Wednesday, June 07, 2023

06/07 Links Pt2: Andrew Pessin: A new book’s indictment of American Jewish leadership; How antisemitism adopted the Stalinist approach

From Ian:

Andrew Pessin: A new book’s indictment of American Jewish leadership
There could hardly be a timelier book than Betrayal: The Failure of American Jewish Leadership. Though antisemitism springs eternal, it has sprung up with particular force in recent years, especially in the United States.

As editors Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser put it, “American Jewry is under siege, ideologically and physically. In the media, on college campuses, in the streets of major cities, even in high schools and in Congress, Jews and the Jewish state are smeared, hated and attacked. Celebrities spew anti-Jewish ravings … to tens of millions of followers. This is a new time for Jews in America.”

With this assault on American Jews came the debates about how to handle it. Some prefer to ignore it, keep their heads down, not cause trouble and hope it will go away. Some try to handle it discreetly, behind the scenes, by forging alliances and reasoning with reasonable people. Some double down on their Jewish identity and go on the offensive. Some, alas, disavow their Jewish identity and “convert” by joining the enemy.

One thing, however, as the book demonstrates throughout, seems crystal clear: The major establishment Jewish organizations—the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents, the Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Community Relations Councils, regional Federations, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and most of all the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)—have failed to respond effectively to the eruption of Jew-hatred.

In fact, as more than one of the book’s essays argues, it’s even worse than that: These organizations, for the most part, have joined the enemy. They have done so by adopting and disseminating progressive ideologies that are hostile to Jews and the Jewish state. This in turn has led them into alliances with groups that are openly opposed to and working towards the destruction of the Jewish state and its supporters—that is, the vast majority of American Jews.
How antisemitism adopted the Stalinist approach
"Death solves all problems," Joseph Stalin is quoted as having said, "No man, no problem." A significant number of influential people are now applying the Soviet dictator's logic to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their formulation is as simple as it is homicidal: "No Israel, no problem."

Iran's rulers express their genocidal intentions forthrightly. "We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter," Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman for the regime's armed forces has vowed.

Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, proxies of Tehran, have the same goal, as does Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza (also supported by the Islamist regime). Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank, is cagier. He doesn't call for Israeli Jews to be killed but he does provide financial rewards to Palestinian terrorists and their families.

The featured speaker at the City University of New York's law school graduation last month was Fatima Mousa Mohammed, who called for a "fight against capitalism, racism, imperialism and Zionism around the world."

On social media, she has wished that "every Zionist burn in the hottest pit of hell." To be clear: Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, a Zionist was someone who favored self-determination for Jews in part of their ancient homeland. After 1948, a Zionist became someone who favors Israel's continuing existence.

Anti-Zionism is now common on American campuses. Ms. Mohammed expresses it crudely. Others employ more erudite language.

For example, four well-established professors – Michael Barnett, Nathan Brown, Marc Lynch, and Shibley Telhami – published an essay in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, the prestigious journal of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Elliott Abrams, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR, encapsulated its thesis in this headline: "As Israel turns 75, Foreign Affairs publishes a call to eliminate it."

To accomplish that goal, the professors would have the U.S. pressure Israel to grant citizenship to Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. Jews would then become a minority in Israel, presumably living under the rule of Hamas or the PA. What would happen to them after that? The question does not appear to interest the essay's authors.
NY march shows true colors of left-wing media
Forty thousand people took to the streets of Manhattan on Sunday to participate in the Celebrate Israel Parade. Forty thousand marchers, both Jews, and non-Jews, including New York Mayor Eric Adams, expressed their support for the Jewish state.

Wearing colorful clothes and waving Israeli flags, they took time out of their lives to celebrate Israel, whose existence they hold dear. But if you watched Channel 12 News reporting on the event, you would not know any of this.

Although the outlet did cover the parade, the angle it chose to present was very specific. It did not speak about the support and the celebration but rather focused on the anti-judicial reform protest that was held at the same time.

Organizers said that around 1,000 people attended the demonstration, but journalists marching with the parade in Manhattan, who reported in real time, did not even realize that any protests were taking place, because they were swallowed up by the cheering crowd.

Footage of the demonstration showed about a dozen participants and even photographs posted by the organizers themselves, who claimed there were 1,000 attendees, featured maybe half that number.

BDS group shares concentration camp photo, claims it’s a massacre of Palestinians
In a tweet shared on Twitter, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) claimed that they are displaying a photo where the so-called “Tantura Massacre” took place in 1948, but a Holocaust expert proved it was actually a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. The photo showed tens or possibly hundreds of corpses in a black and white photo, before being buried in a mass grave.

The photo was accompanied by text saying: “The Palestinian Academy for Science & Technology calls on EMBO [European Molecular Biology Organization] to relocate workshops from ‘apartheid Israel,’ including the one at the site of the Tantura massacre. EMBO has a moral obligation to end its complicity in whitewashing Israel’s crimes.”

In the shared photo, it is claimed that a mass grave is underneath the parking lot next to the beach.

EMBO is an organization of more than 1,900 researchers “that promotes excellence in the life sciences in Europe and beyond,” according to the organization’s website.

Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Minister Amichai Chikli responded on Twitter to the matter, saying “the racist BDS movement breaks a Guinness record, uses a picture from the German concentration camp of Nordhausen to lie about a fictional massacre during Israel’s War of Independence. Holocaust distortion, appropriation and denial, further victimizing Jewish people. Pure evil.”

Finally, CUNY’s antisemitism is in the dock
This situation cannot change without total institutional reform. The long marchers’ stranglehold on academia must be broken. The principles of objectivity, free speech and inquiry, liberalism, genuine anti-racism and fairness in hiring that these institutions claim to embrace must be reimposed.

There are several ways this could be done. The state and university leaders could set down firm guidelines on what constitutes antisemitic speech and conduct in academia—perhaps based on the IHRA definition—and follow through on those guidelines by firing any teacher and expelling any student who violates them.

Perhaps more important, faculty and administrators must be stripped of their powers of hiring and dismissal. New faculty and administrators could be hired by trustees or other persons outside the long marchers’ totalitarian system. Even better, new hires could be chosen by standardized testing over which the long marchers would, by definition, exercise no influence.

Certainly, this would not change things overnight, but as the long marchers retire and die off, they would be slowly replaced with a new and better generation of faculty and administrators, slowly draining the poison out of American higher education and toppling the totalitarian system from within.

What is clear, however, is that the situation cannot go on as it is. It is a clear and present danger to the psychological and physical well-being of Jewish students and American Jews in general. It is raising a generation of students to loathe the country they live in and of which they are meant to be future leaders. No nation, indeed no civilization, can survive such a thing.

More than anything else, however, this is a matter of simple justice. For decades, a cabal of nihilistic and racist extremists has exercised unjust and unearned power over a series of essential institutions, many paid for with the tax dollars of working people. At the very least, this is a monstrous injustice.

It is an injustice that can no longer be countenanced. People are getting hurt, a nation is being undermined and the long Western tradition of free speech and inquiry is being raped without compunction. The long marchers want a revolution. It’s time to give them one.
SHOCK REPORT: CUNY Board of Trustees Chair told Chancellor NOT to Attend City Council’s Antisemitism Probe
The watchdog group “SAFE CUNY” has leveled explosive allegations against the leadership of CUNY.

The group claims that university leaders essentially colluded to sabotage last year’s government hearings about systemic antisemitism at the school.

In a bombshell tweet, SAFE CUNY wrote:
For a year @ChancellorCUNY has deservedly taken flak all over the media for skipping out at the last minute from not one but two City Council hearings probing CUNY Antisemitism.

We have just learned from an immaculate source that his absence goes HIGHER than the chancellor. The decision was made ABOVE HIM.

@SAFECUNY has learned that CUNY Board of Trustees Chair Bill Thompson TOLD the chancellor NOT TO ATTEND the antisemitism hearings.

If this is true,@KathyHochul must get involved in this horrifying antisemitic mess IMMEDIATELY.

Also incredibly disturbing is that City Council leaders running these hearings had no idea just how duped they were– Rodriguez was never going to come to those meetings.

Jewish group demands CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez resign over law school hate speech
A Jewish rights watchdog group is demanding the resignation of CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez following a commencement “hate speech” spewed at the public university’s embattled law school, while New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer is calling for a federal civil rights probe of antisemitism of CUNY.

The group StopAntisemitism — which monitors Jew hatred on college campuses — said the second consecutive year of anti-Jewish bile at the law school was the last straw for the CUNY boss.

The group referenced the inflammatory May 12 commencement address by student Fatima Mousa Mohammed, who critics including the chancellor and CUNY board of trustees said smeared Jews, Israel, the NYPD and the military.

Last year, both CUNY Law’s faculty council and student government passed resolutions supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel while another student, Palestinian activist Nerdeen Kiswani, blasted the Jewish state during her 2022 commencement address.

“Enough is enough! CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez must step down. He has done nothing to properly fight antisemitism and is miserably failing to protect CUNY’s Jewish students against hate,” said StopAntisemitism’s executive director Liora Rez.

“The Chancellor receives more than $750,000 a year in compensation funded by taxpayer money, but the damage he is causing to Jewish students and staff is far more costly and cannot be quantified.”

Mehdi Hasan’s Deceitful Defense of an Antisemitic Screed
It becomes less of a stretch, however, when one bothers to look at other statements from Mohammed’s own Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, which also refers to that “investor-focused admin” as “the Zionist administration.” In one instance, the SJP claimed Zionists are the cause of their problems at CUNY, particularly the high tuition costs. Whereas white nationalists may chant “Jews are our misfortune,” CUNY’s SJP chapters simply replace the word “Jew” with “Zionist.” The only stretching here is by those who grasp for any angle to tie society’s ills to the Jews.

Hasan also blatantly lies to his audience, claiming that Mohammed just “attacked a foreign country, a foreign government, not a race or a religion.” But when Mohammed appealed for the “rage that fills this auditorium” to “be the fuel for the fight against…Zionism around the world” (a clip Hasan conveniently refrains from showing or quoting), she was not referring to Israel. Israel, a geographically defined place, is not “around the world.” The Jewish diaspora – the vast majority of which are Zionists who believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their homeland – however, is.

The “fight” against “Zionism around the world” has been against the likes of Matt Greenman, a Jewish New Yorker who was beaten at a protest organized by an extremist anti-Israel organization at CUNY. Indeed, Mohammed herself was there, announcing to the audience, amidst a wave of deadly terror attacks against Jews in Israel: “glory to the martyrs, glory to the resistance!” The same “fight” against “Zionism around the world” also saw nearly the entire Jewish population of Arab-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa (~800,000) forced to flee, including from Mohammed’s native Yemen, where 87 Jews were slaughtered in an orgy of violence against “Zionists” on December 2, 1947, months before Israel was even established.

Hasan’s standards would likely declare CAMERA’s criticism of Mohammed’s speech and Hasan’s commentary as an attempt at “canceling” “pro-Palestinian voices.” Let us be clear: both Hasan and Mohammed are entitled to their opinions and their free expression (though no one is obligated to provide either of them a platform). It would just be nice if their speech came with a little less anti-Jewish demagoguery and with a lot more factual accuracy.

Roger Waters claims 'cripple' Labour MP is working for 'his masters in Tel Aviv'
Roger Waters claimed an MP who called for his Manchester concert to be cancelled was working for his “masters in the Foreign Office in Tel Aviv” as he appeared in London.

Performing for a packed-out O2 arena last night, the Pink Floyd frontman paused between songs to attack Bury South representative Christian Wakeford as a “cripple”, praise Jeremy Corbyn and defend the use of Anne Frank’s name in his show.

Speaking in the House of Commons last month, the Bury South MP said he was “concerned” that Waters’ Berlin performance “used the name of Anne Frank to stoke division, performed while dressed as an SS soldier and used the star of David on a giant pig to insinuate that Jewish people run the world”.

He asked government minister Penny Mordaunt: “Will the Leader of the House agree that such concerts have no place in our society and should not go ahead?”

But on Tuesday night during his London performance, Waters claimed: “You [Wakeford] were making s*** up because you were told to by your masters in the Foreign Office in Tel Aviv because of this hate.

“This hate is being organised from Israel. And I’m not afraid to say it because I know Christian Wakeford, that what I’m saying is not a lie.”

Irish Independent Omits Context Behind UN ‘Settlement Blacklist’
The Irish Independent’s piece titled “State fund Isif questioned over its investments in four Israeli banks,” reinforces the false media narrative regarding the United Nations Human Rights Council’s anti-Israel blacklist, which was first made public in 2020.

The story, published amid efforts to update the controversial UN database and attempts by Irish lawmakers to divest from areas under the control of the Jewish state, charges the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif) with investing in “four Israeli banks named in a UN report from 2020 as helping support illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories”:
Isif confirmed to the Irish Independent that it owns shares in the four banks: Mizrahi Tefahot, Bank Hapoalim, Israel Discount Bank and Bank Leumi-Le Israel. The stocks are on a public register of Isif’s voting records at the annual general meetings of the companies.

The banks were among 112 companies named in a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report listing businesses that have ties to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The report prompted a number of international investors to divest themselves of those stocks.”

Written by business editors Caoimhe Gordon and Donal O’Donovan, the piece fails to mention that Isif’s stakes in the four Israeli banks, which amount to just €150,000 ($160,700), comprise less than 0.01 percent of its total investments. The four banks named in the article serve all Israeli citizens, regardless of where they live, as required by Israeli law.

Furthermore, by only citing human rights concerns as the motivation behind the UN organ composing a list of international companies that do business in Israeli communities beyond the Green Line, the Irish Independent misleads its audience regarding the insidious nature of the initiative.

In reality, the UN database was created with one goal only: to unfairly single out Israel for a boycott.

It is imperative to note that many corporations around the world have investments in disputed territories — yet only Israel is the target of boycott campaigns. As UN Watch highlighted in the past, the European fishing agreement with Morocco for years allowed EU-based companies to operate off the coast of Western Sahara, despite the fact that much of the international community considers the area to be occupied by Rabat. In fact, the UN, or any other intergovernmental organization for that matter, has never actively tried to discourage companies from doing business in Western Sahara or Turkey-administered Northern Cyprus.

BBC News reports on attack in southern Israel promote spin and hearsay
One may well wonder why Gritten chose to amplify a second-hand story from an unidentified “relative” about one of the attacker’s “military friends” having supposedly been killed by Israeli soldiers if he had to admit in the next sentence that he has no knowledge of such an incident.

A short item posted in the updates section of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page some five hours before the appearance of Gritten’s report refers to “the death of a fellow soldier” but does not claim that Israeli troops were involved.

Quoting a report from Israel’s Kan 11 which translates claims made in the Egyptian media, the Times of Israel noted that:
“An Egyptian policeman accused of killing three Israeli soldiers in an attack on the border on Saturday morning was named Monday as Mohamed Salah Ibrahim, 22, from Cairo.

According to Arabic-language media reports, Ibrahim was drafted into the Egyptian army in June 2022 and stationed on the Israel border as a policeman. He was reportedly set to end his service in the near future.

Egyptian reports cited by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster said Ibrahim had complained several times about his military service, including recently, and had gone absent without leave for 18 days at one point.

The reports said Ibrahim had suffered mental distress following the death of a comrade and felt the issue had not been taken seriously. One of Ibrahim’s friends claimed he was trying to get a medical exemption from his service due to physical problems, according to the reports cited by Kan.”

BBC News website audiences, however, were told an unsubstantiated story about “the killing of one of his military friends by Israeli soldiers during his military service at the border” which Gritten himself admits cannot be confirmed.

Quite how such reporting conforms with the BBC’s recent pledge to “address the growing threat of disinformation and build trust with audiences by transparently showing how BBC journalists know the information they are reporting” is patently unclear.
BBC's Covid Campaigner is Brexit-Hating LibDem Candidate Who Shared Article Comparing Israel to KKK
Once again, the BBC has failed to accurately provide viewers with sufficient information to judge on the credentials of its guests. On Monday’s episode of Politics Live, Covid campaigner Saleyha Ahsan was introduced simply as a representative of the “Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group”, before she launched a stinging criticism of the government’s approach to the Covid inquiry. Of course, she is more than a non-partisan healthcare campaigner…

Saleyha has a long track record of partisan activism. In 2019 she stood for Parliament for the Liberal Democrats in Milton Keynes South, and then for the European Parliament under the UK European Union Party’s banner. One party is a political irrelevance with a rabid pro-EU perspective, the other is the UK European Union Party.

Ahsan’s activism doesn’t end there: in addition to regular gigs on Jeremy Vine on 5 and documentaries for Channel 4, she also shares her questionable views on Twitter. These extend to calling Boris Johnson a liar, sharing articles comparing “racist” Israel to the KKK and, of course, tweeting support for Jeremy Corbyn…
Why A Lecture On The Holocaust Was Disrupted By A Polish Politician – A Fireside Chat With Prof. Jan Grabowski, Historian At The University Of Ottawa
On May 30, Jan Grabowski, a Polish-Canadian professor and historian at the University of Ottawa, was scheduled to deliver a lecture in Warsaw on the Holocaust, specifically on government attempts to suppress the degree of Polish collaboration during the war.

But before Grabowski could start, a Polish politician smashed his microphone and began toppling speakers, accusing Grabowski of spreading “historical propaganda.”

Grabowski is used to attempts to stifle academic scholarship on the Holocaust by authorities in Poland, and by extension, on the history of antisemitism in the country. His latest violent encounter is only the latest example of how the memory of the murder of six million Jews is being challenged in increasingly assertive ways in Poland.

This week, Professor Grabowski joins us as our guest.
Vienna to tilt statue of antisemitic mayor admired by Hitler to shift ‘perspective’
The city of Vienna will tilt the statue of an antisemitic former mayor 3.5 degrees to the right in order to shift the viewer’s “perspective on it,” a move that some Jewish leaders are calling an inadequate way to deal with a dark chapter of the city’s history.

The city’s Twitter account announced the decision last Wednesday and included an image of what the tilted statue will look like.

Karl Lueger served as mayor of Vienna for 13 years until his death in 1910. He was known for antisemitic rhetoric that is said to have inspired Adolf Hitler, who lived in Vienna as a young man. Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf” that he had “undisguised admiration” for Lueger.

The statue, situated in a square called Dr. Karl Lueger Platz in the city’s center, has been hit with vandalism for years by protesters who call for its total dismantling. In 2020, the city put up fencing to deter protesters from spray-painting it.

Viennese artist Klemens Wihlidal had proposed the slight tilt, which is slated to happen sometime in 2024.

“With this, I would like to cause an irritation, or even more, a moment of insecurity, which may only become perceptible upon a second look,” he said in a press release, according to CNN. He added that he hopes the viewer will feel like the statue is “about to topple over or at least expect that it won’t stand for much longer.”
Australia to introduce bill banning public display of Nazi symbols
The Australian federal government will introduce a bill next week to ban the public display of Nazi symbols across Australia, according to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) which also welcomed and applauded the announcement.

This announcement has been made days after Victoria Police announced they are investigating two young neo-Nazis, Nathan Bull and Michael ‘Mickle’ Nelson, for performing the Nazi salute during a protest in Melbourne's central business district on Sunday, according to the Herald Sun.

The pair were seen smiling and laughing while performing the salute surrounded by police officers outside the State Library of Victoria. They were eventually moved on from the area by police according to the report.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein said on Wednesday that “we believe this legislation will send a clear message to the Australian community that we as a nation will not tolerate those who seek to divide us by promoting an ideology characterized by racism, industrialized genocide and mass murder.”

The national flags of Australia and Israel are seen outside the building housing the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel October 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN) The national flags of Australia and Israel are seen outside the building housing the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel October 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Rubenstein continued, “The bill is particularly welcome at a time when antisemitism is rising globally and, frighteningly, moving into mainstream discourse in numerous different ways, a process that has been abetted in Australia by the public displays by Neo-Nazi thugs on the streets of Melbourne and other cities. Unless and until there are consequences for their actions, we can expect neo-Nazis to become more brazen, with all the destructive consequences they create for communal harmony and the rights of vulnerable minorities.”
Polish city throws bubble party on playground over Jewish graves
The chief rabbi of Poland sent an angry letter to the mayor of Kazimierz Dolny this week, condemning the eastern Polish town for throwing a festive children’s bubble party on the site of a former Jewish cemetery where dead are still buried.

The Kazimierz Dolny authorities filled the former cemetery with bubbles for Children’s Day, a holiday celebrated on June 1 in many European countries.

In the letter sent to to Mayor Artur Pomianowski on Tuesday, Michael Schudrich wrote, “the party organized on the yard, which was after all fun on the graves, proves that for the municipal authorities, respect for human burial is not an important value.”

Schudrich told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that it was “outrageous” that Pomianowski posted a video of the bubble party on his mayoral Facebook page.

“Is this what we want to teach our children about how we treat the dead, our ancestors?” Schudrich said.

Bartłomiej Godlewskia, Kazimierz Dolny’s deputy mayor, sent a letter in response to Schudrich on Wednesday.

“I regret the wrong decision to organize Children’s Day. We share a common history and a common home, and it was never our intention to hurt feelings — it was human error. I hope that this event will not interfere with our dialogue and cooperation in the future,” he wrote. “I extend my apologies to you and to the entire Jewish community.”

In first, artificial intelligence used for Holocaust education
Inge Auerbacher fears for a future when Holocaust survivors like her can no longer bear witness. But advances in virtual reality and AI give her hope their stories will live on.

Auerbacher, 88, is the star of a new interactive VR experience called “Tell Me, Inge” in which she recounts her horrific experiences as a small Jewish child in a Nazi concentration camp and what it took for her to not give up.

“I’ve been involved in many [Holocaust education] projects, but I find this one is made for today,” Auerbacher, who traveled from her home in New York for the launch in Berlin on Tuesday, told AFP.

“I wanted it to be able to be used for all ages, and particularly young people. With a book, you have to create your own images in your head but with this technology, you see it with your own eyes.”

Through artificial intelligence, users of the VR headset can have a “conversation” with Auerbacher, asking about her encounters with heartbreaking loss and occasional heroism.

The project is a collaboration between Los Angeles-based company StoryFile, the World Jewish Congress and Facebook-owner Meta, which billed it as the first AI and metaverse Holocaust education experience in Germany.

Auerbacher, a trained chemist, sat for two days of interviews, answering around 60 questions in fluent German and English to create a database of video files.
Game of Thrones actress Laura Pradelska: 'My grandmother went through trauma after five years in Auschwitz'
Game of Thrones actress Laura Pradelska has admitted her grandmother went through trauma after spending five years in Auschwitz.

The German Jewish actress opened up about her Auschwitz survivor grandmother and her experience growing up as a German Jewish woman in post-war Germany.

Speaking on John Bishop’s Three Little Words podcast, with co-host Tony Pitts, the German Jewish actress discussed the life and experiences of her paternal grandmother who, after surviving the horrors of Auschwitz for five years, subsequently opened a fish restaurant with money given to her by the post-war German government.

As per the theme of the podcast, Pradelska choose three words that meant the most to her. These were “blanket, refugee, and delicate.”

She told the podcast: “Refugee is a word that I really connect to hope and survival, and so often, in the media today, it is made as a dirty word, and it riles me up.

“It has a lot of beauty in it, and I really wanted to talk about that. I have a personal connection to it in the sense that I’m a grandchild of holocaust survivors.

“My paternal grandmother went through trauma because she had spent five years in Auschwitz. She couldn’t speak about it. The trauma was too deep.

“My grandparents decided to stay in Germany because they couldn’t go anywhere else. It really wasn’t an option.

“People always say, ‘Why did they stay?’. They came with nothing on them. My parents were born in displaced people camps. There was no luxury.”
Times are good for Azerbaijan’s 30,000 Jews
“The Jewish community in Azerbaijan dates back to antiquity. Every group in Azerbaijan has its own synagogue, Rabbi Zamir Isayev, the chairman of the Georgian-Jewish community of Azerbaijan, told JNS in an exclusive interview last week.

“They are living in prosperity. There are ancient synagogues, an ancient culture and ancient traditions of communities. During all of these years, the Jewish community has been growing,” the rabbi continued.

“Today, we have about 30,000 Jews living in Azerbaijan. Most of them are Mountain Jews living in Baku, Quba [also spelled Guba], Oghuz and everywhere. Ashkenazi Jews are mostly living in Baku. There is also a community of about 2,000 Georgian Jews,” he said.

Isayev said that most of the Georgian Jews in Azerbaijan are descended from Jews who were expelled from Spain, while the Mountain Jews are indigenous to the region and the Ashkenazi Jews immigrated from Europe about a hundred years ago.

“Georgian Jews moved to Azerbaijan over 100 years ago at the same time as the Ashkenazi Jews. Not all Georgian Jews are Sephardim from Spain, but the part that moved to Azerbaijan are descendants of Jews who were expelled from Spain and Portugal. In the ancient documents in the Georgian Jewish community, it is mentioned.

“But during the Soviet period, the government did not let them write in Ladino because it is not Russian. They did not want a Sephardic community so they called them Georgian Jews,” he said.

Isayev emphasized that the Mountain Jews are Persians and Mizrahim.

“You can also call them Sephardic but it is not correct. Most of the Georgian Jewish community is mixed with the Mountain Jewish community. It is the same tradition, so it [marriage between members of the groups] is common.

Looted rare coin from last Hasmonean king seized in raid on suspected thief
Police recovered dozens of ancient coins that were allegedly illegally excavated — among them a rare coin from the time of the last Hasmonean king of Judea over 2000 years ago — during a search in East Jerusalem overnight, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The currency was recovered from the suspect’s home in the Silwan neighborhood and includes bronze coins ranging from the Roman period until the Muslim period. The IAA said in a statement that coins from the reign of Antigonus Mattathias II (40 BCE – 37 BCE) are the rarest finds among those minted from the Hasmonean period.

Police questioned a man in his 30s, suspected of robbing the artifacts — likely by searching for them with a metal detector around Jerusalem — illegal possession of artifacts, and attempting to sell the items.

IAA Director Eli Escusido said that finding the coins at their original site would have been more useful to their study.

“The removal of the coin from its archaeological site harms the ability to understand our historical puzzle,” he said.

Gabriela Bichovsky, a coin expert at the IAA, said a cornucopia is displayed on the coin, with a Hebrew inscription reading, “Mattia Kohen Gadol,” a reference to the Hasmonean king as a member of the Jewish priestly class. The opposite side of the coin was minted with a Greek inscription surrounded by a wreath, she said.

“Mattathias minted bronze coins in three denominations: large, medium, and small. The coin that was recovered is of the medium denomination and is rarer than the large, on which a pair of cornucopias appear instead of one,” Bichovsky added.

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