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Our Dangerous Historical Moment: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Feb. 19, 2014 — World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it?
Confronting European Anti-Semitism: Alan Dershowitz, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2015 — I just completed a three-day visit to Prague and the former Terezin concentration camp.
Turkey's Bad Joke: Crocodile Tears for Victims of Holocaust: Burak Bekdil, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 8, 2014— For a few moments, one could think there are two countries in the world that go by the name "Turkey." Then reality quickly corrects the mistaken belief.
Persecution Defines Life for Yemen’s Remaining Jews: Rod Nordland, New York Times, Feb. 18, 2015— About all that remain of Yemen’s ancient and once vibrant Jewish community are untended cemeteries, dramatic hillside ghetto villages of thousand-year-old stone houses and a few people like Abraham Jacob and his extended family.
He Walked Around Paris ‘as a Jew’ for 10 Hours — the Reality Caught on Video Is Hard to Stomach (Video): Jason Howerton, The Blaze, Feb. 16, 2015
Yemen's Last Jews Eye Exodus To Israel After Shiite Militia Takeover: Mohammed Ghobari, Huffington Post, Feb. 16, 2015
The Uniqueness of Anti-Semitism: Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27, 2015
Why Don’t the British Like Israel?: Alex Joffe, Times of Israel, Feb. 5, 2015
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review, Feb. 19, 2015
World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it? The panic from the ongoing and worldwide Depression in the 1930s had empowered extremist movements the world over. Like-minded, violent dictators of otherwise quite different Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, and the Communist Soviet Union all wanted to attack their neighbors. Yet World War II could have been prevented had Western Europe united to deter Germany. Instead, France, Britain, and the smaller European democracies appeased Hitler. The United States turned isolationist. The Soviet Union collaborated with the Third Reich. And Italy and Japan eventually joined it.
The 1930s saw rampant anti-Semitism. Jews were blamed in fascist countries for the economic downturn. They were scapegoated in democracies for stirring up the fascists. The only safe havens for Jews from Europe were Jewish-settled Palestine and the United States. Does all this sound depressingly familiar? The aftershocks of the global financial meltdown of 2008 still paralyze the European Union while prompting all sorts of popular extremist movements and opportunistic terrorists. After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, America has turned inward. The Depression and the lingering unhappiness over World War I did the same to Americans in the 1930s.
Premodern monsters are on the move. The Islamic State is carving up Syria and Iraq to fashion a fascist caliphate. Vladimir Putin gobbles up his neighbors in Ossetia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine, in crude imitation of the way Germany once swallowed Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Theocratic Iran is turning Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon into a new Iranian version of Japan’s old Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The Western response to all this? Likewise, similar to the 1930s. The NATO allies are terrified that Putin will next attack the NATO-member Baltic states — and that their own paralysis will mean the embarrassing end of the once-noble alliance. The United States has now fled from four Middle Eastern countries. It forfeited its post-surge victory in Iraq. It was chased out of Libya after the killings of Americans in Benghazi. American red lines quickly turned pink in Syria. U.S. Marines just laid down their weapons and flew out of the closed American embassy in Yemen. America has convinced its European partners to drop tough sanctions against Iran. In the manner of the Allies in 1938 at Munich, they prefer instead to charm Iran, in hopes it will stop making a nuclear bomb. The Islamic State has used almost a year of unchallenged aggression to remake the map of the Middle East. President Obama had variously dismissed it as a jayvee team or merely akin to the problems that big-city mayors face. Europeans pay out millions to ransom their citizens from radical Islamic hostage-beheaders. Americans handed over terrorist kingpins to get back a likely Army deserter.
Then we come to the return of the Jewish question. Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, Jews are once again leaving France. They have learned that weak governments either will not or cannot protect them from Islamic terrorists. In France, radical Islamists recently targeted a kosher market. In Denmark, they went after a synagogue. In South Africa, students demanded the expulsion of Jewish students from a university. A Jewish prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina was found mysteriously murdered. Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being blamed for stoking Middle Eastern tensions. Who cares that he resides over the region’s only true democracy, one that is stable and protects human rights? Obama-administration aides have called him a coward and worse. President Obama has dismissed the radical Islamists’ targeting of Jews in France merely as “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.”
Putin, the Islamic State, and Iran at first glance have as little in common as did Germany, Italy, and Japan. But like the old Axis, they are all authoritarians that share a desire to attack their neighbors. And they all hate the West. The grandchildren of those who appeased the dictators of the 1930s once again prefer in the short term to turn a blind eye to the current fascists. And the grandchildren of the survivors of the Holocaust once again get blamed. The 1930s should have taught us that aggressive autocrats do not have to like each other to share hatred of the West. The 1930s should have demonstrated to us that old-time American isolationism and the same old European appeasement will not prevent but only guarantee a war. And the 1930s should have reminded us that Jews are usually among the first — but not the last — to be targeted by terrorists, thugs, and autocrats.
Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2015
I just completed a three-day visit to Prague and the former Terezin concentration camp. I was there to speak at a conference commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Many European speakers talked about the efforts they are making to confront the rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout Europe. But before one can decide how to confront a sickness like anti-Semitism, one must first describe and diagnose the pathology.
There are several distinct, but sometimes overlapping, types of anti-Semitism. The first is traditional, right-wing, fascist Jew hatred that has historically included theological, racial, economic, social, personal and cultural aspects. We are seeing a resurgence of this today in Greece, Hungary and other European countries with rising right-wing parties that are anti-Muslim as well as anti-Jewish.
The second is Muslim anti-Semitism. Just as not all Greeks and Hungarians are anti-Semitic, so too not all Muslims suffer from this malady. But far too many do. It is wrong to assume that only Muslims who manifest Jew hatred through violence harbor anti-Semitic views. Recent polls show an extraordinarily high incidence of anti-Semitism – hatred of Jews as individuals, as a group and as a religion – throughout North Africa, the Middle East and Muslim areas in Europe. This hatred manifests itself not only in words, but in deeds, such as taunting Jews who wear kippot, vandalizing Jewish institutions, and occasional violence directed at individual Jews. Among a small number of extremists it also results in the kind of deadly violence we have seen in Toulouse, Paris, Brussels and other parts of Europe. Several decades ago it manifested itself in attacks on synagogues by Palestinian terrorists, including some operating on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Third, there is hard Left anti-Zionism that sometimes melds into subtle and occasionally overt anti-Semitism. This pathology is seen in the double standard imposed on everything Jewish, including the nation-state of the Jewish people. It is also reflected in blaming “Jewish power,” and the “pushiness” of Jews in demanding support for Israel. I’m not referring to criticism of Israeli policies or actions. I’m referring to the singling out of Israel for extreme demonization. The ultimate form of this pathology is the absurd comparison made by some extreme leftist between the extermination of policies of the Nazis and of Israel’s efforts to defend itself against terrorist rockets, tunnels, suicide bombers and other threats to its civilians. Comparing Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis is a not-so-subtle version of Holocaust denial. Because if all the Nazis really did was what Israel is now doing, there could not have been a Holocaust or an attempt at genocide against the Jewish people. A variation on this perverse theme is apartheid denial: by accusing Israel – which accords equal rights to all its citizens – of apartheid, these haters deny the horrors of actual apartheid, which was so much more horrible than anything Israel has ever done.
Fourth, and most dangerous, is eliminationist anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism of the kind advocated by the leaders of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic State. Listen to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: “If [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,” or, “If we search the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I didn’t say the Israeli.” These variations on the theme of anti-Semitism have several elements in common. First, they tend to engage in some form of Holocaust denial, minimization, glorification or comparative victimization. Second, they exaggerate Jewish power, money and influence. Third, they seek the delegitimation and demonization of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Fourth, they impose a double standard on all things Jewish. Finally, they nearly all deny that they are anti-Semites who hate all Jews. They claim that their hatred is directed against Israel and Jews who support the nation-state of the Jewish people.
This common form of the new anti-Semitism – we love the Jews, it’s only their nation-state that we hate – is pervasive among many European political, media, cultural and academic leaders. It was evident even among some who came to commemorate the liberation of the death camps. A recent poll among Germans showed a significant number of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Nazi supporters didn’t want to hear about Nazi atrocities, but believed what Israel was doing to the Palestinians was comparable to what the Nazis had done to the Jews. This then is the European problem of anti-Semitism that many European leaders are unwilling to confront, because they have a built in excuse! It’s Israel’s fault – if only Israel would do the right thing with regard to the Palestinians, the problem would be solved. Tragically, it won’t be solved, because the reality is that hatred of Israel is not the cause of anti-Semitism. Rather, it is the reverse: anti-Semitism is a primary cause of hatred for the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Gatestone Institute, Feb. 8, 2015
For a few moments, one could think there are two countries in the world that go by the name "Turkey." Then reality quickly corrects the mistaken belief. "We hope that every person develops an understanding of the Holocaust, which constitutes one of the darkest moments in human history, and will consider the importance of working together so that such a tragedy, and the conditions that made this inconceivable crime possible, will never re-emerge," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on January 27. How nice and thoughtful. But there were more Turkish niceties.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was among the participants in Poland at the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, on Holocaust Remembrance Day. And Turkey donated a modest sum of 150,000 euros this year as its contribution to the long-term preservation and restoration of the concentration camp. Also, for the first time, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked in Ankara by high-level officials. Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Cicek on January 28 addressed members of Turkey's tiny Jewish community and others at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
It all looks nice. It isn't. The Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement looked like the bad joke of the year: "We observe that anti-Semitism, which formed a basis for the inhuman Nazi ideology, still survives today and therefore we believe in the importance of fighting tirelessly against this phenomenon." The ministry was right to observe that anti-Semitism still survives today. Sadly, most powerfully in its own country, where no prosecutor has indicted a single one of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of social media users who, since last summer, have praised Hitler endlessly, claiming that the "Jews deserved it."
Under the nice wrappings of Holocaust Remembrance Day, there is the story of an entirely different Turkey. Parliamentary Speaker Cicek, for instance, linked rising anti-Semitism to Israeli actions. In his address to the Jewish community, he said: "As we remember the pain of the past, no one can ignore the last attacks on Gaza, in which 2,000 innocent children, women were massacred." Perhaps he thinks the Holocaust, too, happened because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was not a coincidence that back in 2011, a study, released by the Turkish think tank SETA, found that only 8.6% of the Turks had a favorable opinion of Jews. Nearly 20% of the respondents did not have an opinion of Jews, and 71.5% said they had a negative opinion. According to a poll that the Anti-Defamation League released in 2014, 69% of Turks harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
More recently, the Hrant Dink Foundation in Turkey, named after the murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist, found that anti-Semitism is the most common racial or religious prejudice in the Turkish media. The study tracked derogatory coverage of over 30 different groups in media reports between May and August, only to find that Jews and Armenians were the subjects of just over half of the recorded incidents in a media landscape filled with "biased and discriminatory language use." Jews led the list with 130 incidents, followed by Armenians (60), [non-Greek] Christians (25), Greeks (21), Kurds (18) and Syrian refugees (10).
Foreign Minister Cavusoglu may have bothered to travel all the way to Poland to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, but his sentiments most probably align with other ideologies. Less than a month after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hosted Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas's political bureau, at a high-level party congress, Cavusoglu in January said that Mashaal, reportedly expelled from Qatar, was free to come to Turkey. He said: "Regardless of which country they belong to, people are free to come and go to Turkey as they wish, as long as there are no legal impediments."
But Hamas is not Turkey's only love affair in the neighborhood. Turkey's Islamist leaders are as passionate about the Muslim Brothers as they are about Hamas. Hence, not a word from the Turkish Foreign Ministry (which observes that anti-Semitism is still alive today) over the January 30 call from the Muslim Brotherhood for "a long, uncompromising jihad" in Egypt. Only two days before a terror attack killed 25 in Egypt's Sinai region, a statement from the Muslim Brotherhood said: "Imam al-Bana [founder of the Brotherhood] prepared the jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers…"
And in programs aired on January 10 and 26 on Muslim Brotherhood channels based in Turkey, Egyptian clerics and commentators called for the murder of Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi and the journalists who support him. For instance, cleric Salama Abd al-Qawi said on Rabea TV that, "anyone who killed al-Sisi would be doing a good deed." Cleric Wagdi Ghoneim told Misr Alan TV that, "whoever can bring us the head of one of these dogs and hell-dwellers" would be rewarded by Allah. And commentator Muhammad Awadh said on Misr Alan TV that the punishment for the "inciting coup journalists" was death.
But the Turkish Foreign Ministry was right. Anti-Semitism is still alive today!
New York Times, Feb. 18, 2015
About all that remain of Yemen’s ancient and once vibrant Jewish community are untended cemeteries, dramatic hillside ghetto villages of thousand-year-old stone houses and a few people like Abraham Jacob and his extended family. Most of them live near this northern Yemeni town in Amran Province, deep in territory controlled by Houthi militants, whose leaders have made anti-Semitism a central plank in their political platform. It shows. When Mr. Jacob, 36, came to the souk here Thursday to meet journalists and take them on a rare visit to his community, he rode a battered motorcycle, his long, curly earlocks flapping and making him readily identifiable as Jewish. When traffic stalled for a minute, a khat dealer accosted the visitors’ Yemeni interpreter, Shuaib Almosawa, a journalist. “What are you doing with that dirty Jew?” the dealer said. “Why are you friendly with him?” “He’s a human being, after all,” Mr. Almosawa replied. “No, he’s not,” the dealer said. “God has damned him.”
The last of Yemen’s once numerous Jews, who predated Muslims by many centuries, have seldom been so threatened and had so few protectors. The Houthis, who now dominate the country, are particularly strong in the two places with confirmed remaining Yemeni Jews: here in Raida, where there are 55 Jews, and in Sana, the capital, where a small number live under what amounts to house arrest by the Houthi leadership. The two countries that have long facilitated Jewish emigration from Yemen — the United States and Britain — both closed their embassies last week, as did most other Western countries. And the Yemeni strongman who for three decades was the Jews’ protector, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, is not only out of power, but also, more recently, out of favor with the Houthis.
“We have no friends,” Mr. Jacob said, “so we just try to stay away from everyone as much as we can.” They have more to fear than bad words. The encounter in the souk took place a short distance from where a Yemeni Air Force pilot in 2008 accosted Moshe Yaish Nahari, the brother of a prominent rabbi and the father of eight children, as he stepped out of his home. The assailant coldly said, “Jew, here’s a message from Islam,” and then fatally shot Mr. Nahari, who was unarmed, five times with an assault rifle, according to Yemeni news accounts. The pilot was convicted and sentenced to death for murder, but Mr. Nahari’s family, pressured into accepting blood money from the killer’s tribe to spare his life, left Yemen as soon as possible.
In the next few years, nearly all of Raida’s Jews followed. Among the exceptions were Abraham Jacob and eight other interrelated households, 55 people in all, most of them children, according to Suleiman Jacob, 45, Abraham’s eldest brother and the community’s unofficial rabbi and kosher butcher. Like the men, most of the boys in the Jacob family wear earlocks, a proud sign of who they are in an otherwise Muslim society. Now Suleiman keeps his earlocks thin and long enough so that when he goes out he can tuck them out of sight under an Arabic-style head scarf, which also covers the skullcaps (or kipas) that the men and boys all wear. “It’s a shame that we have to do that sometimes, but we do,” he said. Abraham says he refuses to hide his earlocks: “I fear none but God.”
Yemeni Jews, like those in other Arab countries, have suffered wave after wave of persecution. Originally many of them lived in Saada Province in the north, which was predominantly Zaydi, members of an offshoot of Shiite Islam that historically were anti-Semitic. The Houthis, whose base is in Saada, embedded that attitude in their slogan, “Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews.” The Houthis fought a succession of wars with the central government beginning in 2004, and in 2007, a Houthi representative in Saada gave Jews there an ultimatum: Leave in 10 days or face attack. Yemen’s president then, Mr. Saleh, though a Zaydi himself, became a champion of the Jews from Saada. At government expense, Mr. Saleh relocated them to a gated community in Sana next to the American Embassy.
That place is known as Tourist City, and as recently as 2009, there were 400 Jews reportedly living there under the former president’s protection. Now there are said to be only 20 to 40. Many of them have reportedly cut off their earlocks after one of their number was killed in 2002 just outside Tourist City’s gates by a Muslim who accused the victim of ruining his life through witchcraft. One of the Jews still there, Yahya Yousef, who described himself as the Sana rabbi, expressed eagerness to be interviewed when contacted by telephone but said he could not do so unless the Houthi-dominated security office in the Interior Ministry gave formal permission. Repeated requests over a week for such permission were unsuccessful. Army guards at the community’s gate refused entry to journalists.
In Raida, Abraham Jacob shrugged off his neighbors’ anti-Semitism, saying, “There are good people, and there are bad people.” But it is harder to overlook the Houthis’ slogan, which is chanted at all Houthi rallies, broadcast on television and painted on what seems like every blank wall space in areas they control. “We know there are Houthi people who are understanding and tolerant, and we have not been harmed by any of them,” Mr. Jacob said. “But this cursing us to damnation is distressing and hurtful to us.” “Honestly,” his brother Suleiman said, “we are a little afraid of the Houthi takeover and don’t know what to do about it.” Their family’s choice would be to emigrate to the United States, rather than Israel, Suleiman said, “because America is quieter, and we’ve had enough problems already.”
Despite the embassy closings, he said he remained hopeful that his son Jacob, who will turn 13 late this year, can celebrate his bar mitzvah outside Yemen. The boy has already been memorizing the Hebrew verses that he will have to chant for the occasion. “He is my best Hebrew student,” Suleiman said. The neighborhood still has young children and their parents, as well as elderly people, but there are few single adults of marriageable age. Most have emigrated. The last wedding took place two years ago, Abraham said. The newlyweds left Yemen and never came back. “There isn’t a single one of us here who doesn’t want to leave,” Suleiman said. “Soon there will be no Jews in Yemen, inshallah,” he said, using the Arabic expression for “God willing.”
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He Walked Around Paris ‘as a Jew’ for 10 Hours — the Reality Caught on Video Is Hard to Stomach (Video): Jason Howerton, The Blaze, Feb. 16, 2015 —While walking quietly through the streets of Paris wearing a yarmulke, Zvika Klein claims to have experienced the shocking amount of discrimination and intimidation that Jews can experience on a daily basis.
Yemen's Last Jews Eye Exodus To Israel After Shiite Militia Takeover: Mohammed Ghobari, Huffington Post, Feb. 16, 2015 —A few worried families are all that remain of Yemen's ancient Jewish community, and they too may soon flee after a Shi'ite Muslim militia seized power in the strife-torn country this month.
The Uniqueness of Anti-Semitism: Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27, 2015—Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the first-ever UN General Assembly plenum on global anti-Semitism. At this historic conference, many references were made to other forms of hatred and discrimination.
Why Don’t the British Like Israel?: Alex Joffe, Times of Israel, Feb. 5, 2015— A recent poll showed that Britons regarded Israel less favorably than any other country besides North Korean.
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