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The Festival Of Lights 5774: Baruch Cohen, Nov. 29, 2013 — The first Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem in the year 164 BCE on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.

Chanukah Guide For the Perplexed, 2013: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Nov. 27, 2013 — For the first time – and never again – the first day of Chanukah will be celebrated on Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday in November, Nov. 28, 2013.    

UN Condemns Israel 6 Times, Declares “Year of Palestine”: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2013 — The U.N. General Assembly is poised to condemn Israel in six resolutions today, the most significant of which declares 2014 as a “Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.”                                  

The UN and Israel: A History of Discrimination: Joshua Muravchik, World Affairs, Nov/Dec, 2013 — Unfortunately . . . Israel [has] suffered from bias—and sometimes even discrimination” at the United Nations, said none other than the UN’s highest official, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, speaking in Jerusalem in August.                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Banality of Robbing the Jews: Sarah Gensburger, New York Times, Nov. 15, 2013 — The recent discovery of more than 1,400 prized paintings in the Munich residence of Cornelius Gurlitt, an art collector whose father collaborated with the Nazis, has brought the pillage of the Jews back into the limelight.


On Topic Links


From “Four Score” to “Yes We Can!”: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2013                                                                 

An Outbreak of Lawlessness: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2013

Teaching About the Holocaust in a Small Town in Romania: Raphael Vago, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7, 2013

Exile, Prejudice, Victory: A Jewish Thanksgiving Story From the New World: Steve Brodner, Tablet, Nov. 27, 2013



THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 5774                                                    Baruch Cohen  

Nov. 29, 2013


                                                                       In Loving Memory of Malka z’l


The first Hanukkah was celebrated in Jerusalem in the year 164 BCE, on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.


To understand the meaning of Hanukkah, we must look into the ancient world, and see some of the similarities that exist between that period and our present day lives.  Hanukkah in fact celebrates the victory of Hebraism over Hellenism. The victory of the camp of light over the camp of darkness. A flame rising from the camp of freedom and democracy – against the principles of totalitarianism, and bigotry.


The primary aim of the Maccabees to preserve their own identity in face of Syrian Greek religious oppression, to safeguard Israel's role as a “light unto the nations.” It was not only a struggle against the danger of physical extermination, but one to affirm the value and joy of Judaism.


The Jewish people have a long history of surviving in defiance of savage murder and aggression. Our roots are in ancient, and modern,  Israel, our old/new homeland, and our defense today, as then, lies with our heroic Maccabees, today the IDF, Israel's Defense Force . Our brave Israeli soldiers are the shield of the Jewish people in our ongoing fight for freedom, democracy, independence, and security–for the Jewish state, the land of Israel, and the entire Jewish people.


The splendor of our Fathers' lives!  Hod avinu chai! Hag Hannukah Sameach! Happy Festival of Lights 5774 to all CIJR's supporters and friends, to the Jewish people, and to all men and women of good will!!


CHANUKAH GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, 2013                                 Yoram Ettinger

Algemeiner, Nov. 27, 2013


1.  For the first time – and never again – the first day of Chanukah will be celebrated on Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday in November, Nov. 28, 2013. Since the Jewish calendar is based on a 19 year cycle (when a “leap month” is added – seven times – to the shorter Jewish year) and Thanksgiving is part of a 7 year cycle, they coincide every 133 years.  However, Thanksgiving was formally adopted by President Lincoln in 1863, and therefore it could not coincide with Chanukah 133 years ago, in 1861. Moreover, due to the moving gap between the Jewish lunar calendar (with 29-30 day months) and the general Gregorian solar calendar, they will not coincide before the year 79,811….


2.  David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the Jewish State, stated: “The struggle of the Maccabees was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history, not merely a political-military struggle against foreign oppression…. The meager Jewish people did not assimilate, as did many peoples.  The Jewish people prevailed, won, sustained and enhanced their independence and unique civilization…. The Hasmoneans overcame one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history due to the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment ….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953).


3. Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates a Land of Israel national liberation struggle, unlike Passover (the Exodus from Egypt), Sukkot/Tabernacles and Shavuot/Pentecost (on the way from Egypt to the Land of Israel) and Purim (deliverance of Jews in the Persian Empire). Chanukah is the longestJewish holiday (8 days) with the most intense element of light (8 consecutive nights of lighting candles).


4. The critical Chanukah developments occurred, mostly, in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria: Mitzpah (also the Prophet Samuel’s burial site), Beth El (Judah’s first headquarters), Beth Horon (Judah’s victory over Seron), Hadashah (Judah’s victory over Nicanor), Beth Zur (Judah’s victory over Lysias), Ma’aleh Levona (Judah’s victory over Apolonius), Adora’yim (a Maccabean fortress), Elazar and Beit  Zachariya (Judah’s first defeat), Ba’al Hatzor (where Judah was defeated and killed) and the Judean Desert.  Unified Jerusalem was the Capital of the Maccabees. Thus, Chanukah is not a holiday of “occupied territories”; Chanukah highlights the moral-high-ground of Jews in their ancestral land.


5. Shimon the Maccabee – who succeeded his brothers, Judah and Yonatan – defied an ultimatum by the Syrian emperor, Antiochus (Book of Maccabees A, Chapter 15, verse 33), who demanded an end to the “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer and Akron. Shimon declared: ”We have not occupied a foreign land; we have not ruled a foreign land; we have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation.”


6.  The name Maccabee (מכבי or מקבי) is a derivative of the Hebrew word Makevet (מקבת), Power Hammer, which described Judah’s tenacious and decisive fighting capabilities. Or, it could be a derivative of the Hebrew verb Cabeh (כבה), to extinguish, which described the fate of Judah’s adversaries. Another source of the name suggests that Maccabee, מכבי, is the Hebrew acronym of “Who could resemble you among Gods, Jehovah” (מי כמוך באלים יי). However, the saga of the Maccabees was written, during ancient times, in Latin, which sometimes pronounces C like a TZ.  Hence, Maccabee could be the Latin spelling of the Hebrew word Matzbee, the commander.


7.  Chanukah’s historical context is narrated in the Books of the Maccabees and the Scroll of Antiochus. Alexander The Great – who held Judaism in high esteem and whose Egyptian heir, Ptolemy II, translated the Torah to Greek — died in 323 BCE following 12 glorious years. Consequently, the Greek Empire disintegrated into five provinces, and 30 years later into three kingdoms: Macedonia, Syria and Egypt. The Land of Israel was militarily contested by Syria and Egypt. In 198 BCE, Israel was conquered by the Syrian Antiochus III, who considered the Jewish State as an ally. In 175 BCE, a new king assumed power in Syria, Antiochus (IV) Epiphanies, who wished to replace Judaism with Hellenic values and assumed that Jews were allies of Egypt. In 169 BC, upon his return to Syria from a war against Egypt, he devastated Jerusalem, massacred the Jews, forbade the practice of Judaism (including the Sabbath, circumcision, etc.) and desecrated Jerusalem and the Temple. The 167 BCE-launched rebellion against the Syrian (Seleucid) kingdom featured the Hasmonean (Maccabee) family: Mattityahu, a priest from the town of Modi’in, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan and Elazar. The heroic (and tactically creative) battles conducted by the Maccabees, were consistent with the reputation of Jews as superb warriors, who were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Rome and other global and regional powers.

[To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ]




Times of Israel, Nov. 27, 2013


The U.N. General Assembly is poised to condemn Israel in six resolutions today, the most significant of which declares 2014 as a “Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.” In a related development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has categorically rejected the now-famous UN interpreter’s criticism of anti-Israel bias, caught on an open microphone, through his spokesperson’s response to a reporter’s question seeking the UN chief’s views on the now-famous gaffe, the video of which Prime Minister Netanyahu played to his cabinet meeting last week. As seen on the YouTube video, publicized by UN Watch today, Ban’s spokesperson on November 19th told journalists that “the Secretary-General respects the right of the Member States as they move forward on their resolutions” which, he insisted, “need to be upheld by all countries.”


Given that Ban Ki-M oon has himself criticized the singling out of Israel by UN bodies such as the Human Rights Council, I am disappointed that he is rejecting and refusing to acknowledge the simple truth of the UN interpreter’s candid and entirely correct observations. After all, if the secretary-general could voice disappointment at the Human Rights Council’s “decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world,” why can’t he endorse the virtually identical sentiment expressed by the interpreter at this year’s absurd amount of General Assembly resolutions singling out Israel?

Today’s cluster of condemnations will be adopted as the UN observes its annual “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” which was held four days earlier than usual due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. The event is usually held on November 29, to effectively mourn the day the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Beyond the hypocrisy of adopting six resolutions on Israel and none on egregious abusers of human rights such as China, Russia, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia, there is a particular absurdity in the content of the resolutions. We have a resolution condemning Israel for its actions on the Golan Heights yet none on Syria’s massacre of 100,000 of its own people; the same text also absurdly asks Israel to immediately hand the population in the Golan over to the murderous rule of Syria’s Assad regime. There are also resolutions recognizing the self-determination of the Palestinians, even though the UN already recognized Palestine as a state; yet there is no resolution on the right to self-determination of the Tibetans, who really could use such a text.


There will be massive politicization in 2014 at the UN now that it has been declared a year for “Palestinian solidarity.” The resolution requests the UN “to organize activities to be held during the year, in cooperation with Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations.”


THE UN AND ISRAEL: A HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATION                      Joshua Muravchik

World Affairs, Nov/Dec, 2013


“Unfortunately . . . Israel [has] suffered from bias—and sometimes even discrimination” at the United Nations, said none other than the UN’s highest official, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Jerusalem in August. Back at headquarters a week later, Ban withdrew the substance of the comment without denying he had made it. The retraction was less surprising than the original assertion, which was remarkable because of the identity of the speaker, not for what was said, the reality of which is about as well concealed as the sun on a cloudless noon.


Israel’s status as a pariah state at the United Nations reflected a change in the world body dating from the 1970s. In its early decades, the UN was dominated by the Cold War competition between East and West, but between 1952 and 1968 these two blocs became outnumbered by a third, as the UN’s rolls increased from eighty-two to one hundred and twenty-six member states. Most of the new members were former colonies that had recently won their independence, and they formed what became the leading bloc at the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement. The dearest cause of the NAM was anti-colonialism, which put the West in the dock. Thus, the new bloc was non-aligned far more emphatically with the West than with the Communist world. Indeed, while the Soviet Union was held at arm’s length by the NAM, other Communist states, some of them Soviet-allied, such as Cuba and Vietnam, played leading roles in the organization.


The new anti-Western, anti-American zeitgeist of the UN, and the dominance of the NAM, with President Nasser of Egypt among its leaders and many Arab and other Muslim states among its members, reshaped the body’s stance toward the Middle East and its central “conflict.” It became the principal instrument for advancing Arab claims and actions against Israel, including even legitimating Palestinian terrorism.


Thus, in October 1974, fourteen years before the Palestine Liberation Organization even nominally forswore terrorism, the General Assembly voted to invite the organization to send a spokesman to take part in its deliberations. No one who was not a representative of a government—except the pope, and even he was the head of a quasi-state—had ever before been granted such a privilege, but the vote was overwhelming, one hundred and five to four, with only the United States, Israel, and two Latin American governments opposed.

Not a single European or other major industrial state joined America in resisting this extraordinary move. Most of them abstained, although a handful voted with the majority, largely because the PLO had proved so adept at playing on European fears. Harris Schoenberg, an author who represented the NGO B’nai B’rith at the UN, interviewed various European delegates who told him that “PLO spokesmen had undertaken to halt and actively seek to prevent further Arab aerial piracy and terrorist attacks in countries other than Israel if permitted to participate in the General Assembly debate.”


The assembled delegates heard Yasir Arafat proclaim the necessity of getting at the “historical roots” of the issue, namely, “the Jewish invasion of Palestine [that] began in 1881,” and addressing it with a “radical . . . antidote,” rather than “a slavish obeisance to the present.” The “present” from which Arafat wished to banish “obeisance” was the very existence of Israel. He pledged his “resolve to build a new world . . . a world free of colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, and racism in each of its instances, including Zionism.” This harangue was received with a standing ovation unique in its intensity. An alliance of Communist and third-world states was after the scalps of its chosen enemies. The United States, in the throes of losing its agonizing war in Vietnam, resisted with diminished strength, often unable to rally even its Western allies.                                                                                                                                            [To Read The Full Article Follow This Link – ed. ]              



Sarah Gensburger

 New York Times, Nov. 15, 2013


The recent discovery of more than 1,400 prized paintings in the Munich residence of Cornelius Gurlitt, an art collector whose father collaborated with the Nazis, has brought the pillage of the Jews back into the limelight. Yet the bulk of anti-Semitic looting during World War II was at once much more banal and more widespread. In Paris, the plunder of Jewish possessions began with the arrival of German troops in June 1940. At first, it applied only to art collections. But as soon as the Final Solution was devised in January 1942, the confiscations spread to the entire Jewish population, most of which comprised poor immigrants from Eastern Europe. Stripping Jews of their belongings was part and parcel of the effort to destroy them; pillage was an essential tool of extermination.


But what would be done with these items? Could they be reused, or were they too Jewish for that? Were the dishes and the blankets that had been touched by Jews fit for use by Aryans? In Berlin in February 1942, Hitler himself ordered Alfred Rosenberg, who had been overseeing the looting of artworks throughout Western Europe, to entirely empty the apartments of Jews who had been deported or arrested, or had fled. The spoils would then be sent back to the Reich. This widespread plunder, known as Möbel Aktion, occurred in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. From 1942 to 1944, at least 70,000 dwellings were emptied; in Paris 38,000 apartments were stripped bare by French moving companies at the request of the German authorities. It took 674 trains to transport the loot to Germany. Some 2,700 train cars supplied Hamburg alone.

Everything was taken: toys, dishes, family photos, tools, light bulbs. The goods were placed in crates and taken to warehouses and sorting centers specifically established for this purpose in the heart of Paris. Pianos were stored in the cellars of the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th arrondissement. Porcelains and fabrics went nearby, to Rue de Bassano. Books and musical scores were gathered at 104 Rue de Richelieu, furniture at the Quai de la Gare. The plunder of the Jews spread far beyond the famous Jeu de Paume and Louvre museums, the main gathering sites for looted art. With German soldiers busy fighting on the Eastern Front, the Nazis in Paris were short-staffed for the sorting and crating required for Möbel Aktion. So they turned three warehouses into work camps. And they resorted to Jewish prisoners from the Drancy internment camp, a vast cluster of lodgings under construction just outside the city, and an antechamber to Auschwitz.


From 1943 to 1944, nearly 800 Jewish men and women worked — ate, slept, lived — among these objects. Some saw their own possessions or those of family members pass before their eyes, and at that moment understood that they, too, had been slated for internment or deportation. The contents of each apartment were divided into two groups. Damaged objects or personal ones, like papers or family photos, were burned almost daily in a bonfire at the Quai de la Gare. The other items were sorted and classified by category, rather than source. A saucepan taken from one family would be added to a stack of other saucepans rather than kept in the original set. Stripped of their provenance, items lost their identity. Belongings became goods. The supervisors of Möbel Aktion set aside the most appealing items — porcelain, fine linens, fur coats — for themselves and their friends. Former prisoners from the sorting work camps later described regular inspections by German soldiers; they would come to shop “just like at the Galeries Lafayette,” the Parisian department store. Detainees who had been tailors, cobblers or leather workers before their arrest were forced to make luxury clothes for the Nazi dignitaries and their wives. Shipments of spoons, dishes, clothes and other items were regularly sent on to Germany. They were distributed to German civilians as compensation for losses caused by the Allied bombings or to support their immigration eastward, where they were sent to populate newly conquered territories.


But the systematic looting and redistribution of everyday goods of little value and often in poor condition suggest a motivation that goes well beyond economic calculation in a time of hardship. Indeed, several Nazi services, including those of Hermann Göring, regularly questioned the financial rationale of Möbel Aktion. If the project endured nonetheless it’s because one of its fundamental objectives was to destroy all trace of the Jews’ very existence. Since the end of the war, the French and German governments have offered some indemnities, though often partial, to the small number of looted owners or their descendants who have asked for compensation. The goods themselves could not be retrieved. Unlike stolen works of art — some of which were preserved and continue to resurface — the colossal spoils of that other, mundane looting have vanished. Either they have been destroyed, or they remain with German families, who to this day probably have no idea where they came from.     




On Topic


From “Four Score” to “Yes We Can!”: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2013 — Seven score and 10 years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his sacred speech on the meaning of free government.

An Outbreak of Lawlessness: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2013 — For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of political norms, legislative and constitutional.

Teaching About the Holocaust in a Small Town in Romania: Raphael Vago, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 7, 2013— Knesset Member Shimon Ohayon’s recent article, “Teaching about the Holocaust as an antidote to rising hate in Europe”

Exile, Prejudice, Victory: A Jewish Thanksgiving Story From the New World: Steve Brodner, Tablet, Nov. 27, 2013— In 1642, a ship of Jewish émigrés left a colony in Recife, Brazil, headed for New Amsterdam.


On Topic Links


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