Why Do the Hungarians and Netanyahu Want Each Other?: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 18, 2017— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Budapest on Monday, marking
the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has visited Hungary since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989.
How the Documentary “Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe” Was Chosen to be Excluded From the German-French Network: Abraham Cooper and Manfred Gerstenfeld, Huffington Post, June 19, 2017— The refusal of the German-French public TV station Arte to broadcast a movie about European anti-Semitism has sparked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.
Europe Remains Blind Because it Doesn’t Want to See: Melanie Phillips, Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2017— In Budapest this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an unintentionally revealing moment…
After 500 Years, an Italian Jewish Rebirth: Michael Ledeen, Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2017— Late last month a Jewish community was established here in southern Italy…
7 Reasons Why Macron’s Speech About the Holocaust in France Was Groundbreaking: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, July 17, 2017
On Bombing Anniversary, Iran Still Engaged in Illicit Activity: Matthew Levitt, The Hill, July 19, 2017
Argentina-Israel Relations: Nazi Trials and Terrorist Tribulations: Avraham Spraragen, JCPA, July 20, 2017
A Terrorist’s Big Payday, Courtesy of Trudeau: Peter Kent, Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2017
Jerusalem Post, July 18, 2017
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Budapest on Monday, marking the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has visited Hungary since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989. However, the run-up to the visit – Netanyahu will meet with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as well as take part in a summit of the four-country Visegrad group made up of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – has been anything but smooth.
First, there is the fact that Jobbik, a far-right party with a history of antisemitism, is the third-largest party in the country. Second is the government’s anti-immigrant billboard campaign, which has antisemitic overtones because it is using the image of George Soros, the Hungarian-born Jewish financier who is a harsh critic of Orban’s government. Soros is also a strident critic of Israel who supports a number of NGOs with radical left-wing agendas, such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and al-Haq. And third are Orban’s comments from a few weeks ago in which he praised Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian leader during World War II when 600,000 of the country’s 800,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
Those three factors have led to criticism of Netanyahu in recent days from some circles accusing him of playing footsie with a leader many feel has authoritarian leanings and who – in the run-up to elections next spring in which Jobbik is his main rival – is trying to burnish his right-wing credentials by rewriting history and praising people such as Horthy.
All this raises two questions. If Orban is indeed playing to latent (and often not so latent) strains of Hungarian antisemitism – antisemitism of the classical the-Jews-killed- Jesus-and-run-the-world variety – why did he invite Netanyahu? And the other question is why would Netanyahu want to go? Regarding Orban’s invitation, it is worth noting that when he visited Israel in the mid-2000s as head of the opposition, Netanyahu was one of the few politicians who paid attention to him, and the two struck up a good relationship.
When Orban then became prime minister in 2010, he began pushing for Netanyahu to visit. One reason he wanted the visit was the election put him at odds with the European Union, which was concerned about what it saw as his authoritarian and illiberal leanings, and a visit by Netanyahu would give him a degree of legitimacy and respect. The visit never materialized.
Fast-forward to 2017, and two new elements have emerged making such a visit – from Orban’s perspective – even potentially more beneficial now. The first is that the country is going to elections in 2018, and still remains relatively isolated in the EU. World leaders are not exactly beating a path to Orban’s door, so photo opportunities of a visit by Netanyahu – a recognized world figure in much of the world – can help Orban domestically by showing that it is not only the leaders of Kazakhstan and Russia who come calling.
The other new element is the election of US President Donald Trump. Orban was one of the first world leaders to applaud Trump when he won the Republican nomination last summer, and he is keen on improving ties with a Washington that, under Barack Obama, kept him at arm’s length because of his brand of illiberal democracy. In trying to develop close ties with Trump, the old adage that the road to Washington leads through Jerusalem resonates in Budapest as it does in some other capitals around the world. Netanyahu’s good relationship with Trump is something Orban apparently would like to leverage.
Moreover, this trip is not only a bilateral one, and Netanyahu will also be meeting with the leaders of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, the other three members of the Visegrad group. The importance of this group inside the EU should not be exaggerated, and participation by Netanyahu will give it a degree of media attention that will temporarily enhance its stature, something that is also in Orban’s interests.
But why would Netanyahu want to make the trip? First of all, because the country has a relatively large Jewish community, estimated at between 100,000 and 120,000, making it – after France and Britain – the third-largest Jewish community in the EU. Visits by the Israeli prime minister are important gestures of encouragement to the local Jewish community.
Second, because Hungary is on the side of those countries inside the EU who are favorably disposed toward Israel. If, on the one side, there are hypercritical states like Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal and even France, on the other side are countries like Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Greece. Hungary is more aligned with the latter group, and goes to bat for Israel inside the EU from time to time. For instance, in 2015 Hungary’s foreign minister came to Israel and unequivocally came out against the EU’s policy of labeling goods from the settlements.
While Hungary has not broken from the consensus EU positions on Israel-related votes in international forums, when there is a vote in the UN or another international body on Israel, and the EU countries split, Hungary is generally on the side of those who either abstain or vote for Israel, rather than voting against. Prime-ministerial trips such as these are also meant to reinforce those patterns and tendencies.
Abraham Cooper and Manfred Gerstenfeld
Huffington Post, June 19, 2017
The refusal of the German-French public TV station Arte to broadcast a movie about European anti-Semitism has sparked outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced it would show the film at its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and urged the European Parliament to screen the documentary.
Watching the first two minutes of “Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe“ explain the refusal to broadcast. In the film, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority is addressing the European Parliament. He claims that all terrorism, violence and extremism in the world will stop when peace exists between the Palestinians and Israel. Abbas also states that Israeli rabbis have asked the Israeli government to poison Palestinian waters. A few days later Abbas said that he was misinformed.
Abbas’ first claim is lunacy. The second is a modern mutation of the medieval false anti-Semitic accusation of Jews ‘poisoning the well’. Nevertheless, many European parliamentarians rose in a standing ovation for the Palestinian Authority President. Martin Schulz, then the Chairman of the European Parliament and presently the Socialist candidate aiming to become German Prime Minister in upcoming September 2017 elections, tweeted that Abbas speech was ‘inspiring’ and did not distance himself from its anti-Semitism.
This movie was created by German producers Joachim Schröder and Sophie Hafner. It was commissioned by German public TV broadcaster WDR on behalf of Arte. After showing Abbas’ anti-Semitic statement and the European parliamentarians’ appreciation for him, the remaining hour and a half of the documentary exposes many other issues relating to contemporary anti-Semitism. It undermines much of the European self- image and its Middle East narrative.
While in 2017 it is politically correct to expose right wing European anti-Semitism, emphasizing European left wing anti-Semitism is often frowned upon. Negative mention of the BDS campaign is problematic in various European circles. Demonstrating that anti-Israelism is a modern version of anti-Semitism is not particularly welcome either. Nor is mentioning Palestinian incitement, corruption and abuse of Western aid money…
It is one thing to show a single anti-Semitic murder resulting from extreme Islamist ideology. But the film recounts a number of extreme anti-Semitic crimes committed by Muslims. These include, the 2006 murder of Ilan Halimi, the 2012 Toulouse Jewish school killings, the 2015 Paris hypermarket murders and those in 2014 at the Brussels Jewish museum. The movie further shows the pogrom-like Muslim attacks in 2014 against synagogues in Paris and Sarcelles as well as the 2014 Islam-inspired robbery and rape in another Paris suburb, Creteil.
Many European politicians and media outlets have attempted for more than a decade to dilute or hide mention of extreme Muslim anti-Semitism. The suppression of these facts takes place even as it is the most violent expression of the ancient Jew-hatred in contemporary Europe. During the French socialist Jospin government at the beginning of this century, the huge increase of anti-Semitic incidents – mainly caused by Muslims – was to a large extent hidden by the police and the Ministry of Interior under the general heading “hooliganism.”
The censored movie was initially made available thanks to a – probably illegal — 24 hour long showing on the internet by the German daily, Bild. The movie was for a time also viewed on You Tube. It is remarkable that it has taken more than fifteen years before a major documentary on European anti-Semitism was produced by a European broadcaster. Due to the Arte censorship the documentary has generated far more publicity than had the broadcasters simply screened it.
The Arte management uses two arguments to explain its suppression of the documentary. Their first argument was that the movie was not professional enough. The German public broadcaster ARD apparently does not share this opinion as it is willing to broadcast the documentary. The second claim was that the documentary did not cover a number of countries that the broadcaster had agreed on with the filmmakers. Arte also claimed that the documentary gave too much attention to the Middle East…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2017
In Budapest this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an unintentionally revealing moment. On an open microphone, he was overheard condemning as “crazy” the EU’s insistence on resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a precondition for closer trade ties. European links with Israel, he said, would determine whether the EU would “live and thrive or shrivel and disappear.” The situation is surely even broader and starker than that. European leaders don’t realize their fate is wrapped up not only with Israel but with Judaism itself.
They don’t grasp that prejudice against the Jews is a major driver of Islamist attacks not just against Israel but also against the West. And they don’t understand how their own orthodoxies are aiding that malign process. Last April Sarah Halimi, a 67-year-old French Jewish woman, was murdered by her 27-year-old neighbor, Malian immigrant Kobili Traore, who beat and tortured her before throwing her alive out of the third floor window of her Paris apartment. During the attack he shouted “Allahu akbar” and “you sheitan!” (devil). He had previously taunted her repeatedly with anti-Jewish remarks. The police, who had failed to respond to the pleas by Halimi’s family to do something about Traore because they feared being accused of anti-Muslim prejudice, have refused to acknowledge this was an anti-Jewish crime.
In recent years, French Jews have been repeatedly attacked by Muslim assailants motivated by religiously based hatred of Jews. France has persistently ignored the significance of this. When Islamists murdered French Jews in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015, the Jewish community observed bitterly that this atrocity was only properly acknowledged because it happened two days after the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo. What the Hyper Cacher atrocity actually showed, along with other attacks on French Jewish targets around the same time, was what Europeans have denied for so long: that Muslims kill Jews because they are Jews.
In 2003 Sébastien Selam was killed in Paris by Adel Amastaïbou who screamed: “I’ll go to heaven, I killed my Jew!” In 2014 in Lyon a man armed with a hammer and an iron stick charged at his neighbor, a woman and her child, yelling “Dirty Jew, go back to your country!” The same month a young man was beaten up in Paris by two men crying: “Dirty Jew, we don’t like Jews here, this is no Israel, this is Palestine!” In Britain, there is an ongoing furor over antisemitism in the Labour Party. This is being blamed on the party’s far-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn. But anti-Jewish attitudes, expressed principally through attacks on Israel, are now the default position throughout the Left.
The usual alibi that such views are anti-Israel but not anti-Jew doesn’t wash. Although those expressing them may have no personal animosity against Jews, their Israel-bashing has precisely the same characteristics as Jew-baiting: singling out Jews or the Jewish state alone for double standards, demonization and systematic lying used against no other people.
During Netanyahu’s visit to Paris last Sunday, the French president Emmanuel Macron helpfully observed that anti-Zionism was a “new type of antisemitism.” He also issued a welcome call for “total clarity” on the Halimi murder and admitted: “We were silent because we did not want to see.” Alas, Macron himself doesn’t want to see what needs to be seen. He has persistently failed to acknowledge the real cause of Islamist terrorism, blaming it on things like joblessness, grievances or – most fatuously – global warming.
Islamist terrorism is caused by a fanatical interpretation of Islam. Intrinsic to that is hatred and fear of the Jews deriving from Islamic sacred texts. Islamists further believe that modernity has to be stopped, the Jews are behind modernity and all other evil and so the Jews have to be eradicated. The Islamists’ key insight is that progressive views have hollowed out Western societies, particularly in Europe, so that they no longer know what values they need to defend against the Islamic jihad.
What secularists fail to grasp is that the values they most prize, such as the power of reason or belief in human rights, were created by Judaism and expressed in the West through Christianity. Human rights rest on the belief that all are created equal in the image of God. The power of reason rests on the revolutionary concept in the book of Genesis that there is an intelligible universe. Secular ideologies, however, are positively anti-Judaism.
Moral relativism denies the moral codes of Mosaic law. Deep green environmentalism repudiates the belief embodied in the creation that mankind is superior to the natural world. Scientific materialism dethrones God and puts man in his place. Judaism is an obstacle both to the unconstrained individualism of Western libertines and also to the Islamist attack on reason, equality and freedom. Small wonder Western progressives make common cause with Islamists against the Jewish people.
Macron is a universalist who doesn’t believe in defending Western national identity. Nor does he believe in France. He said last February: “French culture does not exist; there is a culture in France and it is diverse…French art? I never met it!” Anyone who believes Macron will defend the Jewish people, the free world or France itself is in for a rude awakening. As are the rest of Europe and the West, while they continue to misjudge the central importance of Israel and the Jewish people to their battle to survive.
Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2017
Late last month a Jewish community was established here in southern Italy—the first such founding since King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered the expulsion or forced conversion of the Jews more than 500 years ago. On the same day the community was revived, the Catania city government gave the top floor of a palace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to the International Institute for Jewish Culture. The small community is now looking for a rabbi and raising money to furnish the space, which will be used as a synagogue.
While anti-Semitism is on the upswing in many parts of Europe, Judaism and Jews are experiencing a renaissance in Italy. The country is most strongly associated with the Roman Catholic Church, but Jews have been here for thousands of years. Given Italy’s place as a political laboratory in the Western world, its role in the revival of Judaism—particularly in the south—is worth watching.
In 2015 the bishop of Palermo gave a Jewish group a local church to convert into a synagogue. The same year Catholic authorities in Trani, on the mainland, did the same. Yet the situation in Catania is unique, as it fully revives a Jewish community abolished in 1492. This community was only one of the 52 disbanded at the time, and other communities in Italy are in the process of being revived. Baruch Triolo, a Catanian attorney who converted to Judaism while living in Miami, is leading the revival project. He has received support from numerous local and regional governments, as well as the island’s philo-Semitic Masonic groups.
State support for the Jews extends beyond helping to revive communities. The federal government helped finance the Italian translation of the first volume of the Talmud. The new volume was first presented at the country’s most prestigious cultural institution, the Accademia dei Lincei, on the banks of the Tiber river in Rome. The first two runs of the translation sold out almost immediately, and the buyers are overwhelmingly non-Jewish, according to the publisher.
Perhaps the clearest indicator of the strength and depth of Jewish popularity comes at mealtime. Jewish food, including kosher food, is suddenly chic. Restaurants in Rome’s Jewish ghetto are regularly packed. You can even get fried artichokes made “Jewish style” at takeout stands. Kosher food and wine are now regularly featured at national food fairs and can be purchased at upscale stores throughout the country. “Regular people are selling and buying Jewish food precisely because it’s Jewish,” says the Italian journalist Carla Reschia. “Food is an example, but you can see it also in literature: In a country where Jews number less than 0.1%, Jewish authors are disproportionately popular.”
Italian historians, archaeologists and anthropologists are hard at work to document the presence of Jews from ancient times into the early modern period. There is no lack of evidence, some of which dates back to the first century, following the Roman conquest of ancient Israel. Yet many museums are not aware of the considerable quantity of evidence they have in their archives and deposits. In recent years, Sicilian cities have begun to publish catalogs of this material, and I recently attended a public meeting in southeastern Sicily that featured professors and government officials intent on creating a tourist guide to Jewish Sicily, from Taormina to Siracusa and Noto.
It is hard to overstate the enthusiasm for the Jewish revival. Cooperative ventures between Italian and Israeli universities are under way. These efforts should produce new experts and new historical finds in the coming years. Such activities will be reinforced as other communities emulate the Catania model and new centers of Jewish life are created. There is a lot of work to be done before the Italian Jewish revival is fully realized. Anti-Semites are particularly active in northern cities like Milan and Turin. The country is also a landing point for many Islamic immigrants, many of whom are openly anti-Semitic. Possible descendants of the old communities will want to formalize their faith by converting, and there is a shortage of rabbis qualified to do that. But in an era when European Jews are under siege, that’s not a bad problem to have.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
7 Reasons Why Macron’s Speech About the Holocaust in France Was Groundbreaking: Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA, July 17, 2017—It wasn’t the first time that a French president acknowledged his nation’s Holocaust-era guilt, but Emmanuel Macron’s speech Sunday was nonetheless groundbreaking in format, content and style. Delivered during a ceremony at the Vel d’Hiv Holocaust memorial monument exactly 75 years after French police officers rounded up 13,152 Jews there for deportation to Nazi death camps, the 35-minute address was Macron’s first about the Holocaust since the centrist won the presidency in May.
On Bombing Anniversary, Iran Still Engaged in Illicit Activity: Matthew Levitt, The Hill, July 19, 2017—This week marks the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded an additional 300. Iran has marked the occasion by insulting the victims of the attack with a hollow offer of assistance, even as it shelters the senior Iranians indicted for the crime.
Argentina-Israel Relations: Nazi Trials and Terrorist Tribulations: Avraham Spraragen, JCPA, July 20, 2017—Carlos Menem, the first Argentinian president to make a diplomatic visit to Israel, optimistically characterized his country’s relationship with the Jewish State in the following letter to President Ezer Weizman in 1999…
A Terrorist’s Big Payday, Courtesy of Trudeau: Peter Kent, Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2017—Omar Khadr pulled the pin from a grenade and tossed it at Sgt. First Class…