Friday, February 12, 2021

From Ian:

Josh Hammer: Overwrought Nazi Analogies for Me, but Not for Thee?
More generally, the American Left has spent large swaths of the past four years hysterically comparing then-President Donald Trump, whose daughter is an Orthodox Jew and who is likely the most aggressively pro-Jewish president in American history, to Adolf Hitler. It would be trite, not to mention impossible, to enumerate all the examples. The armchair sloganeering and rote analogizing were truly ubiquitous across CNN, MSNBC and the other myriad bastions of progressive media or cultural clout. It became old hat to compare Antifa, properly understood as a domestic terror organization, to the valiant American patriots who stormed the beach of Normandy on D-Day—thus equating the Trump administration with the Third Reich.

But even more egregious was then-President-elect Joe Biden's post-Capitol riot comparison of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)—brilliant constitutional attorneys in their previous careers who, in challenging part of the 2020 Electoral College results, did something Democrats have done each time a Republican has won the presidency this century—to infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, a man who arguably has more Jewish blood on his hands than anyone besides Hitler and Heinrich Himmler themselves. Speaking two days after the Capitol riot, Biden expressly invoked Goebbels' name and accused Cruz and Hawley of helping to spread the "big lie." (Cruz, it should be noted, is by word and deed likely the single most philo-Semitic and pro-Israel member of either house of Congress.) The smear was quickly parroted by other national Democratic leaders.

Biden's slur was, in a nutshell, revolting. It is, or at least ought to be, far beneath the dignity of the leader of the free world to casually besmirch high-ranking political foes as active, literal Nazis. But Biden's remarkable Freudian slip did not occur in a vacuum; rather, it was the natural culmination of a years-long leftist campaign, which commenced in the pre-Trump era but rapidly accelerated during the 45th president's tumultuous tenure, to equate conservatism with Nazism. Perhaps some on the Left earnestly believe this, and some believe it to merely be tactically helpful. It is unclear.

What is clear is how deeply shameful the whole spectacle is. And not just shameful, but deeply hypocritical, to boot. Just ask Gina Carano, who was canceled for a post that was relatively subdued compared with Biden's abhorrent slander. Conservatives might be forgiven for wondering if Biden himself should be canceled next.
Seth Frantzman: Isi Leibler: Saving Soviet Jews and helping Israeli-Asian ties
There are many miracles that have helped propel the Jewish people through history. A look at the rise of Israel and the rescue of the Jewish people are current examples of miracles, says Isi Leibler, a central figure in modern Jewish history over the last six decades. “Nobody believed this could be possible,” Leibler, who was born in 1934 in Antwerp, said in a recent video interview from Jerusalem.

When he speaks about the impossible, he harkens back often to the rescue of Soviet Jews. “People said maybe we could get 10,000 out,” he recalls. “But over a million came out. It was a modern-day Exodus.”

For Leibler, who has been many things – businessman, activist, writer, personal statesman, campaigner for numerous crucial causes, intermediary – the rescue of the Jews of the Soviet Union was a key cause for decades. In 1964, he was given the opportunity to write about Soviet Jews for Arena, a left-leaning periodical, according to an account in Suzanne Rutland’s recent Lone Voice: The Wars of Isi Leibler. He was supposed to write only a few thousand words but instead wrote 30,000. Every writer knows the nightmare that comes next, having to cut down the manuscript. But Leibler plowed on and self-published the piece as Soviet Jewry and Human Rights.

The new biography of Leibler, which this interview is based on, took 20 years to complete and is the masterpiece of Rutland, a professor at the University of Sydney.
Why George Washington Is a Hero to the Jews
Even before the first president’s famous epistle to the Touro Synagogue, “to bigotry no sanction; to persecution no assistance,” the Jews of America knew that Washington was their man. He invited the rabbi of New York’s Shearith Israel Congregation to act as a formal clergyman at the first Inauguration. This marked the first time since the ancient fall of Jerusalem that a Jewish minister performed in an official capacity for a head of state.

In this vein, in August 1789, Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome in Richmond, Virginia, opened the celebration of its new synagogue constitution with the toast: “The President of the United States, may his administration secure to the citizens of America the Liberty obtained by his valor.”

During the American Revolution, in the winter camps at Valley Forge, a Jewish immigrant from Prussia, Michael Hart, was a corporal in the Continental Army. His daughter wrote the following in her diary about her father’s wartime service: “Let it be remembered that Michael Hart was a Jew, practically, pious, a Jew reverencing and strictly observant of the Sabbath and Festivals; dietary laws were also adhered to, although he was compelled to be his own Shochet. Mark well that he, Washington … even during a short sojourn became for the hour the guest of the worthy Jew.”

So large has Washington loomed in Jewish hearts that this tale, absent details of the only kosher meal he is known to have had, morphed into folklore unlike any other. One iteration reads: “It is mid-winter at Valley Forge. Everyone is cold. Frostbite is widespread. Everyone has given up hope. George Washington is depressed. One night, looking for inspiration, George goes for a walk through the camp. He finds one Jewish member of the Continental Army lighting the haunkkiya … the soldier explains Hanukkah, Judah Maccabee, and everything to George, who re-finds his courage in the process — enough to stand up when the boat crosses the Delaware. Later, the first President sends our Jewish soldier a silver Menorah … as a gift of appreciation, along with a letter which says, ‘Judaism has a lot to offer the world. You should be proud to be a Jew.’”

The alert reader will note that the Delaware Crossing occurred a year before Valley Forge, one of many reasons to doubt the story’s veracity. But never mind that. This Monday, as we honor the man who has long been an inspiration to the Jews, let’s celebrate Washington’s life, legacy, and ideals. As Purim approaches with its account of the political fragility Jews have endured through the ages, let’s dedicate ourselves to the memory of that great statesman who reigns unparalleled in the annals of history for securing Jewish freedom, safety, prosperity, and the rights of all Americans. Happy President’s Day!


It works: 0 deaths, only 4 severe cases among 523,000 fully vaccinated Israelis
An Israeli healthcare provider that has vaccinated half a million people with both doses of the Pfizer vaccine says that only 544 people — or 0.1% — have been subsequently diagnosed with the coronavirus, there have been four severe cases, and no people have died.

That means the effectiveness rate stands at 93 percent, Maccabi Healthcare Services announced on Thursday, after comparing its immunized members to a “diverse” control group of unvaccinated members.

Full protection against COVID-19 for people who have been vaccinated is believed to kick in a week after the second shot, so the Maccabi data covers all those of its members who are seven or more days after receiving that second dose.

Maccabi’s statistics are being closely monitored around the world, for giving the first major insight into how the vaccine performs outside of clinical trials. And they are being widely hailed for indicating that real-word effectiveness is close to the 95% efficacy cited after Pfizer’s clinical trials.

“This data unequivocally proves that the vaccine is very effective and we have no doubt that it has saved the lives of many Israelis,” said senior Maccabi official Dr. Miri Mizrahi Reuveni after the new data release.

She stressed that among those who have vaccinated and become infected, the vast majority have experienced the coronavirus lightly. Out of the 523,000 fully vaccinated people, 544 were infected with COVID-19, of whom 15 needed hospitalization: Eight are in mild condition, three in moderate condition, and four in severe condition.
Grassroots Orthodox effort in NY helps bring antibody treatment into mainstream
Yaakov Halpern got so sick with COVID-19 last March he passed out twice. Each time a local Hatzalah volunteer ambulance crew responded to his home in New York to help. And each time they did, Halpern promised he would do whatever he could to help others who fell ill with the potentially fatal virus.

Halpern’s chance came sooner than expected when a friend called asking him to get tested for COVID-19 antibodies and, if his numbers were high enough, consider donating his plasma. A few days later Halpern registered at a local blood bank, where he spent the next few hours reclining in a donor chair as a bag filled with his blood.

He’s donated nine times since.

“Anybody who had COVID and has antibodies and is walking around can donate. They can do something to help save somebody’s life,” said Halpern, a resident of the Five Towns area of Long Island.

Halpern is one of thousands of Orthodox Jews to donate plasma as part of the Covid Plasma Initiative, launched last spring just as the pandemic hit New York State.

Today the all-volunteer Orthodox nonprofit has a presence in more than a dozen states. Aside from organizing plasma drives and antibody testing, it does educational outreach about monoclonal antibodies and helps link patients with infusion centers that offer the treatment.

“During March, April, and May, so many people were dying. It was nonstop. These were people I knew growing up, friends of family. It was the darkest, bleakest time. Then, while all this was going on I got a call from a friend. I could be part of an initiative that was giving life to so many people,” said CPI director Zeldy Oppen.
Look, no hands! Automated PPE dispensers cut down on germs
Even before Covid – remember those days? – gloves and clean uniforms were essential for employees in healthcare, food service and many industrial settings to keep the work environment as clean and germ-free as possible.

The coronavirus pandemic has only intensified the need for employers to provide personal protective equipment to workers 24/7.

Now two Israeli companies have developed innovative solutions for outfitting healthcare and other workers in gloves and uniforms in a more hygienic, controlled and convenient manner.

Puts on your gloves, tells you how many are left

“The system we are launching is revolutionizing one of the most common parts of medical treatment — wearing sterile gloves,” says Orna Goldberg, CEO of Tel Aviv-based IGIN Tech, a subsidiary of AIDOR Group.

“Today, 5.8 billion sterile gloves are used every day around the world, so we are talking about a significant source of contamination.”

IGIN’s smart device stores 500 gloves in special cartridges. When a worker inserts a hand into the opening of the machine, a glove is inflated and the hand slides right inside. The automatic fitting is done in less than five seconds.
Three BDS resolutions defeated at Florida State University
Three Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions were defeated at Florida State University (FSU) earlier this week following a concerted effort by pro-Israel organizations, including StandWithUS, the Jewish Student Union, Noles for Israel, CUFI, and Mishelanu, according to a press release from the former.

The resolutions were tabled by the Student Senate President Ahmad Daraldik at FSU, who allegedly has been known for making antisemitic statements, which led to his removal and later reinstatement as senator.

According to StandWithUS, two of the resolutions attacked the IHRA Definition on antisemitism, while the third resolution called for a divestment from companies conducting business in Israel.

The resolutions were defeated in committee prior to them reaching the Student Senate floor. The anti-IHRA definition resolution failed with a vote of 0 in favor, 7 against, and 3 abstaining.

“I am so proud of Jewish and pro-Israel students at Florida State University for their tireless work. They did not rest until they made sure their community was represented, supported, and protected. They told their stories bravely and did an outstanding job educating their peers about Israel, the Jewish people, and antisemitism," said Talia Lerner, StandWithUs Senior Southern Campus Coordinator.
CAA writes to UCL’s Provost after Academic Board passes advisory motion calling on University to “retract and replace” International Definition of Antisemitism
UCL’s Academic Board has passed an advisory resolution calling on the University to “retract and replace” the International Definition of Antisemitism, which UCL adopted in 2019.

In December 2019, shortly after UCL adopted the Definition to send a message of solidarity with its Jewish students, the Academic Board established a “Working Group on Racism and Prejudice” to “examines the efficacy” of the Definition. The Working Group published a scandalous report in December 2020, observing that “incidents of antisemitism have persisted in our university” but nonetheless recommending a retraction of the Definition. It has also been alleged that evidence was taken from the President of UCL’s Jewish Society but was largely ignored in the report.

Last month, shortly after the report was published, UCL’s Students’ Union intended to hold a vote on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day on whether to call for a retraction of the Definition. According to the Jewish Society, it was reportedly informed of the vote only 45 minutes in advance. Nevertheless, the Students’ Union was persuaded to delay the vote on calling for retraction. That vote took place last week and failed.

Today, the Academic Board held its own vote on whether to call for revocation of the Definition, and it has voted to call on the University to “retract and replace” the Definition with other (as yet unspecified) tools.

The University and College Union (UCU) branch President, Sean Wallis, said in a statement: “This is an important moment. Whilst there are many other positive concrete steps advised by the Working Group, it is very important that the Academic Board concluded that universities must be vigilant in defending academic freedom and free speech where political debates about Israel are involved. Today the Academic Board has resoundingly reinforced this position at UCL.”


Guardian writer claims he was let go for ‘joke’ tweet against US aid to Israel
A longtime contributor to The Guardian said the newspaper has stopped publishing his op-eds because of a tweet in which he joked that the US Congress is legally obligated to make “buying weapons for Israel” a part of any spending.

Nathan Robinson, 30, wrote Wednesday on his website Current Affairs that the British daily’s US edition had let him know it had decided not to use his pieces anymore following two tweets that Robinson posted in December.

A Guardian spokesperson denied the claim, saying the paper would “welcome” future submissions.

In his tweets on Israel, Robinson wrote: “Did you know that the US Congress is not actually permitted to authorize any new spending unless a portion of it is directed toward buying weapons for Israel? It’s the law.” Also, “or if not actually the written law, then so ingrained in political custom as to functionally be indistinguishable from law.”

On Current Affairs, Robinson wrote that he was “appalled and depressed to see new funding for Israeli missiles being passed at the same time as pitifully small COVID-19 relief.” The tweet on spending was clearly a joke, he wrote, in which “I relieved my anger.”

Robinson said some on Twitter began accusing him of making anti-Semitic comments. He shared a screenshot of an email from Guardian editor John Mulholland, who wrote to him to complain about the tweet being misleading and inappropriate for a Guardian columnist “given the reckless talk over the last year — and beyond — of how mythical ‘Jewish groups/alliances’ yield power over all forms of US public life.”

Mulholland, according to the email, decried his propagation of “fake news” on the matter.
BBC World Service listeners get inadequate information on Israeli law
The February 8th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item (from 14:06 here) about the latest court session in the Israeli prime minister’s trial.

Presenter James Coomarasamy introduced the item:
Coomarasamy: “The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made his second court appearance on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. It came just a month and a half before another general election in a country that’s growing wearily used to them. And this one, triggered when Mr Netanyahu’s latest coalition partner Benny Gantz pulled out of the arrangement, accusing the prime minister of being serially dishonest.”

The phrase used by Gantz in that speech last December announcing his party’s support for the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the Knesset was actually “a serial breaker of promises”. Coomarasamy continued:
Coomarasamy: “Some of the protesters outside the court building in Jerusalem today voiced a similar opinion.”

Listeners heard from two unidentified women with the first one saying:
Woman: “We are actually advocating the rule of law. We think that Benjamin Netanyahu should stand trial like any other citizen in the State of Israel.”

Seeing as that is literally what was happening as that recording was made, the BBC’s decision to feature those words in its report is strange to say the least.
Pandemic and Online Media Drove ‘Historically High’ and ‘Innovative’ Antisemitism in 2020: Annual Report by UK Jewish Group
The coronavirus pandemic and online media are playing a larger role in spreading antisemitism, according to a new report by a leading Jewish organization in the United Kingdom.

The report, Antisemitic Incidents Report 2020, was released Thursday by the Community Security Trust, which advises on terrorism, antisemitism and other security issues. It found that while incidents have dropped off slightly in comparison to 2019, they were often connected to COVID-19 and found online.

The CST found that 1,668 antisemitic incidents took place in the UK in 2020. While this is the third-highest total the CST has recorded, it nonetheless represents a decrease of 8% compared to 2019.

It also said the pandemic has led antisemites to be increasingly “innovative” in their attacks the Jewish community, providing “new strands” of hateful discourse.

One new method of harassment has been attacks on Jewish events held virtually due to lockdowns, with the online events “hijacked” and used to spread antisemitic material. The CST describes this as “an entirely new type of incident … demonstrating the ability, opportunism, and speed of antisemitic offenders to adapt to a new social reality.”
Coronavirus Protests Fuel Yet Another Annual Rise in Antisemitic Outrages in Germany
Germany registered another spike in the number of antisemitic hate crimes committed during 2020, with conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic spurring much of the venom directed at the Jewish community.

According to German federal government figures released on Thursday, at least 2,275 crimes with an antisemitic background were logged over a 12-month period ending in January 2021. Some 55 of those outrages were acts of violence.

However, only five suspects were detained by the authorities, despite police investigating 1,367 cases. No arrest warrants have been issued.

The data gathered in 2020 maintained a decade-long trend of the number of antisemitic offenses rising in Germany each year. Although the 55 violent assaults were a decrease on the 72 that were recorded in 2019, that change was mainly caused by social distancing protocols making public encounters less frequent.

Josef Schuster — president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany — told the daily Tagesspiegel that he had not been surprised by the news of a further increase in antisemitic offenses.

“In view of the numerous anti-Semitic incidents at the coronavirus-denier protests last year and the conspiracy myths online, it was, unfortunately, to be expected that the number of anti-Semitic crimes would rise again,” Schuster said.
Antisemitic flyer in German tram blames Jews for the COVID pandemic
Antisemitic flyers were found Wednesday on a tram in Cologne, Germany, blaming Jews for the ongoing pandemic.

The black-and-white flyer reads: “Do we really have a Corona problem? Or do we have a Jewish problem?” with a Star of David in the background next to the names of three prominent German politicians — Chancellor Angela Merkel, Health Minister Jens Spahn, Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas — and virologist Christian Drosten.

None of them are Jewish, but the flyer claims they are.

“The more Jews in politics and media, the worse things are!” it reads.

Several German protests against coronavirus restrictions have featured antisemitic rhetoric and comparisons of the restrictions to what Jews went through in the Holocaust.

The flyers were found by Omas Gegen Rechts (Grandmothers Against The Right), a citizen-led democratic initiative that’s been recognized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany for its activism.


Jews ‘Taking Ownership of Their Own Security’ Is Key to Countering Antisemitic Threat in US, Top Community Official Argues
Over the space of less than three years, the challenge of securing Jewish communities from outside attack leapt to the top of the communal agenda with an urgency that surprised even the most seasoned observers of American Jewish life.

The shift in communal priorities reflected the harsh reality that even in the US, violence against Jews has increasingly become, in the carefully-chosen word of one of the community’s leading security practitioners, “normalized.”

“What we accept as normal behavior in our society has dramatically changed,” observed Evan Bernstein — the chief executive of the Community Security Service (CSS), a volunteer-based security agency — during an extensive conversation with The Algemeiner this week. “For example, think about peoples’ response to mass shootings. Before the pandemic, we were seeing more and more of these. Each time there was less of a reaction, and it became more and more normalized.”

Bernstein believes that the same desensitizing process has been at work when it comes to outrages against Jews in recent years.

“I’ve been looking at this in real time over a seven-year period,” he explained. Studying the twists and turns of anti-Jewish prejudice has helped Bernstein understand that hatred is a complex and frequently underhand phenomenon, that can “easily take you to places in our society that we hoped we’d never get to.”
Holocaust memorial in Yerevan, Armenia vandalized
The "To Live and Not Forget" Holocaust memorial in the Armenian city of Yerevan was desecrated with paint sprayed all over the Hebrew writings.

The memorial was built to honor both the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide victims and consists of two primary pillars, with “To Live and Not Forget: To the Memory of the Victims of the Genocides of the Armenian and Jewish Peoples” written in Armenian on the right pillar and Hebrew on the left pillar.

Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutyan’s spokesperson Hakob Karapetyan strongly condemned the desecration, noting that such incidents must be ruled out in Yerevan “where representatives of various nations are living side by side as Yerevantsis.”

“The desecration of any memorial is extremely unacceptable, moreover the kind of memorials which are related to the minorities living in the city. I think this problem should be solved through cooperation with the law enforcement agencies,” Karapetyan said when asked about actions for ruling out similar incidents in the future, given the fact that this is already the second time this particular memorial is targeted by vandals in the last few months, the Armenian Press website reported.
KISS Frontman Gene Simmons Recalls Bloody Teenage Encounter With Antisemite, Says Racists Should Be Publicly Shamed
KISS lead singer Gene Simmons called for the public condemnation of racists and revealed an antisemitic experience he had as a teen, in an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail on Wednesday.

Simmons, whose Hungarian mother was a Holocaust survivor, recently joined a group of 170 Black and Jewish celebrities who formed the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance, a joint initiative to counter racism and antisemitism in the Black and Jewish communities.

Talking to the publication about facing hatred himself, the 71-year-old rock legend said that his first confrontation with antisemitism was at the age of 13, when a boy tried to keep him out of a YMCA pool because he was Jewish.

“I remember coming out of the pool and these two guys got in my face. One said ‘What are you doing here? You’re Jewish,'” recalled Simmons. “He started talking about Nazis. I remember thinking about my mother and everything. I leaned forward and said ‘Sorry I can’t hear you.’ As he got in my face, I smashed my forehead against his nose. Of course he started bleeding and fell into the pool. And I was thrown out of the YMCA.”

Simmons called on society to take action against those spreading prejudice and hate, calling them “cockroaches.”

“It is going to get better but you’ve got to confront it,” he said. “You’ve got to turn on the light and go after those cockroaches. And don’t just chase them out. Find out where they live. Identify them, make their lives miserable – legally. Shine the light on that cockroach.”


Israeli firm TikTalk brings AI to speech therapy
“Most speech therapy tools today are based on old technology,” says Nir Gamliel, US head of business development at TikTalk2me, the company that developed the TikTalk speech therapy tool. “We wanted to introduce new technology to the field based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The Jerusalem-based company recently launched its new platform in Israel and the United States to help Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) work more effectively with children from kindergarten to 6th grade.

“One in 10 children suffers from some sort of speech problem at some point,” Gamliel said. “Our system has interfaces for SLPs and kids to work together beyond what they can do in normal visits. It can take years for kids to make progress because they don’t want to practice their exercises at home. We created a series of games that kids can play on a tablet. Each time the child says the word we are working on, the system records it, uploads it to the cloud, analyzes it, and gives feedback within seconds. The SLP can create customized practice word lists with exact target word parameters to ensure correct pronunciation. They can monitor practice and make remote adjustments, and the parents don’t need to be involved.”

Sandra Laserson, one of the SLPs who helped develop TikTalk, said that “the time available for therapy to be successful is limited by the motivation of the child, and parent’s resources, both financial and emotional. At the same time, children have little inclination or opportunity to accurately practice their speech sounds outside of therapy. This solution improves both of those issues and the results of our US pilots confirm that.”
Israeli tech turns air into water for Native Americans
Israeli technology is set to convert air into clean drinking water for Native American communities in the United States as part of a collaboration between Israeli and American enterprises.

A crowdfunding campaign is underway to supply four Watergen GEN-M water generating machines to Native American communities in need.

The GEN-M atmospheric water generator requires no special infrastructure except for electricity and collects water by cooling collected air at its dewpoint. The water then goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to ensure cleanliness and pleasant taste.

The campaign was launched by Israeli water-from-air tech company Watergen, Native American nonprofit Bright Path Strong and Native American-owned distribution company 4D Products & Services.

Each dollar donated will be matched by Watergen and 4D until the goal of $400,000 is reached. Israel education NGO StandWithUs, meanwhile, will promote the campaign on multiple platforms.
Roman soldier’s ancient Masada payslip shows unfair wages go way back
A payslip from 1,900 years ago found in Masada, shows a Roman auxiliary soldier was left broke after the military deducted the costs of his food, clothing and equipment from his salary.

Gaius Messius, who likely served in the Masada fortress in the Judaean Desert between 72 and 75 CE, during the famous siege there, was forced to pay back his entire stipend to cover his essential needs, according to a translation by the Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine, the Task & Purpose defense news site reported. The slip caught the eye of a reporter in 2019 after battlefield archaeologist Dr. Jo Ball tweeted about the find.

According to the translation of the papyrus scrap, Messius’s slip reports: “I received my stipend of 50 denarii, out of which I have paid barley money 16 denarii; …food expenses 20 denarii; boots 5 denarii; leather strappings 2 denarii; linen tunic 7 denarii.

That would amount to 50 denarii.

“It is interesting to observe how much of his pay went to mandatory expenses,” the database noted, adding that “he seems effectively penniless after payday.”

The receipt was found in the camps outside of Masada, but Messius’s unit remains unknown. (h/t jzaik)
In Iran, I was taught to hate Israel and Jews. Then I watched Schindler’s List.
It was during my time in Beirut (about ten years ago) that I accidentally bought a DVD of a movie by Steven Spielberg called “Schindler’s List,” the story of a German businessman named Oskar Schindler during the Nazi occupation of Poland. By setting up a factory at great expense and recruiting Jews living in the city of Krakow, he was able to prevent them from being sent to the Auschwitz death camps, thus saving the lives of many Jews. I was so impressed by this film that I watched it five times in one week and from that moment on I promised myself that I would have to travel to Poland before I die and take a closer look at what actually happened in Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Finally, last year, a decade after discovering the film, and having immigrated to the Netherlands, I traveled to Krakow. It was a three-day trip during which I witnessed the bitter depths of what happened to the Jewish people and the inmates of Auschwitz. During my visit to Oskar Schindler’s factory, I felt that Oskar was with me and that his great soul saw me and I also felt that I had known him for many years. In my heart, I told Oskar: You were the essence of humanity at a time when humanity disappeared.

On the second day of my stay in Poland, I visited Auschwitz. The atmosphere there and seeing the facts of the Nazi atrocities against the Jews and other prisoners were so horrible that I was depressed and sad long after my return from Krakow. Sequences from Schindler’s List kept appearing before my eyes. But beyond internalizing the brutal and undeniable genocide perpetrated by the Nazis against humanity, I discovered that the truth always manifests itself. Just as a two-hour movie destroyed forty years of negative propaganda and systematic distortion of reality by the Islamic Republic in Iran, the truth, like a river, ultimately finds its way through the rocks that hinder it and continues to flow.

This should be an important lesson for dictatorial regimes like Iran, North Korea and others: You cannot deny and distort history for your own purposes. You cannot promote nefarious goals such as the destruction of another nation and country by using the media and propaganda in schools and universities and infecting the minds of children and adolescents.

Look at me! Today, my respect for Israel and its legitimacy shows that you, the Islamic Republic of Iran, have utterly failed.

I also wish that one day I could visit Steven Spielberg and tell him how, in just two hours, his beautiful movie was able to unravel the sinister and inhumane plans and goals of the Islamic regime in Iran against one of the longest suffering nations in history, and how that movie encouraged me, who grew up in the same false education system, to take a journey to find the truth and to be able to write this text today.

Thank you Steven.

Thank you Oskar.





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