Tuesday, January 31, 2023

From Ian:

Yishai Fleisher Podcast: David Friedman, the fight for campus and remembering the ‘Baba Sali’
Yishai is on the road again! This week, he speaks with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman about the state of the Abraham Accords; Rabbi Schneur Oirechman of Chabad Tallahassee who is fighting assimilation; Florida State University student David Glasser, who is dealing with antisemitism; and Joel Griffith, who celebrated Israel’s new coalition with Young Jewish Conservatives at a swanky hotel rooftop in Miami.

Plus: Exodus Torah and the Yahrzeit of the “Baba Sali,” Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira.

The Yishai Fleisher show is a popular English-language podcast exploring Israeli life, politics, and Jewish thought. Drawing on his experience as a journalist, legal and biblical scholar, IDF soldier and spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron, Yishai sheds light on everything from global and Middle East news to weekly Bible/Torah study, health, family and of course, the amazing rebirth of Israel.
Muslims help shut down protest, burning of Torah scroll in Sweden
In the joint statement, the Swedish Jewish communities and Amanah said that “it is with deep concern that we once again witness islamophobic hate manifestations in the streets of Sweden. Once again racists and extremists are allowed to abuse democracy and Freedom of Speech in order to normalize hate against one of the religious minorities in Sweden, by burning the Quran.”

“Our tragic European history has taught us that book burnings often signal the onset of the normalization of hatred towards a group in society,” the statement said. “Historically against Jews and currently against Muslims. Not recognizing these manifestations of hate as an expression of threats and incitement against ethnic groups constitutes neglect of history,” the statement of Jewish leaders said.

They concluded by saying that they wish to express their “support to the Swedish Muslim Community and clearly state that every action and sign of prejudice and hatred is unacceptable.”

According to Swedish DN news, an Egyptian writer is a 34-year-old man whose name wasn’t published. He told DN that he was advised against carrying out his plans by representatives from the Islamic League in Stockholm's mosque, and was quoted saying that “they [the Islamic League] say it is against Islam and I wouldn’t be representing Muslims when burning a copy of the Torah outside the Israeli embassy.” He added that “it's okay – I would be representing myself.”

According to Swedish media, the 34-year-old Egyptian writer submitted an application for a police permit to hold his demonstrations on Saturday, January 28 at 1 p.m. Yet he told DN on Thursday afternoon that he has decided to postpone his planned actions “for a couple of weeks.” According to the report, he was also approached by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who asked him to “tone it down.” According to Rabbi HaCohen, a further meeting with the author and Muslim leadership took place, through the mediation of Amanah, in which he decided to cancel the request entirely.

The 34-year-old explained to DN that he is “tired of his tax money going towards protecting right-wing extremist Rasmus Paludan's repeated Quran burnings,” most recently outside the Turkish embassy. His actions are intended to claim that Swedish law is hypocritical.
“You People” Normalizes Farrakhan’s Views On Jews
The following movie review began with angry texts I sent to friends and colleagues yesterday, as I was watching You People, the number one movie now streaming on Netflix. It premiered on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I’ve got to hand it to them on the timing: nothing says #neveragain like #rightnow.

There are numerous spoilers below, but when a movie starts out so rotten, it is impossible to ruin it. If I had to sum up the most basic problem with You People, it wouldn’t be the abundant Holocaust jokes, like Ezra buying a small diamond for his fiancé, and deciding that he’ll lie that it’s his grandmother’s “from the Holocaust.” You know, “the Holocaust” – the get out of jail free card for every Jew.

It’s also not that the Jewish parents in the film are played by actors whose families used to be Jewish, generations ago, but then assimilated into extinction. No, the main issue with You People is that everyone in the film loves Black culture and no one in the film loves Jewish culture. In fact, they hate it.

In an age of celebrating marginalized identities, how could it be that that one identity would be lauded while the other would be highlighted for its guilt (Ezra’s grandmother in the opening Yom Kippur synagogue scene (incorrectly) tells him that he can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery due to his tattoos), its shame (Ezra refuses to wear a yarmulke during Yom Kippur services after his mother asks him to), its sexual violations (after services, Ezra’s orthodontist offers to examine his genitals, other members of the synagogue say sexually inappropriate things), its big-nosed Jews (both of the Jewish women Ezra dates have prominent noses), and its money-loving Jews (in his first date with a Jewish girl, she comments how exciting it must be that he gets to work with so much MONEY everyday!)?

Because in You People, Jews are not considered a marginalized group. Instead, they are white, rich, privileged and responsible for the suffering of marginalized people in the world. And the way they get to this reality is by continuously lying and misrepresenting the Jewish past and present. So let’s jump right into the lies and misrepresentations.


68% of Online Antisemitism Comes From Palestinians or Progressives
Sixty-eight percent of antisemitic discourse on social media originates from Palestinian or pro-Palestinian progressive circles, a report presented by Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli shows.

The report was presented at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of antisemitism in the Diaspora, including data on the number and geographic distribution of incidents.

Chikli focused on new anti-Israel forms of Jew-hatred, saying, “Antisemitism is changing its face and is increasingly focusing on hatred towards the Jewish state and the denial of its right to exist.”

Violent antisemitism
Globally, the number of antisemitic incidents decreased in 2022 from the record set the previous year. The exception to this trend was the United States, where there was a significant increase in the number of antisemitic interactions.

Despite the decrease in overall incidents, there was a 13% increase in violent antisemitic attacks in 2022. The countries with the highest rates of antisemitic attacks were the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.


Anglican priest found guilty of antisemitism banned until 2030
A retired Anglican priest who was found guilty of “engaging in antisemitic activity” by a Church of England investigative panel in December 2022 has been defrocked until 2030.

Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, 69, shared "virulently antisemitic" material online, BBC News reported. A church tribunal found his conduct to be "unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders.”

Sizer’s actions were described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as "encouragement to conspiracy theories and tropes.”

He had defended himself in front of the tribunal, denying the claim that he was antisemitic and insisting that he had not intended to cause offense and that he had been misquoted. He also apologized "unreservedly for the hurt and offence caused" in December after the tribunal’s initial ruling,

But the acting Bishop of Winchester described the punishment given to Sizer on Monday as equating "the seriousness of the misconduct.”

Sizer was the vicar of the Christ Church, Virginia Water in Surrey for 20 years. He retired in 2017.

His suspension from the Church of England will continue until December 2030. It includes a ban on any priestly duties, including communion and officiating marriages, according to the report.
Barry Shaw: Stephen Sizer – the Anglican Anti-Semitic Cleric
The former cleric Stephen Sizer spent a career attempting to strip Israel and the biblical destiny of the Jewish people from Christian belief.

In his book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, Sizer’s fevered anti-Semitism is on display as he attacks Christianity’s fundamental biblical belief that God blesses those that bless Israel and curses those that don’t.

He refers to Christian Zionists as “misguided” and blames them even as he is defrocked and banned from clerical duties by the church he was supposed to have loyally served.

Sizer was a leading activist in the infamous 2014 Bethlehem Christmas pantomime “Christ at the Checkpost” in which Jesus was portrayed not as a Jew but as a Palestinian messenger, a motif that was adopted by Mahmoud Abbas.

Rather than point out that Christians were being driven out of Bethlehem by the threats and strongarm tactics of Arafat’s henchmen who turned the town into a shelter for Palestinian terrorists, even desecrating the Church of the Nativity and holding Christian priests and nuns as hostages when Israeli security forces came to arrest them after they had carried out murderous raids against Jews in Kiryat Arba and in Jerusalem, activists like Sizer championed the Palestinian cause in a fraudulent display of lying imagery that used the Christian savior as his anti-Israel motif.

Under a caring Israeli administration, Bethlehem was a prosperous majority-Christian town and a magnet for tourism. Under the control of the Palestinian Authority, eagerly supported by Sizer and his replacement theologists, the Christian population of Bethlehem has been reduced to less than 15%.

This former parish priest was suspended from his ministry in 2018 but continued his hate campaign against Israel, the collective Jew, until the Anglican Church could no longer tolerate his ongoing anti-Semitism.


Ilhan Omar claims she 'wasn't aware of tropes about Jews and money
In response to her claim that she did not know that there are antisemitic tropes about Jews and money, international human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky tweeted: "Right, and I wasn't aware the earth was round."

David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021 commented: "If Omar is telling the truth (she’s not) that she never new there were antisemitic tropes about Jews and money, then she is saying that she originated the accusation that Jewish money controls the USA. Isn’t that even worse?!"

After a clip of the interview was circulated on social media, Ms Omar posted a thread accusing the GOP of "hypocrisy", saying that the Republican leader "did nothing" about Islamophobic comments made by members of his own party, citing Donald Trump dining with white supremacists Nick Fuentes, and posted a fundraising link.
Rubin Report: Watch Ilhan Omar's Face When Host Reads Her Antisemitic Remarks On Air

Another Republican Joins Fight To Keep Anti-Semitic Democrat Ilhan Omar on Foreign Affairs Committee
Republican congressman Ken Buck (Colo.) says he will break with his party to vote in favor of keeping anti-Israel Democrat Ilhan Omar (Minn.) on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Buck is the third Republican to buck House Speaker Keven McCarthy (R., Calif.) in his bid to boot Omar from the committee due to her anti-Semitic comments. Omar, in 2012, said that "Israel has hypnotized the world." In 2019, she took aim at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the country’s most prominent pro-Israel lobby, saying, "It’s all about the Benjamins baby." Buck joins Reps. Nancy Mace (R., S.C.) and Victoria Spartz (R., Ind.) in opposing the move.

The vote to remove Omar will require a full majority of the House to back the bid, and with three Republicans joining Democrats in opposition, the chances for a successful vote are becoming increasingly slim in the narrowly Republican-controlled chamber. The vote is an early test for McCarthy as he tries to exert control over a divided Republican caucus.

Buck said on Friday during an interview with NBC News that he will lend his support to Omar as a show of protest against efforts to strip members of their committee assignments. Democrats, when they controlled the House, removed Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R., Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) from their committee assignments over tenuous claims they incited violence. McCarthy has said one of his top priorities is taking Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee, where she has served as a reliably anti-Israel voice on a committee historically known for its vociferous support for the Jewish state.

"I think that we should not engage in this tit-for-tat," Buck said during the interview. His office later told Axios that Buck "wouldn’t support the removal of Rep. Omar" from the committee.
Warren claims GOP has 'smeared' Omar for years as McCarthy tries to remove her from key committee
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren defended her Democratic colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., amid a push to remove her from House Foreign Affairs Committee, citing her life experience as a refugee while accusing Republicans of smearing her over her past remarks that some in her own party have called antisemitic.

In a television interview, Omar was discussing the vote to remove her, calling it "politically-motivated" and in some cases "motivated by the fact that many of these members don't believe a Muslim, a refugee, an African should even be in Congress."

In a tweet, Warren defended Omar in response to a video of Omar's interview in which she made her remark.

"@IlhanMN is the first African-born congressmember and the only House Foreign Affairs Committee member who's lived in a refugee camp," she wrote. "It's shameful that Republicans are trying to remove her after smearing her for years. We need her voice, values, and expertise on the Committee."

House Speaker Keven McCarthy, R-Calif., is seeking to convince holdouts within his own party to boot Omar from the committee that deals with foreign affairs over her repeated comments against Israel, America's oldest ally in the Middle East, that she has since apologized for. Those comments include appearing to equate the United States and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban. Omar has also come under fire for appearing to minimize the 9-11 attacks.


Israeli NGO Calls on UMich to Condemn Intifada Chants
The Israel-based NGO International Legal Forum sent a letter to the University of Michigan leadership on January 26 urging the university to condemn chants of intifada that occurred on campus on January 12.

As the Journal previously reported, students belonging to Students Allied for Fairness and Equality (SAFE), an affiliate of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), chanted, “There is only solution: intifada revolution!” and “Long live the intifada!” as they walked through campus when Vice President Kamala Harris spoke on at the university.

“Although we firmly believe in the principle of free speech and right to protest on campus, this event was not a mere expression of difference in political opinion, but rather a direct and unadulterated call for violence, placing Jewish students, faculty and staff, in harm’s way,” ILF CEO Arsen Ostrovsky wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Journal. “The first and second intifadas were brutal Palestinian terrorist uprisings, during which many Israelis were murdered, whereas the chant ‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,’ has become a common euphemism for a call to arms to destroy the State of Israel. This kind of pervasive discourse and incitement directly contributes to a climate of fear, harassment and violence against the Jewish community.”

Ostrovsky also argued that such rhetoric “may also be in breach of federal and state legislation, particularly as the University of Michigan is a public institution.”

“Your university has as one of its guiding principles, the goal to make sure that all people on campus ‘not only are safe, but actually feel safe,’” Ostrovksy wrote. “Accordingly, we respectfully call on the University to issue an immediate and unequivocal public condemnation of the events of the 12th January 2023, to reiterate that such rhetoric and calls to violence have no place on campus and to take appropriate disciplinary measures against those involved.”


Morningstar, Jewish groups at loggerheads over commitments to fix anti-Israel bias
Tensions are flaring between financial services firm Morningstar and a coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel groups that have been lobbying the company to eliminate purported anti-Israel bias in its ratings products.

In a letter sent to the company last month, the groups allege that Morningstar had failed to meet its commitments to update its ratings and procedures, provide sensitivity training to its staff and engage outside experts to advise it on issues related to Israel and antisemitism. Morningstar defended its actions in a response letter last week, saying that the company had made progress, while attributing some of the delays to the groups themselves.

Morningstar’s subsidiary Sustainalytics has been accused of engaging in anti-Israel bias in the ratings it provides to companies that operate in Israel. The company reached an agreement with a coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel groups last year, commiting publicly to address issues related to its ratings of companies that operate in Israel and the West Bank.

“After months of working with Morningstar in good faith, it appears that Sustainalytics is failing to do its part to implement the commitments that Morningstar made to eliminate the pervasive anti-Israel bias in Sustainalytics’ ESG ratings,” the coalition letter, sent on Dec. 30 and obtained by Jewish Insider, alleges. “We have grave concerns about the rate and direction of progress and have observed what we believe to be several alarming deviations from the October commitments.”

Morningstar insisted that it is continuing to work to fulfill the October commitments.

“We have done our best to be responsive to the coalition group’s concerns and specific requests throughout this process; have already implemented a number of changes; and have operated in good faith throughout this process,” Morningstar spokesperson Sarah Wirth said in a statement. “There’s been no change in our commitment to this work or to working productively with these organizations.”


NYU student being investigated after ‘F**k Israel’ vandalism
A New York University graduate student is under investigation after she wrote “Free Palestine” and “Fuck” on a mailbag at the university's library, according StopAntisemitism, a watchdog group that monitors antisemitism.

Naye Idriss wrote “Free Palestine” and “Fuck” above the word “Israel” on an Israeli mailbag in the recycling bin in NYU's Elmer Holmes Bobs library where she worked as an Arabic translator, leading NYU to open an investigation. Idriss said her actions cost her the job.

Idriss, who was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, is a graduate of Columbia University and is studying at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU, according to a tweet by StopAntisemitism.

In StopAntisemitism's post on Twitter, Idriss is pictured wearing an “Anti-Zionist Vibes Only” shirt.

Does NYU typically open investigations for antisemitism allegations?
In 2022, StopAntisemitism issued a report grading 25 US schools based on antisemitic climate. NYU received a failing grade. At NYU, the review said “students report a hostile and anti-Semitic environment when their identity or Zionist beliefs are expressed.

The report went on to say that student groups at NYU, as well as Columbia University, approved resolutions supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish State of Israel.


Guardian 'shakes off' fact- based reporting in 'explainer' on terror surge
The Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes returned to provide readers with an ‘explainer’ on the recent surge in violence. It wouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed our scrutiny of the reporter over the years that woven into the article is the usual elements of Guardian bias about the conflict: a denial of Palestinian agency, a callous disregard for Israeli suffering and the wholesale re-writing of history.

The piece (Explainer: Israel and Palestine: what has caused violence to flare up again?, Jan. 30) begins with intifada revisionism:
There is speculation that the region is on the brink of an intifada – a Palestinian uprising or, literally, a “shaking off” of Israeli control. The first two uprisings were cracked down on hard, failed to end the occupation and left several thousand people dead, mostly Palestinians.

It’s hard to overstate the degree to which Holmes airbrushed the Palestinian violence of the 2nd Intifada.

What he describes as a “shaking off” was a five year Palestinian campaign of often savage violence targeting Israeli civilians that left over 1,000 dead, with thousands more inured and maimed.

The fact that more Palestinians were killed during the conflict than Israelis doesn’t change the moral equation: that whereas most Palestinians killed during that period were unintended victims of IDF operations targeting terrorists, Israeli civilians, on the other hand, were the target of Palestinian attacks – including by suicide bombings, some which intentionally struck sites to maximize the number of children who’d be killed.

It’s as if Holmes went out of his way to erase the toll of the antisemitic terror campaign, that traumatic era in which Jews – because they were Jews – were hunted, targeted, and killed on buses, in restaurants, and at dance clubs.
BBC News website coverage of Jenin counter-terrorism operation
On the morning of January 26th Israeli forces conducted an operation in Jenin to arrest members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation who had been involved in previous terrorist activity and were planning a major terror attack in Israel. During the arrest operation at a hide-out in the Jenin refugee camp, armed Palestinians attacked the Israeli forces with gunfire and petrol bombs. Eight of the attackers – several from the PIJ and some from Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, including one who was also a member of the PA security forces – were killed in the exchanges of fire, several others were wounded (one of whom died three days later) and an uninvolved civilian was also killed in the crossfire.

A couple of hours after news of the operation broke the BBC News website published a report which was originally titled ‘Four Palestinians killed in Israeli raid in Jenin’. Around half an hour later that headline was updated to read ‘Nine Palestinians killed in Israeli raid in Jenin’ and readers found the following:


Clearly that report did not adequately inform BBC audiences that with the exception of the one uninvolved civilian, all of those killed had been involved in violence at the time of their deaths.

The report was amended eleven times throughout the day and early the following morning, with its later version credited to Yolande Knell and David Gritten. Although by that time it was known that the vast majority of those killed were terrorist operatives engaged in violence, the headline and the opening paragraph of the version which remains on the BBC News website as ‘permanent public record’ still refer merely to “Nine Palestinians”.
CBC Ombud Journalists Who Signed Anti-Israel Open Letter Permitted To Report On Israel
In a recent January 26 review, CBC Ombudsman Jack Nagler has denied that it was improper for a journalist who signed an anti-Israel open letter to write a news article on a topic related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In the spring of 2022 an article was published on CBC News’ website entitled: “’An act of erasure’: LCBO called out for sticker covering the word ‘Palestine’ on wine bottle,” which was written by Sara Jabakhanji, a reporter with CBC News in Toronto. In May, 2021, Jabakhanji had signed an open letter which gave a dramatically oversimplified, anti-Israel view of events in the Middle East.

As we observed in May 2021:
The letter refers to the “escalating violence against Palestinians,” and conveniently ignores the escalating violence against Israeli civilians by Hamas and Islamic Jihad which have fired over 2,000 rockets at Israel killing 8 people and wounding hundreds. The letter refers to “forced expulsions,” though no one has been expelled and the letter claims there’s a “… deep reluctance (by Canadian journalists) to cover the ongoing nature of the Israeli occupation…”

It alleges that Israel is carrying out “indiscriminate airstrikes” whereas Israel is only targeting terrorists and terror infrastructure. If anything is “indiscriminate,” it’s the Hamas/Islamic Jihad onslaught of missiles targeting Israeli civilian population centers, big and small. These terror groups situate their operatives and weapons within civilian areas using Palestinians as human shields.

The letter says: “According to the United Nations and countless human rights organizations around the world (including ones based within Israel), what’s happening in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a ‘grave breach of international law.’ Some groups believe the attacks amount to an “ethnic cleansing.” It should be covered as such.” In truth, some groups also believe that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist. These allegations are myopic, unfounded and inflammatory.


The Man in the Basement: A thriller on Holocaust denial trolls - review
“There are thousands of us living in basements. We have nothing to lose. We’re rats, but we fight!” says Jacques Fonzic (François Cluzet), the titular character in the new movie The Man in the Basement, articulating what might be called the credo of online hate mongers and Holocaust deniers. He utters this cri de coeur in the climactic scene of Philippe Le Guay’s latest film, which opens on January 27 in New York to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and will soon be shown around the US (and eventually, one would hope, in Israel).

Holocaust denial and antisemitism are in the headlines on an almost daily basis around the world, unfortunately, but are rarely the subject of dramatic movies, only of documentaries. The best-known feature film to date on this topic is Mick Jackson’s Denial, a dramatization of historian and current US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt’s court battle against British Holocaust denier David Irving, after he sued her for libel (a movie that is well worth seeking out).

This outrageous court case where Lipstadt was forced to defend herself and her work gave a fascinating and sobering glimpse into the playbook these trolls use, to strike out at those who expose their hate-mongering, forcing those who seek to debunk their vile lies to waste time and money on lawsuits.

Based on the true story of a Holocaust denier
Fonzic, the Holocaust denier in The Man in the Basement, which is based on a true story, is a much smaller figure than Irving, but is a bright, educated man who also knows how to use the legal system to make life hell for those who cross him. The main character in this story, whose life is turned upside down by his encounter with Fonzic, is Simon Sandberg (Jérémie Renier), a Parisian Jewish architect. He lives with his wife, Helene (Bérénice Bejo), a blood technician, and their teenage daughter, Justine (Victoria Eber), in a beautiful apartment he inherited from his father. During World War II, this apartment was stolen by neighbors when the Sandbergs were deported and only some of the family survived. Simon’s Jewish identity is an important, if not central, part of his life.


This Israeli bourbon is made from Kansas corn mashed in Ohio and aged in Haifa
There’s a new Israeli bourbon on the spirits scene, although it may be something of a misnomer to call it Israeli, since bourbon has always famously been an all-American drink.

And Dew of B’Dolah, as the bourbon created by Thinkers Distillery is called, is actually mostly made in the US, but infused with the airs of Haifa’s port.

The Jerusalem-based distillery rented space in Columbus, Ohio, made its mash from kosher Kansas corn and stored it in 140 new American oak barrels for four months.

Thinkers then “clocked” the barrels on the ship for six months, said distiller Bennett Kaplan, referring to the longtime tradition of letting the barrels rock back and forth on a boat.

Placing barrels of bourbon on flat boats along the Ohio River was once the method of getting the spirit from Kentucky, considered the king of bourbon, to other destinations. Distillers found the color and smoky flavor of the golden elixir improved from rocking on the water.

This bourbon then spent another three and a half years at the Haifa port, accessing the brackish sea air.

“We did a meteorological study and found Haifa made the most sense,” said Kaplan. “Bourbon is all about looking for the balance.”


Meet the Israeli doctor helping thousands in Ethiopia receive eye care
When Israeli ophthalmologist Morris Hartstein visited Gondar in 2014 for a family volunteering trip, he did not know he would start an initiative that would help more than 8,000 Ethiopians receive eye care.

Today, he is the founding director of Operation Ethiopia, a non-profit incorporated in 2022 and dedicated to providing Ethiopians in Gondar with high-quality eye care clinics, cataract diagnosis and treatment campaigns and eye surgeries, and training programs for local physicians. Operation Ethiopia volunteers hand out food in partnership with the Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry. Credit: Elisa and Morris Hartstein.

In addition, the non-profit delivers humanitarian aid to Jewish communities in the country. Humanitarian aid organized by Operation Ethiopia includes a feeding program for malnourished children and nursing moms in Gondar, established in partnership with the Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry to prevent the stunting of children for lack of proper food.

The idea for Operation Ethiopia was born when the Hartsteins were helping the Mother Teresa orphanage in Addis Ababa and the Jewish community in Gondar as part of their 2014 volunteering trip, which exposed them to the country’s high levels of poverty.

On their last day in Gondar, the family’s tour guide asked Hartstein if he could examine a child’s eye. Soon, several people flocked to the doctor to have their eyes examined. Despite lacking the necessary equipment, Hartstein obliged.
Witness History Palestine Post bombing
Mordechai Chertoff was the foreign editor on the Palestine Post (precursor to the Jerusalem Post) when it was bombed on 1 February 1948.

He tells Lucy Williamson how, despite the attack, the newspaper still came out the next morning. (h/t Yerushalimey)
Elevated Demand, Inflation Lead Birthright to Shutter Registration Early
Ask and ye shall receive. For Birthright Israel, that meant filling all 12,000 slots for its 10-day, 2023 summer trips to Israel from the US and Canada, forcing it to close the application process early. This application period was 20 days—with trip dates posted just two days ago—rather than the typical three months.

In an announcement, the 23-year-old group cited increased demand and blamed “budget constraints,” exacerbated by inflation-fueled, 30% increased costs that required reducing the cohort size, per a Birthright announcement.

Birthright reported a 68% increase in deposits it received, compared to a similar period before the pandemic. It will select 12,000 North Americans from 32,000 applicants, with another 3,000 slots going to young people from other parts of the world for its summer trips. Another 8,500 young people, from North America and the rest of the world, will participate in a Birthright trip this year that is not during the summer, a Birthright spokesman told JNS.

With an age cutoff of 26 for participants, Birthright will prioritize 26-year-olds if funding for more spots arrives. The 23,500 young Jews worldwide it will bring to Israel this year represent a nearly 33% decrease over the 35,000 it hosted in 2022 and a more than 51% decrease over the 48,000 before the pandemic.

Birthright will refund deposits of those who are not selected, it stated.
UAE Museum Showcases Torah Scroll That Survived the Shoah to Help Combat Holocaust Denial in Region
The Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in the United Arab Emirates unveiled on Saturday night a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust during an event held in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The scroll is on permanent loan to the museum from the Memorial Scrolls Trust, which safeguards more than 1,000 Torah scrolls that were rescued from the Holocaust. The Torah scroll is the first to be allocated to a museum in a Muslim country and the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum is believed to be the first museum in a Muslim country to have a Holocaust exhibition, according to the Memorial Scrolls Trust.

“I lived in the Arab world when I was young, and the term Holocaust does not exist … So this is a huge step,” said Edwin Shuker, an Iraqi-Jewish businessman and vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who organized the loan.

Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori, founder of the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum, said the Torah scroll on display will help fight “big denial” of the Holocaust in the Middle East, Reuters reported. He said, “For us peace is a complete peace. Many people have forgotten the Jews are part of the region. So here, we’re trying to show … the good days between the Jews and the Arabs in the past.”

It’s been two years since the UAE, Israel, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords. The UAE announced earlier in January that it will begin implementing Holocaust education in its primary and secondary school curriculums.
Doug Emhoff meets Ukraine refugees at synagogue, visits Holocaust memorial in Berlin
Doug Emhoff, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, met with Ukrainian refugees at a Berlin synagogue and visited the city’s Holocaust memorial on Tuesday as he wrapped up a tour of Poland and Germany focused on Holocaust remembrance and combating rising antisemitism.

Emhoff took part in a roundtable event with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders on interfaith dialogue. He then visited Berlin’s New Synagogue, with a golden dome topped by a Star of David, which was badly damaged in the 1938 Nazi pogrom against Jews and then largely destroyed during World War II.

He met with refugees from Ukraine during his visit to the synagogue, which reopened in the 1990s after partial reconstruction.

The second gentleman later visited Berlin’s memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, a field of 2,700 gray concrete slabs near the landmark Brandenburg Gate that opened in 2005. He also was visiting other memorials to those murdered and persecuted under the Nazis — Sinti and Roma, gay people, and people with physical and mental disabilities.

Emhoff is the first Jewish spouse of either a US president or vice president. His six-day tour of Poland and Germany is meant to further the Biden administration’s work combating antisemitism and to deepen ties with US partners.

He visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Friday, and joined commemorations of the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. He said that he was deeply moved by that “solemn and sad” visit.
How Nazis in Egypt helped ‘persuade’ Jews to leave
Just days after International Holocaust Memorial Day, it is fitting to recall the fact that thousands of Nazis transferred to Nasser’s Egypt in the 1950s. According to a new book, Nazis on the Nile by Vivyan Kinross, former German Wehrmacht soldiers, missile scientists, chemical engineers, arms manufacturers and arms dealers, German special forces veterans trained Egypt’s soldiers to fight the British in the Suez Canal Zone and the Israelis in Gaza. The British detected German tactics of subversion in Egyptian foreign policy, propaganda and intelligence operations and Egypt used coercive methods to persuade its Jewish population to leave after the Suez crisis of 1956. For the family of Edna Anzarut Turner, the writing was already on the wall before the expulsion. She told her story to Point of No Return:
“I was already in England. and my mum went to see the Swiss Ambassador. She wanted to send me some money through their diplomatic pouch.

She knew him very well.

When he saw her, he gasped: ” Mme. Anzarut, que faîtes-vous encore ici? Le pays est plein de Nazis. Otto Skorzeni est ici. Voulez-vous finir en abat-jour? Partez, partez au plus tôt.”(Mrs Anzarut, what are you still doing here? The country is full of Nazis. Otto Skorzeni is here. Do you want to finish up as a lampshade? Leave, leave as soon as you can.”)

Anyway, she wasn’t able to send me any money.

She rushed home, picked up my dad’s and her British passport, took them to the Egyptian passport office where they affixed Exit and Entry visas.

She bought airline tickets, packed one suitcase each, one blanket. She filled all the vases of our home with flowers, and took the cars to various out-of -the- way garages, and threw the keys in the Nile.

The next day they waited for the taxi.

There was a banging on the door. Yells of “EFTAH, EFTAH! “ (Open the door).

It wasn’t the taxi, it was two bullying policemen with their expulsion order.

My parents just looked at them, and the situation was so incongruous that they both burst out with uncontrollable laughter.
UN exhibition gives Holocaust victims an ‘everlasting name’
It’s a book with an unresolved ending.

Yad Vashem and the Israeli Mission to the United Nations unveiled an exhibition on Thursday at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

The installation, called The Book of Names, includes 4.8 million alphabetically-arranged names of Holocaust victims, who are known to Yad Vashem. When available, it includes birthdates, hometowns and place and circumstances of death.

Measuring in at 26.45 feet long, 6.56 feet tall, and 3.3 feet wide, the “book” concludes with empty pages, commemorating 1.2 million yet-unidentified Jewish victims.

At the exhibition opening on Thursday, held the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres thanked Yad Vashem for giving the millions of victims an “everlasting name” by bringing the show to the U.N.

“Six million men, women and children are lost forever, but their names will never be forgotten,” he said. “This exhibit is a call to action–a call to remembrance, as we have to find new ways to carry the torch of remembrance.”
When a Holocaust Survivor’s Memories Strike Her Daughter’s Soul
For me, each day is Holocaust Remembrance Day. The memories come to me at night in my dreams, and upon waking, the first blurred images to cross my closed eyes are those of my many aunts, uncles, and little cousins, all murdered in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. During my waking hours, sometimes the sight of a small child holding the hand of her mother brings a collective image to the front of my brain of the 1.5 million children and babies murdered in the Holocaust. Murdered with less compunction than the swatting of a fly.

My daughter Rena was six, and I a young mother of 27, when the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem,” was televised internationally from Israel. Together we watched the slight, balding man with glasses and heavy headphones deny what he had done. Today, I am mortified that I allowed my child to see the trial, and that I answered her questions truthfully. What was I thinking? How could I not have understood that a child’s innocence could not resuscitate itself from such horrific knowledge? And in fact, Rena has spoken of our time watching the Eichmann trial together as a kind of screen memory, a moment when her consciousness of the past as a prelude that impacts the present, was born.

In Rena’s memoir, “A Life Inherited, Unraveling the Trauma of a Second-Generation Holocaust Survivor,” she writes: “The trial seemed to go on forever as survivor after survivor was given the chance to speak, and through testimony, could bear witness and salvage a fistful of justice. From the hours spent in that world, I believed that I had absorbed the whole of Adolf Eichmann much the way the whale had swallowed Jonah. A specific place in my brain seemed to hold the physical and moral embodiment of Eichmann, so that later whenever I thought of the Holocaust, he stood at the gate to that vast, unseen world. His eyes were impassive, seemingly unseeing, and his mouth, set straight, was a black hole that had swallowed six million universes. Eichmann’s expression was devoid of everything, and it was not human, … but because of his and the Nazis’ incompetence, my parents had survived, and my brother and I had been born. This is what I knew then, at six.”

I did not know how to hide my story from my daughter; it did not occur to me that it should have been concealed or at least revealed when she could better understand and assimilate it. There was a particular story I told Rena, more than once, about how my own mother would push her bread rations into my hands, telling me she was not hungry.

Rena writes: “Whenever my mother told me this story — I cannot remember a time when the stories were new, when I had not known everything, when the life my parents had lived was not my everything — her eyes would flood instantly. She was helpless to control tears that came from the place that had only ever held her mother. ‘How could I possibly take my mother’s piece of bread if I thought she was hungry?’ she asked me, her eyes widening at my obtuseness. ‘I had to believe her!’”






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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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