Daily Briefing: Europe’s Schizophrenic Relationship With Jews (May 24, 2019)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin (Source: NATO)


NATO and Israel are Right to Deepen Ties:  Michael Sieveking, New Europe, May 23, 2019 –— Israel is fast becoming NATO’s premier partner country.
The New German Antisemitism:  James Angelos, New York Times, May 21, 2019 — One of Wenzel Michalski’s early recollections of growing up in southern Germany in the 1970s was of his father, Franz, giving him some advice: “Don’t tell anyone that you’re Jewish.”
Seventy-five Years Later, Hungary Still Hasn’t Come to Terms with its Role in the Holocaust:  Anna Porter, Quillette, May 15, 2019 — On the 75th anniversary of the extermination of most of Hungary’s Jews—including the Auschwitz deportations, which began in May, 1944—we should also take note of the Hungarian government’s apparent determination to distort the country’s historical record.
The White Paper: 80 Years Later:  Larry Domnitch, Algemeiner, May 19, 2019 — Eighty years ago, an ominous and devastating policy was enacted by the British government that would wreak severe destruction upon the Jewish people.

On Topic Links

Everything You Know About Brexit is Wrong: Sumantra Maitra, Washington Examiner, Mar. 1, 2019 — Tracing the footsteps of the conservative Anglophile man of letters Nirad C. Chaudhuri, my English life as a doctoral researcher started in 2015 with disillusionment. It’s hard to convey the stark absurdity that hits you in your face the moment you start comparing your romanticized ideas about the motherland of modern parliamentary democracy to the reality.

The Establishment Coup Against Brexit:  Andrew Roberts, WSJ, Apr. 12, 2019 — ‘The means by which Providence raises a nation to greatness,” Edmund Burke observed, “are the virtues infused into great men.” How lucky Britons were to have people of the virtues of Burke and Winston Churchill when their country needed them. How desolate that they have no living, modern-day successors in the front rank of politics.
Jews Revolutionized the Universities. Will Asians Do the Same?:  Barbara Kay, Quillette, Nov. 23, 2018 — In 1905, Harvard College adopted the College Entrance Examination Board tests as the principal basis for student admission, a blind test that favored intelligent applicants even if they lacked poise or polish.
A Visit to the Barbershop on Lag Ba’Omer:  Jesse Bernstein, Tablet, May 23, 2019 — The barber shop at 11 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, run by a skillful group of Bukharian Jews, was absolutely poppin’ by mid-morning today. 
NATO and Israel are Right to Deepen Ties
Michael Sieveking
New Europe, May 23, 2019Israel is fast becoming NATO’s premier partner country. As the alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue program turns 25 this year, enlisting Jerusalem’s help to tackle today’s security challenges is still a no-brainer: NATO can tap into over seven decades of counterterrorism experience, learn from a cyber powerhouse, and deepen intelligence ties with a tested and vibrant democracy perched on the shores of the Levantine powder keg.And yet, the partnership, in many ways self-evident, nevertheless had to overcome some major hurdles. While NATO lives by the principle of collective security, Israel must rely on itself to defend its razor-thin 15-kilometre waistline. What’s more, multilateralism is the allies’ lifeblood while the Jewish state tends to associate it with political headaches. Until recently, NATO was no exception to this rule: Only after Turkey finally lifted its six-year veto in 2016 was Israel allowed to open a liaison office at the Brussels headquarters and ink an individual cooperation agreement in 2017.
Three years on, Turkey’s about-face is unlocking the partnership’s full potential. NATO’s leaders aren’t shy about showing off the deepening ties: High-level visits to Israel, like the one of Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller in January, are emblematic of the upward trend. In her own words, it was “time well-spent.” After meeting with Israel’s senior brass and government officials, NATO’s number-two canvassed Israel’s northern border by helicopter, hovering just a stone’s throw from Hezbollah’s Lebanese stronghold.
Living at close quarters with radical Islamist terrorists is business as usual for Israel. Iran’s fully owned proxy Hezbollah today has an estimated 150.000 missiles aimed at Israeli cities. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) can share invaluable experience in asymmetric warfare against terrorist armies that use its own population as human shields and thus can give crucial advice to NATO commanders as they face similar challenges. Israel has pioneered advanced techniques to help protect civilians in residential combat zones, such as giving them advanced warning through text messages or using low-yield devices to warn and prompt civilians to leave buildings designated as military targets.NATO shifted its attention to the Middle East after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks. Partnering with Israel was already a natural choice, despite sometimes-fraught relations with Turkey. A founding member of the Mediterranean Dialogue program, Israel signed up in 2008 to NATO’s flagship maritime operation in the Mediterranean Sea, Operation Active Endeavor. In 2017, Israel hosted NATO officials for a five-day counterterrorism training seminar with experts from Israel’s security establishment.

On countless occasions, Israel has fed NATO allies life-saving intelligence. Just last year, Israel prevented a blood bath at a political rally in Paris plotted by diplomats of the Iranian regime. Israeli warnings also foiled an ISIS attack at a soccer match between NATO ally Albania and Israel in 2016. Last year Israel unearthed a treasure-trove of evidence on the nuclear ambitions of Tehran, the world’s foremost state-sponsor of terrorism. The list goes on.

Cyber warfare is increasingly viewed as the Achilles heel of advanced economies. Early on, Israel had to respond to such attacks on its critical infrastructure. Today Israel is a global leader in the field of cybersecurity, its ecosystem the envy of the world. Israel’s enemies have long known this. Its friends are now increasingly benefiting from it.

Last year, Israel’s elite cyber unit 8200 thwarted a potentially harrowing ISIS “air attack” on European soil. Earlier this month, Israel made history by responding in real-time to a Hamas cyber-attack with a conventional air strike. The IDF’s Twitter account quipped: “HamasCyberHQ.exe has been removed.” To be sure, leaders from Tehran to Pyongyang heard loud and clear the crucial cyber defence precedent Israel set for the West.

In a landmark decision in 2014, NATO’s top governing body declared cyberspace an official domain of operations on equal footing with land, sea, and air. Two years prior, NATO had expanded its collective defence clause, Article 5, to apply to cyber-attacks. Today, every exercise must include a cyber component. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

The New German Antisemitism
James Angelos
New York Times, May 21, 2019
One of Wenzel Michalski’s early recollections of growing up in southern Germany in the 1970s was of his father, Franz, giving him some advice: “Don’t tell anyone that you’re Jewish.” Franz and his mother and his little brother had survived the Holocaust by traveling across swaths of Eastern and Central Europe to hide from the Gestapo, and after the war, his experiences back in Germany suggested that, though the Nazis had been defeated, the antisemitism that was intrinsic to their ideology had not. This became clear to Franz when his teachers in Berlin cast stealthily malicious glances at him when Jewish characters — such as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” — came up in literature. “Eh, Michalski, this exactly pertains to you,” he recalls one teacher telling him through a clenched smile. Many years later, when he worked as an animal-feed trader in Hamburg, he didn’t tell friends that he was Jewish and held his tongue when he heard them make anti-Semitic comments. And so, Franz told his son Wenzel that things would go easier for him if he remained quiet about being Jewish. “The moment you say it, things will become very awkward.”As a teenager, Wenzel defied his father’s advice and told a close friend. That friend quickly told his mother, and the next time Wenzel saw her, she reacted quite strongly, hugging him and kissing his face: “Wenzel! Oh, my Wenzel!” Now a stocky, bearded 56-year-old, Wenzel recalled the moment to me on a recent Saturday afternoon. He raised the pitch of his voice as he continued to mimic her: “You people! You are the most intelligent! The most sensitive! You are the best pianists in the world! And the best poets!” In his normal voice again, he added, “Then I understood what my father meant.”Wenzel Michalski is now the director of Human Rights Watch for Germany. He and his wife, Gemma, an outgoing British expat, live in a cavernous apartment building in the west of Berlin. In their kitchen, Gemma told me that after arriving in Germany in 1989, she often got a strangely defensive reaction when she told people she was Jewish; they would tell her they didn’t feel responsible for the Holocaust or would defend their grandparents as not having perpetrated it. And so, to avoid conversations like these, she, too, stayed quiet about being Jewish.

Recently, the Michalskis’ youngest son became the third generation of the family to learn that telling people he is Jewish could cause problems. The boy — whose parents asked that he be called by one of his middle names, Solomon, to protect his privacy — had attended a Jewish primary school in Berlin. But he didn’t want to stay in such a homogeneous school for good, so just before he turned 14, he transferred to a public school that was representative of Germany’s new diversity — a place, as Gemma described it, where he “could have friends with names like Hassan and Ahmed.”

The first few days there seemed to go well. Solomon, an affable kid with an easy smile, bonded with one classmate over their common affection for rap music. That classmate introduced him to a German-Turkish rapper who would rap about “Allah and stuff,” Solomon told me. In return, he introduced the classmate to American and British rap. Solomon had a feeling they would end up being best friends. On the fourth day, when Solomon was in ethics class, the teachers asked the students what houses of worship they had been to. One student mentioned a mosque. Another mentioned a church. Solomon raised his hand and said he’d been to a synagogue. There was a strange silence, Solomon later recalled. One teacher asked how he had encountered a synagogue.

“I’m Jewish,” Solomon said.

“Everyone was shocked, especially the teachers,” Solomon later told me about this moment. After class, a teacher told Solomon that he was “very brave.” Solomon was perplexed. As Gemma explained: “He didn’t know that you’re not meant to tell anyone.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Seventy-five Years Later, Hungary Still Hasn’t Come to Terms with its Role in the Holocaust
Anna Porter
Quillette, May 15, 2019On the 75th anniversary of the extermination of most of Hungary’s Jews—including the Auschwitz deportations, which began in May 1944—we should also take note of the Hungarian government’s apparent determination to distort the country’s historical record. In some circles, this effort includes even the rehabilitation of Miklós Horthy, the longtime Hungarian Regent who governed Hungary during the Holocaust.A former admiral and adjutant to the Habsburg Emperor-King, Horthy entered Budapest in dramatic style with his army on November 16, 1919, astride a white horse. His army defeated the ragtag Bolshevik forces that had imposed 133 days of “Red Terror” upon the country, but also inflicted its own “White Terror,” in some ways more brutal than its communist predecessor. Early during Horthy’s rule, Hungary enacted some of Europe’s first 20th-century anti-Jewish laws. Jews were capped at 6% of university admissions, and subsequent measures limited Jewish participation in elite professions to the same benchmark.Jews also were prohibited from working in the public service and judiciary, or as high school teachers. During World War II, an additional law was passed prohibiting marriage or sex between Christians and Jews, on the grounds that such unions were harmful to the “national soul.”

Even before Hungary actively rallied to the German war effort, most of Hungary’s young Jewish men had been dispatched to so-called labour battalions, serving unarmed near the front, where they were as likely to be killed by their commandants as by enemy fire. In 1941, the Hungarian army rounded up about 17,000 Jews who couldn’t prove they were citizens, and dumped them across the border into Ukraine, where they were systematically massacred by German death squads. By 1942, labour service had been extended to all Jewish men under the age of 45. All this happened while Horthy—an “exceptional statesman,” according to current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán—ran the country.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s participation in the invasion of the USSR led to the extermination of the flower of Hungarian youth. At the 1942 battle of Voronezh and subsequent operations, the underequipped Hungarian 2nd Army was practically wiped out as it launched itself against Russian defences in support of the ultimately disastrous German thrust toward Stalingrad. By late 1944, Russian troops got to the outskirts of Budapest, which suffered through a 50-day siege before Axis forces surrendered on February 13, 1945. Almost 40,000 civilians died during this period, and much of the city was destroyed.

By this time, most of the country’s Jews already had been deported to concentration camps. In all, an estimated 565,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Historical documents show that even some Germans were amazed by the speed and efficiency of the Hungarian government’s co-operation, and by the cruelty of its gendarmerie.

Horthy and Hitler, in 1938

Some of the few elderly Hungarian Jews who survived in the Budapest ghetto can still remember scenes of rats feasting on the unburied dead in Klauzal Square, and the trigger-happy young men guarding the gates. I have spoken to many survivors, including Max Eisen, a Canadian Holocaust educator, who was a young teenager when his family was rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. He still remembers the terror of being crammed into a boxcar, standing room only, a hundred to a car, with no water, food or sunlight. To this day, Eisen has nightmares about his mother holding his nine-month-old sister during that three-day journey. Most of his family was murdered mere hours after arriving on the platform at Birkenau. His father’s last words to him were: “If you survive, you must tell the world what happened”—which is what Eisen did with his devastating 2016 book, By Chance Alone.

But Horthy, who survived the war and lived till 1957, had different memories to relate. In his Memoirs, he pompously declared of the mid-1930s that “though times had changed considerably since I had been aide-de-camp to His Majesty Emperor Francis Joseph, my concepts of honour, law and justice…had not altered.” Of meeting Hitler in 1936, he wrote: “It was not my task to stand in judgment upon the man who, since he had come to power, had shown nothing but goodwill towards Hungary, and who had sent me an extremely friendly telegram on the 15th anniversary of my entry into Budapest. I decided, therefore, to avail myself of an Austrian invitation to a chamois [goat-antelope] shoot in August 1936, to seize the opportunity of paying a personal visit to Herr Hitler. The Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg had offered me the choice between three hunting preserves; I chose Hinterriss, which is famous for its chamois and to which Bavaria affords the only access.… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]


The White Paper: 80 Years Later
Larry Domnitch
Algemeiner, May 19, 2019Eighty years ago, an ominous and devastating policy was enacted by the British government that would wreak severe destruction upon the Jewish people. The MacDonald White Paper, named after the colonial Foreign Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, was proposed on May 17 and ratified on May 22, 1939. That week, British commitments to facilitate a Jewish state under the terms of the 1917 Balfour Declaration were essentially nullified. The White Paper also denied Jews desperately needed refuge as the Nazi threat emerged.
On November 9, 1938, the British government announced its intention to invite representatives of the Arabs in Palestine and nearby countries to confer with Jewish representatives at a London conference in search of a solution to the vast differences between them. The proposed meetings were a futile venture, as the Arabs refused to even sit with the Jews. Separate meetings were held, and they ended predictably with no resolution.Under the MacDonald White Paper, the Peel Commission’s 1937 recommendation of the partition of the land of Israel was rejected. Jewish immigration would be restricted to 15,000 per year over the next five years, and land purchases by Zionists would be severely restricted as well. Any further immigration after the five years would be determined by the Arab majority, which would essentially terminate the Zionist enterprise.
This move by the British came as the culmination of over 20 years of intermittent waves of Arab terror, and at the end of three years of devastating Arab riots in British Mandatory Palestine.The fact that the British Mandate over Palestine was a responsibility granted by an outside party, the League of Nations at San Remo in 1922, and therefore did not exclusively grant carte blanche to the British to act as they pleased, meant little since that organization was now of minimal importance. Anyway, who would hold the British accountable when their respective nations also had imposed severe quotas on Jewish immigration?

In section one, paragraph two, line one, of the White Paper, the following line sums up British intentions: “His Majesty’s government believe the framers of the mandate in which the Balfour declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country.”

The Jewish Agency swiftly responded with indignation: “The Jewish people regard this policy as a breach of faith and a surrender to Arab terrorism. … It is in the darkest hour of Jewish history that the British Government proposes to deprive the Jews of their last hope and to close the road back to their homeland.”

The following day, a general strike was called for Jews in Palestine, and 300,000 Palestinian Jews attended protests, in which 120 Jews were wounded during clashes with the British police. At one protest, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Yaakov Herzog, burned a copy of the White Paper. The protests continued over the following weeks.

Chaim Weizmann called it a “Death sentence for the Jewish people.” David Ben-Gurion famously stated that Zionists “would fight the war as if there was no White Paper and fight the White Paper as if there was no war.”
Emergency funds were sent to Palestine by the Jewish National Fund to purchase land while the opportunity still existed.

On May 21, protests in the United States began, where thousands of Jews protested in cities throughout the country. At the same time, 230 American Jewish leaders urged Secretary of State Cordell Hull to refuse recognition of the White Paper.

On May 22, the House of Commons held a debate on a motion that the White Paper was a violation of the terms of the Mandate. It was defeated by a vote of 268 to 179. Among those who voted for it was the soon-to-be prime minister, Winston Churchill. Another supporter of the motion, former prime minister Lloyd George, who had a significant role in the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration, called the White Paper an “act of perfidy.”

In the US, Senator William King of Utah called the White Paper a “betrayal of the Jews.” New York Congressman Hamilton Fish, from the House floor, called the British vote a “shocking repudiation of the Balfour pledges.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

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