Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From Ian:

Meir Y. Soloveichik: Sermons in Solitude: Jews of Faith Are Never Alone
On Thursday, March 13, my synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, announced it would not be holding services on Shabbat. To refrain from praying in a community is a traumatic moment for any house of worship. But for my community, the suspension of our communal Sabbath prayer due to the pandemic echoed down through history. Shearith Israel is the oldest Jewish congregation in America; tracing its origins to 23 souls that had landed in New Amsterdam, with a public synagogue first built in 1730, its members had joined one another in sanctifying the Sabbath for centuries. The last time Shearith Israel’s sanctuary had been abandoned by its congregants was 1776, when the patriot members of the congregation had fled in advance of the British taking Manhattan. But the very same Jews formed a minyan in Philadelphia, and the public rituals continued apace.

Now, however, it was the minyan itself that had been rendered impossible.

I delivered a sermon on Friday afternoon—by conference call. What, I asked, does it mean to be joined, as a Jew, to others, precisely when we are forbidden from engaging with others? In my words to my community, I noted that on the Internet, many had been mentioning breakthroughs achieved by men of genius in solitude to suggest that forced aloneness might have unexpected advantages. After all, the argument went, Isaac Newton discovered the rules of calculus while in quarantine. But what interested me more, I said, was what I had learned about another insight achieved by Newton while in a period of solitude created by a plague: his conceptualization of gravity. A student described Newton’s eureka moment:
In the year he retired again from Cambridge on account of the plague to his mother in Lincolnshire & whilst he was musing in a garden it came into his thought that the same power of gravity (which made an apple fall from the tree to the ground) was not limited to a certain distance from the earth but must extend much farther than was usually thought – Why not as high as the Moon said he to himself & if so that must influence her motion & perhaps retain her in her orbit…

In his solitude, Newton conceived of a gravitational bond that could exert its power over long distances—that could even span heaven and earth. It is, I suggested, a spiritual form of just such a bond that we now must discover, one that binds us to others and indeed binds those in Heaven and those on Earth. The Hebrew term for synagogue is Beit Knesset, a house of gathering, and it is called so because, in the rabbinic tradition, the phrase Knesset Yisrael refers to the mysterious bonds that connect Jews to one another. A synagogue is not merely a physical gathering of individuals, but rather, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained, it reflects “an invisible Knesset Yisrael, which embraces not only contemporaries, but every Jew who has ever lived.”

The synagogue is meant to embody this bond, this connection to all Jews past and present. But there are other ways to experience it, and those other ways can have a singular power of their own. Anatoly Sharansky concludes his prison memoir by reflecting that at times, in the solitude of his cell, he felt more connected to his people than in the prosaic bustle of his newfound freedoms:
How to enjoy the vivid colors of freedom without losing the existential depth I felt in prison? How to absorb the many sounds of freedom without allowing them to jam the stirring call of the shofar that I heard so clearly in the punishment cell? And, most important, how, in all these thousands of meetings, handshakes, interviews, and speeches, to retain that unique feeling of the interconnection of human souls which I discovered in the Gulag?

Our challenge, I said, was to attempt a Newtonian insight, to find what Sharansky had felt: to ponder the meaning of relationships, and our bond as Jews with one another, until we were able to see each other in synagogue once again.
Returning to Auschwitz on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Unlike every other Holocaust Remembrance Day over these past few decades, on Monday and Tuesday the gate at the entrance to the Auschwitz extermination camp remained empty. The thousands who usually visit the camp every year have stayed at home due to the coronavirus epidemic - but we will be back, strong and with our heads held high.

Auschwitz was here with us, in our generation, before the eyes of the entire world. Most of the world knew about Auschwitz as early as 1942, more so in 1943, and all the more in 1944, while trains filled with 50,000 Hungarian Jews to be exterminated were dispatched daily to the camp.
Some of the people who perpetrated these atrocities had even graduated from universities after studying enlightened German philosophers and
spiritual leaders such as Goethe, Heinrich Heine, and Immanuel Kant.

Auschwitz was a factory of death. It was there that the cursed Dr. Josef Mengele stood, and with a glance decided who was worthy of staying alive to bolster the camp's workforce, and who was to be sent to the gas chambers.

This year we could not walk the same route that those sentenced to death walked so many years ago, and no rendition of the Israeli national anthem HaTikvah will be heard in this valley of Jewish suffering. Even so, every one of us knows that the memory lives on of the Nazis, who threw millions of innocents into gas chambers and planned to eradicate an entire people from the face of the Earth.

But it is this people, our people, who are the people of eternity and will remain so until the end of time.
Ruthie Blum: Let us remember what the survivors are unable to forget
Holocaust survivors do not need annual ceremonies to remind them of the Nazi atrocities that they endured or of the family members that Adolf Hitler's henchmen slaughtered during World War II. No, those memories are just as inked in their hearts and minds as the numbers tattooed on their forearms.

Indeed, it is not those people who require the admonition "Never Forget," but rather the rest of the world. It is also a mantra for subsequent generations of Jews to repeat and forge a collective memory of events that we did not experience firsthand, but which require our ongoing attention. If, that is, we are to recognize and combat anti-Semitism in all its ideological – and military – manifestations.

The Knesset thus ruled in 1951 that Holocaust Remembrance Day would be marked on the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nissan, which falls between Passover and Israel Independence Day – two celebrations of freedom, victory, and a return to the Jewish homeland.

In Israel, then, Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) is particularly significant. Not only was the Jewish state established in the wake of the Holocaust, but many survivors fought and were killed in the 1948 War of Independence.

Their stories of unparalleled heroism in spite of unfathomable victimhood are recounted each year at the main ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on the eve of Yom Hashoah and at other locations during the following 24 hours. On the day itself, everyone in the country stops in his/her tracks at the sound of a siren to stand in silence for two minutes.

But not this year.

Thanks to coronavirus lockdowns – the emphasis of which ostensibly is to protect the elderly – the ceremonies are void of participants. With the exception of speeches by prominent politicians and performances by singers to empty halls, all commemorations and survivor testimonies have been held online and televised.

What makes this especially sad is the fact that the aging survivors – most of whom are not adept at Internet communication – have been living in isolation for weeks as it is. One survivor told Channel 12 on Monday evening that the hardest part about being alone is the lack of distraction from his daily traumatic memories. He explained that without people around, he finds it harder to push away the ghosts of his past.

Tom Gross: The children of Bullenhuser Damm
Israel’s annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, Yom HaShoah, which takes place today, is rightly marked around the world. Prince Charles, for example, paid tribute to Holocaust survivors in an online Yom HaShoah service yesterday evening.

Naturally such ceremonies tend to focus on the major death camps. But there are other almost completely forgotten “smaller” episodes of the Holocaust which are so appalling that it is important for us not to forget them.

One is a crime that took place exactly 75 years ago, when on the night of 20-21 April, 1945, SS troops murdered 20 Jewish children and at least 28 adults in the basement of a school at Bullenhuser Damm 92-94 in Hamburg.

Before their murder, the children, from Italy, Slovakia, France, Poland and the Netherlands, had been subjected to barbaric medical experiments as prisoners in Neuengamme Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Hamburg.

In November 1944, ten girls and ten boys, aged between five and 12 years old, were brought from Auschwitz to Neuengamme at the request of Dr Kurt Heissmeyer so he and his team of doctors could experiment on them. He hoped to gain a professorship from his research, he said. The children’s skin was cut open and tuberculosis bacilli rubbed into the wounds. Heissmeyer then had their lymph glands removed by operation, to discover whether antibodies had developed against the tuberculosis. All this took place in the last weeks of the war, when Heissmeyer knew the war was lost.

With the British army now less than three miles away, in order to cover up their crimes, the SS doctors and SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Strippel decided the children had to die. The children were taken to the basement of the building and hanged, together with adult prisoners who had witnessed the experiments.
What made an anti-Semitic Spanish diplomat rescue 150 Macedonian Jews? His wife
It may never be possible to say for sure to what extent Zoe influenced Julio’s decisions, but several things are clear:

Zoe’s writings paint a picture of an independent-minded, assertive woman who frequently commented on political affairs, going back to her days working in the office of her father when he was prime minister.

The decision to adopt the Arie children could not have been made without her active involvement, indeed was probably made at her initiative. It is inspiring to think about how adopting the two Arie children, symbolically, at last fulfilled Zoe and Julio’s lifelong desire to become parents, even if only briefly.

Now that the new details about Zoe’s life have come to light, it is to be hoped that Yad Vashem will finally recognize her along with Julio as Righteous Among the Nations.

An application on behalf of Julio was made by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation a number of years ago but was rejected by Yad Vashem apparently because of his tainted anti-Semitic background.

Not only did Zoe and Julio save the lives of the 28 Macedonian families, they also adopted the two Arie children at a moment when the lives of all Bulgarian Jews were in peril. They did not know that the Bulgarian government, as a result of protests by several Bulgarian groups, would halt the deportations.

It is also to be hoped that Zoe’s eloquent diary, published this past January under the title “From Sofia With Anxiety,” will earn her a rightful place in the pantheon of Greek and Holocaust history.

Her story serves as a poignant example of how historians have so often neglected the role of women.

As actress Natalia Dragoumis, a great-niece of Zoe, speaking at the book launch of Zoe’s diary, aptly concluded: “There’s no question that if Zoe hadn’t been a woman, this story would have been known a long time ago.”
My Aunt Had a Dinner Party, and Then She Took Her Guests to Kill 180 Jews
One morning in April 2007 journalist Sacha Batthyany was approached by an elderly colleague at the Swiss daily where they both worked at the time.

The colleague waved a newspaper clipping in front of him. It was an investigative report entitled, “The Hostess from Hell,” published by a German daily.

Glancing at the headline, Batthyany didn’t understand why he was being shown this article, but then he looked at the picture of the hostess and recognized it immediately. It was Margit, his father’s aunt —someone to whom the family demonstrated the utmost respect and also around whom they tended to tread carefully.

So he started to read the piece. In March 1945, it said, just before the end of World War II, Margit held a large party in the town of Rechnitz on the Austrian-Hungarian border to fete her Nazi friends. She, the daughter and heiress of European baron and tycoon Heinrich Thyssen, and her friends drank and danced the night away.

At the height of the evening, just for fun, 12 of the guests boarded trucks or walked to a nearby field, where 180 Jewish slave laborers who had been building fortifications were assembled. They had already been forced to dig a large pit, strip, and get down on their knees. The guests took turns shooting them to death before returning to the party. The organizer of this operation was Margit’s lover Hans Joachim Oldenberg. Margit’s husband, Count Ivan Batthyany, Sacha’s grandfather’s brother, was also at the party.

It was the first time that Batthyany, then 34, had heard about this incident. He was shocked. “Let’s set aside that it was my aunt,” said Batthyany, who visited Israel last week as a guest of the Jerusalem Book Fair. “It’s just an incredible, brutal story of this night. I mean, I know there are hundreds and thousands of other [violent stories] from the war — I don’t want to compare, but if you read what happened that night it is just unbelievable.”

In the article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the writer, David Litchfield, describes the party as a celebration of death. Killing for dessert. “I was in shock. I was shocked and surprised that I had never heard of this. And I had studied history, I knew more than the average person, but I’d never heard about this massacre or about Rechnitz, or about my family’s connection to any kind of story connected to the Holocaust.
Ivan the Terrible?
What might be the documentary’s most memorable scene occupies parts of two episodes, involving the star witness, Eliahu Rosenberg. While a prisoner at Treblinka, Rosenberg had the job of removing bodies from the gas chambers. He also testified in the Eichmann trial decades prior. During his testimony, Rosenberg asked the judges to ask Demjanjuk (refusing to address him directly, it seems) to remove his glasses and bare his eyes. Doing so, Rosenberg claimed, would solidify the identification. Demjanjuk agreed, and whispered one condition to his lawyer: “I want it that he come in close to me . . . right here,” pointing to the floor in front of the stand.

With the terms set, Rosenberg slowly made his way across the stage, “in front of the tribunal.” Within a few seconds, the two men were standing face to face. The moment becomes excruciating when Demjanjuk extended his hand to Rosenberg. “How dare you,” Rosenberg said, withdrawing in a sharp motion “as if he’d seen a snake,” Judge Dorner later recalls. The camera swerves to the gallery, where Rosenberg’s wife had fainted. “That is the devil,” Rosenberg said, returning to the stand. He has no doubt that Demjanjuk’s “murderous eyes” are those of Ivan the Terrible.

It would be tempting to treat this testimony as fact. The Israeli prosecution and judges did just that: “Why shouldn’t we trust our own people?” they asked. Why would we doubt the validity of the most traumatic memories imaginable? But Sheftel, to put it mildly, took his role as defense attorney seriously, claiming that Rosenberg’s accusation “was a sheer lie.”

The defense introduced a signed, 64-page testimony from 1947, in which Rosenberg claims that “we” killed Ivan in a 1943 uprising. When Rosenberg was questioned about this extraordinary discrepancy, he replied, “It was my heart’s wish. Of course I believed that he was killed.” Demjanjuk, furious, leaned into his microphone, screaming “liar! liar! liar! ” at Rosenberg. Here the documentary allows the scene to unfold and for the evidence to sit with us.

Questions remain about how and why the Israeli Supreme Court acquitted Demjanjuk in 1993, as well as qualms over potential deceptions of the Office of Special Investigations. The series turns those qualms into full-fledged allegations of misconduct against the OSI for its decision to withhold its doubts about Demjanjuk’s identity from the Israeli prosecutors.

Conspiracy theories swirl about whether the Soviets manufactured evidence, seeking to drive a wedge between two anticommunist groups in the United States, the Ukrainians and Jews—intriguing but conspiratorial. In 2009, a German court used new evidence to place Demjanjuk at Sobibor, not Treblinka; he was convicted for being an accessory to 27,900 murders. But The Devil Next Door addresses this conviction more as an afterthought than a serious conclusion to the saga.

In a reach for some sort of narrative closure, the documentary’s final moments show Demjanjuk’s grandson using a refrain common in defense of wartime behaviors and actions: His grandfather might have played some role in the Holocaust, but only to survive. Like the final charges against Demjanjuk, which were ultimately vacated because he died during the appeal process, there is no clear answer. It isn’t clear, and perhaps never will be, if Demjanjuk was “Ivan the Terrible” or another terrible Ivan.
How Nazis taught German children to hate Jews
Bauer wrote three other books in the service of Nazi Germany, all dripping with blatant and venomous anti-Semitism.
One such publication was "The Father of the Jews is the Devil," a book written relatively late by Bauer and that has since been translated to English.

Anti-Semitism also featured in high school classes, where race-based anti-Semitism was taught - no longer was the Jew only responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, from now on the Jew was the enemy of the entire master race.

Bauer’s picture books employ many historic anti-Semitic beliefs and imagery to convey Jews as a lesser race, including early anti-Semitism based on Christian pseudoscience, a variety of folk tales and "real" current events.

In 1938, new children's book “The Poisonous Mushroom” (Der Giftpilz) was published, penned by Der Stürmer editor Julius Streicher and again illustrated by Rupprecht.

One of the mushroom’s many tales deals with kosher slaughter and depicts Jews as reveling in animals' prolonged suffering.

The eighth tale in the book depicts the Jews as a potential rapists through a story about a Jewish man who tries to seduce a young German girl with candies only to be arrested by two German police officers.

According to historian Randall Bytwerk, the Nazi expansion of anti-Semitism did not stem from racial difference but on its insistence on depicting Jews as a constant danger and who caused great pain to the world from the shadows.

From an early age, German children were taught that Jews, even their own neighbors, were no more than poisonous mushrooms, conniving foxes, rapists and potential murderers.

German Jewish Group Slams Festival Invite to Prominent Academic Accused of Antisemitism
One of Germany’s leading cultural festivals was at the center of a row over antisemitism on Tuesday, as a German Jewish organization joined in with earlier demands to cancel the opening address at the event by an academic charged with “antisemitism” and “Holocaust relativization.”

In a letter to the elected leadership of the North-Rhine Westphalia state in western Germany, the Jewish Values Initiative asserted that the invitation to Prof. Achille Mbembe to speak at the renowned Ruhrtriennale festival on Aug. 14 should be revoked.

The group said that Mbembe — a Cameroonian sociologist currently teaching in South Africa — had in his writings made the “antisemitic” equation between the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the Israeli government, endorsed the anti-Zionist campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction the Jewish state, and diminished the Holocaust by bracketing it with the apartheid system.

“As Mbembe accuses Israel of apartheid and compares the former South African apartheid system to the Shoah, this leads to the legitimate assumption that he equates the position of the democratic State of Israel towards the Palestinian Arabs with that of the National Socialists during the Shoah –an antisemitic picture in its purest form,” the letter argued.

The Jewish Values Initiative protest came a few days after Germany’s top federal official dealing with antisemitism called for Mbembe’s appearance at the festival to be nixed.

“Delivering the opening speech to such an important event is a task of responsibility, not least given the fact that the festival is financed with public funds,” Felix Klein — the German government’s antisemitism commissioner — told the WAZ news outlet last Friday. “The person selected should be someone who lives up to this responsibility, not someone who has been criticized in the past for the relativization of the Holocaust.”

Klein said that Mbembe had “questioned Israel’s right to exist and also compared South Africa’s apartheid system to the Holocaust — something that is out of the question in view of the unprecedented crimes during the Nazi era, and especially given Germany’s historical responsibility for it.” He warned that the Ruhrtriennale festival would suffer “considerable damage” if Mbembe’s speech went ahead.

‘Palestine’ Graffiti Found on UMass Hillel
The Hillel at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst was vandalized with the word “Palestine” written in Arabic on April 21.

The graffiti was drawn with red spray-paint on the front of the building.

UMass Hillel wrote in a Facebook post that it had been in contact the university and local police over the matter.

“This cowardly act of hatred towards the Jewish community amidst a time of global crisis and on Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, is reprehensible,” it wrote. “Our UMass Jewish community is resilient and strong, and in the face of this hate we will only deepen our commitment to empowering students to build a vibrant community based on values of love, respect, justice and peace.”

UMass Amherst Student Government Association (SGA) President Rachel Ellis condemned the graffiti in an email to the community.

“While support for the Palestinian people and belief in their right to have their own country is completely legitimate and have the right to be voiced through our First Amendment, this act of vandalism was clearly an act of hatred toward the Jewish community during this time of crisis,” she wrote “The SGA will not stand for intolerance, hate crimes, or vandalism of any kind.”

CAA to write to Exeter University and General Medical Council after outspoken activist Ghada Karmi publishes article making numerous antisemitic statements
In an article for the Middle East Eye blog lamenting Jeremy Corbyn’s departure from the Labour leadership and Sir Keir Starmer’s accession, the outspoken activist Ghada Karmi makes a series of antisemitic statements.

Dr Karmi, a medical doctor and now a Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, observes in her article that “while much has been made of the capitalist establishment’s role in Corbyn’s downfall due to his socialist economics, it was the pro-Israel lobby that dealt the final blow.” She goes on to say that “persistent campaigning by this lobby since 2016” was “largely mediated” by Labour’s Jewish affiliate, Labour Friends of Israel and a Jewish communal charity and was “likely coordinated by the Israeli embassy”. This ‘campaigning’ achieved its aim: it “transformed [Mr Corbyn] by this propaganda into a racist and antisemite”.

Dr Karmi is suggesting that the Israeli embassy has played an outsized role in British politics and that the Jewish groups calling out Labour’s anti-Jewish racism – of which there are many more than those that she identifies – are doing Israel’s bidding. According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective” and “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations” are examples of antisemitism.

Moreover, the suggestion that antisemitism in Labour is a ‘smear’ or “propaganda” has been a common trope deployed to deflect criticism of the Party’s institutional antisemitism over the past several years and to imply that the Jewish community has had an ulterior motive in pointing out anti-Jewish racism in Labour, including that it is doing Israel’s bidding.

Dr Karmi goes further, wondering whether Sir Keir’s pledges to “root out” antisemitism in the Labour Party is in “hopes to win over the [Israel] lobby”. “If so,” she warns, “he may find, as Corbyn did, that such zealous appeasement will not insure him against its further demands if he steps out of line.”
Tory activist suspended from Party over racist social media posts now found to have posted antisemitic comments as well
A Tory activist and member who was suspended from the Scottish Conservatives over racist social media posts has now been found to have posted antisemitic remarks as well.

Lorraine Cullen, who campaigned for Douglas Ross MP in Moray and also for the unsuccessful Conservative candidate in Inverness, was suspended after making offensive comments about Jews, Muslims and other minorities.

Following her suspension, it has been revealed that she posted a link to a neo-Nazi website describing a “Jew World Order”, alluding to the age-old antisemitic conspiracy that Jews control the world. The post also refers to “bestiality brothels” spreading through through Germany “thanks to the Jew World Order that makes sex with animals legal”.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Those espousing far-right antisemitic views and conspiracy theories about a ‘Jewish world order’ have no place in mainstream political parties, and we expect the Conservatives to take immediate action and investigate.”
Shadow Home Secretary affirms that Hizballah is an “antisemitic terrorist organisation” and now CAA calls for his support to proscribe Hamas as well
It is being reported that the Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, has affirmed that Hizballah is an “antisemitic terrorist organisation”, giving his support for the Government’s recent extention of the restrictions on the group.

Previously, Mr Thomas-Symonds had been criticised for not expressly supporting the Government’s full proscription of Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organisation, which the Government did following a long campaign by Campaign Against Antisemitism and allies.

Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomes Mr Thomas-Symonds’ affirmation that the proscription of Hizballah in its entirety was the right decision, and we call on him to support – and the Government to implement – the proscription of Hamas, another genocidal antisemitic terrorist organisation, in its entirety as well.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has long called for the proscription of Hamas in its entirety under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Controversial new Labour MP Zarah Sultana expresses solidarity with antisemitic terrorist murderers
A controversial new Labour MP has expressed her solidarity with antisemitic terrorist murderers.

Zarah Sultana tweeted her solidarity with “political prisoners” held by Israel by sharing a video from the controversial charity War on Want, which has reportedly been investigated by the Charity Commission over allegations of antisemitism.

It has been pointed out, however, that some of the figures featured in the video are avowed members of antisemitic genocidal terrorist organisations and have been jailed for the murder of Jews.

Ms Sultana appears to have since deleted her tweet.

It has also been noted that her recent tweet marking Yom HaShoah and “vow to defeat antisemitism wherever it manifests itself” is, in view of her record, a rather empty gesture.

Ms Sultana has a history of unseemly comments about Jews, including telling a Jewish student that it was “privilege” that allowed them to argue for peace in the Middle East, saying: “it is your privilege that lets you speak on stage and call for peace”; saying that students who “go to Zionist conferences and trips should be ashamed of themselves” because they were advocating a “racist ideology”; describing Israel as a “state created through ethnic cleansing”; saying that “those who lobby for Israel” would “in the near future feel the same shame and regret as South African Apartheid supporters”; advocating for “violent resistance” against Israelis; saying that she would celebrate the deaths of Tony Blair and other past and present world leaders (for which she was forced to apologise and was defended by Labour frontbencher John McDonnell); writing that “the Labour Right are scum and genuinely make me sick. Is there any form of discrimination that they won’t weaponise to politically point score like they’ve done in the past with antisemitism and now with homophobia?”; and accusing Jewish students on social media of being on the payroll of Israel’s Prime Minister.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Glad To Get Yom HaShoah Over With So I Can Call For Another Shoah With A Clear Conscience by Zarah Sultana, Labour Party MP for Coventry South (satire)
Thank goodness that’s done. Feigning concern for the welfare of Jews one day a year on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising exacts a price in nerves and emotional composure. But doing so allows me to return to my normal routine of working to undermine the sovereignty and security for Jews that only a Jewish state provides.

As the part of anti-racism, Labour has faced numerous challenges, not least of them the embarrassing tendency of various members to display racism, usally in the form of antisemitism. Fortunately, no one outside a noisy cadre of activists cares about that, despite their control of the media, banks, and world governments, and as such a token gesture of sympathy for dead Jews suffices to atone. As far as my constituents are concerned – by which I mean the unelected leaders and opinion-makers in Tehran, Ramallah, Gaza, Ankara, Doha, and then, as an afterthought, perhaps some of the louder pro-Palestine activists in Coventry South itself, but on the geography of that last part I’m flexible – the main concern of a British parliamentarian is Palestine. If promoting the Palestinian cause means campaigning to weaken the one institution that gives Jews control over their own security and independence, so be it.

A few million dead Jews is a small price to pay for the eradication of racism, the chief manifestation of which in our world is Palestinian suffering. But stating that outright without throwing a bone to the Jewish narcissist competitors in the Victimhood Olympics who insist it all be about them can create all sorts of unpleasantness that one easily avoid by spouting “Never Again” platitudes on Yom HaShoah and being done with it. Jeremy Corbyn taught me that.
Someone spray-painted swastikas on a Florida synagogue this week
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a man who spray-painted swastikas on a Jewish temple.

Surveillance images released Friday showed a young white man vandalizing Temple Emanu-El, 151 McIntosh Road in Sarasota.

According to the sheriff’s department, the vandal caused approximately $5,000 in damages.

Authorities believe the suspect is likely between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 1 inch tall, and was wearing a dark baseball cap, a short-sleeved button-up shirt, blue jeans and flip-flops when he desecrated the temple. He is also clean-shaven.

A 2019 study from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism showed that from 2017-2018, Florida registered 197 incidents from extremist groups, 98 of which involved acts of anti-Semitism. Tampa alone was responsible for 22 of those incidents.

Last January, swastikas and other graffiti were discovered spray-painted on signs at a coffee shop in South Tampa, and last June two teenagers were arrested in connection with a swastika that was spray-painted in the parking garage of the Bayshore Regency Condominiums, which is less than a mile from the Jewish Community Center Preschool of South Tampa.
Neo-Nazi Who Attacked German Synagogue on Yom Kippur Charged With Double Murder
The German neo-Nazi who attempted to massacre worshippers at a Yom Kippur service in the city of Halle last October has been formally charged with double murder and attempted murder.

The office of Germany’s federal prosecutor released the charge sheet against gunman Stephan Balliet — referred to in the court papers as “Stephan B.” — on Tuesday afternoon, noting that he had “planned an assassination attempt on fellow citizens of the Jewish faith based on an antisemitic, racist and xenophobic sentiment.”

The prosecutor’s statement recalled that Balliet had driven to the synagogue on Halle’s Humboldtstrasse just before noon on Oct. 9, 2019, as 52 worshippers inside the sanctuary held religious services to mark Judaism’s holiest day.

The 27-year-old neo-Nazi had armed himself with eight firearms, several explosive devices, a helmet and a protective vest.

Having failed to break through the synagogue’s locked entrance despite exploding a grenade, a frustrated Balliet shot dead a 40-year-old female passerby. After additional violent attempts to force his way inside similarly failed, Balliet left the synagogue in his car.

He then drove to his next target — a small kebab restaurant where four diners and an employee were present. Balliet shot dead a 20-year-old man at the restaurant, believing him to be a Muslim.
Nazi-inspired graffiti found in German town on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Antisemitic graffiti featuring swastikas and Nazi references has been found scrawled on two buildings in Heidelberg, southwest Germany.
On one building, which appeared to be a small rural outhouse, the words "Jew," "Zion" and "Death" were spray painted in red, along with two swastikas. On another, a breeze block shed or barn, the inscription "Merkel is a Jew," referring to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was sprayed again in red paint, along with "Asylum seekers to be killed with Zyklon B." (the gas used to kill Jews in the Holocaust). Again, three swastikas were found alongside the text.

“In the past year we have witnessed the rise of neo-Nazism in Germany in particular and in Europe in general," Yaacov Hagoel, Deputy Chairman of the World Zionist Organization said.

"While many work around the world to eradicate antisemitism, unfortunately there are governments that do not invest enough in the issue.
Antisemitism must stop here and now. I urge the European countries' ambassadors to call on their government to intervene in the matter and to make the efforts to ensure that what we have witnessed in Heidelberg does not happen again."

The graffiti was found just one day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Jews around the world commemorated those who died in the atrocity.
A Zoom meeting hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Berlin to commemorate the day was disrupted when anti-Israel activists posted pictures of Hitler and shouted antisemitic slogans, forcing Holocaust survivor Zvi Herschel to stop a talk he was giving.

According to Israel's Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, the meeting recommenced after the activists were removed.

"To dishonour the memory of the Holocaust and the dignity of the survivor is beyond shame and disgrace and shows the blatant antisemitic nature of the activists," Issacharoff.
German intel agency probes anti-Israel magazine for ‘right-wing extremism’
Germany’s federal intelligence agency last month announced it launched a probe into the magazine Compact because it allegedly spreads xenophobia and conspiracy theories.

“We have also declared Compact-Magazin GmbH a suspected case,” Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution President Thomas Haldenwang said. “The magazine uses revisionist conspiracy theory and xenophobic motives.”

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is roughly equivalent to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Haldenwang’s remarks about Compact took place at a press conference on Germany’s current “fight against right-wing extremism.”

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed the editor-in-chief of Compact, Jürgen Elsässer, during a 2012 formal state visit in Tehran.

Elsässer issued a “congratulatory” wish to Ahmadinejad on his reelection in 2009. Iranian democrats protested the result of the election at the time because it was reportedly marred with widespread fraud and misconduct.

That same year, Elsässer expressed support for the annual Iranian-regime sponsored Al-Quds Day rally in Germany, which calls for the destruction of Israel and is attended by Hezbollah activists, supporters of Iran’s mullah regime and neo-Nazis.

Compact is a monthly magazine that started in 2010. Elsässer said the magazine has a circulation of 40,000, according to a Spiegel report.
Firebombing damages JCC and synagogue in Ukraine
A firebombing slightly damaged a Jewish community center in southern Ukraine.

Kherson police are investigating the early Monday morning attack, in which someone set fire to a bottle of flammable liquid and dropped it on the threshold of the building, Interfax reported. The liquid did not completely catch fire, however, according to Interfax.

The Chabad emissary in Kherson, Rabbi Yossi Wolff, told, a news website geared for the worldwide English-speaking emissary community, that the front door of the building caught fire.

Security cameras filmed the attack, according to the report.

The building, which functions as a synagogue and a JCC, has been closed to most activities due to the coronavirus crisis.

Built in 1895, the ornately designed synagogue was seized by communist authorities in 1930 and heavily damaged during World War II. The city turned it into a rehab center in the 1960s, but returned control of the building to the local Jewish community in 1991, according to the report.

Sea of Galilee water level now even closer to full capacity
The good news from Israel's largest freshwater lake continues. After reaching a 16-year record last week, the Sea of Galilee rose by another 0.2 inches on Tuesday, meaning that it is only about 5 inches short of being full.

If it reaches full capacity, the dam regulating its water flow to the Jordan River will be opened entirely. Officials don't expect this to happen before next winter unless some unusual weather event takes place.

The Sea of Galilee has benefited from an unusually rainy winter. About a month ago, the Water Authority reported that the water level was higher than it had been in 17 years, standing 49 cm (19 inches) short of the Upper Red Line.

This means that from March 23 to April 14, the lake rose by a foot.
‘Never Again’ projected on Brazilian congress buildings for Yom Hashoah
The words “Holocaust Never Again” followed by “Solidarity Saves Lives” in Portuguese were projected on Brazil’s National Congress buildings to mark Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was the greatest genocide in history, of which as a human being and as a Jew I sympathize and suffer twice. We reinforce it to the world so that we never have to witness a holocaust again,” tweeted the president of the Brazilian Senate, Davi Alcolumbre, the first Jew ever in the role.

It was the third straight year that the green block letters with the Holocaust-related message covered the 300-foot-tall facade of both 28-story twin towers of the Congress, Brasilia’s most famous landmark, for four hours on Monday night. However, it was the first time a second message was added.

“Jews from around the world pay tribute to the memory of Holocaust victims and martyrs. At this time, when humanity is experiencing the coronavirus pandemic, the message of solidarity is even stronger and more necessary,” said Fernando Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, Brazil’s umbrella Jewish organization.

Thousands attended online Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies held by the Jewish federations in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where three-quarters of the country’s 120,000-strong Jewish community lives.

“The remembrance of the Holocaust can be a powerful educational tool to deal with intolerance of all kinds, so present in today’s times,” Lottenberg added.

“The Jewish community today remembers the victims of the Holocaust. Never forget what intolerance and prejudice can do. After such barbarism, the Jewish people created a great nation. Togetherness, courage and faith in a common destiny can do more than hate, bitterness and resentment. Shalom,” tweeted Supreme Court Minister Luis Roberto Barroso, who is Jewish.

Israeli Police Publicly Salute Holocaust Survivors Confined to Their Homes Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
The Israel Police held a special commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday by saluting outside the homes of elderly survivors.

Because of their advancing age, almost all Holocaust survivors in Israel are currently confined to their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Public ceremonies where survivors usually appear have also been canceled or moved online.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that, as a result, the police deployed to around 180 housing complexes and nursing homes, where they stood and saluted when the annual two-minute air raid siren was sounded, bringing Israel to a halt in tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

The acting chief of the Israel Police, Motti Cohen, commented, “We are now in the midst of a global crisis event, and even today, Israeli society is being revealed in its fullest moral and ethical power.”

“Police and citizens of the State of Israel are reaching out to help anyone, wherever they are,” he said. “That is the secret of Israeli society in general and the Israel Police in particular.”

“The values ​​and heritage that we seek to instill as an organization are the personal commitment of every police officer to the continued existence of a strong and democratic State of Israel, and the preservation of the dignity of the human being because they are a human being,” he added.

“The memory of the Holocaust and the lessons learned from it illuminate the service of the Israel Police,” Cohen said. “We have the honor to be a pillar of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel that fulfills the vision of the ages, and ensures ‘never again.’”

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