Tag: Holocaust Memory


5 Things to Know About the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Aaron Bandler, Jewish Journal, Apr. 19, 2018— The focus this week has been on Israel’s 70th anniversary as a country, but April 19 is an important day, the 75th anniversary on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Abusing Anne Frank’s Memory: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Apr. 12, 2018 — Anne Frank has probably become the best known Jewish person murdered during the Shoah.

Why Holocaust Education Is Desperately Needed in America: Noah Phillips, Algemeiner, Apr. 23, 2018 — I recently applied for a grant to promote Holocaust education at local middle schools through field trips, an education unit about Holocaust studies, and survivor testimonies.

Jewish Power at 70 Years: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Apr. 20, 2018— Adam Armoush is a 21-year-old Israeli Arab who, on a recent outing in Berlin, donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany.


On Topic Links

David S. Wyman, 89, Authored a Controversial Book About the U.S. Inaction on Jews During the Holocaust: Hillel Italie, Globe & Mail, Apr. 4, 2018

The History and Future of Holocaust Research: Wendy Lower, Tablet, Apr. 26, 2018

From 1930s to 2018: ‘Kill Lists’ Target ‘Jewish Hollywood’: Abraham Cooper & Harold Brackman, Jewish Journal, Apr. 25, 2018

The Untold Story of the Ritchie Boys: Brian Bethune, Maclean’s, Jul. 20, 2017



Aaron Bandler

Jewish Journal, Apr. 19, 2018

The focus this week has been on Israel’s 70th anniversary as a country, but April 19 is an important day, the 75th anniversary on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. People across the country in Poland stood in silence as bells and sirens rang to honor that the Jews that lost their lives in the uprising. The uprising was a significant event, as the Jews imprisoned in the ghetto bravely fought back against the barbaric Nazis and threw a temporary wrench in their war efforts. Here are five things to know about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

  1. Prisoners in the ghetto vowed to take arms against the Nazis after the first wave of deportations from the ghetto occurred in 1942. Adolf Hitler ordered all the prisoners in the ghettos to be deported to the Nazi death camps, resulting in the deportation of over two million Jews to the death camps, including 300,000 from the Warsaw Ghetto. Those in the Warsaw Ghetto who watched in horror as their loved ones were being snatched away by the Nazis vowed to take vengeance against the SS, even if it meant death. “Never shall the Germans move from here with impunity; we will die, but the cruel invaders will pay with their blood for ours,” Warsaw Ghetto survivor Emmanuel Ringelblum wrote.
  1. The resistance in the ghetto consisted of two main groups: the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the Jewish Military Union (ZZW). During the first two-month wave of deportations to Treblinka in July 1942, the two groups were unable to form an effective coalition because of tension between the two. According to Yad Vashem, “The ZZW claimed that the ZOB refused to incorporate them into their group’s structure, while the ZOB maintained that the ZZW wanted to take over the operation. In addition, both groups imposed taxes on the ghetto’s wealthier Jews, causing more tension between them.” Making matters worse was the fact that the ZOB was fractured by varying factions and they did not have a sufficient amount of arms despite the ZZW’s links to the Polish Home Army.

After the first wave of deportations ended, the ZZW and ZOB realized they had to set their differences aside in other to have a fighting chance against the Nazis. Over the next couple of months, new life was breathed into the ZOB with the acquisition of some weapons from the Polish Home Army and having a new leader in the charismatic 23-year-old Mordechai Anielewicz, who declared that the Jews would “resist going to the railroad cars,” per Jewish Virtual Library.

  1. The Jews in the ghetto were able to fight off the Nazis from deporting them in January 1943. The deportations at that time had caught the Jews in the ghetto off guard, but they were able to use the structure of the ghetto to their advantage. According to Britannica, “Jewish fighters could strike quickly, then escape across the rooftops. German troops, on the other hand, moved cautiously and would not go down to cellars.” The resistance efforts prevented the Nazis from issuing their planned deportations that day, giving the Jews imprisoned in the ghetto a sliver of hope. They spend the next few months stockpiling a few more weapons, training and establishing hiding spots in the ghetto to use as guerrilla warfare against the Nazis.
  1. The uprising officially began on April 19 and lasted until May 16. The Jews in the ghetto had heard that the Nazis were preparing to fight and deport the remaining prisoners in the ghetto to Treblinka on April 19, so they retreated to their hiding spots and fired away at the Nazis when they entered. Despite being vastly outnumbered and outmanned in firepower, the Jews forced the Nazis to abandon their three-day plan of complete liquidation of the ghetto. Even when the Nazis began burning down the ghetto, the Jews were able to hold their ground for nearly a month before the Nazis eventually overwhelmed them. The Jews that hadn’t died in battle were either executed by the Nazis or sent to the death camps.
  1. Even though the uprising did not prevail against the Nazis, it inspired other uprisings elsewhere. For instance, when the Jews entombed in Treblinka got word of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, they planned an uprising of their own, setting the death camp into flames and killing 40 Nazi guards. Three hundred people escaped Treblinka that day but only 70 survived, as the Nazis hunted down those that escaped. Other uprisings occurred in the ghettos of Bialystok and Minsk and the Sobibor death camp.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a signal at that time that the Jews would not be herded like sheep into slaughter, they were determined to fight back and “die with honor.” As Journal columnist Ben Shapiro noted in 2004, Anielewicz had written during the uprising, “The most important thing is that my life’s dream has come true. Jewish self-defense in the ghetto has been realized. Jewish retaliation and resistance has become a fact. I have been witness to the magnificent heroic battle of the Jewish fighters.” “A new model of the Jew had been created: not a passive Jew, but a Jew who would battle to the last bullet,” Shapiro wrote.




Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, Apr. 12, 2018

Anne Frank has probably become the best known Jewish person murdered during the Shoah. Her memory is also one of the most abused. This maltreatment has a long history. New examples emerge frequently. One among many: in January 2018 the Italian first division soccer club Lazio was fined 50 000 Euro after supporters displayed anti-Semitic Anne Frank stickers before a game in October 2017.

In the late 1980’s, the then head of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam did not permit the Dutch filmmaker, Willy Lindwer, to film his movie, The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank, in the house. The documentary dealt with her suffering in the concentration camps and her death in Bergen-Belsen. Lindwer tells that the director said to him, “Anne Frank is a symbol. Symbols should not be shown dying in a concentration camp.”

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has decades ago on many occasions used her name for political purposes which had nothing to do with honoring her memory. Dutch journalist, Elma Verhey, commented on the role of the Anne Frank Foundation in 1995: “Not all Dutchmen find it fitting that the Anne Frank House has developed into one of the most important tourist attractions of Amsterdam. Many Dutch Jews avoid the Anne Frank House because of some of the myths created by her diary. Moreover, there has been concern that the Foundation has in the past paid more attention to a handful of neo-Nazis in Germany, and the plight of the Palestinians, than to the state-sponsored anti-Semitism of the former Soviet Union.”

Other distortions of Anne Frank’s memory have also come out of the Netherlands. In Amsterdam in February 2007, graffiti appeared showing Anne Frank with a keffiya. In 2008, the same picture was turned into a commercial postcard. That despite the fact that the majority party in the only Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 was Hamas, which aims for genocide of the Jews. In 2006 a Belgian-Dutch Muslim Group posted a cartoon of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler. The motif of the Palestinian Anne Frank returns regularly. It recently appeared on posters and flyers at Wits University in Johannesburg. It was promoted by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign during Israel Apartheid Week. In 2017 a freelance guide at the Anne Frank Center in Berlin compared the suffering of Jews under the Nazis to that of Palestinians under Israeli control. The center distanced itself from his statement.

A new play based on Anne Frank by Ilja Pfeiffer is being shown in the Netherlands. The play transforms one of the people in hiding with her, Fritz Pfeffer, from a victim to a perpetrator of violence. He was murdered in the Shoah. This play in which a Holocaust victim’s memory is sullied is one more example of the partial degradation of Dutch society whose government will not admit how its Second World War predecessors in exile greatly failed the persecuted Jews.

The “Palestinian” Anne Frank is an inversion of the Holocaust. Another major distortion of the Holocaust is its de-Judaization. In 1952, an English translation of the diary was published for the American market. It was titled Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. David Barnouw, a researcher formerly with the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD), wrote that the foreword was written by Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of the wartime president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this text, the terms “Jew” or “persecution” of Jews were not mentioned at all.

Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett wrote a play based on the diary which premiered in 1955 in New York. Barnouw writes, “Of course the adaptation of a book or in this case a diary [to a stage play] cannot be totally true to the original. But the fact that there was a Hitler and national socialism as well as anti-Semitism and that Anne was persecuted as a Jewish girl has been pushed to the background.” An earlier play written by Meyer Levin had a much more Jewish content but was rejected by many producers.

The historian Tim Cole observes: “The contemporary lesson of tolerance demands that Anne’s words be rewritten to include members of ‘this or that minority’ and yet that makes a mockery of the historical reality.” He adds: “Given its mythical status, the Holocaust risks becoming a popular past used to serve all sorts of present needs. In particular, the needs of contemporary liberalism tend to latch onto a powerful tale in the past and universalize it so as to produce a set of universal lessons.” Cole concludes: “If there is one lesson that can be drawn from the Holocaust it is precisely that the optimism of Anne Frank was woefully misplaced.”…

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





Noah Phillips

Algemeiner, Apr. 23, 2018

I recently applied for a grant to promote Holocaust education at local middle schools through field trips, an education unit about Holocaust studies, and survivor testimonies. My grant application was rejected, which wasn’t a complete surprise, given the volume and quality of competing applications. But I was taken aback by the verbal feedback I received from the grant’s benefactor, who told me something along the lines of: “The Holocaust was a terrible thing, and it should be remembered — but its significance is not as meaningful today. Your project is not something we can turn into an annual occurrence.”

How could someone minimize the relevance of the Holocaust and trivialize its intergenerational impact? I was stunned. In response, I began researching the Holocaust education programs implemented by my school and others. In my school — a private institution with a significant Jewish student population — I expected a robust layering of Holocaust studies across grade levels. Instead, I found one unit on Anne Frank in the middle school and an overview of the Holocaust in the European history elective. This lackluster effort to incorporate Holocaust education into the regular curriculum, along with the lack of any special programming, left me wondering about students’ exposure to genocide studies and the specific case of the Holocaust.

Maybe it’s my personal observations and bias, but I imagine that my school’s curriculum is indicative of a larger trend. Per a 2005 report by the Education Commission of the States, Holocaust education is partially mandated in some form by only 17 US states. Alabama, California, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia have created commissions and task forces on the Holocaust. California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington state have passed laws requiring or encouraging educational programs about the Holocaust as part of the curriculum. But even in these states, the commissions and task forces are the sole bodies responsible for the implementation of this agenda, and many of the members of the task forces are volunteers.

The report also states that “eight states have statutes that specifically require or encourage instruction of the Holocaust be part of the state education curriculum.” These states have curricula and learning standards for each grade level, with the task of curricula development delegated to educators, policymakers, and higher education content experts. But only the state of New York enforces its policies by reserving “the right to withhold public funds appropriated to schools that do not meet the curriculum requirements.”

Without any proactive enforcement, what good are these policies? What impact can they have? There’s wiggle room for teachers and educators to eschew Holocaust education, not necessarily out of malignancy, but for convenience or pressure to “cover” major units of studies. The rationale is understandable: sacrifice this effectively optional state “encouragement” for the more typical school curriculum in preparation for state tests or other components of compulsive education. And this is assuming that teachers at the school level are even made aware of the Holocaust requirements by their supervisors.

There is certainly visible variation in the productivity of the respective state commissions. New Jersey’s commission coordinates hundreds of programs annually for tens of thousands of students in grades K-12, per their 2016 report. But broadly speaking, the legislation around mandated Holocaust studies programs — and the implementation of the curricula — are feeble.

My personal Holocaust education has included my family’s visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, hearing from survivors, reading testimonies, as well as Night by Elie Wiesel, and commemorating the Shoah annually. The Holocaust means more to me than a chapter (or page) in a history textbook. And I hope for Jews and non-Jews across the nation to eventually share this sentiment. But as of now, it appears that the majority of my generation — the upcoming wave of activists, entrepreneurs, and intrepid thinkers — may never learn about an essential component of American and global history.





Bret Stephens

New York Times, Apr. 20, 2018

Adam Armoush is a 21-year-old Israeli Arab who, on a recent outing in Berlin, donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany. On Tuesday he was assaulted in broad daylight by a Syrian asylum-seeker who whipped him with a belt for being “yahudi” — Arabic for Jew. The episode was caught on video and has caused a national uproar. Heiko Maas, the foreign minister, tweeted, “Jews shall never again feel threatened here.”

It’s a vow not likely to be fulfilled. There were nearly 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin alone last year. A neo-fascist party, Alternative for Germany, has 94 seats in the Bundestag. Last Thursday, a pair of German rappers won a prestigious music award, given largely on the basis of sales, for an album in which they boast of having bodies “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners.” The award ceremony coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day. To be Jewish — at least visibly Jewish — in Europe is to live on borrowed time. That’s not to doubt the sincerity and good will of Maas or other European leaders who recommit to combating anti-Semitism every time a European Jew is murdered or a Jewish institution attacked. It’s only to doubt their capacity.

There’s a limit to how many armed guards can be deployed indefinitely to protect synagogues or stop Holocaust memorials from being vandalized. There’s a limit, also, to trying to cure bigotry with earnest appeals to tolerance. The German government is mulling a proposal to require recent arrivals in the country to tour Nazi concentration camps as a way of engendering a feeling of empathy for Jews. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that, to the virulent anti-Semite, Buchenwald is a source of inspiration, not shame.

All this comes to mind as Israel this week marks (in the Hebrew calendar) the 70th anniversary of its independence. There are many reasons to celebrate the date, many of them lofty: a renaissance for Jewish civilization; the creation of a feisty liberal democracy in a despotic neighborhood; the ecological rescue of a once-barren land; the end of 1,878 years of exile.

But there’s a more basic reason. Jews cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers, least of all French or German politicians. Theodor Herzl saw this with the Dreyfus Affair and founded modern Zionism. Post-Hitler Europe still has far to fall when it comes to its attitudes toward Jews, but the trend is clear. The question is the pace.

Hence Israel: its army, bomb, and robust willingness to use force to defend itself. Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews. That’s a point that Israel’s restless critics could stand to learn. On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this — doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel’s borders — and has repeatedly used deadly force to counter it.

The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t. It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t. If the armchair corporals want to persist in demands for withdrawals that for 25 years have led to more Palestinian violence, not less, the least they can do is be ferocious in defense of Israel’s inarguable sovereignty. Somehow they almost never are.

Israel’s 70th anniversary has occasioned a fresh round of anxious, if not exactly new, commentary about the rifts between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry. Some Diaspora complaints, especially with respect to religion and refugees, are valid and should be heeded by Jerusalem. But to the extent that the Diaspora’s objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless. They provide moral sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to win sympathy for its strategy of wanton aggression and reckless endangerment. And they foster the illusion that there’s some easy and morally stainless way by which Jews can exercise the responsibilities of political power.

Though not Jewish, Adam Armoush was once one of the nonchalant when it came to what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Presumably no longer. For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links

David S. Wyman, 89, Authored a Controversial Book About the U.S. Inaction on Jews During the Holocaust: Hillel Italie, Globe & Mail, Apr. 4, 2018—David S. Wyman, a leading scholar of the U.S. response to the Holocaust whose The Abandonment of the Jews was a provocative, bestselling critique of everyone from religious leaders to president Franklin Roosevelt, died Wednesday at age 89.

The History and Future of Holocaust Research: Wendy Lower, Tablet, Apr. 26, 2018—In early 1947, the Chief Counsel of the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals, Brigadier General Telford Taylor prepared indictments against the second tier Nazis. By then the liberation of the concentrations camps, and the research, testimony and publicity surrounding the international trial against the Nazi leadership, had revealed the horror and extent of the regime’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.

From 1930s to 2018: ‘Kill Lists’ Target ‘Jewish Hollywood’: Abraham Cooper & Harold Brackman, Jewish Journal, Apr. 25, 2018—President Harry Truman once wrote, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” But sometimes what you don’t know can put you at risk — or worse. Nicholas Rose of Irvine, a 26-year-old teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL), faces a six-year-plus sentence for recent violent anti-Semitic threats against prominent Jews in the entertainment industry. Luckily, he was turned in by his parents.

The Untold Story of the Ritchie Boys: Brian Bethune, Maclean’s, Jul. 20, 2017—Martin Selling, 24, was undergoing training as a U.S. Army medical orderly in February 1943 and chafing under a Pentagon policy that kept him—a Jewish refugee from Germany and hence an “enemy alien”—away from any combat unit. He’d endured a lot already, including three brutal months in Dachau concentration camp after Kristallnacht in 1938, before finding haven in America. The knowledge that his adopted country would not let him fight their common enemy was bitterly frustrating.


I'm a Student at McGill. Our Problems with Anti-Semitism are Far From Over: David Watson, National Post, Nov. 1, 2017— Last week, McGill University was thrust into the national spotlight for an unfortunate reason.

An Anti-Semitic Caricature of Me Generates No Criticism from Berkeley Hard Left: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 26, 2017— I was recently invited to present the liberal case for Israel at Berkeley.

Universities Can’t Have it Both Ways on Free Speech: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Oct. 27, 2017— The trouble with campus speech codes is that they backfire.

I Don’t Want an Apology from Justin Trudeau: Sally F. Zerker, CIJR, Oct. 26, 2017— Canadian governmental spokespeople have been active lately in apologizing for historical wrongs.



On Topic Links


The Zionists are Coming! Panic at San Francisco State U.: Cinnamon Stillwell, American Thinker, Oct. 7, 2017

New Wave of Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Activity Emerges on US Campuses: United With Israel, Oct. 2, 2017

Against Faux-Feminists Who Deny the Rights of Muslim Women and Jews: Phyllis Chesler, Tablet, Oct. 2, 2017

Massey College Suspends ‘Master’ Title, Apologizes for ‘Completely Inappropriate’ Incident: Simona Chiose, Globe & Mail, Sept. 29, 2017




OUR PROBLEMS WITH ANTI-SEMITISM ARE FAR FROM OVER                                                       

David Watson

National Post, Nov. 1, 2017


Last week, McGill University was thrust into the national spotlight for an unfortunate reason. Students at the bi-annual General Assembly of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) voted to remove a Jewish student, Noah Lew, from the society’s board of directors. Lew later wrote on Facebook that he had been targeted for his Jewish identity. Before the vote, Lew and two other directors were publicly accused of corruption by a student political group for their affiliation with Jewish political organizations such as the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC).


The vote against Lew at the general assembly last week is certainly disappointing. But what’s even more troubling is that, to anyone with a decent grasp of student politics at our university, it wasn’t in the least bit surprising. Lew’s removal is just the latest symptom of a much deeper problem in McGill student politics. Unless it can be definitively resolved, it will only be a matter of time before the next episode of alleged anti-Semitism at the university.


I’ve been an undergraduate student at McGill since 2014, and I’m now in my final semester. For the past two years, I’ve been writing about student politics at McGill for a student newspaper, The McGill Tribune. In that time, I’ve become familiar with a student society that is engulfed in an endless debate over whether or not to support Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), a movement that calls for a boycott of Israel over its occupation of the Palestinian territories. It’s a struggle that consumes the attention of the society and its members, and generates most of the scandals that plague the university, including last week’s vote against Lew.


For the past three years, BDS has been the organizing principle behind most of the major controversies on our campus. Motions to support BDS were brought forward three separate times in 18 months, before they were declared unconstitutional by the Judicial Board, SSMU’s version of a supreme court. Since then, the struggle over BDS has continued through proxy debates over constitutional issues, proposed reforms, and, as we saw last week, votes on individual student representatives.


Incidents like Lew’s removal are nowadays generally accompanied by a semantic debate about what does or does not constitute anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, or some other form of -ism. Those who voted against Lew claim that their grievances were only political, though I’m not aware of any legitimate criticisms of Lew, since no one even bothered to speak during the allotted debate period before the vote. But whatever their intentions, what matters most is that their actions have real, damaging consequences for our university’s Jewish students.


By voting against board members for things like their membership in CJPAC, McGill students are forcing many of their Jewish peers to make an unfair and harmful choice. They are forced to choose between getting involved in their communities and participating in student government at our university. No McGill student should be put in such a situation, and it’s our responsibility as fellow students to ensure that no one is. That’s why, after the results of the vote against Lew were announced, I joined dozens of my peers in walking out of the general assembly. To vote against Lew for his involvement with Jewish political organizations is to imply that one’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict should be a litmus test for student representatives at McGill. This would be an absurd requirement, and its burden would fall disproportionately on Jewish students at McGill.


In the days after the vote against Lew, many powerful actors voiced their concerns about the incident, and expressed their willingness to explore solutions. McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier released a statement promising an investigation and a task force. Lew was even the subject of a discussion in the House of Commons. And at a meeting on Oct. 29, the SSMU Board of Directors voted to establish its own committee to investigate anti-Semitism in the student society.         


If they are to make a meaningful difference, any proposed reforms will need to address the root cause of the issue: the persistence of the BDS debate at McGill. This isn’t to say that discussion of BDS or Israel should be banned on campus. Universities should be arenas for discussions on even the most controversial topics — that’s how we learn. But these issues shouldn’t come to dominate student politics, or to determine who should be able to sit on a student council.


One immediate fix would be for more students to take an active role in their student society. Much of the pro-BDS lobbying comes from a mobilized vocal minority — Lew’s candidacy was opposed by only 160 votes, at a school with more than 20,000 undergrads. Past online referendums suggest that most students don’t support BDS, but their inaction allows its supporters to drive the agenda. With only a few weeks left before I graduate, I won’t be around to see any of the changes I’m proposing. BDS will have defined my entire experience with student government at McGill. This can’t be allowed to continue. McGill is an otherwise great school, and its incoming students deserve a better experience than the one that the students now graduating have endured.






Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Oct. 26, 2017


I was recently invited to present the liberal case for Israel at Berkeley. In my remarks I advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state and a negotiated end of the conflict. I encouraged hostile questions from protestors and answered all of them. The audience responded positively to the dialogue.


Then immediately after my address, a poster was plastered outside Berkeley Law School with a swastika drawn on my face. The Dean of Berkeley Law School, Erwin Cherwinsky, sent a letter condemning the swastika: "Several of our students expressed their disagreement with him [Dershowitz] and did so in a completely appropriate way that led to discussion and dialogue. I was pleased to hear of how this went, but then shocked to learn of the swastika drawn on a flyer that someone had posted about him."


Shortly after, The Daily Californian – Berkeley's student newspaper – published an anti-Semitic cartoon, depicting an ugly caricature of me sticking my head through a cardboard cut-out. Behind the cardboard I am portrayed stomping on a Palestinian child with my foot, while holding in my hand an Israeli soldier who is shooting an unarmed Palestinian youth. Above the cardboard cut-out the title of my speech – The Liberal Case for Israel – is scrawled in capital letters.


In a Letter to the Editor, the university's Chancellor, Carol Christ, wrote the following: "Your recent editorial cartoon targeting Alan Dershowitz was offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing. I condemn its publication. Are you aware that its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old "blood libel" that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder? I cannot recall anything similar in the Daily Cal, and I call on the paper's editors to reflect on whether they would sanction a similar assault on other ethnic or religious groups. We cannot build a campus community where everyone feels safe, respected and welcome if hatred and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes become an acceptable part of our discourse."


It is shocking that this vile caricature – which would fit comfortably in a Nazi publication – was published in "the official paper of record of the City of Berkeley" (according to the Editor.) The cartoon resembles the grotesque anti-Semitic blood libel propaganda splashed across Der Sturmer in the 1930's, which depicted Jews drinking the blood of gentile children. Canards about Jews as predators – prominently promulgated by the Tzarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – were anti-Semitic back then and are still anti-Semitic today, whether espoused by the extreme left or the extreme right.


This sequence of events – by hard-left students who originally protested my right to speak at Berkeley– confirmed what I've long believed: that there is very little difference between the Nazis of the hard right and the anti-Semites of the hard left. There is little doubt that this abhorrent caricature was a hard-left Neo-Nazi expression.


These anti-Semitic displays against me were in reaction to a speech in which I advocated a Palestinian state; an end to the occupation and opposition to Israeli settlement policies. Many on the hard-left refuse to acknowledge this sort of nuanced positioning. That is because their hostility towards Israel does not stem from any particular Israeli actions or policies. Even if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, destroy the security barrier, and recognize Hamas as a legitimate political organization, it would still not be enough. For these radicals, it is not about what Israel does; it is about what Israel is: the nation state of the Jewish people. To many on the hard left, Israel is an imperialistic, apartheid, genocidal, and colonialist enterprise that must be destroyed.


Nonetheless, just as I defended the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, I defend the right of hard-left bigots to produce this sort of anti-Semitic material, despite it being hate speech. Those who condemn hate speech when it comes from the Right should also speak up when hate speech comes from the Left. The silence from those on the Left is steeped in hypocrisy. It reflects the old adage: free speech for me but not for thee…

[To read the full article click the following link—Ed.]                       





Margaret Wente

Globe & Mail, Oct. 27, 2017


The trouble with campus speech codes is that they backfire. That's what happened when Dalhousie University tried to discipline Masuma Khan for making rude remarks on Facebook. Ms. Khan is the black-robed student activist who got pushback after she urged people to boycott Canada Day. "F*** you all," she responded in one post. "Be proud of this country? For what, over 400 years of genocide?" For good riddance, she signed off with the hashtag #whitefragilitycankissmyass."


Never mind for now the remarkable ingratitude Ms. Khan expresses toward the country that took her parents in, and provided her with a first-class education. No one took offence at that. On today's campuses, the sentiments she expressed are common – and, for aspiring activists, practically obligatory. No one blinked until a white, male graduate student decided to test the system. He filed a written complaint alleging that her Facebook post was "blatant discrimination" against white people.


The university should have told them both to go away and grow up. But of course it couldn't do that. Dalhousie has a detailed code of conduct that, among other things, prohibits "unwelcome" actions that might make another person feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed – even if it's just a Facebook post. The vice-provost of student affairs investigated the matter and recommended that Ms. Khan should face a disciplinary hearing and be sentenced to re-education camp. What happened next was perfectly predictable. The very people who had insisted on rigid campus speech codes in the first place – left-wing professors, Indigenous and anti-racism activists and the like – suddenly discovered the importance of free speech. In an open letter, they vigorously condemned the administration, and demanded an environment in which "political speech can flourish." The university capitulated instantly.


These people are, of course, correct. Ms. Khan has every right to trash talk anyone she wants on her Facebook page. She should not, however, be surprised when she is trash-talked back. Nor should we expect these sudden converts to free speech to express the same zeal for protecting the free-expression rights of, say, conservative white male graduate students. For universities, the burden of policing speech creates an impossible dilemma of their own making. The requirement to create "safe" spaces, where people have a right to feel unoffended, undemeaned and undiscomfited, is incompatible with the right to free expression in the public square – for the simple reason that free expression is bound to make people feel cheesed off, threatened and unsafe. That's why it needs protection.


Ironically, universities have done much to institutionalize the idea that speech itself can be dangerous, and that certain speech should not be tolerated. This idea is now depressingly pervasive. In one recent survey of 800 U.S. university undergraduates, 81 per cent said they agreed with the statement: "Words can be a form of violence." Thirty per cent agreed that physical violence "can be justified" to prevent someone from espousing hateful views.


As intolerance spreads on campus, more and more students – and their professors – are insisting that "free speech" includes the right to shut down speech they don't like. At Columbia University, hundreds of students and professors have come to the defence of demonstrators who shouted down an address by the far-right U.K. activist Tommy Robinson last month. They insist that the demonstrators should not be disciplined by the university. By shutting down the speaker, they argue, the protesters "were providing a model of informed political engagement." As two graduate-school journalism students (!) wrote, "defining 'free speech' as a one-handed monologue full of unchallenged smears, however, is a lazy cliché."


These students simply echo the position of professors such as the University of Southern California's Charles H.F. Davis, who argues that students who shout down right-wing speakers are engaged in "resistance against white supremacy." Last week, anti-fascist protesters at a university in California even shut down a panel on – that's right – free speech. Universities should scarcely be surprised that campus conservatives are now using policies devised by leftists to constrain speech they don't like. People who are happy to see the leftie vigilantes get their comeuppance shouldn't be too smug. Those surveys show that students of all stripes – left, right and centre – aren't very tolerant of speech they don't happen to like.


As universities enthusiastically embrace a mission of expanding social justice, the tensions between their role as speech nannies and as a platform for ideas and debate will only grow. I am sorry to say that no university in Canada has yet followed the lead of the University of Chicago, which explicitly advises incoming students that it does not believe in trigger warnings, safe spaces, disinviting speakers, or presumably, in policing students' Facebook posts. The administrative time and energy that could be saved by adopting such a policy would be truly awesome. And imagine what would happen if universities stopped treating students like kindergarteners: They might grow up.






Sally F. Zerker

CIJR, Oct. 26, 2017


Canadian governmental spokespeople have been active lately in apologizing for historical wrongs. Everybody was getting into the act; Trudeau with regard to mistreatment of Indian immigrants, Wynne with respect to exploitation of native peoples, Toronto’s chief of police for a raid on a gay bathhouse long ago. Now, Justin Trudeau is considering an apology for Canada’s turning aside a boatload of Jews seeking asylum in Canada from Nazi persecution in 1939.


Let me say right up front. I don’t want an apology although the Canadian government did me irreparable harm by their rejection of Jewish immigrants during the 1930’s and well into the 1940s. The refusal to allow the entry of the Jewish escapees from Hitler on the ship St. Louis was only one part of a larger discriminatory policy of the Liberal government in power.


What malice was inflicted on me personally by the Canadian government? It was responsible for the early deaths of my aunt, uncle, and their children—my cousins. Of course, the Canadian authorities didn’t directly murder these members of my family, but nevertheless they were responsible. How? My aunt Chaya was my father’s sister, she was married to Alter, and they had five healthy, bright children, who undoubtedly would have been a great asset to Canada.  Chaya and Alter lived in Lodz, Poland. In the 1930’s, they were all set to join their parents and siblings in Canada. By then, my father’s whole extended family, with the exception of Chaya’s, was already settled in Toronto, Canada.


My parents migrated to Canada in 1927, to join both their maternal and paternal parents and siblings. My father’s three brothers and one sister were newcomers to Canada. As you can imagine, these new immigrants were doing everything possible to earn a living. But they were determined to assemble enough money to bring their remaining sibling and her family to Canada. Unfortunately, it took a few years to accumulate the required amount.  By that time, in the thirties, the Canadian policy, with regard to Jews wanting to settle here, was in the hostile hands of Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Frederick Blair, head of immigration, who had the support of the Liberal cabinet and the caucus. They didn’t want any Jews to enter Canada. None! The result was that Canada had the worst record for the entry of Jewish refugees of any nation during the Nazi years.


The application of Chaya’s family to migrate to Canada was made in the normal way, and to my father’s surprise and disappointment, their visas were denied. An expert on immigration was hired to appeal the decision, but that too failed. A reason given for the rejection was that Alter, the husband and father of the family, had a limp, and was therefore liable to have tuberculosis of the limbs, which could threaten other Canadians. I don’t know how they came up with this excuse because it was a complete falsehood.  I know this for certain, because one cousin who survived the holocaust, and who came to Canada after liberation, was able to confirm that this accusation was utter nonsense. Her father was strong and young, was fully competent to work, walk and run, and with healthy legs.


Why then is it that I don’t want an apology for this cruel act? Because an apology can’t right this wrong.  It will not retrieve my relatives for me nor offer me any solace. Instead, it will whitewash a government and a Liberal Party that continued to do nothing to amend the type of antisemitism that was endemic in Canada until the 1970s. It is a shallow, empty, meaningless act for my extended family who lost part of this family for no reason except Jew hatred. It’s not as if Canada would have known any additional cost for my aunt’s family. In those days sponsorship meant total responsibility and upkeep for those committed to the newcomers.


And Canada was the undoubted loser. My father’s family of Friedbergs produced a generation that contributed very well to Canada’s interests. In total my cousins and I have three Ph.Ds in various fields, one Rabbi who led the largest Conservative congregation in Canada, two outstanding medical doctors, one excellent dentist, four who earned different kinds of post-graduate degrees, and were fruitfully employed in their respective areas of expertise, and a couple of cousins who took their talents to the USA, one who was a violinist in a Chicago orchestra. I often am filled with remorse for the loss to the Jewish community and to Canada that might have been had the bigotry and hatred not impaired the creativity and talent from thousands of Jewish refugees who were rejected. If Trudeau is set on making an apology, it is owed to Canada, not from Canada, and it should be in the name of the Liberal Party.


Dr. Sally F. Zerker is Professor Emerita at York University and a CIJR Academic Fellow.

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


The Zionists are Coming! Panic at San Francisco State U.: Cinnamon Stillwell, American Thinker, Oct. 7, 2017 —In the fevered imagination of the academic left, these are dark days at San Francisco State University (SFSU).

New Wave of Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Activity Emerges on US Campuses: United With Israel, Oct. 2, 2017—Jewish college students returning after their summer break are encountering a wave of swastika daubings and anti-Israel activity on campuses across the country—and there are signs the hostility may intensify in the weeks ahead.

Against Faux-Feminists Who Deny the Rights of Muslim Women and Jews: Phyllis Chesler, Tablet, Oct. 2, 2017—I came into my feminist destiny in 1967, both as an academic and as an activist. Our original feminist vision was radical and transformative. We believed in universal human rights.

Massey College Suspends ‘Master’ Title, Apologizes for ‘Completely Inappropriate’ Incident: Simona Chiose, Globe & Mail, Sept. 29, 2017—Massey College, an independent residential college affiliated with the University of Toronto, has temporarily suspended the formal title of "master" to refer to its head, and apologized for an incident earlier this week that deeply offended and hurt members of the school.





The Real Danger: Holocaust Distortion: Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2017— During the past month Holocaust- related issues have received an extraordinary amount of attention from the media.

‘It Wasn’t Us’: The Battle for Memory and History: Robert Rozett, Times of Israel, Apr. 23, 2017— Although Europe, fortunately, has not known full-fledged war since the end of the twentieth century, it is the main scene of a battle going on today.

Sound and Fury: Max Boot, New York Times, Apr. 14, 2017— When I read of the United States forces’ dropping of the second-largest non-nuclear explosive in their arsenal — the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) — in eastern Afghanistan…

Iran, Fighting to the Last Afghan: Michael Rubin, Commentary, Apr. 3, 2017 — During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and Cuba regularly used foreign proxies to fight their battles.


On Topic Links


Israel Marks Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day With Official Opening Ceremony at Yad Vashem (Video): Jerusalem Online, Apr. 23, 2017

Celebrating Life in Krakow: Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017

At Least 140 Dead After Taliban Attack on a Key Afghan Army Base, Officials Say: Sayed Salahuddin & Pamela Constable, Washington Post, Apr. 22, 2017

Is It Time for America and Afghanistan to Part Ways?: Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest, Apr. 23, 2017




Efraim Zuroff                                  

           Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2017


During the past month Holocaust- related issues have received an extraordinary amount of attention from the media. Four examples come to mind. One was the inaccurate comparison by White House spokesperson Sean Spicer between Hitler and Syrian President Bashar Assad in which he forgot that the Nazis had gassed to death millions of Jews. A second was French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s assertion that France was not responsible for the roundup by Vichy police of more than 12,000 Jews in Paris in the summer of 1942.


The third was the patently false claims made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone that Hitler supported Zionism, implying that the Zionist movement actually collaborated with the Third Reich. The fourth was the erroneous claim that documents from the recently- opened archives of the UN war crimes commission were the first proof that the Allies were already aware of the Holocaust in late 1942 and not only after the liberation of German concentration camps.


The good news is that the Holocaust occupies a unique place in Western historical consciousness and that any glaring mistakes by those in prominent positions about its events will be publicized immediately and corrected by responsible historians. The most important question is, however, the reason for such comments, and their implications.


In that respect, we must differentiate between those remarks motivated by ignorance or incompetence, like those of Spicer (who to his credit profusely apologized) or the ones about the ostensible significance of the documents in the UN war crimes archives, and those prompted by antisemitism, such as those of Livingstone, or by a combination of antisemitism and political opportunism, such as those of Le Pen.


Needless to say, whereas the first two are undoubtedly annoying, it is the last two which should be of serious concern, since they reflect the growing danger posed by Holocaust distortion, in which the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their helpers is not denied, but efforts are made to rewrite the narrative of the Shoah for political reasons. Thus while it appears that Holocaust denial has been defeated in the Western world, new lies about aspects of the Shoah are being invented which are even more dangerous, since they cannot be as easily refuted as Holocaust denial.


Nowhere is this phenomenon more acute than in Eastern Europe, the only region where collaboration with the Nazis entailed active participation in mass murder. Thus a primary motivation behind East European efforts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust is to hide, or at least minimize, the crimes of local collaborators. Another objective is to convince the world that Communist crimes were just as bad as those of the Nazis, and that the peoples of Eastern Europe were the victims of genocide.


These goals were formulated in the June 3, 2008 Prague Declaration which calls upon Europe to treat the tragedies of Nazism and Communism as if they were historically equivalent, and calls for measures which if adopted would undermine the justified status of the Shoa as a unique historical event. It is therefore quite surprising that former German president Joachim Gauck was invited this year to participate in the official closing ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. Gauck is one of the politicians who signed the Prague Declaration (before he became president) and to this day has never indicated any change of mind about the equivalency of Nazi and Communist crimes. So if that’s the case in the Jewish state, what can we expect from anyone else?






Robert Rozett                                                                 

Times of Israel, Apr. 23, 2017


Although Europe, fortunately, has not known full-fledged war since the end of the twentieth century, it is the main scene of a battle going on today. It is a battle for memory and about the history of the Holocaust and events of the Second World War. This battle is playing out on several fronts, but with at least one clear common denominator: history is frequently being manipulated and whitewashed for political reasons.


The most recent newsworthy skirmish took place in France, where Marine Le Pen declared that “France was not responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.” This is perhaps the most infamous raid on French Jewry. Early in the morning on July 16, 1942 some 4,500 French policemen started to arrest foreign Jews living in Paris. More than 11,000 were arrested that day, and confined to the Velodrome d’Hiver, known as the Vel’ d’Hiv, a winter cycling stadium in Paris. They were held in atrocious conditions. Within a few days, the number of Jewish incarcerated had grown to 13,000, including about 4,000 children. From the Vélodrome d’Hiver the Jews were sent east to Nazi extermination camps by way of French transit camps. Le Pen presents what has come to be known as “alternative facts,” in other words a totally ungrounded version of events that seeks to whitewash the role of the French in this deportation and subsequent murder of Jews, so as to place all of the onus on the Germans.


Le Pen, of course, is not the first and probably will not be the last public figure to try to relieve her nation of responsibility for its role in the Holocaust and shift it to the shoulders of the Nazis. This is certainly a central theme in the discussion about the Holocaust and Second World War in Poland. The Polish president Andrzej Duda has denied that Poles took part in the murder of their Jewish neighbors in Jedwabne. In this version of events, the murder of the Jews of that town was solely a German enterprise. However there is solid documentary evidence that Poles took part in that murder and others.


Concomitantly, there is a trend to present Poles as a nation of victims and rescuers. Of course Poland suffered greatly under the yoke of the Nazis, but Polish suffering did not translate into solidarity with Jews. The arithmetic gymnastics that are employed to extrapolate from the 6,706 Polish Righteous among the Nations and conclude that at least a million Poles were involved in rescue, are just that, gymnastics. It is true that more Righteous among the Nations have been recognized in Poland than any other country, but that is because Poland had by far the largest Jewish community under Nazi domination, and it is not because Poland was a nation of rescuers.


Reading Barbara Engelking’s recently published monograph “Such a Beautiful Sunny Day, Jews Seeking Refuge in the Polish Countryside 1942-1945” (Yad Vashem 2017) alongside Jan Grabowski’s seminal study “Hunt for the Jews, Betrayal and Murder in German-occupied Poland” (Indiana University 2013) demonstrates unequivocally that many ordinary Poles were deeply complicit in the persecution and murder of their Jewish neighbors, and that those who rescued Jews, first and foremost feared denunciation by fellow Poles, usually their neighbors and even family members.


In Hungary, the Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his associates are also busy revising history. So far nothing has come of the museum they had planned to build to eclipse the excellent Holocaust museum on Pava Utca in Budapest that portrays events and processes in a historically accurate fashion, including that Hungarian institutions played a principal role in the persecution and deportation Hungarian Jews. The new museum’s planned narrative would skirt around such “inconvenient” facts, and focus on the suffering of children, ascribing it to “fate.” No less an expression of Orban’s revisionism is the monument that was erected in Budapest to all the victims of the German occupation of Hungary. Hungary was occupied in March 1944 when it tried to get out of the war. Nevertheless it was precisely during the occupation that the Hungarian government fully cooperated in the deportations of the Jews. The monument obscenely equates general suffering under occupation with the Holocaust.


Especially in the Baltic countries, but not only there, the narrative that equates Stalin’s crimes to Hitler’s has established a firm foothold. Undeniably Stalin perpetrated much evil, but when this is equated to the Holocaust, there is an underlying manipulation at play. The subtext is rooted in the canard that Stalin’s crimes were perpetrated primarily by the Jews, since even if not all communists were Jews, all Jews were supposedly communists. So the culpability of local people in the persecution of their Jewish neighbors is cancelled out by the purported crimes committed by the Jews. In the Baltics, as well as other places that were under Communist control, like the Ukraine, anti-communist patriots are often lauded. Many of them, however, like Stepan Bandera in the Ukraine or Herberts Cukurs in Latvia, also engaged in the murder of Jews, and that part is overlooked.


The ongoing battle for memory does not imply that the Holocaust should be placed on a pedestal and never invoked in conjunction with other issues and events, or probed to derive whatever insights we can about our own condition. On the contrary, sometimes aspects of the Holocaust are very germane to the conversation. But they should be invoked with thoughtfulness and with the best historical integrity that can be mustered, without slipping into a new clash in the battle for memory and history.


Contents                                                                                                                                          SOUND AND FURY                                                                                 

Max Boot                                                                                         

New York Times, Apr. 14, 2017


When I read of the United States forces’ dropping of the second-largest non-nuclear explosive in their arsenal — the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) — in eastern Afghanistan, I am reminded of what John Paul Vann, the legendary Army officer and civilian adviser during the Vietnam War, said about the right way to fight guerrillas: “This is a political war, and it calls for discrimination in killing. The best weapon for killing would be a knife, but I’m afraid we can’t do it that way. The worst is an airplane. The next worse is artillery. Barring a knife, the best is a rifle — you know who you’re killing.” An Israeli general made a similar point to me after the defeat of the second intifada, saying, “Better to fight terror with an M-16 rather than an F-16.”


What they were saying, these veteran counterguerrilla fighters, is that war requires careful calibration in the application of violence, lest excessive firepower kill lots of innocents and drive more recruits into the enemy’s camp. That is precisely the problem that United States forces (and before them, the French) encountered in Vietnam and the Russians encountered in Afghanistan.


There is, to be sure, no evidence of any collateral damage from the use of the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. Preliminary reporting indicates that the bomb may have killed 36 Islamic State militants and collapsed some tunnel networks. These are results to be cheered. And if North Korea or Iran is intimidated by this staggering display of firepower, so much the better.


But while it makes sense to loosen the overly restrictive rules of engagement imposed by the Obama administration, doing so carries risks. A reminder of that came in Syria, where a recent United States airstrike mistakenly killed 18 friendly Syrian fighters. This is not an anomaly; as my Council on Foreign Relations colleague, Micah Zenko, notes, both American airstrikes and civilian casualties have increased since the Trump administration took office.


President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “bomb the shit” out of the Islamic State militants, will not be concerned about this; indeed, he said that the use of the MOAB was a “very, very successful mission,” and he is probably right, in the narrow tactical sense. But for the bigger strategic picture he would be well-advised to read the 2006 United States Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, co-authored by his own secretary of defense, which states: “An operation that kills five insurgents is counterproductive if collateral damage leads to the recruitment of 50 more insurgents.”


Beyond the possibility of collateral damage, there is a larger reason the use of the MOAB in Afghanistan should not be a cause for high-fives and unseemly celebration: It is a sign that the war in Afghanistan is not going well. The kind of war that Vann envisioned — employing small arms — is only possible if the threat is below a certain threshold. When the enemy becomes too powerful, as it did in Vietnam, then it becomes necessary to call in air and artillery strikes. That was not a sign of progress; it was a sign, in fact, that the security situation was spiraling out of control.


The situation in Afghanistan is, needless to say, not nearly as bad as it was in Vietnam during the 1960s. The Taliban are no Vietcong, and they are not supported by regular army units like the People’s Army of Vietnam. But nevertheless the trajectory in Afghanistan has been headed in the wrong direction since President Obama prematurely ended his surge and withdrew most American troops by 2016.


Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the international military force in Afghanistan, noted in early February that the government is in control of only about two-thirds of the population. As the terrorism analyst Peter Bergen points out, this means that the Taliban either “control or contest” “a total of around 10 million people, which is more than the population that ISIS controlled in Syria and Iraq at the height of its power during the summer of 2014.”


The Taliban are bad enough. Just as worrisome is that the Islamic State is also making inroads in eastern Afghanistan. Indeed, the Islamic State is by now so well-established that the Afghan Army was unable to advance into its stronghold in the Achin district of Nangarhar Province. Hence the decision to drop the MOAB. But, as Mr. Bergen says, in 2001 the United States dropped 15,000-pound “Daisy Cutter” bombs on the nearby Tora Bora complex and still failed to kill Osama bin Laden and other senior leaders of Al Qaeda. Such enormous munitions may make a big blast, but they are not guaranteed to wipe out enemy fighters burrowing deep underground. And even if they kill insurgents, they will not kill the insurgency.


Victory in any counterinsurgency requires improving the effectiveness of the government and bringing 24/7 security to the countryside. In the case of Afghanistan, it is simply not possible to achieve those objectives with only 8,500 United States troops assisting the embattled Afghan security forces, which are suffering heavy casualties and losing ground. General Nicholson asked for a “few thousand” more advisers, and if the Trump administration wants to maintain even the existing, tenuous level of security, it will have to, at a minimum, meet his request. Bombs alone, no matter how big, won’t get the job done.                   



IRAN, FIGHTING TO THE LAST AFGHAN                                                                             

Michael Rubin                                                                                                    

Commentary, Apr. 3, 2017


During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and Cuba regularly used foreign proxies to fight their battles. When Radek Sikorski became Poland’s Defense Minister in 2005, he exposed how the Soviet Union’s classified war plans against NATO included using nuclear weapons against West Germany and then sending Polish soldiers to march across the radioactive battlefields. Cuban soldiers meanwhile became proxies for Cold War struggles in Angola and across Latin America. During the Cold War, the Algeria-based Polisario Front forcibly separated Sahwari children from their parents for re-education in Cuba and eventual deployment in service of various liberation movements. Such exploitation of whole countries as mercenary forces was a disgusting practice. It was one that should have ended with the fall of the Cold War.


Increasingly, however, the Islamic Republic of Iran is replicating the former Soviet and Cuban strategies in Syria, where its intervention to support Bashar al-Assad has cost the Islamic Republic several thousand Iranian soldiers and cadets. The Iranian use of Hezbollah in Lebanon should have put permanently to rest any notion that Hezbollah has evolved into a Lebanese national organization. Rather, it remains what it always has been: A proxy for the Islamic Republic of Iran. But Hezbollah is not alone. A couple of years ago, I noted the increasing number of funerals of foreign nationals—especially Afghans—occurring in Iran whom Iranian news sources said had died fighting in Syria.


In recent weeks, however, mention of the Afghans has increased. On March 2, for example, Esmail Ghani, the deputy commander of the Qods Force, praised the entirely Afghan Shi’ite Fatimiyoun Brigade for its sacrifices in both Iraq and Syria. When the Fatimiyoun [Brigade] set foot in Syria, its streets were in America’s hands. Today… [the Fatimiyoun] have slapped America on the mouth. [America] would never have come to the negotiations if it weren’t for [the Fatimiyoun’s] strength on the field,” Ghani said, according to a translation from the American Enterprise Institute’s Iran team. Subsequently, the Fatimiyoun Brigade announced that it had created a dedicated mosque in Mashhad–Iran’s second-largest city–so that it could form its own Basij unit.


The Basij, of course, are a paramilitary and cultural organization which, on the one hand, keeps order in times of crisis but, on the other, recruits and indoctrinates. They fall under the wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iranian leaders have previously said they want to create a 100 million-strong Basij organization spanning national borders and nationalities. It seems this was not mere rhetoric but rather a roadmap to Iran’s future plans.


Throughout its existence, Hezbollah has been a force for instability. As first the Obama administration and now seemingly the Trump administration acquiesce to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power and the Iranian influence that follows him, it is time to recognize that such ‘stability’ comes at a price which makes the world decidedly less stable. While the Obama team, at least, whitewashed Iran’s poor behavior, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have put in place a strategy to radicalize not only Afghans but to use Shi’ite mercenaries from Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere to take ‘export of revolution’ potentially ever farther afield.




On Topic Links


Israel Marks Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day With Official Opening Ceremony at Yad Vashem (Video): Jerusalem Online, Apr. 23, 2017

Celebrating Life in Krakow: Tamara Zieve, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2017—The main square of Krakow’s Jewish quarter was bursting with life Sunday with groups of youth from all over the world on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Groups of young participants in the International March of the Living thronged outside the Remah Synagogue where Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett paid a visit and stopped to talk to high school students.

At Least 140 Dead After Taliban Attack on a Key Afghan Army Base, Officials Say: Sayed Salahuddin & Pamela Constable, Washington Post, Apr. 22, 2017—The nerve center of Afghan and NATO combat activities in northern Afghanistan is a sprawling military base in Balkh province. There, thousands of Afghan National Army troops live and train, regional deployments and attacks are planned, and U.S.-supplied helicopters and fighter planes are launched to support Afghan troops battling the Taliban.

Is It Time for America and Afghanistan to Part Ways?: Daniel R. DePetris, National Interest, Apr. 23, 2017—The war in Afghanistan has been going on for such a long period of time that it’s almost become a ritual for a new administration to take a bottom-up, comprehensive look at America’s war strategy during its first two months on the job.


















What’s Behind the Rash of Anti-Semitic Incidents?: Ian Tuttle, National Review, Feb. 23, 2017— On Monday, for the fourth time since the beginning of the year, bomb threats shut down multiple Jewish Community Centers across the country.

Israel Does Not Cause Anti-Semitism: Alan M. Dershowitz, Algemeiner, Feb. 22, 2017— In a recent letter to the New York Times, the current Earl of Balfour, Roderick Balfour, argued that it is Israel’s fault that there is “growing anti-Semitism around the world.”

Jews Under Assault in Europe: Robbie Travers, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2017— Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has made a bold opening statement of intent: "No Jew should be forced to leave Europe."

Why a New Academic Discipline of Post-Holocaust Studies Should Be Established and What Its Content Should Be: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, JCPA, Feb. 22, 2017— Scholarship about the Holocaust has come a long way…


On Topic Links


The Disturbing History of Vandalizing Jewish Cemeteries: Kayla Epstein, Washington Post, Feb. 21, 2017

What’s Behind Wave of Anti-Semitic Violence in US? Jewish Rabbi Explains One Possible Theory: Jon Street, The Blaze, Feb. 13, 2017

If You Want to Understand Why the Arab World is Such a Disaster you Better Watch This (Video): Israel Video Network, Jan. 31, 2017

Anti-Semitic Incidents in the U.K. Reached All-Time Highs in 2016: Report: Jonathan Zalman, Tablet, Feb. 2, 2017



WHAT’S BEHIND THE RASH OF ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS?                                                              

Ian Tuttle                                

National Review, Feb. 23, 2017         


On Monday, for the fourth time since the beginning of the year, bomb threats shut down multiple Jewish Community Centers across the country. The calls are the latest in a series: Sixty-nine threats have been called into 54 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and a Canadian province since January 1, according to the JCC Association of North America. Meanwhile, also on Monday, vandals toppled nearly 200 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.


Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe for several years. In April 2015, Jeffrey Goldberg penned a long essay for The Atlantic entitled “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” In the final paragraph, he wrote: “I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe, because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly.” But the prospect of rising anti-Semitism in the United States, which does not share Europe’s tragic history, seems different — and perhaps, for that reason, even more troubling.


Taking that increase for granted, commentators have been quick to pin the blame on Donald Trump. After a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, Trump said in prepared remarks: “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” This, according to Vox’s Dara Lind, is not nearly enough. “It was a fairly rote condemnation of an attack on a minority group, the sort of thing that presidents do all the time,” Lind wrote. “But despite his claim that he denounces anti-Semitism ‘whenever I get a chance,’ until this point, Trump simply hasn’t.” Lind points to Trump’s dalliance with the alt-right, his initial refusal to disavow former KKK leader David Duke, and his White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement (which made no mention of Jews) to suggest a pattern of silence that has encouraged anti-Semitic violence.


But the extent of the increase — let alone Donald Trump’s role in it — remains unclear. The most reliable data on hate crimes comes from the FBI, which shows that the number of people victimized for their religion declined dramatically from 2010 to 2014: from 1,552 victims to 1,140 victims, or by 36 percent. The number of victims of anti-Jewish bias declined similarly: from 1,039 to 648 victims, or by 38 percent. The FBI then records an uptick in 2015, to 1,402 total victims and 730 victims of anti-Jewish bias.


The FBI has not released statistics for 2016, without which it is difficult to determine whether we are seeing a trend or a temporary blip, and other indicators further complicate the picture. The Anti-Defamation League, which keeps its own statistics (on “anti-Jewish incidents,” a metric broader than the FBI’s) reported 941 incidents in 2015, a 3 percent increase over 2014. But 2014’s 912 incidents represented a 21 percent increase over 2013. The Gaza war was responsible for much of that surge; the two months of the 2014 military engagement saw 255 separate incidents, compared with 110 during July and August 2013. The sharp spike in anti-Semitic incidents during the Gaza war is noteworthy. It both supports and cuts against the charges being leveled against Trump. The episode reinforces the notion that that short-term news events can occasion violence. But the majority of perpetrators of anti-Semitism during the Gaza war were not the Trump-supporting white supremacists upon whom the recent violence is being blamed.


One final set of data is worth considering. In New York City, 28 anti-Semitic hate crimes were reported by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force between January 1 and February 12, 2017 — more than double the number reported over the same period last year (13). Last year, the city saw a 31 percent increase in hate crimes between January 1 and the beginning of December, including a 115 percent increase in the three weeks following Election Day (43, compared with 20 during the same period the previous year). Mayor Bill de Blasio has not hesitated to blame the president: “You can’t have a candidate for president single out groups of Americans, negatively, and not have some ramifications for that,” de Blasio said in December. “It’s obviously connected to the election.” The number of total hate crimes is likely to hover around 400, which would be the largest total since at least 2008. However, the numbers have fluctuated wildly before this. From 2011 to 2012, hate crimes increased by 54.5 percent (from 242 to 375). Obviously, Donald Trump had nothing to do with this.


The parallel ascent of Donald Trump and vile elements of right-wing politics has, indeed, been alarming. Long before the mainstream media became interested, conservative opponents of Trump found themselves targets of a repulsive fringe. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, released in October, identified 2.6 million tweets “containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech” between August 2015 and July 2016. The top ten most-targeted journalists — among whom were Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, and Bethany Mandel — accounted for 83 percent of those tweets. I have written on multiple occasions about the moral rot of the alt-right, and lamented the way Trump indulged it. That he chose as his closest adviser Steve Bannon, whose Breitbart trafficked in racial divisiveness, is deeply worrying.


However, the hard evidence is not yet in, and responsible commentators would do well to be patient. Regrettably, many on the left have leapt on the news for partisan purposes. Taking a cue from de Blasio and Vox, Keith Ellison, the Minnesota congressman and prospective Democratic National Committee chairman, recently tweeted: “Why has it taken [Donald Trump] so long to even say the word ‘anti-Semitism?’ Perhaps it has something to do with placating his base?” Likewise, some have thrilled to the pronouncement of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect that “the Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.” Its director, Steven Goldstein, called Trump’s statement “pathetic” during a CNN interview on Tuesday evening.


Few have bothered to note that the Anne Frank Center describes itself as “a progressive voice for social justice”; that Goldstein has spent the bulk of his career heading Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s statewide organization promoting same-sex marriage; or that the Center has never played any significant part in Holocaust-remembrance activities in the U.S. Likewise, the denunciations of Keith Ellison — who was a longtime member of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, from which he did not distance himself until he ran for Congress in 2006 — ring hollow, as do those from progressives who cheer Linda Sarsour (an organizer of January’s Women’s March who has championed anti-Israel terrorism) or the grotesqueries of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement…

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





Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2017


In a recent letter to the New York Times, the current Earl of Balfour, Roderick Balfour, argued that it is Israel’s fault that there is “growing anti-Semitism around the world.” Balfour — who is a descendant of Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary who wrote the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago — wrote the following: “the increasing inability of Israel to address [the condition of Palestinians], coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing anti-Semitism around the world.” He argued further that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “owes it to the millions of Jews around the world” who suffer antisemitism, to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.


This well-intentioned but benighted view is particularly ironic, in light of the fact that the Balfour Declaration had, as one of its purposes, to end antisemitism around the world by creating a homeland for the Jewish people. But now the scion of Lord Balfour is arguing that it is Israel that is causing antisemitism. Roderick Balfour’s views are simply wrong, both as a matter of fact and as a matter of morality. Anyone who hates Jews “around the world” because they disagree with the policy of Israel would be ready to hate Jews on the basis of any pretext. Modern-day antisemites, unlike their forbears, need to find excuses for their hatred, and anti-Zionism has become the excuse de jure.


To prove the point, let us consider other countries: Has there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China’s occupation of Tibet? Is there growing hatred of Americans of Turkish background because of Turkey’s unwillingness to end the conflict in Cyprus? Do Europeans of Russian background suffer bigotry because of Russia’s invasion of Crimea?  The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. If Jews are the only group that suffers because of controversial policies by Israel, then the onus lies on the antisemites rather than on the nation-state of the Jewish people.


Moreover, Benjamin Netanyahu’s responsibility is to the safety and security of Israelis. Even if it were true that antisemitism is increasing as the result of Israeli policies, no Israeli policy should ever be decided based on the reaction of bigots around the world. Antisemitism, the oldest of bigotries, will persist as long as it is seen to be justified by apologists like Roderick Balfour. Though Balfour does not explicitly justify antisemitism, the entire thrust of his letter is that Jew-hatred is at least understandable in light of Israel’s policies.


Balfour doesn’t say a word about the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to accept Israel’s repeated offers of statehood. From 1938 through 2008, the Palestinians have been offered and have repeatedly rejected agreements that would have given them statehood. Even today, the Palestinian leadership refuses to accept Netanyahu’s offer to sit down and negotiate a final status agreement without any pre-conditions. Nor does Balfour mention Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorists groups that constantly threaten Israel, along with Iran’s publicly declared determination to destroy the state that Lord Balfour helped to create. It’s all Israel’s fault, according to Balfour, and the resulting increase in antisemitism is Israel’s fault, as well.


Roderick Balfour ends his letter by essentially joining the boycott movement against Israel. He has declared his unwillingness to participate in the Centenary Celebration of the Balfour Declaration, until and unless Israel takes unilateral action to end the conflict. So be it. I am confident that the author of the Balfour Declaration would have willingly participated in this celebration, recognizing that no country in history has ever contributed more to the world – in terms of medical, technological, environmental and other innovations — in so short a period of time (69 years) than has Israel. Nor has any country, faced with comparable threats, ever been more generous in its offers of peace, more committed to the Rule of Law or more protective of civilians who are used as human shields by those who attack its own civilians.


So let the Celebration of the Balfour Declaration go forward without the participation of Roderick Balfour. Let Israel continue to offer a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. And let the Palestinians finally come to the bargaining table, and recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people in the way that the Balfour Declaration intended.





Robbie Travers

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2017


Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has made a bold opening statement of intent: "No Jew should be forced to leave Europe." While this is an admirable position to hold, it sadly could not be farther from the truth. The poison of anti-Semitism festers in Europe once again. Europe is seeing yet again another rise in the number of Jews leaving the continent. Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR), notes that the number of Jews leaving France is "unprecedented."


The results of the study show that 4% of the French and Belgian Jewish populations had emigrated those countries to reside in Israel. The IJPR attributes this demographic transformation to the inflow of migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Is this really surprising? Sadly, when individuals come from nations that have culturally a high dislike of Jews, many of these immigrants might hold anti-Semitic views that eventually get spread.


In France, anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled between 2014 and 2015, from 423 reported incidents to 851. From January to July, anti-Semitic incidents in the UK increased by 11% according to the UK's Common Security Trust. And this prejudice is increasing. With such spikes in Jew-hatred, is it surprising that Jews are leaving Europe? Equally concerning is Europe's blindness to this anti-Semitism.


Recently, a German court decided that the firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal was only the expression of "anti-Israeli sentiment." Really? Why, then, was not the Israeli embassy attacked rather than a synagogue whose worshippers presumably were not Israeli? The worshippers were German. What happened in the German court was pure Nazi-think: the most undisguised anti-Semitism: that Jews supposedly are not Germans. The old wine of pure anti-Semitism is now dressed up in new "politically correct" bottles of criticism of Israel. At heart, however, it is your grandmother's same old Jew-hate, much of it still based on racist tropes. The Jews in that firebombed synagogue were German nationals and may have had absolutely no links to Israel. They do however, have a connection to Judaism.


The German court actually ruled that attacking a place where Jews worship is somehow different from attacking Jews. Your pet slug would not believe that. Meanwhile, another German Court again rejected an action against your friendly neighborhood "sharia police." In Germany, it seems, burning down synagogues is merely "anti-Israeli" even if there are no Israelis there, but "police" who use Islamic sharia law — without legal authority and within a system of law that persecutes women, Christians, Jews and others — are acceptable and legal. And people cannot understand why Jews are leaving Europe?


Even though German authorities evidently struggle to identify anti-Semitism, the Israeli government claims there has been a 50% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany just since 2015. Jew-hatred in Europe is spreading to the workplace and the hubs of supposedly enlightened discourse: universities. At Goldsmith's University, students scrawled on a public feedback board that they wanted "No more David Hirsch, no more Zionism — a bitter Jew." The message and tone here is clear: Jews are not welcome. The suggestion that academics would also not be welcome because of their religion is deeply worrying and should be unacceptable.


Goldsmith's have since condemned the action, but it is telling that someone felt he could comfortably post such anti-Jewish abuse. The anti-Semitism facing Jews at UK universities led the Baroness Deech to declare British University campuses "no-go zones" for Jews. Students at Exeter University wear T-shirts glorifying the Holocaust; the Labour Party Chair at Oxford University commendably resigned over members calling Auschwitz a "cash cow" and mocking the mourners of the Paris terrorist attacks; SOAS University is under investigation for lectures likening Zionism to Nazism and delusionally arguing that it was Zionists who were conspiring to increase anti-Semitism to encourage Jews to leave the UK and go to Israel.


The Israeli government also believes there was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain by 62%. While it is praiseworthy that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has backed and adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism to attempt to deal with the rising hate crime, simply defining and identifying anti-Semitism is only the start. It is also necessary to start tackling the anti-Semitic attitudes of Islamic communities across Europe and the attitudes of immigrants coming to our nations. What needs to be made clear is that you are welcome here as long as you respect Jews, Christians and all others, as well.





  Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

JCPA, Feb. 22, 2017


Scholarship about the Holocaust has come a long way since Gerhard Reitlinger wrote in 1953 The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 and since Raul Hilberg wrote his 1961 seminal book The Destruction of the European Jews. It took several decades after the end of World War II until scholars realized that there was a need for a new multidisciplinary area of study called Holocaust studies or Holocaust research. By now this scholarly field has been consolidated for at least twenty-five years. Previously there had been individual publications on various aspects of the Holocaust in several disciplines. These included history, politics, theology, law, ethics, psychology, literature, and many others. However, for many years the study of the Holocaust was not viewed as a single multidisciplinary area.


Describing and analyzing the Holocaust, a unique genocide, requires many disciplines. A full understanding of how to interpret the events of the Holocaust, however, is obtainable only when these studies are combined into a single field of scholarship. Nowadays, whether standing alone or combined with genocide studies, Holocaust research is a well-established international field of study, most certainly among its practitioners. It has become an academic discipline in itself. There is also a wide range of books and studies in many fields on the impact of the Holocaust on postwar societies. Some of these are considered part of Holocaust studies, others not necessarily. It is my recommendation here that post-Holocaust studies become a new field of research.


There are also very significant individual impacts of the Holocaust in the post-Holocaust era. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a direct result of the Holocaust as is the United Nations Genocide Convention. Admittedly the two areas of Holocaust studies and post-Holocaust studies are linked and somewhat interwoven. Their overlap, however, is far smaller than what separates them. Presenting an overview of post-Holocaust studies is at this stage impossible. The best one can do is offer a synopsis of issues that could be included in the post-Holocaust field. The hope is that such an approach will help initiate the systematic study of the area. Furthermore, due to the huge number of more or less isolated publications in the field of post-Holocaust studies, any article on the overall subject at this stage is likely to be fragmented as well as very incomplete. Nor can it pretend to be a critical analysis. That will require many years of focused research.


One prominent multidisciplinary subject that belongs to post-Holocaust studies concerns survivors and their experience in postwar societies. The wartime history of survivors is part of Holocaust studies. Yet their postwar migration, how survivors were accepted in the societies they returned to or where they lived as immigrants, the way in which they rebuilt their lives, the degree to which they came back from the abyss, their contribution to these societies, the treatment of their traumas, and the description of the organizations that collect their testimonies are all topics whose place is in post-Holocaust studies.


Other topics in this broad category include the study of child survivors. These – and I am one of them – have become the last witnesses of Nazi persecution. Many of the pupils of postwar Jewish schools in countries occupied by the Germans were child survivors. As a result, it is likely that the atmosphere in Jewish schools in the postwar period differed significantly from other schools in those countries – even more so than in the case of Jewish schools before the war. Children who lived in German camps for Displaced Persons had a very different youth from German children. It is somewhat ironic that children in DP camps went to an entirely Jewish school when outside these camps hardly any Jews remained in Germany.


Another related topic concerns organizations that have been established to provide support for second-generation Holocaust survivors. An example is the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees established by French lawyer Serge Klarsfeld. Comparable organizations exist in several other countries. Yet is what Elie Wiesel said about the second generation true – that by listening to witnesses one becomes a witness? And if so, are some memories of child survivors what they lived through or what they heard?…

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


The Disturbing History of Vandalizing Jewish Cemeteries: Kayla Epstein, Washington Post, Feb. 21, 2017—The vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri has caused an uproar after more than 170 headstones were toppled at the historical burial site. There had been several waves of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in recent weeks, but the recent acts against the cemetery have raised serious alarm and garnered the most prominent media attention yet.

What’s Behind Wave of Anti-Semitic Violence in US? Jewish Rabbi Explains One Possible Theory: Jon Street, The Blaze, Feb. 13, 2017—In the last month alone, at least 27 Jewish Community Centers in cities across the country, spanning 17 states, received calls with bomb threats, forcing them to evacuate their facilities and disrupting their day-to-day lives. Then, earlier this week, New York City subway passengers noticed anti-semitic graffiti scrawled onto the walls and doors of at least one train.

If You Want to Understand Why the Arab World is Such a Disaster you Better Watch This (Video): Israel Video Network, Jan. 31, 2017—Why is the Arab world sliding into an even deeper abyss of hatred and corruption? Hatred of Israel by the Arab world is based on a deep-seated mindset of anti-semitism. Bret Stephens points out brilliantly that social and political decline follow massive anti-semitic laws enacted in a country. Even Hitler may very well have won the race to build the bomb had he not exiled or killed all of the Jewish scientists. Anti-Semitism has a boomerang effect on the people who practice it.

Anti-Semitic Incidents in the U.K. Reached All-Time Highs in 2016: Report: Jonathan Zalman, Tablet, Feb. 2, 2017—A troubling and perhaps unsurprising report from a British anti-Semitism watchdog released Thursday shows that 1,309 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 2016, a high since Community Security Trust began recording and compiling these reports, in 1984.




The Chilcot Rorschach Test: Terry Glavin, National Post, July 6, 2016— Former British prime minister Tony Blair is a war criminal who colluded with former U.S. president George W. Bush to wage an illegal war against Iraq…

Crucible of Grief: Barbara Kay, The Walrus, July 3, 2016— I only saw Elie Wiesel in person once. He spoke at McGill University, when I was there doing graduate studies in literature.

Elie Wiesel Address to Yom Hashoah Rally at Durban II, 2009: UNWatch, July 4, 2016 —A story. Somewhere in Europe, during that time, one of the killers addressed his young victim, saying: “You want to live and perhaps you will live.

Fleeing the Czars, Defying Gravity: A Fourth of July Immigrant Tale: Warren Kozak, Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2016— On July 4, 1900, Samuel Hoffman and his father, Moshe, walked across the gangplank of a ferryboat that unceremoniously dumped them, along with a large group of fellow immigrants, at a dock on 14th Street in Manhattan.


On Topic Links


CIJR "Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim Conference" (Toronto, 2015): Prof. Elie Wiesel (Video): CIJR, Nov. 3, 2015

"Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim Conference" (Toronto, 2015): Prof. Emil L. Fackenheim (Video): CIJR, Nov. 3, 2015

After Fleeing the Nazis, a Legacy That Won’t Run Dry: Seth M. Siegel, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2016

Inside the Nazi Camp on Long Island: Gil Troy, Daily Beast, July 2, 2016





Terry Glavin                                                        

National Post, July 6, 2016


Former British prime minister Tony Blair is a war criminal who colluded with former U.S. president George W. Bush to wage an illegal war against Iraq, which was based on the lie that then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was secretly preparing to deploy them, the long-awaited Chilcot report revealed Wednesday. Except it revealed nothing of the kind.


To fans of British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Chilcot report should be read as a kind of Rorschach test — those experiments psychiatrists sometimes use to determine what their patients imagine they are seeing in the shapes of inkblots. If you are virtuous and righteous and of upstanding progressive character, you are expected to see one thing — and one thing only. Blair is an unpardonable villain; a war criminal. Corbyn is a matchless anti-war hero.


There are lies involved in all this, of course, and a whole slough of fabricated pretexts for foreign policies that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Arabs, and indeed the massacres continue, as the Chilcot report notices. But these transgressions can just as easily be laid at the feet of the triumphalist anti-war leaders who are at the moment loudly and hysterically gloating over findings that appear nowhere in any of the report’s 6,275 pages.


There is much in the result of John Chilcot’s seven-year inquiry into the decision-making that led to Britain’s involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that can be cited to excuse headlines that refer to his findings as “scathing” and “damning.” Blair overestimated his ability to influence American decision-making, attached a greater certainty to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein than was justified, committed nowhere near the resources necessary to stabilize a post-Baathist Iraq and didn’t adequately consider the possibility that the intelligence reports about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were faulty.


Fair enough. It is not as though Chilcot’s mandate included any contemplation of the circumstances that would have prevailed had the Iraqi strongman been allowed to remain in power. And Chilcot certainly wasn’t asked to wonder aloud about how much blood is on the hands of Blair’s fiercest political enemies for having succeeded in ensuring that the U.S. and Britain and the rest of the NATO alliance permitted Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to carry out relentless massacres of his own people for six long years.


In the narrower confines of his mandate, Chilcot concluded that Blair failed to fully exhaust “peaceful options for disarmament” before deciding to sign up with the American adventure. “Military action at that time was not a last resort,” states the report. Well, if you say so. But that requires ignoring quite a few subjects Chilcot wasn’t admonished to address himself to, sensationally or otherwise. Not least: the reasonable apprehension among Iraqi Kurds well before 2003 that anti-war sentiment was already weakening the Anglo-American resolve to continue enforcing a no-fly zone in northern Iraq, which was the only thing standing in the way of a revival of Saddam Hussein’s genocidal war against them.


Look away from Chilcot’s inkblot for a moment and you’ll notice the gaping wounds in Kurdistan that remain from what transpired in the 1980s: the 4,500 emptied villages from the days when Baathist forces slaughtered as many as 180,000 Kurds, most notoriously the 7,000 civilians who were suffocated to death by poison gas dropped by Saddam Hussein’s warplanes in 1988. You would need to expunge such things from your memory to wash the stain of guilt out of the triumphant anti-war faction of the British Labour Party for having had its way in the matter of Syria so thoroughly that roughly half a million innocents have been slaughtered, while NATO has stood by and watched since 2010.


This is what anti-war politics looks like to Syrians. Nobody is in the dock for that. The anti-war politicians who have risen to power in Washington, London, Ottawa and Brussels have never had to explain why they were offering the persecuted people of Iraq nothing that was in any way more useful to them than the shoddy, outrageously ill-planned intervention that was on offer from Blair and Bush back in 2003.


This is one of the main reasons the Chilcot report and the lies making the rounds about its contents are such a boon to Corbyn and his supporters. They have been salivating about the report’s release. Now they rail against the “Blairite vermin” they are so successfully driving from positions of influence in the party. It is the perfect distraction from Corbyn’s moral and intellectual vacuity and his catastrophic leadership, which only a few days ago resulted in his loss of a confidence vote among his fellow Labour MPs, 172 to 40.


Corbyn can now be cast by all his friends in the “progressive” press as having been right all along, as if his chairmanship of Britain’s Stop The War Coalition, which he vacated only two years ago to take up Labour’s top post, is something to be proud of, as if any association with that cesspit of Assad supporters and fanciers of Russian President Vladimir Putin is not something a proper socialist would be rightly ashamed about.


While we’re all seeing whatever we want to see in Chilcot’s Rorschach test, our gaze is conveniently averted from Corbyn’s abdication of leadership on every file — sometimes through sheer incompetence and sometimes on purpose — from his milquetoast advocacy of Labour’s “Remain” policy in the recent referendum, to his catastrophic indifference to the anti-Semitism that has been prominent in the party since the Corbynites took over in 2015.


Don’t worry about the thousands of pounds Corbyn has been earning through his gig with Press TV, Iran’s English-language propaganda channel. Let’s keep on telling ourselves comforting lies about how much we care about the deaths of Arab innocents, of Kurdish innocents, of gay Iranian men hanged from cranes. Let’s not even think about the hospitals Putin’s bombers have demolished — after all, we “provoked” him to annex Crimea, didn’t we? — or the millions of refugees pouring out of Syria, the tunnels our “friends” in Hamas (as Corbyn has described them) are digging in preparation for another wave of terror attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, which we will of course hail as heroic resistance. Let’s talk about Tony Blair the war criminal instead.           




CRUCIBLE OF GRIEF                                                                                                       

Barbara Kay                                                                                                       

The Walrus, July 3, 2016


I only saw Elie Wiesel in person once. He spoke at McGill University, when I was there doing graduate studies in literature. As I recall, it was the fall of 1964, but could have been 1965. I don’t remember his exact text, but Wiesel only had one theme, and I am sure he didn’t tell us anything he had not told many other audiences. But it was only partially the desire to hear Wiesel’s message that had filled the hall. It was the messenger we were curious to see, his aura to experience.


I had by coincidence just finished reading a novel by André Scwartz-Bart, The Last of the Just, a bestseller in 1959, following fairly closely on the dramatic overture of Holocaust-themed literature by Wiesel’s Night in 1955. Both books spoke to a burgeoning hunger to comprehend the Holocaust after the prolonged, anorexic silence that had followed it. (Throughout the 1950s, even such famed Jewish New York intellectuals as Norman Podhoretz, Alfred Kazin, Paul Goodman, Irving Howe, Leslie Fiedler, and others did not write, except glancingly, about the Holocaust. It was too dazzling a light; the pupil of their intellectual eyes contracted.)


Wiesel’s memoir grappled with the reality of the pure evil he had witnessed, and his struggle to maintain his faith in humanity. Schwartz-Bart, a Polish Jew whose family had been murdered by the Nazis, chose fiction and an old Jewish legend to channel his bottomless sorrow.


According to this legend—that of the thirty-six lamed vov tzadikkim—there are at all times in the world thirty-six just and righteous men, the best among us, on whose shoulders hope for humanity depends. Schwartz-Bart explained their purpose in his novel, in which he traces a family of lamed-vovs through eight centuries, ending with the death of the last in Auschwitz: “if just one of the were lacking, the sufferings of mankind would poison even the souls of the newborn, and humanity would suffocate with a single cry. For the Lamed-Vov are the hearts of the world multiplied, and into them, as into one receptacle, pour all our griefs.”


One Book-of-the-Month Club judge said of The Last of the Just, it was “the saddest novel I have ever read, almost as sad as history.” Yes, that was my feeling, too, and it set my mood perfectly for an encounter with Elie Wiesel, the man I, and many other Jews, perceived as a Lamed Vov for our era. That was indeed how Wiesel appeared to me: humble, righteous, luminous with memory, a man consumed by sorrow, but quietly, involuntarily afire with his received mission: to teach us to remember without falling into despair, to fully acknowledge the depth of human depravity without losing sight of the goodness, the justice and the love of which we are all capable.


I am not imagining the spreading glow in that room, as though we were dry tinder and every word a tiny spark. I remember where I sat. I remember my heart quickening under the spell of those haunted dark eyes and sweetly propulsive exhortations. It was a defining moment in my life. I had gone through a religious phase that lasted several years in my late adolescence. Although cognitively educated about the Holocaust, I had been numbed by its preposterousness and had not fully internalized it. My eyes were open, but not my heart.


Wiesel forced me to come to terms with how I was going to live as a Jew who had once believed there was a God who loved his people, Israel. My impulse, when the enormity of the Holocaust fully penetrated, had been to abandon God altogether, as He had abandoned His people. I did not take Wiesel’s spiritual fervour to mean a renewed relationship with the God of our ancestors. I took it to mean a renewed faith in the survival of the Jewish people, with or without God’s help, with or without God.  After I encountered Wiesel, I decided that I would also retain my faith in the destiny of the Jewish people, and lend whatever skills I had to supporting Israel’s fight for survival. As for God, I would not exactly abandon Him, but I would no longer be on speaking terms with Him. (This is a concept that my Christian friends find difficult to understand.)


It is a commonplace on these occasions to say things like “we will not see his like again,” when in fact we see “his like” again and again. But this is one occasion for which the platitude is truly apt. There are few living witnesses to the Holocaust left who were old enough to understand what they were seeing. Of them there were only a precious few who had the sensibility and the eloquence to convey what they witnessed in a memorable and consequential way. Wiesel was the last of the great witnesses to the greatest evil in human history. And perhaps the last of the lamed vovniks as well.



ELIE WIESEL ADDRESS TO YOM HASHOAH RALLY AT DURBAN II, 2009                                                 

UNWatch, July 4, 2016


A story. Somewhere in Europe, during that time, one of the killers addressed his young victim, saying: “You want to live and perhaps you will live. But one day, you will regret it. You will speak, but your words will fall on deaf ears. Some will make fun of you. Others will try to redeem themselves through you. You will call it a scandal, cry for revolt, but people will refuse to believe or listen to you. You will curse me for having spared you. You will curse me because you will have knowledge of the truth. You already do. But it is the truth of a madman.”


This story illustrates the fear and anguish of a survivor. How does one bear witness? Where does one find the words to say what we nowadays call the “unspeakable”? Whom must one remember first? The children? The elderly? The sick? Mothers who watched their children die? Older people who moved toward the flames with prayers on their lips? Which of these? Is it necessary to delve deeper and even ask how it was possible?


After all, we are talking about an event of cosmic dimensions. Everything had been programmed since the beginning, the first laws, the decrees, the various measures taken. The psychologists had to invent the means to deceive the victims, the architects to construct the barracks and gas chambers, the intellectuals to justify what had been undertaken, meaning to annihilate a people, the only people from antiquity to have survived antiquity. Just how was it possible for all this to happen in a civilized world, in the heart of Christian Europe, to take families, communities, to condemn them to death and then invent a kind of science: how to annihilate them most quickly? How is it possible that in 1944 the Hungarian Jews, who could have been saved, were not saved?


It began in our town three days after Passover. First, a way to build the ghetto – but we did not know its consequences yet. Eichmann had already arrived in Budapest at the head of a small commando unit of 200 people, which included the cooks, drivers, and secretaries. With 200 people, and the help of the Hungarian army, he had succeeded in deporting 500,000 to 600,000 men, women and children. Thus by Shavuot, seven weeks later, six weeks later, we were already in Auschwitz. In our town there was a woman who worked in our home, an elder illiterate Christian, but she brought honor to Christianity. She came to the ghetto to bring us fruit and other food. On the eve of the evacuations, she had come to our home, I remember, and she begged and cried while telling my father to accompany her to the mountains, where she had a small house, and she was saying: “All of you come with me – I will take care of you!”


And my father said, quoting in front of us all, “Al Tifrosh Min Hatzibur,” we must not be separated from the community, this is a Jewish principle. What happens to all will happen to us. So it happened, there were the train wagons, the clubs beating us. And the journey toward the unknown. You know by now how it was carried out. Upon arrival three days later, the train stops at a station. My father looks out a small opening and reads the station’s name: Auschwitz. And he did not know what it meant, nor did we.


But here in Geneva, it was already known. At the Vatican, it was already known. In Washington, it was already known. In London, it was already known. In Stockholm, it was already known. But we, the victims, we did not know. I tell you that had we known, most of my community would have survived, because the good Christian woman was not alone. There were other Christians in our town who would have accepted to house and thus save families. But we did not know.


Explain to me how this was possible? How is it that no one in the world had sent emissaries? The radio broadcasts, Roosevelt, de Gaulle in France, from London: no warning to us. It was two weeks – not even – ten days before the Normandy landing. Ten days! The war was finished. But we did not know. How is it that the Allies did not bomb the railroad tracks leading to Birkenau? I have known five United States presidents and I posed this question to each in the Oval Office: “Explain to me why the Allies did not bomb the railways – and I’m not talking about the camps, because some said that they did not want to kill the victims, the prisoners – but the railways? During that time, 10,000 people per day vanished in the ovens. Who can explain this to me? I just do not understand.”…

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



FLEEING THE CZARS, DEFYING GRAVITY:                                                     

A FOURTH OF JULY IMMIGRANT TALE                                                                                         

Warren Kozak                                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2016


On July 4, 1900, Samuel Hoffman and his father, Moshe, walked across the gangplank of a ferryboat that unceremoniously dumped them, along with a large group of fellow immigrants, at a dock on 14th Street in Manhattan. Independence Day for these newcomers meant liberation from czarist Russia. New Yorkers were used to seeing confused, freshly arrived immigrants walking through lower Manhattan, but these two stood out. It was a searing-hot summer day and both father and son wore winter overcoats and boots.


“Our clothing and awkward bundles on our backs, as we walked along 14th Street, drew everyone’s attention to us,” Samuel Hoffman wrote at age 83 in an account for his family. “I was 15 years old, bewildered and almost overcome by the alien and unfamiliar scenes that stretched and throbbed all around father and me.” Like most immigrants, they couldn’t speak the language. Coming from a small village in Russia, they had never seen anything even remotely like New York City. They could have arrived from another planet. All they had to guide them was a piece of paper with the address of a distant relative who lived on the Lower East Side.


After generations of extreme poverty and religious persecution, Moshe and his more savvy wife, Yetta, had decided to sell their house and borrow enough money to pay for two tickets to America. The plan was that father and son would then earn enough money in the New World to bring over the rest of the family. Constant hunger was a hallmark of Samuel’s childhood in Russia. His daily diet had consisted of one piece of black bread and a potato dipped in herring sauce for flavor. Occasionally there were onions and radishes and a glass of milk for the children. It had been that way for generations and there was little chance it would ever change.


Breaking with tradition, Yetta chose to send Samuel instead of her eldest son. Although Samuel looked even younger than 15, Yetta believed that he would fare better than his older brother. She knew her son. There was no government assistance for the giant wave of immigrants to America at the turn of the 20th century. Instead, like all the immigrants that had come before, they would fend for themselves. They also helped each other. The distant relative on the Lower East Side took in Samuel and Moshe, even though, with three children and two boarders in only three rooms, that was a challenge. Another distant cousin, with a larger home in Brooklyn, soon took them in until they could afford a room of their own.


After a series of jobs that brought in more money, and going to school at night to learn English, Samuel started his own business. He bought nine sewing machines on credit and hired employees. Many trades were closed to Jews, but the garment industry seemed to belong to them. After two difficult years, during which the 20-year-old businessman worked 20 hours a day and lost money, his business began to improve. He hired more employees, bought more sewing machines and moved to larger and larger spaces. A terrible experience with a sadistic foreman in one of his early jobs had taught him the importance of treating his workers with respect and paying them fairly.


By 1915, merely 15 years after Samuel had arrived, his  S.L. Hoffman manufacturing company occupied a seven-story, block-long building and was the largest producer of inexpensive women’s dresses in America, supplying Gimbels,  Macy’s,  Bloomingdale’s and Marshall Field’s. Samuel Hoffman would eventually serve on the boards of banks and educational institutions. At the end of his long life, Samuel believed that his real success lay not in business but in family. His only son, Burton, became an orthopedic surgeon. His grandsons: two doctors and two professors. This immigrant story might be like any of the millions of others in America—people arriving with nothing and succeeding beyond their dreams—except for one detail.


Samuel’s second-oldest grandson, Jeff Hoffman, to his mother’s distress, chose to study what sounded like a discipline with less-than-sturdy career prospects: astrophysics. But it worked out. Ninety-three years after his grandfather and great-grandfather had arrived in the New World wearing their winter clothes in midsummer, Jeff Hoffman donned another kind of unusual garb, left the space shuttle Endeavor, and floated 400 miles above the Earth in a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Jeff Hoffman’s grandfather, who died in 1976, didn’t live to see his astronaut grandson’s 1993 trip, but chances are that Samuel, amazed by his own flight from a two-room, dirt-floor hut in Russia, wouldn’t have been surprised. Anything seemed possible in America, even sailing across the stars.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


"Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim Conference" (Toronto, 2015): Prof. Elie Wiesel (Video): CIJR, Nov. 3, 2015— Special Video Presentation by Nobel Laureate Professor Elie Wiesel on the occasion of the Conference "The Jewish Thought of Emil L. Fackenheim: Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, Israel", Chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (Toronto, Congregation Beth Tikva, November 3, 2015).    

"Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim Conference" (Toronto, 2015): Prof. Emil L. Fackenheim (Video): CIJR, Nov. 3, 2015— Special Video Presentation by Emil Fackenheim on the occasion of the Conference "The Jewish Thought of Emil L. Fackenheim: Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, Israel", Chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (Toronto, Congregation Beth Tikva, November 3, 2015).    

After Fleeing the Nazis, a Legacy That Won’t Run Dry: Seth M. Siegel, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2016—How does one overcome almost unimaginable horror and trauma? For Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus, the healing came, in part, from the hope that they could help to provide refuge for other Jews who might find themselves at risk.

Inside the Nazi Camp on Long Island: Gil Troy, Daily Beast, July 2, 2016—For 14 million American kids and adults, summertime means camptime. Over these next two months, each of more than 14,000 day camps and sleepaway camps will initiate campers into their own particular, delightfully kooky, universes. The camps create 24/7 cocoons with their own lingo and songs, rituals, and codes, devoted to mastering computers or losing weight, to becoming better Zionists or learning golf, to recreating Native American traditions or designing software.






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




                               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.            



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.




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.






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.]




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.


Holocaust Remembrance Day and UN Chief Ban Ki Moon’s Cowardly Act: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, Jan. 27, 2016 — Embedded in the DNA of the Jewish People there is a special gene; call it "Zachor" — remembrance.

Why Europe's Great Experiment Is Failing: Ian Morris, Stratfor, Jan. 27, 2016— The slow-motion crisis of the European Union finally seems to be coming to a head.

The End of the Multiculturalist Consensus in Europe: Michael Gurfinkel, Daily Caller, Feb. 3, 2016— One wonders why America, a nation of immigrants, can be suddenly so receptive to Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

No More Illusions: Come Home: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2016 — Objectively analyzing recent events can only lead to the dismal conclusion that the status of Diaspora Jewry, bad as it is, is only likely to deteriorate.


On Topic Links


The Broader Framework of Trudeau’s Holocaust Distortion: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Feb. 3, 2016

The Hidden Agenda Behind the UN Chief’s Israel-Bashing: Benny Avni, New York Post, Feb. 3, 2016

Italy's Courage: Jack Rosen, Huffington Post, Feb. 3, 2016

What the Führer Means for Germans Today: The Economist, Dec. 19, 2015






Rabbi Abraham Cooper                                   

                                                      Fox News, Jan. 27, 2016


Embedded in the DNA of the Jewish People there is a special gene; call it "Zachor" — remembrance. From the time Moses first showed up at Pharaoh’s palace, to the moment the few living Jewish skeletons crawled out of the gates of Auschwitz on the day of their liberation by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945, we have always taught our kids and reminded ourselves and anyone else who would listen, that memory holds the key to redemption. Could there possibly be a worse sin than willfully forgetting?


This January 27th we learn that there are sins far worse. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, who, as he has done each year on this day, will preside of the international organization remembrance of 6 million dead Jews. Yet he chose the eve of this hallowed anniversary to bestow a moral and political blank check to Palestinian terrorists who this week alone buried knives into mother of 8, a pregnant woman and a beautiful young woman buying groceries for her grandparents.

According to Ban, the current Intifada by knife, gun, and vehicle “is a reaction to the fear, disparity and lack of trust the Palestinians are experiencing.”  He went on to explain that "Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process," he said, blaming "the occupation" for causing "hatred and extremism." "As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."


Powerful words and imagery: fear, lack of trust, frustration, and humiliation. What a tragedy that Mr. Ban lacked the courage to use this Holocaust Remembrance Day as a teachable moment for Palestinians and other “frustrated” and “humiliated” young Arabs and Muslims. He should have told them, “instead of embracing the culture of death of ISIS, Al Qaeda and Al Shabab, why not read Eli Wiesel’s 'Night,' or Victor Frankel’s 'Man's Search for Meaning'?


Back in 1945, the Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide had seen their world and families destroyed, their lives reduced to a number tattooed on their arms, most malnourished and at death’s door, with little reason to hope. If there ever was a group of people with the moral right to turn to terrorism, it was those Jewish survivors of the Holocaust Kingdom. But they didn’t: They chose life.


Instead of using the heroic and tenacious trek of Holocaust survivors, to find hope amongst the ashes of their loved ones, Mr. Ban instead defaulted to political expediency that doesn’t help a single Palestinians but does succeed in further embedding a dangerous double standard when the victims of terrorism are Jews-especially Israelis. Whatever his motivation, the effect of his words was to tell Palestinians and by extension anyone with a gripe against Israel, that he understood the pain of today’s murderers of Jews.


The Secretary General isn’t alone in failing to internalize basic and applicable lessons of the Holocaust. Across Europe, the continent’s elite will pause for a moment of silence of the victims of the Nazis and then will return to their deafening silence about anti-Semitism in their own countries; where virtually every Jew is a potential target for a hate or Islamist terrorist, where synagogue needs armed guards to protect its Jewish parishioners, where anti-Semitic hate crimes go unpunished in democracies like Sweden; where not a single European leader has publicly demanded that part of the litmus test for Middle Eastern migrants’ acceptance in to European society is offloading their hatred for Jews that sadly is embedded in their native lands. Yes, Wednesday, on International Holocaust Memorial Day, we can see that there is something much worse than forgetfulness: Shedding crocodile tears for dead Jews while doing nothing to defend live Jews.





WHY EUROPE'S GREAT EXPERIMENT IS FAILING                                         

                            Ian Morris

Stratfor, Jan. 27, 2016 


The slow-motion crisis of the European Union finally seems to be coming to a head. "Europe could lose its historical footing and the project could die quickly," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned in a speech at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Things could fall apart within months," which, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble added, "would be a tragedy."


The catalyst for these fears is Britain's upcoming referendum on its EU membership, due by the end of 2017. I am writing this column having just left Congress Hall in Davos after British Prime Minister David Cameron's own speech on "Britain in the World." At least, that was what the speech was supposed to be about; in fact, it might have been better titled "Britain in the European Union (and What I Don't Like About It)." There are, to be sure, bits of Europe that Cameron does like, particularly its potential to create a single market for goods and services, but there is much more of which he disapproves. The core issue, he insisted, is that "if Europe is about ever-deepening political union, with ever-deepening political institutions, then it's not the organization for us."


Pressed on this point in the Q&A session, Cameron accepted that "you [can] never forget that this is a group of countries that used to fight each other and kill each other, and have actually now come together in a common endeavor"; but that coming together, he suggested, was the result less of the movement toward political union than of "some values that we in Britain are very proud of, in terms of committing to democracy and freedom and rights and all the rest of it."


Much ink has been spilled over whether David Cameron's speeches about the European Union represent his own views, those of his party, or a subtle attempt to manage the British nation's political mood. Yet whatever the prime minister's motives, seeing the 70-year process of European integration as part of a much longer history of state formation casts an interesting new light on the arguments Cameron offered at Davos.


When I was a teenager growing up in 1970s Britain, no topic seemed quite as dull as the European Community (as it was called until it rebranded itself as the European Union in 1993). Nothing could get me to turn the TV off quite as quickly as yet another announcement from the bureaucrats in Brussels about what I was allowed to eat or drink and what size container it could come in. But I — and the millions of others who shared my lack of interest in all things European — was very wrong to react this way.


For 5,000 years, since the first states were created in what is now southern Iraq, governments have been using violence to create political unity and then using politics (and, when necessary, more violence) to create economic and cultural unity everywhere that their power reached. From 3000 B.C. through the late 1940s, it is hard to find a single example of a state formed in any other way. Since the late 1940s, though, Western Europeans have been turning history's most successful formula on its head.


The European Union has arguably been the most extraordinary experiment in the history of political institutions, but the reason its accomplishments seemed so boring was that dullness was the bloc's whole point. In committee meeting after committee meeting, unsung bureaucratic heroes spun a web of rules and regulations that bound the Continent's formerly sovereign states into an economic and cultural unit and then began using economics and culture to create a political unit. "The final goal," Helmut Schlesinger, the head of the German Bundesbank, explained in 1994, "is a political one … to reach any type of political unification in Europe, a federation of states, an association of states or even a stronger form of union." In this agenda, "the economic union is [merely] an important vehicle to reach this target."


For the first time in history, huge numbers of people — 500 million so far — have come together to form a bigger society without anyone using force to make them to do so. The consequences have been extraordinary: Between 1914 and 1945, Europeans killed more than 60 million people in two world wars, but by 2015 the European Union had become the safest place on Earth. Its citizens murdered each other less often than any other people on earth, its governments had abolished the death penalty, and it had renounced war within its borders (and almost renounced it outside them, too).


In 2003, opinion pollsters found that only 12 percent of French and German people thought that war was ever justified, as opposed to 55 percent of Americans. "On major strategic and international questions today," U.S. strategist Robert Kagan concluded that same year, "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus." The contrast with the lands beyond the European Union's eastern border, where Russian leaders have not hesitated to assassinate their critics and use force against weaker neighbors, could hardly be starker. Small wonder that the Nobel Committee decided in 2012 to award its Peace Prize to the European Union as a whole…

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






Michael Gurfinkel

Daily Caller, Feb. 3, 2016


One wonders why America, a nation of immigrants, can be suddenly so receptive to Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric. The best answer, so far, is that immigration does not seem to work any more the way it did, at least for certain groups of immigrants.


A similar situation has arisen in Europe. In 2009, the American journalist Christopher Caldwell famously characterized the changes that a massive non-European, non-Judeo-Christian, immigration was forcing over Europe as a “revolution.” We may now be on the brink of a counter-revolution, and that can be as violent and far-reaching as revolution itself. Last year’s massacres in Paris (the attacks on satirical cartoonists and a kosher supermarket’s customers in January 2015, then the November 13 killing spree) were a tipping point : the French – and by extension, most Europeans — realized that unchecked immigration could lead to civil war.


Then there was the Christmas crisis in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean. On December 24, a fire was activated at an immigrant-populated neighborhood in Ajaccio, the capital of Southern Corsica. As soon as the firemen arrived, they were attacked by local youths, Muslims of North African descent. Such ambushes have been part of French life for years. This time, however, the ethnic Corsicans retaliated; for four days, they rampaged through the Muslim neighborhoods, shouting Arabi Fora! (Get the Arabs out, in Corsican). One of Ajaccio’s five mosques was vandalized.


Then, there was the New Year’s crisis in Germany and other Northern European countries. On December 31, one to two thousand male Muslim immigrants and refugees swarmed the Banhofvorplatz in Cologne, a piazza located between the railway Central Station and the city’s iconic medieval cathedral. As it turned out during later in the evening and the night, they intended to “have fun”: to hunt, harass, or molest the “immodest” and presumably “easy” German women and girls who celebrated New Year’s Eve at the restaurants and bars nearby, or to steal their money. 766 complaints were lodged. Similar incidents took place in other German cities, like Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, as well as in Stockholm and Kalmar in Sweden, and Helsinki in Finland.


Here again, the local population reacted forcefully. Support for asylum seekers from the Middle East plummeted – 37 percent of Germans said that their view of them has “worsened,” and 62 percent said that there are “too many of them.” The Far Right demonstrated against immigration in many cities, but liberal-minded citizens were no less categorical. Le Monde, the French liberal newspaper, on January 20 quoted Cologne victims as saying, “Since 1945, we Germans have been scared to be charged with racism. Well, the blackmail is over by now.”


Indeed, postwar Europe, and Germany in particular, had been built upon the rejection of Hitler’s mad regime and everything it stood for. Nationalism, militarism, authoritarianism, and racism were out. Multinationalism, pacifism, hyperdemocracy, and multiculturalism were in. This simple, almost Manichean, logic is collapsing now – under the pressure of hard facts. Or rather the Europeans now understand that it was flawed in many ways from the very beginning, especially when it came to multiculturalism, the alleged antidote to racism.


What Europeans had in mind when they rejected racism in 1945 was essentially antisemitism. Today, the “correct” antiracist attitude would be to welcome non-European immigrants en masse and to allow them to keep their culture and their way of life, even it that would contradict basic European values. Hence last summer’s “migrants frenzy,” when the EU leadership in Brussels and major EU countries, including Angela Merkel’s Germany, decided to take in several millions of Middle East refugees overnight. European public opinion is now awaking to a very different view. And the political class realizes that it must adjust – or be swept away.


The Schengen regime – which allows free travel from one country to the other in most of the EU area – is being quietly suspended; every government in Europe is bringing back borders controls. The French socialist president François Hollande is now intent to strip disloyal immigrants and dual citizens of their French citizenship (a move that precipitated the resignation, on January 27, of his super-left-wing justice minister, Christiane Taubira). He is also hiring new personnel for the police and the army and even considering raising a citizens’ militia. Merkel now says that immigrants or refugees who do not abide by the law will be deported. Even Sweden, currently ruled by one of Europe’s most left-wing cabinets, has been tightening its very liberal laws on immigration and asylum. Most Europeans agree with such steps. And wait for even more drastic measures.    





                 Isi Leibler                                                                 

      Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2016


Objectively analyzing recent events can only lead to the dismal conclusion that the status of Diaspora Jewry, bad as it is, is only likely to deteriorate. The horrific escalation of the global anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli tsunami extends to areas that are not even inhabited by Jews. The United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights organizations, hijacked by Muslim and far-left elements, have been transformed into anti-Israeli hate-fest arenas, employing blood libels against the Jewish state as a surrogate for the Jewish people in a similar manner to anti-Semites throughout the ages. The global community demonizes the only democratic state in the Middle East while downplaying the sea of barbarism that pervades the region.

The epicenter of global anti-Semitism is the Arab world, where hatred of Jews has become endemic among both Sunni and Shi’ite religious extremists. The Palestinians are the most fiercely anti-Jewish Arab sector. After being brainwashed and incited by Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority President Abbas and the Hamas mullahs, their hatred of Jews has evolved into a murderous religious frenzy.


Muslim migrants who settled into enclaves in Europe have imported their hatred and formed unholy alliances with traditional anti-Semites and political leftists – including organizations purportedly promoting human rights – to foment an environment of Jew-hatred reminiscent of the 1930s, immediately prior to the rise of Nazism. The ongoing influx of millions of Muslim refugees will massively reinforce the existing Muslim anti-Semitic elements and permanently alter the demographics of Europe. Unlikely to be reversed, it will enable Islam to become an immensely powerful political force in many West European countries.

The implications for European Jews are horrendous, as the combination of the prevailing virulently anti-Israeli public opinion and extremist Islamic political agitation will, in all likelihood, lead to even more extreme policies toward Israel. Despite lip service to the contrary, anti-Semitism will continue to thrive.


Moreover, there is the constant danger of terrorist acts against Jews by jihadists who entered the country posing as refugees or by second-generation Muslims incubated by extremist European jihadi mullahs. Jews in Europe have been murdered and attacked in the streets and armed guards or military forces are required to protect schools and synagogues. University students face concerted anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hostility, both casual and violent. Jews are warned not to draw attention to themselves and avoid being publicly identified as such.


To top it off, most European governments, even those like the French that have experienced jihadist terrorism, still direct their foreign policy to placate their Arab minorities by haranguing and applying their double standards against Israel. They refuse to recognize that the murder of Israeli civilians is a direct consequence of Palestinian incitement of religious frenzy and continuously condemn Israel for defending itself. They now seek to pressure Israel to create a Palestinian state despite the fact that such a criminal entity would represent an existential threat and merely prepare the ground for a takeover by the Islamic State group.


The absence of any sense of moral compass is highlighted by the despicable groveling of European countries toward the Iranian terrorist regime. The continent that was drenched with the blood of six million Jews during the Holocaust is currently hosting the leaders of a state that repeatedly calls for the elimination of Israel from the map and obscenely engages in Holocaust denial, even stooping to the grisly depths of state-sanctioned cartoon competitions lampooning the Final Solution…


But Jew-hatred is not restricted to Europe. Jews in South Africa face an equally grim situation and anti-Semitic forces in Latin America, encouraged by Muslim migrants and Iranian influence, have also increased dramatically over the past decade. The situation in the United States, Canada and even Australia, while not comparable to Europe, has also taken a massive downturn since US President Barack Obama assumed office. By its constant undermining and pressuring of the Israeli government, the Obama administration has effectively given a green light to the Europeans and others to intensify pressure against Israel.


Fortunately, two factors have inhibited Obama from going much further. The shameful silence of the Jewish leadership cannot detract from the fact that committed Jews at the grass-roots level are still an influential force and remain loyal to Israel. More importantly, American public opinion is overwhelmingly pro-Israel and the powerful and growing movement of evangelical Christians in America (and throughout the world) has now emerged as Israel’s most fervent supporter and ally.


But there are concerns. Bipartisanship, which prevailed over the past few decades, has frayed considerably with the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, accelerated under the Obama administration. More worrying is the hardening of liberal policy against Israel; the toleration and support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in academia; and above all, the intensity of frenzied anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity on campus. BDS in the United States (as in other parts of the world) is intimidating Jewish students, many of whom resist confrontations to avoid social stigma.


Since Justin Trudeau displaced Stephen Harper as prime minister, Canada has rapidly followed the Obama approach to Israel. Canadian Jews were appalled when Trudeau’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day message, like that of many European countries, omitted any mention of Jews.


The Diaspora Jewish situation can therefore be summed up as disastrous in Europe and South Africa and worrisome in North America and Australia. But thanks to the existence of Israel, today most Jews are able to determine their own fate. Now is the time for Diaspora Jews to honestly review their situation and plan for the future. Yes, Israel is currently undergoing a difficult period. Yes, there are threats. But we should bear in mind that the Israel Defense Forces has never been as powerful and is capable, if necessary, of defeating all our adversaries simultaneously.


Above all, here in Israel there is a Jewish army, a Jewish police force and a Jewish community – which is significantly different from a non-Jewish military presence grudgingly provided to protect Jews in the Diaspora. As a former Diaspora Jew, I urge you to review the situation objectively. If you are a European and want your children to be proud Jews, you should seriously weigh leaving now…                           

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

On Topic


The Broader Framework of Trudeau’s Holocaust Distortion: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Feb. 3, 2016—The absence of any mention of Jews in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day has drawn much criticism. The omission of Jews in any commemorative statement on the Holocaust and its victims, even if unintended, serves as a typical example of a much wider phenomenon — the de-Judaization of the Holocaust.

The Hidden Agenda Behind the UN Chief’s Israel-Bashing: Benny Avni, New York Post, Feb. 3, 2016—United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seems intent on using his last year in office to significantly increase UN pressure on Israel. Last week, he told the Security Council that “human nature” can explain the recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens. He raised the ire of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused Ban of giving a “tailwind” to terrorism.

Italy's Courage: Jack Rosen, Huffington Post, Feb. 3, 2016—At a time when European nations are turning their backs on Israel, Italy has held steadfast in support of both the Jewish State and its own Jewish citizens. Polls consistently show Italians with the lowest percentage of anti-Semitic views compared to other Europeans, even as anti-Semitism is making a resurgence throughout the continent.

What the Führer Means for Germans Today: The Economist, Dec. 19, 2015—In Germany, as in the rest of Europe, copyright expires seven decades after the author’s year of death. That applies even when the author is Adolf Hitler and the work is “Mein Kampf”. Since 1945, the state of Bavaria has owned the book’s German-language rights and has refused to allow its republication. German libraries stock old copies, and they can be bought and sold. But from January 1st no permission will be needed to reprint it.












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


Does Israel Stand Alone?: William Kristol, Weekly Standard, Aug. 24, 2015— Let’s for the moment ignore the fact that many other countries, especially those with the most at stake, are in fact privately appalled by the Iran deal. Let’s stipulate that Israel stands publicly alone.

That Anti-Israel Reggae Beat: Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2015 — Rototom Sunsplash is an annual arts-and-music festival going on this week near Valencia, Spain.

The UN Human Rights Council and its Moral Relativism: Manfred Gerstenfeld & Jamie Berk, CIJR, Aug. 20, 2015 — Moral relativism is a key tool used to undermine human values.

In Poland, Searching for Jewish Heritage: Joseph Berger, New York Times, July 30, 2015— When I was growing up, my mother filled me with visions of her hometown, Otwock in Poland, describing it as a kind of Brigadoon without actually using that American word.


On Topic Links


Keep the Sanctions — Stop the Deal! (Petition): Mozuud

Spanish Reggae Festival Re-Invites Matisyahu: Herb Keinon, Sam Sokol & Michelle Malka Grossman, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2015

It’s Official: Thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel Boycott, Anti-Semitism is No More: Howard Jacobson, Independent, May 17, 2015

Condemnation and Condolence by the UN Secretary General — Genuine or Politically Biased?: Amb. Alan Baker, New JCPA, Aug. 6, 2015


DOES ISRAEL STAND ALONE?                                                                                        

William Kristol

Weekly Standard, Aug. 24, 2015


“Because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously supported it. The majority of arms control and nonproliferation experts support it. Over 100 former ambassadors who served under Republican and Democratic presidents support it.” — President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015.


Let’s for the moment ignore the fact that many other countries, especially those with the most at stake, are in fact privately appalled by the Iran deal. Let’s stipulate that Israel stands publicly alone.


So what? If the United Nations Security Council had existed in October 1938, it would have rushed to support the Munich agreement signed with Germany by the P2+1 of the day, Great Britain and France plus Italy. The majority of arms control and foreign policy experts would have supported it. Former ambassadors who had served under Republican and Democratic presidents would have supported it. In fact, while the United States was not a party to the agreement, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it publicly known that he had cabled British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, “Good man.”


Little Czechoslovakia—not invited to be a party to the negotiations and of course not a party to the agreement—stood alone. And as Churchill put it the next week: “All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness. She has suffered in every respect by her association with the Western democracies and with the League of Nations.”


Today, according to President Obama, Israel stands alone. She has suffered from the fecklessness of the Western democracies and the hostility of the United Nations. But all is not over. Israel is not broken and has no intention of receding into the darkness. As Benjamin Netanyahu said in his speech to Congress in March: “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.” So it does. Writing in the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky commented: “President Obama may have mocked the Jewish state for being the only country in the world to oppose the pact of appeasement he’s just inked with Iran. All the greater Israel’s glory, we say.”


But the key point, Lipsky notes, is this: In its opposition to the Iran deal, Israel does not stand alone. America stands with Israel—even if the Obama administration does not. The majority of the U.S. Congress stands against the deal. And so does Army Staff Sergeant (ret.) Robert Bartlett, who was grievously wounded on May 3, 2005, in Baghdad by an improvised explosive device made far more devastating by sophisticated Iranian expertise dedicated to the task of killing and maiming as many American soldiers as possible.


The destruction of Sergeant Bartlett’s Humvee was a feather in the cap of the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Suleimani. A retired American general officer who served in Iraq commented recently that special forces and drone operatives had Suleimani in their sights several times during those years. They were told by their civilian superiors to refrain from killing him. The general deeply regrets that he and his colleagues were constrained by those orders. Now the Iran deal removes international sanctions from Suleimani personally and from his Revolutionary Guard. In an ad aired by the group Veterans Against the Deal, Sergeant Bartlett has spoken out. You can watch the ad at vetsagainstdeal.com. You might consider asking your senators and representatives to do so as well.


On August 12, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the deal with John Kerry, met in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Iran-funded terror group Hezbollah. Zarif told Nasrallah the deal “created a historic opportunity to .  .  . face threats posed by the Zionist entity.” Hezbollah has killed Israelis and Jews. It has killed Muslims and Christians. It has also killed Americans. The group took gleeful credit for the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, which killed 241 Americans who were in Lebanon to serve as peacekeepers at the request of Arab nations and for that matter the U.N. Security Council.


Members of Congress should be proud to stand against a deal that empowers Iran and Hezbollah, that leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place and increases the chances of nuclear proliferation, that funds Iranian terror and increases the chances of regional wars. As Sergeant Bartlett said when he first heard about the deal, “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. The very country that killed so many Americans over in Iraq—I just couldn’t believe it.” Sergeant Bartlett couldn’t believe it. He’s chosen to fight the deal and try to defeat it. He has the support of the American public. No, Israel does not stand alone.





THAT ANTI-ISRAEL REGGAE BEAT                                                                                             

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2015


Rototom Sunsplash is an annual arts-and-music festival going on this week near Valencia, Spain. Showcasing “the cream of reggae’s crop,” Rototom Sunplash according to its organizers also aims to promote a culture of “peace, equality, human rights and social justice.” Unless you’re Jewish, that is.


This year Rototom Sunsplash disinvited Matthew Miller, a Jewish-American reggae star who performs under the name Matisyahu, because he wouldn’t publicly endorse a Palestinian state. The organizers said they cancelled Mr. Miller’s appearance after having “repeatedly sought dialogue in the face of the artist’s unavailability to give a clear statement against war and on the right of the Palestinian people to their own state.”


Mr. Miller was the only participant asked to engage in such political “dialogue.” Micah Shemaiah, Andrae Jay Sutherland and other Jamaican artists weren’t asked to disavow antigay violence in their country. Sudanese journalist and festival presenter Sami al-Hajj, a former Guantanamo detainee, wasn’t required to publicly denounce the Khartoum regime’s human-rights abuses. “It was appalling and offensive,” Mr. Miller wrote of the incident, “that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements.” Even the virulently anti-Israel Spanish press has denounced the move.


Many European cultural and intellectual elites still don’t see the connection between singling out the world’s sole Jewish state for opprobrium and the explosion of anti-Semitic sentiment on the Continent. Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.


[The Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival has apologized and re-invited Matisyahu to perform at this year’s festival. In a Facebook post, the festival’s organizers wrote that it had been a “mistake” to drop the reggae-rapper from the schedule. They blamed the initial decision to drop Matisyahu on a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats” against the festival by the local Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Valencia, Spain—Ed.]




THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL AND ITS MORAL RELATIVISM                                                        

Manfred Gerstenfeld & Jamie Berk                                                                                       

CIJR, Aug. 20, 2015


Moral relativism is a key tool used to undermine human values. This destructive approach may be defined as “moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint – -for instance, that of a culture or a historical period — and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others…. It relies the insistence that we should refrain from passing moral judgments on beliefs and practices characteristic of cultures other than our own.”


Many use moral relativism to accuse Israel of alleged “crimes”. Nations often do so while whitewashing their own behavior which is often similar in nature to their accusations against Israel, or even far worse. They frequently also ignore or justify elements of the huge criminality inherent in large parts of the Muslim world. This may include racial and other discrimination, extreme abuse of women, including honor killings, as well as slavery, incitement and major other violence, including mass murders.


Once one accepts the principle of moral relativism as legitimate, one is on the road to structurally undermining democracy and core human values. The application of double standards is a broader notion than that of moral relativism. The latter has a strong focus on values, which double standards do not necessarily have.


Moral relativists justify immoral practices. Such justifications can lead to extreme implementations of moral relativism, such as equating the values of the Nazis with those of the Allies, indirectly justifying the Holocaust. The centerpiece within international law which was established to counter moral relativism is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted in December 1948. The primary impetus for drafting the UDHR was to provide universal legal norms that did not exist during the horrors of Nazi rule. The UDHR was also intended to prevent a second Holocaust from occurring by declaring extreme abuses of values, such as those perpetrated by the Nazis, globally unacceptable.


An overwhelming majority of the UN member nations voted in favor of adopting the UDHR. Eight nations abstained and none voted against it. The first article of the UDHR proclaims, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This is equal to saying that all individuals are equally responsible for their acts. The UDHR was made into binding international law in 1976 and agreeing to uphold its statutes serves as a prerequisite for nations to enter into the UN.


Despite this the United Nations and its various affiliated agencies provide major examples of moral relativism. This is in particular true as far as UN positions regarding Israel are concerned. UN delegates and agencies often choose to blatantly ignore the values of equality proclaimed by the UDHR in their stance on Israel. One of several UN agencies where one can easily see the regular abuse of moral relativism is the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). In 2006, this body succeeded the UN Commission on Human Rights. The extreme perversion of values taking place in such international bodies, for the most part, often results from the stances taken by various Muslim states, which are then also supported by others. In view of the multitude of examples from the UNHRC which are readily available, an essay is required to do justice to this subject. In this context, however, one recent example may serve to illustrate the issue.


In the summer of 2014, the UNHRC held a debate on the “Occupied Arab Territories.” This session included a heartfelt plea by Rachel Frankel, the mother of Eyal, one of the Israeli boys who was kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists. The session was largely used, however, to blame Israel for “occupying” Palestine. The representatives of other nations that hold, have held, are at war or have warred over disputed territory were in attendance and criticized Israel. Ethiopia declared that Israel was guilty of occupation. Yet after this statement, no UNHRC members mentioned the 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean war, where an estimated 70,000-120,000 civilians and soldiers were killed. This war was started because of Ethiopia’s occupation of the Eritrean Badame region.


Russia also spoke of the “indivisibility” of Palestinian territory, yet it is currently involved in numerous territorial disputes, including with UN member states Japan, Ukraine, and Georgia. Morocco and Algeria, who have both occupied the disputed Western Sahara region for the last forty-five years, gave statements condemning Israel for its occupation of the Palestinian territories.


Although there has been a far larger death count from the territorial disputes and occupations maintained by these nations, Israel’s actions were deemed intolerable according to these moral relativists. During rebuttals, there was no mention of the territorial disputes of these nations who hypocritically attacked Israel, except for an argument between the Moroccan and Algerian representatives over who really had claim to Western Sahara. To these and other UNHRC member nations, Israel is morally corrupt in its mistakenly called “occupation of Palestine,” – which are disputed and not occupied areas — whereas their own illegal occupations of territory can be overlooked for the sake of condemning Israel.


Overall, the sheer volume of resolutions against Israel in the UNHRC is a major indicator of its extreme moral relativism. There have been more UNHRC resolutions against Israel than against all other 191 countries in the world combined. Although the UN charter claims that it advocates for “the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity,” much like the United Nations General Assembly, this Muslim-dominated body does little to stop the worst abuses within the Muslim world. Principles of universality were challenged by the UNHRC in 2008 when the mandate of freedom of expression, one of the tenants of the UDHR, was overturned by the Muslim-dominated Council. Now, anyone who “abuses” this freedom, or “dare say something deemed offensive to Islamic sensitivities” must be reported to the Council.


Many more examples of extreme moral relativism can be brought, not only from the UNHRC, but from other UN agencies such as UNESCO and the UNRWA as well as the United Nations itself…

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





IN POLAND, SEARCHING FOR JEWISH HERITAGE                                                                       

Joseph Berger                                                                                                                               

New York Times, July 30, 2015


When I was growing up, my mother filled me with visions of her hometown, Otwock in Poland, describing it as a kind of Brigadoon without actually using that American word. It seemed like an enchanted spot graced by tall pine trees, lush lilac bushes and bracing air. In an era when anti-Semitic discrimination seemed laced into the national fabric, the Jews of Otwock managed to squeeze much sweetness out of their hardscrabble lives through timeless religious habits and the pleasures of a resort that attracted bourgeois vacationers and Hasidim.


My sister and I recently visited the town for the first time. It was lilac season and the pine trees were still tall, the air as bracing. But we found with palpable certainty that the Jews are all gone — there were 10,000 of them — and only a few traces are left of the touchstones of my mother’s girlhood. All four synagogues, including those where her father was a cantor on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, were destroyed by the Germans. The wooden “villa” where her family had a cramped apartment had been replaced by a retirement home for priests. Even the cemetery where her mother was buried when our mother was only 6 was an overgrown shambles of crooked, broken headstones.


In our father’s hometown, Borynya, across the border in Ukraine, we learned firsthand that we come from poor hill people — Berger means “mountain person” — who subsisted on farming and lumber from Carpathian spruces. We spoke to an 86-year-old woman who remembered when the sprawling village had 300 Jews; she even vaguely recalled the Bergers. But we understood more firmly how painful recounting the past must have been for our father, who lost his parents and six sisters to the Nazis. He not only did not speak about those sisters, he couldn’t even tell us how beautiful the Carpathian countryside was.


Our parents’ hometowns had receded into a dim past. Nevertheless, we, like many others now making this particular kind of roots journey, were enriched by the trip because we discovered a new Poland. Jews, some of them impassioned American expatriates, have planted the seeds of a reviving community in Warsaw and Krakow, and an astonishing corps of Polish gentiles have made it their mission to rediscover a people that had been so entwined with their own. We met a dozen such trailblazers who enlightened us about Jewish remnants and helped us locate cemeteries and repurposed synagogues.


I had seldom thought about actually visiting Poland, but after my mother’s death in 2009 my curiosity seemed aroused and so did that of my sister, Dr. Evelyn Hartman (my wife’s need for a family visit to Australia made the timing ideal). We started our trip in Warsaw, most of which was leveled in the September 1939 blitzkrieg and in the retaliations for 1943 and 1944 uprisings. The Poles have recreated, brick by brick, the picturesque Old Town, where we had lunch with Maria Bukowska, a Polish Mary Poppins who cared with such tenderness for my Alzheimer’s-ridden mother. At the elegant Literatka Cafe I confirmed that what I thought was Jewish food — an earthy mushroom soup and meat-filled ears of dough that I call kreplach and Poles call pirogi — is actually Polish food.


My mother, Rachel Golant Berger, lived in Warsaw from age 14, when her father sent her there to help put food on the table, until she was 20, when the Germans invaded in September 1939. In a memoir she hand-wrote in old age, she described the pleasures of shopping for shoes on chic Marszalkowska Street, attending Yiddish plays at the 2,000-seat Nowosci Theater, catching American movies, and savoring the cerebral hubbub at clubs for writers, socialists and Zionists. Marszalkowska Street has been rebuilt and is still a modish boulevard. But the clubs and theaters were destroyed.


When the bombing began, my mother’s half-brother Simcha advised her to avoid basement shelters — they might collapse — and dodge with him through the city’s parks. My sister and I visited the two parks she named, Krasinski and Saxon Gardens, both throwbacks to a stately Warsaw past. Lilacs were in bloom, ducks paddled in a pond, lovers kissed on benches. It was hard to imagine the human corpses and horse carcasses my mother saw.


We looked for the market at Zelaznej Bramy (the Iron Gate), where her brother stumbled across an abandoned sack of prunes that fed them during the monthlong bombing. The market has been shifted, but it was bustling with stalls of fresh strawberries, sausages and flowers, a far cry from wartime and Communist-era austerity. At the shelling’s tail end, my mother retreated to an aunt’s home at 26 Franciszkanska, closer to the Vistula River, on her brother’s theory that they would be nearer a source of water they could drink. My mother described the building’s terrified tenants huddled in a courtyard.


My sister and I saw a pleasant street where all the prewar buildings had been replaced by ascetic apartment blocks. There was no Number 26. What was left of the addresses we searched for was a four-story plain gray building at 16 Krasinaskiego where my parents and I, their infant son, lived in 1946 after returning to Poland from their wartime refuge in the Soviet Union. They stayed a few months, fleeing when news broke of the Kielce pogrom that left 42 Jews dead and making their way to the Allied displaced persons camps. Like tens of thousands of other Jews, they gave up on Poland.


So my mother’s Warsaw is no longer there, but we took time to enjoy contemporary Warsaw, which is a cosmopolitan city that can rival other European capitals in charm, intriguing shops and fine restaurants like Dawne Smaki on Nowe Swiat, where we ate pierogi while a woman played Chopin. As important to us, it is a city that has made an effort to underscore its tragic Jewish past and rebuild. A New Yorker, Michael J. Schudrich, 60, is officially Poland’s chief rabbi and has reignited Sabbath services at the Nozyk Synagogue, a surviving classic, with financing by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.


Helise Lieberman, another New Yorker, started a Jewish school 20 years ago with financing from the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. It has 240 students, half of them non-Jewish. A modest community center has been set up by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Ms. Lieberman, now director of Taube’s Warsaw office, pointed out bricks inlaid in sidewalks demarcating the Warsaw Ghetto’s wall and a monument to the Umschlagplatz (German for collection point), the square from which 300,000 Jews were shipped by freight cars to Treblinka. With muffled sorrow, we read the Yiddish names on an otherwise blank wall.


The new Polin Museum, too, with its inventively illuminating survey of the thousand-year history of Poland’s Jews, seems a monument of atonement. As we entered, Jewish students from several countries stood outside singing “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem…

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!





On Topic


Keep the Sanctions — Stop the Deal! (Petition): Mozudd—Obama’s deal with Iran is an unforgiveable betrayal of America’s interests and Israel’s interests.  What has gone largely unsaid, however, it is also an unforgiveable betrayal of the interests of the Iranian people. 

Spanish Reggae Festival Re-Invites Matisyahu: Herb Keinon, Sam Sokol & Michelle Malka Grossman, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2015 —The Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival in Spain wants Matisyahu after all. Apparently it hopes that by apologizing and re-inviting the Jewish-American singer to the show, “every little thing gonna be alright,” in the words of reggae icon Bob Marley.

It’s Official: Thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel Boycott, Anti-Semitism is No More: Howard Jacobson, Independent, May 17, 2015—Gather round, everybody. I bear important news. Anti-Semitism no longer exists! Ring out, ye bells, the longest hatred has ceased to be. It’s kaput, kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. It’s a stiff, ladies and gentlemen. An EX-PREJUDICE!

Condemnation and Condolence by the UN Secretary General — Genuine or Politically Biased?: Amb. Alan Baker, New JCPA, Aug. 6, 2015 —The recent tragic act of terrorism and hatred that caused the murder of a Palestinian child Ali Dawabsha in the West Bank and the serious wounding of the child’s family, cannot, and should not, in any way be minimized.






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


Netanyahu Emulates Churchill in Trying to Influence US Policy to Protect His People: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2015— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting properly in lobbying against the Iran deal.

Germans Are Using Holocaust Street Memorials to Bash Israel: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015 — There is an increasing tendency among Germans devoted to commemorating the Holocaust to turn Jewish victims into a whipping boy to criticize Israelis and advance the Palestinian cause.

A Look Back at the Brave Stories of Jewish Canadian Second World War Veterans: Breaking Israel News, Aug. 11, 2015 — For soldiers in Canada’s army in the Second World War, Sundays meant church parades.

The Expulsion of Baghdad’s Jews and the Unraveling of the Middle East: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2015— A few hours in the Shorja open market in Baghdad can teach you a lot – about the Middle East’s past, its present and its apparent future. What’s to be found there is informative. What is absent – equally so.


On Topic Links


The Agreement: Dry Bones Blog, July 16, 2015

The Forward's Dispatch From Iran: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Aug. 12, 2015

Africa’s Scramble for Europe: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2015

From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 12, 2015

Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran's Beleaguered Jewish Community: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Frontpage, Sept. 2, 2013



NETANYAHU EMULATES CHURCHILL IN TRYING TO                                    

INFLUENCE US POLICY TO PROTECT HIS PEOPLE                                                                              

Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 12, 2015


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acting properly in lobbying against the Iran deal. And President Obama is acting improperly in accusing him of interfering in American foreign policy and suggesting that no other foreign leader has ever tried to do so: "I do not recall a similar example."


President Obama is as wrong about American history as he is about policy. Many foreign leaders have tried to influence US foreign policy when their national interests are involved. Lafayette tried to get the United States involved in the French Revolution, as the early colonists sought support from France in their own revolution. Winston Churchill appeared in front of Congress and lobbied heavily to have America change its isolationist policy during the run up to the Second World War. Nor can President Obama claim ignorance about recent events, when he himself sent David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, to lobby Congress in favor of the Iran deal. Recently, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, lobbied us with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


Prime Minister Netanyahu's nation has a far greater stake in the Iran deal than most of the countries that negotiated it. But Israel was excluded from the negotiations. Any leader of Israel would and should try to exercise whatever influence he might have in the ongoing debate over the deal. There can be no question that Israel is the primary intended target of Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal. Recall that Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, has described Israel as a one-bomb state that could be destroyed instantaneously, and that even if Israel retaliated, it would not destroy Iran or Islam. No similar threats have been made against Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia or China. Although the United States is still regarded by Iran as the "Great Satan", the U.S. has less to fear from an Iranian nuclear arsenal than does Israel.


Does President Obama really believe that Israeli leaders are required to remain silent and simply accept the consequences of a deal that puts its population at risk? As Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said, Israel is not Czechoslovakia. In 1938, Czechoslovakia too was excluded from the negotiations that led to its dismemberment, but it had no ability to influence the policies of the negotiating nations. Nor did it have the ability to defend itself militarily, as Israel does. The United States would surely not accept a deal negotiated by other nations that put its citizens at risk. No American leader would remain silent in the face of such a deal. Israel has every right to express its concern about a deal that has crossed not only its own red lines, but the red lines originally proposed by President Obama.


President Obama's attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu, for doing exactly what he would be doing if the shoe were on the other foot, has encouraged Israel-bashers to accuse opponents of the deal of dual loyalty. Nothing could be further from the truth. I and the deal's other opponents are as loyal to our country as is President Obama and the supporters of the deal. I am a liberal Democrat who opposed the invasion of Iraq and who twice supported President Obama when he ran for president. Many of the deal's strongest opponents also cannot be accused of being warmongers, because we believe that the deal actually increases the likelihood of war.


The President should stop attacking both the domestic and international critics of the deal and engage us on the merits. That is why I have issued a challenge to the Obama Administration to debate its critics on national television. This is a wonderful occasion for Lincoln-Douglas type debates over this important foreign policy issue. At this point in time, the majority of Americans are against the deal, as are the majority of both Houses of Congress. The President has the burden of changing the public's mind. This is, after all, a democracy. And the President should not be empowered to impose his will on the American public based on one-third plus one of one house of Congress, when a majority of Americans have expressed opposition. So let the name-calling stop and let the debates begin.






Benjamin Weinthal                                                                                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 11, 2015


There is an increasing tendency among Germans devoted to commemorating the Holocaust to turn Jewish victims into a whipping boy to criticize Israelis and advance the Palestinian cause. The ongoing debate in Munich over whether the Bavarian capital should allow “Stolpersteine” (brass plaques which name the Holocaust victims) to be embedded into sidewalks and street is a salient example of this. In late July, the Munich city council voted to ban the so-called “stumbling block” memorials. Charlotte Knobloch, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and current head of the Munich Jewish community, has long opposed the Stolpersteine and has called it an insult to the victims. Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, said it is “intolerable” for passers-by to step on the names of Jews that were murdered in the tragedy.


There are six “stumbling blocks” outside the residence of this reporter in Berlin. One of them reads: “Hans Simson. Date of birth: 1913. Deported on 28.6. 1943. Murdered in Auschwitz.” The left-wing weekly Jungle World, widely considered to a be a pro-Israel weekly, reported in a commentary by Dora Streibl that a co-founder of the “stumbling blocks” memorial in the city of Kassel, Ulrich Restat, declared at an anti-Semitic demonstration in 2014 that “death is a master today from Israel” and that he wished that there would be “stumbling blocks” for the murdered Palestinians. The commentary also noted the anti-Zionist sentiments of the co-founders of the Munich “Stolpersteine” initiative.


Retast’s reference was an allusion to the famous Holocaust poem from the Jewish poet Paul Celan, a German-speaking Holocaust survivor, who wrote about the Hitler movement: “Death is a master from Germany” In her commentary, Streibl criticized Restat and others who use the Stolpersteine as a form of alleviating their pathological guilt about the crimes of the Holocaust by turning modern day Jews into perpetrators. She added that: “the Stolpersteine appear as a comfortable, discreet form of remembrance: One did something.”


Others have argued that German Holocaust memorials, including the main memorial in Berlin’s central government district, are not about preserving the memory of Jewish victims, but rather about making Germans feel good. Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s statement in 1998 captures the emptiness of this ritualization process. He said that the Holocaust memorial should be a place “where people like to go.” Like other Holocaust memorials, the Stolpersteine project also functions, one can argue, as a kind of phony resistance to Germany’s Nazi past. The German writer Johannes Gross depicted Germany’s relationship to its Nazi history accurately when he wrote that “The resistance to Hitler and his kind is getting stronger the more the Third Reich recedes into the past.”


There are no memorials in Germany for Palestinian, Hezbollah, and Iranian lethal anti-Semitism committed against Jews and Israelis. When an attempt was made years ago to show Israeli victims in train stations there was an uproar and the plan was quashed. The German artist who started the “Stolpersteine” project is Gunter Demnig. According to Reuters, ”there are 45,000 Stolpersteine in Germany and 16 other European countries. Berlin alone has 5,500 of them.” The preoccupation with memorializing dead European Jews in Germany has taken bizarre new directions. A fitting update to the famous sarcastic line from Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex could be that “The Germans will never forgive the Israelis for Auschwitz.”           




A LOOK BACK AT THE BRAVE STORIES OF JEWISH                                         

CANADIAN SECOND WORLD WAR VETERANS                                                                   

Breaking Israel News, Aug. 11, 2015


For soldiers in Canada’s army in the Second World War, Sundays meant church parades. Catholics assembled on one side, Protestants on the other and everyone else, mainly Jews, stayed in the middle. The Christians went to their respective churches and the Jews were free for a few hours. One Jewish soldier recalls standing alone in the middle with another five of his compatriots. The next week, though, he says, almost everyone decided to be “Jewish.”


But being Jewish in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War was nothing at all like standing on the sideline and watching. These proud men and women served with the greatest of honor, determination, and pride. They served on land, in sea, and in the air to protect their nation and their country.


On May 9, 2015, 70 years have passed since Europe’s liberation. These veterans, most of whom are no longer alive, are on the verge of being all but forgotten. A rare memorial in a downtown city and a cenotaph that stands tall in a Jewish cemetery will be little cared about when all the veterans have passed on, the memories of the war are forgotten and the lessons of the war are no longer taught. It is up to us to help them make an impression on the history books…


Citizens of Canada, with the memories of the Great War fresh in their minds, knew that the principles of democracy and justice demanded their service. Out of a population of more than 11 million Canadians during the war, about 1.1 million Canadians served in the forces. Canadians were in almost every major theater of war, making a huge contribution to the invasion of Italy, and liberating the Netherlands.


Jewish Canadians did more than their part to help. Despite clear manifestations of anti-Semitism at the time, the Jewish community rallied to the cause. From a population of just more than 167,000 Jews in Canada, close to 17,000 of them – men and women – served in the armed forces. Another 2,000-3,000 are estimated to have served without listing their religion for fear of capture by the Nazis. In total, 196 soldiers were decorated and 420 were killed during the war, as well as many others who later died from their wounds, both physically and mentally. Canadian Jews served as one of the highest per capita contributions of any ethnic or religious group in Canada in the war.


Prior to the Second World War, Canada was not the loving, tolerant country that it is today. Just months after Hitler’s rise to power, Canada experienced a taste of anti-Semitism at the Christie Pits riot. But these Canadian Jews didn’t lie down and accept their beating. They fought back. A virtue that they kept all throughout the decade and into the war, with many even making great contributions in Israel’s War of Independence.


Jews in the army quickly became one with the other soldiers in their regiments despite the anti-Semitism in the air. But for others, it usually took one incident to set the record straight. Simon Goldenthal, who served with fellow members of the faith Ben Dunkelman and Barney Danson in the Queen’s Own Rifles reigment, remembered in the beginning of his service being called derogatory names. but that didn’t last too long. “One day I was cleaning my rifle and I put a bullet right next to his head. That put a stop to it.”


When soldiers, Jews and Gentiles alike, though, were fighting for their lives, religion never got in the way. Harry Smith, an armorer posted at an RCAF station in Bagotville, Quebec, recalled that his fellow soldiers were like brothers to him even in the safety of Canada. And just like a family, the air force had unwritten rules in addition to its written ones.


“There was a rule in the air force: never talk religion or politics because you’d end up having an argument.”

Smith came from small-town Welland, Ontario. He carpooled with non-Jews, went to camp with them and his mother never turned down a hungry soul that needed a little bit to eat even during the Depression. But the reason Smith got along so well with everybody was about more than just his character. These were a determined bunch of soldiers concentrating on just one thing. “The truth was everybody was out to win the war.”


While Smith fought from the home front, other Canadian Jews fought in the key battles of the war. These veterans know it is because of their efforts that democracy was saved,but those proud moments weren’t always at the forefront of their war memories. The physical pain, the soldiers said, was easy to bear. The psychological scars were the most painful. Al Rosen, another member of the famed Queen’s Own Rifles, dealt with both. Rosen began his military career in Canada. He had a job to guard the hydro towers at Niagara Falls from German planes. He recalled marching along the Niagara River but said “the only thing we would end up with was a stiff neck.”


Overseas in the Netherlands, he and his unit stumbled upon a Dutch farmer near the end of the war. She was so glad to see that these men were not Russians that she gave them fresh milk and eggs, considered a delicacy after all the powdered food the soldiers ate. That same day, just four days before the war ended, however, suddenly turned from great to horrible.


Rosen and his buddies were caught in the middle of a shelling. He was lucky enough to escape death that day, although the chunks of shrapnel in his body were painful enough. What hurt Rosen even more was seeing his friend, crouching right next to him, be decapitated. Rosen never forgot that day. It was always his worst nightmare and he was constantly reminded of the small bits of shrapnel inside him every time he went through an x-ray machine at an airport….

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





THE EXPULSION OF BAGHDAD’S JEWS                                                    

AND THE UNRAVELING OF THE MIDDLE EAST                                                                                      

Jonathan Spyer                                                                                                                            

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2, 2015


A few hours in the Shorja open market in Baghdad can teach you a lot – about the Middle East’s past, its present and its apparent future. What’s to be found there is informative. What is absent – equally so. My fixer Yusuf hadn’t wanted to take me to Shorja. I was in Baghdad for a reporting project on the Shi’ite militias. Between heading for Anbar with Kata’ib Hezbollah and up to Baiji with the Badr Corps, we had a few hours of down time in Baghdad, so I suggested we make for the market area that had once formed the hub of the city’s Jewish community.


I am no expert on the Jews of Iraq. But a friend’s Iraqi father back in Jerusalem, upon hearing that I was heading for Baghdad had mentioned the Taht el Takia neighborhood in the heart of the market where he had grown up, and asked me to take some pictures if I had the chance. “Old Baghdad isn’t really safe anymore. We won’t be able to walk around,” Yusuf told me as we debated the issue. “After the Jews were kicked out in the ’50s, a load of poor Shi’ite moved in and they have been running it ever since.”


I tried to ascertain what exactly the danger was. But, like much else in Baghdad, it wasn’t clear – just a general sense of foreboding, and maybe justified paranoia, of a kind that seemed pervasive in the city. Baghdad carried with it a tense and febrile atmosphere. Roadblocks everywhere. Muscular, armed men and light armored vehicles outside the hotels. Logos and pictures of armed Shi’ite irregulars on every street corner. These latter were the forces defending the city against the Sunni fighters of the Islamic State.


ISIS was just 60 km away, its black clad fighters waiting behind their positions amid the dust and the summer heat and the collapsed buildings. So I understood Yusuf’s reluctance. His driver, an older man and recent refugee from Anbar, was tired, too, and clearly had no special desire to head out into the 40 degree heat of the afternoon – still less, if the destination was a poverty-stricken Shi’ite section of the city. All the same, I was paying them and didn’t feel like spending the whole afternoon sitting around drinking tea and smoking, so I persisted and finally Yusuf agreed. Taht el Takia? Well, we’ll go there and see what’s there. But if I say it isn’t safe, we don’t even get out of the car.”


We set off back into the heat of the afternoon and began the drive to Old Baghdad. After a while, we reached al-Rasheed Street and began the search for the neighborhood. The market and area surrounding it were ramshackle and neglected, looking like they’d last been renovated sometime in the 1970s. Yusuf began to ask passersby about Taht el Takia. Everyone seemed to have heard of it, but no one quite knew where it was. “The problem is,” Yusuf said, “that most of the people here belong to families that came in from the countryside when Baghdad expanded in the 1960s, so they don’t really know all the names of these old neighborhoods.”


Finally, from al-Rasheed Street, we reached a warren of small alleyways and Yusuf declared that this, as far as he could ascertain, was Taht el Takia. The market had closed for the day; it was late afternoon and I made to enter the alley. This had once been the vibrant heart of Baghdad’s Jewish community, though not the slightest memory or indication of that was to be found. We wandered the deserted alleyways filled with garbage from the market. After a few minutes, a plump security man wearing a tatty army uniform with a maroon airborne-style beret on the back of his head, appeared and began to shout and gesticulate in guttural Baghdadi Arabic. “No pictures,” Yusuf told me.


Having established his authority with this arbitrary order, the guard became friendly and inquisitive. I told him I had come to look at the area for the father of a friend of mine who had left in 1951 and hadn’t seen it since. “Oh, a Jew, yes?” he said. I decided to answer in the affirmative, feeling vaguely that to have denied this would have been a sort of betrayal. “From Israel?” the guard persisted. This was going too far, and I replied vaguely that I had arrived from England.


The guard was amused by this, and with a show of magnanimity said we could photograph the adjacent mosque and the outside areas, but that he didn’t recommend going too far into the warren of alleyways, since it was getting dark. “Anyone could see that you’re a foreigner and just produce a weapon and say, ‘come with us,’” he suggested, grinning broadly. “I don’t even go in there myself after dark.” He brought us some bottled water as a goodwill gesture. “By the way,” he said as we parted, “ask your friend’s dad if he can get me asylum in Israel.”


There has been a market at Shorja since the Abbasid period in the 8th century. But for some time in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Jews dominated trade in the area. It was the hub of a flourishing community. In 1951-1952, the long story of Iraqi Jewry came to an end with the Arab nationalist agitation; the commencement of anti-Jewish laws from the mid-1930s; growing violence; the Farhud massacres in 1941; and the subsequent persecution and expulsions. Almost the entire community was airlifted or smuggled out of the country from 1949 to 1951; Operation Ezra and Nehemiah brought around 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel from May 1951 and early 1952.


Some 60 years on, in Baghdad the Jews are a ghostly memory. The poor Shi’ites who moved into their vacated houses and the mass of the population that came later are neither moved by nor curious about their buried stories. There are, it is said, seven Jews remaining in the city. The old synagogues are long since demolished or boarded up. The mezuzas long prised from the doorways. The Laura Kadoorie Alliance Girls’ School, the Jewish Institute for the Blind, the shops of Yehezkel Abu al-Anba and Fattal are all gone.


As it turns out, the expulsion of Baghdad’s Jews was a portent of what was to come. The Jews were the first minority to be ripped from the fabric of Iraqi society. For a long, subsequent period, stagnation followed and dictatorships of unfathomable brutality imposed their will on the country. These ensured the dominance of the Sunni Arab minority, while other communities lived an uneasy, truncated existence, visited by intermittent catastrophe. That period ended in 2003 with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Today, in Iraq, similar forces of tribalism and sectarian hatred to those that ended Baghdad Jewry’s long and illustrious history are tearing the whole country to pieces. Nowadays, these forces no longer seek to cloak and disguise themselves in finery borrowed from the West. There are no claims to secularism, socialism or whatever. They come as they are ‒ sectarian, religious and set on revenge…

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





On Topic


The Agreement: Dry Bones Blog, July 16, 2015

The Forward's Dispatch From Iran: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Aug. 12, 2015The Forward just published the very first dispatch from Iran in a Jewish newspaper that was tolerated by the Iranian government since the revolution in 1979.

Humanitarian Tragedy: Iran's Beleaguered Jewish Community: Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Frontpage, Sept. 2, 2013 —One of the crucial humanitarian tragedies- that the world and the mainstream media has failed to focus on- is the fate and current living situation of Jewish communities in the Muslim-dominated countries, particularly the Shiite-Islamist country of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

From Kaifeng to the Kotel: Chinese Jews in Jerusalem: Michael Freund, Breaking Israel News, Aug. 12, 2015—What made Li, Fan and Xue’s journey so unique was the history they were making, as they became the first group of Chinese Jews to join Israeli army since the modern rebirth of the Jewish state.

Africa’s Scramble for Europe: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Aug. 8, 2015 —This summer, a striking, often tragic story has been playing itself out on the outskirts of Calais in France, at the entrance to the tunnel that connects the European mainland to Great Britain.






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 




No Peace Any Time Soon, But Not Because of Bibi: Charles Krauthammer, National Review, Mar. 19, 2015 — Of all the idiocies uttered in reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunning election victory, none is more ubiquitous than the idea that peace prospects are now dead because Netanyahu has declared that there will be no Palestinian state while he is Israel’s prime minister. Israel's Ballot Box Is a Melting Pot:  Daniel Gordis, Bloomberg, Mar. 17, 2015— My plane landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport just a few hours ago.

Canada's Ambassador to Israel: Rabbi Shraga Simmons, Aish, Mar. 15, 2015 — After 25 years of practicing law and raising two daughters, Vivian Bercovici (pronounced Berkovich) was living comfortably in Toronto, Canada, serving as adjunct law professor at University of Toronto and writing pro-Israel op-eds for the Toronto Star.

Murry Sidlin’s ‘Defiant Requiem’ Returns to Avery Fisher Hall: James R. Oestreich, New York Times, Mar. 6, 2015 — Can there be more than one way to think and feel about “Defiant Requiem,” the concert-drama based on musical activity in the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin during the Holocaust, conceived by the conductor Murry Sidlin?


On Topic Links


America, Wake Up!: Jerusalem Post, Mar. 19, 2015

For Washington, This is as Bad as it Gets in the Middle East: J.L. Granatstein, National Post, Mar. 18, 2015

An All-Seeing I: A Closer Look at the AGO’s Sombre Lodz Ghetto Photo Exhibit: James Adams, Globe & Mail, Feb. 18, 2015

Who Will Save Our History?: Boris Johnson, National Post, Mar. 16, 2015




Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                  

National Review, Mar. 19, 2015


Of all the idiocies uttered in reaction to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stunning election victory, none is more ubiquitous than the idea that peace prospects are now dead because Netanyahu has declared that there will be no Palestinian state while he is Israel’s prime minister.


I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either. Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected.


This is not ancient history. This is 2000, 2001, and 2008 — three astonishingly concessionary peace offers within the last 15 years. Every one rejected. More Israel Election Israeli Voters: Bibi Yes, Barack No! Netanyahu Won Because He Moved Right The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state.


Today, however, there is a second reason a peace agreement is impossible: the supreme instability of the entire Middle East. For half a century, it was run by dictators no one liked but with whom you could do business. For example, the 1974 Israel–Syria disengagement agreement yielded more than four decades of near-total quiet on the border because the Assad dictatorships so decreed. That authoritarian order is gone. Syria is wracked by a multi-sided civil war that has killed 200,000 people and that has al-Qaeda allies, Hezbollah fighters, government troops, and even the occasional Iranian general prowling the Israeli border. Who inherits? No one knows.


In the last four years, Egypt has had two revolutions and three radically different regimes. Yemen went from pro-American to Iranian client so quickly the U.S. had to evacuate its embassy in a panic. Libya has gone from Moammar Qaddafi’s crazy authoritarianism to jihadi-dominated civil war. On Wednesday, Tunisia, the one relative success of the Arab Spring, suffered a major terror attack that the prime minister said “targets the stability of the country.” From Mali to Iraq, everything is in flux. Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, riven by a bitter Fatah–Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli–Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability?


There was a time when Arafat commanded the Palestinian movement the way Qaddafi commanded Libya. Abbas commands no one. Why do you think he is in the eleventh year of a four-year term, having refused to hold elections for the last five years? Because he’s afraid he would lose to Hamas. With or without elections, the West Bank could fall to Hamas overnight. At which point fire rains down on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, and the entire Israeli urban heartland — just as it rains down on southern Israel from Gaza when it suits Hamas.


Any Arab–Israeli peace settlement would require Israel to make dangerous and inherently irreversible territorial concessions on the West Bank in return for promises and guarantees. Under current conditions, these would be written on sand. Israel is ringed by jihadi terrorists in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic State and Iranian proxies in Syria, and a friendly but highly fragile Jordan. Israelis have no idea who ends up running any of these places. Well, say the critics. Israel could be given outside guarantees. Guarantees? Like the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S., Britain, and Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”? Like the red line in Syria? Like the unanimous U.N. resolutions declaring illegal any Iranian enrichment of uranium — now effectively rendered null?


Peace awaits three things. Eventual Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state. A Palestinian leader willing to sign a deal based on that premise. A modicum of regional stability that allows Israel to risk the potentially fatal withdrawals such a deal would entail. I believe such a day will come. But there is zero chance it comes now or even soon. That’s essentially what Netanyahu said in explaining — and softening — on Thursday his no-Palestinian-state statement.


I believe such a day will come. But there is zero chance it comes now or even soon. That’s essentially what Netanyahu said in explaining — and softening — on Thursday his no-Palestinian-state statement. In the interim, I understand the crushing disappointment of the Obama administration and its media poodles at the spectacular success of the foreign leader they loathe more than any other on the planet. The consequent seething and sputtering are understandable, if unseemly. Blaming Netanyahu for banishing peace, however, is mindless.



ISRAEL'S BALLOT BOX IS A MELTING POT                                                                         

Daniel Gordis                                                                                                      

Bloomberg, Mar. 17, 2015


My plane landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport just a few hours ago. When I had realized earlier in the week that I would be doing a lot of flying for a meager 28 hours in the U.S., I wondered whether it really made sense to return home just to vote. (Absentee ballots are not an option for most Israelis.) But I wasn’t alone, it turned out; the plane was full of people coming home for the same reason.


Israel is a country where the very existence of a democracy still feels like a miracle; many of us refuse to take it for granted. The vast majority of country's immigrants came from societies with no democratic tradition. When Israel declared independence, North African Arab states summarily evicted almost all their Jewish citizens, and some 700,000 of them arrived on Israel’s shores. The Jewish state had no resources for absorbing a population of that size, but it took them in nonetheless. Unlike Jordan and Syria, which have never given Palestinian refugees a chance to become citizens, Israel gave all those Jewish refugees citizenship and taught them how to vote.


In my neighborhood, different ethnic groups all vote in the same elementary school. As I stood in line, there were North African Jews waiting who were older than the state itself. It took just a brief look in their eyes to see that though we might vote too often here, they understand that waiting in that line is a rare privilege in this region.


A million Russians came to Israel a few decades ago when the Soviet Union first opened its gates and then collapsed on itself. They, too, came with no experience of a genuine democracy. Under Natan Sharansky, they formed their own political party, but abandoned it a few years later when they realized they no longer needed it. They’d become Israelis, and today, they stood in line, chatting in Russian, just as my wife and I spoke in English and another recently arrived couple conversed in French.


It’s extraordinary, this smoothly functioning democracy, but not really surprising. The Zionist Congresses, beginning in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, were all democratic. From the Second Zionist Congress, in 1898, women could vote and be elected — long before any other major European parliament gave women that opportunity. The Yishuv, the pre-state community in Palestine, created democratic institutions, all of which seamlessly morphed into Israel’s democratic government. For all its rough and tumble rhetoric, the democratic impulse in Zionism has never missed a beat. Imagine our region if even one of our neighbors had done the same thing.


When my turn came, I took a ballot from one of the many piles arrayed for me to choose from. With a sense of reverence, I placed it in an envelope, and dropped it in the blue ballot box. Obviously, I hoped that the party I had voted for would win. But as I looked at the multicolored and multilingual line of people still waiting for their turn, it struck me that all of us Israelis, given what we’ve built here against all the odds, have already won.                                                       




CANADA'S AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL                                                                                    

Rabbi Shraga Simmons                                                                                                                   

Aish, Mar. 15, 2015


After 25 years of practicing law and raising two daughters, Vivian Bercovici (pronounced Berkovich) was living comfortably in Toronto, Canada, serving as adjunct law professor at University of Toronto and writing pro-Israel op-eds for the Toronto Star. So Vivian never expected the call inviting her to become the next Canadian Ambassador to Israel. The government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper – deep and loyal supporters of Israel – was, Vivian says, "looking for someone who would well-represent their policies and their views." When the shock wore off, Vivian realized, "For me this is perfect. My Cinderella moment."


Yet for her family, it remained a big decision. "I'm a very involved, hands-on mom to my two daughters," Bercovici told Aish.com from her office at the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv. "They've lived in a familiar house and neighborhood in a little corner of Toronto. My younger daughter was about to begin her senior year of high school, so she was concerned about the adjustment and about leaving her friends." In the end, "It was clear to everyone, my kids included, that Mummy had to do this." So began a 4-year term that commenced in January 2014. In the early 1980s, Vivian spent a year studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The experience reinforced a deep pride and passion for Israel. She penned numerous pieces for the Toronto Star – speaking out strongly against moves to sell Israel short internationally ("Iran Nuclear Deal: West Appeasing the Aggressor"), and noting that the Palestinian Authority “and just about every government in the Middle East make no secret of their collective ideological commitment to the total destruction of the state of Israel, which they regard as a blasphemous blight on the Arab and Muslim worlds.”


During the second Palestinian Intifada, her article, "Making Terrorists Pay," appeared on Aish.com. Bercovici's appointment as Ambassador to Israel generated some flak. Bercovici's appointment as Ambassador to Israel generated some flak. One critic said that her writings "qualify her more as Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy to Ottawa, rather than as Ottawa's envoy to Tel Aviv." Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the one who hand-selected Bercovici, was asked by a prominent CBC anchor: “Vivian Bercovici is Jewish, so there are going to be some questions. Why not appoint someone who doesn’t even have the perception of any kind of bias?"


Actually, it was precisely Bercovici's views that earned her the appointment. In recent years, Canada has exceeded virtually every country in exhibiting moral clarity and standing strong with Israel. For example, when Canada lost a bid for a seat on the UN Security Council, Prime Minster Harper acknowledged it was due to his pro-Israeli position, later adding that he would "take a pro-Israeli stance, no matter what the political cost to Canada." What is the root of this strong Canadian-Israeli alliance? "Canadians take very seriously the values of freedom and democracy," Bercovici says. "A country like Israel is in many ways an anomaly in the Middle East: democratic, liberal, Western-oriented, and singularly besieged. For Canada, it's a matter of principle to stands up and say: 'We support Israel'." Bucking worldwide trends, Canada voted against the Palestinian bid to join the United Nations; more recently Canada opposed the Palestinians' ascension to the International Criminal Court at The Hague…


Becoming an ambassador to Israel is a plum position, given the exciting times in the Mideast region, and with so much attention focused on Israel. "It's the gift that keeps on giving," says Bercovici. "Every day is amazing. Every day I meet different, incredible people, and challenges. The office is always lively, with stuff coming out of left field. Some of it's good, some of it unfortunate But it sure does make for an interesting life." What does the Ambassador like most about living in Israel? Israel is a beautiful, vibrant country, full of variety. The people are fabulous.


"I love the weather," she says with a chuckle. "Israel is a beautiful, vibrant country, full of variety. The people are fabulous. Israelis have a reputation for being a bit brusque, but they really aren't. Just below the surface, they have a great sense of humor and warmth." What has been a difficult part of the adjustment? "Obviously the conflict is a distressing part of life, and it's a constant. I think everyone in the region wishes it wasn't there. But we figure out how to manage day-to-day, and I'm very happy here."

And what about the daughter who agreed to move halfway across the world for her senior year of high school? "My daughter loves it here. She's happier here than she has ever been. She's in a school with kids from all over the world, in a very accepting environment, living a wildly interesting life. A journey like this opens up the world." As for this turn of events in her professional career, Bercovici could not be happier. "One friend told me: 'It's not every little girl's dream to become Canadian Ambassador to Israel. But it's yours."  




MURRY SIDLIN’S ‘DEFIANT REQUIEM’ RETURNS TO AVERY FISHER HALL                                                         

James R. Oestreich                                                                                                       

New York Times, Mar. 6, 2015


Can there be more than one way to think and feel about “Defiant Requiem,” the concert-drama based on musical activity in the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin during the Holocaust, conceived by the conductor Murry Sidlin? On the surface, at least, the production seems to represent only good — noble intentions, spiritual uplift and redemption — and it unquestionably holds profound meaning for many who are connected with it or have witnessed it. It has been performed more than 30 times since its premiere in Portland, Ore., in 2002. It played in Avery Fisher Hall in 2013 and returns there on Monday evening, with Mr. Sidlin conducting the Orchestra of Terezin Remembrance, the Collegiate Chorale and vocal soloists.


Defiant Requiem” commemorates and partly re-enacts 16 makeshift performances of Verdi’s Requiem by a chorus of prisoners with piano accompaniment given in Terezin, a town some 40 miles northwest of Prague in what is now the Czech Republic. The production includes not only historic film clips and roles for actors — in this case, Bebe Neuwirth and John Rubinstein — but also a complete performance of Verdi’s Requiem, with full chorus and orchestra. In addition, there is a 2012 documentary film, “Defiant Requiem,” based on a Sidlin performance of Verdi’s Requiem at Terezin and narrated by Ms. Neuwirth. “This was one of those stunning events where every single story is compelling and profound,” Ms. Neuwirth said in a recent telephone interview. “I try to put myself in the prisoners’ unimaginable world, in hell and making music.”


So what moved the historian James Loeffler to condemn “Defiant Requiem,” in a 2013 article in Tablet, a magazine devoted to Jewish life, as an example of a new form of “Holocaust Music”? Such efforts, he wrote, “represent a tragically misconceived approach that distorts the memory of the Holocaust and slights the very musicians that they purport to honor.” More on that later. Better first to explore some of the meanings “Defiant Requiem” has for its supporters. A good place to start is at the very beginning of the Terezin events, with Edgar Krasa, who is featured prominently in the documentary. Mr. Krasa, now 94 and living with his wife in Boston, was transported from his home in Prague to Terezin in 1941. There he was for a time a bunkmate of Rafael Schächter, the hero of the story, who arrived soon after.


Schächter was a pianist and conductor, and among the few things he had been able to take with him to Terezin were several piano-vocal scores, including that of Verdi’s Requiem. Once there, he started an informal music program to help maintain the spirits of his fellow inmates, an extraordinary number of whom were musically or otherwise artistically inclined. He eventually adopted the Verdi work as a cause, since many lines in its text could be read as defiance of the Nazi captors. (“Therefore when the Judge takes His seat, whatever is hidden will be revealed: Nothing shall remain unavenged.”) Mr. Sidlin, in a telephone interview, quoted Schächter to the effect that “we can sing things to them that we can’t say to them.”


Schächter assembled a chorus of 150 and taught them by ear to sing their parts by rote, a complex and difficult task. Few of his singers were trained musicians, and most were coming off hard days of labor. He had to restock and retrain the chorus repeatedly, as members died or were sent to Auschwitz. By the time of the last performance, in 1944, the chorus numbered 60. The audiences for the performances consisted mainly of prisoners, but the listeners to that last performance included representatives of the International Red Cross, as part of the Nazis’ effort to pass Terezin off as a model Jewish community where life was good and the arts thrived. To a remarkable extent, the arts did thrive in Terezin, with no thanks to the Nazis.


Schächter was strongly upbraided by the council of Jewish elders in Terezin for using a Roman Catholic Mass, in Latin, as a vehicle for the edification of Jews. And the very fact that the performances could be construed as defiance, they argued, put the singers’ lives in jeopardy. Now here is what Mr. Loeffler, the historian, writes about Mr. Sidlin’s project: “By celebrating Jewish musicians for their performance of a Catholic Mass (written in homage to an Italian nationalist leader), the ‘Defiant Requiem’ propagates the persistent anti-Semitic trope, albeit unintentionally, that Jews can only express themselves artistically by borrowing and corrupting European Christian music.” (The Italian nationalist referred to was Alessandro Manzoni, the author of the historical novel “The Betrothed.”)


Both Schächter and Mr. Krasa were transferred to Auschwitz in 1944 and sent on the great death march out of the camp in January 1945 as Soviet forces approached. Schächter died on the march; Mr. Krasa escaped by plunging into a snow-filled ditch, where he was shot and left for dead. “I’ve devoted my life to extending Rafael Schächter’s legacy,” Mr. Krasa said in a telephone interview. Mr. Krasa sang in the Terezin choir, and on Monday his two sons and a grandson will join the Collegiate Chorale. Mr. Krasa would probably have been there to applaud Mr. Sidlin’s efforts in person if he had not taken a bad fall recently, which has limited his mobility. “I’ve asked Murry,” he said, “ ‘What will happen when you can’t continue?’ ”


To bring matters quickly to the present, another participant in the performance on Monday will be the clarinetist Jon Manasse, a longtime star of the rich New York freelance pool of musicians and a member of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and the American Ballet Theater Orchestra. Mr. Manasse, 50, learned of “Defiant Requiem” in 2013. Knowing that it was related to the Holocaust, he said in an interview, he would have liked to participate then to represent his paternal grandparents but had prior commitments. Alfred Manasse, his grandfather, was one of the 937 passengers on the “Voyage of the Damned” (as Stuart Rosenberg’s 1976 film called it), the 1939 passage of the ocean liner St. Louis from Hamburg to Cuba, where it was not allowed entry. The ship had to return to Europe, and Alfred Manasse died at Auschwitz, as, apparently, did his wife…


Mr. Loeffler calls “Defiant Requiem” “a virtual multimedia extravaganza,” “replete with factual errors and historical distortions in the name of a theme of spiritual resistance.” “In some versions,” he adds, “actors reportedly wore striped pajamas — though their real-life models in Terezin did not.” But Mr. Sidlin makes no great claims to scholarship. “What I wrote,” he said, “was as close as I could get to what the survivors related.” Besides, he points out, scholars commit inaccuracies, too: “There were never striped pajamas in ‘Defiant Requiem,’ ” he insists, though an illustration on the Lincoln Center website for Monday’s performance shows a conductor wearing them. “Jews are often accused of going like lambs to the slaughter,” he said. “I wanted to show that this was their way of resisting.”


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!





On Topic


America, Wake Up!: Jerusalem Post, Mar. 19, 2015—This year, Passover should be a wake-up call for America.

For Washington, This is as Bad as it Gets in the Middle East: J.L. Granatstein, National Post, Mar. 18, 2015 —American policy in the Middle East is in ruins.

An All-Seeing I: A Closer Look at the AGO’s Sombre Lodz Ghetto Photo Exhibit: James Adams, Globe & Mail, Feb. 18, 2015—Have I stayed long enough? Have I paid enough attention? Was I moved? What am I feeling? Did I like it? And if I haven’t liked it, is it still good?

Who Will Save Our History?: Boris Johnson, National Post, Mar. 16, 2015—Perhaps I shouldn’t care as much as I do. These victims aren’t real people, after all.




















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