Tag: Auschwitz

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY: “JEWS WERE MURDERED AT AUSCHWITZ, BUT ANTISEMITISM DID NOT DIE THERE”

Have We Learned the Lessons — and Causes — of the Holocaust?: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017— This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Persistence of Anti-Semitism Shows World Has Yet to Learn Lessons of the Holocaust: Mario Silva, National Post, Jan. 26, 2017— This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Justice for Those Who Have Endured: Yechiel Eckstein, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2017— This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.

Three Reasons Why a Double Standard is Imposed on Israel: Philip Carl Salzman, CIJR, Jan. 25, 2017— While nationalism of the Americans, French, and Chinese is admired or at least accepted, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) is regarded as racism by pro-Arab activists and journalists.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

The 400-year-old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017

Remembering the Holocaust, Forgetting the Survivors: Yechiel Eckstein, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 25, 2017

Story of Japan’s 'Schindler' Offers Lessons for Tackling Contemporary Xenophobia: UNNewsCentre, Jan. 26, 2017

Raoul Wallenberg, Hero of Humanity: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2017

 

 

 

HAVE WE LEARNED THE LESSONS — AND CAUSES —

OF THE HOLOCAUST?

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017

 

This coming Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is often assumed that the Holocaust was caused by a long-lasting antisemitic infrastructure in Germany and on the European continent. According to this theory, many centuries of demonization of the Jews created an atmosphere that made it possible for the Nazis to commit genocide against the Jews.

 

Over the course of centuries, Christianity systematically demonized the Jews. This demonization began in Roman Catholic theology. A major role was played by Voltaire and other French enlightenment philosophers. They were followed by German idealists and other philosophers, as well as 19th century French socialists and Karl Marx. Many others joined this movement of hate in the late 19th and early 20th century. Even after the Holocaust, Europe’s main philosopher was the German antisemite and former Nazi, Martin Heidegger.

 

But these explanations of the Holocaust may not be so simple. In 2015, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby remarked that antisemitism is a complex and difficult subject, adding that it is still deeply embedded “in our history and culture in Western Europe.” British-Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who recently passed away, claimed that there is a far more opaque infrastructure for the Holocaust than mentioned before. In his book, Modernity and the Holocaust, he links the great genocide to structural elements of modern society. He states that the Holocaust was a product of men educated in the most refined culture of Western society, and  thus a product of Western civilization. In Bauman’s view, the conditions for a similar event to occur are still in place.

 

As an aside, Bauman’s insights did not prevent him from making contemporary Holocaust-distorting observations. In an interview with the Polish weekly Politika, he compared the Israeli separation fence to the walls surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto.

 

The question as to whether a second Holocaust is possible was the subject of a debate in 2002. American columnist Ron Rosenbaum claimed that it was likely that, sooner or later, a nuclear weapon would be detonated by Arab fundamentalists in Tel Aviv. This led to a reaction by Leon Wieseltier, who said that the Jews had found both safety and strength after the war, and that a second Holocaust would not occur. Rosenbaum countered by claiming that Wieseltier was fleeing into denial, as there were many Hitler-like figures who were demonizing Jews in the Arab world. Furthermore, in recent decades, we have seen genocides elsewhere, the best known in Cambodia and Rwanda.

 

All this raises the question as to what the history of the Holocaust means for today. In contemporary society, there are many demonizers of Jews and in particular of Israel. This is a multilayered process. At the forefront of this movement are forces from the Muslim world. Iranian rulers have often mentioned that Israel will be wiped off the map. Others include Muslim terror organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as countless individuals. Their de facto allies include a broad range of demonizers of Israel who knowingly ignore genocidal and demonizing tendencies in the Arab world. Some examples of these are the UN and associated bodies, assorted NGOs, various European socialist parties, many pseudo-progressive academics, numerous trade unionists and so on.

 

All the above can only lead to one conclusion: It is incumbent upon Israel and the Jewish world to make a huge effort to map how all of this hangs together. Only once we understand the arrangement of our enemies on the battleground can we fight them effectively.

 

 

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PERSISTENCE OF ANTI-SEMITISM SHOWS

WORLD HAS YET TO LEARN LESSONS OF THE HOLOCAUST                                                           

Mario Silva

National Post, Jan. 26, 2017

                       

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Sadly, the liberation of the camp on Jan. 27, 1945 did not put a stop to the mass killing of innocent Jewish men, women and children. Nor did it stop after the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division liberated the Westerbork concentration camp in Holland in April 1945. The Nazis continued their slaughter until the last moments of their murderous machine, which was put to an end when Nazi Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.

 

Nazism subscribed to theories of a “master race” — a racial hierarchy where superior people have a right to dominate others and purge society of so-called inferior elements. By the time the war ended, Nazi Germany and its many collaborators had exterminated one-third of the Jewish people, six million Jews. Those of us who look back at that dark period history become traumatized by the ease and speed with which the killing took place. Nowhere is this more evident (than) in Babi Yar, Ukraine, where from Sept. 29–30, 1941, over just two days, 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation.

 

Remembering these unique horrors is a key to Holocaust remembrance. In 2013, I was honoured to be the chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) during the Canadian Chairmanship. Canada’s membership in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance reflects our country’s commitment to ensuring that future generations understand the causes of the Holocaust.

 

It was with the goal of remembrance that, in 1998, then Swedish prime minister Göran Persson asked Britain’s Tony Blair and then U.S. president Bill Clinton to join him in forming an international task force on Holocaust remembrance, education and research. And on Jan. 27, 2000 in Stockholm, 46 governments — represented by heads of state, prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, and ministers — unanimously adopted the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. Today, we also mark the 17th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration.

 

The commitment of the international community to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration was the starting point for many countries to begin a public debate on their role during the Second World War and the Holocaust. What happened during the war? What did our country do? What did it not do? And what are the lessons we must learn to ensure this never happens again?

 

Today, IHRA has expanded from its three founding members to an international network of experts on the Holocaust and related issues. It has strengthened political co-operation among its 31 member countries, which work together in a consensus-based framework.

 

Member states that join IHRA commit to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration, which states that “the unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning,” and that in a world “still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils.” Member governments must pledge to strengthen efforts to promote Holocaust education, remembrance, and research.

 

Knowledge about the background, purpose, and significance of the Holocaust is essential to raise public awareness and mobilize forces to push back against the prejudices and stereotypes that led to it. Hate crimes, be they based on xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial, are a global phenomenon. Individually and collectively we have an obligation to fight discrimination that leads to the exclusion of groups of people and spreads hatred.

 

The liberation of Auschwitz should be a powerful call against anti-Semitism, hatred, racial intolerance and prejudice. Unfortunately, genocides and other atrocities occurred before and after the Holocaust. Even after the Holocaust, one particular form of hate stands out today from among the others. Anti-Semitism is unique in its universality, intensity, longevity and irrationality. During my chairmanship, I worked hard to make sure that IHRA adopted an international definition of Holocaust denial, which by its very nature is another form of anti-Semitism.

 

The Holocaust was an unprecedented crime against humanity and a defining historical moment, one that fundamentally altered how the world views and treats acts of genocide. As such, it provides us with many important lessons that can help prevent such crimes from happening again. The challenge is to ensure that those lessons are remembered, shared and applied. In this way, the world can honour the memory of those we failed to protect.

 

 

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JUSTICE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ENDURED

Yechiel Eckstein

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 26, 2017

 

This January 27, nations around the world mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity – the near destruction of European Jewry.

 

It was fitting, then, that during a special Knesset ceremony on December 20, 2016, I was honored on behalf of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, along with eight other individuals and organizations, to receive the Beacon of Light Award from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims. Limor Livnat, chairwoman of the foundation, said the annual awards pay tribute to those dedicated to improving the lives of survivors, honor Holocaust survivors who have excelled in their contribution to Israeli society, and recognize volunteers improving survivors’ quality of life.

 

I was humbled that The Fellowship was recognized for its longtime dedication to helping needy Holocaust survivors in Israel at a time when the entire world prepares to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust, in a global annual event the United Nations General Assembly launched in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

 

While the ceremonies and awards are important, they also serve to underscore a largely ignored humanitarian tragedy of global proportions that we as a community are not doing enough to address: Today, many of the world’s remaining 500,000 Holocaust survivors are living out their final years in poverty. Most of those who are suffering live either in Israel, across the former Soviet Union, or in greater New York City.

 

Of 189,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, 25% live below the poverty line. Among the 60,000 survivors throughout the former Soviet Union, poverty is endemic – approaching 85-90%. Even in New York City, home to another 60,000 survivors, about half live below the poverty line.

 

This is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. But worse, it speaks of a moral failure, because those who suffered the unimaginable are suffering once again through general ignorance or neglect. And the clock is ticking for us to respond. Every day, 40 survivors die. Within a decade few who experienced the Holocaust first-hand will remain.

 

In Israel and throughout the FSU, the poorest survivors are barely subsisting on meager income, often forced to choose between eating and securing life-saving medicine. Many survivors suffer through brutal winters unable to afford heating fuel.

 

Thanks to the support of millions of Christians across the United States and elsewhere, The Fellowship has been able to provide more than $7.3 million annually in food, medicine, heating fuel, daycare and other assistance to over 18,000 survivors in Israel and more than $15m. annually in food, medical assistance, home care and winter aid to those in the FSU. In fact, we recently ramped up our partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, establishing the IFCJ Food and Medicine Lifeline to serve tens of thousands of poor elderly Jews, many of them survivors not only of the Holocaust but of Soviet oppression, in 11 countries in the FSU.

 

While we are certainly gratified to have been able to make some impact and help many survivors, we are by no means satisfied that our job is done. As a community, we cannot stand idly by as even one Holocaust survivor in Israel or anywhere else is forced to perform a cruel financial calculus regarding their most basic human needs. Our moral responsibility only begins with remembering the six million, whether it is on International Holocaust Remembrance Day or on Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day each spring. Our moral duty will only be fulfilled when those who survived the unspeakable are not forced to live in unspeakable conditions. This is about seeing to justice for those who have endured.

 

                                                           

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THREE REASONS WHY A DOUBLE STANDARD IS IMPOSED ON ISRAEL

Philip Carl Salzman                                                                 

CIJR, Jan. 25, 2017

 

While nationalism of the Americans, French, and Chinese is admired or at least accepted, Jewish nationalism (Zionism) is regarded as racism by pro-Arab activists and journalists. While Syrian President Bashar Assad declares war against his people, with deaths numbering in hundreds of thousands and displaced in the millions, next door Israel is lambasted by the foreign minister of Sweden for "extrajudicial killings," when it kills terrorists in the act of attacking Israeli citizens.

Notwithstanding the oppression of women in the Islamic Middle East, the forced marriages, mandatory seclusion, obligatory wearing of tents, honor killings, enslavement, gang rapes, and sale as sex slaves, the National Women's Studies Association boycotts Israel, the only country in the Middle East where women are free and equal.

 

What explains this double standard? The first reason is traditional Christian anti-Semitism. For 1,800 years Jews were Europe's own despised minority, blamed for murdering Jesus and then rejecting Christian salvation. This was still being preached from the Catholic pulpit fifty years ago when I arrived in Quebec. The Jews were the feeble minority that Europeans loved to hate. Any Jewish deviation from propriety was seized upon to justify their lowly status

 

However, with the establishment of Israel, Jews were no longer the feeble minority, but a robust majority of a small state, with Jewish "pushiness" becoming Israeli military victory. In Israel, the Jews no longer knew "their place" at the bottom of the European hierarchy, but were independent actors no longer dependent upon European permission.

 

Europeans have responded by being hyper-critical of their despised ex-minority, demanding things of Israel that they have never demanded of Israel's adversaries or neighbors, or even of themselves, and condemning Israel when it does not comply with their unreasonable demands.

 

The second reason for the double standard is pragmatic, not to say cynical: There are hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims, and only a few million Jews. Arabs and Muslims are spread in many strategically important locations throughout the world. Furthermore, Arabs and Muslim make up a huge commercial market for the industrial nations of Europe and beyond.

 

As to propriety and standards of behavior, European Christians never thought much of, or expected much of the people of the "South." These gentiles, pagans, and heathens would do just about anything, so there was no point measuring them against civilized standards and judging them. Deal with them pragmatically, was the strategy, as politically important and economically useful. The European rule is this: do not unnecessarily irritate the vast number of Arabs and Muslims by siding with a handful of uppity Jews; that would just be foolish. Showing you are on the side of Arabs and Muslims by condemning Israel is just smart policy.

 

The third and final reason for the double standard is the Holocaust, the European genocidal project to murder all Jews. Germany expertly designed and engineered the Holocaust, but was joined enthusiastically by many in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, and collaborated with by Western European countries. Even those who did not take direct part, such as Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland, did nothing to stop the Holocaust, in spite of pleas that they do so, and some blocked their gates to Jews trying to escape their fate.

 

The shadow of the Holocaust – its blame, shame, and guilt – has hung over Europe since 1945. After 70 years, Europeans are fed up with hearing about it. Current generations were not even alive at the time. Why should they be blamed and feel guilt, they wonder, about something that they did not do, do not approve of, and would not do themselves. Yet the shadow prevails.

 

How can it be removed? Well, if it turns out that the Jews are evil – that, given the chance to be in charge as in Israel, they behave exactly like the Nazis – then the ledger is balanced. European hyper-criticism of Israel makes both Europeans and Jews oppressors and murderers, equally guilty and thus equally innocent. Extravagant denunciation of Israel, however dishonest, frees Europe of its guilt. Americans, implicated in the Holocaust only to the extent of having closed its doors to Jews trying to flee, currently favor Israel over the Palestinians, according to annual Gallup polls, by four to one, while Europeans heavily favor Palestinians. Americans do not need to escape the blame for the Holocaust, while for Europeans condemning Israel is the easiest route.

Prof. Philip Carl Salzman is a CIJR Academic Fellow

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

The 400-year-old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017

1. According to Prof. Robert Bellah, a leading sociologist from UC Berkeley, there is “civil religion” in the US: separation between religion and state, but not between religion and society.  Civil liberties are Bible-driven, reflecting more responsibility than rights.

Remembering the Holocaust, Forgetting the Survivors: Yechiel Eckstein, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 25, 2017 —This January 27, nations around the world will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the most horrific evil ever perpetrated upon humanity: the near destruction of Europe’s Jews.

Story of Japan’s 'Schindler' Offers Lessons for Tackling Contemporary Xenophobia: UNNewsCentre, Jan. 26, 2017 —During World War II, Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat posted as an acting consul in Lithuania, disobeyed instructions from his own Government and issued visas for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

Raoul Wallenberg, Hero of Humanity: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2017— I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness and taking action – on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, reminding us of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened; and on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century. From 1941 to the end of 1944, some 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, 1.1 million of them were Jews.

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELIE WEISEL z”l (1928-2016) “(THE HOLOCAUST) IS IMMEASURABLE AND INCOMPARABLE. IT’S A UNIQUE EVENT. IT MUST REMAIN A UNIQUE EVENT.” — WEISEL (2006)

The Importance of Elie Wiesel: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, July 3, 2016— By the time he died yesterday at the age of 87, Elie Wiesel had attained a singular celebrity.

Elie Wiesel: In Memoriam: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, July 4, 2016— Elie Wiesel’s life means different things to different people.

Elie Wiesel’s Great Mission on Behalf of Soviet Jews: Natan Sharansky, Washington Post, July 4, 2016— Perhaps better than anyone else of our age, Elie Wiesel grasped the terrible power of silence.

America’s Fourth of July Ties to the State of Israel: Mike Evans, Jerusalem Post, July 3, 2016— America’s Independence Day, by far the most important national holiday of the year in the United States, commemorates the birth of the nation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776…

 

On Topic Links

 

Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (Video): Newsweek, July 3, 2016

Israel Mourns Elie Wiesel as One of its Own: Aron Heller, Times of Israel, July 4, 2016

‘My God, Why the Children?’ Selections from Elie Wiesel’s Writings, Speeches and Interviews: Tristin Hopper, National Post, July 3, 2016

Nine Iconic Sites that Celebrate American Jewish History: Gabe Friedman and Andrew Silow-Carroll, Times of Israel, July 4, 2016

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF ELIE WIESEL

                               Jonathan S. Tobin

                                   Commentary, July 3, 2016

 

By the time he died yesterday at the age of 87, Elie Wiesel had attained a singular celebrity. He was the most famous Holocaust survivor and an icon of conscience. Wiesel was the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, the man who took Oprah to Auschwitz and the person journalists sought out for comment any time there was an atrocity happening somewhere. Through his books and lectures he became the chief storyteller about the Holocaust and Hasidic tales. But he was also the person who helped inspire generations of Jews and non-Jews to care about human rights while still remaining faithful to the need to protect the Jewish people and Israel against the anti-Semitic successors of the Nazis. As such he transcended the Holocaust and became a seminal figure in 20th century Jewish history.

 

Wiesel’s status as a witness of the Holocaust is now so deeply embedded in popular culture as well as those who study the subject seriously as to be taken for granted. But the influence of his writing during the period after World War Two when most survivors were not speaking about it cannot be overestimated. His Night is a book that has now been read by millions—but when it was first published in 1960, it was largely ignored. Yet along with the string of other books that followed it did more than merely keep alive the memory of that great crime and of its victims. It awoke in its audience a passion to care about drawing conclusions from history and a need to ponder the great question he asked about the silent complicity of the bystanders to the Shoah. For those who read his books and heard his lectures, Wiesel’s work was a call to conscience and to activism. Without his work and influence, the history of the movement to work for freedom for the Jews of the Soviet Union and to defend Israel in that era would have been much diminished if not unimaginable.

 

I believe many of Wiesel’s books and his collections of Hasidic tales will stand the test of time. But to grasp the impact of his work one must realize how important and unique Night was to its readers in that era. The same goes for his 1966 Jews of Silence, a book that, as much as any other event, helped launch widespread understanding of the plight of Soviet Jews during the decades when they were forbidden to emigrate to freedom in Israel and the West and sought to reacquaint themselves with their heritage after decades of Communist oppression.

 

As important as his books were, by the 1980s, Wiesel the symbol of the memory of the victims took center stage. His public confrontation with President Reagan over Reagan’s planned visit to an SS cemetery in Bitburg, Germany was a powerful moment that ought to stand as a lesson in how to respectfully speak truth to power. Reagan was a friend of the Jewish people and Israel and there were those who wished to give him a pass for doing a favor to his German ally Chancellor Helmut Kohl. But Wiesel didn’t hesitate or spare him when he famously said, “That place is not your place. Your place is with the victims of the SS.” That sealed Wiesel’s status as celebrity icon of suffering and he endured criticism in his last decades from those who grew tired of seeing him showing up to lend his prestige for various human rights causes speaking in his trademark anguished style. But there’s one more element of Wiesel’s career that must be acknowledged and praised.

 

By his later years, Wiesel had risen above his beginnings to become a hero to many who cared nothing for the lessons of Jewish history. In an era when much of the study of the Holocaust had become dedicated to “liberating” the subject from a specific Jewish context and universalizing it, many of his admirers expected him to distance himself from Israel and specifically Jewish causes that were unpopular in the so-called “human rights community.” But while he always tried to be above partisan politics and appeal to the world’s conscience wherever genocide was taking place, he never stopped advocating for Israel and its right to self-defense even when doing so earned him abuse from the left.

 

Just as he failed to convince President Reagan to avoid Bitburg, Wiesel also failed to convince President Obama to make good on his pledge to dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and to force it to abjure its genocidal threats against the Jewish state. But, as he did every time Israel came under attack, Wiesel remained faithful to the cause of the rights of the Jewish people and to their homeland and stood with Prime Minister Netanyahu as he sought to derail the administration’s appeasement of Iran. It was in that sense fitting that a vicious anti-Zionist like Max Blumenthal would choose to abuse Wiesel even after his death. Wiesel always knew his place was with the victims of terror, not the terrorists or those who desire the destruction of Israel, which is the only true memorial to the Six Million and the living symbol of the Jewish people’s will to survive.

 

Elie Wiesel may have spent his life pondering the mystery of survival when the world he knew as a boy went up in smoke through the chimneys of Auschwitz. But his life’s work helped ensure that memory lives and that those who have followed must never forget or fail to remember their obligation to stand up against those who wish to continue the work of Hitler and his accomplices. In an era in which anti-Semitism is sadly on the rise again throughout the globe, we need Wiesel’s example of moral courage more than ever. May his memory be for a blessing.            

 

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ELIE WIESEL: IN MEMORIAM                                                                                      

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                                                                                         

Arutz Sheva, July 4, 2016

 

Elie Wiesel’s life means different things to different people. US President Barack Obama said, “Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world. He raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms.” Former Israeli President Shimon Peres said in his memory, “Wiesel left his mark on humanity through preserving and upholding the legacy of the Holocaust and delivering a message of peace and respect between people worldwide. He endured the most serious atrocities of mankind – survived them and dedicated his life to conveying the message of `Never Again.”…

 

Some persons become symbols during their lives through how they live and what they do. The Talmud says it is not the place a man occupies that gives him honor, but the man gives honor to the place he occupies. That was the case when Wiesel was nominated for president of Israel in 2007. Would he have been a good president? I doubt it. A representative function like this requires many formal duties, including shaking the hands of thousands, sitting at long dinners, and listening to all too often uninspiring speeches. These requirements stymie creativity. Wiesel, like Albert Einstein – another Jew who became a symbol during his lifetime who refused Israel’s first presidency when Ben Gurion offered it to him – wisely turned the proposal down,

One of the many things a person who has become a symbol of morality can do is to influence policy and opinion with his statements. In Romania, the country where Wiesel was born, there had been many post-war efforts to distance the country from its responsibility for the Holocaust. An important step to expose this deflection process occurred when the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, chaired by Wiesel, released a report in November 2004 that unequivocally points to Romanian culpability. It declares: “Of all the Allies of Nazi Germany, Romania bears responsibility for the deaths of more Jews than any country other than Germany itself.”

 

The increasing abuse of the term Holocaust pained Wiesel. In 1988, earlier than many others recognized this issue, he stated with emotion, “I cannot use [the word Holocaust] anymore. First, because there are no words, and also because it has become so trivialized that I cannot use it anymore. Whatever mishap occurs now, they call it ‘holocaust.’ I have seen it myself in television in the country in which I live. A commentator describing the defeat of a sports team called it a ’holocaust.’ Since then the abuse of the Holocaust has multiplied many times.

 

As the distortion of the Holocaust and the falsification of its memory are subjects of particular interest to me, I want to mention Wiesel’s role in fighting the Bitburg scandal. In 1985, U.S. president Ronald Reagan visited the German military cemetery of Bitburg. When his visit to Germany was announced, it was also specifically mentioned that he would not visit a concentration camp. Initially the impression was that only soldiers and officers of the German Army (Wehrmacht) were buried in the Bitburg cemetery. This visit, planned by the German government, was a clear act of whitewashing part of its past. The Wehrmacht, however, gave support to the SS, which carried out most of the mass murder of the Jews. Only years later would it become more widely known that the Wehrmacht itself had played such a major part in the murders.

 

Shortly after the visit was announced, it transpired that members of the Waffen SS were also buried in this cemetery. This led to huge protests against the visit. Reagan had agreed to go to Bitburg in order to show that the United States now had normal relations with Germany and its pro-American chancellor Helmut Kohl, but because of the protests he later decided to visit the Bergen Belsen concentration camp as well.

 

In his memoirs Wiesel devoted an entire chapter to the Bitburg affair. He summarized the essence of the whitewashing: The German tactic in this affair was obvious; to whitewash the SS. He wrote, “It is the final step in a carefully conceived plan. To begin with, Germany rehabilitated the 'gentle,' 'innocen'” Wehrmacht. And now, thanks to Kohl, it was the turn of the SS. First of all, the 'good' ones. And then would come the turn of the others. And once the door was open, the torturers and the murderers would be allowed in as well. Bitburg is meant to open that door…." Officials in the State Department tell me that Kohl bears full responsibility for this debacle; he convinced Reagan that if the visit were canceled it would be his, Kohl’s defeat, and hence that of the alliance between the United States and Germany.”

 

In 1986 Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize from the Norwegian Nobel Committee. This was an example of Wiesel honoring the prize rather than the prize honoring the man. When several years later Yasser Arafat would be one of the recipients of the same prize, he dishonored it. For years thereafter he continued to send murderers to kill Israeli citizens. A list of payments to Palestinian terrorists and assassins signed by Arafat was found in the Orient House in Jerusalem. It included Arafat’s hand-written changes as to the amounts to be paid to each murderer.

 

There are Westerners, often calling themselves progressives, who show understanding for Palestinian Arab terror because they view the Palestinians as victims. Wiesel was a symbol of victimhood. He had suffered far more than most Palestinians. Wiesel didn’t use it as an excuse to become a killer or support murderers, but to the contrary – to show humanity that however abused, a human can rise to great moral heights.

          

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ELIE WIESEL’S GREAT MISSION ON BEHALF OF SOVIET JEWS                                                                            

Natan Sharansky                                                                                                    

Washington Post, July 4, 2016

 

Perhaps better than anyone else of our age, Elie Wiesel grasped the terrible power of silence. He understood that the failure to speak out, about both the horrors of the past and the evils of the present, is one of the most effective ways there is to perpetuate suffering and empower those who inflict it.

 

Wiesel therefore made it his life’s mission to ensure that silence would not prevail. First, he took the courageous and painful step of recounting the Holocaust, bringing it to public attention in a way that no one else before him had done. His harrowing chronicle “Night,” originally titled “And the World Remained Silent,” forced readers to confront that most awful of human events — to remember it, to talk about it, to make it part of their daily lives. Then, as if that weren’t enough, he turned his attention to the present, giving voice to the millions of Jews living behind the Iron Curtain. Although he is rightly hailed for the first of these two achievements, it was the second, he told me on several occasions, for which he most hoped to be remembered.

 

Wiesel first traveled to the Soviet Union in 1965 as a journalist from Haaretz, on a mission to meet with Jews there, and was shocked by what he saw. Those with whom he spoke were too afraid to recount Soviet persecution, terrified of reprisals from the regime, but their eyes implored him to tell the world about their plight. The book that resulted, “The Jews of Silence,” was an impassioned plea to Jews around the world to shed their indifference and speak out for those who could not. “For the second time in a single generation, we are committing the error of silence,” Wiesel warned — a phenomenon even more troubling to him than the voiceless suffering of Soviet Jews themselves.

 

This was a watershed moment in the struggle for Soviet Jewry. While the major American Jewish organizations felt a responsibility to stick to quiet diplomacy, wary of ruffling Soviet feathers and alienating non-Jews in the United States, Wiesel’s book became the banner of activists, students and those who would not stay quiet. He had realized that the Soviet regime wanted above all for its subjects to feel cut off from one another and abandoned by the world. Indeed, I can attest that even 15 years later, Soviet authorities were still doing their utmost to convince us — both those of us in prison and those out — that we were alone, that no one would save us and that the only way to survive was to accept their dictates.

 

Wiesel was thus uniquely perceptive in realizing that without this power to generate fear and isolation, the entire Soviet system could fall apart, and he was prophetic in calling on the rest of the world to remind Soviet Jews that they were not alone. The history of the Soviet Union would likely be very different had the struggle for Soviet Jewry not come to encompass the kind of outspoken, grass-roots activism that Wiesel encouraged in his book. Without public campaigns and the awareness they generated, there could be no quiet diplomacy to secure results. Every achievement in the struggle for Soviet Jewry over the succeeding 25 years — from making the first holes in the Iron Curtain, to securing the release of political prisoners and human rights activists, to ultimately making it possible for millions of Soviet Jews to emigrate — resulted from this mixture of activism and diplomacy, neither of which could succeed without the other.

 

Over the years, of course, Wiesel became an important part of establishment Jewish life. Every Jewish organization sought to co-opt him, to invite him to speak or to support their causes. Yet he remained deeply connected to the dozens of refusenik families whom he had effectively adopted as his own. From 1965 on, he once said, not a single day went by when he was not preoccupied with the fate of Soviet Jews, many of whom he regarded as his own family.

 

And he was true to this approach to the very end, to the last battle in our struggle: the March for Soviet Jewry in December 1987. Elie and I had first discussed the idea of a march more than a year earlier, in mid-1986. Yet six months after our initial conversation, I found myself lamenting to him that the Jewish establishment was too resistant to the idea, afraid of the logistical difficulties involved and of being painted as enemies of a newly born detente. Elie replied that we should not expect establishment organizations to take the lead and should instead mobilize students, who would pressure them from below to get on board. So I traveled to about 50 U.S. universities in the months leading up to the march, galvanizing activists who were eager to participate. And sure enough, just as he predicted, all of the major Jewish organizations eventually united behind the idea.

 

As we were all marching together, establishment leaders justifiably congratulated themselves for this great achievement. Elie looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Yes, they did it.” Rather than splitting hairs about who had been more influential, he credited the power of the Jewish world as a whole. We had been right to act as we did, to make noise and push for change through our own resolute campaign, but we needed the establishment to see our efforts through. Wiesel understood exceptionally well how to unite these two forces for the common good.

 

Elie Wiesel’s humanism, his active concern for the voiceless, hardly stopped with his fellow Jews. He spoke out against massacres in Bosnia, Cambodia and Sudan, against apartheid in South Africa, and against the burning of black churches in the United States. He became, as others have said, the conscience of the world. Yet he never gave up or sacrificed even a bit of his concern for the Jewish people. He did not feel he had to give up his Jewish loyalty or national pride to be a better spokesman for others. To the contrary: It was the tragedy of his people that generated his concern for the world — a world he felt God had abandoned — and it was his belief in universal ideas that helped him to ultimately reconcile with his Jewish God.

 

 

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AMERICA’S FOURTH OF JULY TIES TO THE STATE OF ISRAEL

Mike Evans

Jerusalem Post, July 3, 2016

 

America’s Independence Day, by far the most important national holiday of the year in the United States, commemorates the birth of the nation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, with fireworks, picnics, concerts, parades, political speeches and ceremonies. It is a day of patriotism and the largest birthday celebration in America – a true day of remembrance. It is in this spirit that I, as an American, will celebrate Israel. The nation of Israel and the Jewish people have sacrificed more for American freedom per capita than any nation on earth.

 

Radical Islamists call America the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan.” The reason is obvious; the Jewish people in Israel have, with their own blood, defended America and the Western world against radical Islam since the days of its rebirth on May 14, 1948. When Jewish poetess Emma Lazarus penned the immortal words emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, Palestine was desert, a wasteland in the hands of the unfriendly Turks. From 1881 to about 1920, three million Jews emigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States. Welcoming them to America were Lazarus’ words: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”

 

Ties between the Jewish people and the early pilgrims in America were as foundationally strong as the rock on which the Pilgrims stepped ashore in 1620. A group hoping to found a “New Israel” would become highly influential when the colonists began to aspire to freedom. Early founders and presidents of the newly- formed republic would express the hope that the children of Israel might one day find rebirth in their homeland – the land God gave to Abraham. Our forefathers, including Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, lobbied for an image of Moses guiding the Israelites on the Great Seal. Such presidents as John Adams, Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln lobbied for a homeland in Palestine for the Jews. President Harry S. Truman was the first world leader to recognize the new State of Israel in 1948.

 

One of the greatest symbols of Israel’s sacrifice is Yonatan Netanyahu, commander of Sayaret Matkal, who was killed in action on July 4, 1976 during Operation Entebbe in Uganda. Character and dedication are symbolized in a letter Yonatan wrote to his parents on December 2, 1973: “We are preparing for war and it’s hard to know what to expect. What I am positive of is that there will be a next round and others after that. But, I would rather opt for living here in continual battle than for becoming part of the wandering Jewish people. Any compromise will simply hasten the end. As I don’t intend to tell my grandchildren about the Jewish State in the twentieth century as a mere brief and transient episode amid thousands of years of wandering, I intend to hold on here with all my might.”

 

In 2008, Ugandan president Yoweri Musevani flew to Israel at the invitation of president Shimon Peres to attend the “Facing Tomorrow Conference.” When I discovered he was there, I immediately approached Grace, first lady of Uganda. I told her that her husband had broken his promise. I referred to the fact that Maureen Reagan Revel, the daughter of Ronald Reagan, had asked me in January 1986 to organize a press conference for president Musevani. Maureen had been having a difficult time arranging it because of all the negative press regarding Uganda’s former leader, Idi Amin. I was able to fulfill Maureen’s request and invited president Musevani to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Washington, DC. My invitation to Musevani was supported by then-director of the NRB Dr. Ben Armstrong, who invited the president to speak. I hosted Musevani and his cabinet in my suite, and during that meeting, he said, “I want to do something for you to show my appreciation.” I replied, “I only ask one thing of you, and that is to honor Jonathan Netanyahu with a memorial at the airport in Entebbe.” That did not happen…                             

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (Video): Newsweek, July 3, 2016—Author and humanitarian Elie Wiesel, who died Saturday at age 87, won the Noble Peace Prize in 1986 in recognition as "one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world."

Israel Mourns Elie Wiesel as One of its Own: Aron Heller, Times of Israel, July 4, 2016—Elie Wiesel never lived in Israel, but on Sunday the country mourned the death of the esteemed author and Nobel peace laureate as though it had lost a national icon.

‘My God, Why the Children?’ Selections from Elie Wiesel’s Writings, Speeches and Interviews: Tristin Hopper, National Post, July 3, 2016 —“I don’t know how I survived; I was weak, rather shy; I did nothing to save myself. A miracle? Certainly not. If heaven could or would perform a miracle for me, why not for others more deserving than myself? It was nothing more than chance.”

Nine Iconic Sites that Celebrate American Jewish History: Gabe Friedman and Andrew Silow-Carroll, Times of Israel, July 4, 2016—Monday is Independence Day in the US. That means it’s time for many Americans to take a day off, watch some fireworks and grill large amounts of meat to enjoy with friends and family.

THE WEEK THAT WAS: HISTORIC CAPITULATION TO IRAN; LESSONS FROM THE GREEK CRISIS & OSKAR GRÖNING CONVICTED

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Worse Than We Could Have Imagined: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 16, 2015 — When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue.

The Four Horsemen of a Looming Apocalypse: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, July 14, 2015  — The U.S. and its allies are faced with four major threats, and they are as diverse and yet as akin as the proverbial apocalyptic horsemen.

What Israel Should Learn From the Greek Crisis: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, July 15, 2015— The current Greek financial and social crisis is not only the result of poor management of many successive Greek governments.

The Right Outcome for an Auschwitz Guard: Gene Klein, Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2015 — Oskar Gröning, a former SS soldier known as “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” was convicted on Wednesday in a German court on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.

               

On Topic Links

 

Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect: Elliott Abrams, National Review, July 15, 2015

Greece, Deep in Crisis, is Keen on Axis of ‘Security’ with Israel and Cyprus: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015

The Life of an Auschwitz Guard: Laurence Rees, Politico, July 13, 2015

Two Mass Graves: Ukrainians and Jews: Alexander J. Motyl, World Affairs, July 15, 2015

 

                            

 

WORSE THAN WE COULD HAVE IMAGINED                                                                                         

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                                          

Washington Post, July 16, 2015

 

When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue. We had hit bottom. Or so I thought. Then on Tuesday the final terms of the Iranian nuclear deal were published. I was wrong. Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional arms and ballistic missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations?

 

When asked Wednesday at his news conference why there is nothing in the deal about the American hostages being held by Iran, President Obama explained that this is a separate issue, not part of nuclear talks. Are conventional weapons not a separate issue? After all, conventional, by definition, means non-nuclear. Why are we giving up the embargoes?

 

Because Iran, joined by Russia — our “reset” partner — sprung the demand at the last minute, calculating that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were so desperate for a deal that they would cave. They did. And have convinced themselves that they scored a victory by delaying the lifting by five to eight years. (Ostensibly. The language is murky. The interval could be considerably shorter.) Obama claimed in his news conference that it really doesn’t matter, because we can always intercept Iranian arms shipments to, say, Hezbollah.

 

But wait. Obama has insisted throughout that we are pursuing this Iranian diplomacy to avoid the use of force, yet now blithely discards a previous diplomatic achievement — the arms embargo — by suggesting, no matter, we can just shoot our way to interdiction. Moreover, the most serious issue is not Iranian exports but Iranian imports — of sophisticated Russian and Chinese weapons. These are untouchable. We are not going to attack Russian and Chinese transports.

 

The net effect of this capitulation will be not only to endanger our Middle East allies now under threat from Iran and its proxies, but also to endanger our own naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Imagine how Iran’s acquisition of the most advanced anti-ship missiles would threaten our control over the gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, waterways we have kept open for international commerce for a half-century.

 

The other major shock in the final deal is what happened to our insistence on “anytime, anywhere” inspections. Under the final agreement, Iran has the right to deny international inspectors access to any undeclared nuclear site. The denial is then adjudicated by a committee — on which Iran sits. It then goes through several other bodies, on all of which Iran sits. Even if the inspectors’ request prevails, the approval process can take 24 days. And what do you think will be left to be found, left unscrubbed, after 24 days? The whole process is farcical.

 

The action now shifts to Congress. The debate is being hailed as momentous. It is not. It’s irrelevant. Congress won’t get to vote on the deal until September. But Obama is taking the agreement to the U.N. Security Council for approval within days . Approval there will cancel all previous U.N. resolutions outlawing and sanctioning Iran’s nuclear activities. Meaning: Whatever Congress ultimately does, it won’t matter because the legal underpinning for the entire international sanctions regime against Iran will have been dismantled at the Security Council. Ten years of painstakingly constructed international sanctions will vanish overnight, irretrievably. Even if Congress rejects the agreement, do you think the Europeans, the Chinese or the Russians will reinstate sanctions? The result: The United States is left isolated while the rest of the world does thriving business with Iran.

 

Should Congress then give up? No. Congress needs to act in order to rob this deal of, at least, its domestic legitimacy. Rejection will make little difference on the ground. But it will make it easier for a successor president to legitimately reconsider an executive agreement (Obama dare not call it a treaty — it would be instantly rejected by the Senate) that garnered such pathetically little backing in either house of Congress. It’s a future hope, but amid dire circumstances. By then, Iran will be flush with cash, legitimized as a normal international actor in good standing, recognized (as Obama once said) as “a very successful regional power.” Stopping Iran from going nuclear at that point will be infinitely more difficult and risky. Which is Obama’s triumph. He has locked in his folly. He has laid down his legacy, and we will have to live with the consequences for decades.                              

 

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THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF A LOOMING APOCALYPSE                                                                

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, July 14, 2015

 

The U.S. and its allies are faced with four major threats, and they are as diverse and yet as akin as the proverbial apocalyptic horsemen. Vladimir Putin has a tsarist idea that he can reclaim insidiously the periphery of the old Soviet Union — Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, the Baltic states — on the principle of protecting Russian-speaking minorities in these breakaway republics. More practically, he feels that any security guarantees extended by the West to these entities are about as valid as an Obama red line or a Greek assurance of financial reform.

 

By Western criteria, Putin’s Russia is broke. It is shrinking and dysfunctional. But by Putin’s own metrics, his people are energized by Russia’s new defiance of the West. And if Russia is increasingly autocratic, and bifurcated into a small elite and an impoverished mass, that is nothing new, but simply the way things have always been in Russia, whether tsarist or Communist. Putin seems to assume that, if he can succeed in reestablishing the 19th-century Russian empire and bullying Eastern Europe into becoming once again a neutral buffer between Russia and the West, then he will go down in history as another Peter the Great or Joseph Stalin.

 

In one of the great diplomatic blunders of our time, the Obama administration thought it could win over a supposedly misunderstood Putin by rhetorically distancing itself from the Bush administration. But blaming Bush for Putin’s own agenda, which transcends the Middle East, only empowered Russia. The Obama administration’s bombing Libya and, in empty fashion, threatening Syria alienated Putin even more. Obama’s false step-over, red, and deadlines confirmed Putin’s impressions of the continued weak leadership of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. He probably believes that he can do to Estonia what he has done to Crimea or Ukraine — and without too many more consequences…

 

If Putin’s Russia is a 19th-century power that does not see economic robustness as necessary for the reacquisition of empire, China feels that it is far more globalized, rich, and integral to the world economy and thus even less likely to be on the receiving end of U.S. sanctions or even censure. China, unlike Putin’s Russia, wants to acquire new dependencies, not just reclaim former ones. Picking a fight with the U.S. over the Pacific, or hacking U.S bureaucracies and corporations, is much safer than haggling with India or Russia over contested borders.

 

China assumes that its growing military capabilities, its new sand-castle bases in the critical sea-lanes of the South China Sea, and its intrusions into the territorial waters and airspace of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines are slowly redrawing the Pacific map. The countries being bullied really have only three choices: to reach agreements with China that acknowledge its preeminence, to seek new assurances from the U.S. that they still remain under our nuclear umbrella, or to become nuclear powers themselves…

 

When China and Russia look at U.S. efforts to negotiate with Iran, or to deal with the Middle East, or to confront radical Islam, they see a confused administration whose one constant is either embarrassment over or ambiguity about America’s long post-war role of global preeminence. China, then, believes there is little chance that the United States will line up its Pacific allies, reassure them of our support in extremis, and configure a joint Pacific military front, much less that the U.S. will triangulate with Russia and India to assure a balance of power that would remind China that it is already surrounded by nuclear Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, and that a nuclear Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan could be added to that lineup in the not too distant future.

 

Iran is the third horseman, and one both similar to, and also altogether different from, China and Russia in a number of ways. Like China and Russia, Iran sees its present ambitions as consistent with a restoration of its glorious past. The Achaemenids are seen as every bit as illustrious as were the tsars or the Chinese dynasts. Iran is also an autocracy that does what it pleases at home. And, finally, Iran is obsessed with energy, as are Russia and China, as both a political weapon and a means to fuel military rearmament. But Iran in the short term, even though the weakest of these three anti-American autocracies, is also the most dangerous.

 

It will be a nuclear power quite soon, but it has no experience, as China and Russia both do, in the accustomed behavior of nuclear states. And also unlike both, it is a self-proclaimed revolutionary theocracy, with periodic fits of end-of-days rhetoric. Whether these are genuine expressions of a looming twelfth-imam apocalypse or simply feigned bouts of lunacy that are useful strategies in nuclear poker, no one quite can be sure. If China has evolved somewhat in its obsession over Taiwan, Iran has not matured in its fixation on Israel, which, unlike Taiwan, is itself already nuclear.

 

Iran also is actively subverting nearby states such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, in the hopes of crafting some sort of Shiite regional hegemony. Petrodollars, the bomb, and terrorists are scary assets, and Iran believes that it will soon complete that triad, and be free at last to recreate its Middle East empire without much interference from the United States.

 

ISIS, the fourth horseman, is the weakest of our current threats, but ironically the one with the greatest likelihood of conducting a major attack, albeit terrorist and asymmetric, against Europe or the United States or both. In creepy fashion, its barbarity — from immolations and beheadings to crucifixions and drownings — gains it world attention, and appeals to listless, video-game-playing Middle Eastern expatriate youth bored in the West. Its diplomacy is paradoxical as well. ISIS fights against enemies of the West like Bashar Assad’s Syria, Hezbollah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and against erstwhile Western allies like the Kurds, Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf States. Hitting ISIS would empower Syria and Iran; not hitting ISIS weakens our moderate Sunni former friends.

 

ISIS is not, as Osama bin Laden was, headquartered in caves in the outback of Afghanistan. It already has burrowed into many cities of the old Syrian–Iraqi Middle East and has a fighting chance of taking Baghdad or Damascus or both. After the Obama red line to Syria and the abrupt pullout of all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq in 2011, ISIS has had little, if any, fear of the U.S. and none at all of our allies — to the extent that we have any allies left in the Middle East. A different administration might have destroyed any and all ISIS vehicles and hardware with round-the-clock bombing, supplied the Kurds with plentiful arms, and sent in U.S. ground forces to organize a regional resistance force…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

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WHAT ISRAEL SHOULD LEARN FROM THE GREEK CRISIS

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                           

CIJR, July 15, 2015

 

The current Greek financial and social crisis is not only the result of poor management of many successive Greek governments. A huge contribution to this calamity has also been made by various decisions of the European Union. Like many major political upheavals around the world, this one as well has important lessons for Israel. The importance of the Greek crisis does not lie in whether or not it has an immediate impact on the Israeli reality, but rather what Israel can learn from it.

 

In Europe, most of the attention on the Greek crisis is placed on its financial aspects. Questions frequently heard are, “Will Greece have to leave the Euro?”, “What will be the financial impacts on the Euro”, and “How will it affect possible other aspects of the European Union?” The most recent agreement doesn’t change much of Greece’s structural problems. This strong focus on financial issues is one-sided and short sighted. There are political aspects to this crisis which, in the long run, may become far more important.  One only has to remember that at the Yalta conference of 1945, Stalin and Churchill discussed their spheres of interest in post-war Europe. Stalin agreed to British demands that while the Balkan countries would be in the Soviet Union’s control, Greece would almost entirely be in that of Great Britain.

 

Chaos in Greece may have a tremendous political fallout. Increased Russian influence within the country could have a substantial nuisance value for the West. Chinese influence, admittedly less probable, might be even worse. For NATO, Greece is very important, and for many reasons.  There is a major NATO naval base in Crete at Souda Bay, for example. Greece has not always been a friendly partner. In the 1980s then Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou stated that his foreign policy goal was his refusal to be a “client state of the West.”

 

A foreign observer recently asked me whether it was conceivable that Greek terrorists would carry out attacks against the EU, whether in Brussels or elsewhere. I was initially taken aback by the question, but after giving it some thought, I answered that although highly unlikely, it was not totally inconceivable. The particularly dangerous Marxist-Leninist November 17 terrorist group for instance made 23 victims including Greeks as well as  American, British, and Turkish diplomats during its activities from 1975-2002.

 

I recalled the years when I worked in Greece at the end of the 1990s. I was then a strategic advisor to the president of one of the country’s largest corporations which were not under state control. As he frequently had time constraints, I accompanied him from time to time to the airport. We could thus have a quiet conversation in the car, a prestigious model of one of the luxury Italian car makers. I doubted whether there was any similar car in Athens. An armed bodyguard on a motorcycle rode ahead of us. After we reached the airport, I would return to the company’s office in the same car. The bodyguard had no intention of accompanying me back to the office–he had been hired to guard the president and nobody else. During those rides, I would often muse that potential terrorists could not know that the person in the highly visible vehicle was not the company’s president but just me. It was an uncomfortable feeling, but part of my Greek reality at the time.

 

There are more practical considerations regarding the current Greek crisis. Israeli exports to the EU will be affected by a further decline in the Euro. There would be significant consequences, as the EU is Israel’s largest market abroad. There are also other far reaching considerations which have less to do with Greece’s internal problems and more with how the EU deals with such issues. From my frequent visits to Greece, fifteen or more years ago, it was clear to me that there were huge economic problems, including an overgrown and often incompetent bureaucracy. Its ranks were filled with supporters of the two parties which alternated in having political power:  the socialist Pasok and the liberal New Democrats. As a foreigner I could not understand the details of the substantial corruption, but I could sense its impact.

 

Greece joined the EU in 1981. Over the years, the Brussels Eurocrats must have understood the country’s problems in far greater detail than an outsider like myself. They should have known that Greece was not a suitable candidate to join the Eurozone under any circumstances, and yet it happened in 2001. Had Greece kept the drachme as its currency, its structural problems would have gradually come to the surface over the years, but they would not have led to such a major calamity as is currently the case.

 

Letting Greece join was a sign of EU incompetence and of its irresponsibility. When the Greek crisis broke out, the EU focused mainly on the financial side of the problem, as if it was not accompanied by a social one. If the EU would have correctly analyzed the situation, they would have gradually eased Greece out of the Euro. The Eurozone members who lent money to keep Greece afloat were aware that the chances of being fully paid back were close to nothing. They knowingly fooled their own citizens, however, by claiming that there would be a return on their investment.

 

The Greek problem will not disappear easily. It is but one of a variety of huge strategic mistakes the EU has made. The creation of the Euro in a non-uniform economic system took away the major safety valve of devaluation from the weaker countries. Such a setup was only fine for countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, who had maintained a de facto fixed exchange rate between their pre-Euro currencies…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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THE RIGHT OUTCOME FOR AN AUSCHWITZ GUARD                                                                                    

Gene Klein                                                                                                           

Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2015 

 

Oskar Gröning, a former SS soldier known as “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” was convicted on Wednesday in a German court on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. Mr. Gröning’s wartime duties included seizing money and other valuables from prisoners arriving at the death camp, then keeping track of what had been taken. Now 94, he was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.

 

I had a personal stake in this trial. Together with my parents and my two sisters, I arrived in Auschwitz in May 1944. Mr. Gröning worked at the camp from September 1942 to October 1944. We had been on a train from Hungary for three days and three nights, packed 80 human beings to a cattle car. The water had run out within a day. By the time we arrived we were burning with thirst, weak with hunger, and overwhelmed with fear. The doors of the train slid open to reveal SS guards—with ferocious dogs barking at their sides—screaming at us to get out. The women were immediately separated from the men, leaving my father and me hardly time to say a hasty goodbye to my mother and sisters. We had no idea when, or if, we would see them again.

 

When my father and I reached the SS officers at the front of the arrival ramp, he was sent to the left and I was sent to the right. I had no idea why, or what this meant. I had no idea that I had just been selected for slave labor while my father had been selected for death. He was not an old man, but during the train ride his beard had grown in white. This was apparently signal enough for the guards to discard him as useless. That was the last time I saw my father. The next day I asked a veteran prisoner where they had taken him. He led me outside, pointed at a huge chimney that was spewing smoke into the air. Your father is going up the chimney, he said. I don’t know if Mr. Gröning was on the arrival ramp when I got off the train. I do know he was part of the machinery that inflicted death, deprivation and terror on the 300,000 Hungarian Jews who arrived during the time he was working at the Auschwitz arrival area, or the many more Jews and non-Jews who were killed at Auschwitz during the time he worked there as an accountant. No single person killed my father. He was killed by a system of genocide in which Mr. Gröning knowingly played his part.

 

The decision to send Oskar Gröning to prison is a service to humanity. I say this not out of vengeance; I take no pleasure in seeing a 94-year-old man sent to jail. I say it because it is just, it is right, and it is necessary. It is just and right because of the harms he inflicted on so many. These harms are not diminished by time, nor negated by the fact that he was part of a vast, murderous complex. They are not even mitigated by his willingness now to take moral responsibility for his acts, as seen in his public revelations that led to his arrest. Admitting moral responsibility is the least we should expect. The fact that so many in his situation in the past have failed to do so doesn’t exonerate him or erase his deeds.

 

We are defined in large measure by the difficult choices we make. When I was imprisoned in a slave-labor camp at Gross-Rosen in western Poland, my life was saved by a German brave enough to do what was right when it was dangerous, rather than popular. I was a starving 16-year-old carrying steel rails all day long, losing both strength and hope. Because I spoke German, I was selected one morning to carry surveying equipment for a civilian engineer. He took pity on me, and for the two weeks I worked with him, he—at great personal risk—stole food for me daily from the SS kitchen.

 

People like this courageous engineer remind us that there were alternatives to believing the Nazi propaganda that influenced Mr. Gröning. Acts of resistance and humanity were possible. But Mr. Gröning volunteered for the SS and became an active and enthusiastic member of their ranks. Had more people been like the engineer and fewer like Mr. Gröning, perhaps my sisters and I—they and my mother also survived the war—would not have lost my wonderful father. Perhaps I would again have seen my aunts, cousins and other relatives who died at the hands of the Nazis…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

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On Topic                                                                                        

 

Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect: Elliott Abrams, National Review, July 15, 2015—Reading the 150-page agreement with Iran takes less time than one might have anticipated, because it isn’t really a 150-page agreement.
Greece, Deep in Crisis, is Keen on Axis of ‘Security’ with Israel and Cyprus: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015—With Greece’s future shrouded in great uncertainty, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias spoke in Jerusalem on Monday of developing an axis of security and stability among Israel, Greece, and Cyprus inside what he called a regional “triangle of destabilization.”

The Life of an Auschwitz Guard: Laurence Rees, Politico, July 13, 2015—In 1942, when he was twenty-one years old, Oskar Groening was posted to Auschwitz. He almost immediately witnessed a transport arriving at “the ramp”—the platform where the Jews disembarked.

Two Mass Graves: Ukrainians and Jews: Alexander J. Motyl, World Affairs, July 15, 2015—I discovered two mass graves in the forest near my mother’s home town in western Ukraine, Peremyshlyany, located 47 kilometers east-southeast of Lviv. The former Przemyślany is also a former shtetl.

 

                                                                      

 

              

O’S DANGEROUS POLICIES THREATEN ISRAELI SECURITY, WHILE EU CONFRONTS PAST, & PRESENT, ANTISEMITISM

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

Israel Alone: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 20, 2015 — Recent conversations with senior Israeli officials are shot through with a sense of incredulity. They can’t understand what’s become of U.S. foreign policy.

In France, There’s No Hatred For Any Group Equivalent to That of Jew Hatred: Barbara Kay, National Post, Apr. 21, 2015 — France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced an action plan that will make the battle against hatred into “a great national cause,”…

Former SS Member, on Trial in Germany, Says He Was ‘Morally Complicit’ at Auschwitz: Alison Smale, New York Times, Apr. 21, 2015— Seven decades after the liberation of Auschwitz, a 93-year-old former SS member at the Nazi death camp shuffled into a German court on Tuesday to answer charges of complicity in the murders of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews in two months during the summer of 1944.

An Open Letter to Cornel West: Judea Pearl, Jewish Journal, Apr. 21, 2015— Dear Professor West, This is a humble request sent to you from a rank-and-file Jewish professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where you are scheduled to deliver a keynote address in honor of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, titled “Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Charles Krauthammer on His Distinguished Career in Writing and Ideas: Youtube, Apr. 12, 2015

Washington-Lausanne-Munich?: Martin Sherman, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2015

Taking Jihad to School – French Programs Emphasize Secularism: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Apr. 22, 2015

Former SS Guard: ‘Couldn’t Imagine’ Jews Surviving Auschwitz: Times of Israel, Apr . 23, 2015

On College Campuses, Saving Democracy From Itself: Noah Beck, Algemeiner, Apr. 20, 2015

         

                                                

ISRAEL ALONE                                                                                                           

Bret Stephens                                                                                                                                          

Wall Street Journal, Apr. 20, 2015

 

Recent conversations with senior Israeli officials are shot through with a sense of incredulity. They can’t understand what’s become of U.S. foreign policy.

 

They don’t know how to square Barack Obama’s promises with his policies. They fail to grasp how a president who pledged to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is pushing an accord with Tehran that guarantees their proliferation. They are astonished by the nonchalance with which the administration acquiesces in Iran’s regional power plays, or in al Qaeda’s gains in Yemen, or in the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical weapons, or in the battlefield successes of ISIS, or in Russia’s decision to sell advanced missiles to Tehran. They wonder why the president has so much solicitude for Ali Khamenei’s political needs, and so little for Benjamin Netanyahu’s.

 

In a word, the Israelis haven’t yet figured out that what America is isn’t what America was. They need to start thinking about what comes next. The most tempting approach is to wait Mr. Obama out and hope for better days with his successor. Israel and the U.S. have gone through bad patches before—under Ford in the 1970s, Reagan in the early ’80s, Bush in the early ’90s, Clinton in the late ’90s. The partnership always survived the officeholders.

 

So why should it be different this time? Seventy percent of Americans see Israel in a favorable light, according to a February Gallup poll. The presidential candidates from both parties all profess unswerving friendship with the Jewish state, and the Republican candidates actually believe it. Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is broadly unpopular and likely to become more so as the fiascoes continue to roll in.

 

Yet it’s different this time. For two reasons, mainly. First, the administration’s Mideast abdications are creating a set of irreversible realities for which there are no ready U.S. answers. Maybe there were things an American president could have done to help rescue Libya in 2011, Syria in 2013, and Yemen last year. That was before it was too late. But what exactly can any president do about the chaos unfolding now? Shakespeare wrote that there was a tide in the affairs of men “which taken at the flood, leads men on to fortune.” Barack Obama always missed the flood.

 

Now the president is marching us past the point of no return on a nuclear Iran and thence a nuclear Middle East. When that happens, how many Americans will be eager to have their president intervene in somebody else’s nuclear duel? Americans may love Israel, but partly that’s because not a single U.S. soldier has ever died fighting on its behalf. In other words, Mr. Obama is bequeathing not just a more dangerous Middle East but also one the next president will want to touch only with a barge pole. That leaves Israel alone to deal as best as it can with a broadening array of threats: thousands more missiles for Hezbollah, paid for by sanctions relief for Tehran; ISIS on the Golan Heights; an Iran safe, thanks to Russian missiles, from any conceivable Israeli strike.

 

The second reason follows from the first. Previous quarrels between Washington and Jerusalem were mainly about differing Mideast perceptions. Now the main issue is how the U.S. perceives itself. Beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, every U.S. president took the view that strength abroad and strength at home were mutually reinforcing; that global security made us more prosperous, and that prosperity made us more secure.  Then along came Mr. Obama with his mantra of “nation building at home” and his notion that an activist foreign policy is a threat to the social democracy he seeks to build. Under his administration, domestic and foreign policy have been treated as a zero-sum game: If you want more of the former, do less of the latter. The result is a world of disorder, and an Israel that, for the first time in its history, must seek its security with an America that, say what it will, has nobody’s back but its own.

 

How does it do this? By recalling what it was able to do for the first 19 years of its existence, another period when the U.S. was an ambivalent and often suspicious friend and Israel was more upstart state than start-up nation. That was an Israel that was prepared to take strategic gambles because it knew it couldn’t afford to wait on events. It did not consider “international legitimacy” to be a prerequisite for action because it also knew how little such legitimacy was worth. It understood the value of territory and terrain, not least because it had so little of it. It built its deterrent power by constantly taking the military initiative, not constructing defensive wonder-weapons such as Iron Dome. It didn’t mind acting as a foreign policy freelancer, and sometimes even a rogue, as circumstances demanded. “Plucky little Israel” earned the world’s respect and didn’t care, much less beg, for its moral approval.

 

Perhaps the next American president will rescue Israel from having to learn again what it once knew. Israelis would be wise not to count on it.

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

IN FRANCE, THERE’S NO HATRED FOR ANY GROUP

EQUIVALENT TO THAT OF JEW HATRED                                                                                       

Barbara Kay                                                                                                        

National Post, Apr. 21, 2015

 

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced an action plan that will make the battle against hatred into “a great national cause,” a plan that will include awareness programs and enhanced punishment for online hate speech, with stiffer prison sentences for hatred-based crimes. The superficially admirable plan springs from honest outrage on Valls’ part — but outrage that has undergone a disquieting sea change since it was first expressed.

 

After the Charlie Hebdo and kosher-supermarket massacres in January, you may recall, Valls delivered a passionate, widely circulated speech on anti-Semitism in France, declaring the problem of Jewish flight so serious the French Republic must be judged a failure if Jews left en masse. Then, Valls pulled no punches regarding the source of the crisis: “We are at war with terrorism, jihadism and Islamist radicalism.”

 

That January cri du coeur offered truths that were the gift of spontaneity. With time for second thoughts (and who knows what political pressure), the message Valls now delivers is quite different. Last week the prime minister told suburban high school students: “Racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims, of foreigners and homophobia are increasing in an unbearable manner in our country.” He added, “French Jews should no longer be afraid of being Jewish and French Muslims should no longer be ashamed of being Muslims. Valls’ capitulation to France’s pre-Hebdo default of moral relativism is sad to behold. Valls’ outrage now sees anti-Semitism not as a singular problem, rather as only one of multiple hatreds, and no more distressing than hatred of foreigners (who?), gays and — of course — Muslims.

 

The truth, which Valls understood very well in January, is that there is no hatred for any group in France equivalent to that of Jew hatred, routinely expressed in virulent hate speech, vandalism, beatings and murder. Foreigners, gays and Muslims are not fleeing France. The institutions of foreigners, gays and Muslims are not being guarded around the clock. Fifty-five per cent of hate-driven acts are not happening to foreigners, gays and Muslims, but to Jews (1% of the population). Social and employment-related discrimination are problems for French Muslims, but discrimination is not hatred, and has been historically overcome by many immigrant communities everywhere on the road to integration. Most disturbingly, Valls’ likening of actual Jewish victimhood and legitimate collective Jewish fear of Islamist terrorism to some Muslims’ feelings of shame regarding Islamist terrorism is an offensively false analogy.

 

The only true hate crisis in France is anti-Semitism. In November, 2014, a French poll revealed disturbing levels of anti-Semitism amongst French Muslims, as well as “tolerance for violence targeting Jews among a rather significant percent of the population.” According to Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Paris-based head of the American Jewish Committee, most Muslims are anti-Semitic, a sentiment that rises in tandem with religious orthodoxy, but which crosses all lines of age, socio-economic status, levels of education and districts. In February, Rodan-Benzaquen confessed herself frankly pessimistic regarding Muslim Judeophobia in France: “It is possible that it is too late,” meaning too late for France to ensure Jewish safety.

 

Seven thousand Jews left France in 2014. France is reaping what she sowed. For many years, pro-Arab French politicians and media willfully misread the normative anti-Semitism of all Arab societies as a by-product of the Middle East conflict. Intent on relativizing what has always been a one-way hatred, French elites demoted Jews from their appropriate status of French nationals, as Ashkenazi Jews have been for more than 200 years, into a “community of immigration,” falsely accusing them of “communautarisme” (disloyalty to French republicanism), and shamelessly mischaracterizing Muslim anti-Semitism as a problem of “the two communities,” both in need of “inter-religious dialogue.”

 

Post-Second World War anti-Semitism has been a serious problem in France since the 1980s, when it was imported from North Africa, where it was endemic. Yet it was, until a few years ago, actually a government policy, in collaboration with France’s pusillanimous media, to ignore hundreds of acts of anti-Semitism so as not to “throw oil on the fire” of Muslim rage. Valls’ nuanced reframing tells us France is not prepared to tackle the root cause of its only existential hate crisis. So French Jews can choose: a continuing siege existence in a nation whose fear of its alienated Muslims trumps solidarity with its integrated Jews; or a new home in Israel, under external siege to be sure, but a nation where Jewish lives are privileged over political correctness. French Jews at least have a choice. The rulers who created the conditions that are forcing the choice don’t. They’re stuck in France. Who will be better off in the end?

                                             

   Barbara Kay is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

                                                                       

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FORMER SS MEMBER, ON TRIAL IN GERMANY,

SAYS HE WAS ‘MORALLY COMPLICIT’ AT AUSCHWITZ                                                                                       

Alison Smale                                                                                            

New York Times, Apr. 21, 2015

 

Seven decades after the liberation of Auschwitz, a 93-year-old former SS member at the Nazi death camp shuffled into a German court on Tuesday to answer charges of complicity in the murders of 300,000 mostly Hungarian Jews in two months during the summer of 1944. With Holocaust survivors looking on, the former SS soldier, Oskar Gröning, certainly one of the last Nazis called to account, read a chilling but clear account of his life. It focused on the autumn of 1942 to the autumn of 1944, when he served in the SS at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

 

The tardiness of the case against Mr. Gröning, a widower who lives in this small town in northern Germany, did nothing to reduce the tension in the makeshift courtroom, normally an assembly hall. He and his accusers can expect to spend much of the next three months here, measuring the march of 20th-century history through the lives of Nazis and their victims.

 

Unlike those tried decades ago, Mr. Gröning does not deny that he was at Auschwitz and that he saw terrible things. The case turns on whether he is not only morally but also criminally responsible for what happened there. After the state prosecutor, Jens Lehmann, read the charges, Mr. Gröning spoke for an hour, then turned to Judge Franz Kompisch and said: “It is beyond question that I am morally complicit. This moral guilt I acknowledge here, before the victims, with regret and humility.” He asked for forgiveness. “As concerns guilt before the law,” he told the judge, “you must decide.”

 

His words riveted dozens of journalists, spectators, relatives of victims and some of the 65 plaintiffs who have joined state prosecutors in the case. After a break for lunch, the judge spent an hour questioning Mr. Gröning, who took his listeners back through decades to the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler. Mr. Gröning said he had been a bank accountant who was conscripted in the fall of 1940 and volunteered for the SS because it seemed “always to be out front” and came back “covered in glory” from the swift Nazi successes in Poland and France, sealing Hitler’s grip on Europe.

 

The defendant, who was lucid almost throughout, said his first doubts about Hitler arose with the invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, which Mr. Gröning said he considered unwise, given Russian tenacity and might. He said that he was responsible for collecting cash belonging to arriving prisoners at Auschwitz, as state prosecutors have charged, but that he also witnessed atrocities. He suggested that his doubts grew almost immediately upon his arrival at Auschwitz, when drunken guards talked of “getting rid of” prisoners.

 

The atrocities he witnessed, he said, included one night in December 1942 when he was roused from bed to help hunt down fleeing prisoners. In the process, he told the court, he saw prisoners herded into a farmhouse and an SS superior tip gas out of a can into an opening. The screams of the prisoners inside “grew louder and more desperate, and after a short time became quieter and then stopped completely,” Mr. Gröning said. “That was the only time I saw a complete gassing,” he said, emphasizing, “I did not take part.”

 

Reading his account with occasional guidance from his two lawyers, Mr. Gröning recalled minute details of his life in the SS, down to the imposing marble and wood carving in the hall where he and his comrades learned of their assignment to Auschwitz. It was presented, he said, as “a duty that will demand more from you than the front” and that had to be kept secret, even from family, but that was vital “to achieving the Final Solution” of eliminating Jews.

 

In November 1942, he recalled, a crying baby was found amid trash discarded by arriving prisoners. The baby’s mother had evidently abandoned it in hopes that she would then be chosen for a work crew and not sent to the gas chamber. A fellow SS member, angered by the cries, beat the infant to death, Mr. Gröning said, adding that he complained to a superior but that no action was taken. The recollections of both the gassing and the dead baby figured prominently in the two lengthy interviews Mr. Gröning gave a decade ago to the BBC and the newsmagazine Der Spiegel. The events notably occurred outside the period in 1944 for which he is being prosecuted.

 

Mr. Gröning’s case not only revives searing questions about individual guilt for Nazi crimes but also highlights the decades of legal inaction over Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.1 million people were killed. About 6,500 members of the SS worked at the camp; only 49 have been convicted of war crimes. Mr. Gröning first started talking about Auschwitz with associates and his two sons after a fellow collector at his stamp club fiercely denied the Holocaust. His case also illustrates how perceptions of the Holocaust and Nazi crimes have shifted over the decades. In 1945, Lüneburg, then in the British Allied sector of Germany, was the site of one of the first trials of former guards at the Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. Eleven of those on trial were executed in December of that year.

 

But retribution swiftly gave way to the need to rebuild Germany. The crimes committed at Auschwitz were at the heart of four big trials in Frankfurt in the 1960s. Then, for decades, little happened, as German prosecutors insisted that evidence had to tie those accused of war crimes directly to atrocities. Mr. Gröning’s prosecution became possible only through the trial of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian who immigrated to the United States after World War II. He was eventually sentenced in 2011 in Munich to five years in prison for his involvement in the killing of 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. He died in 2012, before his appeal could be heard.

 

For decades before that ruling, prosecutors in Germany had declined to charge anyone with complicity in the Holocaust. One of the people who helped pioneer the shift in German legal thinking was Thomas Walther, a former judge who went to work in 2006 for Germany’s central office for tracking Nazi war crimes, based in Ludwigsburg. He pursued the Demjanjuk case and is considered instrumental in the subsequent trial and sentencing of Mr. Demjanjuk, a former autoworker in Ohio. In Lüneburg, Mr. Walther is the leading lawyer of 11 who are representing the 65 co-plaintiffs, some of whom arrived in recent days, ready to testify.

 

Among them is Eva Fahidi, 90, of Budapest, who lost 49 relatives in the Holocaust, including her mother and sister, who were sent to the gas chambers upon arrival at Auschwitz. She was not satisfied with Mr. Gröning’s testimony and request for forgiveness. “After 70 years, he still behaves this way and is not capable of saying, ‘I am a sinner,’” Ms. Fahidi said. Another survivor, Eva Kor, 81, of Terre Haute, Ind., was also adamant that “feeling guilty doesn’t accomplish anything.” While Ms. Fahidi said she longed for a formal judgment on Mr. Gröning, Ms. Kor argued that he should go out to schools and show “how much Nazism destroyed everybody’s lives.”

 

Markus Goldbach, Ms. Kor’s lawyer, said he thought that the accused had gone further than ever before with his plea for forgiveness. “It is a surprise,” he said, and may throw a fresh light on Mr. Gröning’s claim that he made three requests to be transferred out of Auschwitz.  These perspectives will most likely be debated throughout the trial, which coincides with modern atrocities in the Middle East and the commemoration of the Armenian genocide 100 years ago. “It is an important point in looking at genocidal acts which happen today — that perpetrators perhaps do get taken to court,” Christoph Heubner, of the International Auschwitz Committee in Berlin, said in an interview before the trial. “Even when it is 70 years too late, it is a lingering, lasting signal.”  

 

            Thomas Walther Spoke about the Oskar Gröning case at the CIJR office in January—Ed.                                                                              

Contents                                                                                               

   

AN OPEN LETTER TO CORNEL WEST                                                                                            

Judea Pearl                                                                                                                    

Jewish Journal, Apr. 21, 2015

 

Dear Professor West, This is a humble request sent to you from a rank-and-file Jewish professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where you are scheduled to deliver a keynote address in honor of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, titled “Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity.” My request may sound odd, perhaps even audacious, but it needs to be said as we are preparing to commemorate the life and legacy of Rabbi Heschel, his moral grandeur and his spiritual audacity.

 

I will be as blunt and straightforward as possible: You should excuse yourself from delivering this lecture. My reasons are also blunt and straightforward: No matter how eloquent your speech and how crafty your words, the audience you will face at UCLA will not be able to take them too seriously in light of your recent decision to become a leading propagandist for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. You have to forgive us for being pedantic in these matters, and perhaps not as flexible and nuanced as one might hope, but our history has taught us the importance of devising crisp and visible litmus tests to distinguish friends from foes. It so happened, and you know it as well as we do, that the term BDS has become our most reliable litmus test. In other words, we have come to equate promoters of BDS ideology with those who seek the destruction of Israel, hence the demise of the Jewish people.

 

Thus, as much as we might try to separate the words you would be saying in honor of Rabbi Heschel from those you uttered in a Feb. 25 interview with David Palumbo-Liu at Stanford (published in Salon), in which you took great pride in promoting cultural and academic boycotts of Israel, our minds will resist the separation. Our minds will be warning us, again and again, that the person speaking before us wants our destruction.

 

The human mind is a funny machine, Professor West, unlike for politicians and entertainers, our mind seeks consistency and coherence in everything that we see and hear. This stubborn mind will therefore not allow us to forget that in your Aug. 12, 2014, interview with Sean Hannity, you could not find even one historical link between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. None! Nada! Blank! Not one word of empathy for a multiethnic society of immigrants who’ve fought 67 years of besiegement and hostility. None! Nada! Blank! Thus, Professor West, you will have to forgive those stubborn minds if they remind your audience that the keynote speaker at the Heschel memorial conference does not represent the ecumenical legacy of Rabbi Heschel (1907-72), but the moral deformity of BDS.

 

I believe your UCLA hosts, and certainly your UCLA audience, will accept your apologies if you decide to cancel your engagement. They would understand.

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

                                                                                     

 

On Topic

 

Charles Krauthammer on His Distinguished Career in Writing and Ideas: Youtube, Apr. 12, 2015

Washington-Lausanne-Munich?: Martin Sherman, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2015 —As more and more details emerge, one thing is chillingly clear. Only the dogmatic, the delusional or the disingenuous could deny the deadly dangers that pursuit of Barack Obama’s Iran initiative will almost certainly usher in.

Taking Jihad to School – French Programs Emphasize Secularism: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Apr. 22, 2015 —On a street in Paris's popular 6th Arrondissement, men in camouflage wielding Famas assault rifles patiently stand guard throughout the day.

Former SS Guard: ‘Couldn’t Imagine’ Jews Surviving Auschwitz: Times of Israel, Apr . 23, 2015 —A former Auschwitz guard being tried on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder has testified that it was clear to him Jews were not expected to leave the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland alive.

On College Campuses, Saving Democracy From Itself: Noah Beck, Algemeiner, Apr. 20, 2015 —Every democracy must defend itself against those who exploit its liberties to destroy it from within.

 

 

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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NEVER AGAIN: WHILE THE EVIL OF ANTISEMITISM CONTINUES — ISRAEL SHINES A “LIGHT UNTO THE NATIONS”

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day of Commemoration to Honour the Victims of the Holocaust: Jan. 27, 2015— “Today, let us pause to remember one of the darkest moments in human history ,”

Auschwitz 70 Years Later: Universal Lessons For Our Time: Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2014 — I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action.

The Strains of War: Michael O’Donnell, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7, 2014— During the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad, which lasted from September 1941 to January 1944, the city’s radio station broadcast the sound of a metronome.

Should Netanyahu Address Congress?: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Jan. 27, 2015— Presumably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed his options carefully before accepting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address the joint session of Congress.

Can Israel Survive?: Victor Davis Hanson, Real Clear Politics, Jan. 29, 2015— Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

 

On Topic Links

 

Councilman Greenfield Denounces Anti-Semitic Outburst in NYC Council Chamber:, Youtube, Jan. 22, 2014

Do We Really Mean ‘Never Again’?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2015

Westminster Abbey to Honour Music of the Nazi Camps: Patrick Sawer & Edward Malnick, Telegraph, Jan. 25, 2015

How My Great-Grandfather, Winston Churchill, Kept Democracy’s Flame Flickering: Randolph Churchill, National Post, Jan. 24, 2015                                                                            

                               

 

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION TO HONOUR THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST

                                                                        Jan. 27, 2015

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement marking the International Day of Commemoration to Honour the Victims of the Holocaust: “Today, let us pause to remember one of the darkest moments in human history, when the Nazis reached a new nadir of inhumanity, intolerance and anti-Semitism, massacring nearly six million Jews and others during the Holocaust. This deliberate, systematic and industrial slaughter of innocent men, women, and children will forever be a stain on human history. Let us join with the families and friends in remembering and honouring those who perished during this senseless horror.

Last week I had the privilege of laying a wreath at Yad Vashem in Israel to honour the victims of the Holocaust. It was a deeply moving experience. On this day, we also remember those individuals of remarkable conviction and fortitude who stood up for what was right during those dark days, risking everything to protect those who were being victimized during the Holocaust. We have a duty to honour and continue their inspirational work. That is why our Government will remain steadfast in its commitment to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms, and will continue to stand up for the existence of a free and democratic Jewish State of Israel.”                                           

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                

                      

         

AUSCHWITZ 70 YEARS LATER: UNIVERSAL LESSONS FOR OUR TIME                                                     

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                         

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2015

 

I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action. Indeed, I write from Prague, where events commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 70 years ago are underway as the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I write on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century, and site of horrors too terrible to be believed, but not too terrible to have happened.

Of the 1.3 million people murdered at Auschwitz, 1.1 million were Jews. As Elie Wiesel put it, "The Holocaust was a war against the Jews in which not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims." I write also in the immediate aftermath of the 70th anniversary of the arrest and disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg on January 17, 1945. It is a tragedy that this hero of the Holocaust who saved so many was not saved by so many who could, and we owe a duty to Raoul Wallenberg to determine the truth of his fate. I write as well in the wake of anti-Semitic terror and killing in France, and in the midst of ongoing mass atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria, ethnic cleansing in Darfur and South Sudan, and killing fields in Syria and elsewhere. And so, at this important historical moment, we should ask ourselves: What have we learned in the last 70 years, and more importantly, what must we do?

The first lesson is the danger of forgetting, and the imperative of remembrance — le devoir de mémoire. As we remember the victims of the Shoah — defamed, demonized and dehumanized as prologue and justification for genocide — we must understand that the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of non-Jews is not a matter of abstract statistics. As we say at such moments of remembrance, "Unto each person there is a name, each person has an identity, each person is a universe." As the Talmud reminds us, "Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe." Thus, the abiding universal imperative: we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other's destiny. The second enduring lesson is that the genocide of European Jewry — like the genocides of Rwanda and Darfur — succeeded not only because of the machinery of death, but because of a state-sanctioned ideology of hate. For example, the Jew was seen as the personification of the devil, as the enemy of humankind and humanity could only be redeemed by the death of the Jew. As the Canadian Supreme Court has affirmed — and as echoed by the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda — "the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers — it began with words."

The third lesson is the danger of anti-Semitism — the oldest and most enduring of hatreds — and the most lethal. If the Holocaust is a metaphor for radical evil, anti-Semitism is a metaphor for radical hatred. Let there be no mistake about it: Jews died at Auschwitz because of anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism did not die. And as we have learned only too painfully, the killings in France being only one of the latest examples, while anti-Semitism begins with Jews, it doesn't end with Jews. The fourth painful and poignant lesson is that these genocidal crimes resulted not only from state-sanctioned incitement to hatred and genocide, but from crimes of indifference, from conspiracies of silence — from the international community as bystander. Indeed, what makes the Rwandan genocide so unspeakable is not only the horror of the genocide itself, but that this genocide was preventable. No one can say that we did not know; we knew, but we did not act. Similarly, today, we have yet to act to stop the slaughter of civilians in Syria or the killing fields in Sudan, ignoring the lessons of history and mocking the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

The fifth lesson is the danger of the culture of impunity that repeatedly emboldens those intent on committing mass atrocities and genocide. Indeed, if the last century — symbolized by the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda — was the age of atrocity, it was also the age of impunity, with few of the perpetrators brought to justice. Just as there must be no sanctuary for hate and no refuge for bigotry, so must there not be any base or sanctuary for the enemies of humankind. The sixth lesson is that the Holocaust was made possible not only because of the "bureaucratization of genocide," as Robert Lifton put it, and as the desk murderer Adolf Eichmann personified, but because of the trahison des clercs — the complicity of the elites — including physicians, church leaders, judges, lawyers, engineers, architects and educators. Holocaust crimes were also the crimes of the Nuremberg elites.

The seventh lesson concerns the vulnerability of the powerless and the powerlessness of the vulnerable, as dramatized at Auschwitz by the remnants of shoes, suitcases, crutches, and hair of the murdered, and as found expression in the triad of Nazi racial hygiene: the Sterilization Laws, the Nuremberg Race Laws, and the Euthanasia Program — all of which targeted those "whose lives were not worth living." It is revealing, as Prof. Henry Friedlander points out in his work titled "The Origins of Nazi Genocide," that the first group targeted for killing were the Jewish disabled. It is our responsibility, then, as citizens of the world, to give voice to the voiceless and to empower the powerless, be they the disabled, poor, elderly, women victimized by violence, or vulnerable children — the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. The eighth lesson is the cruelty of Holocaust or genocide denial — a criminal conspiracy to erase and whitewash the horror of mass atrocity. In its most obscene form, Holocaust or genocide denial actually accuses the victim of falsifying the crime, of perpetrating a hoax. Thus, we have a responsibility to remember and bear witness to victims of the Holocaust and genocide, thereby repudiating genocide denial. The ninth lesson is the importance — indeed the responsibility — of remembering the heroic rescuers. Those "righteous among the nations," like Raoul Wallenberg, remind us of the range of humanity that prevailed in the face of evil and transformed history.

Finally, we must remember — and celebrate — the survivors of the Holocaust, the true heroes of humanity. For they witnessed and endured the worst of inhumanity, but somehow found, in the depths of their own humanity, the courage to go on, to rebuild their lives as they helped build our communities. And so, together with them we must remember and pledge — not as an idle slogan but as an injunction to act — that never again will we be indifferent to incitement and hate, never again will we be silent in the face of evil, never again will we indulge racism and anti-Semitism, never again will we ignore the plight of the vulnerable, and never again will we be indifferent in the face of mass atrocity and impunity. We will speak up and act against racism, against hate, against anti-Semitism, against mass atrocity, against injustice, and against the crime of crimes whose name we should shudder to mention: genocide.

                                                           

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THE STRAINS OF WAR                                                                                            

Michael O’Donnell                                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7, 2015

 

During the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad, which lasted from September 1941 to January 1944, the city’s radio station broadcast the sound of a metronome. Its steady tick-tock between programs reassured listeners that the booth was not empty—or, worse yet, in German hands. The metronome served a practical as well as a psychological function. Faster ticks indicated an imminent air raid and meant that residents should find shelter. The sound was both heartening and terrible, for it called to mind not just the Russian people’s refusal to surrender but also the relentless German assault. One young diarist compared the incessant beating to “the pulse of a fatally ill patient in the silence of a ward.” Nearly 800,000 Russians died of cold and hunger before the siege ended. Corpses littered the city’s streets and disappeared under the snow; no one had the strength to move them. As rations dwindled, residents began eating tree bark. The British journalist Brian Moynahan describes the way arctic temperatures combined with fierce combat to produce a situation of bleak exigency. “The oil in [Germans’] trucks became first a paste and then a glue which seized up the engines,” he writes. “Infantry weapons froze. Only grenades and flamethrowers were reliable.”

 

Mr. Moynahan has written a passionate and moving book focusing on the role music played in this catastrophe. “Leningrad: Siege and Symphony” is filled with vivid details. German soldiers defiled Russia’s cultural heritage by occupying Tchaikovsky’s rural dacha, where they parked their motorcycles inside and burned a lovely gazebo for warmth. In the city, bombs and artillery shells—as many as 12,000 in a single day—destroyed not just homes and families but also priceless musical instruments. Although Leningrad residents continued to attend concerts, they shivered in winter attire rather than evening wear. Mittens and gloves muted their applause. No musical work embodied the siege of Leningrad—indeed, no piece of music embodies any war—like Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. Its Leningrad premiere, on Aug. 9, 1942, was performed by starving musicians and broadcast over loudspeakers at the front to defy the Nazis and hearten Russian troops. Abroad, it provided “a moral redemption for Stalin and the Soviet regime,” writes Mr. Moynahan—especially for the Western allies, who “wanted badly to believe in the Russians, in their survival, and in their decency.” Shostakovich’s private irony was that his music was not merely a cry against the Nazis but also against Stalinism. Mr. Moynahan calls the Seventh a “requiem for a noble city beset by the twin monsters of the century.”

 

As Shostakovich’s biographer Elizabeth Wilson has shown, Stalin terrorized the composer in a far more immediate way than Hitler. The purges of the 1930s eliminated artists as well as other bourgeois, and Shostakovich’s modern, inaccessible music made him an easy target. Recognizing his talent, the Communist Party commissioned his Second Symphony for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution but harshly criticized his early forays into opera and ballet. Shostakovich received his first official denunciation in 1936, after Stalin walked out of a performance of his opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.” The next day’s review in Pravda attacked Shostakovich for “formalism” and warned that he was “playing a game” that “may end very badly.” The composer withdrew his Fourth Symphony as a result and curried favor by writing the patriotic Fifth, as well as the Sixth, which he dedicated to Lenin.

 

These episodes from Shostakovich’s life are mostly outside the scope of Mr. Moynahan’s book, which focuses on the siege years. So too is Shostakovich’s second denunciation in 1948 and his tense accommodation with the party after Stalin’s death in 1953. But his full life story reveals a weakness in “Leningrad: Siege and Symphony,” which portrays the nervous, sarcastic and deeply ambivalent composer in a light that is too unequivocal and that at times borders on the heroic. Dmitri Shostakovich—who twitched and fiddled so anxiously that he was painful to watch—knew only one thing for certain: his need to write music. Politics were an intrusion; so was state terror, which he would avoid in any way possible, including miserable cooperation. He once told a friend: “I’d sign anything even if they hand it to me upside-down. All I want is to be left alone.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—ED.]  

                                               

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SHOULD NETANYAHU ADDRESS CONGRESS?                                                                              

Isi Leibler                                                                                                                                  

Candidly Speaking, Jan. 27, 2015

 

Presumably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed his options carefully before accepting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address the joint session of Congress. There is no doubt that the bulk of Congress, including many Democrats, are angered with President Barack Obama for ignoring their concerns in his obsession to reach a deal with the Iranians – at any cost. He has already demonstrated his willingness to enable Iran to become a threshold nuclear state. Thus, many members of Congress would be keen to hear Netanyahu’s views, which Boehner undoubtedly hopes will strengthen the resolve of Congress to ramp up sanctions if no deal is achieved by the June deadline. Netanyahu’s acceptance unleashed a firestorm, both at home and in the U.S. Infuriated unnamed White House officials told Haaretz, “We thought we’d seen everything but Bibi managed to surprise even us.” This was a breach of protocol in which “he spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency and that there will be a price.” Another official said it would be difficult to trust Netanyahu in the future and accused him of “preferring to advance his political interests” rather than “maintaining the correct working relationship between both countries.”

 

However, Boehner subsequently revealed on CBS’s “60 minutes” that the White House had in fact been notified before the announcement of the Netanyahu visit, suggesting that the White House rage was less about the breach of protocol and more its concern that Netanyahu would undermine Obama’s policies of appeasement toward Iran. The White House announced that ‘in accordance with standard tradition’, it was inappropriate for the president or the secretary of state to meet Netanyahu two weeks before Israeli national elections. This is inconsistent with the fact that that on April 30, 1996, one month before the elections (in which Netanyahu was victorious), then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres met with President Bill Clinton in the White House. Israeli opposition leaders were hysterical. Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog told Israel Army Radio that Netanyahu was “directly harming the president of the United States” and “what Netanyahu is doing with this thuggish behavior is to harm Israel’s security interests.” Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid expressed similar sentiments. There were even suggestions that the state comptroller should investigate the propriety of the Israeli embassy facilitating the broadcast of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress without the approval of the White House.

 

Despite the fact that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been energetically lobbying Congress to intensify sanctions against Iran, the American Jewish establishment – which has failed to react to Obama’s frequent biased and offensive statements and initiatives – was clearly distressed that Netanyahu had become an issue between Congress and the White House, but largely remained silent. However, the Anti-Defamation League’s head, Abe Foxman, could not contain himself. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “this looks like a political challenge to the White House and/or a campaign effort in Israel.” He said, “The invitation and acceptance is ill advised” and had the chutzpah to tell Boehner to withdraw his invitation and urged Netanyahu to rescind his acceptance. Foxman’s outrageous and harmful remarks were met with deafening silence by other Jewish bodies and publicly condemned only by the hawkish Zionist Organization of America.

 

Our prime minister has certainly embarked on a risky enterprise. Many fear that a vindictive Obama could exact payback when it comes to employing the veto at the U.N. Security Council or at the International Criminal Court where the Palestinian Authority is seeking to charge Israel with war crimes. He may intensify the pressures on Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and increase pressure against construction in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs. It is feared that he could even reduce the crucial U.S. defense support to Israel. This is possible. But the reality is that Obama’s attitude toward Netanyahu is so toxic that it probably makes little difference how Netanyahu would act. Besides, whereas normally a U.S. president has considerable control of foreign affairs, Obama is today a lame duck president and for him to engage in vindictive initiatives against the foremost U.S. ally would further damage America’s standing and create a major revolt in Congress…                                                                                                                 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—ED.]                                                     

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CAN ISRAEL SURVIVE?                                                                                           

Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                                                

Real Clear Politics, Jan. 29, 2015

 

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Eight million Israelis are surrounded by some 400 million Muslims in more than 20 states. Almost all of Israel's neighbors are anti-Israeli dictatorships, monarchies or theocracies– a number of them reduced to a state of terrorist chaos. Given the rise of radical Islam, the huge petrodollar wealth of the Middle East and lopsided demography, how has Israel so far survived?

 

The Jewish state has always depended on three unspoken assumptions for its tenuous existence. First, a democratic, nuclear Israel can deter larger enemies. In the Cold War, Soviet-backed Arab enemies understood that Israel's nuclear arsenal prevented them from destroying Tel Aviv. Second, the Western traditions of Israel — free-market capitalism, democracy, human rights — ensured a dynamic economy, high-tech weapons, innovative industry and stable government. In other words, 8 million Israelis could count on a greater gross domestic product, less internal violence and more innovation than, say, nearby Egypt, a mess with 10 times more people than Israel and nearly 50 times more land. Third, Israel counted on Western moral support from America and Europe, as well as military support from the United States. Israel's stronger allies have often come to the defense of its democratic principles and pointed out that the world applies an unfair standard to Israel, largely out of envy of its success, anti-Semitism, fear of terrorism and fondness of oil exporters. Why, for example, does the United Nations focus so much attention on Palestinians who fled Israel nearly 70 years ago but ignore Muslims who were forced out of India, or Jews who were ethnically cleansed from the cities of the Middle East? Why doesn't the world worry that Nicosia is a more divided city than Jerusalem, or that Turkey occupies northern Cyprus, or that China occupies Tibet?…

 

Symbolism counts, too. President Obama was about the only major world leader to skip the recent march in Paris to commemorate the victims of attacks by radical Islamic terrorists — among them Jews singled out and murdered for their faith. Likewise, he was odd world leader out by skipping this week's 70-year commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Obama is not expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will address Congress in March. An anonymous member of the Obama administration was quoted as calling Netanyahu, a combat veteran, a "coward" and describing him with a related expletive. Another nameless administration official recently said Netanyahu "spat in our face" by accepting the congressional invitation without Obama's approval and so will pay "a price" — personal animus that the administration has not directed even against the leaders of a hostile Iran. Obama won't meet with Netanyahu, and yet the president had plenty of time to hold an adolescent bull session with a would-be Internet comedian decked out in Day-Glo makeup who achieved her fame by filming herself eating breakfast cereal in a bathtub full of milk.

 

Jews have been attacked and bullied on the streets of some of the major cities of France and Sweden by radical Muslims whose anti-Semitism goes unchecked by their terrified hosts. Jewish leaders in France openly advise that Jews in that country immigrate to Israel. A prosecutor in Argentina who had investigated the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 — an attack widely believed to have been backed by Iran — was recently found dead under mysterious circumstances. Turkey, a country whose prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was praised by Obama as one of his closest friends among world leaders, has turned openly non-secular and is vehemently anti-Israel. Until there is a change of popular attitudes in Europe or a different president in the United States, Israel is on its own to deal with an Iran that has already hinted it would use a nuclear weapon to eliminate the "Zionist entity," with the radical Islamic madness raging on its borders, and with the global harassment of Jews. A tiny democratic beacon in the Middle East should inspire and rally Westerners. Instead, too often, Western nations shrug and assume that Israel is a headache — given that there is more oil and more terrorism on the other side. 

                       

                                        CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

On Topic

 

Councilman Greenfield Denounces Anti-Semitic Outburst in NYC Council Chamber:, Youtube, Jan. 22, 2014

Do We Really Mean ‘Never Again’?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2015

Westminster Abbey to Honour Music of the Nazi Camps: Patrick Sawer & Edward Malnick, Telegraph, Jan. 25, 2015

How My Great-Grandfather, Winston Churchill, Kept Democracy’s Flame Flickering: Randolph Churchill, National Post, Jan. 24, 2015        

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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“THE COMMANDING VOICE OF AUSCHWITZ”: NEVER FORGET: 70th ANNIVERSARY OF AUSCHWITZ LIBERATON

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

The Commanding Voice of Auschwitz: Emil L. Fackenheim, 1972— What does the Voice of Auschwitz command?

How Auschwitz Is Misunderstood: Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, New York Times, Jan. 24, 2015— Auschwitz was liberated 70 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1945, and news of its existence shocked the world.

Remember the Past to Build the Future: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2015— The Holocaust is a black hole in human history.

Oskar Gröning to Stand Trial for Being Auschwitz Guard in Case that Could Make German Legal History: Tony Paterson, Independent, Dec. 17, 2014 — He will almost certainly go down in history as the last Nazi death camp guard to face justice.

Anti-Semitism, Old and New: Irwin Cotler, Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2015— This past week, I had the privilege of participating in the first-ever UN General Assembly forum on global anti-Semitism, which, as it happened, took place at a critical historical moment…

 

On Topic Links

 

Anti-Semitism Then and Now:, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27, 2014

Auschwitz Survivor Indelibly Marked by Memory of Nazi Horror, Russian Liberation 70 Years On: Aida Cerkez, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 24, 2015

Returning to Auschwitz, 70 Years On: Steve Paikin, National Post, Jan. 27, 2015

For Auschwitz Museum, a Time of Great Change: New York Times, Jan. 23, 2015          

                               

                                   

    

THE COMMANDING VOICE OF AUSCHWITZ

Emil L. Fackenheim

God’s Presence in History: Jewish Affirmations and Philosophical Reflections, 1972

 

What does the Voice of Auschwitz command? Jews are forbidden to hand Hitler posthumous victories. They are commanded to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish people perish. They are commanded to remember the victims of Auschwitz lest their memory perish. They are forbidden to despair of man and his world, and to escape into either cynicism or otherworldliness, lest they cooperate in delivering the world over to the forces of Auschwitz. Finally, they are forbidden to despair of the God of Israel, lest Judaism perish. A secularist Jew cannot make himself believe by a mere act of will, nor can he be commanded to do so…And a religious Jew who has stayed with his God may be forced into new, possibly revolutionary relationships with Him. One possibility, however, is wholly unthinkable. A Jew may not respond to Hitler’s attempt to destroy Judaism by himself co-operating in its destruction. In ancient times, the unthinkable Jewish sin was idolatry. Today, it is to respond to Hitler by doing his work.

 

                                                                       

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HOW AUSCHWITZ IS MISUNDERSTOOD                                                             

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen                                                                                       

New York Times, Jan. 24, 2015

 

Auschwitz was liberated 70 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1945, and news of its existence shocked the world. With its principal killing center at one of its main camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, becoming fully operational in 1942, it was Germany’s largest and the most notorious extermination site. There the Germans slaughtered approximately 1.1 million people, a million of whom were Jews. Its mention evokes notions of evil and instant horror. Auschwitz was a death factory, an oxymoron that would have made no sense before the Holocaust, but that now is effortlessly comprehensible. But Auschwitz is also misunderstood — and that misunderstanding distorts what we think about the Holocaust, and about the Nazis themselves.

 

Historical and popular accounts of the Holocaust tend to emphasize its brutal, bureaucratic efficiency, with Auschwitz as its technological pinnacle, whose industrial scale was not only emblematic of, but also necessary for, its success. But as existentially troubling as Auschwitz was and is, and as lethally portentous as it would have been had Nazi Germany won World War II, it was technically unnecessary for the commission of the Holocaust. Had the Nazis never created gassing installations at Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and elsewhere, they would still have killed around the same number of Jews and non-Jews. About half of the roughly six million Jews whom the Germans and their European collaborators slaughtered, and virtually all the millions of non-Jews the Germans murdered, they killed by nonindustrial means, mainly by shooting or starving them to death. The cliché “assembly line killing” belies the fact that rounding up Jews and shipping them, sometimes for many hundreds of miles, to a death factory was far less efficient than merely killing them where the Germans found them. The Nazi leadership created death factories not for expeditious reasons, but to distance the killers from their victims.

 

Previous and subsequent genocidal assaults also belie the once reflexively intoned notion that modern technology made the Holocaust possible. Regimes and their executioners around the globe have conducted broad eliminationist assaults against targeted peoples, with the perpetrators’ using a variety of means, including mass murder, expulsion, forced conversion and the prevention of reproduction to rid themselves of hated or unwanted groups. In Rwanda in 1994, the Hutu perpetrators killed 800,000 Tutsi at a more intensive daily rate than the Germans did the Jews, using only the most primitive technological means, mainly machetes, knives and clubs.

 

Focusing on Auschwitz’s mechanistic qualities as a precondition for the Holocaust’s vast destructiveness allows people to see the Nazis’ eliminationism as something uniquely modern — to believe that it takes a technically proficient, bureaucratically expert state to carry out such violence. And even though we all recognize that genocides can be unleashed without such advanced systems, people still too often assume that true eliminationism, with the intention of completely destroying another group, takes a relatively rare constellation of a state apparatus and technological means. But that’s not true. To understand the politics of mass murder and eliminationism, the technical means of carrying out the deed are almost never the central issue. Rather, the crucial elements are the political leaders’ decision to commit genocide, the willing participation of a large population of perpetrators, the sympathy of an even broader civilian population — in the case of the Holocaust, principally ordinary Germans, but also many other Europeans — and, above all, the ideology that motivates them all to believe that annihilating the targeted people is necessary and right.

This, rather than its technical specifications, is why Auschwitz is so important. Auschwitz is a symbol of the broader, and little understood, racist revolution that the Germans were bringing about in Europe that sought to overturn the fundamentals of Western civilization, including its core notion of a common humanity.

 

The gassing installations that became Auschwitz’s emblem were but one part of Auschwitz’s system of more than 40 camps and sub-camps. These were run by thousands of German overlords who drove and brutalized hundreds of thousands of Jews, Russians and other “subhumans,” whom they used as slaves to work under horrifying conditions in the camps’ extensive and varied production facilities, making everything from agricultural products to chemicals to armaments. Auschwitz was thus much more than just the gas chambers and crematories — taken as a whole, it was a microcosm, not so much of the specific mechanisms of the Holocaust, but of the Nazis’ ideological vision of a world to be ruled by a master race, resting on the collective graves of the Jewish people and of tens of millions of additional victims the Germans deemed demographically expendable, and served by an enormous population of slaves. It reveals that during the Holocaust, mass annihilation, as genocide always is, was part of a larger eliminationist agenda and, at its core, a mechanism for social and political transformation.

 

This commonality notwithstanding, Auschwitz still had its singular quality: It expressed the Nazis’ unparalleled vision that denied a common humanity everywhere, and global intent to eliminate or subjugate all nonmembers of the “master race.” Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and the man most responsible for putting the Germans’ plans in action, proudly announced in an address in 1943: “Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only insofar as we need them as slaves for our culture.” Such was the Nazis’ moral and mental mutation, the most profound in the history of Europe, that Auschwitz was built upon, and that, better than any other place, it symbolizes. When Europe’s leaders assemble at Auschwitz on Tuesday for the 70th anniversary commemoration, they should of course remember and mourn the Jewish and non-Jewish victims. They should also realize that they are gazing into the abyss that would have consumed their Continent and the world.

                                                                       

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REMEMBER THE PAST TO BUILD THE FUTURE       

 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

 

Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2015

 

The Holocaust is a black hole in human history. There was never anything like it before, and if humanity is to be worthy of its existence, there will never be anything like it again. At some time in the spring or early summer of 1941, Hitler issued an order for a “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” a brutal euphemism for the planned, systematic destruction of the Jewish people. Four years later, as World War II came to an end, the first soldiers to enter the concentration camps began to realize what had been done, and they did not believe it. Six million human beings, among them one and a half million children, had been shot, gassed, burned, or buried alive for no other reason than that they were Jews. Where once there had been community after community of sages and scholars, poets and mystics, intellectuals and visionaries, there was the stench of death. As Jews, we mourn and, still today, we refuse to be comforted.

 

The Holocaust raises many questions. In an essay entitled “Kol Dodi Dofek,” the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik made a profound distinction between two Jewish responses to suffering. There is the metaphysical question, “Why did this happen?” But there is also the halachic question, “What then shall I do?” The halachic response invites us to react to tragedy not as objects, but as subjects, not as figures of fate, but as masters of our destiny. We are not defined by what happens to us, but by how we respond.

 

Judaism has never sought to deny the existence of evil. But, equally, it has not sought to come to terms with it by explaining it away, mystically or metaphysically. “There is,” says Rabbi Soloveitchik, “a theological answer to ‘Why did this happen?’” But it must always elude us, for we are not God, nor can we see events from the perspective of eternity. Halachah summons us not to understand and thus accept the existence of evil, but instead to fight it, as partners with God in the process of redemption. In this mode of Jewish spirituality, there is a profound insistence on human dignity, often in the face of immense and unfathomable suffering. The halachic response is not naïve. It does not hide from questions, but it is courageous. It says: we must continue to affirm Jewish life even in the absence of answers. In that, there is a faith that defies even the Angel of Death.

 

One of the most important halachic responses to tragedy is the act of remembering, Yizkor. More than it has history, the Jewish people has memory. There is no word for history in the Tanach, and modern Hebrew had to borrow one, historiah. But the word zachor (remember), occurs no fewer than 169 times in the Hebrew Bible. The difference between them is this: history is someone else’s story; memory is my story. In history, we recall what happened. Through memory, we identify with what happened so that it becomes part of us and who we are. History is the story of a past that is dead. Memory is the story of a future. We cannot bring the dead to life, but we can keep their memory alive. That is what the Jewish people always did for those who died as martyrs al kiddush Hashem (sanctifying God’s name). They never forgot them, as we must never forget the victims of the Holocaust. But there is a specifically Jewish way of remembering. When the word yizkor is mentioned in the Torah, it refers not to the past, but to the present and to renewal. “Va-yizkor Elokim et Rachel” (God remembered Rachel) and gave her a child, and thus new life. “Va-yizkor Elokim et berito” (God remembered His covenant) and began the process of rescuing the Israelites from Egypt. When we remember as Jews, we do so for the sake of the future, so that those who died may live on in us.

 

Commemorating the 70 years that have passed with 70 days of study, linking individuals with Holocaust victims, and communities with communities that perished – this is the Jewish way of remembering. Few things could do more to give those who died a living memorial. At the core of Judaism is an affirmation of life. Unlike other religions we do not venerate death. In Judaism, death defiles. Moses asked the Israelites to “choose life,” and his words still echo today. One-third of our people died because they were Jews. The most profound Judaic affirmation we can make is to live because we are Jews – to live as Jews, affirming our faith with courage, our identity with pride, refusing to be traumatised by evil, or intimidated by antisemitism.

 

Whenever, through indifference or fear, we drift away from living as Jews, the Holocaust claims yet more belated victims. Hitler’s antisemitism was not accidental. Hitler declared that “conscience is a Jewish invention,” and he was right. Nazi Germany was intended to demonstrate the triumph of everything Jews had fought against since the days of Abraham and Sarah: might as against right, power as against justice, racism as opposed to the respect for human dignity, violence as opposed to the sanctity of human life. Jews have always lived by and for a different set of values and, as a result, we have always been called on to have the courage to be different. We need that courage now. It is not too much to say that humanity needs it now.

If each of us in the coming year makes a significant personal gesture to show that Judaism is alive and being lived, there can be no more momentous signal to humanity that evil does not have the final victory, because Am Yisrael Chai, the Jewish people lives.

 

                                                           

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OSKAR GRÖNING TO STAND TRIAL FOR BEING AUSCHWITZ GUARD               

IN CASE THAT COULD MAKE GERMAN LEGAL HISTORY

 

Tony Patterson                                                                                                     

Independent, Dec. 17, 2017

 

NB: Thomas Walther, a former German judge, Nazi investigator and prosecutor, presented his research on the upcoming Oskar Groening case at the CIJR offices today, Jan. 27, 2015. We were most fortunate to have someone so intimately connected to the legal proceedings of what could be one of the final trials for an Auschwitz collaborator, on the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz—Ed.

 

He will almost certainly go down in history as the last Nazi death camp guard to face justice. Yet 93-year-old Oskar Gröning says he merely worked as an “accountant” in Auschwitz and feels duty-bound to confront those who claim the Holocaust never happened. After decades of legal inaction, Mr Gröning is to face charges of being an accessory to the murder of 300,000 Auschwitz prisoners while he worked at the camp. On Tuesday, Hanover state prosecutors ruled he was fit to stand trial.

 

Mr Gröning’s trial opens in a German court next April. His case highlights the failure of the German judiciary adequately to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice since the end of the Second World War. An estimated 1.2 million were murdered at Auschwitz. Some 6,500 SS guards worked at the camp but only 49 have been convicted of war crimes. Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter at the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said he welcomed the decision to prosecute Mr Gröning. “The passage of time does not diminish the crimes of the Holocaust,” he told The Independent.

 

Mr Gröning was one in a line-up of a so-called “dirty dozen” of surviving Auschwitz guards who have been identified over the past two years. He is the only one to face trial. Charges against the remaining 11 suspects were dropped because they were considered too frail or ill. Germany’s justice authorities were able to pursue Mr Gröning with ease because he appeared in a BBC documentary about Auschwitz in 2005. In an interview he said, “I see it as my task now to oppose those who claim that Auschwitz never happened,” he said. “I saw the crematoria and the burning pits,” he added. In subsequent interviews with the media, he claimed that he was a sort of Auschwitz accountant and his job there was merely to “collect” the valuables of Jews arriving at the camp and send them to SS headquarters. But he spoke at length about how Jews were sent to the gas chambers.

 

“On one night in 1943 I saw how the Jews were gassed. It was in a half-built farmyard near Auschwitz,” he recalled. “There were more than 100 prisoners and soon there were panic-filled cries as they were herded into the chamber and the door was shut,” he added. “Then a sergeant went to a hole in the wall and from a tin shook Zyklon B gas pellets inside. In that moment the cries of the people inside rose to a crescendo, a choir of madness. These cries ring in my ears to this day. This guilt will never leave me,” Mr Gröning is on record as saying. He was finally tracked down by the Nazi war crimes investigation unit as part of Germany’s final push to bring the last surviving Nazi war crimes suspects to justice.

 

In the decades after the Nuremberg trials, German prosecutors relied almost exclusively on evidence, largely from eyewitnesses, that linked suspects to specific murders in order to convict them. The practice explains the low conviction rate of Nazi death camp guards. It took a new generation of prosecutors to bring about the recent change in the German judiciary’s attitude to Nazi war crimes. In 2011 they set a legal precedent by securing the conviction of the former Sobibor Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk by a Munich court. Demjanjuk was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 28,000 Dutch Jews at Sobibor, an “extermination-only” camp in Nazi occupied Poland, in which all prisoners were gassed within hours of their arrival. There were no eyewitnesses at Demjanjuk’s trial. But judges for the first time accepted the prosecution’s argument he was an accessory to mass murder simply by having worked as a guard at the camp. Prosecutors will use the same legal arguments at Mr Gröning’s trial. However Mr Gröning has already denied the charges. He told Der Spiegel in 2005, “I would describe my role as a small cog in the gears. If you can describe that as guilt, then I am guilty. Legally speaking I am innocent.” His trial could make German legal history.

 

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ANTI-SEMITISM, OLD AND NEW                                                                         

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                                  

Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2015

 

This past week, I had the privilege of participating in the first-ever UN General Assembly forum on global anti-Semitism, which, as it happened, took place at a critical historical moment: the eve of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century, and site of horrors too terrible to be believed, but not too terrible to have happened. Of the 1.3 million people who died at Auschwitz, 1.1 million were Jews. Let there be no mistake about it: Jews died at Auschwitz because of anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism did not die. And, tragically, as we have learned only too well, while it begins with Jews, it doesn’t end with Jews. In France and elsewhere, Jews are the canary in the mineshaft of evil.

 

The underlying thesis of my remarks at the UN was this: We are witnessing a new, sophisticated, global, virulent, and even lethal anti-Semitism, reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War. This new anti-Jewishness overlaps with classical anti-Semitism but is distinguishable from it. It found early juridical, and even institutional, expression in the United Nations’ “Zionism is Racism” resolution – which, as the late U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan said, “gave the abomination of anti-Semitism the appearance of international legal sanction” – but has gone dramatically beyond it. This new anti-Semitism almost needs a new vocabulary to define it; however, it can best be identified from an anti-discrimination, equality rights, and international law perspective.

 

In a word, classical or traditional anti-Semitism is the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon, the rights of Jews as people to live as equal members of whatever society they inhabit. The new anti-Semitism involves the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon, the right of the Jewish people to live as an equal member of the family of nations – or to live at all – with Israel emerging as the targeted collective Jew among the nations. Observing the complex intersections between old and new anti-Semitism, and the impact of the new on the old, Per Ahlmark, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, pithily and presciently concluded some 15 years ago: “Compared to most previous anti-Jewish outbreaks, this [new anti-Semitism] is often less directed against individual Jews. It primarily targets the collective Jews, the State of Israel. And then such attacks start a chain reaction of assaults on individual Jews and Jewish institutions … In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who wanted to make the world Judenrein, free of Jews. Today, the most dangerous anti-Semites might be those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, ‘free of a Jewish state.’”

 

What has been called a pandemic of anti-Semitism is underpinned by four indicators. The first indicator of the new anti-Semitism – and the most lethal manifestation of it – is what may be called genocidal anti-Semitism. This is not a term that I would use lightly or easily. I am referring here to the Genocide Convention’s prohibition against the direct and public incitement to genocide. Simply put, if anti-Semitism is the most enduring of hatreds, and genocide is the most horrific of crimes, then the convergence of the genocidal intent embodied in anti-Semitic ideology is the most toxic of combinations. This genocidal anti-Semitism can be seen, for instance, in the state-sanctioned incitement to genocide of Khamenei’s Iran, a characterization I use to distinguish it from the people and public of Iran, who are otherwise the targets of Khamenei’s massive domestic repression…

To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.

 

 

 

 

 

On Topic

 

Anti-Semitism Then and Now:, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 27, 2014—The world commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday, January 27 – which also marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Auschwitz Survivor Indelibly Marked by Memory of Nazi Horror, Russian Liberation 70 Years On: Aida Cerkez, Montreal Gazette, Jan. 24, 2015— The tattoo on her left arm has become unreadable but the habit of reading it aloud in Polish remains strong, seven decades after it first scarred her skin.

Returning to Auschwitz, 70 Years On: Steve Paikin, National Post, Jan. 27, 2015 —A little more than 70 years ago, 11-year old Mordechai Ronen found himself “crammed like cattle” into a boxcar, and transported from his native Romania to a camp where evil thrived like no other place on Earth.

For Auschwitz Museum, a Time of Great Change: New York Times, Jan. 23, 2015—For what is likely to be the last time, a large number of the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz will gather next week under an expansive tent, surrounded by royalty and heads of state, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of those held there at the end of World War II.
 

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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THE HOLOCAUST & LYDDA AFFIRM THAT WE MUST CONTINUE TO SEARCH FOR HISTORICAL TRUTH

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Contents:

 

As We Go To Press: AT LEAST FOUR DEAD, INCLUDING PARIS GUNMAN, IN KOSHER MARKET HOSTAGE-TAKING (Paris)  — Two police officials say at least four people, including the attacker, have died at a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman took several hostages. Security forces stormed the grocery minutes after their counterparts assaulted the building outside Paris where two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo killings had holed up. The gunman has been identified as Amedy Coulibaly. Before the police rushed in, an official said the gunman in Paris threatened to kill the hostages if police launch an assault on the cornered brothers suspected in the massacre. He took at least five hostages and wounded several in the Hyper Cacher store near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris. As the man opened fire in the market he declared “you know who I am,” the police official said. That came as police swooped in on the suspected Islamist perpetrators of the Jan. 7 attack on the satirical weekly that left 12 people dead in the worst terrorist incident in France in half a century. (National Post, Jan. 9, 2014)

 

 

Eichmann… He Wasn't Only Following Orders: Saul David, Telegraph, Dec. 22, 2014— In 1963 the political theorist Hannah Arendt published Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil.

Auschwitz ‘Bookkeeper’ May Be Last Nazi Tried in Germany For War Crimes: Joe O’Connor, National Post, Nov. 14, 2014— Thomas Walther is talking about Auschwitz, and numbers, and how the statistics of the Holocaust exceed imagination.

The Nazis Next Door,’ by Eric Lichtblau: Deborah E. Lipstadt, New York Times, Oct. 31, 2014— In the wake of World War II, America recruited a few leading German scientists in order to advance our space and military programs and to keep these valuable assets from falling into Soviet hands.

Lydda, 1948: They Were There: Martin Kramer, Israel Hayom, Dec. 25, 2014 — Most Israelis know nothing about Ari Shavit's bestselling book, "My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel."

 

On Topic Links

 

From the Shores of Nova Scotia, Israel’s First Soldiers: Rob Gordon, National Post, Jan. 5, 2015

‘The Wall,’ by H. G. Adler: Cynthia Ozick,  New York Times, Dec. 17, 2015

Laura Hillenbrand on 'Unbroken': Deirdre Donahue, AARP, Nov., 2014

Meet the 'Post''s Gatekeeper – 70 Years and Going Strong:  Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2014

                                               

                   

EICHMANN… HE WASN'T ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS                                                                        

Saul David                                                                                                           

Telegraph, Dec. 22, 2014

 

In 1963 the political theorist Hannah Arendt published Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil. A Jew who had fled Germany in the 1930s, Arendt had been at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the so-called "Manager of the Holocaust", and believed his claim to be an overworked bureaucrat who was simply "doing his job". He "not only obeyed orders", she wrote, "he also obeyed the law". Arendt concluded that Eichmann, the head of the SS's department for Jewish Affairs who personally oversaw the deportation and extermination of 400,000 Hungarian Jews in 1944, was neither a psychopathic "monster" nor a virulent anti-Semite. Instead, his appalling acts were driven more by stupidity and a desire for professional advancement than by ideology. Thus was coined the term "the banality of evil", implying that there is a potential Eichmann in all of us. Arendt's theory has been challenged before. But only now, with the publication (originally in German) of this book by the award-winning political philosopher Bettina Stangneth, can we see how completely Arendt (and later historians) were hoodwinked by Eichmann.

 

Stangneth uses newly discovered documents, including Eichmann's own notes and the transcripts of conversations he had with comrades in Argentina in the 1950s, to reconstruct the post-war lives of Nazis in exile. Stangneth's new portrait of Eichmann is very different from Arendt's. Instead of the reclusive, taciturn and boring war criminal on the run, she reveals a skilled social manipulator with a pronounced ability to reinvent himself, an ideological warrior unrepentant about the past and eager to continue the racial war against the Jews. Stangneth charts in detail Eichmann's movements from his escape from Germany in 1948 to his capture by Mossad agents in 1960. We discover just how organised the Nazi escape route to South America was, complete with Vatican officials helping to provide false identity documents, and how openly and brazenly former National Socialists lived in Argentina and elsewhere after the war. Protected by the regime of Juan Perón, they ran businesses, advised on security matters and plotted a political comeback in Germany. In Eichmann's case, he even arranged for his wife and sons to be brought over from Germany to join him.

 

What ultimately did for Eichmann – as opposed to his former partner in crime Dr Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's "Angel of Death", who had also fled to Argentina – was his egotistical need for his "achievements" to be recognised. He never denied his true identity, allowed his sons to apply for German passports in the name of Eichmann and discussed openly with fellow Nazis his true feelings about the Holocaust. He even allowed a former Dutch SS journalist, Willem Sassen, to record some conversations for a potential book. It was during the "Sassen interviews" that Eichmann came clean.  His only regret, he told Sassen, was not killing more Jews. "If we had killed 10.3 million [instead of six], I would be satisfied, and would say, 'good, we have destroyed an enemy…' We would have fulfilled our duty to our blood and our people… if we had exterminated the most cunning intellect of all the human intellects alive today." Part of the reason Sassen and his colleagues had begun the discussion was to get Eichmann to deny that genocide had ever been intended. Only then could they distance National Socialism from "the one thing of which we are always accused" – the Holocaust. But Eichmann refused. He was proud to have taken part in the extermination of the Jews, and his only criticism of this lunatic National Socialist project was that "we could and should have done more"…

 

Fortunately, Eichmann's misdeeds, and the Israeli secret service, eventually caught up with him. Taken to Israel, he was tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity and hanged on May 31, 1962. For many decades since, his cunning depiction of himself as a "small cog in Adolf Hitler's extermination machine" has blinded many people to his central role in the Holocaust and the nature of the key participants. But no longer. Thanks to this brilliant book, exhaustively researched and convincingly argued, the veil has at last been lifted. "Like a mirror," writes Stangneth, "he reflected people's fears and expectations, whether they were fearing for their own lives or hoping he would confirm a theory of evil. Behind all the mirror images lay Eichmann's will to power and desire to control."                      

                                                                                                                                                 

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AUSCHWITZ ‘BOOKKEEPER’ MAY BE LAST NAZI TRIED IN                                           

GERMANY FOR WAR CRIMES                                                                                                 

Joe O'Connor                                                                                                       

National Post, Nov. 14, 2014

 

Thomas Walther is talking about Auschwitz, and numbers, and how the statistics of the Holocaust exceed imagination. What does it mean, for example, to deport 437,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in the span of 57 days in the spring and early summer of 1944? What does it mean to murder them at a rate of 3.5 Jews per minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that by the end of the 57th day 300,000 of them are dead? What does it mean to have your parents, spouse, children and relatives systematically killed in a German Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland, only to have them counted by history as a lump sum?

 

“I can speak about 300,000 dead people who are murdered, but nobody can imagine what that means — such figures of death — while the Holocaust, this word, it is a part of families,” Mr. Walther says. “It is inside of human beings. It is something in the tears, if you wake up in the night and think about your father who was killed. That is the Holocaust. And in the second generation, in the children of survivors, those who suffer the nightmares and memories of their parents — that is the Holocaust.” Mr. Walther, with his red running shoes, grey shoulder length hair and rumpled-looking dark blazer, could easily pass for a university lecturer. But his interest in the Holocaust isn’t academic. The 71-year-old retired German judge is a Nazi hunter, and he has been in Toronto and Montreal for the past two weeks interviewing Hungarian-Canadian Auschwitz survivors as co-plaintiffs for what could be the last Nazi war crimes trial in Germany. “Co-plaintiffs represent their murdered parents and siblings, and I represent the co-plaintiffs in court,” Mr. Walther says. “And to be sure that I find the right words for them, the right feeling in a German courtroom, this is the reason I am here in Canada, interviewing them.”

 

The accused is Oskar Groening, the so-called “bookkeeper” of Auschwitz, a former SS sergeant who sorted and counted monies stolen from the murdered Jews, occasionally couriering it to his Nazi overlords in Berlin. He also stood guard on the train platform in Auschwitz, as cattle cars delivered their doomed Jewish cargo. Doing so in the belief that, as he told DER SPIEGEL magazine in 2005, the destruction of the Jews was a “necessary thing.” What makes Mr. Groening, now 93 — and a widower with a comfortable home and robust company pension thanks to his postwar career managing a German glass factory — an intriguing defendant, is that he has repented, in a sense. He admits he was at Auschwitz, and has spoken openly about it. Taking his story public several years ago, as he explained to a German reporter, to combat the lies of the Holocaust deniers with the truth of someone who was there. And in his version of the truth, he is not guilty of any crime. Not in a legal sense, since he was merely a bookkeeper, a brainwashed Nazi zealot involved in executing the murderous master plan of Adolf Hitler, but not an actual executioner himself.

 

“Guilt really has to do with actions,” Mr. Groening told DER SPIEGEL. “Because I believe that I was not an active perpetrator, I don’t believe that I am guilty… “I would describe my role as a small cog in the gears.” Mr. Walther has heard this defence before, and views it is a fairytale, a convenient narrative where the otherwise decent German gets caught up in a killing mess, not of their making, and dutifully follows orders — without blinking an eye — as many did during the Nazi era. “Groening will not deny anything,” Mr. Walther says. “He will only seek to diminish.” Judy Lysy is a Holocaust survivor in Toronto. She recently met Mr. Walther at a dinner honouring him at a local synagogue. She is not among the co-plaintiffs in the Groening case since the charges against him, for German legal reasons, only cover the 57-day killing frenzy associated with the Jewish Hungarian deportees. (Mr. Walther would not disclose the identities of the co-plaintiffs to me, explaining that, even today, there are those unhappy with Groening’s prosecution.) Ms. Lysy, a Slovakian Jew, was raised in pro-Nazi, Hungarian-occupied territory. She arrived in Auschwitz in April 1944. It was a sunny day. She was 16. “There were these German officers, very neat and clean,” the 86-year-old says.

 

“They asked for a translator, and because I spoke Hungarian, German and Slovak, I put my hand up. And I stood beside this officer telling the people that those able and capable to walk, would walk [to our barracks], and the old people and children — he would send by truck. “We would all be together, at the end. I translated all this to Hungarian ladies, including my aunt, with her two little children, and my Grandma. The officer told the mothers not to fuss, if they wanted to stay with their children. And he put them all together, on the side that went straight to the gas. “We did not know where those people had gone for the first 10 days. And this was my arrival to Auschwitz. Oskar Groening didn’t kill with his hands. But he was part of that killing machinery.” Being a small cog, a guard in a watchtower, an accountant in Auschwitz, was a well-tread road to legal — social, moral and economic — absolution for SS men after the war. Of the 6,500 SS members who worked in Auschwitz, only 49 were ever convicted of a crime. “The German police, prosecutors, the local judges, they weren’t interested in going after what were perceived as the small fry war criminals, and this attitude persisted well into the 1970s and beyond,” says Bernie Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Many of those judges and lawyers had Nazi pasts, while the German people — including the 20% of respondents to an American survey conducted in the American-occupied zone in 1945, who said they agreed with Hitler’s treatment of the Jews — weren’t willing, or even interested in confronting their complicity in the Holocaust. Hitler and his high-ranking Nazi cronies were the real bad guys, not them.

 

And the little Nazi fish, such as Oskar Groening, got married, had kids and came to be viewed as valuable employees. He applied managerial skills honed in Auschwitz to a civilian job at a glass factory. Most Nazi war criminals didn’t disappear into the jungles of South America. They moved in next door. And then along came Thomas Walther. “My youngest child went to university in 2006,” he says. “I was 63 and I thought, if I can do something really important, something that has to be done — then I would like to do it.” His father, Rudolf, hid two Jewish families during the Kristallnacht riots of 1938, later helping them escape Germany. He taught his son to do the right thing, instead of just talking about it. And in the years since 2006, the retired judge has awakened the German judiciary to the little fish, successfully arguing that Auschwitz and the other camps were macabre assembly lines. Every SS man, like every worker at an auto plant, had a job to do. If they didn’t do their job — the assembly line stopped. “My colleagues in the past, these German prosecutors and judges, did things in the wrong way,” Mr. Walther says. “You have to learn, and you learn it in the second term of law studies: what is aiding and abetting a crime.”

 

It means being a bookkeeper in Auschwitz, being immersed in the terror, and party to its making by keeping stolen money flowing to Berlin, while keeping Jews moving in an orderly fashion toward the gas chamber. Mr. Walther, in his red sneakers, understands that he is in a losing race against time. The Holocaust survivors are dying off. And so are the killers. It is late in the game. Justice must be done. “Where does this end?” the Nazi hunter says. “It ends when it is truly over.” The trial begins in February.

                                                                       

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THE NAZIS NEXT DOOR,’ BY ERIC LICHTBLAU                                                                                     

Deborah E. Lipstadt                                                                                            

New York Times, Oct. 31, 2014

 

In the wake of World War II, America recruited a few leading German scientists in order to advance our space and military programs and to keep these valuable assets from falling into Soviet hands. This is the broadly accepted script about Nazis in America. In fact, as Eric Lichtblau, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, relates in “The Nazis Next Door,” we welcomed approximately 10,000 Nazis, some of whom had played pivotal roles in the genocide. While portions of this story are not new — see Annie Jacobsen’s book “Operation Paperclip,” for example — Licht­blau offers additional archival information in all its infuriating detail…

 

America began reaching out to leading Nazis months before the Germans surrendered. In March 1945, while the war still raged, the American spy chief Allen Dulles conducted a friendly fireside chat in the library of a Zurich apartment with the Nazi general Karl Wolff, the closest associate of the SS leader Heinrich Himm­ler for much of the war. The Scotch-­lubricated conversation convinced Dulles that Wolff, despite his ties to Himmler and his role as a leader of the Waffen SS, was a moderate who deserved protection. When prosecutors sought to try Wolff, one of the highest-ranking SS leaders to survive, at Nuremberg, Dulles worked to have his name removed from the list of defendants. While Wolff was in Allied custody, he was permitted to take a yacht trip, spend time with his family and carry a gun. Nonetheless, he complained that what he endured was “much more inhumane than the extermination of the Jews.” He said the Jews had been gassed in a few seconds, while he did not know how long he would be held. (His imprisonment lasted four years.) While Jews languished in the camps after Germany’s defeat (“We felt like so much surplus junk,” one survivor said), the United States gathered up Nazi scientists. Had only leading scientists been enlisted, it would have been distasteful if understandable. But of the more than 1,600 scientists brought over, some had pedestrian skills. Others had developed the chemicals for the gas chambers, or conducted experiments on concentration camp prisoners. Even the State Department protested.

 

But we did not stop with scientists. The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. sought out spies and informants who had participated in genocide. For these agencies, engaging in murder was acceptable as long as the recruits did not lie about their record. Ultimately, most of these “informants” never provided any valuable information. Some even offered bogus reports. But these intelligence agencies remained their greatest protectors. In the 1980s, when the Justice Department began to hunt war criminals who had lied in order to enter this country, both agencies actively obstructed the investigations. They were also protected by White House officials such as Pat Buchanan, then a top aide to Ronald Reagan, who denounced the Justice Department’s “revenge obsessed” and “hairy-chested Nazi hunters” as dupes of the Soviets. And the largest group of Nazis who entered America simply slipped in through “the back door,” according to Lichtblau. They gamed the system and immigrated as “refugees,” starting new lives as thousands of people perished in the Allied camps. Lichtblau brings ample investigative skills and an elegant writing style to this unsavory but important story. “The Nazis Next Door” is a captivating book rooted in first-rate research.                         

                                                                       

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LYDDA, 1948: THEY WERE THERE                                                                                          

Martin Kramer                                                                                                      

Israel Hayom, Dec. 25, 2014

 

Most Israelis know nothing about Ari Shavit's bestselling book, "My Promised Land: The ‎Triumph and Tragedy of Israel." Readers of Haaretz, where he's a columnist, may have seen it ‎mentioned in short articles celebrating Shavit's stateside success. But few Israelis have heard of ‎the book, and I'm guessing that only a handful have actually read it. That is because there is no ‎Hebrew edition.‎ Shavit wrote it in English for an American Jewish audience, upon the suggestion of David ‎Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Haaretz at first reported that a Hebrew version would appear ‎at the end of 2013, and later that it would be published in the spring of 2014 (by Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir). But ‎while the book has also appeared in Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian, and Polish, there is no ‎sign of a Hebrew edition.‎

 

So Israelis have no clue that Shavit has added a massacre in the city of Lydda (Lod) to the litany ‎of Israel's alleged crimes in 1948. That's why I felt privileged to take part in a December 4 panel ‎on the conquests of Lydda and Ramla in 1948, sponsored by the Galili Center for Defense ‎Studies. The chairman of the center, Uzi Arad, suggested that I explain and analyze the claims ‎made by Shavit in his book, which I had already done in English for the web magazine Mosaic. (The ‎organizers also invited Shavit, but he was off collecting accolades in south Florida.)‎ I was youngest participant on the panel, and nearly the youngest person in the lecture hall, which ‎was full of veterans of Lydda and many other battles of 1948. These people are not historians, and ‎they do not necessarily know the big picture of how politics and military operations interacted. ‎They were not commanders (the officers are all gone); they were young soldiers in 1948, at the ‎bottom of the chain of command. They have also read a lot and shared recollections over the past ‎‎60-plus years, so you cannot always tell whether what they say about some episode is first-hand or ‎derives from something they read or heard. Finally, time erodes memory, as some are quite ‎prepared to admit.‎

 

Still, there were some very sharp minds in the audience — people who know more about the ‎history of the 1948 war than anyone but a handful of expert historians. They know the ‎commanders, the military units, the weaponry, the battles, the geography, the chronology — and ‎woe unto you if you make a mistake. They won't wait for the Q&A to correct you. The war to ‎establish the State of Israel was the great adventure of their youth, and they wear it as badge of ‎honor.‎ I was the only one of the four panelists who dealt directly with Shavit's Lydda chapter. I was ‎preceded by two well-regarded military historians, who described the campaign from an ‎operational vantage point, and one veteran of the conquest, Yeshayahu (Shaike) Gavish. Now 89 ‎years old and still vital, he is most famous to Israelis as the general who led the Southern ‎Command in the Six-Day War, when Israeli forces overwhelmed the Egyptians and seized the ‎Sinai. In Lydda in 1948, he was a lowly operations officer, and a wounded one at that, so he had ‎a fairly limited view of the theater, confined as he was to a jeep.‎His most interesting comments concerned the flight of Lydda's inhabitants, whose mass ‎departure made a deep impression on him (as it did on many other Israelis). While there is no ‎doubt that an expulsion order was issued (on whose authority is debated), Gavish echoed many ‎other witnesses who have said that Lydda's inhabitants were eager to get out, begged to leave, and ‎packed up as soon as the roads to the east opened. He did say that in his opinion, the events in ‎the Dahmash mosque (the "small mosque") which Shavit insists on calling a "massacre," had a ‎strong effect on the populace, reinforcing their desire to flee. But on the question of just what ‎happened at the small mosque, he had nothing to say, as he was not there.‎

 

In my presentation, I explained just how large an impact Shavit's book has had on American ‎Jewry, and the crucial role played by The New Yorker in running the Lydda chapter as a ‎provocative teaser. I then reviewed the "massacre" narrative sentence by sentence, just as I had ‎done in my initial article for Mosaic. I figured that a mostly elderly crowd of Hebrew-speakers ‎would need the crutch of a visible text, so I projected the relevant passages from the Lydda ‎chapter up on the screen and read them slowly and deliberately. Then I explained why I thought ‎Shavit's conclusions were implausible.‎ I could have dispensed with my own analysis. The reactions tumbled forth in immediate response ‎to Shavit's text. I heard gasps of disbelief and angry asides. I didn't ask for a show of hands as to ‎how many thought Shavit's account had any credibility, and in retrospect I wish I had. But to ‎judge from the audible responses, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this audience was ‎surprised and offended.‎ Two passages produced especially strong reactions. Shavit made this claim about the conduct of ‎Palmach soldiers after the counterattack on the small mosque: In their "desire for revenge," ‎‎"because of the rage they felt," they entered the mosque and "sprayed the surviving wounded ‎with automatic fire." Shavit also charged that soldiers who were ordered to bury the Arabs killed ‎in the mosque "took eight other Arabs to do the digging of the burial site and afterward shot ‎them, too, and buried the eight" with the rest. Simply projecting these passages on the ‎screen provoked a few salty comments I won't repeat.‎

 

That said, nothing I heard, either in the lecture hall or outside of it, added to the store of ‎testimony about the "massacre" component of Shavit's Lydda tale. The conquest of Lydda had ‎many moving parts, and most of the veterans I met served the 89th Battalion under Moshe ‎Dayan. That meant that they were not in the city when the "massacre" supposedly took place, but ‎fought the day before, mostly on the road between Lydda and Ramla. But I wasn't looking for ‎new testimony, because there are plenty of recorded recollections from people who witnessed the ‎events, including the scene in and around the small mosque. I did want these veterans to know ‎what much of the world (Israel excepted) has been reading about their battle for over a year now. ‎And I wanted them to start to talk about it among themselves and with others…‎

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

On Topic

 

From the Shores of Nova Scotia, Israel’s First Soldiers: Rob Gordon, National Post, Jan. 5, 2015—The Fort Edward blockhouse in Windsor, Nova Scotia is one of the the oldest wooden fortifications still standing in North America. It played a major role in the Explusion of the Acadians in 1755, helped defend Nova Scotia in the War of 1812 and, in a truly odd twist of history, assisted in the creation of the State of Israel.

‘The Wall,’ by H. G. Adler: Cynthia Ozick,  New York Times, Dec. 17, 2015—Of Homer we know nothing, of Jane Austen not enough, of Kafka more and more, sometimes hour by hour; and yet Achilles and Elizabeth Bennet and Joseph K. press imperially on, independent of their makers.

Laura Hillenbrand on 'Unbroken': Deirdre Donahue, AARP, Nov., 2014—In a 21st century awash with selfies, sex tapes and Kardashians, readers have found inspiration and uplift in a book about an American World War II hero named Louis Zamperini.

Meet the 'Post''s Gatekeeper – 70 Years and Going StrongTamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2014—"World War II had ended, and our war for independence had begun. You could feel it in the press… from London, New York… there was a very different spirit in those days," says Alexander Zvielli, chief of The Jerusalem Post's archives and the newspaper’s longest-standing employee.

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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YOM HASHOAH — ZACHOR, REMEMBER! WARSAW GHETTO UPRISING

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President Shimon Peres: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Apr. 7, 2013Today, Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day is also the memorial day for 70 years since the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. There was a never a rebellion like it. They were so few and their bravery remained as a model for so many. From now and forever.

Warsaw Ghetto Survivor In Israel Recalls Uprising: Aron Heller, Associated Press, Apr 6, 2013—Two days before her comrades embarked on an uprising that came to symbolize Jewish resistance against the Nazis in World War II, 14-year-old Aliza Mendel got her orders: Escape from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Escape from Auschwitz Takes Shape: David B. Green, Ha’aretz, Apr.7, 2013—April 7, 1944, is the day on which Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler began their escape from Auschwitz, a process that resulted in a detailed report that provided the world with a first-hand account of the systemic mass murder taking place there.

 

The Holocaust, Rembrandt and the Quest for Authenticity: Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 6, 2013—Rembrandt reminds us that if we want to really live we must show flawless integrity and demonstrate great authenticity. It is all about making a genuine contribution to the world, with no regard for gain. A person must make sure that he can look at himself in the mirror at the end of his life and say, I lived my life; it did not just pass me by.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Remembering the Holocaust, Gaza Style: Stand for Israel, Apr. 7, 2013 (video)
Muslim Anti-Semitism in Western Europe: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Tundra Tabloids, Feb. 20, 2013

Combatting Anti-Semitism: Arsen Ostrovsky, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2013

Study: Global Anti-Semitism Rises by 30 Percent: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2013

 

 

 

PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Apr. 7, 2013

 

Today, Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day is also the memorial day for 70 years since the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. There was a never a rebellion like it. They were so few and their bravery remained as a model for so many. From now and forever. Today we salute their bravery with the flags flying in the wind of freedom. These are flags of exaltation, not only of grief.

A clear line exists between the resistance in the ghettos, in the camps and in the forests and the rebirth and bravery of the State of Israel. It is a line of dignity, of renewed independence, of mutual responsibility, of exalting Gods name. As a ray of hope which was not extinguished even during terrible anguish. The ghetto fighters sought life even when circumstance screamed despair.

The civilized world must ask itself how in such a short space of time after the crematoria were extinguished, after the terrible death toll that the allied powers endured to put an end to the Nazi devil, it is still possible for the leadership, like that of Iran, to openly deny the Holocaust and threaten another Holocaust.”

From theJerusalem  address by President Shimon Peres, on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day.

 

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WARSAW GHETTO SURVIVOR IN ISRAEL RECALLS UPRISING

Aron Heller

Associated Press, Apr 6, 2013

 

Two days before her comrades embarked on an uprising that came to symbolize Jewish resistance against the Nazis in World War II, 14-year-old Aliza Mendel got her orders: Escape from the Warsaw Ghetto. The end was near. Nazi troops had encircled the ghetto, and the remaining Jewish rebels inside were prepared to die fighting. They had few weapons, and they felt there was no point in giving one of them to a teenage girl whose main task to that point had been distributing leaflets.

 

"They told me I was too young to fight," said the survivor, now 84, who uses her married name, Aliza Vitis-Shomron. "They said, 'You have to leave and tell the world how we died fighting the Nazis. That is your job now.'"

 

She's been doing that ever since, publishing a memoir about life in the ghetto and lecturing about the revolt and its legendary leader, Mordechai Anielewicz. While nearly all her friends perished, she survived the ghetto and a later period in a Nazi concentration camp. She made it to Israel, married and has three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. On Sunday night, 70 years after the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Vitis-Shomron is set to speak on behalf of Holocaust survivors at the official ceremony marking Israel's annual Holocaust memorial day.

 

"It's a day of deep sorrow for me, because I remember all my friends in the (resistance) movement who gave their lives," said Vitis-Shomron. "But it was also a wonderful act of sacrifice by those who gave up their lives without even trying to save themselves. The goal was to show that we would not go down without a response." Six million Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust of World War II, wiping out a third of world Jewry.

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The 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising was the first large-scale rebellion against the Nazis in Europe and the single greatest act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Though guaranteed to fail, it became a symbol of struggle against impossible conditions, illustrated a refusal to succumb to Nazi atrocities and inspired other acts of uprising and underground resistance by Jews and non-Jews alike.

 

While the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Israel's annual Holocaust memorial day coincides with the Hebrew date of the Warsaw ghetto uprising — highlighting the role it plays in the country's psyche. Even the day's official name — "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day" — alludes to the image of the Jewish warrior upon which the state was founded. The ghetto battle contrasts with the image of Jews meekly marching to their deaths.

 

Israel has wrestled with the competing images for decades. After setting up their state in 1948, just three years after the end of the war, Israelis preferred to emphasize the heroic resistance fighters, though their numbers were relatively small. In recent years they have come around to recognizing the overwhelming tragedy of the murder of millions of Jews and the traumas of the survivors who still live along them.

 

Before the war, Warsaw had a vibrant Jewish community, and a third of the city's population was Jewish. The Nazis built the Warsaw ghetto in 1940, a year after occupying Poland, and began herding Jews into it.

 

The ghetto initially held some 380,000 Jews who were cramped into tight living spaces. At its peak, the ghetto housed about a half a million Jews, said Havi Dreifuss, a researcher at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial who has studied the ghetto.

 

Life in the ghetto included random raids, confiscations and abductions by Nazi soldiers. Disease and starvation were rampant, and bodies often appeared on the streets. The resistance movement began to grow after the deportation of July 22, 1942, when 265,000 men, women and children were rounded up and later killed at the Treblinka death camp. As word of the Nazi genocide spread, those who remained behind no longer believed German promises that they would be sent to forced labor camps.

 

A small group of rebels began to spread calls for resistance, carrying out isolated acts of sabotage and attacks. Some Jews began defying German orders to report for deportation. The Nazis entered the ghetto on April 19, 1943, the eve of the Passover holiday. Three days later, the Nazis set the ghetto ablaze, turning it into a fiery death trap, but the Jewish fighters kept up their struggle for nearly a month. The Jewish fighters who had fortified themselves in bunkers and hiding places managed to kill 16 Nazis and wound almost 100, Dreifuss said.

 

They were ultimately brutally vanquished. Anielewicz and others died inside the bunker on 18 Mila Street, which later became the title of a famous novel by Leon Uris that fictionalized the events. "It was a moral victory. No one believed the Jews would fight back," said Dreifuss. "It's amazing that after three years of Nazi occupation, starvation and illness, these people found the strength to disobey the Nazi orders, stand up and fight back."

 

Anielewicz, who was in his early 20s, became a heroic figure in Israel, with a village and streets across the nation named in his honor. Vitis-Shomron remembers him well. She said he was a tall, charismatic leader of a younger generation who refused to submit quietly to the Nazis as their parents did.

 

"His theory was, 'don't get used to what is happening. Don't accept it,'" she said. "The Nazis wanted to turn us into slaves, and he said that only free people could resist." The approach put Vitis-Shomron at odds with her parents, who objected to her activity in the youth movement. Often she would defy the Nazi curfew and only return home in the morning. She narrowly escaped S.S. officers in the streets as she posted underground leaflets calling on Jews to resist or escape.

 

She said the hardest part for her was escaping before the uprising began, joining her mother and younger sister in their hideout on the Polish side of town outside the ghetto. She remembers watching the red skies above the burning ghetto, where her friends were waging war. "If it was up to me, I would have stayed behind and fought to the death with them. I had no fear," she said. "The uprising represented Jewish pride. It was us saying, 'we will not die the way you want us to. We will die the way we want to, as free people.'"

 

Vitis-Shomron was later captured and sent the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with her mother and sister. They all survived and eventually made it to Israel. Her father was deported from the ghetto and killed in a Nazi death camp.

 

Today, Vitis-Shomron volunteers for Yad Vashem, collecting pages of testimony from fellow survivors that help build the museum's depository of names of the victims. Despite her own past, she claims not to have experienced the psychological damage that plague other survivors. "I never saw myself as a victim. I was on the active side, the resisting side," she said. "It helped me cope."

 

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ESCAPE FROM AUSCHWITZ TAKES SHAPE

David B. Green

Ha’aretz, Apr. 7, 2013

 

April 7, 1944, is the day on which Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler began their escape from Auschwitz, a process that resulted in a detailed report that provided the world with a first-hand account of the systemic mass murder taking place there.

 

Rudolf Vrba (originally Walter Rosenberg, 1924-2006) and Alfred Wetzler (1918-1988) were both Slovak Jews who had been arrested in 1942 and ended up in the Auschwitz II camp, also known as Birkenau. They recognized one another from home, and decided to escape together.

 

In the memoirs that Vrba wrote after the war, he explained how he had attempted to commit to memory the numbers of transports arriving in Auschwitz, and their places of origin, how he had discussed the way in which Jews were killed with Sonderkommandos who worked in the camp, and how, in early 1944, a Polish kapo told him that the camp was expecting the imminent arrival of one million Hungarian Jews, for whom a new rail line, heading directly to the gas chambers, was being constructed. He also heard German SS troops saying how they looked forward to receiving Hungarian salami from the anticipated arrivals, who would be told they were coming to work at a labor camp, could be expected to arrive with provisions.

 

On April 7, the two men snuck into the area between the two fences marking off the camp’s inner and outer perimeters. They knew from others' earlier escape attempts that guards would continue to search for an escaped prisoner for three days after his reported disappearance. For that reason, Vrba and Wetzler hid for the next two days under a woodpile, emerging only on April 10.

 

They then headed by foot toward the Polish-Slovakian border, 130 kms away. Crossing into Slovakia on April 21, they got in touch with the local Judenrat (Jewish council), whose head, Dr. Oscar Neumann, interviewed them separately over three days, extracting every detail they could recall about Auschwitz. By April 27, they had prepared an extensive and carefully edited document in German and Hungarian. It included sketches of the layout of the various camps that made up Auschwitz-Birkenau, lists detailing the arrival of transports they had witnessed, and the operation of the gas chambers and crematoria. Most of what they reported was later corroborated by Holocaust historians.

 

On November 26, 1944, the Vrba-Wetzler Report, together with two other eyewitness accounts from Auschwitz – that of Arnost Rosin and Czeslaw Mordowicz and the “Polish Major’s report” of Jerzy Tabeau – were published by the U.S. War Refugee Board, in a document that became known as the “Auschwitz Protocols.” The same day, it received detailed coverage in the New York Times. Long before then, however, the Hungarian government had begun deporting the country’s Jews, 100,000 of whom were sent to Auschwitz between May 15 and May 27, most of whom were killed on arrival.

 

There is disagreement about exactly who within the Hungarian Jewish community received early notice of the Vrba-Wetzler Report, but it seems clear that Rudolf Kastner, of the Budapest Rescue and Aid Committee, had a copy of it in hand by early May. At the time, Kastner was negotiating with Adolf Eichmann for the ransoming of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis – the country’s Jewish community was 800,000-strong. Neither Kastner nor other members of the Hungarian Jewish Council made the Vrba-Wetzler Report public, presumably because they didn’t want to jeopardize negotiations with the Germans. In the end, Kastner and Eichmann arranged for the release of 1,684 Jews, and their safe passage to Switzerland.

 

Only after Rosin and Mordowicz, also Slovakian prisoners, escaped from Auschwitz, on May 27, and the full Auschwitz Protocols were smuggled into Switzerland, did pressure begin to mount on the pro-Nazi Hungarian head of state Miklos Horthy not to cooperate with the German demands for the Jews’ deportation. Requests from Washington and the Vatican apparently led to Horthy’s decision on July 7 to halt the deportations of the Jews of Budapest (by then Jews from the rest of the country had already been murdered). The halt was only temporary, however, since Horthy’s government was overthrown by the Arrow Cross Party in October, which established a Nazi puppet government.

 

After the war, Vrba received a doctorate in chemistry and biochemistry, and eventually made his way to Vancouver, Canada, where he died in 2006. He published journalistic accounts of his experiences in 1961, but when he offered to testify at the trial of Adolf Eichmann that same year, the Israeli government declined, saying it could not pay his travel expenses. Instead, he submitted written testimony. Wetzler returned to Bratislava, Slovakia, after the war, where he worked as an editor and later on a farm. He also wrote up his memoirs, under the pen name of Jozef Lanik. He died in 1988.

 

 

THE HOLOCAUST, REMBRANDT AND THE QUEST FOR AUTHENTICITY

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 6, 2013

 

As we approach Holocaust Remembrance Day, I think of Rembrandt’s superb Large Self-Portrait, which is exhibited at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It cast a spell on me when I first saw it, but on Holocaust Remembrance Day it invites thoughts that penetrate deeper and deeper into my very being. When trying to do the impossible – imagining what happened to members of my family and to millions of other Jews who perished in the Holocaust – Rembrandt’s self-portrait awakens me from my slumber.

 

On Yom Hashoah one can virtually smell the blood of the six million Jews killed, including one and a half million children. Walking through Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, I see the faces of many of them, and it is not difficult to imagine that these children could have been mine. After all, I missed the Holocaust by a hair’s breadth.

 

Rembrandt’s portrait looks more powerful than ever after such a moment of reflection. He was 12 when the Thirty Years’ War began, and this painting was done four years after the devastation of Europe ended. In those days there was no market for Rembrandt’s many self portraits.

 

They were not painted for clients, nor were they expected to be sold. This was integrity at its best: masterpieces painted with no regard for remuneration or even career advancement. They were created just “to be,” because there was no way to suppress them in the mind of Rembrandt’s genius. An overflow of unrelenting authenticity.

 

At a time like this, I think of the millions killed during the Holocaust and ask myself what I have done with the life granted to me but denied to those millions. True, one must do something for a living, but Rembrandt reminds us that if we want to really live we must show flawless integrity and demonstrate great authenticity. It is all about making a genuine contribution to the world, with no regard for gain, and even being prepared to pay the price of one’s rank and position in the conventional community. A person must make sure that he can look at himself in the mirror at the end of his life and say, I lived my life; it did not just pass me by.

 

We live in a world where there are too many beauty salons. We have created a cosmetic world in which man’s real face is hidden, yet we are told that this is what life is all about. People try to convince us that we live in a world of dishonor and impropriety; that it is wishful thinking to believe in virtue and integrity; and that the only way to survive is to substitute selfishness for goodness.

 

They claim that to endure one must be suspicious, and that authenticity is a non-starter. We are told to be more evasive and smooth-tongued in order “to make it.” In this way, man engages in a life of fear, and needs to believe that ambush is the normal dwelling place of all men.

 

Rembrandt lived among the Jews of Amsterdam, my birthplace, and had a close relationship with them. He no doubt heard of the many Portuguese and Spanish Jews who were burned to death by the Inquisition, or had run away from Spain and Portugal because they knew one needs to be authentic in order to live. They taught him that if man is not more than human he is less than human, and that the art of being a Jew is to know how to go beyond merely living and not become just a memory.

 

It is our destiny to live for that which is more than ourselves. Perhaps it is this great message of Judaism that prompted Rembrandt to begin painting for no gain and no career.

 

And so I stand in front of Rembrandt’s Large Self-Portrait and realize that in the face of the Holocaust I need to create my own self, with my integrity intact, and with no gain or fame, so that I will not be put to shame when millions who had no chance to live will ask me what I did with my life, and, God forbid, I will fall silent.

 

The author is the dean of the David Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem and author of many books.

 

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On Topic

 

Remembering the Holocaust, Gaza Style: Stand for Israel, Apr. 7, 2013Watch this video. It shows a Holocaust memorial service in the south of Israel being interrupted by the tzeva adom – the “red alert” alarm letting civilians know to seek shelter. It is heartbreaking and appalling. What should appall you isn’t that Gaza terrorists would fire a rocket at Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day.

 

Muslim Anti-Semitism in Western Europe: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Tundra Tabloids, Feb. 20, 2013—European governments often avoid exposing Muslim anti-Semitism. In colonial times, Western racism far exceeded any other discrimination. With these guilt feelings, to accuse an immigrant minority group of having a high percentage of people who hate another minority – i.e., the Jews – is not done.

 

Combatting Anti-Semitism: Arsen Ostrovsky, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2013—George Santayana, the Spanish- American philosopher, famously said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Regrettably, it seems that Europe has failed to learn from its darkest days of anti-Semitism in the last century and is now condemned to repeat those same mistakes once again.

 

Study: Global Anti-Semitism Rises by 30 Percent: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 7, 2013—Last year the world saw a “considerable escalation in anti-Semitic manifestations, particularly violent acts against Jews,” constituting a 30-percent increase over 2011, according to a Tel Aviv University study released on Sunday.

 

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LE QUOTIDIEN LA PRESSE FLIRTE AVEC L’ISLAMISME
Dépêche 

Postedeveille.ca, 23 avril 2012

L'équipe de Poste de Veille répond à l'article d'Anabelle Nicoud Le Québec flirte avec Marine Le Pen paru dans La Presse du 21 avril dans lequel elle associe Poste de Veille à la «toile brune» qui inciterait à la violence.

 

Parcourir Poste de Veille permet aux lecteurs de lire un nombre significatif d’articles et de chroniques réfutant l’opinion éditoriale du quotidien La Presse telle qu’exprimée par certains de ses éditorialistes et de ses chroniqueurs.

 

C’est que Poste de Veille, dans le souci d’informer objectivement ses lecteurs, s’est donné le mandat de rétablir les faits chaque fois qu’un grand quotidien ou un grand diffuseur s’adonne à la désinformation. L’édition de La Presse du samedi 21 avril ne fera pas exception, il s’agit cette fois d’un reportage signé Anabelle Nicoud et dont le titre est «Le Québec flirte avec Marine Le Pen».

 

Dès l’introduction l’intention de l’auteur est mise en évidence: discréditer les blogues qui informent le public sur l’islamisme et les risques qu’il incarne pour les sociétés occidentales. En guise de rapprochement, trois éléments chocs ont été utilisés dans le même paragraphe: la mention de l’extrême droite européenne, celle d’Anders Breivik le tueur norvégien d’extrême droite et l’expression «toile brune» en référence aux chemises brunes nazies, de sinistre mémoire, dont le rôle était d’intimider et de violenter les adversaires politiques. On peut donc affirmer qu’Anabelle Nicoud n’y est pas allée avec le dos de la cuillère ou comme on dit au Québec «elle en a beurré épais». Le procédé bien connu de reductio ad Hitlerum ne l’a pas rebutée, ce qui dénote chez elle un certain amateurisme. En effet, elle a, sans s’en apercevoir et dès les premières phrases, dévoilé son parti-pris et soulevé des doutes sur son objectivité.

 

L’auteur du reportage ne le dit pas explicitement mais de toute évidence elle considère les craintes que suscite l’islam radical comme non fondées. S’il en avait été autrement elle se serait donné la peine d’investiguer la question pour savoir si les auteurs des blogues ont de bonnes raisons de s’inquiéter. L’égalité des sexes, les droits des femmes, la laïcité dans l’espace public, la démocratie, la liberté d’expression, les droits des homosexuels, la paix sociale etc. sont-ils menacés par l’islam radical? Cette question Anabelle Nicoud ne s’est pas donnée la peine de se la poser et elle n’y a pas répondu dans son reportage, cependant elle laisse entendre que ceux qui soulèvent cette question dans leurs blogues ne sont que des «chemises brunes» virtuelles qui incitent à la violence. L’auteur a emprunté ici l’un des procédés de l’extrême gauche, l’inversion des responsabilités: le danger ne vient pas du fascisme islamique mais de ceux qui tirent la sonnette d’alarme à son sujet!

 

L’auteur associe islamophobie et judéophobie pour mieux discréditer les blogues qui informent le public sur l’islam radical et les forfaits dont il se rend responsable. Jihadwatch, Atlas Shrugs, Gates of Vienna, Riposte laïque, etc., qu’elle mentionne ne s’intéressent aucunement aux juifs sauf quand ces derniers subissent des menaces et des préjudices de la part des islamistes. D’autres groupes, les homosexuels, les coptes, les bahaïs, les ahmadis par exemple, sont également ciblés par l’islamisme, ils obtiennent par conséquent une couverture adéquate dans ces blogues faute d’en obtenir dans les grands médias écrits et télévisés.

 

Mais l’auteur ne se donne pas la peine de définir l’islamophobie, s’agit-il pour elle d’une haine aveugle, d’une peur irraisonnée ou d’une crainte légitime et justifiée de l’islamofascisme? On ne sait trop, ce qu’on constate toutefois c’est qu’elle s’en sert dans un sens péjoratif, imitant en cela l’Ayatollah Khomeiny qui a inventé cette expression pour discréditer ceux qui dénonçaient la tyrannie islamique imposée brutalement aux Iraniens.

 

Madame Nicoud n’explique pas pourquoi il n’existe pas de blogues qui mettent en garde contre le christianisme, l’hindouisme, le bouddhisme, l’animisme ou, tant qu’à y être, contre l’islam alaouite, l’islam ismaélite ou l’islam soufi. Serait-ce parce que ces religions ou ces branches de l’islam ne constituent aucun danger pour notre société? Ou parce que leurs adeptes s’y intègrent facilement et ne cherchent pas à en faire une copie conforme de celle qu’ils ont quittée?

 

L’auteur ne souffle mot des blogues islamistes haineux qui pullulent sur le web, certains de leurs auteurs vivent au Québec. Ces sites ne se contentent pas de semer la haine des non-musulmans, ils vont plus loin et incitent leurs lecteurs à s’enrôler pour le jihad mondial. C’est ainsi que nombre de jihadistes en Afrique du Nord, en Somalie, en Irak, au Yémen, en Tchétchénie et en Afghanistan ont été recrutés en Occident. Et que dire des complots jihadistes fomentés à partir d’internet au cœur même du Québec, ne sont-ils pas de nature à inspirer à madame Nicoud un peu d’islamovigilance? L’auteur ne nous dit pas pourquoi La Presse détourne les yeux quand des conférenciers islamistes sont invités dans nos universités pour endoctriner les jeunes musulmans et les inciter à ne pas s’intégrer dans notre société. Leur enseignement serait-il à ce point conforme aux principes du multiculturalisme défendu par La Presse?

 

Madame Nicoud fait siennes les affirmations d’Oyvind Strommen à l’effet qu'avant de tuer 77 personnes, Anders Behring Breivik s'est nourri des idées propagées sur les réseaux internet de l'extrême droite européenne et américaine. Il soutient par là que les informations objectives qu’il a récoltées ici et là l’ont décidé à commettre son crime. Il s’agit là d’affirmations dénuées de fondements et dont le but premier est de salir ceux qui défendent des opinions et des positions opposées aux siennes. Bat Yeor, Mark Steyn ou Robert Spencer cités par Breivik sont reconnus pour le sérieux de leur travail et de leur documentation, ils n’affirment rien sans preuve bien démontrée. On ne peut, sans mauvaise foi, les accuser d’inciter à la haine ou à la violence.

 

…Oyvind Strommen et tous ceux qui soutiennent sa thèse dont Anabelle Nicoud auraient dû accorder aux islamistes qui massacrent sans discernement, le même traitement réservé à Breivik, à savoir questionner les références sur lesquelles ils se basent pour accomplir leurs crimes haineux

 

Pour être équitable et faire preuve d’objectivité, Oyvind Strommen et tous ceux qui soutiennent sa thèse dont Anabelle Nicoud auraient dû accorder aux islamistes qui massacrent sans discernement, le même traitement réservé à Breivik, à savoir questionner les références sur lesquelles ils se basent pour accomplir leurs crimes haineux. Ces références sont le coran et la sunna de Mahomet, les jihadistes les citent ouvertement pour justifier leurs attentats meurtriers. En effet les textes sacrés des musulmans incitent explicitement au meurtre des infidèles, et pourtant à aucun moment les bien-pensants comme Strommen n’ont dénoncé le coran ou la sunna de Mahomet. Peut-on parler ici de deux poids deux mesures, d’indignation à géométrie variable ou d’aveuglement volontaire?

 

Les lecteurs de La Presse avaient droit à un examen objectif du contenu des blogues qui s’opposent à l’islam radical, en effet dénoncer et condamner sans preuves à l’appui est contraire à l’objectivité la plus élémentaire. Nous pouvons même aller plus loin et affirmer que l’objectivité implique d’informer le public d’une manière équilibrée sans prendre parti et laisser le public juger par lui-même. Or l’auteur n’a rien exposé du contenu des blogues et en ce qui concerne Poste de Veille dont elle parle, elle a choisi de passer sous silence les nombreux articles rédigés par des musulmans modernistes tels que Tarek Fatah, Salim Mansur, Tawfik Hamid, Sami el Beheiri, Amil Imani et bien d’autres qui dénoncent le fanatisme islamique et pour qui nos quotidiens, dont La Presse, ne font preuve d’aucun intérêt.

 

Mais il y a plus quand l’auteur mentionne que: Le site espère inciter ses lecteurs à «passer à l'action», elle fait délibérément usage de guillemets et omet de préciser qu’il s’agit d’action citoyenne. Plus loin dans le reportage elle rapporte les propos d’Oyvind Strommen pour qui «les idées défendues sur la «toile brune» sont virtuelles, mais ne devraient pas être banalisées: leur potentiel de violence, lui, est bien réel.» C’est avec cette phrase que le reportage se termine, et il s’agit là du message que l’auteur cherche à transmettre aux lecteurs. Madame Nicoud aurait pu, sans porter de jugement explicite ou implicite, conseiller aux lecteurs de se faire une idée par eux-mêmes, en allant faire un tour sur les sites qu’elle mentionne dans son reportage. Elle ne l’a pas fait, elle a gardé le silence sur le contenu des blogues, se contentant de les traiter de chemises brunes virtuelles et de sites d’extrême droite.

 

Il sied mal à un journal qui se veut objectif et respectable de condamner sans preuves et sans appel des citoyens qui s’imposent le devoir d’informer le public d’ici et d’ailleurs. Le geste est d’autant plus déplorable qu’il s’apparente à une tentative d’éliminer la concurrence émanant d’individus qui ne disposent pas de moyens comparables à ceux d’un grand quotidien. Mais ce qui est encore plus révoltant c’est le fait que le quotidien La Presse discrédite des opinions contraires aux siennes, sans analyse objective, sans s’astreindre au débat d’idées, sans étayer ses arguments, en un mot sans se donner la peine de réfuter les thèses qu’il ne partage pas.

 

Paresse intellectuelle ou manque flagrant de professionnalisme chez les journalistes de La Presse? Arrogance ou sentiment de supériorité morale qui les dispense d’accomplir honnêtement leur travail? Désir inavoué de maintenir les lecteurs dans leur giron? Volonté de défendre par n’importe quel moyen le multiculturalisme que les Québécois rejettent de plus en plus? Telles sont les questions qu’il convient de se poser après la lecture du reportage d’Anabelle Nicoud.

 

Mais il est également approprié de s’interroger sur le pourquoi du succès de blogues tels que Poste de Veille. Si la presse écrite et électronique faisait convenablement son travail et informait objectivement les gens, si elle ne cherchait pas à leur inculquer par des moyens contestables ce qu’ils doivent penser, les blogues n’auraient jamais vu le jour. S’ils existent et s’ils ont du succès c’est parce qu’ils inspirent confiance et répondent à un besoin. Tant que les grands médias se réfugieront dans le déni et persisteront dans la même voie, les blogues continueront de prospérer et d'attirer un nombre sans cesse croissant de lecteurs.

 

Poste de Veille

PARDONNER AUSCHWITZ AUX JUIFS
David Ouellette

Davidouellette.net, 8 avril 2012

Au lendemain de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale et de la découverte des camps d’extermination nazis, la philosophe juive allemande Hannah Arendt consignait cette réflexion dans une lettre à son ancien maître Karl Jaspers:

 

Ces crimes, il me semble, ne peuvent être appréhendés juridiquement et c’est justement ce qui fait leur monstruosité. […], cette culpabilité, contrairement à toute culpabilité criminelle, dépasse et fracasse tout ordre juridique. […] Cette culpabilité est toute aussi inhumaine que l’innocence des victimes. Les hommes ne peuvent absolument pas être aussi innocents qu’ils l’étaient, tous ensemble, devant les fours à gaz. On ne peut absolument rien faire humainement et politiquement avec une culpabilité campée au-delà du crime et une innocence au-delà de la bonté et de la vertu. Car les Allemands sont accablés par des milliers ou des dizaines de milliers ou des centaines de milliers qui ne peuvent être punis de manière adéquate au sein d’un système légal; et nous Juifs sommes accablés par des millions d’innocents, en raison desquels chaque Juif aujourd’hui se perçoit comme l’innocence personnifiée. [Hannah Arendt/Karl Jaspers Briefwechsel, 1926-1969 / Lotte Kohler et Hans Saner (éd.), Munich, 1985]

 

Plusieurs années plus tard, le psychanalyste israélien Zvi Rex cristallisera le ressentiment engendré par le sentiment de culpabilité incommensurable liée à la destruction des Juifs d’Europe dans cette formule lapidaire: «Les Allemands ne pardonneront jamais Auschwitz aux Juifs». Un antisémitisme, non pas en dépit, mais à cause d’Auschwitz, parce que par leur survie et leur simple présence, les Juifs se désincarnent pour ne devenir qu’un rappel lancinant des crimes perpétrés à leur endroit.

 

Le revers de cet antisémitisme à cause d’Auschwitz est un philosémitisme tout aussi répréhensible, quoique moins répandu. Le philosémitisme projette sur les Juifs une innocence et une vertu inhumaines, mais se retourne rapidement en antisémitisme, dès lors que les Juifs sont perçus comme étant en deçà de cette attente inhumaine.

 

C’est à la formule de Rex que j’ai immédiatement songé en lisant l’étrange coup de gueule travesti en poème du prix Nobel de littérature Günter Grass. Publié cette semaine dans plusieurs journaux internationaux, le poème de la “conscience morale” de l’Allemagne d’après-guerre, lui qui à l’automne de sa vie a levé le voile sur son passé de Waffen-SS, prétend briser un tabou. Lequel? Le tabou qui l’a longtemps prévenu de critiquer Israël en tant qu’Allemand sous peine de passer pour un antisémite. Et la critique? Israël, croit Grass, planifie l’ “extinction du peuple iranien” et “menace une paix mondiale déjà fragile”. Pourquoi? Parce que l’ancien nazi ne voudrait pas devenir un “survivant” du génocide qui vient; tourmenté par son passé nazi, Grass voit dans la dénonciation d’un génocide imaginaire israélien l’occasion de déboulonner l’ “innocence et la vertu inhumaine” attendue des Juifs après la Shoah et de se dérober du fardeau intolérable de la “culpabilité inhumaine” des crimes nazis.

 

De l’extrême-gauche à la droite libérale allemande en passant par l’arc-en-ciel idéologique de la presse européenne, plusieurs soupçonnent Grass d’antisémitisme larvé, voire décomplexé. Mais la critique qui retient davantage mon attention est celle de la projection de son propre sentiment de culpabilité pour Auschwitz sur l’État d’Israël. “Schuldverschiebung und Selbstentlastung“, dénonce le prestigieux hebdomadaire Die Zeit, “transfert de culpabilité et auto-exonération“. “Schuldverrechnung eines Rechthabers“, “virement de culpabilité opiniâtre”, critique aussi l’hebdomadaire Der Spiegel. Le quotidien autrichien Die Presse y voit un mal qui est loin d’affecter le seul auteur du poème: «Grass n’est évidemment pas l’unique intéressé politique en Allemagne (ou en Autriche) qui s’occupe obsessivement d’Israël, qui consacre une bonne partie de son potentiel de protestation au pays. Qui, comme Grass dans un passage particulièrement perfide, reproche à l’État d’Israël de vouloir éliminer un peuple (dans ce cas-ci, le peuple iranien)». Pour le grand critique littéraire allemand Frank Schirrmacher, le poème est un «torchon de ressentiment». «Le débat devrait porter sur la question de savoir s’il est justifié de faire du monde entier la victime d’Israël seulement pour qu’un homme de 85 ans puisse faire la paix avec sa propre biographie», conclut-il sévèrement.

 

Nul besoin d’être allemand ou autrichien pour retourner la Shoah contre Israël et les Juifs. Tourmenté par le sentiment coupable de sa propre survie à Auschwitz, l’écrivain Primo Levi ne fut-il pas le premier à céder à la tentation de faire expier aux Juifs leur statut involontaire de victimes absolues en érigeant Israël en bourreau absolu et ses ennemis au Moyen-Orient en victimes absolues lorsqu’il déclara que «tout le monde est le Juif de quelqu’un, et aujourd’hui les Palestiniens sont les Juifs des Israéliens»? Pensons au philosophe juif français Edgar Morin qui s’exclamait dans Le Monde que «les juifs victimes de l’inhumanité montrent une terrible inhumanité». Au prix Nobel de littérature portugais José Saramago qui pontifiait en 2002: «Ce qui arrive en Palestine est un crime que l’on peut arrêter. Nous pouvons le comparer à ce qui est arrivé à Auschwitz».

 

Plus près de chez nous, pensons à Victor-Lévy Beaulieu pour qui la Seconde Guerre du Liban illustrait l’extériorisation d’une prétendue pulsion génocidaire ancrée dans l’essence même du judaïsme: «de l’assassinat sélectif à la guerre totale, du génocide à l’extermination absolue, les armes du droit judaïque ne connaissent pas la mesure (…) Que sont donc ces guerres contre la Palestine et le Liban, sinon des guerres d’extermination, sinon des génocides odieux». Ou encore à Pierre Vadeboncoeur qui, dans un article intitulé Guernica bis en référence à la destruction de cette ville espagnole par l’aviation nazie, écrivait dans Le Devoir, au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre du Liban, que «le traitement des Juifs dans les pays chrétiens à travers les siècles et finalement l’Holocauste furent des crimes pour lesquels il n’y aura pas de rémission même dans mille ans. Le peuple juif n’aura jamais fini de demander réparation». Ce même quotidien hurlait «Israël ne se défend pas, il extermine» pendant la guerre de Gaza de 2009.

 

Alors qu’on ne cesse de reprocher aux Juifs le chantage à Auschwitz, c’est surtout l’inverse qui est vrai. Il n’y a pas de manifestation “pour la paix” sans assimilation de l’étoile de David à la croix gammée. «Les Juifs n’ont-ils donc rien appris de la Shoah?» est devenu un lieu commun de la “critique” d’Israël et de la démesure avec laquelle on nazifie non seulement les “crimes de guerre” imputés à l’État juif, mais l’existence nationale des Juifs. Et c’est là un cruel paradoxe de la condition juive; pour ceux qui ne pardonnent pas Auschwitz aux Juifs, la restauration de l’existence nationale du peuple juif, qui devait l’émanciper de sa condition d’exception, sert de prétexte pour cimenter l’exception juive.

Shabat Shalom et Yom Haatsmaout à tous nos lecteurs!