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LESSONS FOR TODAY
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2016
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated today, is an occasion not just to reflect on the past but to marvel at the persistence and adaptability of Jew-hatred. The day falls on the anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest German death camp. But Holocaust remembrance ceremonies – particularly in Europe – tend to focus as much on current events as on the horrors of Nazi genocide.
It is no secret that Jew-hatred is rampant in Europe. The number of anti-Semitic incidents in London rose more than 60 percent during the 12-months ending November 15 over the same period a year earlier. Incidents in France were up 84 percent in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke this week of the dangers of Jew-hatred, particularly among “youth [from] countries where hatred of Israel and Jews is widespread.”
A new book based on surveys of 724 French Jews called L’an prochain à Jérusalem? (“Next Year in Jerusalem?”) found the French-Jewish community is “living with a strong feeling of insecurity.” Sixty-three percent of those polled reported being insulted for being Jews, and more than half reported being subjected to anti-Semitic threats.
Europeans have struggled to combat anti-Semitism but have met with little success. Why? Part of the answer has to do with longstanding, deep-rooted anti-Semitism. But exacerbating the situation is the tendency in our world of hyper-political correctness to attribute inordinate moral weight to those minorities considered to be the most oppressed or disenfranchised. Also known as “intersectionality,” this voguish social theory, spawned in university gender studies departments, posits that power is inherently linked to one’s identity.
Race, gender, religion and sexual orientation determine the extent of one’s “marginalization.” And the more one’s identity is marginalized, the likelier one’s arguments will be celebrated and embraced by the politically correct. It is not the power of a person’s reasoning that matters, it is who he or she is. This explains, for instance, how champions of LGBT rights join forces with Muslim extremists against Israel, the only country in the Middle East where gays’ rights are respected. Israel’s respect for the rights of LGBT people is turned on its head and seen as a “pinkwashing,” a smokescreen for supposed oppression of the Palestinians.
Similarly, emphasizing the uniqueness of the Holocaust – on days such as International Holocaust Remembrance Day – is portrayed as a Jewish ploy to stifle criticism of Israel or its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. In this scale of identity-based values, Jewishness as an identity is ranked very low on the value totem-pole, because Jews are perceived to be part of the establishment; tend to be well-off economically; and their state – Israel – is powerful and aligned with America.
In contrast, other identities – Palestinians, refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, Europeans of Muslim faith – are perceived as far more marginalized and oppressed and, therefore, are more likely to receive sympathy. When prejudice and anti-Semitism is spouted by white, far-right nationalists, Europeans find little trouble fighting it. When the virus of Jew-hatred is found in the Muslim community, moral clarity is lost in a morass of political correctness, identity politics and “intersectionality.”
Few have the morality clarity of the prominent British journalist Mehdi Hasan, a Muslim who had the courage to note in a 2013 op-ed in the New Statesman that the British- Muslim community has a “dirty little secret” which he referred to as “the banality of Muslim anti-Semitism.” Yet a British politician, particularly of the white, Christian variety, would be loath to publicly criticize a minority population, particularly one perceived as oppressed or that is itself targeted by the far Right.
The only way to fight this form of Jew-hatred is to deconstruct the premise of identity politics and intersectionality. “Crimes” perpetrated by the Israeli government do not make the murder of Jews in Israel, the West Bank or Paris different from the murder of Europeans. The suffering of Arabs – including the Palestinians – do not negate the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to relearn lessons of the past. No less important, however, it is an opportunity to confront challenges of the present.
Stop the Incitement, Stop the Killing: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2016
Israel’s New Security Minister and his Four Ideas for Stopping Violence: William Booth & Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, Jan. 21, 2016
Iran Opening Stirs New Interest From Businesses: Benoît Faucon, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 22, 2016
The Island of Tears: CBN Documentaries, Jan. 11, 2016
“I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] or of other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists to some degree…I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every component of that can be prevented.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, acknowledging that Iran will likely use some of the tens of billions of dollars it receives as a result of sanctions relief under the nuclear deal to sponsor terrorists. Kerry said there were no indications yet that released funds were being directed “to that kind of endeavor” but that he was “sure at some point some of it will.” (CNS News, Jan. 21, 2016)
“…Security measures alone will not stop the violence. They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians –- especially young people. The full force of the law must be brought to bear on all those committing crimes –- with a system of justice applied equally for Israelis and Palestinians alike…Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process…Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth. Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.” — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the UN Security Council. (Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2016)
“There is no justification for terrorism…The Palestinian terrorists don’t want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they say that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don’t murder for peace and they don’t murder for human rights.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu accused Ban Ki-moon of “stoking terror” after the UN Secretary General’s statement. The UN has “lost its neutrality and its moral force, and these statements by the Secretary-General do nothing to improve its situation,” Netanyahu said in a furious video statement. (Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2016)
“Canada believes strongly in a two-state solution and that negotiations provide the only viable path to peace…As a steadfast ally and friend to Israel, Canada calls for all efforts to be made to reduce violence and incitement and to help build the conditions for a return to the negotiating table. Unilateral actions, such as Palestinian initiatives toward statehood in international forums and continued Israeli settlements, are unhelpful and constitute serious obstacles to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” — Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion. Commentators noted the difference in tone between Dion’s statement and those of the previous Conservative government, which was acknowledged to be steadfastly pro-Israel. (CJN, Jan. 26, 2016)
“The statement…fails to condemn such violence by only expressing ‘concern,’ and by omission, equates such terrorist attacks with Israeli settlement construction…This is unacceptable.” — Conservative foreign affairs critic Tony Clement and deputy critic Peter Kent, in a statement. The two Conservative MPs criticized Dion’s message for not mentioning terrorist group Hamas, which has launched numerous rocket attacks against Israel and encouraged Palestinians to attack Israelis at random. The previous Conservative government had strongly opposed Palestinian bids for statehood, and had deployed then-foreign affairs minister John Baird to the UN to rally opposition to the idea in November 2012. (National Post, Jan. 25, 2016)
"Anti-Semitism is more pervasive than we imagine and that is why we must act intensively against it…We have seen manifestations of anti-Semitism in several schools and meeting places by young people, against which every adult must act…We must also encourage students who do not think that way and enable them to make it possible for them to clearly say this is not the way it should be…We can argue about this issue but it should also be clear: (antisemitism) has no place in our society…we must simply set clear limits.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The chancellor called on people to seriously consider the concerns raised by the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, who was worried that many asylum seekers "come from cultures where hatred of Jews and intolerance are deeply ingrained." Germany welcomed some 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, many fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. "We must be specifically careful with young people who come from countries where hatred of Israel and Jews is widespread," Merkel insisted. (Ynet, Jan. 23, 2016)
“We don’t want it and they don’t either, but it is possible that there could be a religious war…Belgium and France could hit us and win, but what happens later?” — Osama, a fourth year Moroccan-Belgian medical student. Like a fair number of young people in Molenbeek, Belgium, the 24-year-old has grown a beard and is wearing Islamic robes to demonstrate his piety. “There are far more tensions today than a few years ago. I feel that Belgians are becoming Islamophobes. Some of them are very hard on Islam,” Osama says. (National Post, Jan. 23, 2016)
“We’ve had enough. We are saturated by Arabs and things are boiling over…But it is pointless to speak about this because there is no solution.” — Pascal Moulin, who supports Marine Le Pen’s xenophobic National Front party, which has found fertile ground in the Marseille-Nice region in France. (National Post, Jan. 23, 2016)
DAVID STOLIAR, SURVIVOR OF WORLD WAR II DISASTER, DIES AT 91 (Bend, OR) — For more than a half-century, David Stoliar remained a silent witness to the worst civilian maritime disaster of World War II, the only survivor among nearly 800 Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Romania aboard a refugee ship that was barred from Palestine, interned by Turkey for months, set adrift without power and torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea in 1942. The sinking of the overloaded ship, a 150-foot steamer called the Struma, was a calamity compounded by Britain’s refusal to admit the refugees into Palestine and by Turkey’s quarantine, ending with the vessel being towed out to sea. The coup de grâce was fired by the submarine as the ship lay dead in the water seven miles offshore. Stoliar died on May 1, 2014, at his home in Bend, Ore., at the age of 91. (New York Times, Jan. 23, 2016)
WOMAN KILLED, ANOTHER WOUNDED IN TERROR STABBING IN WEST BANK (Jerusalem) — Two Palestinian terrorists stabbed two Israeli women and threw pipe bombs at a grocery store in the West Bank settlement of Beit Horon on Monday. One of the victims of the attack, Shlomit Krigman, a 23-year old woman, died from her wounds. The other victim, 58, who was moderately wounded in the stabbing remained hospitalized on Tuesday. The assailants fled from the store in the direction of homes in the settlement, but within moments a security guard shot and killed them. The slain terrorists were identified as Ibrahim Yusef Allan, 23, and Hussein Abu Gosh, 17. This was the third successful attack within a settlement in the last eight days. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2016)
ISRAELI TROOPS EVICT JEWISH SETTLERS FROM WEST BANK HOMES (Jerusalem) — Israeli troops forcibly removed Jewish settlers on Friday from homes in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron that they said they had bought from Palestinians, prompting some right-wing lawmakers to threaten to withhold support for the government. Ministers and members of parliament from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party decried Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon's refusal to sign off on the settlers' occupancy of the homes. Two right-wing lawmakers from Likud and another from the Jewish Home party said they would boycott parliamentary votes in protest at the move. Hebron, a city of about 220,000 Palestinians, has long been a source of tension, fueled by the presence of around 1,000 Jewish settlers who live in the heart of the city, protected by Israeli troops. (Yahoo, Jan. 22, 2016)
TEEN PALESTINIAN TWINS PLANNED TERROR BOMBINGS (Jerusalem) — The Shin Bet, in cooperation with the IDF, recently arrested 18-year-old Palestinian twin sisters Diana and Nadia Hawilah. The arrests of the sisters followed a search of their house that revealed weapons including pipe bombs, fertilizers used for making explosives, as well as a knife and Hamas headbands. According to a Shin Bet investigation, Diana bought the chemicals found in her home independently, used online video tutorials to learn how to build explosive devices, and intended to use them against Israelis. The Shin Bet said that Diana was exposed via the internet to radical Islamic preaching encouraging women to take part in acts of terror against Israel and Jews. (Ynet, Jan. 25, 2016)
CANADA TO LIFT SOME SANCTIONS ON IRAN (Ottawa) — Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion says Canada will begin to lift some sanctions on Iran now that a deal has been reached to curb that country's contentious nuclear program. The Conservative's foreign affairs critic, Tony Clement, condemned the policy shift, adding that the government is "going 180 degrees in the wrong direction." Dion also signaled that Canada would look to open its embassy in Tehran, but said in French that it wouldn't be the first step in restoring relations with the country. The Harper government abruptly closed the Canadian Embassy in Tehran in 2012, and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa. The government also formally listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. (CBC, Jan. 27, 2016)
SOMALIA ATTACK DEATH TOLL RISES TO AT LEAST 20 (Mogadishu) — Somalia's security forces ended a deadly siege of a beachfront restaurant in the capital, with more than 20 people killed in the attack, a police official said Friday. It was not clear a report of more than 20 killed included the assailants. Witnesses said that gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great," and entered the restaurant from the direction of the beach as clients, sitting behind razor wire, watched the seashore. Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Shabaab also attacked Kenyan peacekeepers in southwestern Somalia last week. The al-Qaeda-linked group said it had killed about 100 Kenyans and seized weapons and military vehicles. (CBC, Jan. 22, 2016)
I.S. VIDEO APPEARS TO SHOW PARIS ASSAILANTS EARLIER IN SYRIA AND IRAQ (Paris) — I.S. released a video apparently showing footage of the men who carried out the November attacks in Paris while they were in Syria and Iraq, where they are pictured carrying out executions, including beheadings. If the identities of all of the men in the video are confirmed, it would be the first evidence that the group that killed 130 people in coordinated attacks in Paris had been sent from I.S.’s base in Syria. It is unclear why it took I.S. over two months to release the video, which also includes numerous images of the attacks. Under the headline “Target Area: Paris,” it shows frantic scenes of soccer players and fans reacting to explosions at the Stade du France, and chaos on the streets near the Bataclan and other venues where the mass shootings took place. (New York Times, Jan. 24, 2016)
I.S. OBLITERATES IRAQ’S OLDEST CHRISTIAN MONASTERY (Mosul) — The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of I.S.’s relentless destruction of ancient cultural sites. For 1,400 years the compound survived assaults by nature and man, standing as a place of worship recently for US troops. Now, satellite photos confirm that St. Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul has been completely wiped out. I.S. extremists swept through in June 2014 and largely cut communications to the area. St. Elijah’s has joined a growing list of more than 100 demolished religious and historic sites, including mosques, tombs, shrines and churches. I.S. has defaced or ruined ancient monuments in Nineveh, Palmyra and Hatra. (New York Post, Jan. 20, 2016)
FRENCH JEWS FEAR A NEW STRAIN OF I.S.-INSPIRED ANTISEMITISM (Marseille) — It was the heavy leather-bound volume of the Torah he was carrying that shielded Benjamin Amsellem from the machete blows. His attacker, a teenage fanatic who the police say was inspired by I.S., was trying to decapitate Amsellem, a teacher at a local Jewish school. But Amsellem used the Torah — the only defense at hand — to deflect the blade and save himself. It was the third such knife attack since October on a Jew in Marseille, where the Jewish population, around 70,000, is the second largest in France after Paris. And it was the latest example of how France is confronting both the general threat of terrorism, especially after two large-scale attacks in Paris last year, and a particular strain of antisemitism that has left many French Jews deeply unnerved. (New York Times, Jan. 24, 2016)
OVER 40% OF EUROPEANS HOLD ANTISEMITIC VIEWS (Berlin) — More than 40% of EU citizens hold antisemitic views and agree with the claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians and behaving like the Nazis. Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day this week, Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett presented the country’s 2015 antisemitism report. The report discusses the rise in antisemitism following what it calls a “triple alliance against the Jews – an increase in antisemitism on the part of Muslim immigrants; a rise in the extreme Right, accompanied by xenophobia and violence against minorities; and a rewriting of Holocaust history, mainly in Eastern Europe…and in Western Europe, dissemination of hate-filled propaganda by radical left-wing movements, which promote boycotts and the delegitimization of Israel and create a climate that encourages attacks on Jews for their identification with Israel.” (Algemeiner, Jan. 24, 2016)
BERLIN OPENS BIGGEST EXHIBITION OF HOLOCAUST ART OUTSIDE ISRAEL (Berlin) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the biggest exhibition of Holocaust art outside Israel in Berlin, after pledging to take concerns about rising antisemitism seriously. The "Art from the Holocaust" show features 100 works from Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial center, which were created by Jewish inmates at concentration camps, labor camps and ghettos during the Nazi time. Of the 50 artists featured in the exhibition, 24 were killed by the Nazis. Christoph Heubner, executive president of the international Auschwitz committee, called Yad Vashem's decision to host the exhibition in Germany of all places a "very symbolic move…after all, it was in Berlin where all these crimes were planned and prepared and displaying the artwork in Germany's historic museum shows that they are an immediate part of German history." (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2016)
TEKOA SECURITY UPGRADE FUND RAISING (Tekoa) — Tekoa is a small community south east of Jerusalem. Last Monday, a terrorist stabbed a young pregnant woman, moderately injuring her (Read: “Palestinian attacker stabs Israeli woman in West Bank” here—Ed). This terrible incident brought residents and various government security branches to work together to make nine urgent upgrades to the security environment for the town. The total estimated costs are $700,000, of which the IDF is contributing around $275,000 and Tekoa residents are committing $75,000, leaving a shortfall of $350,000 to be raised from friends. If you can help Tekoa’s residents live a more secure life, given these conditions, please be generous and send a check to CENTRAL FUND OF ISRAEL…TEKOA SECURITY, C/O Marcus Brothers Textiles, 980 Ave of America's, New York, NY 10018, Or send a wire to: CITIBANK NA, 411 5th Ave New York, 10016, ABA# 021000089, Central Fund of Israel ac# 4985590372 Swift code CITI US 33, Tax ID # 132992985
Stop the Incitement, Stop the Killing: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2016— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken to giving press conferences to Israeli journalists of late.
Israel’s New Security Minister and his Four Ideas for Stopping Violence: William Booth & Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, Jan. 21, 2016—Meet Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan. He’s a star in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He has only been on the job for six months, but for the last four he has been dealing with a wave of almost daily attacks — stabbings, shootings, car rammings — by Palestinians against Israelis.
Iran Opening Stirs New Interest From Businesses: Benoît Faucon, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 22, 2016—Iran is pushing full throttle to re-establish business with the rest of the world as Western companies move cautiously to renew ties abandoned during international economic sanctions that largely ended a week ago.
The Island of Tears: CBN Documentaries, Jan. 11, 2016—Everyday, thousands of refugees from Syria arrive by boat on the shores of the Greek island of Lesvos, hoping to find a new start in Europe. Waiting for them on the shore is a rescue team of doctors and nurses, both Arab and Jewish, from the Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAid.