Friday, January 07, 2022

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The conversation the Jewish world should be having — but isn't
True, Israel has a unique relationship with the Jewish diaspora. Famously, all Jews have the “right of return” to Israel. It is the unequivocal refuge for a people who were persecuted and made to wander across the world for almost two millennia until their ancient homeland was restored to them.

But unless they make aliyah, diaspora Jews are not citizens of Israel. The entitlement of shared peoplehood does not negate the particular compact of citizenship made between Israel’s government and its citizens alone.

This compact — common to all democratic nations — confers reciprocal duties and responsibilities on each party. The most important duty of any government is to keep its citizens safe.

And although the strategy of keeping foreign nationals out was always open to criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was entitled to take the measures he believed to be essential to keep Israelis safe from the virus.

With this strategy having now fallen apart under the huge wave of Omicron infections, these travel restrictions have just been lifted. But the tensions brought to the fore by Daroff’s remarks go deeper.

In a thoughtful post on his Substack blog, Daniel Gordis writes that there has never been an honest conversation between Israel and the diaspora about the obligations and prerogatives of each side.

What has been obscured as a result is something that many Jews outside of Israel find unpalatable — the absolute centrality to Israel of aliyah. The country’s founders, writes Gordis, had called for nothing other than an end to the diaspora altogether.

Gordis is undoubtedly correct to identify this issue as important, ignored and still unresolved.
Hen Mazzig: It’s Not the Antisemitism Your Grandparents Warned You About
Hebron, Ramallah, and eastern Jerusalem are tough neighborhoods. I know, because I served there as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I was stationed on a front line where Israel fought for both its existence and its reputation as a humane, decent neighbor. I was a humanitarian officer overseeing the building of infrastructure, education, health, and housing projects for Palestinian communities — but many saw me as an enemy combatant.

After completing my service in the IDF, I began to advocate for the safety, empowerment, and appreciation of Israel and Jews worldwide. I toured Europe, Australia, and North America, addressing diverse audiences about our history and heritage. Today, a decade later, I’ve realized that the real battlefield for the future of Israel and Jews worldwide isn’t in Jerusalem, Gaza, Iran, or on the hundreds of college campuses where I have lectured.

The frontline is online.

Today’s social media digital pen is mightier than any sword that has ever existed.

What do the assailants in the lethal attacks on Jews in Monsey, Jersey City, and Pittsburgh have in common? They all posted their hatred of Jews before acting on it. It is through social media where today’s hatred of Jews and Israel finds its voice, and where it gains its lethal force. In many cases, it is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and in the dark underbelly of hundreds of discussion groups, where antisemites are radicalized and called to action.

Every bigot, demagogue, and hate monger knows the power of social media. These extremists post jokes and graphics geared toward impressionable teens. As purveyors of hate, they devote themselves to indoctrinating the naïve and vulnerable. “Extremists are able to reach, research and radicalize in ways that they haven’t had to, or could do, in human history,” Oren Segal, the ADL’s Vice President of the Center on Extremism, told NBC News, noting how they target isolated teens who turn to online for community, and can recruit them into hate “without ever leaving their couch.”
1,000 Reasons Why Not to Fight Anti-Semitism But are they legitimate?
Anti-Semitism helps Jewish unity.
I’ve heard that anti-Semitism is like death and taxes. It’s inevitable. It’s just an unfortunate byproduct of humanity and of the Jewish experience but it prompted the survival of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Anti-Semitism creates Jewish unity; it has been the only point of unity among increasingly divergent Jewish communities. When Jews feel safe and prosper, they are more at risk of assimilation and intermarriage, so we need anti-Semitism to bring them back to their roots. So why fight it? Instead, we should be thanking Hashem and our lucky stars for this Jew-hatred. It’s all part of a divine plan that’s above our pay grade to understand.

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.
Jew-hatred and the violence stemming from anti-Semitism seem like a growing problem only because we label the expanding but justified condemnation of Israel as “anti-Semitic.” Many told me that if we create a wedge between the diaspora Jews and their homeland, being the State of Israel, and welcome criticism of Israel, it can only lead to greater love, understanding and appreciation for Jews everywhere. Those with an unbridled love for the Jewish people but deep hatred toward Israel such as supporters of the BDS movement will accept us as respected members of society. Considering our long history of oppression, we’re rarely given a choice in anything. So, let’s be good Jews and become champions of the anti-Israel movement.

Anti-Semitism: A cost-benefit analysis.
In theory, it would be great to eradicate anti-Semitism, but we simply don’t have enough people and sufficient resources to do so. Even if every single Jew in America donated to the cause, it will never be enough to counter the billions being poured into anti-Semitic campaigns. So, if our numbers and resources are limited, is it really worth dedicating so much time and money to a fight that we’ll inevitably lose? Many prefer to dedicate their limited resource to existing Jewish institutions such as schools, synagogues and social services, as well as hiring armed security services to protect our Jewish institutions and their communities.

Valuable advice rather than financial commitments.
Jews are known to be smart. They are excellent in providing opinions and ideas, including on how to fight anti-Semitism and how to raise the necessary funds to fight it. But, when it’s time to put money where their mouth is, most prefer to stick with giving priceless advice. Most claim that they don’t have the necessary resources to help financially and those who do have such resources claim that there are many more important undertakings than to fight Jew-hatred.

Although there are many excuses and good reasons why not to fight anti-Semitism, there are also great advantages in doing so and now. Anti-Semitism is a universal problem; the enemies of the Jewish people are first and utmost the enemies of America. Hatred against Jews and/or any other minority groups in America is cancerous to our society. Thus, for the first time in several thousands of years, it’s in the best interest of Western civilization and all Americans to join together and combat this evil.

Second, we now have a strong Jewish state, the State of Israel, on our side. The people of Israel view anti-Semitism as a serious threat and are willing to lead the fight against it, not just observe from safety, by providing courage, resources and innovation.

Despite the convincing excuses I’ve heard, I stay optimistic and hope that some, like me, will stop downplaying the threat, move past the fear, paranoia, and inaction, and join me in standing up and fighting anti-Semitism.

Diplomat for the Disappeared
“In Jewish lore,” the Israeli attorney Ory Slonim observes, “captivity is regarded as the worst fate of all.” In his new memoir, A Knock at the Door: The Story of My Secret Work with Israeli MIAs and POWs, readers come to understand why and what it means for a society to be guided by this worldview.

A Knock at the Door: The Story of My Secret Work with Israeli MIAs and POWs By Ory Slonim

Slonim worked tirelessly for more than three decades to secure the release of those Israelis, living and dead, who had been taken hostage by Israel’s enemies.

No other nation in modern history has been so consistently targeted for annihilation. Few other countries have been so consistently subjected to tragedy. In Israel, the late Irish diplomat Conor Cruise O’Brien once observed that “there is always the shadow of a new Holocaust.”

The Jewish state has been under siege since before its reestablishment in 1948. But while Israel has endured more than half a dozen wars and ceaseless terrorist attacks, suffering and bereavement are universal. And they are ever-present in Slonim’s work.

As Slonim writes: “I learned that when it comes to captives and MIAs and the efforts to bring them home — whether alive or in a coffin — there is nothing but an infinite void, a truly bottomless pit. … I realized that no matter what I learned, there were things that I could never understand.”

Slonim adds: “The concepts of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ are highly problematic in this field.” Indeed, as he notes, in more than 30 years of work, Gilad Shalit, who was taken hostage in June 2006 and returned in October 2011, “was the only captive IDF soldier that I ever got to see come back to Israel alive.”

The work is not for the faint of heart. But judging by his memoir, Slonim approached it with deep reservoirs of grace and empathy. He even sets aside chapters for families of the bereaved to offer their thoughts. Israel is the focus of inordinate attention from the press, but the nation’s victims of terrorism are often overlooked in Western media. Slonim deserves credit for recognizing that his story isn’t just about him — he is but an “agent of memory.” Instead, it’s about the families of the murdered and missing. As for the latter, not knowing the fate of their loved ones can be haunting.
Outrage as BBC demands victims of Oxford Street bus attack reveal identities
The BBC has demanded that victims of an antisemitic attack on Oxford Street reveal their identities before it responds to their complaints, the JC can reveal.

Lawyers acting for the victims wrote to the corporation to contest the BBC’s claim that one of them had said “dirty Muslims” as their bus was attacked by thugs during Chanukah last year. In a letter, the BBC replied: “We will be unable to substantively further progress your legal complaint until you identify your clients.”

Leading legal expert Lord Carlile told the JC: “It is wholly unacceptable for the BBC to try to force frightened teenagers to reveal their names, particularly as there is film of the incident anyway. It is not part of a civil action. All they are doing at this stage is seeking answers from the BBC and an apology.”

The crossbench peer and former counter-terrorism watchdog added: “The BBC is just wrong and it goes against public interest to insist that people who have been subjected to an attack should identify themselves at this stage.”

Jonathan Turner, executive director of UK Lawyers for Israel, said that the BBC was attempting to intimidate the youngsters into dropping the claim. Victims of racial harrassment often seek anonymity to avoid being targeted further, he said.

“The BBC does not need to know who the claimants are to investigate the veracity of their own report,” he said, adding that the corporation’s move was “pure prevarication.”
Rabbi YY Rubinstein: I quit the BBC after 30 years because of antisemitism
There is a joke that English antisemitism is: hating Jews more than is absolutely necessary.

On Jan. 3, 2022, I resigned from the BBC, where I have been a freelance broadcaster for over 30 years. I appeared regularly on the BBC World Service and on BBC Radio’s Terry Wogan Show, in addition to countless other news programs. Fifteen years ago, Her Majesty the Queen came to visit Manchester, where I lived. She spent the morning meeting with the Jewish community and other dignitaries. As she shook a local Jewish leader’s hand, she asked, “Is Rabbi YY here?”

The embarrassed fellow shook his head. She continued, “what a pity, we listen to him all the time on the radio and we think he’s awfully good!”

The BBC has given me a tremendous amount of professional support, and has helped me hone my skills both as a broadcaster and a writer. Over 30 years of working with some of the most talented producers and editors in the world will do that for you.

I made many friends at the BBC (affectionately known as “Aunty”) over those years and they were among some of the most gifted and kind people I ever worked with. But all that time I was aware of another thread that runs through the fabric of the BBC, and a recent incident made something in me simply snap. There is a well-documented culture of low-grade antisemitism that is present throughout the entire organization.

The BBC’s antisemitism usually managed to camouflage itself under the guise of anti-Zionism. On this occasion, they crossed the line and showed that in fact they hate Jews — more than is absolutely necessary. I severed my links with the organization and canceled six scripts I was scheduled to write and broadcast in February.

The reason I finally threw in the towel was because of the BBC’s coverage of an incident that occurred on Nov. 29, 2021 at London’s busiest shopping center, Oxford Street.
Colin Rubenstein: Misguided representation of Israeli-Palestinian relations has no place in our society
Standing up against the BDS movement is the right thing to do even by Israel’s strongest critics. While frustration over the lack of progress in a long-stalled peace process is understandable, the BDS movement’s formula of placing the blame for the lack of Palestinian statehood on Israel alone is not only historically revisionist but a recipe for the perpetuation of the conflict, as it undermines the climate of compromise any genuine reconciliation between the two traumatised peoples must be built upon. And it is particularly counterproductive in these otherwise more promising times of the historic Abraham Accords witnessing genuine normalization between Israel and several regional Arab and Muslim countries, including Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan.

Moreover, regrettably, Palestinian leaders have rejected three Israeli comprehensive peace proposals over the past two decades that would have realised the creation of a Palestinian state on practically all of the land area of the West Bank and Gaza after mutually agreed land swaps. True friends of the Palestinians would not encourage efforts that will likely further undermine their next chance at statehood. But that is exactly what the extremist BDS movement and its supporters demand if accepting a Palestinian state means making peace with Israel.

At the heart of the misguided Sydney Festival BDS stunt lies the profound irony that, among Israelis, choreographer Naharin is well known for his criticism of Israeli government policies and his sympathy for Palestinian aspirations.

“I’ve always said that if protesting and boycotting my performances would improve the situation in the territories or bring a solution to the conflict, I would support the boycott myself,” Naharin told Ha’aretz in 2019, “[But] this doesn’t help the Palestinians and won’t result in anything.”

This is not only the assessment of Naharin and other prominent left-wing Israelis but also many Palestinians themselves, including veteran Jerusalem-based Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid, founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.

“We have to tell people what the facts are,” Eid told a US newspaper in 2020. “The facts are that BDS is hurting Palestinians more than Israelis.”

Obviously, some Palestinians do back BDS. But the question that those pressured to endorse BDS need to ask is why they should support a boycott that Palestinians themselves cannot agree is in their best interests.

The Australian campaign to shut doors to Naharin, rather than embrace a potential ally for Palestinian rights, says far more about the blinding, destructive obsessive animosity guiding the BDS campaign than about Israel’s alleged failings towards Palestinians. It is a deeply offensive obsession which has no place amidst the celebration of artistic creativity and diversity that the Sydney Festival represents.

Patrons of the arts deserve better than the bullies of BDS.
Dave Sharma MP: Condemns Calls to Boycott Sydney Festival
I welcome the resolve and courage shown by the Sydney Festival in honouring its commitments and staring down attempts at intimidation and to stifle free expression.

Calls by various groups to boycott the Sydney Festival due to the inclusion of the dance performance Decadence are both thoroughly misguided and deeply damaging to those who support dialogue and understanding as the basis for peace and co-existence. I condemn such calls wholeheartedly.

Such calls are also fundamentally at odds with the purposes of art and culture, which at its best contains a message that transcends difference and is universal in application.

By demanding that art must pass a political test for it to be shown or performed, these artists calling for a boycott are —perhaps unwittingly — compromising the very basis of art as the purest form of expression.

Claims by some artists that the inclusion of Decadence somehow deprives them of“cultural safety” require proper explanation. The content and message of Decadence is entirely non-political.

Is it genuinely the case that these artists will no longer participate in festivals unless they are in ideological agreement with the entire corpus of works and performances and the policies pursued by governments in their country-of-origin?

The Tikvah Podcast: Jay Greene on Anti-Semitic Leanings Among College Diversity Administrators
According to Hillel International, there were 244 anti-Semitic incidents at American campuses reported during the 2020-2021 school year. That’s up from 181 incidents the year before, perhaps an especially significant increase given that many students did not convene in person, but instead attended classes online in 2020. In light of such a trend, one might hope that the ballooning number of academic administrators hired by colleges and universities to foster a welcoming atmosphere for students of diverse backgrounds would be sensitive to anti-Semitic attitudes. But, according to a new report, a great many university officers seemingly hired to combat anti-Semitic discrimination sympathize with anti-Semitism themselves.

The author of that report, Jay Greene, joins this week’s podcast. He analyzed the public Twitter feeds of hundreds of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) professionals at 65 different universities and found that, of their over 600 tweets about Israel, 96% of them were critical. That in itself might not constitute anti-Semitism. But, as Greene explains in conversation with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver, neither does it inspire confidence in how those who are charged with handling anti-Semitic concerns on campus might approach them.
Senators Urge SEC to Investigate Unilever Over Ben & Jerry’s Israel Boycott
Three Republican senators have urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate whether Unilever and its subsidiary, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, deceived shareholders and violated SEC rules after the latter decided to stop selling products in territories it considers to be illegally occupied by Israel.

Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Tim Scott of South Carolina — all members of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee — wrote to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler in a December letter that was published by FOX Business on Wednesday. The senators drew attention to statements made after Ben & Jerry’s announced on July 19, 2021, that it would end ice cream sales in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” — namely eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Ben & Jerry’s said that despite the move, it does not endorse the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to completely isolate Israel, and committed to staying in the country “through a different business arrangement.” Unilever supported its subsidiary’s decision, saying, “we also welcome the fact that Ben & Jerry’s will stay in Israel.” The British conglomerate further insisted that it “remains fully committed to our business” in the country.

However, “there is strong reason to believe that these July 19 statements were knowingly and recklessly false,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is a reasonable assumption that these statements were orchestrated by Unilever and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, to deceive shareholders and avoid violating state anti-BDS laws that would trigger mandatory divestment of the companies by state public pension funds.”

They argued that Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s violated SEC Rule 10b-5(b), which says it is unlawful “to make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary, in the light of circumstances under which they were made.”

POLITICO Provides Cover for Congressional Antisemitism
Politico’s lengthy article, however, omits this crucial context. Desiderio doesn’t mention the squandered opportunities for peace and statehood. He declines to inform readers that Palestinian leadership pays tax-deductible salaries to those who murder Jews. In nearly 1,300 words, there isn’t the slightest hint that Palestinians have independent agency.

Indeed, what he described as a “shooting war”—a curious term, if there ever was one—was a war initiated by Iran when its terrorist proxies launched rockets at civilian populations while using human shields as cover.

Instead of facts, the report offers apologetics and obfuscation on important issues, including the plague of anti-Semitism. Desiderio writes that “Jewish Democrats in particular” have been upset with Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s claim that Israel is an “apartheid state”—noting that they’ve described the statement as “anti-Semitic.”

But Tlaib is an anti-Semite. As CAMERA has noted, Tlaib and her colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tried to go on a trip to Israel—which their itinerary labeled as “Palestine”—that was sponsored by an organization, Miftah, which has claimed that Jews consume Christian blood and which praises suicide bombers.

Two members of Congress tried to go on a trip that was sponsored by a group that traffics in blood libels and supports anti-Jewish violence—and, in a report on anti-Semitism, Politico’s “congressional reporter” couldn’t be troubled to report that fact. That’s pathetic. It’s also a sign that the report in question is partisan hackery and not real journalism.

More signs abound.

In journalism, it is common practice to provide facts and to get quotes from sources with differing views. But here, too, Desiderio fails spectacularly.

The reporter quotes J Street, describing the organization as merely “pro-Israel.” In fact, J Street is hypercritical of the Jewish state. Members of its board have even expressed regret that the Jewish state exists, and it has partnered with organizations like the National Iranian American Council, whose staffers have been caught making anti-Semitic remarks. Indeed, J Street supporters and activists have heckled Israeli soldiers, harassed pro-Israel students and called for the end of Israel.

German Judge Sentences Woman Who Chanted Antisemitic Slogans at ‘Free Palestine’ Demonstration
A 20-year-old woman who participated in an antisemitic demonstration in Germany during the May 2021 war between Israel and Hamas has been convicted for hate speech.

The woman, named in the German press as Rabije B., took part in a demonstration on May 12 in the western city of Gelsenkirchen that became emblematic of the antisemitic invective heard at “Free Palestine” demonstrations in Germany and around the world.

Dozens of demonstrators waving Palestinian and Turkish flags launched into a loud, rhythmic chant of “Scheiß Jude! Scheiß Jude! Scheiß Jude!” (“Shitty Jew”) as they rallied outside a synagogue.

Footage of the demonstration on social media that was shared by the Central Council of Jews in Germany showed a crowd of nearly 200 protestors facing off with police as they shouted antisemitic slogans.

“The time in which Jews could be insulted in the street should have past long ago,” the Council commented. “This is pure antisemitism, nothing else!”

Passing sentence on Rabije B. on Wednesday, Judge Elke Winter noted that the defendant had been born in Germany to an immigrant family from Kosovo. She said that the defendant had been raised to be tolerant and had performed well at school. However, she cast doubt on the young woman’s claim that she had fallen into the demonstration because of peer pressure and had not understood the antisemitic nature of the gathering.

“If you wanted to demonstrate against Israel, you would have stood outside the Israeli embassy, and not in front of a synagogue,” Judge Winter told her. “You knew what this demonstration was about.”
Orthodox man beaten in Brooklyn in antisemitic attack
A Hasidic Jewish man was beaten up on the street by at least two attackers in Brooklyn on Sunday night. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is currently investigating the attack as a potential hate crime.

Det. Annette Shelton of the NYPD’s public information unit confirmed to The Algemeiner that the attackers remain unidentified.

The police started their investigation on January 2nd, 2022 around 10.30 PM following the report of an attack taking place on Throop Avenue and Bartlett Street in the Brooklyn suburb of Williamsburg. Williamsburg famously harbors a Hasidic Jewish community of more than 50,000 inhabitants.

The victim, a 26-year-old man, was chased down by two individuals who struck him with what police described as an “unknown object,” resulting in a laceration to his head requiring immediate hospitalization.

In the video uploaded to the Williamsburg News Twitter account, a witness claims that the attackers beat the victim with sticks. Members of the Shomrim Society, a fraternal organization of Jewish NYPD members, and the Hatzolah volunteer emergency service responded to the assault in addition to the NYPD's 90th precinct.
Brazilian court fines American Airlines $1,759 after passengers denied kosher food
A judge in Brazil fined American Airlines to the tune of $1,759 for not providing kosher meals for two passengers who had been assured they would receive it on long-distance flights.

One of the passengers had gone without food for 10 hours from New York to São Paulo. The other fasted for a total of nine hours on two flights, first from Madrid to Philadelphia and then again from Chicago to London, the Brazilian law news site ConJur reported Wednesday.

American Airlines “failed to provide the services” it had promised to render, the judge of the 23rd Chamber of Civil Court of the Justice Tribunal of Sao Paulo, José Marcos Marrone, wrote in his ruling.

The plaintiffs were not named in the report. Marrone also wrote that, beyond the failure to live up to the agreement, the firm caused the plaintiffs “emotional suffering” by serving food to virtually everyone else on the flight.

Airlines are not legally obligated to provide food of any kind in the United States or Brazil. However, both countries have consumer protection laws that can lead to penal action against service providers once they commit in a transaction to deliver a certain product.

On its website, American Airlines offers 15 of what it calls “special meals,” including kosher food.

In the fine print for the kosher food option, the airline stipulates that passengers from Brazil can only get kosher food if they’re leaving from Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. The only other stipulation is that the airline is unable to provide kosher meals to passengers leaving from India.
Peter Bogdanovich, lauded Hollywood filmmaker and son of an Austrian Jew, dies at 82
Peter Bogdanovich, the Oscar-nominated movie director and actor whose films, ego and off-camera exploits encapsulated the personality-driven excesses of 1970s Hollywood filmmaking, has died at 82.

His death was announced on Thursday and first reported by Variety.

Bogdanovich’s mother, Herma Bogdanovich, was an Austrian Jew. His father, Borislav Bogdanovich, was an Orthodox Christian painter from the former Yugoslavia who, according to the family lore, gave up his art career in order to secure visas for Herma and her mother to help them escape antisemitic persecution in Austria, which the Nazis invaded in 1938. The Bogdanovich family arrived in New York in time for the 1939 World’s Fair; Peter was born soon after their arrival.

A voracious moviegoer (he was said to have seen 400 a year), Bogdanovich began his professional career in the 1960s as a film critic for Esquire and programmer for the Museum of Modern Art before making the transition into filmmaking, following in the footsteps of his heroes in the French New Wave. He got his start making low-budget fare for Jewish shlock pioneer Roger Corman, then broke into the big leagues in 1971 with “The Last Picture Show,” a coming-of-age drama set in small-town Texas starring Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd (who became the director’s partner after he began an affair with her during filming).

“The Last Picture Show” became a critical and commercial smash, scoring Bogdanovich Oscar nominations for best director and best adapted screenplay, and turned its 32-year-old director into a wunderkind whom the press frequently compared to his idol, Orson Welles.

Bogdanovich’s 1972 follow-up “What’s Up, Doc?” was also a hit, and as a bonus, the screwball comedy helped make a Jewish sex symbol out of star Barbra Streisand. The filmmaker subsequently co-founded a first-of-its-kind Director’s Company under Paramount Pictures with fellow “movie brats” Frances Ford Coppola and William Friedkin; the deal promised the three men unprecedented creative freedom, but soon fizzled out.

‘Cultural Survivors of the Holocaust’: Jewish Institute Digitizes Precious Books, Manuscripts Rescued From Nazi and Soviet Clutches
Thousands of books, manuscripts and other documents of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Nazi Holocaust will be made available online from Monday with the launch of a new website under the auspices of YIVO, the New York City-based Jewish historical research institute.

A total of 4.1 million pages will be made available to online researchers through the Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Online Collections Project — an initiative undertaken by YIVO in collaboration with three Lithuanian academic institutions.

Much of the material in the collections was rescued by Jews trying to survive under Nazi occupation, including workers from the Vilna (now Vilnius) Ghetto who became known as the “Paper Brigade.” Ordered by Nazi forces in 1941 to sort through documents that survived their ransacking of the YIVO Institute in Vilna for transfer to a Nazi research institute in Berlin, the “Paper Brigade” workers — many of whom had been associated with YIVO before the German invasion — risked their lives by also hiding materials on their bodies to smuggle into the Vilna Ghetto, where they were secretly stored.

These rescued materials were uncovered after the war and then again saved in 1948 from the Soviets by the Lithuanian librarian, Antanas Ulpis. They remained hidden in a church that was converted into a library by the Soviet authorities until they were discovered in 1989.

The stolen books and documents shipped to Germany by the Nazis have also been digitized. These were recovered by the US Army in 1946 and sent to YIVO’s headquarters in New York City.

Another major component of the collection comprises 170,000 documents discovered in the National Library of Lithuania, including rare and unpublished works.


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