity.
Holocaust abuse
It is commonly thought that the worst type of Holocaust distortion is Holocaust denial. Yet there is an even more evil variant. It can best be called Holocaust inversion. This type of abuse is derived from Holocaust equivalence but specifically targets Jews and Israel. Holocaust invertors often claim that Israel behaves toward the Palestinians in the same way that Germans behaved toward the Jews during World War II.

A poll carried out in a number of European Union countries asking if Israelis intended to exterminate the Palestinians found that more than 150 million EU adults out of 400 million answered in the affirmative. These are rabid antisemitic opinions. It also demonstrates how the more than a millennium-old interwovenness of antisemitism with European culture manifests itself in a contemporary mutated form. The seemingly contradictory categories of Holocaust denial and Holocaust inversion can sometimes even be found together in the Arab world.

One more type of Holocaust distortion is Holocaust trivialization. This is a tool for ideologically or politically motivated activists to make a comparison of phenomena they oppose with the industrial scale destruction of the Jews in WW II by the Germans and their allies. One frequently heard is the ‘animal holocaust.’ It compares the industrial slaughter of animals to the genocide of the Jews. Others are the ‘climate holocaust’, the ‘nuclear holocaust’, and the ‘abortion holocaust.’

Holocaust trivialization also manifests itself in its growing insertion into a large number of disparate events that have no connection to the genocide of the Jews. Other trivializers operate out of commercial or artistic considerations or out of a desire to draw attention or even provoke. A recent case was when the left-wing Center for Political Beauty (ZPS) installed a column before the German parliament in Berlin. The initiators claimed that it contained the ashes of Holocaust victims.

Another very general category of Holocaust distortion can best be named ‘obliterating Holocaust memory.’ It can include acts like the besmirching or destruction of memorials or disturbing Holocaust ceremonies. In January 2020, the Palestinian Authority daily newspaper 'Al-Hayat al-Jadida' published an opinion calling on readers to commit murders to halt the events of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Yet another obliterating activity is trying to turn Holocaust memorial ceremonies into general remembrance events. Another manifestation of trying to obliterate Holocaust memory is ‘Holocaust silencing.’ This consists of stating that Jews talk about the Holocaust too often. Another form of this is claiming that Jews abuse the Holocaust for various purposes. There are also indirect attacks on Holocaust remembrance, which involve Jewish memorial sites. One example is the removal of Jewish cemeteries in various localities.

The great variety in the above list should teach us another seemingly unrelated lesson. There is a dire need for a huge expansion of antisemitism scholarship. What has been pointed out above is just one area of the very multi-faceted hatred of Jews and Israel.
Israeli Holocaust survivor shows world her diary from Auschwitz
Sheindi Miller-Ehrenwald, a 90-year-old Israeli survivor of the Holocaust, has gone public for the first time with her diary documenting her deportation and incarceration in Auschwitz.

“She was 14 and wrote her diary in the concentration camp, “headlined Germany’s best-selling paper on Wednesday. The paper wrote “Today the 90-year-old shows her notes for the first time in Bild.”

Bild termed the release of the diary in its paper a “world exclusive.”

“I am now in a position to the tell the world my story, “ Miller-Ehrenwald, who lives in Jerusalem, told the paper. Miller-Ehrenwald was born in then-Hungary (now part of Slovakia) and deported to Auschwitz. Her family members were murdered by the Germans in Auschwitz. She and her older sister survived the Shoah.

She said she “was amazed that she could write “ the diary because it “was so dangerous there.” The diary is 54-pages and will be on display in the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

“I will die shortly and I don’t want the people to be forgotten who were murdered,” Miller-Ehrenwald said.

Miller-Ehrenwald stood across the infamous Auschwitz Dr. Josef Mengele.
World War II was caused by hatred of Jews, preeminent Holocaust scholar says
World War II and the enormous catastrophe it brought upon mankind occurred “probably mainly” because of anti-Semitism, according to Israel’s preeminent Holocaust scholar. Indeed, Adolf Hitler launched the war to a large extent to prevent “world Jewry” from physically annihilating the German nation, Yehuda Bauer said.

“Anti-Semitism is a cancer that eats the world, and World War II is proof of that,” he told The Times of Israel during an hour-long interview in Jerusalem last week.

Bauer, 93, will deliver the keynote address at a festive dinner for about 45 leaders from across the world Wednesday evening at President Reuven Rivlin’s residence that will kick off this year’s World Holocaust Forum. The event marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. (The only two other speakers at the dinner will be Rivlin himself and the king of Spain.)

At the event, Bauer will speak about a secret memorandum Hitler wrote to Hermann Goering in August 1936, in which he spoke about the need for Germany to be ready for war within four years. Otherwise, Hitler argued, Jewish Bolshevism will “replace” the German nation.

“For a victory of Bolshevism over Germany would not lead to a Versailles Treaty but to the final destruction, indeed to the annihilation, of the German people,” Hitler wrote.
Full textHolocaust scholar’s speech to world leaders: Anti-Semitism destroys your nations
How Auschwitz evolved from a modern city to an extermination camp
On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops entered Auschwitz-Birkenau, liberating the camps. As we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation, we should take a moment to understand what Robert Jan van Pelt, a professor of architecture, calls the “mythic power of ‘Auschwitz.’”

Concentration camps were initially constructed as means to instill fear in those who opposed to the Nazi Party. After 1939 when war in Europe began, the camps evolved into supplying free labor and housing prisoners of war.

Auschwitz: A Model Aryan City
After the defeat of Poland on September 27, 1939, Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), viewed Auschwitz as one of numerous towns in the newly German annexed territories, where Poles and Jews
A concentration/labor camp and an IG Farben industrial plant were to be constructed in what was designed to become a model Aryan city.
would be deported and settled with Germans as explained by van Pelt and historian Debórah Dwork. Nazi Party headquarters, a concentration/labor camp and an IG Farben industrial plant were to be constructed in what was designed to become a model Aryan city.

German architect Hans Stosberg, who created the grand scheme for a new model town, proclaimed in 1943 the goal of the town was “to provide German people with an expanse of soil that can become a stretch of home earth for their children and themselves” writes historian Richard J. Evans.

By spreading out the settlement, Stosberg expected Auschwitz would be less vulnerable to air attacks. After Hamburg, Essen, Cologne and other German cities were damaged by an Allied aerial offensive in 1943, thousands of Germans sought refuge in the area.
Senior Saudi religious leader set to make ‘groundbreaking’ visit to Auschwitz
A senior Saudi religious leader is slated to visit the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on Thursday ahead of the 75th anniversary of its liberation by the Soviet Red Army.

Mohammed al-Issa, the secretary-general of the Mecca-based Muslim World League (MWL) and a former Saudi justice minister, is scheduled to arrive at Auschwitz alongside Muslim religious leaders from more than 24 countries and a delegation of American Jewish Committee (AJC) officials.

AJC CEO David Harris said the trip represented “the most senior delegation of Muslim religious leaders to visit Auschwitz ever.”

Issa, the Muslim clerics and the AJC officials will tour the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on Friday as well as visit the Nozyk Synagogue in the Polish capital and a local mosque, Kenneth Bandler, a spokesman for AJC said, adding that the group will share an interfaith Shabbat meal too.

They also plan to meet with Holocaust survivors on Friday at the synagogue, according to an individual familiar with the details of the trip who asked not to be name.

Issa’s expected visit to Auschwitz comes after he visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, in May 2018 and wrote an opinion article in the Washington Post in January 2019 condemning the Nazis’ “heinous crimes.” He also declared that “Muslims around the world have a responsibility to learn” about the lessons of the Holocaust.
Facial recognition could help discover fate of Holocaust victims
Seeking clues to the past, Eli and Saul Lieberman turned to an Israeli research center, which hopes to match family pictures from around the time of World War Two with its database of tens of thousands of photos, many taken by German Wehrmacht soldiers.

Those German photos show the troops themselves as well as people in villages and towns with Jewish populations.

Shem Olam Holocaust Memorial Centre launched its “Face to Face” project in July, calling via social media for people to send in pictures for facial recognition scans.

The Lieberman brothers know few details of the horrors their late father, Joseph, endured during the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed. A survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, he did not speak with them about his experiences.

But a photograph taken somewhere in Europe after the war shows their father together with two cousins, and Eli, 50, and Saul, 61, sent it to the Shem Olam center in July. They are awaiting a match and clues about their family’s history.

“We live in a world that if you can’t provide the document or the picture, it doesn’t feel like it happened,” Saul Lieberman said. “People want to know where they came from, who they came from.”
Trump, Putin, pope vow to fight anti-Semitism in collection of missives
Dozens of world leaders, including the heads of state of the United States, Germany, Russia and France, declare their commitment to battle anti-Semitism in a book and film set to be released Wednesday at a gathering of leaders at the residence of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin.

Leaders and senior dignitaries from over 40 nations are expected in Israel this week to attend the fifth annual World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, which this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

As part of the event, Yad Vashem produced a book titled, “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” which features written statements from fifty world leaders “stating their fervent and profound pledge to remember the Holocaust and to take measures to combat rising antisemitism,” Yad Vashem said in a statement Tuesday.

Many of the leaders’ statements were then incorporated into a film produced by Rivlin’s office that will be shown at a dinner for the leaders hosted by the president on Wednesday evening.

The book and film both include messages from Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, both of whom canceled their appearances at the event.

Duda earlier this month canceled his participation at the forum amid a row about the history of World War II between the governments of Poland and Russia.
Macron tells Rivlin ‘anti-Semitism not different from anti-Zionism’
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned anti-Zionism as no different from anti-Semitism, as he met with Israeli leaders while in Jerusalem to attend the World Holocaust Forum.

At the President’s Residence, Macron told President Reuven Rivlin that France would be “committed and active” in combating anti-Semitism under his watch.

“We decided to talk about the issue of anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism in a direct and clear way. Anti-Zionism is not different from anti-Semitism,” a statement from Rivlin’s office quoted Macron saying.

Macron said that while such a position does not mean the countries can’t disagree, “denying the right of the State of Israel to exist is a modern version of anti-Semitism.”

He also acknowledged growing anti-Semitism in Europe and France, calling it a “very serious disease,” and said the gathering of world leaders in Israel to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz sent a powerful message against hatred of Jews.

“I came for Israel, for what the Shoah represents and for the memory of the Holocaust, to join you in the important statement against anti-Semitism,” he said.
French President Macron in Jerusalem: Anti-Zionism Linked to Anti-Semitism
Head of France Emmanuel Macron warned Wednesday of the rise of anti-Semitism, saying its "dark shadow is spreading everywhere, reborn," during a joint press conference in Jerusalem hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

The French leader, visiting Israel for the fifth World Holocaust Forum, which marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi extermination camp, wished to recall the commitment of France in the fight against anti-Semitism.
"This antisemitism shows that democracies are ill, crises are here, and it does not concern only Jews but our common destiny, and for us in France -- the whole Republic," Macron said.


MEMRI: Moroccan King, Senior Officials Condemn Antisemitism, Call To Teach Tolerance, Coexistence As Lessons Of Holocaust
In recent years, the Moroccan King and senior Moroccan officials have taken a clear stance against antisemitism and stressed the need to teach the values of tolerance and coexistence as lessons of the Holocaust. Pro-Palestinian organizations in the country have condemned this discussion of the Holocaust as an expression of normalization with Israel.

Introduction
While most Arab countries refrain from addressing the issue of antisemitism and from including the topic of the Holocaust in their school curricula, Morocco appears to be taking a different approach. Speaking at international conferences and forums dealing with the Holocaust and intercultural dialogue, Moroccan regime officials, headed by King Mohammed VI, have frequently spoken of the need to condemn antisemitism, to instill the values of tolerance and religious coexistence in Moroccan society and to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, while stressing the pivotal role of education in this context.

The Moroccan king's position, unusual in the Arab world, was already evident in 2009, when he referred to the Holocaust as "one of the most painful disasters in the history of mankind." This was at a time when the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was calling the Holocaust "a Western invention",[1] and while antisemitism and Holocaust denial were also rampant in many other parts of the Arab and Muslim world. The king's statements were read out on his behalf by the Moroccan minister for religious affairs at the launching ceremony of the Aladdin Project, an international NGO devoted to rapprochement between cultures and especially between Jews and Muslims. The king said: "My approach and the approach of my people to the disaster of the Holocaust is far removed from the approaches that seem to suffer from a kind of amnesia [i.e., Holocaust denial]. Our approach is intent upon in-depth study of one of the wounds that are etched in our collective memory, and which we have worked to define as one of the most painful disasters in the history of mankind."[2]

In another speech, read out by the Moroccan prime minister in September 2018, the king said that "antisemitism is the antithesis of freedom of expression [because] it implies a denial of the other," and called to teach history, including its "darkest hours," hinting at the Holocaust.[3]
Weather forces Kushner to cancel Israel visit
Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner and US Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz will not attend the gathering of world leaders at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on Thursday due to bad weather.

The two were supposed to arrive in Israel on Wednesday night straight from Davos, where they are taking part in the annual World Economic Forum alongside US President Donald Trump.

But Kushner and Berkowitz, along with special envoy on Iran Brian Hook, could not make it on time to Zurich's airport to catch the flight to Israel because of the inclement weather, and therefore a decision was made to return to the US with Trump.

Israel Hayom has learned that the peace team is expected to make a visit to Israel in the near future, in order to discuss the administration's peace plan ahead of its release.

Vice President Mike Pence is set to arrive in Israel on Thursday, and he will be a keynote speaker in the Holocaust forum.
100 European legislators visit Auschwitz, urged to be tougher on anti-Semitism
A delegation of over 100 European ministers and parliamentarians toured the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Tuesday, with a coalition of European Jewish leaders encouraging the legislators to strengthen anti-Semitism laws in their respective countries.

The visit was part of a conference that ran January 20-21 — just ahead of the anniversary of the camp’s liberation on January 27, 1945 — that urged attendees to amend or adopt laws regarding anti-Semitic stereotyping, educational initiatives, and the sale of Nazi memorabilia for profit or “personal macabre interest.”

The text was drafted in concrete legislative language by the delegation’s sponsors, the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the European Action and Protection League (APL), with additional partnership from B’nai Brith Europe, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the European March of the Living network, and communities and organizations throughout Europe.

“I had the chance to speak with many of the participants of this delegation, and I was satisfied to see that many of them felt that this visit has made a huge impact on them,” EJA head Rabbi Menachem Margolin told The Times of Israel.

“They are willing to work with us in drafting the legislation we have promoted at the conference, and we have no doubt that once country after country will adopt this legislation, the situation will be much better, since it will simply ban many expressions of anti-Semitism — which will reduce the incitement, and naturally it will reduce, without question, the incidents,” Margolin said.
Polish president skipped Holocaust memorial despite invitation to speak
President Reuven Rivlin promised Polish President Andrzej Duda a platform to speak if he came to Israel for the World Holocaust Forum, but Duda snubbed the Jerusalem-based event anyway, President’s Residence director-general Harel Tubi revealed on Wednesday.

The president plans to invite Duda to Israel for a separate official visit.

Duda decided not to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum events taking place this week, beginning with a dinner at Rivlin’s official residence on Wednesday and followed by a ceremony at Yad Vashem the next day, in protest over the fact that countries whose governments collaborated with the Nazis were allowed to speak at Yad Vashem, but Poland was not.

Tubi said that Rivlin “invited the Polish president time after time and even promised to create some kind of platform for the Polish president during his visit to Israel. Unfortunately, it didn’t succeed.”

Rivlin will meet Duda next week at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Auschwitz, Tubi told Radio South.
“There is an argument here about the historic narrative, but we think that the presence of the Polish president is important, as the country on whose land these horrors took place,” Tubi said.

Tubi’s statements were carefully worded as the Polish government is especially sensitive to the use of phrases implying that death camps were Polish, since the country was occupied by Nazi Germany at the time and not somewhat self-governed like Vichy France or other parts of Europe.
Director of Auschwitz Museum slams holding of World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem
The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has offered scathing criticism of the organizers of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, which is taking place this week in Jerusalem, arguing that the main event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation should take place in Poland and not in Israel.

In a far-ranging exclusive interview conducted a few days before some 50 world leaders and top dignitaries were set to gather in the capital for a commemoration unprecedented in scope, Piotr Cywinski appeared to attack mainly the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, one of the event’s three co-organizers, accusing it of seeking to replace the yearly event held at Auschwitz.

“For years, the organizer of this Forum has been making attempts to create it as an alternative commemorative event for the memorial site. Five years ago, he tried to invite heads of states to Theresienstadt at the same time,” Cywinski said.

“It is simply so provocative and immature that I do not find the words to comment on it.”

Many different events across the globe mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is held annually on January 27 — the day the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

Berlin has a memorial concert and the United Nations is holding a special ceremony, Cywinski said, by way of example.

“And all these events are not presented as alternatives for the commemoration in Auschwitz,” he said.

However, he lamented, the World Holocaust Forum “constitutes an exception as it once again makes attempts to act on the contrary. For me, the entire row is just pathetic and immature.”
50% of Americans don’t know how many Jews died in Holocaust
More than half of Americans do not know how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, nearly a third do not know when the Holocaust took place, and over half do not know how Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power.

These are the findings of a recent survey by the Pew Research Center which have been released today (Wednesday) ahead of the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Although the results displayed a concerning lack of knowledge about the exact details of the Holocaust, the survey did however demonstrate that a plurality of Americans do have a basic understanding of what occurred during the Holocaust when answering multiple choice questions.

The Pew Research Center posed four questions on the Holocaust as an extension to its religious knowledge survey conducted in 2019 which polled 10,429 adults in the US.

In response to the question “How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust,” a plurality, some 45%, chose the answer “approximately 6 million, with 55% giving incorrect answers.
25% of French millennials say they haven’t heard of the Holocaust - poll
A recent survey conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) has found that 25% of French millennials have not heard, or think they haven’t heard, of the Holocaust.

The survey, which was released on Wednesday in advance of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, stressed both the desire and the need for Holocaust education. It was the fourth survey done by the Claims Conference in recent months, with others being carried out in the US, Canada and Austria.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, vice president of the Claims Conference in Israel Shlomo Gur said that there is no doubt we have reached this point because there is just “too little Holocaust education in schools, and it goes across countries.”

Holocaust education needs to be incorporated into both the formal school system and in an informal setting as well, in both Jewish and non-Jewish schools worldwide, he said.

Gur said it is also deeply troubling that the French study found that “more than half of [the 1,100 people] polled (52%) believe that something like the Holocaust could happen again in Europe.”

Of those surveyed, 36% of French respondents also felt that something like the Holocaust could happen in the United States, “a sentiment that mirrors findings in the previously conducted Austria survey, which indicated 47% felt that something like the Holocaust could happen in the United States.”
80 Holocaust survivors celebrate bar, bat mitzvah at Western Wall
80 Holocaust survivors celebrated their bar or bat mitzvahs last week at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The survivors were unable to celebrate their bar or bat mitzvahs at the traditional age (13 for boys, 12 for girls) because of World War II.

The celebrations were conducted in collaboration with the "Perah L'Nitzul" project of the Social Integration Administration in Rishon Lezion, the Community Resources Department in Social Inclusion Administration, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the Ministry of Social Equality and the Claims Conference.

"We embrace Holocaust survivors all year long," said Rishon Lezion Mayor Raz Kinstlich. "We placed a goal for ourselves to reach every Holocaust survivor in the city, to help them with all their needs...and to hear their stories. I am very proud of the many activities that the municipality organizes for the survivors and thank the many volunteers from the city who take part in these activities."

Dozens of Holocaust survivors took part in the symbolic ceremony that took place before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The survivors said that the event was especially exciting for them.

The bnei and bnot mitzvah prayed and sang the song "Hevenu Shalom Aleichem" (We Brought Peace Unto you) with tearful eyes. All the participants took part in a celebratory meal afterwards with singing and dancing.
Polish MEP tweets illustration comparing Holocaust victims to the slaughter of animals
While world leaders arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday to pay their respects to the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, European Parliament member Dr. Sylwia Spurek chose to commemorate the occasion by comparing the murder of Jews to the slaughter of animals.

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Spurek shared an illustration by animal rights activist and artist Jo Frederiks where a cow wore blue and white striped pajamas emblazoned with a yellow star. The stripped pajamas and star, of course, were worn by Jews imprisoned in concentration camps throughout Europe during the Holocaust.

"Jo Frederiks gives food for thought, opens her eyes to how we treat animals...it's time for a serious discussion about the treatment of animals, the conditions in which they live, and how we kill them. Is this humane? Is this still agriculture?," she wrote.

Holocaust commemoration activist Jonny Daniels, slammed Spurek’s tweet conflating animal rights with the indiscriminate slaughter of a generation of Jews.

"Can you believe that a MEP in 2020, 75 years since the end of the Holocaust, where six million Jews were murdered after being forced to wear that very star, shows it placed on cows, this beyond repulsive," Daniels wrote on Facebook in response.

The activist and founder of the NGO From The Depths, also issued a letter to European Parliament David Sassoli urging the leader to take action against Spurek.


War by Other Means
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, or BDS, is the most recent iteration of a century-old effort to attack the legitimacy and economic viability of the Jewish state and its precursors. Arabs initiated boycotts of Jewish businesses in the Holy Land in the early 20th century, with the goal of preventing the establishment of a Jewish state. The Arab League declared a comprehensive boycott in 1945, first to reinforce these efforts, then to reverse the outcome of Israel’s War of Independence. In other words, these countries sought the annihilation of the Jewish state.

In pursuit of its boycott, the Arab League sought to leverage the disparity between the size and wealth of its members’ oil-rich markets and the diminutive Israeli economy. The former represented a tantalizing prospect for companies large and small. To access them, however, the Arab League insisted that companies not trade with Israel or even with other companies that did. The boycott forced numerous major corporations to avoid or cut ties with the Jewish state.

American anti-boycott measures and inconsistent enforcement by Arab League member states convinced many companies to reject the boycott. The Arab League boycott lost further steam during the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in the 1990s, which saw the Palestinian Authority officially accept economic relations with Israel. When the peace process unraveled, however, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) revived the boycott.

Western activists and NGOs helped develop the campaign’s infrastructure, including the July 2005 “Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Against Israel,” from which the campaign takes its name. BDS has borrowed heavily from the anti-apartheid campaign that brought down the South African regime in the 1990s. The attempt to conflate Israel and apartheid South Africa is libelous and disingenuous, as Israel grants equal rights to all its citizens, Arab and Jewish alike. Nevertheless, BDS has found receptive audiences on college campuses and among certain NGOs and church groups.

While BDS pressure campaigns have convinced some sizable firms to break off relations with Israel or cancel significant projects, Israel’s emergence as a global technology leader has frustrated the campaign. Israel enjoys significant investment by major multinationals, such as Google, IBM, and Intel. In macroeconomic terms, Israel continues to grow at an impressive rate, while inflation remains low. With its per capita income approaching that of Italy and South Korea, Israel has cemented its place in the top tier of global economies.1
New report details history and scope of active BDS movement
Its goal? Destruction of the world’s only Jewish state

Towards the end of the report, May lists seven policy recommendations for the US government to combat BDS.

These include, but are not limited to, America pressuring international organizations that receive US funds to reject BDS; US government agencies determining "whether nonprofit organizations that receive US government grants are engaging in politically motivated boycotts of Israel or Israeli companies," as previously, the US Agency for International Development "has failed to evaluate properly whether grant recipients were engaging in BDS activity;" and state and local governments continuing to "pursue anti-BDS resolutions and laws to prevent public sector investments from benefiting entities that promote commercial boycotts of Israel."

May also recommends that the US Treasury and Department of Commerce "should vigorously implement their authorities under current US anti-boycott laws."

Overall, he told JNS, "The main takeaway from the report should be that BDS is the most recent manifestation of a century-old campaign to eliminate Israel by way of economic means. While BDS and its leaders speak about social justice and human rights to attract well-intentioned supporters, its goal is clearly the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state. The ramifications, if BDS were to succeed, would be devastating to the nearly half of world Jewry living in Israel."
Antisemitism has become a daily part of college life
January 27th marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Holocaust did not begin with genocide. It began with words and sentiments that were dismissed or ignored, elevated to actions of bias and hate, then to physical violence and ultimately to genocide. The atrocities of the past have been taught with a simple goal: Never Again.

When I entered college, I expected my greatest concerns to be rising tuition costs, stressful course loads, and, of course, how to consume enough caffeine to study for finals. But, it turns out, that for Jewish students, these concerns pale in comparison to the threats and occurrences of antisemitism that have become a daily part of college life. Modern antisemitism does not always resemble the discrimination faced by our ancestors; on college campuses, it is often masked as criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism.

On my campus at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign I, a Jew, have been labeled a Nazi for being a Zionist, abandoned by progressive campus organizations, silenced in the student government as the lone Jewish senator, and personally threatened -- all for supporting the right of Jewish self-determination.

Our student government has tried to strip Jewish college students of our voice and identity. In particular, at the behest of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group who spits antisemitic rhetoric to unsuspecting students under the guise of political speech, the student government passed a resolution on antisemitism without consultation or approval from any mainstream Jewish organization on campus. It declared antisemitism and anti-Zionism exclusive of each other.
Campus Antisemitism Reaches New Lows in America
The Trump administration issued an Executive Order last month aimed at combating antisemitism on American college campuses. For ideological as well as financial reasons, this action caused outrage on numerous campuses — eliciting cries of censorship from administrators, faculty, student governments, and others. Yet these same academics are quick to condemn similar offenses directed at African-American, Muslim, women, or transgender students.

Equal protection on campus is everybody’s business — not just that of the academic community. Antisemitism on campus is a reflection of a greater societal sickness that threatens every minority, whether racial, religious, sexual, or ethnic.

Yet college antisemitism has reached epidemic proportions and deserves not only outrage from every American, but also public pressure to eliminate it directed at university administrators and elected representatives at every level.

The numbers tell a story of hate directed at American Jewish college students — to some, reminiscent of early warnings in 1930s Germany.

Acts of campus antisemitism last year rose to 201 reported incidents, an 86 percent increase in just two years. These included numerous acts of harassment and vandalism, but also several assaults of Jewish students, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Annual Report.
University of Michigan has to cancel SJP conference say pro-Israel groups

The upcoming “2020 Youth for Palestine Conference” at the University of Michigan is no exception to the National Students for Justice in Palestine movement's attempts to spread hate on university campuses, according to a report by Jewish News Service (JNS).

The event is scheduled to take place from January 25-26 on the Ann Arbor campus, and is hosted by Midwest Students for Justice in Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement and Students Allied for Freedom and Equality.

Several antisemitic and anti-Israel groups are set to take part in the conference and, as such, many pro-Israel groups are urging the University of Michigan to cancel the event.

Stand With Us CEO, Roz Rothstein, told JNS that the event would feature speakers who “have a long record of vicious antisemitism”. In particular, Rothstein expressed concerns over the keynote speaker, Hatem Bazian, who “has a long record of vicious anti-Semitism.”

"The University of Michigan must unequivocally condemn this hate and make clear what steps they will take to ensure a safe educational environment for students on campus,” he said.

“The Students Supporting Israel (SSI) movement expects the University of Michigan to condemn and cancel such a hateful conference,” Ilan Sinelnikov, president and founder of the Israeli advocacy organization, declared to JNS.


How Al Jazeera is Avoiding Registering as a Foreign Agent
So far, the FCC has failed to enforce these reporting requirements meaningfully, and only two companies have registered. One of them, MHz Networks, admitted in its filing that it was only registering out of “an abundance of caution,” because it happened to carry AJE and other foreign programming in one of its markets. AJE itself, which multiple satellite and cable television providers distribute, has now missed three consecutive FCC filing deadlines.

These moves follow other attempts to disguise the network’s loyalty to the Thani regime. In 2011, Al Jazeera was restructured from a “public institution” to a “private institution of public utility.” Khalid Al Sayed, then-editor in chief of the Qatar-based Peninsula newspaper, argued at the time that the change was “to avoid being questioned in [the] future about its finances by an elected parliament.” Qatari officials insist that Al Jazeera does not meet the standards for disclosure under U.S. law.

Following a renewed push in June 2019 by members of Congress asking the Justice Department to investigate Al Jazeera’s role as “a messaging tool of the Qatari government,” the network was unwavering: “AJMN is a Private Foundation for Public Benefit under Qatari law; it is not owned by Qatar, and its reporting is not directed or controlled by the Qatari government nor does it reflect any government viewpoint. Therefore, FARA registration is not required.”

The emirate’s flimsy attempts to conceal its ownership and editorial control of Al Jazeera represent a contemptuous disrespect for American laws. The Thani family’s administrative and supervisory control over the media conglomerate is a matter of public knowledge. And yet by offloading the emir’s shares of Al Jazeera International to a shell company, Doha continues to defy attempts to compel it to register under FARA or even FCC rules.

Congress and the White House can take action against this mouthpiece for the Qatari regime. Al Jazeera can and should be stripped of its congressional press credentials, uninvited from official government events, and forced to disclose its foreign ties to the American public.




Jewish cemetery vandalized in Bulgaria
A Jewish cemetery in northeastern Bulgaria was vandalized last week.

Gravestones were pushed over and broken, and a fence around the cemetery was damaged, the Sofia Globe reported Thursday.

The city of Shumen was home to a Jewish community during centuries of Ottoman rule. The Jewish cemetery in Shumen dates back to the 19th century.

The regional Sofia chapter of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria, or Shalom, has engaged in dialogue about the incident with the Regional Prosecutor’s Office and is calling for the proper institutions to “find the perpetrators and ensure that such actions will not be repeated,” according to the World Jewish Congress.

In 2008, vandals damaged the cemetery and were forced to attend court-mandated educational training against anti-Semitism, The Sofia Globe reported.
Jewish government worker in Germany complains of anti-Semitic harassment
A Jewish man working as a driver for the German Chancellery in Berlin has reported being subjected to anti-Semitic harassment.

An unnamed source was quoted Sunday by the Bild am Sonntag daily as saying that the man, who comes from Lebanon and worked in the Chancellery’s motor pool, reported that several colleagues have insulted and bullied him since early 2019, calling him “Jewish pig” and “Kanake,” a word referring to migrants from primarily Muslim countries or southern Europe.

The employee, who was not a driver for Chancellor Angela Merkel, reported the incidents to the federal government’s anti-Semitism commissioner in the Ministry of the Interior, Felix Klein, the Bild reported.

While confirming basic details, a government spokesperson told Bild that no further comment could be provided in the confidential matter. The employee reportedly now works in a new location, away from his former colleagues. There was no information available on the identity of the colleagues.
Jesse Eisenberg to portray resistance-era Marcel Marceau
Jesse Eisenberg spoke to People magazine about the personal reasons behind his decision to star in Resistance, a World War II drama about the world-famous mime Marcel Marceau, who was a member of the French Resistance.

“When I learned about this story, I think I really connected to it because it’s really the story of this artist kind of finding a way to use his work for the benefit of other people. I lost family during the war in these parts of Europe. Marcel’s father is from an area close to where my family is from and where my family died. For so many reasons the story was very potent,” said Eisenberg in an interview that was published on the magazine’s website on Tuesday.

The film will be opening in theaters in the US and will be available On Demand starting March 27. Resistance was directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz and also stars Edgar Ramirez, Clémence Poésy, Ed Harris and Matthias Schweighöfer.

“The story is really about this performer Marcel, who is kind of like a fledgling performer doing one-man shows in small theaters. And then when the war breaks out, he is asked to help entertain these kids whom his cousin is saving. He is reluctant at first but then grows to not only like performing for them but realizes that the way to save their lives is to use his art. It’s this really amazing story against the backdrop of some horrific world events.”

Marceau was born Marcel Mangel to a Jewish family in Strasbourg. His father was a kosher butcher who was born in Poland and killed in Auschwitz. On his mother’s side, Marceau was a cousin of the Israeli singer Yardena Arazi. At 16, following the Nazi invasion, he was recruited into the resistance by a cousin. Reportedly, he honed his miming skills by keeping Jewish children quiet as he helped them escape to Switzerland.


Microsoft to open first cloud data center in Israel
Microsoft said Wednesday it would set up its first cloud data center in Israel.

The Israeli center will offer cloud services to Israeli customers, starting with Azure and following with Office 365. It is expected to be operational sometime in 2021.

“This marks a significant investment by Microsoft in the Israeli market,” the company said.

Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure currently caters to 56 regions in 21 countries, serving over a billion customers and 20 million businesses.

The company’s Israel data center would comply with security and privacy requirements for data storage in Israel and Europe.

“When I speak to customers across EMEA, it is clear that the power of the cloud is essential for their competitiveness,” Michel van der Bel, president of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement. “We have made significant infrastructure investments in the region and with this announcement, our planned region in Israel will join a growing number of EMEA markets recently made available including Germany, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland.”

“Offering Microsoft Azure and Office 365 from a datacenter region in Israel forms a key part of our investment and involvement in the startup nation, as infrastructure is an essential building block for the tech intensity that public sector entities and businesses need to embrace,” he said.
Israeli Aid Organization to Help Civilians at New Gaza Health Center
From March 2020, the Israeli humanitarian aid organization Natan will run two clinics in the new Gaza Health Center to provide trauma, medical and dental care to Gaza civilians.

The health facility is located near the Erez Checkpoint at the Israel-Gaza border and was built and is managed by American NGO FriendShips.

Natan will recruit volunteers to participate in the project, excluding Israelis due to IDF regulations.

Natan has provided assistance to victims of disasters from floods, earthquakes and typhoons in Asia and Africa. Natan sent medical care to Syrian civilians on the Syrian side of the Golan border.
This Israeli start-up turns your smartphone camera into a medical checkup




1,500-year-old Greek inscription uncovered by 13-year-old in Caesarea
Last week, after rain that began battering the country this month, 13-year-old Stav Meir went searching for mushrooms with his father, siblings and cousins. He ended up uncovering something much more unexpected: a 1,500-year-old Greek inscription dating back to the Byzantine period.

“I immediately recognized that it was something ancient,” the seventh-grader from Caesarea said, according to an IAA statement. “I studied archaeology in school together with the Israel Antiquities Authority, therefore I can easily identify antiquities when I see them.”

The white slab protruding from the ground uncovered by the boy turned out to be part of a burial inscription, Peter Gendelman, an IAA researcher in Caesarea, said in the press release. The inscription indicates the name of the deceased and the location of the grave within the cemetery, he said.

“The grave of.... and of Anastasius, or Anastasia…,” the inscription read, the IAA said.

“Already, in ancient times, Caesarea was a center of attraction for a wealthy population,” Gendelman said. “The quality of the slab discovered by Stav indicates the wealthy status of the person entombed, as well as the customs and beliefs of inhabitants of Caesarea in the Byzantine period. This inscription joins a large collection of burial inscriptions previously discovered around ancient Caesarea.”



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