Monday, April 05, 2021

From Ian:

Gerald Steinberg: The Jerusalem Declaration’s Bogus Definition of Anti-Semitism
By politicizing and undermining this consensus on anti-Semitism, the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism and the wider counter-International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance campaigns are opening the door for even more violence targeting Israeli and Jewish institutions.

In 2016, following major attacks targeting Jewish and Israeli targets around the world, and based on earlier text adopted by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, the government-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) published a two-page working definition of anti-Semitism. This initiative was designed to fill the vacuum that fostered ineffective policies and willful blindness in countering the sources of hate crimes directed specifically at Jews.

The authors included a number of examples, some of which relate to Israel and the “new” anti-Zionist form of anti-Semitism, which, along with traditional sources, uses the hate-inducing language and images of the Soviet era. These include “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” applying double standards not “demanded of any other democratic nation,” using symbols “associated with classic anti-Semitism…to characterize Israel or Israelis” or comparing “contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Since 2016, this document has been formally adopted by thirty governments, mainly in Europe, North America, and Australia, as well as by international institutions. In addition, a number of parliaments and municipalities have endorsed the text, and, in many cases, universities and other important frameworks use the definition in the form of guidelines for assessing antisemitic behavior.

But for some ideological activists—particularly Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) supporters—the Israel-related examples of anti-Semitism are unacceptable and are portrayed, or distorted, as attempts to “silence criticism” of Israeli policies, or even as “threats to democracy.” Under the banner of “progressive values,” influential groups that frequently critique Israel—including J-Street, the New Israel Fund, and American Friends of Peace Now—pushed the claim that the “codification of the IHRA working definition,” specifically its “contemporary examples,” create the potential for misuse to “suppress legitimate free speech” and prevent “criticism of Israeli government actions.”

And in Germany, of all places, a group of self-described “cultural leaders” associated with the far Left launched a highly publicized effort to rescind the Bundestag resolution that adopted the working definition and referred to BDS as a form of anti-Semitism. This group includes Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, who uses her position as head of the Center for Research on Antisemitism in Berlin to promote demonization of Israel, As Professor Jeffrey Herf has written, her center strictly avoids dealing with virulent anti-Zionism of the Soviet and East German regimes, as well as the Islamist contribution.

Reinforcing these efforts, and overlapping in a number of areas, another professionally promoted public relations campaign to undermine the IHRA consensus was launched under the heading of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA). Falsely claiming support from “leading scholars of antisemitism,” the funding source is carefully hidden, and the website—created at the last minute, with anonymous ownership—is registered in Iceland. (As is often the case, the progressive democratic values claimed by this group do not extend to funding transparency.) Ostensibly developed under the auspices of the highly ideological Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, three of the eight “coordinators” including Schüler-Springorum, as well as a number of signatories, were also leaders of the German campaign. It is not surprising that the JDA manifesto repeats much of the language in the other attacks. It is also possible that they arranged the funding.
Israel-bashing disguised as Jewish studies
It may not be news anymore when a Jewish professor bashes Israel. But there should still be outrage when a respected US Jewish academic journal publishes a virulent attack on Israel disguised as scholarship.

The journal in question, American Jewish History, is published by the American Jewish Historical Society, a distinguished scholarly organization. Its latest issue features heavily footnoted essays on topics like healthcare workers on the Lower East Side in the early 1900s and the debate among Orthodox Jews over family planning in the 1950s.

And then, sticking out like a sore thumb is Michael Fischbach's tirade against Israel, presented as a normal, scholarly book review.

Fischbach is a professor of history at Virginia's Randolph-Macon College.

He writes that the "settler movement creating a Jewish state out of 77% of Palestine/Israel" caused "the permanent exile of 80% of those who had lived there."

But the Arabs were given 78 percent of the area – the eastern two-thirds of the country – in 1922. The fact that they chose to call it "Transjordan," and then "Jordan," doesn't change the fact that at the time everyone, including the League of Nations, saw it as one, physical territorial entity. In 1948, Israel was established in just a portion of the remaining 22%, not the whole 22%.

His accusation that Israel "permanently exiled 80% of the Palestinian Arabs" is nonsense. Just read Benny Morris' book, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. Even Morris, who was a partisan of the far-left when he wrote it, acknowledged that the vast majority of the Arabs left the country voluntarily to get away from the battlefields. Those battlefields existed because the Palestinian Arabs, aided by five Arab armies, launched a war of aggression against the Jews. And most of the Arabs who left the country went just a few miles to the east or to Gaza (which is how they ended up under Israeli rule in 1967). It's not like they were "exiled" to Timbuktu.

Fischbach presents Israel's very creation as an act of terrible injustice. He charges that the Jews who built modern-day Israel were "replacing the vast majority of the locals in the process"; in other words, the Zionist pioneers were thieving foreigners and the Arabs were the "locals." In reality, a large portion of the Arabs in western Palestine were recent illegal immigrants from Syria, Egypt and Transjordan.

Continuing, the scholar declares that it's unfair "to berate Palestinians for their 'irredentism' and 'radical nostalgia of return', absent tangible diplomatic steps to address their grievances. … Palestinians seek a modicum of justice, and until then will continue to demand both their right to return and their right to mourn."

A Fierce, Brief Book About the Holocaust
One day in 2009, Wendy Lower, historian of Nazism and the Shoah, was hard at work in the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Museum when a librarian handed her a photograph dated Oct. 13, 1941, depicting the deaths of Jews in Miropol, Ukraine, a shtetl near Kiev.

The photo Lower saw that day is shocking. A woman in a polka dot dress is leaning over from the waist, her head wreathed in smoke from the rifle blasts that are killing her. She is holding the hand of a small boy, who leans backward, his face turned slightly away from her, as if he can’t bear to look into her dying face. The woman grasps his hand tightly. She cannot calm his terror, but she won’t ever let go of him. She is pulling the boy forward with her into the mass grave, along with another child hidden in her lap.

We may feel guilty about looking at an image like this, worried that our gaze strips the victims of their humanity. But we are not guilty: It is our duty to look. The photograph that spurred Lower’s search is not mere “atrocity porn,” satisfying an appetite for horrors. Instead, such a photograph wants us to be troubled by the terror it depicts, and to inquire further. The crumpled bodies bend away from the viewer, their pain hidden along with their faces.

The shooters in the photo are a German and a Ukrainian—we can see this from their uniforms—and the Ukrainian’s rifle is just a few inches from the woman’s head. Another Ukrainian in the foreground has a rifle in his hands, and there is another German in the back. There is someone else too. “A civilian onlooker in a wool cap stands alert, ready to assist,” Lower notes in The Ravine, the book she has written about the photo and her efforts to find the story behind it.

Lower writes that during each interview she conducted with Miropol’s elderly Ukrainian citizens she showed them Škrovina’s photograph of the mother being shot. Did they recognize anyone? Every time, she says, when she “presented the photograph at the end of an interview, the subject looked and, with a shake of the head, turned away.”

The photograph depicts only the instant of death. Soon neighbors will come to strip the corpses, carrying away clothes, gold teeth, and other valuables. They will cart away furniture from the Jews’ houses. Some will remember how the Germans came looking for Ukrainian volunteers; how the Jews screamed when they were marched off to the killing site; how the shots rang out for hours. Others will pretend that the Jews simply disappeared one day, and that the lives and deaths of Jews and Ukrainians had nothing at all to do with each other.
Educational Video Charts History of Antisemitism for Use on College Campuses
The Academic Engagement Network (AEN) announced a new video, “Antisemitism in Our Midst,” which charts the history of antisemitism, from its ancient origins to its contemporary manifestations.

The video was created as part of the Antisemitism Education Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley, which brings together campus stakeholders to inform about, discuss and develop the resources to respond to antisemitism. AEN is supporting the Antisemitism Education Initiative with a multi-year grant.

AEN Executive Director Miriam F. Elman noted the video’s potential to reach new audiences. “With heightened anxiety about antisemitism around the country and the disturbing trend of rising antisemitic incidents on college campuses, this educational resource couldn’t be better timed,” she said. “We are certain that university leaders, and especially diversity officials and staff, will find the film incredibly helpful in their efforts to promote the values of tolerance, inclusion and respect for Jewish and all students on their campuses.”

Professor of history and Jewish studies Ethan Katz, one of the initiators of the Antisemitism Education Initiative, said the film “is the product of more than a year of work to think through the most effective and fair-minded approaches to presenting antisemitism on college campuses, testing and retesting our ideas with administrators, colleagues, and finally, diverse groups of students. ‘Antisemitism in Our Midst’ offers clarity about historical and contemporary meanings of antisemitism, and a balanced approach to highly charged matters like Jews and race in America today, and the line between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism.”

Elman hopes the nuanced way in which the video approaches complex contemporary issues will lead to a deeper understanding of antisemitism among senior campus officials, especially those tasked with promoting diversity and inclusion.

“On campus, it’s critically important for administrators and faculty to teach students how to better distinguish between a robust and rigorous criticism of Israel and harassment, intimidation and discriminatory actions targeting Jews for their support of Israel and their Zionist beliefs and identities,” she said.

On one year anniversary of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, he has yet to convince he’s serious about tackling antisemitism
With the one year anniversary of Sir Keir Starmer’s election to the leadership of the Labour Party, a review of the Party’s progress in its purported fight against antisemitism suggests that more work is needed to convince the Jewish community that he is serious.

Sir Keir’s statement on his victory one year ago and his pledge to “tear out this poison by its roots” provided a degree of reassurance, but coming from a politician who just a few months earlier had given his “100% backing” to an antisemite, actions were always going to speak louder than words.

There have certainly been some positive actions. The removal of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the Shadow Cabinet after she shared an article promoting an antisemitic conspiracy theory appeared to represent a turning point. Proclamations by Labour’s General-Secretary, David Evans, to Constituency Labour Parties to avoid discussing antisemitism, some publicly-announced investigations and other indications that discipline was quietly being imposed were also welcome indications of the direction of travel. At least two local councils saw power shift from Labour due to the suspension and resignation of councillors in connection with antisemitism controversies.

Sir Keir’s response to the damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into Labour antisemitism was also forthright, as was his suspension of Jeremy Corbyn within hours of the publication of the report, an unacceptable reaction by Mr Corbyn and the submission of complaints against Mr Corbyn and other MPs by Campaign Against Antisemitism.

Important though these actions have been, however, it is Sir Keir’s inaction that has been the dominant theme of his first year in office. His repeated refusal to engage with us, despite our being the complainant in the EHRC’s investigation into antisemitism in his Party, and Labour’s failure even to acknowledge our complaints, do not reflect a leadership wholly willing to address past failures.
Media’s Coverage of Mideast Conflict Ignores Allegations of PA Torture, ‘Pay-for-Slay’ Policy
Media Misses: PA Pay For Slay, Torture, and Incitement
What has garnered little press outside of Israel is that the Palestinian Authority may be diverting funds intended for humanitarian purposes to pay “salaries” to jailed terrorists and to the family members of those killed while attempting to perpetrate attacks on Israelis.

On March 18, the US State Department acknowledged that the PA had not “terminated payments for acts of terrorism,” a revelation that calls into question the legality of sending US taxpayer dollars to Ramallah. In fact, the 2018 Taylor Force Act restricts, with few exceptions, sending aid to the PA so long as it continues to incentivize violence against Israelis.

Moreover, the United States charged in its 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, published on March 31, that, “In 2019 there were reports Palestinian security forces arrested, intimidated and tortured Palestinians following their participation in an international conference in Bahrain.”

The report also noted that the “PA Ministry of Education has named at least 31 schools after terrorists and an additional three schools after Nazi collaborators, while at least 41 school names honor ‘martyrs.'” This, even though the terms of the Oslo Accords require the Palestinian Authority to refrain from glorifying murderers.

‘Apartheid’: Why an Uncritical Press is So Dangerous
The media’s fixation on alleged Israeli abuses has seemingly provided cover, if not the pretext, for individuals to spread lies and advance libelous claims. Case in point: During a recent webinar co-hosted by the American Muslims for Palestine and IfNotNow organizations, both viewed by many as radically anti-Israel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) claimed that a growing number of US lawmakers are turning against the Jewish state:
Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to have 12 members of Congress refer to Israeli occupation as colonialism, so I have no doubt that the needle on Palestinian human rights is moving.

Tlaib also suggested that Israel practices an “apartheid system.”

The apparent growing acceptance by influential public figures of this patently false narrative has, in turn, provided fuel to the BDS movement, whose proponents support a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which, in practice, would ultimately lead to the end of Jewish self-determination.

Indeed, the media has played a central role in manipulating or omitting facts that would otherwise provide balance and thus stem the unwarranted anti-Israel tide.

As such, perhaps the fairest course of action would be for news organizations to start detailing the Palestinian Authority’s repeated gross violations of its obligations, including accusations of torturing its own people. Not to mention the PA’s distributing of “stipends” to killers who have committed crimes against humanity.
CAMERA Prompts Correction on “Occupied Gaza”
As a result of outreach from CAMERA, Insider corrected a piece that had described the Gaza Strip as being occupied by Israel.

The story initially asserted, “Nearly three million Palestinians reside in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another two million live in Israeli-occupied Gaza.”

In its correspondence with editors, CAMERA explained that Israel fully withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip, and that international legal scholars debate how to characterize the post-disengagement territory, with many — including professors Yuval Shany, Ruth Lapidoth, Eyal Benvenisti, Marko Milanovic, Eugene Kontorovich, Hanne Cuyckens, Hanne Cuyckens, and Avi Bell — asserting that Gaza is not occupied.

As a result, Insider updated its piece to remove the matter-of-fact reference to “Israeli-occupied Gaza.” It instead mentions “Gaza, a self-governing Palestinian territory that the United Nations and international rights groups still consider to be occupied, despite Israeli disengagement in 2005.”

While this is certainly an improvement, the piece continues to leave readers misinformed by failing to share that other legal scholars don’t consider Gaza to be occupied. As Michael Karayanni, an Arab-Israeli law professor and critic of Israeli policies, has correctly noted, “The Gaza Strip’s current status is broadly debated, and opinions differ regarding whether it remains an occupied territory or, rather, is subject to international humanitarian law.” Insider should do the same.

IceCure shares up as tumor-freezing tech gets FDA breakthrough device nod
IceCure Medical, an Israel-based maker of tumor-freezing technology, said Sunday that it had received notification from the US Food and Drug Administration recognizing its ProSense product as a “breakthrough device” to freeze tumors in a number of medical conditions including breast cancer.

The breakthrough devices recognition is given by the FDA for certain medical devices that provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions, IceCure Medical said in a filing to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, where its shares are traded.

The stock was trading 34% higher at 3:15 p.m. in Tel Aviv after the filing, bringing the share’s rise in the past 12 months to 218% and giving the company a market capitalization of NIS 327 million ($98 million).

Being part of the FDA’s Breakthrough Devices Program will enable IceCure to speed up procedures vis a vis the US regulator regarding marketing permits for the device to treat breast cancer patients, the filing said.

The Breakthrough Devices Program gives manufacturers an opportunity to interact with the FDA’s experts via a number of different program options to efficiently address issues as they arise during the premarket review phase by the regulator. This can help manufacturers get feedback from the FDA in a timely way, and manufacturers can expect a prioritized review of their submission, the FDA website says.
COVID-19 vaccine seems to reduce viral load, transmission – Israeli study
Those who are vaccinated and get infected with the virus present a viral load four times lower than those who were not inoculated, according to an Israeli study recently published in the journal Nature Medicine.

The level of viral load is one of the key elements affecting the ability of a virus carrier to pass on the disease. Therefore, the findings support the notion that those who are jabbed are unlikely to infect others.

The research was done on thousands of patients. It was conducted by the laboratory of Prof. Roy Kishony at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Maccabi Research and Innovation Center, which is headed by Dr. Tal Patalon.

“In this study, we wanted to investigate what happens in the rare case when someone who is vaccinated gets infected,” the Technion’s Dr. Idan Yelin, a lead author of the study together with Matan Levine-Tiefenvrun, told The Jerusalem Post. “In order to do so, we could not just look into whether they are positive or negative. We wanted to look into the number of viral particles they carried.”

Viral load is affected by many elements, including the stage of infection and the age of the patient, he said.
Virtual Mimouna takes place between Israeli and Moroccan students
In honor of the Mimouna holiday, which took place on Saturday night, students from both Israel and Morocco held a virtual concert together conducted by Evelyn Hagoel, according to a statement by the Education Ministry.

The concert was broadcast on various social media accounts of the ministry and was part of a cooperation between the Israeli and Moroccan governments.

The songs featured in the concert were taken from the folklore of the Jews of Morocco.

The Education Ministers of both countries, Yoav Gallant and Sayd Amazi, plan to have several more joint programs between the two countries following the signing of the normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco earlier this year.

This includes a program to teach the history of Morocco, as well a teacher exchange program.

Morocco will also include a new program in which they will teach Moroccan students about the State of Israel, according to the statement. The cabinet approved Israel’s normalization agreement with Morocco in a unanimous vote in January.
Israeli organization breaks world record for kidney donations
Israel was poised to celebrate a special milestone Sunday, as the Matnat Chaim non-profit organization, which encourages and facilitates living kidney donations, is about to break a world record by marking its 1,000th transplant.

Since Matnat Chaim, Hebrew for "Gift of Life," was founded in 2019, the number of kidney donations in Israel has quadrupled.

The organization's data reveals that about two-thirds of the donors are men, and a third are women, and that 40% of all donors are teachers or educators. The organization's work is estimated to have saved the state some 4 billion shekels ($1.2 billion) by decreasing the need for treatments, hospitalization, and medication for patients with kidney disease.

The COVID pandemic led to an increase in the number of donations. Some weeks, the organization said, it oversaw five to nine kidney transplants a week. An especially large number of donations occurred when Matnat Chaim's founder Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber passed away after having contracted COVID-19.

Kidney recipient Kobi Oshrat told Israel Hayom that since he received the transplant, "life has been wonderful."

"The transplant was more successful than expected. My physical condition improved tremendously. I am back to being a young man. I feel wonderful, active, I do sports and perform," he said.

Oshrat's donor was Yoav Matityahu, and Oshrat says, "We have become a family. He and his wife are wonderful people. Those who decide to donate a kidney are undeniably saving a life. And all of this is happening here, in Israel. It's amazing."
A 92-year-old Holocaust survivor served as oldest organ donor in Israel
Michael Volgon, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, became Israel's oldest organ donor on Sunday, saving the lives of three people, according to a statement by the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

According to the statement, he died of a brain hemorrhage.

Two of his kidneys were placed in two different 74-year-olds, while his liver was placed in a 75-year-old woman.

"With the increase in awareness of healthy nutrition and exercise, people's biological age is younger than their chronological age, which allowed us to raise the age of organ donors, depending on the organ." Said Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi, head of the national center of transplants.

"Having a liver transplant from an older individual is indeed a challenge, which required an experienced team of surgeons, even more than usual transplants." Said Dr. Abed Khlaila, who performed the transplant alongside Dr. Ashraf Imam and Dr. Oded Arazi.

Volgon was born in April 1929, and was the only surviving member of his immediate family from the holocaust - losing two brothers and a sister, as well as most of the rest of his family. Only surviving because his father managed to smuggle him into the woods by making a hole in barb wire fence, where he was rescued by a Ukrainian family, according to his granddaughter.
Rabbi Robert Marx, pioneering Chicago civil rights activist, dies at 93
Robert Marx, a pioneering social justice advocate in the US and a leading Reform rabbi who drew inspiration from his experiences marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., has died at 93.

He died on March 28 at the beginning of the Passover holiday, surrounded by family at his home in Saugatuck, Michigan, the Chicago Tribune reported.

He had suffered a heart attack weeks prior, the Chicago Sun-Times said.

Marx’s legacy lives on through the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, a community organizing group devoted to social justice causes in Chicago that he founded in 1964, and the Hakafa congregation on the city’s North Shore that he founded in 1983, which grew from a few families to hundreds of members.

The Cleveland native, ordained at the Reform flagship Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, was moved to make Holocaust comparisons after witnessing white Chicagoans pelt civil rights marchers with rocks and bottles in the summer of 1966.

During the march, Marx reportedly sat guard in front of a pile of rocks so the racist protesters could not use them.

“What I saw in Gage Park seared my soul,” Marx wrote in a letter to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which is now the Union for Reform Judaism. “I was afraid and I am afraid now. I saw how the concentration camp could have occurred, and how men’s hatred could lead them to kill.”

Ahead of Israeli Holocaust remembrance, Blinken speaks of duty to stop evil
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a message Sunday ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, speaking of the responsibility to prevent “evil on a grand scale.”

The annual day of commemoration, known in Israel as Yom Hashoah, honors the memory of six million Jews murdered during World War II. It begins this year on Wednesday evening and ends on Thursday evening.

“Each year, the US observes Days of Remembrance to reflect upon the Holocaust,” Blinken tweeted. “We remember that evil on a grand scale can and does happen, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop it. We honor the lost by remembering and by learning.#NeverAgain #YomHashoah”

It was not clear why Blinken sent the message three days before the official start of the day.

This year’s Yom Hashoah events will be held under the title “Until the Very Last Jew: Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation,” as laid down by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and marks Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union which was followed by the extermination of some one million Jews living in captured areas.

The main remembrance ceremony will be held at Yad Vashem on Wednesday at 8 p.m., attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As is the tradition each year, six torches will be lit by six Holocaust survivors.

On Thursday a siren will sound for two minutes at 10 a.m., which typically brings Israeli outdoor life to a standstill. Pedestrians stand in place, buses stop on busy streets and cars pull over on major highways, their drivers standing on the roads with their heads bowed.
Opening of synagogue at Babyn Yar to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day
On Thursday, April 8, a new symbolic Jewish synagogue will be dedicated at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center – the first such building erected on the site of the Nazi massacre during the Holocaust.

The prayer space, designed by renowned international architect Manuel Herz, will be dedicated by Ukraine & Kyiv Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, with the virtual participation of leading rabbis and Jewish world leaders. Among the virtual participants will be Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Holocaust survivor, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and currently Chair of Yad Vashem.

On September 29 and 30, 1941 – almost 80 years ago – 33,771 Jewish victims were murdered at the Babyn Yar ravine by the Nazis. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians, Roma, mentally ill, and others were shot at Babyn Yar throughout the Nazi occupation of Kyiv. The estimated number of victims murdered at Babyn Yar is approximately 100,000, making it Europe’s largest mass grave.

The unveiling of the symbolic synagogue will be an important component of BYHMC’s commemorations of this year’s 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre, which will culminate in an international event including global leaders in September.
Yad Vashem online exhibit emphasizes the power of family
The world will mark Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Memorial Day – on April 7-8 with particular attention on the 80th anniversary of the Nazi campaign to eradicate the Jews of Eastern Europe – a genocide that put Jewish families to the most painful of tests.

The tensile and enduring strength of the Jewish family is now on full view in a new online exhibition at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, called "The Onset of Mass Murder: The Fate of Jewish Families in 1941."

Timed to release the week of Yom Hashoah, the exhibition reveals a dozen never-before-published stories of Jewish families caught in the web of the Nazis' "Operation Barbarossa," an organized rout of the Jewish communities in Soviet-controlled countries beginning that summer. Carried out by Einsatzgruppen SS mobile killing units teamed up with local authorities and citizens, "Barbarossa" cut a bloody swath across the Soviet-controlled lands of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Eastern Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania and Yugoslavia.

Four years later, only one-third of Europe's Jewish population who survived remained to tell their story of a love stronger than hate, stronger even than death itself.

"Too often, the Holocaust is taught as one madman in Berlin while the cooperation of the so-called 'conquered' nations of the Third Reich is ignored," says Steven Katz, director emeritus of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies at Boston University, who also holds the school's Alvin J. and Shirley Slater Chair in Jewish Holocaust Studies. "These countries may have responded a little differently from each other, but one thing they all had in common: They all wanted to get rid of their Jews."

One has only to look at pictures of German soldiers looking on while the locals did the killing to grasp the idea, notes Katz. "The Germans gave the locals the freedom to express their own antisemitism in the most deadly way," he said.

By the end of 1943, more than 1.5 million Jews from the region – representing one-fifth of the 6 million Jews who perished during the years of the Holocaust – had been murdered.


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