Monday, April 20, 2020

04/20 Link Pt2: Netanyahu and Gantz agree to form a government; Trump-hatred divides American Zionists 100 years after San Remo; Thomas Friedman's political fantasy

From Ian:

After more than yearlong impasse, Netanyahu and Gantz agree to form a government
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz signed a coalition deal during a meeting Monday evening, bringing to an apparent end a nearly year-and-a-half-long political stalemate.

A joint statement from Blue and White and Netanyahu’s Likud party said the agreement was to form a “national emergency government,” apparently to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We prevented fourth elections. We’ll safeguard democracy,” Gantz tweeted shortly after the announcement was made. “We’ll fight the coronavirus and look out for all Israeli citizens. We have a national emergency government.”

The deal will be signed formally after Independence Day next week, reports said, after which Likud’s right-wing religious partners are also expected to sign on to it.

The parties are then expected to move forward with legislation to cement the premiership rotation agreement that will see Gantz take over from Netanyahu as prime minister after 18 months.

The final agreement dovetails with most of Netanyahu’s demands, including on the the annexation of parts of the West Bank, a process that it says can begin in July 2020. (h/t messy57)
David Singer: Trump-hatred divides American Zionists 100 years after San Remo
President Trump’s Peace Plan – released on 28 January 2020 – provides the first realistic opportunity in 100 years since the San Remo Resolution to restore Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria – and create a second Arab state in Mandatory Palestine never contemplated at San Remo.

The PLO and the Arab League have rejected Trump’s plan out of hand.

President Trump nevertheless has decided to proceed, with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restore Jewish sovereignty in about 30% of Area C. A joint US-Israel mapping committee is presently finalising details identifying the particular areas.

Trump’s decision has been opposed by many Israeli political leaders – notably Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi – who are currently struggling to form a Government of National Unity with Netanyahu – in which Gantz will succeed Netanyahu as Prime Minister after18 months.

Until recently Gantz has opposed any alteration to the current status of Judea and Samaria unless the international community and the Arab States agree. It is now being reported that Netanyahu and Gantz have agreed that Gantz’s party can – as members of a National Unity Government – vote against any such Trump-Netanyahu action.

American Zionist groups have similarly attacked this Trump-Netanyahu historic move. One such group – the Israel Policy Forum (IPF) – has written to Gantz:
“We write to you as American Jewish communal leaders who are proudly Zionist, unquestionably pro-Israel, and who have devoted our lives to supporting the State of Israel and ensuring an ironclad relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.”

IPF proclaims:
“We have strongly objected to Israel unilaterally annexing West Bank territory and applying sovereignty to Jewish settlements, whether according to the parameters of the Trump plan or any other similar proposal, at any point in time.”

IPF couches its plea in the language of the enemies of the Jewish people – “unilaterally annexing West Bank territory and applying sovereignty” – rather than “restoring Jewish sovereignty in 30% of Judea and Samaria”

138 prominent American Jewish communal leaders including Charles Bronfman and Sir James Wolfensohn have signed this letter.

Other American Zionist groups such as J Street and T’ruah use the identical anti-Zionist language to vent their opposition to Trump’s decision.

These Zionist naysayers opposing long-lost Jewish sovereignty being restored in partsof Judea and Samaria are repudiating the miraculous resurrection of this entitlement recognised at San Remo 100 years ago.

Trump-hatred seems to be driving these American Zionists to sacrifice the Jewish People’s long-term national interest for short term partisan American politics.

MEMRI: Saudi Columnist: A Real Bid For Peace With Israel Requires Acknowledging The Jewish Tragedy In The Holocaust
In a January 23, 2020 column in the Saudi Al-Riyadh daily, Saudi author and journalist ‘Abdallah bin Bakhit wrote that a true bid for peace with Israel requires transcending politics and acknowledging that the Holocaust was a “tragedy” and an “unforgivable crime.” The column was published following the visit of Mohammad Al-'Issa, secretary-general of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp on January 23, 2020.[1] In the column Bin Bakhit also rejected the claim that the Palestinian problem was a result of the Holocaust, explaining that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has its roots much earlier, in the beginning of the 20th century.

The following are translated excerpts from his column:[2]
“If we are [really] interested in peace, it is not enough to talk about peace, brandish slogans of peace and demand that others listen to the peace initiatives. In our world [which abounds with] conflicts, no one pays attention to subtle messages like these that [merely] echo in space unless they are preceded by a message of peace on the ground…

“The Jews have a right to live in peace, just like the Muslims and the Hindus. Just as the conflict between certain groups of Hindus and Muslims does not negate the right of either side to live in peace, so the conflict between Muslims and Jews over the Palestinian issue does not negate the right of either side to peace and justice.

“Many of us don’t realize that what happened to the Palestinians in Palestine was not the result of what happened to the Jews in Germany. The British colonialist did not give Palestine to the Jews as a gift to appease them after what happened to them during World War II [i.e., the Holocaust]. The Arab-Israeli conflict began at the start of the twentieth century, while the crime of the Jewish Holocaust took place in the middle of that century.

“The visit of Dr. Mohammad Al-'Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, to Auschwitz, where the Nazi Holocaust took place and where more than a million people were killed, mostly Jews from Poland, was a moral gesture unrelated to the pending political issues. This visit highlights the Saudi perception of Islam, which does not distort the facts or exploit them [to serve] its interests. Mixing [unrelated] issues and using them for political [ends] only fills mankind with more hatred and violence.

“This historic visit proves that Saudi Arabia, aided by its moderate Islam, does not adopt contradictory messages in striving for peace. What is happening to the Palestinians in Palestine is a tragedy, and what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany is also a tragedy. When we defend the rights of the Palestinian people, it must not be [accompanied by] efforts to ignore the rights of others. What happened to the German Jews and to several other ethnic groups [during the Holocaust] is an unforgivable crime.
Tired of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Riyadh to Press Sides on U.S. Peace Deal
Having been hostile to Israel for decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seems to be changing its policy, thinks an official with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Although full diplomatic relations are not yet possible, he believes this is only a matter of time. A Saudi official said Riyadh had come to acknowledge "the positive part Israel has played in the region" and started to realize that "cooperation needs to replace the constant clashing" so typical of the Middle East.

The source in Riyadh, who is connected to the highest echelons in the government, including the crown-prince himself, confirmed the Saudis' satisfaction with the U.S. peace plan, designed to put an end to the conflict. "Mohammed Bin Salman thinks the Palestinians have wasted too many opportunities thrown their way," he states, referring to a number of initiatives that have been offered to the Palestinians throughout the years.

"The problem is that Palestinians are hard to please. We also have a tendency to believe that some elements of their leadership are interested in keeping the conflict alive to continue to get our generous donations.... When the Coronavirus is behind us, Mohammed Bin Salman plans on telling the Palestinians to either take the plan or leave it. If they push it away, future opportunities - if they ever show up - will certainly be less profitable," the official said.

Anti-Semitic incidents worldwide rose 18% in 2019, study finds
Last year saw an 18% increase in severe incidents around the world, a study by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, said Monday.

The study noted that coronavirus-inspired expressions "constitute forms of traditional Jew-hatred and of conspiracy theories. So far, these accusations appear to be promoted mainly by extreme rightists, ultra-conservative Christian circles, Islamists, and to a minor extent by the far-left, each group according to its narrative and beliefs - such as different conspiracy theories as well as the image of the Jew as a producer of diseases."

Still, 2019 witnessed a rise of 18% in major violent cases compared to 2018 – 456 cases in 2019 compared to 387 in 2018. Seven Jews and non-Jews were killed during anti-Semitic attacks, and a rise in most other manifestations, in most countries. At least 53 synagogues (12%) and 28 community centers and schools (6 percent) were attacked. An increase in life-endangering threats (47%) and in attacks on private properties (24 %).

"The return of traditional, classic anti-Semitic stereotypes as well as the intensification of anti-Israeli and Islamist anti-Semitism, have contributed to the growing role of the anti-Semitic discourse that moved from the fringes of society into the mainstream public discourse," the study said.

According to a 2019 report by the Fundamental Rights Agency, 41% of Jews aged 16-34 have considered emigrating from Europe because of anti-Semitism over the last five years.

Anti-Semitism as the main factor pushing for emigration might be enhanced by the perceptions regarding governments' responses and efforts to anti-Semitism, which are overwhelmingly considered inadequate.
Robert Kraft: Committed to combating antisemitism
These are the opening words to the Shema. The Shema is a prayer I gravitate to in special moments in my life be it in times of celebration, great accomplishment or times of stress or sadness. I put my hand on my head, close my eyes, and the words to the prayer of the Shema bring me great personal security and comfort.

I had imagined I’d be saying these words at the gas chambers of Auschwitz on Yom HaShoah, seventy-five years after the liberation of the concentration camp, and where over a million people were murdered. These words which have been part of our tradition for millennia are said in our daily prayers -- when we arise in the morning and before we lie down at night. They are often the last words recited before death. Saying these words in a place where memories of pain, horror and destruction envelope a particular location, the death camps of Auschwitz, allows me to connect with the victims and feel rooted to the tragedy of our people. I imagine the many victims reciting these words as they knew death was imminent. How do we make sense of such destruction, incomprehensible sorrow and absolute devastation? How do we commemorate the tragedy in such a fashion that we ensure it is imprinted on our DNA, our children’s DNA, their children’s DNA and is never forgotten?

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, I had planned to participate in the March of the Living delegation this year, and I was humbled that I would bear witness to the memory of the individuals who perished in the atrocities during the Holocaust. I felt a deep sense of responsibility to be present amongst the 10,000 other individuals all coming together for one purpose- l’zkhor- to remember. In Yosef Haim Yerushalmi’s masterpiece, Zakhor: Jewish History and Memory, the historian notes that the word zakhor appears about 200 hundred times in the TaNaKh. Jews are commanded to remember the Sabbath; to remember the covenant between God and Abraham; to remember the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt (as we did this past week as we read from the Haggadah); to remember what the ruler Amalek did to the Israelite community as they wandered in the desert. It is this commandment of remembering that in many ways has sustained the Jewish people and communities throughout diaspora.

An essential component of Jewish tradition is the ritual act of recording events and ethical practices and then recounting them verbally in every generation. It is precisely these actions that enable the creation of meta-narratives. These meta-narratives bind us as a people and encode our collective identity in our DNA, including our traumas. The combination of remembering, commemorating and recounting has served as a psychological tool for the Jewish people and not merely as a historical accounting.

The March of the Living is the manifestation of generations of Jews remembering, commemorating, bearing witness, and acknowledging our responsibility to ensure that the atrocities that occurred at the hands of fellow human beings will never be forgotten or repeated.
The Eichmann Files
"In all his activities the accused displayed indefatigable energy, verging on overeagerness towards advancing the Final Solution … He was not a puppet in the hands of others; his place was amongst those who pulled the strings ... Even if we had found that the Accused acted out of blind obedience, as he argued, we would still have said that a man who took part in crimes of such magnitude as these over years must pay the maximum penalty known to the law, and he cannot rely on any order even in mitigation of his punishment. But we have found that the Accused acted out of an inner identification with the orders that he was given and out of a fierce will to achieve the criminal objective…" – Excerpts from the verdict and sentencing of Adolf Eichmann, December 1961.

The trial of Adolf Eichmann, who headed the Gestapo Department for Jewish Affairs known as IV B4, is an integral part of the consciousness of the Jewish people. One of the prevailing memories of the trial sessions in the Beit Ha'am community center in Jerusalem is the chilling testimonies of 121 Holocaust survivors.

But the criminal trial could not only rely on the survivors, only a few of whom actually saw Eichmann in person. Their testimonies were needed to highlight the unfathomable cruelty of the Nazis and the terrors of the Holocaust.

The discussions on Criminal Case No. 40/61 were based on the work of 15 Israel Police detectives, who were part of a special unit, Bureau 06. Their working assumption was that this was a murder trial and thus they needed evidence to prove Eichmann's senior role in organizing and implementing the Final Solution.

The conditions for launching the investigation – which began 60 years ago when Eichmann was captured and brought to Israel on May 21st, 1960 – were complicated. The war had ended 15 years earlier, the murder scenes spread across many states. The Bureau investigators hunted for documents that would speak for themselves and could not be refuted. Documents that could demonstrate Eichmann's infinite desire for the destruction of the Jewish people, and his key status in managing the transports to the death camps.

The investigators managed to get their hands on 400,000 pages of telegrams and letters from archives in Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, as well as in the US too – which after the war collected tens of thousands of exchanges between the heads of the Nazi regime.

Out of all of these, 1,506 documents were filed by the court as "smoking guns" against Eichmann. They show how he insisted on reaching every single Jew, how he tried to cover up the extermination by using the phrase "special treatment," how he fumed that in his opinion, there were too few Jews on the death trains. And how he personally ensured that children were also sent to Auschwitz.
Trump Rips Democrats for 'Strong Anti-Israel Bent in Congress'
President Donald Trump criticized Democrats for their recent turn toward the anti-Israel left on Saturday, during a White House press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump was asked about his retweet, earlier in the day, of a tweet by investigative reporter Paul Sperry challenging state and local authorities to treat mosques as they did churches:

State and local officials — primarily Democrats — have cracked down on drive-thru churches in recent weeks, including on Easter Sunday, and even when they have observed the federal government’s strict social distancing guidelines.

Trump argued that he did not believe there should be strict enforcement in mosques, but that he was pointing out the poor way that Christians were being treated in the U.S., to which he linked Democrats’ turn towards an anti-Israel foreign policy:

Trump: I would like to see that. And I just spoke with leaders, and people that love mosques. They love mosques, and I’m all in favor of that. But I would say that there could be a difference, and we’ll have to see what will happen, because I’ve seen a great disparity, in this country. I’ve seen a great disparity. I mean I’ve seen a very strong anti-Israel bent in Congress, with Democrats. It was unthinkable seven or eight or ten years ago, and now they’re into a whole different thing, between [Rep. Ilhan] Omar, and AOC. I say AOC plus three, add them on. You have, I mean, the things that they say about Israel are so bad. And I can’t believe it. Now — Just a minute. So I would be interested to see that, because they go after Christian churches, but they don’t tend to go after mosques. And I don’t want them to go after mosques, but I do want to see what their bent is.

Q: Do you know, Mr. President, that in fact you’re suggesting that imams wouldn’t follow social distancing?

Trump: No, I think that — I just had a call with imams, I just had a call with ministers, rabbis. We had a tremendous call with the faith leaders. No, I don’t think that at all. I am somebody that believes in faith. And it matters not what your faith is, but our politicians seem to treat different faiths very differently, and they seem to think, and I don’t know what happened with our country, but the Christian faith is treated much differently than it was, and I think it’s treated very unfairly.

Former Vice President Joe Biden embraced the endorsement Friday of the radical left-wing group J Street, which opposes Israel on most issues, and opposes most pro-Israel measures taken by the U.S., such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
Thomas Friedman's political fantasy
In a New York Times column on April 7, Thomas Friedman listed his preferred choices for various posts in a Joe Biden administration. Among those serving in his fantasy government would be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the pro-Palestinian leftist whose uninformed and invariably hostile comments about Israel have verged on anti-Semitism, as ambassador to the United Nations.

Ocasio-Cortez has insisted that "criticizing the occupation of Palestine doesn't make you anti-Israel." Indeed, Palestinians have no choice but to "riot" because they are "marginalized" by Israel. But to her credit, she has conceded: "I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. I am just repeating terms I think I saw on Facebook once. I have no idea what they mean."

How could Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner who served as Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief between 1984-88 and a columnist ever since, endorse Ocasio-Cortez for anything but a kindergarten class on Israel and the Middle East? A cursory glance at Friedman's biography might provide answers.

Growing up in "a rather typical middle-class American Jewish family," Friedman identified himself as a "three-day-a-year" Jew until the Six-Day War ignited "my Jewish identity." After three summers as a kibbutz volunteer, he conceded, his identification with Israel had become "insufferable."

But not for long. Smitten by Arab culture after a summer visit to Cairo, he resumed undergraduate study at Brandeis University as a member of the "Middle East Peace Group." It joined Breira ("alternative"), an organization comprising left-wing rabbis and Jewish intellectuals who endorsed Palestinian national aspirations.

Hired by The New York Times in 1981, Friedman covered the Israel-Lebanon war, which buried "every illusion I ever held about the Jewish state." Then, posted as Jerusalem Bureau Chief, he relied for guidance upon Peace Now advocate Yaron Ezrahi, peace activist Avraham Burg and Rabbi David Hartman, his mentor for explaining Israel's moral deficiencies.

As a Times columnist, Friedman blamed "feckless American Jewish leaders" and neo-conservatives for supporting "a colonial Israeli occupation." Friedman reminded readers: "One should never forget just how crazy some of Israel's Jewish settlers are. They assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin when he tried to cede part of the West Bank for peace."

Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, lived in the Israeli city of Herzliya.
Labour could be bankrupted by lawsuits after antisemitism document leak
Labour could be bankrupted by lawsuits after an antisemitism report compiled by allies of former party leader Jeremy Cobyn was leaked to the public.

The 860-page document had been intended as a submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's investigation into claims of antisemitism in Labour, and named a number of individuals who had made official complaints about Jew-hate in the party.

After Labour’s own lawyers advised the party not to submit the document to the EHRC, it was circulated on social media containing the unredacted names of numerous whistleblowers.

Sources close to those complainants say more than 30 individuals may sue the party over breach of privacy and for putting their safety at risk.

Labour could face a legal bill as high as £8 million over the leak, which could bankrupt the party, according to the sources.

Corbyn loyalists have claimed the leaked document shows how "Blairite" officials in the party actively worked against him and prevented Labour winning the 2017 General Election.

Party moderates argue the document was leaked by supporters of Mr Corbyn in an attempt to distract from the mishandling of antisemitism complaints.

Mark Lewis of law firm Patron Law, who is representing 20 of the people affected, said: “If this bankrupts the Labour Party or individuals, so be it. Actions have consequences.

“There are lots and lots of claims. There are claims under the Data Protection Act, there are claims for breach of confidence or invasion of privacy and there are claims for libel."
Why we must resist the hard left’s ‘stab in the back’ narrative over antisemitism
The recently leaked, 860-page Corbynite report into the Labour party’s handling of antisemitism aspires to be the founding myth of the left as it re-groups.

It is a classic ‘stab in the back myth’. It claims that the reason the Corbyn movement didn’t win in 2017 was because it was betrayed by its enemies within the party. If it had not been stabbed in the back it would have won.

All populist movements construct a myth of ‘enemies of the people’. It is necessary to explain why the movement fails to deliver its extravagant promises.

The ‘stab in the back myth’ is the founding myth. It explains how the enemies of the people have been responsible in the past for our misery and why the populist movement is needed.

The report rules out in advance the possibility that antisemitism in the Labour Party was connected to the politics of the Corbyn faction. It doesn’t even address it. It doesn’t say anything about the way that hostility to ‘Zionism’ became the litmus test of who was inside and who was outside the community of the good. It doesn’t say anything about Stalinist antisemitism or about BDS antisemitism or about the Corbyn faction’s record of jumping to the defence of antisemites against Jews.

It de-couples antisemitism from politics. It says that antisemitism came into the party because so many people came into the party and they were as imbued in antisemitism as the population as a whole.

It says that the Corbyn faction tried to expel the antisemites (the randomly bad people) but that their factional opponents sabotaged the procedural moves against the antisemites in order to facilitate the ‘myth’ that Corbyn had a political problem of antisemitism.

It is a big lie. It blames the opponents of Corbyn, the opponents of antisemitism, for the antisemitism.

The standard response to allegations of antisemitism is the Livingstone Formulation – that antisemitism is invented, in bad faith, or ‘weaponized’, with the secret dishonest motive of silencing the Palestinians and smearing the left.

This report takes the Livingstone Formulation and gives it a twist.

We always worried that the Corbynites would respond to their defeat by blaming Jews for it.
UN Treaty Body Promotes BDS at Urging of Norwegian NGO
During the 67th session of the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), in which the committee was supposed to review Norway’s compliance with the International Covenant on Social Economic and Cultural Rights, the Committee used the session as an opportunity to promote the BDS movement. Its concluding report singled out Norwegian business activity in the West Bank, and recommended that Norway reexamine its investment policies. The recommendation coincides with a current review of its ethical investment guidelines by the Norwegian government to be published in June 2020.

Government funders of UN frameworks must establish oversight mechanisms to ensure that UN treaty bodies adhere to their mandates and are not used to advance discriminatory political campaigns and agendas. For the past decade, NGO Monitor has documented the phenomenon of UN treaty bodies that violate their mandates to evaluate state compliance as part of discriminatory anti-Israel campaigns. Last month, the CESCR embraced this disturbing trend, adopting a BDS agenda after some campaigning by the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).

UN treaty frameworks are often targeted as platforms for anti-Israel propaganda. For instance, the Committee Against Torture adopted NGO efforts to grossly expand the definition of “Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment” (intended to address disproportionate use of force against the detained that doesn’t rise to the level of torture) to include “settler violence,” delays at checkpoints, and house demolitions. Similarly, in 2018, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a statement on the Gaza riots that was completely outside of its area of competence.

NGO Monitor has shown how these bodies extensively rely on and repeat unverified claims from NGOs in setting their agendas and in their final reports. Indeed, exploiting UN treaty bodies for anti-Israel political warfare is listed as the number one strategic objective of the Palestinian Authority’s United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which was devised in cooperation with UN agencies and officials.
I cover anti-Semitism. ‘The Plot Against America’ is the scariest show I’ve seen
First, the Jewish world that Roth (and by extension Simon, the creator of acclaimed shows such as “The Wire” and “The Deuce” and one of the best TV writers of any generation) has created is incredibly real. There’s never been such a thing as a typical American Jewish family — the country has always been full of a proud range of religious expressions. But the Levin family that anchors “Plot” comes close to an American archetype.

In many senses, the Levins feel like the 1940s version of my family. They’re not very religious, but have strong Jewish cultural ties. They go to their local Jewish bakery more than their synagogue. They can recite memorized lines of Hebrew, but don’t know what the words mean.

Other recent shows that have depicted Jews have leaned toward stereotype, not archetype. “Hunters,” the recent Amazon series about Nazi hunters in New York City, offers an example: Its efforts toward Jewish authenticity rely on matzah ball soup, gefilte fish jokes, prayers and ridiculous Yiddish accents. So when one “Hunters” character calls another a “kike,” it didn’t feel like an attack on me or anyone like me.

By comparison, every slur in “Plot” packs a strong punch. When the Levins are told to leave their hotel for no reason other than their Jewishness, and the police ignore their claims of discrimination, I got queasy. When an intimidatingly large anti-Semite comes over to their cafe table to tell them to be quiet, I cowered into my couch pillows.

But Simon also captures a feeling that’s even more crucial, from an affect point of view, than the characters’ Jewishness: the feeling of being watched over, manipulated and on one’s own. Their government claims to support them, but it’s only a nominal protection, a state of being that could easily slip into a much darker place.

The tension of being on that dividing line, between safety and a lack of it, filled me with dread as I watched. For me at least, that made the show more powerful than a gut-wrenching Holocaust film that shows Jews being violently abused and murdered.

It shows what I could be dealing with in the future, should the gears of history tilt slightly the wrong way.
IfNotNow Spreads More Lies About Israel
The trope that Jews (or in this convenient case, the Jewish state) are the cause of another people’s suffering is not a new one. In fact, New York Times author Bari Weiss has traced it back to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, and explains:

In the New Testament, it is a small band of Jews who get Rome — then the greatest power in the world — to do their bidding by killing Christ. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, speaks to the Jews about Jesus in the book of John: “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your own law.” But the Jews punt the decision back to Pilate: “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” And so, Pilate does the deed on their behalf. In the book of Matthew, the implications of this manipulation are spelled out: “His blood is on us and our children,” the Jews say — a line that has been so historically destructive that even Mel Gibson cut it from his Passion of the Christ.

That is why the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), adopted a working definition of antisemitism which includes the following two clauses:

1. Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
2. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

It should therefore come as no surprise that IfNotNow, a self-proclaimed Jewish-American “progressive” organization, violated both of these clauses on the eve of Passover.

In a tweet, IfNotNow proposed the following question to its nearly 60,000 followers in the context of condemning the alleged uprooting of olive trees by Jewish settlers:

On the eve of Pesach, our US Jewish community must ask itself a crucial question: Will we harden our hearts to the daily suffering of those under Occupation, or will we stand in solidarity with the dispossessed Palestinians, like Moses did with the Hebrew slaves?

Despite IfNotNow’s unfounded assumption that the alleged incident is a direct result of Israel’s military presence in the disputed territories, let’s take a minute to dissect this rather sickening post.
CBC Commentator Accuses Israel of State Repression and Egregious Abuses of Palestinian Officials
In an April 18 opinion column entitled: “Governments making power grabs, repressing dissent while world focuses on COVID-19,” CBC commentator Hadani Ditmars (pictured right) accused Israel of enacting state repression and carrying out various egregious abuses against Palestinian Authority officials as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Writing on the CBC website, Ditmars said the following:

“Evidence of state repression and egregious examples of abuse abound.

In Turkmenistan, it is illegal to even mention the virus and the government has insisted it has no infections, despite hundreds of cases in surrounding nations.

The long-suffering Uyghurs, trapped in high-contagion internment camps, are facing increased abuse at the hands of Chinese authorities during the COVID crisis, reportedly being starved and forced to work in factories without proper medical protocols. Chinese authorities are also using the virus as an excuse to crack down on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi al-Hadami was arrested recently by Israeli policefor the “crime” of acting on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in helping to co-ordinate its coronavirus response.”

Under the tacit pretext that Israel was making a power grab, was eroding rights and freedoms and repressing dissent, Ditmars lumped Israel in with Turkmenistan and Chinese-authorities who abuse the Uyghurs to insinuate that Israel is guilty of repressive abuses to advance political interests.
Minnesota high school students mock Auschwitz victims in TikTok video
Two Minnesota high school students were criticized for sharing a video titled “Me and the boys on the way to camp,” which photoshops them dancing in a Nazi boxcar and happily skipping into Auschwitz, on the video social media platform TikTok.

The video contains humorous music whose lyrics include “Tell everybody I’m on my way.”

In response, the two boys shown in the video — posted by a high school student from Nicollet High School in Nicollet, Minnesota — were assigned a research paper titled “Hitler’s Final Solution at Auschwitz.”

Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said in a statement that he is “ increasingly concerned about a grave empathy deficit, which enables students and others to weaponize their knowledge about the Holocaust to insult the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and further traumatize Jews at a time when we are experiencing a demonstrative increase in anti-Semitism.”

Hunegs praised Nicollet Public Schools Superintendent Denny Morrow for the “seriousness” with which he has approached the incident.

Morrow wrote to the students: “Your recent decision to post a video on TikTok depicting the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp during World War 2 as a playful excursion has crossed several lines of decorum.”
Windows of Connecticut synagogue shot with BB gun
The windows of a New Haven, Connecticut synagogue were shot full of holes by a BB gun, local police said.

New Haven Police said in a statement issued on Saturday that it was continuing to investigate the vandalism at the synagogue in the Westville neighborhood. The damage to three windows near the front of the synagogue was first reported on Tuesday, but it may have occurred as early as Friday, April 10, according to the statement.

Neighborhood residents told police officers about “teenagers playing in the street near the synagogue on Friday afternoon; an unreported sound of possible gunfire on an adjacent street on Friday night; and an unreported sound of glass breaking but nothing unusual seen on Sunday night.”

The damage is estimated at about $5,000.

The synagogue has been closed due to regulations surrounding the coronavirus crisis.
Commemorating Holocaust under lockdown, survivors say ‘indecent’ to compare eras
Berthe Badehi, who hid from the Nazis as a child during World War II, has become one of the many Holocaust survivors confined in their homes to evade the coronavirus.

“It’s not easy, but we do it to stay alive,” the 88-year-old said of her current self-isolation at home in Israel.

“One thing I learnt during the war was how to take care of myself.”

Movement and travel restrictions in place to contain the pandemic have forced this week’s Holocaust Remembrance Day — Yom Hashoah in Hebrew — to be exclusively digital for the first time.

In a normal year, symbolic events are organized at various locations, notably with survivors at the sites in Europe where the Nazis built concentration and extermination camps.

This year, testimonials from survivors will be streamed online and featured in a pre-recorded ceremony to be broadcast in Israel by Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center, when Yom HaShoah begins on Monday evening.

The limitations on organizing events this year served as a reminder that in the not-too-distant future ceremonies with survivors will no longer be possible because the last of them will have passed away.

“We have talked a lot about what happens when survivors are not here,” said Stephen Smith, who heads the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California.

This week’s scaled-back commemorations “made us realize what the future might be like,” Smith told AFP. “It is a test of our resolve.”

“Maybe it is an opportunity to say… we won’t get 10,000 people at Auschwitz, but maybe we can get a million people (watching) online,” he added, referring to the Nazi concentration and extermination camp in Poland.
Israel's Holocaust survivors community is 189,500 strong
Israel's Holocaust survivors' community is 189,500 strong, data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Sunday, ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, showed.

Israel will mark the annual memorial day with a series of ceremonies starting on Monday evening. This year, however, many ceremonies have been canceled over coronavirus-related public health directives.

All major state ceremonies will be held as planned but will be devoid of an audience over coronavirus restrictions.

This includes the torch-lighting ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, which was pre-recorded and will air on all major TV channels on Monday evening.

On 10 a.m. on Tuesday, a two-minute siren will wail nationwide, honoring the victims. It will be followed by the wreath-laying ceremony in Jerusalem, at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising monument, which will also be held sans an audience.

While official in-person ceremonies have been barred, the Jewish Agency will host two special virtual memorial day events seeking to bring Jews around the world together to hear from Holocaust survivor Leah Hason.

Her heartbreaking story will be presented on the organization's Facebook page and will be broadcast in eight languages as part of the Jewish Agency's annual "Zikaron BaSalon" ("Memories in the Living Room") project.

At the end of the program, Jewish Agency emissaries will hold virtual discussions with their respective communities to discuss the emotional story they just heard.
Torchlighters on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2020
Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches at Yad Vashem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Monday evening, in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Haim Arbiv was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1934, which was under Italian rule. The treatment of Jews worsened as the authorities and the local Italian residents considered the Jews collaborators with the enemy. In 1942, Haim's family was deported to the Giado concentration camp, 1,200 km. from Benghazi. Hundreds of Jews died of hunger, fatigue and disease in Giado. In 1949, Haim and his family boarded a ship to Israel. Due to his command of Arabic, Haim served in the IDF Intelligence Corps.

Zohar Arnon was born in Hungary in 1928. In 1944, the Nazis occupied Budapest. Zohar made contact with the underground Zionist movement, which provided thousands of young Jews with false papers and smuggled them into Romania. Zohar traveled through Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. In January 1945, he finally arrived in Eretz Israel. His parents and two of his sisters were murdered in the Holocaust.

Yehuda Beilis was born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1927. The Germans occupied Lithuania in 1941 and Yehuda's family was sent to the Kovno ghetto. They were taken with thousands of other Jews to the Ninth Fort, the site of the mass murder of Kovno Jewry. Yehuda was pushed to the edge of a pit. He heard shots, and the murdered Jews fell into the pit, bringing him down with them. When he regained consciousness, he found himself in pitch blackness at the bottom of the pit. He made his way out through the bodies and ran away. He was hidden by righteous gentiles for two years. In 1944 he helped smuggle 22 children out of the ghetto with the help of local clergy.

Aviva Blum-Wachs was born in Warsaw in 1932. Her mother, Luba, was the deputy director of a nursing school. When the Warsaw ghetto was established in October 1940, Luba secured a building for the school. In the summer of 1942, the residents of the nursing school were marched to the departure point for deportations to the death camps. Luba managed to convince the Germans that the nurses were essential to the efforts to deal with the epidemics in the ghetto, and the Germans let the nurses go. In the Aktion of January 1943, the Germans barged into the hospital and shot hundreds of patients, physicians and nurses. Luba had received a few minutes' warning from the underground resistance, and managed to hide several of the nurses and patients, as well as her children, in the basement.

Avraham Carmi was born in Poland in 1928. After the German invasion, his family fled to his uncle Moshe Posner, who managed the Warsaw Jewish cemetery. In the summer of 1942, the Germans came to search the cemetery. Avraham was taken, along with other cemetery workers, to the departure point for deportations, but he escaped. The Germans discovered Avraham's relatives hiding in the cemetery, and shot them. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the spring of 1943, the Germans discovered their bunker and Avraham and Moshe were sent to various camps. Moshe watched over Avraham and shared his food with him, helping him every step of the way. Moshe died of exhaustion and disease just two days before liberation.

Leah Reuveni was born in Czechoslovakia in 1926 and in 1929 her family moved to Antwerp, Belgium. When the city came under aerial attack in May 1940, the family fled to France. When the Germans occupied southern France in November 1942, the family fled to the Italian zone and survived with the help of a righteous priest. Later her father was deported to the camps and murdered. In 1960, she immigrated to Israel and worked as a hospital nurse.
Yad Vashem: Shimon Greenhouse
Shimon Greenhouse was born in 1932 in Krasne, Byelorussia (today Belarus), to a traditional and Zionist family. At the end of 1941, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Shimon and his family were interned in the Krasne ghetto. After one of the German's horses fell in a pit, they blamed the Jews. They concentrated several Jews at the town square and shot them. Among those to be murdered were Shimon and his father - Shimon survived, however, being extracted later from the murder site. In March 1943, the Germans liquidated the ghetto. Shimon and his mother, together with some twenty of the ghetto residents, remained in hiding for five days. After almost being discovered, they escaped to the forests, joining the partisans. Shimon took part in demolition missions against German trains. After the war Shimon and his mother returned to Krasne. Shimon completed his studies, later studying law and mathematics at university, and then immigrated to Israel with his mother in 1960. He started a family, and has children and grandchildren. Shimon has devoted his life to teaching, acting as an educator and principal at a high school in Petach Tikva, Israel.

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