LESSONS NOT LEARNED


                                                     Jerusalem Post, Apr. 8, 2018

Commemorating the genocide of European Jewry as we will on Holocaust Remembrance Day – which begins Wednesday night and continues through Thursday – is not just a show of respect for those lost. Actively remembering the past should also have relevance for us today. Yet looking around the world, we can easily reach the conclusion that the lessons of the Holocaust have not been learned.

An annual Anti-Defamation League report surveying antisemitic incidents in the US in 2017 released in February found the number of antisemitic incidents was nearly 60% higher than in 2016 – the largest single-year increase on record. There were 1,986 incidents, including 1,015 cases of harassment, 952 of vandalism and 19 physical assaults.

Europe, meanwhile, has become an inhospitable place for Jews. A recent survey by the World Zionist Organization conducted before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, found that half of European Jews said they do not feel safe being in public using a Jewish name, or seen with Jewish symbols such as a kippa or Star of David.

And it is not just a subjective feeling. Last month, Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, was hacked to death and burned in her home, evidently by a young male Muslim neighbor. France’s President Emmanuel Macron said that Knoll was murdered “because she was Jewish.”

Other incidents include the murder last of year of Sarah Halimi, 65, by Kobili Traore, who reportedly shouted “allahu akbar” as he carried out the murder. Sarah Halimi apparently is a distant relative of Ilan Halimi, the French-born Jew who was kidnapped and murdered in 2006 by a gang of Muslims. Four Jewish hostages were murdered in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. In Germany, police recorded 1,453 antisemitic incidents in 2017.

Antisemitism can be found both on the Left and on the Right. In the US, according to an ADL survey from a few years ago, the American subgroups with the highest proportion of antisemitic opinions – African Americans, first-generation Hispanic immigrants and Muslims – also happen to vote disproportionately for Democratic candidates. And politicians such as US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) cooperate with groups that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. In Europe, the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has become a haven for Israel-bashers. And it is true in varying degrees of left-wing parties on the continent as well, particularly those that cater to a Muslim vote.

In Europe, the Right is more worrying. Poland has passed legislation that seeks to distort the memory of the Holocaust by making it a crime to claim that the Poles as a nation were in any way complicit in Nazi crimes. And Hungary’s Victor Orban, who has generally avoided antisemitic remarks, last month gave a bizarre speech in which he attacked not only Hungarian Jew George Soros but also “an enemy that is different from us; not open but hiding; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have a homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”

In a broader sense, the lessons of the Holocaust have not been learned. In Syria, Bashar Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons yet again against civilians, including little children. Autocratic rulers such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, who have protected the Assad regime from UN sanctions in the past, will undoubtedly do it again. Meanwhile the US, Europe and other nations do not stop the killing.

All of these developments are indicators that although World War II ended 73 years ago, the lessons have not been learned. All should serve as a warning and a reminder that we in Israel must educate while remaining vigilant and ready.


On Topic Links

A Canadian Holocaust: Remembering the Shoah: Philip Carl Salzman, Frontier Centre, Apr. 11, 2018

Syria: Fighting over the Corpse: Shoshana Bryen, Algemeiner, Apr. 10, 2018

West Playing its Part in Hamas Propaganda War: Alex Ryvchin, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 9, 2018

What The New York Times Isn’t Telling You About Israel’s Gaza ‘Blockade’

: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2018



“Yom HaShoah reminds us of our eternal responsibility to preserve the memories of those we lost, share the stories of survivors, and keep alive the bitter lessons of the Holocaust. Tonight and tomorrow, friends and families will gather to recite prayers and light memorial candles. On the streets of Israel, sirens will sound as an entire nation pauses to remember, while the Mourner’s Kaddish will echo through synagogues around the world. These moments of reflection and remembrance are vital. We cannot let the horrors of the Holocaust fade, and forget the dangers of anti-Semitism, indifference, and silence. Every generation must know what happened, and restate the values we hold dear, to bring meaning to the solemn vow, ‘Never again.’ These are not just words but a call to action: A call to always speak out against racism, hate, and bigotry in all its forms. And to stand on guard against a resurgence of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and prejudice.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (PMO, Apr. 11, 2018)

“The first thing that is happening here may be summarized in one word – security…security for Israel, security in the future…We have one clear and simple rule and we seek to express it constantly: if someone tries to attack you – rise up and attack him. We will not allow, here on the Gaza border, them to hurt us. We will hurt them…Security in the present is a necessary condition for security in the future and what we have here today is a powerful expression for our future security.” — Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu said Monday that Israel will hit anyone who intends to harm the country, appearing to indirectly refer to a predawn missile strike on an air base in central Syria that reportedly killed 14 people, which has been blamed on Israel. Earlier Monday Israeli planes carried out airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said, hours after a group of Palestinians entered Israeli territory from the enclave and planted two improvised explosive devices along the Gaza security fence. Israel was also accused of carrying out strikes beyond its northern border. (Times of Israel, Apr. 9, 2018)

“You have to understand, there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip. Everyone has a connection to Hamas. Everyone receives a salary from Hamas…Those who are trying to challenge us at the border and breach it belong to Hamas’s military wing.” — Defense Minister Liberman. On Friday, Israeli soldiers repelled an assault on its border fence with Gaza, killing nine Palestinians who had participated in the “Great March of Return” along the barrier’s route. Participants in the event that began on March 30 hope to enter Israel by breaking down the fence. Liberman insisted that participants were not protesters, but Hamas activists. His description included photojournalist Yasser Murtaja, who reportedly was killed by the IDF near the Gaza border while he was wearing a flak vest that clearly said he was a member of the press. “Dozens of times in the past Hamas has used journalists, the media, the Red Crescent and ambulances to carry out terror attacks,” said Liberman. “We sent warnings in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Everyone knew that we were determined to defend Israeli citizens and our sovereignty. Those who take risks and endanger their lives do so knowingly.” To date, the IDF has killed 31 Palestinians on the Gaza border in this set of protests. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 8, 2018)

“The [Palestinian leadership] does not like the protests in Gaza because they feel that Hamas is taking advantage of them for their political gain…The protests are actually embarrassing for them because Hamas and the people in Gaza are taking the show and putting themselves on the local, regional and international agenda, while they are doing nothing in the West Bank.” — Mohammed Daraghmeh, a West Bank-based Palestinian journalist. The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has taken a public stance in support of Palestinians who have been protesting for more than two weeks on the Gazan side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. However, despite the Palestinian leadership’s public expressions of solidarity with thousands of Gazan protesters, it privately stands in opposition to the ongoing demonstrations. (Jerusalem Post, Apr. 9, 2018)

“Israel is losing the public relations war…The media around the world today are against Israel, Europe and the UN are enemy entities when it comes to talking about the real reasons for this conflict,  America is distracted and even the pro-Israel forces that could speak are silent. Hamas managed to turn the terrorist assault on a neighbor in its sovereign borders recognized by the international community, the only democratic and civilized country in the Middle East, into the story of some clowns, some children and 50,000 ‘defenseless’ demonstrators. It happened during the Second Intifada as well, when “the story” people knew was not the suicide bombers against thousands of truly unarmed Israelis, but just the IDF tanks placed in front of the Muqata of that criminal assassin named Arafat.” — Giulio Meotti. (Arutz Sheva, Apr. 11, 2018)

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.” — President Donald Trump. Trump said there would be a “big price to pay” for a chemical attack against a besieged rebel-held town in Syria where aid groups reported dozens of people were killed by poison gas. Syria denied government forces had launched any chemical attack and Russia, President Assad’s most powerful ally, called the reports bogus. The Syrian American Medical Society said 49 people had died in the attack in the town of Douma. Others put the toll even higher. (Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2018)

“Assad’s atrocity seemed to jolt Trump. He appeared, in its aftermath, to be finally waking up to the glaring contradiction between his soft attitude toward Russia and his hostility to Iran. In Syria, the two countries are partners. Getting tough with Iran and restraining its quest for regional hegemony as well as the activities of its terrorist auxiliaries like Hezbollah and allies like Assad required a more clear-headed approach to Russia than Trump had previously been willing to accept. On Monday, Trump assured the world that a “very tough” response to the Douma attack was on the way. It’s not clear whether the U.S. reaction will be a one-off attack on Syrian targets or something more far-reaching. Either way, the real question isn’t how many missiles are fired but whether the president is prepared to abandon his illusions about détente with Putin and recognize that pulling out of Syria isn’t a viable option. The answer will tell us all what exactly an “America First” foreign policy means in a world in which the president’s desire to avoid more Middle East wars and entanglements cannot be reconciled with the defense of America’s interests and values or those of its allies.” — Jonathan S. Tobin. (National Review, Apr. 10, 2018)

“We are on the edge of a dangerous precipice…The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition is on the verge of becoming the new normal. The international community must not let this happen…Only a monster does this…Russia and Iran have military advisers at the Assad regime’s airfields and operations centers. Russian officials are on the ground helping direct the regime’s ‘starve and surrender’ campaigns, and Iranian allied forces do much of the dirty work. When the Syrian military pummels civilians, they rely on the military hardware given by Russia. Russia could stop this senseless slaughter, if it wanted. But it stands with the Assad regime and supports it without hesitation…The United States is determined to see that the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account.” — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (Fox News, Apr. 10, 2018)

“Having the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad preside over global chemical and nuclear weapons disarmament will be like putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter…The Assad regime’s documented use of chemical weapons remains the most serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the treaty’s twenty-year history…We urge the UN to understand that at a time when Syria is gassing its own men, women, and children to death, to see Syria heading the world body that is supposed to protect these victims will simply shock the conscience of humanity.” — Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch. Neuer protested the appointment of Syria as Chair of the UN Conference on Disarmament, a forum on chemical weapons that will be held next month. The appointment comes after Assad was accused of using chlorine gas in an attack. Neuer announced that his group intends to hold protests when the forum is held in Geneva next month. (Breaking Israel News, Apr. 10, 2018)

“Despite all conspiracies and in spite of the enemy, the power of the Islamic establishment will continue to increase on a daily basis…Movement toward negotiation with the cheating, lying, and oppressive regime [Israel] is a big, unforgivable mistake that will push back the victory of the people of Palestine…With an intense and planned struggle, they should force the enemy [Israel] to retreat toward the point of demise.” — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. His comments followed a verbal assault against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over his acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist. Khamenei has always insisted that the “liberation” of Palestine is the duty of Muslims. “The return of dignity and power to the Islamic nation is exclusively linked to resistance—while confronting arrogant powers and their wicked plots—and the issue of Palestine is at the top of Islam’s international agenda in the face of the arrogant front,” he stated. (Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2018)

“Reform is useless in Iran…The Iranian people are very dissatisfied with their current government. They have reached the point and realized this system is not reformable.” — Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer. For Ebadi the means of ending Iranian tyranny should be a U.N.-monitored referendum on the constitution that proposes a basic change: the elimination of the unelected office of supreme leader. The Iranian people, she said, “want to change our regime, by changing our constitution to a secular constitution based on the universal declaration of human rights.” Ebadi’s radicalism, along with the mass demonstrations that began at the end of December, is a powerful rebuke to the foreign policy consensus among many Western progressives who still pine for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to deliver on the reforms he promised in his 2013 and 2017 campaigns. Ebadi said she never believed Rouhani was a reformer. (Bloomberg, Apr. 5, 2018)






ISRAEL ‘WARNED’ US OF STRIKE, RUSSIA SAYS LEFT IN THE DARK (Damascus) — Israel gave the U.S. advance warning of its strike on a military base in Syria, according to reports, while the Kremlin charged that it failed to inform Russia. Israel has not made any statement on the strike. The attack came two days after Syrian government forces allegedly gassed at least 60 civilians in a chemical attack in Douma. Russia and Syria have also accused Israel of striking the Tiyas Military Airbase. Located near Homs, it is the largest Syrian airbase. It is believed to house an Iranian complex that that supplies arms to Hezbollah. It is believed that Israel also hit this same base in February. (Times of Israel, Apr. 9, 2018)

PA LIFTS ‘DISGUISE’ ON PAYMENTS, DEFYING TAYLOR FORCE ACT (Jerusalem) — After three years of disguising its payments to families of martyrs and imprisoned terrorists, the PA has lifted its veil on those payments in a “blatant act of defiance” against the U.S. The legislation, recently passed by the US Congress, stipulates that portions of US aid to the PA will be cut back until it stops paying stipends to terrorists in prison, released terrorists and the families of terrorists who die while carrying out violent acts. Since May 29, 2014, the amount allocated to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs was removed from the PA budget “in an attempt to disguise the fact that it is the PA that finances the payments to imprisoned and released terrorists,” the report says. (Jerusalem Post, Apt. 9, 2018)

HUNGARY’S ORBAN WINS THIRD STRAIGHT TERM (Budapest) — Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a third straight term in power after his anti-immigration campaign message secured a strong majority for his party in parliament, granting him two-thirds of seats based on preliminary results. The right wing prime minister projected himself as a saviour of Hungary’s Christian culture against Muslim migration, an image which resonated with millions of voters. Orban, Hungary’s longest-serving post-communist premier, opposes deeper integration of the bloc and – teaming up with Poland – has been a fierce critique of Brussels’ policies. (Globe & Mail, Apr. 8, 2018)

AT LEAST 2 PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN MALI (Bamako) — The UN mission in Mali says at least two peacekeepers have been killed and 10 wounded in Mali. The deaths happened when several mortar rounds struck a peacekeeper camp. The attack took place in the northern region of Kidal, and the victims were from the Central African nation of Chad. There was no claim of responsibility, though a number of Islamic extremist groups are known to be active in the area. Kidal was among the Malian towns under jihadist rule in 2012 until a French-led operation ousted them from power and dispersed them into the desert. They have staged numerous attacks on international forces. (CTV, Apr. 5, 2018)

HOLLYWOOD EXECS BACK NETFLIX OVER ‘FAUDA’ BOYCOTT (Los Angeles) — 50 Hollywood executives have thrown their support behind Netflix, which is facing a BDS campaign to drop Israeli television series “Fauda.” The executives called the move a “blatant attempt at artistic censorship.” “Fauda” is an Israeli-made television thriller set about an Israeli undercover agent who comes out of retirement to hunt for a Palestinian militant. The show, which features dialog in Hebrew and Arabic, premiered on Netflix in 2016. Netflix is due to release the second season in May. BDS said the series “glorifies the Israeli military’s war crimes against the Palestinian people.” (CTV News, Apr. 2, 2018)

LUNAR XPRIZE WENT UNCLAIMED, BUT SPACEIL STILL PLANS ‘MOONSHOT’(Haifa) — Google’s $20 million prize in the prestigious Lunar X Prize competition may have gone unclaimed, as none of the five finalists made the deadline to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, but some competitors – including Israel – insist their hat is still in the ring, even without the financial incentive. Israeli startup SpaceIL, one of the five finalists, said last week just three days before the deadline, that it had every intention of forging ahead, with plans to launch its spacecraft on Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 via Spaceflight industries later this year. The competition involved placing a spacecraft on the moon, traveling 500 meters, and transmitting video and images back to Earth. (No Camels, Apr. 5, 2018)

ISRAEL DAY RALLY IN MONTREAL (Montreal) — The annual Israel Day Rally in Montreal attracts over 10,000 people to celebrate Israel’s birthday (Yom Ha’Azmaut). This event is the largest celebration for Israel in Canada. People from all walks of life: students, seniors, politicians, Jews, Christians and all faiths come together to stand with Israel. Please join us in this exciting celebration of Israel through song, dance and exciting guests. This year’s Israel Day Rally will take place on April 19, 2018 at 11 AM at Phillips Square, downtown Montreal. (Israel Day Rally, Apr. 11, 2018)

ISRAEL’S 70TH ANNIVERSARY YOM HA’ATZMAUT GALA CONCERT (Montreal) — Join us to salute Israel’s 70th anniversary gala concert “Songs of Israel: Yesterday and Today.” Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 8:00pm, Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke West, Montreal. For more information call the Hebrew Culture Organization of Canada 514-739-7300 ext. 3105.


On Topic Links

A Canadian Holocaust: Remembering the Shoah: Philip Carl Salzman, Frontier Centre, Apr. 11, 2018—Think about it. What would the death of six million people look like in the Canadian population?

Syria: Fighting over the Corpse: Shoshana Bryen, Algemeiner, Apr. 10, 2018 —The Syrian government’s chemical attack on civilians in the rebel-held suburb of Douma this weekend is the complete responsibility of the war criminal Bashar Assad, his Russian bedfellows, and his Iranian bankers. However, the fact that President Trump had announced that the U.S. is nearly finished its mission to defeat ISIS (which is questionable) and wants to leave Syria quickly may have encouraged the others to speed up their efforts to divide Syria’s corpse.

West Playing its Part in Hamas Propaganda War: Alex Ryvchin, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 9, 2018 —Writing for Bloomberg during the 2014 Israel- Hamas war, Jeffrey Goldberg observed: “Dead Palestinians represent a crucial propaganda victory for the nihilists of Hamas. It is perverse, but true. It is also the best possible explanation for Hamas’s behavior, because Hamas has no other plausible strategic goal here.”

What The New York Times Isn’t Telling You About Israel’s Gaza ‘Blockade’: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Apr. 8, 2018—Nearly every New York Times dispatch about the recent violent pre-planned riots in Gaza has used the word “blockade” to describe Israel’s treatment of the territory.