Sunday, April 11, 2021

  • Sunday, April 11, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Here is an extraordinary Twitter thread about a hero I had never heard of, by John Bull.


This is Robert Smallbones, career civil servant and diplomat, and his wife Inga.
Between November 1938 and the outbreak of WW2, they helped OVER FORTY THOUSAND Jews escape the Nazis and get to Britain. /1old couple, dressed in smar...

Robert Smallbones was the child of Austrian parents, who'd emigrated to Britain before he was born. He went to Oxford, then joined the Foreign Office. There he made a name as a competent diplomat and all round friendly chap.

In 1932, the Foreign Office sent him to Munich. More jobs in Germany followed until, by 1938 he was the British Consul-General in Frankfurt.
Throughout that time, Smallbones and his family witnessed the growing Nazi horror. He wrote warnings to the FO about it constantly.

Smallbones wasn't the only person in the Frankfurt Consulate horrified by this. His daughter once horse-whipped a Gestapo officer to try and prevent him taking a Jewish man off the street. By 1938, Consulate staff were also already secretly offering refuge to a number of Jews.

Then, on the 9th November: Kristallnacht.
As the horror and murder rages through Frankfurt. Desperate Jews begin arriving at the British Consulate pleading for help.
But Robert isn't there. He's back in England.
The women of the Smallbones family are, though.
They act.

Robert's mother and his wife order the gates of the British Consulate opened to all. Throughout Kristallnacht, to the fury and protest of the German authorities, the Frankfurt Consulate becomes a small, untouchable refuge for the Jewish community of Frankfurt.

Robert, still in England, finds out about this the next day when they manage to reach him.
These people need HELP. They tell him. Nationality be damned. We're not sending them back out there. We need to get them out of this country.
Robert agrees. He thinks. He acts.

The Home Office is responsible for immigration. So Robert calls in favours and rank. He gets a meeting with senior people in the Home Office.
What are we going to do about this?! He demands.
"Oh it's terrible, agreed." Is the response. "But we can't let lots of foreigners in."

The whole WORLD has been doing this since the beginning of the rise of Hitler. Helping the Jews is always someone else's problem.
But Robert's been thinking. He has a plan to let the Home Office PRETEND it's still someone else's problem whilst also acting:
The Smallbones Scheme

The issue was that nobody wanted to give Jews permanent immigration visas.
We don't need to. Robert says. We can exploit the fact that the USA is sneakier about how it blocks Jews from immigrating:
It gives them visas, but then only lets a certain percentage a year use them.

Robert proposes that the Home Office allow anyone who has a VALID US VISA to "wait" in Britain until their 'turn' in the US arrivals queue comes up. Essentially, a TEMPORARY visa for Britain, that expires when they get to America.
The Home Secretary, Viscount Hoare is summoned.

Hoare is horrified by what's happening in Germany, but antisemitism and anti-immigrant feeling in the public/Parliament limits his actions. He's already trying to force the Kinder Transport scheme through parliament.
He jumps on Robert's plan:
Do it. But QUIETLY.

Robert calls Otto Schiff of the Jewish Relief Agency. Over lunch at the Savoy they frantically draft up the scheme properly, following Hoare's order to do it in a way that means he doesn't need to go to Parliament with it.
The Home Office and Hoare sign it off that night.

The next day, a flash to all British Consulates in Germany:
You can grant temporary visas to those on the US waiting list. BUT (caveats):
1) EVERY exemption needs to be signed PERSONALLY by the relevant Consul.
2) We're not ordering you to do this, just highlighting you can.

The caveats were to avoid it spooking parliament or the German authorities:
"Don't worry this is just a minor thing and it's tricky to do at volume."
But that underestimated the drive of people like Robert Smallbones.

Smallbones returned to Frankfurt and kicked things into action. He immediately informed local Jewish Community leaders of the scheme's existence. And, importantly, that he would allow FAMILIES to apply on behalf of anyone seized by the Gestapo and sent to camps.

He then went to the GESTAPO, and informed them that if he approved a visa, that placed the person under the protection of the British and he expected them to be IMMEDIATELY released when he asked.
It was a lie, and a gamble. But it worked. From then on they fumed but complied.

Robert then turned the entire Frankfurt Consulate into a machine with one job: getting Jews out of Germany to safety in Britain. But the bottleneck remained:
The Consul (Robert) had to sign EVERYTHING, and often the gestapo would only release people if he went personally.

For the next 9 months Robert worked 18 hour days signing documents, arguing with the gestapo, helping desperate people. He couldn't stop. He later confessed that whenever he tried to sleep, he couldn't:

"After two hours sleep my conscience pricked me. The feeling was horrible that there were people in concentration camp whom I could get out and that I was comfortable in bed…. I returned to my desk and stayed there..."

Every moment was another life he could save. Elsewhere others were using the Smallbones Scheme too.
Frank Foley, a Passport Officer in Berlin (worth his own thread) was also using it. Word got around:
You can't get out? Get to the Frankfurt. They care there. They will help.

One survivor:
"My husband was in the concentration camp. And while I tried to get him out it was too terrible for one to even cry. Then at last I went to the British Consul to see if he could help me. And the first thing they asked me was: 'have you had anything to eat today?'"

"I hadn't of course. I was too worried to think of food. And before they did anything else, they fed me with coffee and sandwiches, as though I had been a guest. And then, I cried."

Romance author Ida Cook also met him, during her own desperate work to save lives. She gives us one of the few first-hand accounts we have of Robert.
He helped her get people out too. I don't think she realised the scheme she was using was designed by him

The desperate work went on. Every waking hour Smallbones spent signing exit visas. Arguing with the gestapo. Saving lives. He suffered a breakdown over his failure to get to one concentration camp victim in time. He forced himself to carry on.
Until eventually war was declared.

Back in Britain now, Robert, broken and exhausted went to the Home Office. How many Visas did we manage to grant?
Your scheme saved Forty Eight THOUSAND Jews, they told him. And fifty thousand more were being processed when war was declared.
Then they swore him to secrecy.

Because the Home Office now felt they had a problem. The Smallbones Scheme had saved tens of thousands of people.
People who were Jews and foreigners.
And, well, terribly sorry old chap, but can you IMAGINE if people or parliament knew we'd let all those people in?!

Which is why you've probably never heard of Robert Smallbones.
Because it wasn't until 2008 that the British Government and Foreign Office even officially acknowledge what he, and his scheme, had done.
And because Robert never liked talking about it.

Because, like Ida Cook, Nicholas Winton, Ho Feng-Shan, Raoul Wallenburg and so many other ordinary people who stood up and did the extraordinary, he could never forget the faces of the people he HADN'T managed to save.

Ironically, the Nazis certainly recognised what Robert Smallbones had achieved. It earned him a place in the infamous 'Black Book' of people to be rounded up by the Gestapo after the invasion of Britain.

But Robert died in 1976, long before any official British recognition of his work. I wish, like Winton, he'd at least got to see the impact his efforts had on thousands of lives. He never did.
I hope his family are proud of him though, and his story deserves to be better known.

Anyway. As usual, you can tip me a coffee if you like, but don't feel you have to!

From Ian:

The Holocaust happened outside of Europe too
It is almost certain that a similar level of extermination to that witnessed in Europe would have swept across North Africa if the allies had not been eventually successful in their advance. Moreover, the violent dispossession and deportation of the majority of the Muslim world’s Jewish populations from 1948 proves that an existing Nazi empire was not required to continue the legacy of its guiding ideology: violent antisemitism. But why are these facts so often brushed under the figurative rug? In the case of the Arab and Muslim world, there is not just a lapse of memory, but a deliberate effort to obscure the role of non-European actors in the Holocaust.

As Journalist Lyn Julius — herself of Iraqi-Jewish heritage — highlighted in a 2015 piece on the topic: “The myth of the Arabs as innocent bystanders, who had no responsibility for the Holocaust — and indeed, paid the price for a European crime when Israel was established — is widely believed.” Indeed, works such as Professor Gilbert Achcar’s “The Arabs and the Holocaust” have gone to great lengths to whitewash the complicity of leading Muslim figures such as Fawzi al-Qawuqji, Rashid Ali al-Kelani, Abu Ibrahim al-Kabir, Hassan Salama and Arif Abd al-Raziq and administrations with the Third Reich.

This could not be further from the truth. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini for example, played a central role in plotting the pro-Nazi coup in Iraq. He organised the killing of 12,600 Bosnian Jews by Muslims recruited to the Waffen-SS Nazi-Bosnian division by his own intervention. He also barred 4,500 Jewish refugees from exiting Europe and had them sent to Auschwitz and gassed; prevented another 2,000 Jews from leaving Romania and 1000 from leaving Hungary for Palestine. They too were sent to death camps.

Furthermore, although it is clear that the direct occupation of German, French and Italian forces played a huge role in the atrocities against North Africa’s Jews, this does not account for the extensive attempts at collaboration between Muslim leaders and the Nazis against their alleged “common enemies” of Communism, Zionism and the West. Nor does it explain away the Nuremberg-worthy laws imposed on Jews after the collapse of Nazism, nor the fact that Mein Kampf remains a long-standing bestseller in Turkey, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Not to mention that Iraq’s pro-Nazi coup in 1941 occurred a full nine years after its independence from British adminstration. This coup culminated in the Farhud (lit. violent dispossesion) pogrom of 1942, in which hundreds of Iraqi Jews were murdered, beaten and sexually assaulted thousands of miles away from the theatre of Nazi occupation and war — a tragedy that Israeli activist Hen Mazzig tirelessly works to raise awareness of, but one that was never mentioned in my over two decades in the British education system.

In failing to acknowledge the experiences of communities outside Europe and the complicity of non-western actors in the Holocaust, we fail to fully understand what was one of the most devastating and defining moments of the twentieth century, whose implications for the Jewish and non-Jewish world endure today. Although cooperation does seem to be growing in the wake of initiatives such as the Abraham Accords, the prevalence of grassroots antisemitism across the Muslim world is arguably the greatest barrier to peaceful coexistence between Israel and its neighbours. We cannot sensibly approach the present without acknowledging the past, however uncomfortable it may be. In order to honestly evaluate and improve relations between Israel and elements of its Muslim neighbours, we must accept a full picture of history, and abandon the perpetual canard of Israel and its Jews as innately privileged colonial oppressors, and the Arab world as wholly innocent victims of European interference.
1915 Armenian Genocide persecuted Yishuv Jews, as well
April 24 marks the 106th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey. As the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities notes, "On April 24 of 1915, leaders and intellectuals within the Armenian community of Constantinople were detained and interned. This event initiated a longer series of arrests that resulted in the imprisonment, relocation, and/or murder of countless notable Armenians across the Ottoman Empire over the course of the subsequent months. Soon thereafter, Ottoman authorities commenced internment, displacement, and deportation actions against the general Armenian population. For their part, Armenian men were most often put into servitude at a variety of forced labor camps before facing arbitrary executions. Women, children, and elderly members of the Armenian community, by contrast, were made to participate in 'death marches.' These forced marches led victims on protracted journeys through what is now the Syrian desert with many subjected to torture and rape in addition to death through attrition.

"While estimates on the total number of those who perished can vary, between 1,000,000 and 1,800,000 Armenians are known to have lost their lives as a result of the genocide. This number amounts to approximately 70% of the region's Armenian community. The scale and cruelty of the atrocities served as one of the principal inspirations for the creation of the word 'genocide' by Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin and, by extension, the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide."

A significant but widely unknown fact is that not only Greek and Assyrian Christians of Ottoman Turkey, but many Jews of pre-state Palestine were also targeted, persecuted and deported during the Armenian Genocide.

A thoroughly researched book by Dr. Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, exposes the persecution and mass expulsions that the Jewish population in Palestine endured as a result of the orders of Djemal Pasha, an Ottoman military leader. He was also one of the three Pashas who ruled the Ottoman Empire during World War I and organized the genocide. He writes:

"During World War I in Palestine, between 1915 and 1917, The New York Times published a series of reports on Ottoman-inspired and local Arab Muslim-assisted anti-Semitic persecution that affected Jerusalem and the other major Jewish population centers. For example, by the end of January 1915, seven thousand Palestinian Jewish refugees – men, women and children – had fled to British-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. Three New York Times accounts from January and February 1915 provide these details of the earlier period.

Six cold, hard, dry facts
Feelings are not enough. We are getting an overdose of feelings during this period, between Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Hazikaron (IDF and Terror Victims Memorial Day) We are getting saturated with stories, memories, and tears but, in my opinion, we must not neglect cold, hard, dry facts.

Here, for starters, is a list of facts about the Shoah, courtesy of Professor Yosef Ben-Shlomo; six historical facts that we need to internalize in order to understand why the Holocaust was such an extraordinarily unique event: They will not only add to our understanding of the Shoah, but to our undedrstanding of the reasons for the sacrifice made by our fallen IDF soldiers.

1. Judenrein. For the first time in history (other than Haman’s plot against the Jews in ancient Persia), one nation sought the complete elimination of another, despite the fact that the vast majority of the nation targeted for extermination lived outside the territory of the aggressor nation. The goal was not to just put the other nation into exile but to erase it from the face of the earth. In Nazi documents on the number of Jews destined for death, even the tiny Albanian Jewish community of 200 souls was noted.

2. Absence of opposition. In the Wannsee Conference of January, 1942, the “final solution" was unanimously approved by the fifteen attendees, all of whom held high-ranking ministerial positions in the German government, and eight of whom were holders of doctorate degrees.

3. The Germans worked against their own interests in World War II. Even as Germany was losing the war, it behaved irrationally. Instead of investing in just fighting enemy forces, the Germans continued “to waste" energy on their Jewish extermination project.

4. They were not crazy. Among the murderers were family men and women, professionals, and intellectuals. They were perfectly sane. Millions of ordinary, regular folks did not see any problem with taking part in this giant extermination project.

5. The concentration camps were not bombed. The death factories continued to operate without interference from the Western allied nations or their armies, even while the allies regularly bombed Nazi munitions factories.

6. There was no way out. Unlike their ability to cope with other horrendous decrees and persecutions throughout history, the Jews of Europe had no way out. There was no possibility of saving themselves through cooperation with the enemy, or by being exiled or by conversion to another faith or bribes. Death was their only option.
19 years after Djerba synagogue bombing, Tunisian Jews again live in fear
Nineteen years ago precisely, on Apr. 11, 2002, there was a bombing at a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. A truck fitted with explosives blew up by the entrance of the El Ghriba synagogue, killing 21 people. Since then, the local Jewish community has lived in relative peace, that is until a few months ago when the police and local residents began to harass them, the Jewish residents claim.

"About a month and a half ago, the president of Tunisia [Kais Saied] accused Jews of terrible things, and then apologized and said that he is not against Jews in Tunisia," one Jewish resident, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from local authorities, said.

"Despite his apology, the Jews of Djerba have been suffering from antisemitism ever since. On Pesach, a 10-year-old boy, the grandson of [chief Tunisian] Rabbi Haim Bittan, was walking in the street when he was attacked by someone, for no logical reason.

"Last week, an 18-year-old Jewish girl was attacked by two men on motorcycles. They tried to strangle her, but when she screamed, the neighbors rushed to her help, and the motorcyclists fled.

"We are terrified. It is not simple to live this way. The police have changed their attitude, and they check us all the time, harass us, every time they enter our quarter they hounds us.

"One of the policemen, who saw my ID that states that I am Jewish, detained me for half an hour for no reason. They are really harassing us.

"Each time they enter our quarter, they ask us to stand on the sides. It reminds us of dark times, and we want this to stop. We are living in fear.
  • Sunday, April 11, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Thursday, the preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrimah Sabri, issued a legal ruling - a fatwa -  about any Palestinian who sells land or buildings to Jews, saying that it is allowed for Muslims to murder him or her.

The one who sells land to Jewish groups or middlemen will not be washed or shrouded (before his funeral), he will not be buried in a Muslim cemetery, no prayer will be recited over him, even if he fasts (through Ramadan), prays, and claims that he is a Muslim. His blood is free prey, and he must be boycotted, because as our most honorable prophet Muhammad said: “The blood of a Muslim man who says ‘There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger” is not permitted (to be shed), except in three cases: Soul for soul (i.e. as revenge if he killed someone), the unmarried adulterer, and an apostate who has left his community.

Photos were circulated of the sheikh with his printed fatwa, on which you can see the logos of various Palestinian groups including Hamas, the PFLP and Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah. 

Others reported this story as saying that Sabri only prohibited the burial of any sellers, but the text clearly says this his blood is free to be shed, similarly to the allowances for murderous revenge under Islam and an apostate.  This was echoed by others, such as Islamic Jihad, which praised the fatwa. 

I did not see any response to this by any human rights group, nor did any Palestinian media outlet say anything negative about this fatwa.

Notice also that the text does not say that the ruling is against anyone who sells land to Israelis or Zionists, but to Jews. 

(h/t Ibn Boutros)

  • Sunday, April 11, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

The Guardian has yet another article accusing Israel of not providing COVID vaccines to the Palestinian Authority.

Not surprisingly, the author's analysis highlights a barely-36 hour delay of a couple of thousand vaccines by Israel, yet ignores that:

Israel vaccinated hundreds of Palestinian college students at Tel Aviv University and probably elsewhere
Israel has vaccinated all Arab residents of Jerusalem who wanted to be inoculated - most of them not Israeli citizens
Israel has facilitated the delivery of hundreds of thousands of vaccines that the Palestinian Authority negotiated on its own
Every time the Palestinian Authority asked Israel for help with vaccines, Israel did everything they asked
Both the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Conventions say that the primary responsibility for vaccinations comes from the Palestinian Authority 

As far as the last point goes, the Oslo Accords 1995 Interim Agreement explicitly states that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for acquiring vaccines in case of an epidemic. Annex III, Article 17:
1. Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side, including the health insurance system.

2. The Palestinian side shall continue to apply the present standards of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally accepted standards in the field, taking into account WHO recommendations.

6. Israel and the Palestinian side shall exchange information regarding epidemics and contagious diseases, shall cooperate in combating them and shall develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.
The idea that Oslo contradicts the Geneva Accords is absurd - the Geneva Conventions and its authoritative interpretation say  the exact same thing! 
[T]here can be no question of making the Occupying Power alone responsible for the whole burden of organizing hospitals and health services and taking measures to control epidemics. The task is above all one for the competent services of the occupied country itself. 

Israel has and continues to work with the Palestinian Authority on fighting COVID-19 as it has since the first cases appeared in the region, in line (and beyond) its obligations under international law.

There are no articles in official Palestinian media demanding that Israel provide vaccines to Palestinians. These articles are only in Western media. Palestinian leaders have said from the beginning that they want to be responsible for procuring vaccines, and they have negotiated with all the major vaccine manufacturers as well as with the international COVAX system to obtain them. 

On the contrary - Palestinian media is filled with stories about how well the PA is dealing with the pandemic. 140,000 people have received vaccines so far (not counting the ones that Israel inoculated.) The Palestinian media and government blame literally everything on Israel, but not a word blaming Israel for withholding or delaying vaccines to them. 

Despite this article being pure propaganda, the libel was retweeted by Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth, that famous "leftist Zionist."

  • Sunday, April 11, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
Iran's Al Alam TV is upset that the UAE and Bahrain commemorated Yom HaShoah:

In the series of shame and scandals of the humiliated Arabs of normalization, the UAE embassy in occupied Palestine, two days ago, sent its "condolences to Israel" for the victims of the Holocaust. Concurrently, Jewish groups in the UAE and Bahrain commemorated the Holocaust remembrance of the Nazis within the framework of a program hosted by the "Gulf Jewish Communities Association," an association that includes all Jewish groups in the Persian Gulf, and includes various programs. The commemoration included the participation of Muslim youth from Bahrain and the UAE who visited the Yad Vashem museum, which commemorates the Holocaust in occupied Jerusalem, and this is the first time that Arab countries hosted activities to commemorate the Holocaust.
It tries to case doubt on the Holocaust itself:
Regardless of our opinion of the Holocaust and the number of victims of this Holocaust, however, ...the UAE and Bahrain act as if they are in a complete alliance with the Israeli entity....
And, of course, Iran's enemies are the ones who are responsible for real holocausts:
[One should remind]  the "new normalizers" of the holocausts  that Zionism has carried out and is carrying out against the Palestinian people for decades and still are, or the holocausts that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have carried out against more than 20 million Yemenis for more than 6 years, or of the holocausts that America carried out against the Iraqi and Syrian, Afghani and the rest of the world’s peoples....They fight political Islam, while allying with Judaism and political Christianity.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

From Ian:

Seth J. Frantzman: Will This be the Last Anti-Israel Generation?
For the past several decades discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been driven by full-time anti-Israel researchers and writers. This coterie of academics and authors, from Noam Chomsky to Peter Beinart, constantly popped up on panels and had their ideas amplified. Today's Middle East realities, with new peace agreements and concerns about China's emerging role, has less time to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Consequently we are likely seeing the last generation of professional Israel critics.

Anyone who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, the period of the Oslo Accords and Second Intifada, got used to the idea that Israel's existence was up for debate. It was taken for granted that there was something called "opposition to Israel" and no shortage of ink was spilled on the question of Israel's "right to exist." Only those stuck in the era of the Oslo Accords and earlier, when harsh conflict between Israel and the Arab states was the norm, could suggest that the whole country of Israel might not exist one day. Now, with 70 years' hindsight, it is clear that Israel does exist like some 200 other countries and it isn't going to be fundamentally changed.

Nevertheless, in the U.S. and some other Western countries there are still academic and activist panel discussions about the "one-state solution," usually involving only non-Palestinians who sit and discuss whether Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank can be shoehorned into some kind of Frankenstein-like state that combines Israel with the autonomous Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza. Why do people even discuss this? They don't discuss turning India, Pakistan and Bangladesh into "one state" or combining Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo back into "one state." Only with Israel is one-state solution activism given credence, though primarily in Western academic and far-left journalistic circles.

The reason this discussion—which would be laughable if a bunch of Western academics sat in a room and talked about combining Japan and China into one state, without asking Japanese and Chinese residents what they think—has received any acceptability in discussions on Israel is because of the network of professional Israel critics that emerged in the last decades. But these activists, who we got used to seeing at the anti-Israel Durban conference in 2001 and again in the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" movement, are growing older and becoming less relevant.
Richard Kemp: Can We Win in the 'Gray Zone'?
The gray zone is the space between peace and war involving coercive actions that fall outside normal geopolitical competition between states but do not reach the level of armed conflict.... They usually seek to avoid a significant military response, though are often designed to intimidate and deter a target state by threatening further escalation.

[B]ut do liberal democracies in the 21st Century have the political will to do the dirty work that is necessary to win?

Western nations have multiple pre-emptive and reactive options to respond to gray zone actions directed against them or their allies, most effectively involving multilateral coordination. The objective should be to frustrate or deter, avoiding escalation that might lead to all-out conflict. Broadly, options fall into four categories: diplomatic, informational, economic and military.

Democracies' fear of escalation is a significant deterrent against the use of violent military options in the gray zone, and that is exactly the fear that authoritarian states like Iran wish to instil.....[F]ear of escalation is not the greatest obstacle to the use of a military option — transparency is.

Deterrence is not down to the military option alone. Where possible, diplomatic, informational and economic actions are preferable in providing the necessary punishments. But gray zone opponents who are willing to use military action must also be confronted with a credible military jeopardy to them, and not just a paper capability which will quickly be seen for what it is.

How confident can we be that liberal democracies mean business in the gray zone? When British troops were being killed and maimed in large numbers in Iraq by Iranian proxies... more than a decade ago, the UK government would not even consider any form of gray zone military action, even non-lethal, against Iran, despite a clear capability to do so. Instead they relied on diplomatic démarches -- and the killings continued. The consequences of such weakness are still being played out in Iran's widespread gray zone aggression. If back then — in the face of the slaughter of dozens of their own troops — political leaders' fear of escalation and political fallout caused such paralysis, how likely is it that they will seriously contemplate violent gray zone operations today...
35 years after El Al bomb plot, security staff recount stopping unwitting bomber
On April 17, 1986, an El Al flight from London to Tel Aviv was almost the target of a bombing attack that could have killed everyone on board, including the unsuspecting pregnant woman carrying the explosives. Thirty-five years later, two of the security officers that foiled the attack spoke of their experience in a television interview that aired Friday.

On the date of the bombing attempt, El Al Flight 016, originating in New York, had stopped at London’s Heathrow Airport before a final planned leg to Israel.

Yossi Orbach, then a security officer with El Al in London, told Channel 13 that “it was a normal day in April in London,” describing the warming weather and thoughts of a quiet day ahead at work. “We had no intel warnings and no preparation for what was about to happen.”

Security officers, like Orbach, began the check-in process, questioning the new travelers boarding the flight to Israel.

Anne-Marie Murphy, a 32-year-old Irish woman in her 6th month of pregnancy, arrived at the check-in area.

“She arrived fairly early, relatively speaking, for the flight. The check-in [area] as far as I remember was almost empty,” said Ofer Argov, another security official at the time.

Friday, April 09, 2021

From Ian:

The future of Holocaust remembrance
One way to enhance Holocaust knowledge is to provide a personal connection. In Holocaust education, this is often accomplished through firsthand testimonies of survivors who experienced persecution, roundups, ghettos, deportations and concentration camps. Seeing and hearing Holocaust survivors share their stories of survival creates a personal connection to those events for students, making the information easier to identify with.

Sadly, we are losing the last generation of survivors. And for this generation of students, simply learning about the camps, crematoria and death trains may not be enough to conceptualize such overwhelming horrors. In truth, survivors do not visit schools and relive the darkest moment of their lives simply to provide a history lesson. Rather, they are insistent on sharing their testimony with students so that something even remotely like the Holocaust does not happen again. Their goal in visiting with students and teachers is to show them how the thoughts and words impact the world around them. Ideas and words lead to actions, which can have unimaginable and devastating effects.

This week, a survivor-led, digital campaign was launched by the Claims Conference. #ItStartedWithWords was created to show through survivor testimony that the horrific events of the Holocaust didn’t come out of nowhere; it started with words. The campaign will post weekly videos of survivors from across the world reflecting on those moments that led up to the Holocaust—a period of time when racist ideology, transmitted in person and through the media, turned longtime neighbors, teachers, classmates and colleagues into dangerous foes when words of hate were transformed into acts of unprecedented violence.

The importance of this campaign is how it highlights not the actual roundups, deportations and mass murders, but rather, the words of an extreme xenophobic ideology, utterances of hate, racism and intolerance that preceded the Holocaust.

It is difficult to conceive how one would react if forced to flee one’s home and community with just the clothes on one’s back, running to escape murderous predators. It may be hard to imagine the rounding up of tens of thousands of people in the town centers to have them systematically sent to their deaths. It is nigh on impossible to visualize a gas chamber with a line of people going in and a stack of bodies coming out. But it is certainly our present-day reality seeing people hurling odious epithets at others and treating them as sub-human, unworthy of basic human rights, due only to their culture, religion, sexual preference or color of their skin.

These moments—moments of hate, xenophobia and racism—could be the beginnings of larger atrocities we just cannot imagine. Teaching tolerance and acceptance in our schools, and how the words we use matter greatly, will help pave the way to a better history that we have not yet created. This is the Holocaust education that must be the future of our remembrance.
He killed a Nazi guard, fled ghetto with fake identities and joined the UK army
It was the moment that undoubtedly saved Chaim Herszman’s life. In February 1940, the 13-year-old stabbed and fatally wounded a Nazi guard in the Lodz Ghetto who he believed was about to shoot his younger brother.

Herszman fled the ghetto, leaving behind a family he would never see again — and commenced an epic three-year-journey across Nazi-occupied Europe which eventually took him to the safety of Britain. Over its course, he assumed multiple identities, stowed away on a German troop train and, while being sheltered in the heart of the Third Reich by a member of the Wehrmacht, wandered the streets of Berlin dressed in a Hitler Youth uniform.

After the war, Herszman, who changed his name to Henry Carr shortly before the British army dispatched him to take part in the liberation of Europe, married an Irish Catholic. But, in an extraordinary twist, Herszman was secretly baptized and hid that he was Jewish for nearly a decade. The deception began to unravel in 1958 when his only surviving brother traveled from Israel to visit the family in their home in Leeds in the north of England.

Herszman’s incredible escape from the Nazis has been revealed for the first time in “Escape From the Ghetto,” a recently-published book by his son John Carr.

“It is a remarkable story,” Carr writes. “A story of tenacious, quick-witted determination to live, of defeating enormous odds, often in novel ways. But then any and every story of a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust borders on the miraculous.”

Herszman died in 1995, but the book is “based entirely on my dad’s recollections of what happened to him,” Carr told The Times of Israel in an interview. “Over the years he told me and my wife the same story pretty much consistently.”
The Forger From Berne
In their massive effort, Ładoś, Eiss, Rokicki, Silberschein and others often rescued or tried to save people they did not even know, like Yehiel Feiner, the writer better known as Yehiel De-Nur or Ka-Tsetnik 135633; Itzhak Katzenelson, the Polish Jewish poet; Hanna “Hanneli” Goslar, the best friend of Anne Frank; and the latter’s Polish counterpart, teenage diarist Rutka Laskier. Among those who survived, one may find the future chief rabbi of Amsterdam, Aron Schuster, and the Bluzhover Rebbe, Yisroel Spira. At least one survivor died in the Israeli War of Independence, and at least two in the Polish guerrilla war against the Communist regime.

Passports were also forged for Lelio Valobra and Enrico Luzzato, Jewish Holocaust rescuers from Italy, as well as for Fanny Schwab and other leaders of the French Œuvre de secours aux enfants. Frumka Płotnicka and the brothers Kożuch decided not to rescue themselves with their papers, but died in the short-lived uprising in the Będzin Ghetto. Yitzchak Zuckermann, Cywia Lubetkin, and Tosia Altmann, fighters in the Jewish Combat Organization in Poland, probably never learned about the existence of their documents.

Initially the Polish diplomats involved in the scheme believed Jews bearing foreign passports would be spared and interned instead of murdered. But when, by 1944, it was clear that the Nazis did not always honor the documents, Ładoś then supported Vaad Hatzalah in its attempts to bribe Heinrich Himmler and obtain the liberation of the 300,000 Jews still alive in the Reich. We have found several cables documenting the details of the subsequent attempt to bribe the Nazis, as Ładoś permitted the Sternbuchs to freely use the Polish diplomatic pouch.

Ładoś rarely spoke about his lifesaving operation. He promised to tell the whole story in his memoirs, but passed away in December 1963 without finishing them. His subordinates were equally silent. During the war, Agudath wrote a letter to the Polish government in London thanking its Bernese diplomats for having saved many hundreds of people. For the Polish government-in-exile, the existence of the scheme was not a big secret, as two consecutive foreign ministers and at least one prime minister demanded that Ładoś “organize” passports for individual Jewish figures, and the entire network of Polish embassies and consulates intervened both in many Latin American capitals and in Washington to obtain recognition of the Ładoś forgeries.

Yet the Agudath letter was immediately classified—it was January 1945, the operation was still ongoing, and the lives of passport holders were still in danger. We found this paper, attesting to the partnership between the Polish Legation and Jewish organizations, only after 72 years.

In 2019, Rokicki was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem; recognition for Ładoś and Ryniewicz remains undecided. All six members of the Ładoś group were posthumously decorated by the president of Poland two years ago. The gravestone of Konstanty Rokicki was restored in 2018.

Heinz Lichtenstern passed away in 1992 in Switzerland after having lived in Brazil, the United States, and the Netherlands. He never knew that he had been saved by the Polish government, which nurtured a secretive and lifesaving collaboration between Jews and Poles. (h/t MtTB)

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Israel: The necessary superpower
Appeasement is a symptom of profound cultural demoralization, caused by a loss of national self-belief and faith in the future. That process has been going on in the West ever since the Holocaust delivered the devastating message that there was something rotten at the very heart of Western high culture.

The most important proof of this demoralization is the birthrate in America and Europe, which is either below or barely the rate at which the indigenous population can reproduce itself. In other words, the West is literally dying out.

By contrast, Israel is emerging from the pandemic at a world-beating rate – its economy strong and resilient, and crucially, its birthrate healthy and high.

This is because Israel actually believes in itself. Sure, it has a ludicrously dysfunctional political culture, currently illustrated once again by its post-election gridlock and absence of a functioning government. It is also disfigured by deep social divisions between secular and religious communities, and subversive elements who regard the very idea of a Jewish state as anathema.

But the vast majority of Israel's public understands that its core value is the preservation of life and liberty and doing good in the world. It is a society built on redemption and hope, and in dramatic contrast to the death-spiral gripping America and Europe, it is relentlessly focused on its survival.

The Arab world has come to understand that all this is of priceless value – not just for Israel but for itself, too. It sees that Israel actually takes out its enemies. It is increasingly realizing that the country most likely to defend Arab interests against Iran is not America but Israel, the Arabs' new and unlikely ally.

As America falters and Western societies break apart, might this become Israel's century?
The Tikvah Podcast: Mohammed Alyahya on Two Competing Visions of Power in the Middle East
This week, the Biden administration officially began multilateral negotiations with Iran, in hopes of re-entering some form of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the so-called Iran nuclear deal.

The debate over the deal is one of the most contentious in contemporary American foreign policy, and reveals a genuine conflict of visions. Supporters of the deal, including prominent officials in the Biden administration, tend to view the Middle East as consumed by an eternal conflict between the Sunni states of the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia, and the Shia allies led by Iran. Opponents of the deal tend to think that the central regional faultline is not Shia Iran vs. Sunni Saudi Arabia, but instead the American-led alliance structure—including Saudi Arabia and Israel—against Iran and its regional proxies.

That’s the view of this week’s podcast guest, Mohammed Alyahya, the editor of Al Arabiya‘s English edition. He, who is based in Dubai and grew up in Saudi Arabia, explains the central paradigms at the heart of Middle East politics, and he outlines what the Biden administration should and shouldn’t do when confronting Iran and the threat it poses to America and the regional order.
David Singer: Israel’s voting system needs urgent reform
A million or more Israelis did not vote in each of the four indecisive elections held in the last two years – costing Israel an estimated $4.24 billion - whilst causing political upheaval and electoral instability as a result.

The Central Elections Committee (CEC) sets out how Israel’s electoral system works:
“Israel has an electoral system based on nation-wide proportional representation. In other words, the number of seats that each list receives in the Knesset - the House of Representatives - is proportional to the number of votes it received…the only limitation placed on a list which participated in the elections that can keep it from being elected is that it must pass the qualifying threshold, which is currently 3.25%.”

The CEC explains the historical background for this unique voting system:
“The State of Israel inherited the rigid system of proportional representation from the political system of the yishuv (the organized Jewish community) in mandatory times. This system was based on the zeal with which the various political parties - in which ideology and personalities played a major role - fought to preserve their independence. The justification given for the large number of parties resulting from the system was, that in a period in which major, far-reaching and rapid changes were still taking place in the population make-up as a result of immigration, it was important to enable maximal representation for various groups and opinions.”

What was appropriate during the Mandate for Palestine (1920 – 1948) is clearly not working now.

The following highlights why Israel’s electoral system needs urgent reform:

Ruthie Blum: Abbas’s snubs work like a charm on Biden
Abbas’s gall is not new and has served the P.A. ruler well with the international community, which has elevated him to ill-deserved heights. This is due to an unfounded, knee-jerk opposition to Israel, not to the way in which he rules his own people, who view him with disdain and outrage.

Nor is American appeasement of petty tyrants a novelty; certainly not among those, like Biden and many of his appointees, who served under former President Barack Obama. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s verbal abuse of former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during nuclear negotiations—so loud and disrespectful that even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered him to tone it down—comes to mind in this context.

Trump put a temporary stop to such supplication. Ramallah, like Tehran, responded by spewing rhetoric, but feared suffering the consequences of Washington’s wrath. One key basis for the trepidation was financial.

True, sanctions didn’t stop the P.A. from paying terrorists’ hefty salaries or prevent Iran from keeping its centrifuges spinning. The withholding of cash has, however, made life more difficult for both regimes.

Emboldened by the old sheriff’s posse being back in town, each has been testing Washington’s limits. So far, there don’t seem to be too many.

In fact, the Biden administration’s allocation of $90 million in aid to the P.A. ($15 million in “coronavirus relief” and another $75 million for the Palestinians to regain “trust” in the United States) comes weeks after Abbas rejected Blinken’s telephone overture. Talk about a return to Obama’s proud “leadership from behind.”

Whether Abbas and his governing Fatah faction survive the fast-approaching elections—slated for the Palestinian Legislative Council on May 22, for the P.A. presidency on July 31 and for the Palestinian National Council on Aug. 31—remains to be seen. Still, what’s already clear to him and any potential successor is the path to Uncle Sam’s purse and heart strings.
  • Friday, April 09, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Here's an amusing story from Iran's PressTV:

A group of dozens of international human rights activists has warned against the promotion of the left-wing Zionism, which seeks to colonize popular solidarity with the Palestinian people through presenting them as a helpless nation and attacking the resistance front against the Tel Aviv regime.

The campaigners, in an open letter addressed to the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), warned the non-governmental organization against the decision to opt former Australian journalist and television presenter Sophie McNeill as the keynote speaker during its upcoming event, scheduled for May 23.

The activists highlighted that McNeill has encouraged the “Palestinians as victims” line at the same time as she has ferociously been attacking the anti-Israel resistance front.

They went on to describe her as a Western apologist, who attacks the resistance bloc in order to defend Washington’s divide and rule strategy, US-led military invasions, and attempts to either destroy or balkanize Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The activists said McNeill now works as a researcher for the so-called Human Rights Watch (HRW), whose executive director is a prominent liberal Zionist and he frantically tries to conceal the apartheid nature of the Israeli regime by a humane mask.

Human Rights Watch regularly makes moral equivalence between Israeli massacres and resistance mounted by Palestinian groups in the face of the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression, they argued.

They further noted that McNeill repeatedly made US-HRW-crafted allegations about the use of barrel bomb and chemical warfare in Syria in order to incriminate the Damascus government as well as Syrian government troops, and prolong the Syrian conflict.
Calling Sophie McNeill and the head of HRW Ken Roth "Zionists" is pretty funny. Both have been in the forefront of demonizing Israel.

Of course the names of these "activists" aren't mentioned, and I couldn't find this open letter anywhere, which means that these "international human rights activists" are Iran, which is angry that both of them criticize Iran and Syria.  (The full article makes that clearer, with praise from these "activists" for Hezbollah and Iranian terrorists.)

  • Friday, April 09, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
The World History Encyclopedia gives a brief account of how the region in the eastern Mediterranean became known as Palestine:
By the time Rome appeared in the land it was long known as Judea, a term taken from the ancient Kingdom of Judah which had been destroyed by the Babylonians. It was also referred to, however, as Palestine and, after the Bar-Kochba Revolt of 132-136 CE, the Roman emperor Hadrian renamed the region Syria-Palaestina to punish the Jewish people for their insurrection (by naming it after their two traditional enemies, the Syrians and the Philistines).
The very term "Palestine" is meant to be an insult to Jews. 

This is why it is offensive to see the word used today as a generic term.

The Merriam Webster dictionary uses the term "ancient Palestine" often, referring to topics that pre-dated the word Palestine.

This is jarring and anachronistic.

Here, the three examples used could all have used the word "Israel" or "Judea:"

Sometimes it appears that the dictionary is going out of its way to avoid the words "Israel" or "Judea:"

Of course, the people who brought the first fruits would have looked blankly at you if you asked them what Palestine was. This definition is almost purposely vague when it could have far more clearly said "ancient Judea" or "ancient Israel."

This is offensive.

I don't believe that this usage of Palestine is meant to be offensive. The term "Palestine" before the  20th century was almost invariably associated with the areas controlled by the Jewish people in Biblical times, which means that the offensive Roman term stuck and lost much of its repugnance. It was just another word for ancient Israel, as these maps from 1741 and 1897 show:

But lexicographers will be the first ones to tell you that languages change and acceptable usages change. The way modern antisemites use "Palestine" is intended, as with the Romans, to be a way to erase the Jewish nation from the map. 

The way the word "Palestine" was used before the 20th century was clearly not meant to be offensive even if that was the original intent of the term. Today, however, enemies of Israel have been co-opting that word as if it refers to an ancient Arab political entity, and not to the areas of biblical Jewish rule, hence the constant use of the misnomer "historic Palestine" to refer to the modern borders created for the British Mandate less than a century ago. There is no map of Palestine before 1920 that adheres to those borders, as the maps above show.

And this is where Merriam-Webster makes its biggest mistakes:

If Palestine is a "region," then the population is about 11 million - because Israel would be included. That first sentence conflates the so-called "state of Palestine" with its historic use, and is flat out wrong.

The boundaries it mentions are essentially the British Mandate borders, which as I've shown are not even close to what was considered Palestine before 1920. No map included the Negev, all the maps included parts of the east bank of the Jordan and Lebanon, you cannot find one that used the Jordan River as a boundary. 

Merriam Webster has re-written the definition to adhere to politically correct thinking of a relationship between the modern concept of an Arab Palestinian political entity and how the term has been used for 1800 years - as a (poor) synonym for Judea.

Modern antisemites have renewed what the Romans did: use the word "Palestine" to destroy the concept of a Jewish political entity. It is the responsibility of dictionaries to understand this subtext and not to compound the offense.

(h/t Susan Z)

  • Friday, April 09, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

The Al Talaqi Association, which works to promote diversity and tolerance in Tunisia, has issued a statement of solidarity with Tunisia Jews who have been the subject of recent antisemitic attacks.

According to the press release, some Jews were subjected to attacks and violations of their dignity. It kept track of many incidents.

They include the almost-fatal beating of a ten-year-old child, an attempted murder of a 16-year-old girl, and a Jewish man who was assaulted inside his house by another man who screamed at him, "Get out ffrom our country!"

Also, a Jewish merchant was beaten near a highway by an assailant, who pulled off his pants and taunted him, asking onlookers  "Do you want to see a Jew?"

The organization said that all Tunisians must reject all forms of discrimination against minorities, defend a culture of tolerance, and reject the culture of extremism, violence, racism and hatred.

I had never seen any of these incidents mentioned in Arabic media. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

From Ian:

Torchlighters on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2021
Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began Wednesday evening, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

- Manya Bigunov was born in 1927 in the Ukrainian city of Teplyk. In July 1941, the Germans occupied Teplyk and sent residents to forced labor. She escaped from one of the labor camps and survived in the Bershad ghetto in Transnistria. After the war, Manya filled dozens of Yad Vashem's Pages of Testimony commemorating the people of Teplyk. In 1992, she immigrated to Israel.

- Yossi Chen was born in 1936 in Lachwa, Poland (now Belarus). On Passover eve 1942, all the town's Jews were ordered to move into the ghetto. In August 1942, the Jews learned that the ghetto residents were about to be murdered and an uprising broke out in full cooperation with the ghetto Jewish council, the Judenrat. While the majority of the Jews who tried to flee were shot and killed, six-year-old Yossi fled to the forests. Yossi and his father hid in haystacks, swamps and forests, drank water from swamps and ate berries until they found the partisans. In July 1947, the two boarded the Exodus illegal immigrant ship.

- Sara Fishman was born in 1927 in what is today Neresnytsya, Ukraine. When Sara and her sisters arrived in Auschwitz, one of the prisoners threw a stone at them with a note attached. The note read that the smoke they saw from the chimney was their parents. Later she was sent to forced labor outside Auschwitz and then to Bergen-Belsen. In 1949 she immigrated to Israel and served in the IDF during the War of Independence.

- Halina Friedman was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1933. In the Warsaw ghetto, her parents worked in a factory that repaired uniforms for the German Army, and Halina was placed in a kindergarten for the workers' children. In 1942, the children were taken out and shot by machine gun. Halina fell, but was not injured. She lay among the dozens of dead children, covered in their blood. Only at night did she return home. She escaped when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out in 1943 and for 18 months was hidden in a bunker at the home of two Polish people, Jerzy Kozminski and his stepmother Teresa Kozminska, who were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1965.

- Zehava Gealel was born in 1935 in The Hague, Netherlands. Dutch police accompanied by Germans arrived to take the family members into custody, but thanks to documents sent by Zehava's grandfather in the U.S., the family members were granted Romanian citizenship and were defined as political prisoners. She was later sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany and then to Bergen-Belsen. For the past 50 years, Zehava has been a nurse at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in Israel.

- Shmuel Naar was born in 1924 in Thessaloniki, Greece. In March 1943 the city's Jews were deported, mostly to Auschwitz. In January 1945, Shmuel was forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. In November 1945, he boarded the Berl Katzenelson illegal immigrant ship bound for Israel. When the ship was discovered by a British destroyer, Shmuel jumped into the icy water and swam to shore. Shmuel fought in the War of Independence and in all the wars of Israel including the Yom Kippur War as a combat medic.
Ronald Lauder: Holocaust Remembrance Day: We can't let our past be our children's future
“We cannot let our past become our children’s future.” These words were spoken by Roman Kent, an Auschwitz survivor on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp. These words are still ringing in my ears. I think about them all the time and they have guided me over the past six years, since I stood at the those terrible gates – gates that saw over one-million Jewish mothers, fathers and so, so many children pass through them. They went into the camp, but they never came out.

Five years after Roman Kent spoke those words, I brought 120 survivors and their families to the same gates for the 75th anniversary of the liberation by the Red Army. For many of them, it was their first time back since those terrible days. For many, it will probably be their last visit.

I was astounded to see their strength as we walked through the camp with their families. I also saw the pain in the faces of their children and grandchildren, who finally understood what they had experienced.

In my keynote address to them at those infamous gates, I talked about what it meant to have these survivors with us and what it meant to me personally. But also present were European leaders and dignitaries from more than 50 countries and I told them directly that they must do everything in their power to make sure that the rise in hatred that we are seeing, must be stopped in their countries. The continent of Europe owes this to the Jewish people.

Since that day, now more than a year and two months ago, I have stayed in touch with them. Sadly, we have already lost ten of them. This past Pesach, we held a Zoom meeting and they told me something that touched me to my core. They said they understood the Pesach story better than most people, because they were slaves themselves. And, perhaps most importantly, they were delivered to freedom.
JPost Editorial: Holocaust Remembrance Day: Remember, appreciate Israel
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day to remember the alternative, to remember what happened to the Jews in Europe in the previous century, and through that simple act of remembering to better appreciate our lives now in the Jewish state in this century.

President Reuven Rivlin articulated this sentiment well during comments he made Tuesday when giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government.

Rivlin related how last week former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak came to the President’s Residence and told his tale of survival as a young boy living behind the wall in the home of a Lithuanian farmer.

Barak, Rivlin said, kept his composure throughout the telling of this harrowing tale, which included the “most terrible and dreadful moments of the selection of children in the ghetto.”

Barak’s voice only wavered, Rivlin recounted, when he described meeting soldiers of the Jewish Brigade wearing a badge of the blue and white flag.

“The State of Israel is not to be taken for granted,” Rivlin said. “We hold – you the citizens of Israel hold – [in hand] the greatest treasure of the Jewish people.”

That the Jewish people should not take the existence of the State of Israel for granted is an obvious sentiment. But, as Menachem Begin once famously quipped, even the obvious needs to be restated from time to time.

It is human nature not to fully appreciate everyday wonders until they are gone: being able to walk, until you can’t; being able to see, until you go blind; being able to bend, until your back goes out.

So, too, it is difficult to appreciate the wonder and miracle of the Jewish state unless you step back and remember what things looked like without it. Holocaust Remembrance Day, among its other messages, commands us to do just that.

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

Check out their Facebook page.

soccer ballJerusalem, April 8 - The Islamic council that administers the plateau they call the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and which endorses the use of the holy site for sports competitions, day camps, and other non-holy pursuits, aims to preserve the sanctity of the compound by preventing members of the Hebraic faith from engaging in devotional rituals when visiting.

Israel ceded administration of the Temple Mount, site of two ancient Jewish shrines, to the Waqf soon after gaining control of the location from Jordanian hands in June 1967. The Waqf has reciprocated by denying Jews the right to pray, or even look like they are praying, while atop the Mount, lest the venue for almost-daily soccer games, parkour demonstrations, races, dance parties, and other such activities have its holiness compromised by Jews uttering liturgical passages. The threat of violent riots underlies enforcement of those restrictions.

"It's very simple," explained Afr Tayid, a Waqf spokesman. "Jews can't just come here and perform their Talmudic rituals where our own publications boast is the location of two Jewish Temples, and expect us, the guardians of Islamic holiness, not to react by throwing rocks or firebombs, or otherwise trying to hurt Jews for being so presumptuous as to think they can not be under Islamic domination."

"Allah sees Muslims playing soccer as sacred," he continued. "In fact Allah sees anything Muslims do as sacred, which is why it matters not in the least what we do here in the Haram al-Sharif - whereas it matters intensely what Jews do, because Jews. I hope that makes everything clear."

Religious scholars noted that Mr. Tayid's explication of the theological principles in operation dovetails with a broader trend in which Muslims' actions that in other circumstances would qualify as barbaric, murderous, unjust, repressive, or rapacious instead become positive because Muslims are the ones performing those actions. "We see the same thing with, for example, mass rape, mass murder, and enslavement of non-Muslims across territory under control of the Islamic State," observed Wihaf Tawziye. "All the arguments about Islam being a liberating force, especially for women and minorities, go out the window when those women and minorities happen to be on the side that Islamic forces oppose in battle, but that's OK, religiously, because jihad is the Get Out of Prohibitions Free card. It's not just the Sunnis. Look at how Shiite Iran bankrolls and arms the perpetrators of some of the most heinous policies, but hey, it's in the name of Allah, so all's good."

"In the case of Jews," he added, "that just makes it worse. I mean, it's Jews."


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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