Tag: Holocaust Remembrance

IN EUROPE, AMID UPTICK IN HOLOCAUST DISTORTION, FAR-RIGHT RESURGENCE, AND MASS MUSLIM MIGRATION, ANTISEMITISM IS RIFE

Who Owns the Holocaust?: Ben Cohen, JNS, Feb. 5, 2018— Who owns the Holocaust?

The Dutch and Their Jews: The Never-Ending Shame of the Netherlands: Abraham Cooper & Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Jan. 17, 2018— Last month, a video showing a man waving a Palestinian flag and smashing the windows of a kosher Amsterdam restaurant went viral.

France: Migrant Crisis Spirals Out of Control: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 6, 2018— Hundreds of Africans and Asians armed with knives and iron rods fought running street battles in the northern port city of Calais on February 1, less than two weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the area and pledged to crack down on illegal immigration.

Aliya from Western Countries: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 7, 2018— The founders of modern Israel originated from contrasting ideological movements.

 

On Topic Links

 

Poland’s Shoah Policy – Precursor to a New Holocaust Revisionism?: Shimon Samuels, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 5, 2018

Poland Slams the Door on Holocaust Dialogue: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, Feb. 6, 2018

The Widespread Anti-Israelism in the UK: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018

The Jews Vs. Hitler: An Interview with Author Rick Richman: Elliot Resnick, Jewish Press, Jan. 31, 2018

 

 

WHO OWNS THE HOLOCAUST?

Ben Cohen

JNS, Feb. 5, 2018

 

Who owns the Holocaust? That, ultimately, is the key question posed by the impending legislation in Poland that will criminalize any discussion, or investigation, or mere mention, of incidents of Polish collusion with the Nazi occupiers during World War Two. My goal here is not to look into the details of the Polish dispute – save for noting that Warsaw’s impassioned claim that its ire is driven by the phrase “Polish death camp” to describe Auschwitz is actually a straw man argument. Nearly all reputable scholars of the Holocaust – including those at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial – have repeatedly said, over several years, that this form of words is insensitive and inaccurate. It should be purged from our Shoah lexicon, but through education, not legislation.

 

This dispute is about who sets the parameters for our understanding of what the Holocaust was and what it represented – and it is a problem that extends far beyond Poland’s borders. On a purely conceptual level, molding a particular historical event to fit a particular interpretation always involves simplification. Look at our own Civil War 150 years later – as we often do, and with great anger – and we still see it as North against South, a society of free individuals against a society built on slavery. All that is basically true, and yet it doesn’t easily explain why there were so many Northern Democrats more loyal to Jefferson Davis than Abraham Lincoln, or why the citizens of Eastern Tennessee threw in their lot with the Union.

 

This is why the study of history is only possible in free societies where all avenues of inquiry are open, and where knowledge is “owned” by all. Here in the West, our understanding of the Holocaust’s complexities has been hugely enriched by the histories, bibliographies, oral testimonies and images patiently collected and interpreted by scholars in Israel, the U.S. and Europe. But in the nations that were until 1989 under the boot of the Soviet Union, like Poland, the situation is the exact opposite; over there, “Holocaust education” for decades consisted of lies, distortions and shameful cover-ups.

 

It began with the Soviets, for whom there was no ideological or political room for something called the “Holocaust” in their account of the “Great Patriotic War.” In his monumental poem “Babi Yar” – a searing critique of the official Soviet representation of the Nazi massacre of 33,000 Jews by a ravine in Kiev in September 1941 – the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko summoned up the ghosts of native Russian anti-Semitism when he imagined himself as young Jewish boy in the midst of a pogrom. (“To jeers of ‘Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!’/My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.”) Yevtushenko’s goal was to remind his readers of the difficult, painful truth that the Communist Party’s enforcers sought to suppress. The Holocaust was defined by the anti-Semitic legislation, persecution and eventual genocide – under the gaze and sometimes with the active participation of their non-Jewish neighbors – that defined the fate of the Jews under Nazi rule.

 

But just as the Communists sought to undermine this core truth at every turn, so do today’s ultranationalists. It’s not just Poland, after all. Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Latvia are just a handful of the other European countries where similarly ugly disputes have arisen, always involving ultranationalist political leaders promoting the deceitful rewriting of history. In all these cases, the end has been the same: to portray the occupied non-Jewish populations as facing exactly the same trials and perils as their Jewish neighbors, and thereby launder their own soiled records of past Nazi associations. Here, I believe, is where the rub lies. The Holocaust scholarship engendered in the open societies of the west is robust enough to withstand these political campaigns to rewrite history. In that sense, the current Polish dispute is just a particularly nasty example of a clash we’ve seen before, and not much more than that. The real losers in all this are the very people these ultranationalists claim they represent.

 

Consider the following sentences. “The conditions in those trains defy coherent language…They were packed in a standing position in sealed, windowless, and unheated cattle wagons, for a winter journey of thousands of miles.” You might well think that the subject here is the deportation of the Jews, but in fact, it is the eminent historian Norman Davies’ description of the 1940 deportations of thousands of Poles by the Soviet NKVD to gulags in Siberia. So, as we see plainly here, the historical record rarely gives comfort to our preconceived notions and prejudices.

 

If the Polish government’s goal was simply to encourage greater awareness and education about Polish suffering under the Nazis, that would be a laudable goal. But by tying that aspect of Nazi rule so explicitly to the mass enslavement and extermination of the Jews, and by willfully misrepresenting documented evidence of Polish anti-Semitism and collaboration with the Nazis as a slander upon the Polish nation as a whole, they are engineering their own deserved failure, to the detriment of Poland’s people.

 

For instead of enlightening the world about how the Soviets and the Nazis collaborated to crush the Polish national movement – and why that matters especially today – Poland’s leaders are disgracing themselves by uncomplicatedly claiming three million Holocaust victims murdered because they were Jews for the general record of Polish wartime suffering. You’d have thought that the Soviet Union was the last country they would want to emulate.                                 

 

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THE DUTCH AND THEIR JEWS:

THE NEVER-ENDING SHAME OF THE NETHERLANDS

Abraham Cooper & Manfred Gerstenfeld

Algemeiner, Jan. 17, 2018

 

Last month, a video showing a man waving a Palestinian flag and smashing the windows of a kosher Amsterdam restaurant went viral. Thereafter, two policemen — who stood by during the vandalism — overpowered the attacker. Two days later, the attacker was freed by the police with a warning that if he committed additional crimes, he would be rearrested. Later, it became known that the perpetrator is a Palestinian-Syrian asylum-seeker who’s lived in the Netherlands for several years. He reportedly promised not to repeat his hate/terror crime in Amsterdam. The prosecution also withheld several salient facts from the public — for example, that the man was an ex-combatant in Syria’s civil war.

 

When the restaurant owner’s lawyer released this additional information, the prosecutor’s office said that it would seek disciplinary action against the lawyer. While the Palestinian Syrian was being investigated, the kosher restaurant was vandalized for a second time. Also, on New Year’s day, a rock destroyed the windows of the Chabad House in Central Amsterdam. When the perpetrator of that attack came before the court, it was decided to request a psychological examination, which will take several months. In the meantime, the attacker will remain free. Michael Jacobs, a Jew, wasn’t so lucky. He was arrested for holding an Israeli flag on Amsterdam’s main square last summer because he stood too close to a pro-Palestinian demonstrator. Jacobs remained in jail for a full week. Yet there is nothing in the Dutch legal system which forbids his action.

 

Apparently, the Dutch judicial system doesn’t have its act together. In the previous government, two successive ministers of justice had to resign. And as far as Jews and Israel are concerned, the rot runs deeper. There are unique aspects of Dutch antisemitism. First, the Netherlands is the only European Union country with Muslim parties in parliament and some municipal councils. Their representatives make extreme remarks about Jews and Israel. One Hague councilman, Abdoe Khoulani, called visiting Israeli schoolchildren “Zionist terrorists in training” and “future child murderers and occupiers.” The public prosecutor decided that this was legal. In Rotterdam last year, an international congress of Hamas front-groups was allowed to hold its meeting after neither the Muslim (Labour Party) mayor, nor the Dutch security services, acted to block the gathering — despite information publicly available from German security services about the organizers’ links to Hamas.

 

The second specific Dutch antisemitism characteristic has bizarre origins.  The extreme fans of Ajax, the leading Amsterdam Soccer Club — all gentiles — call themselves “Jews.” For more than 20 years, they have been welcomed in several other Dutch stadiums with songs like, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” Such slogans have spread into the public arena. At the beginning of this century, two Socialist Party parliamentarians participated in an anti-Israel demonstration in Amsterdam; one was caught on a video shouting, “Intifada, intifada.” During the 2014 Gaza War, some anti-Israel demonstrations had a pro-Hamas character. At one protest, when a Green Left Party Euro parliamentarian started to make negative remarks about Hamas — after she had criticized Israel — she was shouted down. Such attitudes confirm that for some, tolerance includes tolerating evil.

 

Meanwhile, Kajsa Ollongren, the current minister of the interior, on behalf of the anti-Israeli center party, D66, declared on TV that the horrible attack on the kosher restaurant was related to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As if an Amsterdam Jewish restaurant owner has anything to do with Trump’s decision. In Parliament, the most extreme anti-Israel speakers are often former foreign office officials. For instance, in an answer to parliamentary questions, the previous foreign minister from the Labour Party played down payments by the Palestinian Authority to murderers of Israeli Jews.

 

The Dutch government has for many years subsidized Dutch organizations that finance Palestinian hate mongers. The previous foreign minister supported the labeling of Israeli goods. And without a second thought — just like other Western European countries — the Netherlands opened its doors wide to immigrants from Muslim countries where antisemitism is rife. When a small Christian party managed to get a parliamentary motion passed that Israel should not be discriminated against in the UN, the Netherlands nevertheless voted in favor of the anti-US motion on Jerusalem. The Netherlands is also the only country in Western Europe that has never admitted the major shortcomings of its World War II government, even though new studies clearly show the collaboration of the Dutch police with the German occupiers in hunting Jews; the cooperation of notaries in the theft of Jewish assets; and the total negligence of the Dutch Red Cross headquarters toward the Jews.

 

Not even the legacy of Anne Frank is safe. The writer of a new play on Anne Frank’s diary, Ilja Pfeiffer, transformed one of the people in hiding who was murdered in the Holocaust, Fritz Pfeffer, from a victim to a perpetrator of violence. Several Dutch media outlets reviewed the play rather positively. The Anne Frank Foundation in Basel is suing the author, but a play in which a Holocaust victim’s memory is sullied is just one more example of a society that will not treat its Jews fairly — not even in death.   

 

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FRANCE: MIGRANT CRISIS SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL

Soeren Kern

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 6, 2018

 

Hundreds of Africans and Asians armed with knives and iron rods fought running street battles in the northern port city of Calais on February 1, less than two weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the area and pledged to crack down on illegal immigration. The clashes plunged Calais — emblematic of Europe's failure to control mass migration — into a war zone and reinforced the perception that French authorities have lost control of the country's security situation.

 

The mass brawls, fought in at least three different parts of Calais, erupted after a 37-year-old Afghan migrant running a human trafficking operation fired gunshots at a group of Africans who did not have money to pay for his services. Five Africans suffered life-threatening injuries. Within an hour, hundreds of Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese took to the streets of Calais and attacked any Afghans they could find. More than a thousand police officers using batons and tear gas were deployed to restore order. Two dozen migrants were hospitalized.

 

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb described the level of violence in Calais as "unprecedented." He attributed the fighting to an escalating turf war between Afghan and Kurdish gangs seeking to gain control over human trafficking between Calais and Britain, which many migrants view as "El Dorado" because of its massive underground economy. Each day around 40 ferries depart Calais for Britain. Vincent de Coninck, director of the charity Secours Catholique du Pas-de-Calais, said that rival gangs were trying to secure control over access to the port of Calais in order to induce payments of €2,500 ($3,100) from migrants seeking to stow away on trucks crossing the English Channel. De Coninck added that the situation in Calais had deteriorated since January 18, when Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May signed the so-called Sandhurst Treaty, in which May pledged to speed-up the processing of migrants hoping to travel to Britain from Calais.

 

According to de Coninck, Macron and May failed adequately to explain the contents of the new treaty. This failure, he said, had created false hopes among migrants from Africa and elsewhere that the treaty would improve their chances of reaching Britain. De Coninck further said that hundreds of new migrants had arrived in Calais during the two weeks since the treaty was signed. The surge of new arrivals, he said, had created an "imbalance" between Africans and Asians — thereby increasing inter-ethnic tensions.

 

François Guennoc, vice-president of the Calais charity L'Auberge des Migrants, echoed the view that the new treaty had created false expectations. "It gave people hope to reach England," he said. "People arrived suddenly, about 200, mainly underage people and women who arrived in Calais because they thought that the Home Office said they could go directly to England. Then they thought the Home Office was lying. People were upset. It was crazy." Europe's migration crisis has emerged as the first major test facing President Macron, who appears to be seeking out a middle-ground compromise position on the issue: he has promised to pursue "humanitarianism" by speeding up the processing of asylum requests while also pledging to pursue "firmness" by deporting those who do not qualify.

 

During the presidential campaign, Macron, who ran as a centrist, repudiated the anti-immigration positions of his opponent, Marine Le Pen. He campaigned on a platform of open borders and promised to establish France as "the new center for the humanist project." Since assuming office on May 14, 2017, however, Macron appears to have incorporated many of Le Pen's ideas. In an essay published by Le Monde on January 2, 2017, Macron wrote that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow in more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East had "saved the collective dignity" of the European people. He added that he would not tolerate the "rebuilding of walls in Europe" and criticized the "abject simplifications" made by those who say that "by opening the borders to migrants, the chancellor exposed Europe to severe dangers."

 

On July 27, 2017, however, after less than three months in office, Macron warned that 800,000 migrants in Libya were on their way to Europe. He announced a plan to establish immigration centers in Libya to vet asylum seekers there. He said his plan would stem the flow of migrants to Europe by discouraging economic migrants from embarking on the Mediterranean crossing to Europe. "The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they're not all eligible for asylum," Macron said. "We'll go to them." In that same speech, though, Macron appeared to encourage migrants to make their way to France. He pledged housing for all newcomers "everywhere in France" and "from the first minute."…

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

 

Contents

ALIYA FROM WESTERN COUNTRIES

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 7, 2018

 

The founders of modern Israel originated from contrasting ideological movements. Since their dispersion into exile, Jews who for centuries endured Christian and Muslim persecution maintained spiritual (and in a few cases physical) links with their barren Jewish homeland, praying for their return to Zion and the advent of the Messiah.

 

In the late 19th century, the East European secular utopians who sought to escape persecution and murderous pogroms came to Palestine with the objective of engaging in agriculture and transforming the Jewish homeland into a socialist haven. The British conquest of Jerusalem and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire ushered a series of mass migratory movements, and for the first time, large numbers of Jews in distress turned to Israel as a haven. The Russian civil war and the bloody pogroms associated with it were followed by the rise of Nazism which led to a growing immigration of Eastern European and subsequently German refugees, which, apart from a trickle of illegal immigration, was frozen in 1939 until the end of the British Mandate.

 

The mass immigration of Holocaust survivors was augmented after the War of Independence by the airlift of Jews fleeing persecution in Muslim countries. They were subsequently joined by other, smaller communities such as the Ethiopians, climaxing with an influx of over a million Jews from the former Soviet Union. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, kibbutz galuyot – the ingathering of the exiles – as predicted in the Bible, has been realized at a dramatic pace. From a fledgling community of 600,000 in 1948 when the state was proclaimed, Israel’s population has increased more than tenfold. It is now unquestionably the most successful and powerful state in the region, despite being an oasis in a turbulent Middle East engulfed in a brutal civil war in which hundreds of thousands of civilians have been butchered like animals.

 

However, more than half of the world’s Jewish population remains in the Diaspora – the bulk in the United States but with smaller communities in Canada, Europe, Australia, South Africa and Latin America. While there has always been a trickle of highly motivated, largely idealistic and religious Western immigrants, kibbutz galuyot was hardly a feature of the more affluent and less discriminated-against communities. But today the time has come for Jews in these communities to objectively re-evaluate their position.

It is clear that the majority will not pack up and come to Israel, even if there is a significant deterioration of their condition and dramatic escalation of antisemitism.

 

But committed Jews must ask themselves one basic question: is Jewish continuity important to me and my children? Sadly, unless the response is positive, there is little further contemplation. But those remaining in the Diaspora must recognize that even with the best of intentions, the chances of their grandchildren remaining Jewish are slim. In today’s open society, suffused with post-modernism, it is almost impossible to build solid barriers against acculturation. Any objection to intermarriage that is not based on religious grounds is condemned as racist. Many young people identify Judaism exclusively with liberalism and universalism, and are totally ignorant of core Jewish values.

 

In addition, the cost of Jewish education has skyrocketed in recent years and only the most committed are willing to sacrifice their standard of living to provide their children with a decent Jewish education. Not surprisingly, the level of Jewish education in the US and most Diaspora Jewish communities has never been so abysmally deficient. With the passage of time, the Holocaust no longer impacts on the identity of youngsters as it did with their parents. It has been reduced to unemotional historical statistics devoid of contemporary relevance. Likewise, support for Israel, which served as the greatest unifying element, has declined steeply among those with little or no traditional Jewish upbringing. Some even consider it socially advantageous to regurgitate the anti-Israeli agenda promoted by the liberal media.

 

In this environment, it is not surprising that intermarriage figures have escalated dramatically. Today, over 70% of unions among non-Orthodox Jews involve a gentile partner, with the overwhelming majority of children from such mixed marriages remaining, at best, Jews in name only. Clearly, the likelihood of Jewish continuity among non-observant Jews is minimal. Today, even the Orthodox minority is becoming affected. The statistics indicate that, other than the strictly Orthodox, Diaspora Jewish communities will significantly shrink…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Poland’s Shoah Policy – Precursor to a New Holocaust Revisionism?: Shimon Samuels, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 5, 2018—In November 2011, the Palestinians entered UNESCO, thus beginning a period of mayhem in the form of Jewish and Christian ID theft.

Poland Slams the Door on Holocaust Dialogue: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, Feb. 6, 2018—The legacy of the Shoah in Poland, John Paul II said, is “a wound that has not healed, one that keeps bleeding.” The Polish government’s new Holocaust law rubs salt into the wound and renders healing that much more elusive.

The Widespread Anti-Israelism in the UK: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Feb. 9, 2018—Various studies have shown how widespread the dislike of Israel and anti-Israelism are in a number of European countries. The University of Bielefeld, for instance, published a widely publicized report of seven EU countries in 2011.

The Jews Vs. Hitler: An Interview with Author Rick Richman: Elliot Resnick, Jewish Press, Jan. 31, 2018—A Jewish army fighting Hitler? The idea sounds wild, but Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky – and, to a lesser extent, Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion – thought it achievable. Jabotinsky envisioned an army of 100,000 fighting the Nazi menace, placing Jews in a perfect position after the war to demand a Jewish state.

 

 

                                                              

 

 

TRIPARTITE FOLLY: ISRAEL ABANDONED, THE WESTERN ANTISEMITIC OBSESSION, & COMPARING GENOCIDES

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

 

 

 

Michael Oren Sees a US Alliance in Tatters, and Israel ‘On Our Own’: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, June 18, 2015— Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013, chose to give his book on that period in Washington the catchy title “Ally”.

Western Anti-Semitism is Not a Phenomenon of the Past. It is Very Well Alive: Julien Bauer, National Post, June 15, 2015 — Anti-Semitism is at the core of Western culture.

An Anti-Semitic Incident Adds to Austria’s Shame: Abraham Cooper & Yitzchok Adlerstein, Newsweek, June  12, 2015 — Our institution's namesake, Simon Wiesenthal, the late Nazi-hunter, was often asked, "Why did you set up the Jewish Documentation Center in the heart of Vienna? Why not Geneva, London or even Tel Aviv?"

How to Avoid a Victimization Olympics: Catherine Chatterley, Huffington Post, June 17, 2015 — Comparing the suffering of human beings is a fruitless enterprise that breeds resentment, hostility, and competition.

 

On Topic Links

 

How Obama Abandoned Israel: Michael B. Oren, Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2015

Jewish Violinist Completes Father's Performance, 80 Years After Cut Short by Nazis: Aron Heller, Ha’aretz, June 2, 2015

A Nazi Wrong Made Right—After 77 Years: Jonathan Zalman, Tablet, May 15, 2015

In Morocco, Exploring Remnants of Jewish History: Michael Frank, New York Times, May 30, 2015

 

                  

MICHAEL OREN SEES A US ALLIANCE IN TATTERS,

AND ISRAEL ‘ON OUR OWN’                                                                                           

David Horovitz

Times of Israel, June 18, 2015

 

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013, chose to give his book on that period in Washington the catchy title “Ally”. But this new memoir — an unprecedented case of a former public servant so quickly writing up sometimes intimate revelations on acutely sensitive core issues — does not describe an alliance at all.

 

The US-born former diplomat, who is now a Knesset member for the Kulanu party, notes in his foreword that the Hebrew term for “ally” is ben brit — literally “the son of the covenant.” And what he documents is actually the breaching of a covenant, the collapse of an alliance — an accumulated arc of abandonment by the Obama administration, and most especially the president himself, of Israel. It’s a charge, unsurprisingly, that the administration has rushed to deny, and, rather more surprisingly, that Oren’s own party chief Moshe Kahlon has hurried to dissociate Kulanu from.

 

Oren’s style is not excitable or melodramatic. In fact, he writes in generally understated tone, with the measured sense of perspective you’d expect from a best-selling historian. So when he notes, as he does near the very end of the book, that last summer’s Israel-Hamas war left “aspects of the US-Israeli alliance in tatters,” you take him seriously, and you worry.

 

And when you read that Washington worked relentlessly to quash any military option for Israel, most especially in 2012 — arguably the last moment at which Israel could have intervened effectively to thwart Iran’s drive to the bomb (though Oren does not confirm this) — you sense that he has exposed the emptiness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s endless assertions that Israel will stand alone if necessary to stop a nuclear Iran. And you register, with all its grim repercussions, the realpolitik of a broken relationship with our key defender — the rupture that now leaves Israel vulnerable to an increasingly bold Islamist regime that avowedly seeks our annihilation.

 

For an hour in his Knesset office on Monday, Oren discussed his book with The Times of Israel, elaborating in several key areas, and often rendering his depiction of relations with the Obama administration, and the implications for Israel in its battle for survival, still more disconcerting. So much so that I found myself asking Oren, “Are people going to look back in a few years’ time and say, This is what they were talking about in Israel as Iran closed in on the bomb and they were wiped out?” His bleak reply? “It’s happened before in history, hasn’t it?” Oren then laughed rather bitterly, and remarked, “The whole conversation is very down here.” And how.

 

The Times of Israel: You call the book “Ally,” but its central theme is the incredibly problematic Obama presidency, to put it mildly, on Israel. The central theme of the book is about someone who grows up in America, loves America, but has an abiding passion for Israel and the Jewish people, and dreams of someday being the bridge between these two countries that he loves, gets to actually do it, but does it during a period of almost unprecedented challenge in those relationships.

 

Obama is one challenge. The press is another challenge. The American Jewish community is another challenge. What isn’t a challenge? There are objective challenges. There is America that is starting 2009 in the depths of the worst financial crisis since the Depression. There is America that is bogged down in political polarization such as they’ve never experienced. Nothing can get done. There is America that is traumatized by two wars in the Middle East, exhausted. It doesn’t like to hear about the Middle East. It’s sick of us, wants to go home. That kind of challenge. To say nothing of what was going on here. Then the entire Middle East unravels. Egypt has not one, but two violent revolutions. Syria and Iraq cease to exist. The peace process is dead in the water. Abbas won’t talk to us for most of the period. All that’s going on, plus other issues: Women of the Wall, people spitting at women. All these things are happening in a very short period of time.

 

You took notes every night? I’m not a diarist, but when I got into this job my wife Sally got me a really nice diary. She said, You might want to jot down a few things. And I came back from my first meeting with Obama in May 2009, and I thought, “Wow, that was interesting. Let me start jotting down a few things.” Then it became an actual diary. I never wrote anything secret in it, but I wrote discussions and observations. Some of them are very funny. When (the then White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel calls me at 2 o’clock in the morning and says, “I don’t like this fucking shit,” and I have nothing else to say to him other than “I don’t like this fucking shit either” and it goes on like that, I would then turn around and write this. I thought it was so funny. So interesting. But it’s also very revealing…

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

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WESTERN ANTI-SEMITISM IS NOT A PHENOMENON OF THE PAST.

IT IS VERY WELL ALIVE                                                                                                               

Julien Bauer                                                                                                                                             

National Post, June 15, 2015

 

Anti-Semitism is at the core of Western culture. Even when a popular expression is “Judeo-Christian values,” it should not hide the fact that these “values” are lopsided. On one hand we have a God of revenge, on the other a God of mercy, Judas is the archetypal Jew, a traitor, as if all the apostles were not Jewish. The relations between the two creeds, Judaism and Christianity, were symbolized by the Disputations on the validity of both religions, the verdict known in advance: Judaism is wrong, Christianity is right. An analysis of classical European literature, in its French, English and other expressions, shows a regular feature of anti-Semitism stereotypes, from Shakespeare to Voltaire.

 

In modern times, what was mainly anti-Judaism — Jews converting to Christianity were welcomed if not feted — became anti-Semitism. Theological arguments, in a less religious society, were not anymore convincing. The ascending role of secular nationalism gave way to a secular form of anti-Jewish discourse, insisting on the racial identity, without possibility of opting out. Jews are intrinsically bad and should be either checked very closely (milder anti-Semitism), or exterminated (stronger anti-Semitism).

 

A rather equivalent attitude prevailed in Muslim societies. As the Christians, Muslims had to recognize the anteriority of Judaism and to affirm that their monotheism was of a higher level. When not using religious arguments, Muslim countries rely on racism: Jews, even without a theological component, are by definition inferior. How can we understand the interest, if not the obsession, of the West for anything Jewish. The symbol of Jews is less a specific religion, Judaism, but a national one in its Israeli expression. Israel is therefore treated as the archetype of anything bad and evil in the world. No word is strong enough to condemn Israel.

This obsession is so ingrained that many Western decisions are self-defeating. The European Union, for instance, recognizes the vitality of Israel’s economy, research and development, and sign treaties for joint endeavours, a normal way of dealing with national interests. Such is the case for inviting Israel to become a member of OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2010, or to become a partner in CERN, the first and only non-European member of European Organization for Nuclear Research in 2014.

 

But why threaten to impose special labelling for Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank, when not such a treatment is even considered for products from Chinese-occupied Tibet or Turkish-occupied (half of) Cyprus. How can we understand the French proposition, encouraged by many European Union members, to impose a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and declare that Jerusalem, the Holy City of Judaism before there was Christianity or Islam, is Palestinian? Even more striking is the attitude of the Vatican. Christians constitute a dwindling population in the Middle East, except in Israel. They are massacred, their churches burnt down. The Holy See, in response, signs a treaty putting its own churches in Jerusalem under the tender loving care of the Palestinian Authority. It could be the reaction of a Catholic Church frightened by an unpleasant reality, it is also a demonstration of self-defeating anti-Semitism: we hate you, Jews, more than we love ourselves.

 

Non-Western countries, specifically Asian ones, do not have this kind of background. When religions are neither Christian nor Muslim, such as Confucianism, Bouddhism, Hinduism, they have no reason to be obsessed by Jews. You cannot ignore Judaism if you are a Christian or a Muslim, but you may be totally unaware of it when you are an adept of a non-monotheistic faith. Does that entail that Asian countries are more open to Jews in general, to Israel in particular?

 

Till 25 years ago, the two major Asian states, China and India, were leading members of the Conference of Non-Aligned States, officially neither with Washington nor with Moscow. The leaders were Nehru, Chou En Lai, Nasser, Tito. The Conference was hostile to Israel but, in the case of China and India, this had no anti-Semitic connection. New Delhi and Beijing considered in their national interests to lambast Israel and befriend Arab states. When they estimated it was in their national interest to establish relations with Israel, even close relations, they did so without any theological or racial issues. They do not pretend to be ontologically superior to Israel and entitled to dictate their views, they maintain relation both with Israel and Arab states for the promotion of their own interests

 

The results are already tangible. A few years ago, two-thirds of Israeli economic exchanges were with the European Union and the United States. Today the second-largest partner is China and India is coming close. This trend, an upsurge of Asian countries in world economy, is obvious. The country’s economy is booming, and less and less dependent with the West.

 

An example of the open minded approach of the Asian countries comes from South Korea. This country studied the reason of the exceptionally high number of Israeli scientific Nobel Prizes and the rate that Israel discovers new technologies. They estimated that the intellectual ability encouraged by the study of Talmud was one of the explanations. They decided to introduce Talmudic studies in the schools. It has nothing to do with religion but was considered a tool, albeit of Jewish origin, for the specific goal of enhancing Korea’s place in the field of knowledge. The mere idea of a Western country doing the same is ludicrous.

 

If we believe in the “Judeo-Christian” discourse, Israel is part and parcel of the West. When we witness the permanence of anti-Semitism in Western culture, this link is questionable. The West is, most probably without being conscious of it, encouraging Israel, and its high technology sector, to be increasingly linked with Asian countries, accelerating the rise of Asia in the world. In that way, the West’s enduring anti-Semitism, consciously or not, is helping bring about the end of Western political, cultural, economic and perhaps even cultural domination of the world.

           

[Julien Bauer is professor of political science at Université du Québec à Montréal                   

                                 and an Academic Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.]                                                                                              

Contents                                                                   

                                                    

AN ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENT ADDS TO AUSTRIA’S SHAME                                            

Abraham Cooper & Yitzchok Adlerstein                                         

Newsweek, June 12, 2015

 

Our institution's namesake, Simon Wiesenthal, the late Nazi-hunter, was often asked, "Why did you set up the Jewish Documentation Center in the heart of Vienna? Why not Geneva, London or even Tel Aviv?"

"If you want to catch mosquitos, you cannot avoid the swamp" was Simon's response. Indeed, everyone in Vienna, friend and foes, came to recognize the one Holocaust survivor who was every ex-Nazi war criminal's nightmare. Vienna never opened its arms to Wiesenthal; the city was uneasy at the sight of a Jew who had the chutzpah to stand tall after the Shoah.

 

Not even multiple death threats, nor the bombing of his modest house on a Friday night while he and his wife, Celia, were in their bedroom, would deter the unofficial ambassador of 6 million ghosts from pursuing his lonely crusade for justice. Wiesenthal would die in Vienna at the age of 96, having helped bring 1,100 Nazi war criminals to the bar of justice, overcoming local hostility and the broader apathy of a largely (still) uncaring world.

 

Prior to World War II, Jews played an outsized role in Austrian society. Three in 4 Austrian Nobel Prize winners were Jewish, as were half of the country's physicians and 60 percent of its attorneys. Vienna was home at various points to Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler and Franz Kafka. But Austria was also home to a young Adolf Hitler, whose first hearing of a Wagner opera was at a performance conducted by Mahler. Hitler credits two Austrians, Karl Leuger and Georg Ritter von Schönerer, for teaching him to hate Jews.

 

Leuger, still hailed for his achievements as Vienna's mayor at the beginning of the 20th century, was a thoroughly modern politician who used rousing speeches, punctuated with stereotypical images of alleged enemies, especially the Jews. Every setback was reduced to a simple mantra: "The Jews are to blame." He helped morph traditional Catholic anti-Semitism directed against "money and stock market Jews," "press Jews" and "ink Jews." Hitler soaked it all in. In 1938, millions of Austrians greeted Hitler and his Anschluss (annexation) with cheers and flowers, and watched with glee as Jewish residents were forced to scrub the streets on their knees.

 

After World War II, a defeated Germany took decisive measures to own up to its Nazi-era crimes. Austrians, however, convinced themselves that they had been "invaded" by the Nazis, and though they were loyal foot soldiers to the Third Reich, they wanted to be treated as Hitler's victims, not his enablers. Austrians elected Kurt Waldheim president in 1986, despite the exposure of his sordid Nazi past. It was not until 1991 that the government acknowledged Austrians' role in the Nazi extermination machine, but anti-Semitic provocations and feelings continued. Alarming numbers of Austrians would later embrace far-right parties, including politician Jorg Haider, who referred to Nazi concentration camps as punishment camps and sought military honors for Waffen-SS veterans.

 

In 2014, the spike in European anti-Semitism was also in evidence in Austria with reported hate crimes up 100 percent over the previous 12 months. Now comes word that a landlord in Vienna is "offended" by the display of an Israeli flag inside a window of an apartment first placed there in celebration of Israel's participation in the Eurovision songfest. The landlord also informed the Jewish tenant that to avoid eviction he must not only take down the flag but also remove his mezuzah (the small case holding Biblical verses) affixed his doorposts.

 

Balancing the rights of one person in a democracy to display his pride in a member state of the U.N. with another citizen's right to hate ought to be fairly easy to sort out for the authorities. But this is 2015 Europe, where the rights of Jewish citizens are not always protected. It is true that Austria deserves credit for some positive aspects of its treatment of post-war Jews. When the former Soviet Union began releasing some of the Jews it had essentially held captive for decades, Austria agreed, at least for a while, to be the neutral transit point for the Jewish émigrés, most of whom would reach Israel. Austria also absorbed many Iranian Jews who fled the Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power.

 

But Austria has never come to terms with its role in the Holocaust, leaving it with a trifecta of Jew hatred: traditional anti-Semitism, the new virulent anti-Israelism and the so-called secondary anti-Semitism caused by the Holocaust itself. In Der Ewige Antisemit (The Eternal Anti-Semite), Henryk Broder first introduced us to a startling reality of contemporary anti-Semitism: "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz." And some Austrians it seems still have trouble dealing with pesky live Jews who dare to hold their heads high above gutter level…

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

           

           

[Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center                                                                             

and a CIJR International Board Member]

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

HOW TO AVOID A VICTIMIZATION OLYMPICS

Catherine Chatterley                                           

Huffington Post, June 17, 2015

                       

Comparing the suffering of human beings is a fruitless enterprise that breeds resentment, hostility, and competition. An old professor of mine at the University of Chicago, the distinguished historian Peter Novick, called this dynamic, appropriately, the "Victimization Olympics." For scholars trained in specific fields of history, comparative analysis of different genocides can be valuable and productive, but for the general public, for ethnic victim groups, and even for academics with a more activist orientation to scholarship, comparing genocides often devolves into this kind of destructive competition. Often, the goal in these cases is not really comparison but equation, and even supersession, of others' experiences.

 

The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission has just concluded its five-year investigation of the residential schools system, a traumatic program of forced assimilation imposed upon the Aboriginal populations of Canada from mid-1800s until 1996. And unfortunately, the "Victimization Olympics" have begun again. I want to suggest that we stop comparing the experiences of victim groups and understand the specificity of each collective experience, while noting the diverse experiences of individuals within each group.

 

Over the last decade, students have entered my university courses on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and made instant equations made between Auschwitz and Canadian residential schools. I have learned not to react to these uneducated assumptions and explain that as students learn about Auschwitz-Birkenau these kinds of inaccurate equations disappear. As horrifying as residential schools were for the children forced into them, they have no resemblance whatsoever to a death camp designed to gas and burn human beings, in a larger process of systematic physical annihilation across Europe. Forced acculturation is not extermination. In fact, the very concept of using education and socialization to "kill the Indian in the child" assumes that there is a common underlying humanity that is actually accessible and "reformable." This would have been a total impossibility in Nazi racial thinking.

 

These differences are historical facts, but they should not be used to rank the suffering of people. The Holocaust was not a universal human experience; it was a specific program to erase the Jewish people from the continent of Europe. It was the most extreme genocide in modern recorded history and therefore it should not be used as the primary meter stick to gauge human suffering or to define genocide. There are parallels, however, between the destruction of aboriginal cultures and languages under European colonialism and the forced conversions and subjugation of Jews in Christian Europe. In the modern period, as well, the French Revolution allowed for the emancipation of Jews granting them civil rights, but with the requirement that they be "reformed" out of their Jewish identity and turned into Frenchmen. Both Jews and Aboriginals have lived under enormous assimilationist pressure and much of it violently coercive.

 

Facile comparisons to the Holocaust and other genocides do not do justice to the uniqueness of the Aboriginal experience either. Life was completely altered for the indigenous populations after European settlement was established in Canada, which made their traditional existence impossible. The government and churches dictated one's rights, obligations, and movements, and invaded one's most intimate setting — the family. Having this kind of absolute control over the lives of people invited widespread opportunities for abuse and the sexual and physical violation of children by clergy is a whole other level of trauma that does damage to the very souls of people. These are enormously complex levels of abuse and damage, and they deserve scholarly attention and respectful discussion at the public and governmental level…

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

 

[Catherine Chatterley is an Academic Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.]

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

Contents

                                                                                     

 

On Topic

 

How Obama Abandoned Israel: Michael B. Oren, Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2015—‘Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes.” When I was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to the end of 2013, that was my standard response to reporters asking who bore the greatest responsibility—President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—for the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations.

Jewish Violinist Completes Father's Performance, 80 Years After Cut Short by Nazis: Aron Heller, Ha’aretz, June 2, 2015 —In 1933, the promising young Jewish-German violinist Ernest Drucker left the stage midway through a Brahms concerto in Cologne at the behest of Nazi officials, in one of the first anti-Semitic acts of the new regime

A Nazi Wrong Made Right—After 77 Years: Jonathan Zalman, Tablet, May 15, 2015—In 1938, Ingeborg Rapoport (née Syllm), a 25-year-old graduate student at the University of Hamburg in Germany, had just completed her thesis on the infectious disease, diphtheria. But with Hitler in power, Rapoport, who was raised Protestant (though her mother was Jewish), was banned from taking the oral examination for “racial reasons,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Officials marked her exam forms with a telltale yellow stripe” despite the fact that her professor, then a member of the Nazi party, supported her academic work.

In Morocco, Exploring Remnants of Jewish History: Michael Frank, New York Times, May 30, 2015—Boy 1: “What are those two guys doing walking around here?” Boy 2: “It’s obvious. They’re looking for the Jews.” This exchange was translated from Arabic by Youness Abeddour, a guide and documentarian who agreed to share with me his knowledge of the mellah, the walled Jewish quarter, of Fez.

 

 

              

ISRAEL TODAY FACES GREAT OPPORTUNITIES— DESPITE ONGOING ANTISEMITIC & ISLAMIST THREATS

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

 

Contents:

 

Israel at a Turning Point: Jonathan Adelman, Huffington Post, Feb. 2, 2015 —The news today about Israel is often negative.

Theories Over Death of Alberto Nisman Stir Dark Memories in Argentina: Stephanie Nolen, Globe & Mail, Jan. 30, 2015 — Was the death of Alberto Nisman intended as a message?

Remembering Auschwitz and the Enormity of Evil: Rex Murphy, National Post, Jan. 31, 2015— January 27th was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most infamous beyond infamy of the Nazi factories of torment and death.

‘Pugnacious Zionist’ Martin Gilbert Was the Chronicler of Modern Jewry: Jenni Frazer, Times of Israel, Feb. 4, 2015 — To the outside world, Sir Martin Gilbert was an eminent historian, a member of Britain’s Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot, and – overall – Churchill’s biographer.

 

On Topic Links

 

'Accountant of Auschwitz' To Go On Trial in Germany in April: Ynet, Feb. 4, 2015

A Murder in Argentina: Clifford D. May, Natioanl Post, Jan. 29, 2015

Balancing Faith and Reason: Joseph Epstein, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2014

A Diamond Among Diamonds: Dovid Winiarz OB”M: Sandy Eller, Jewish Press, Jan. 30, 2014

                                                                     

                                      

ISRAEL AT A TURNING POINT                                                                                        

Jonathan Adelman                                                                                                       

Huffington Post, Feb. 2, 2015

 

The news today about Israel is often negative. While 135 nations have recognized a Palestinian state, the PLO has gained admission to the International Criminal Court where it wants Israel to be found guilty of war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A recent study found that the State Department has cited Israel as the #4 state in the world for "unacceptable behavior." Already one of the most hated countries in the world, Israel faces a new wave of anti-Israel sentiment in Europe and is surrounded by radical Islamic fundamentalist groups including Hamas (Gaza), Hizbollah (Lebanon), ISIS (Syria and Iraq) and Al Nusra (former Syrian Golan Heights).

 

The threat to Israel is at a level not seen since 1948 and 1967. The highest level of existential threat is posed by Iran and a "soft" nuclear deal that would leave it on the threshold of having nuclear weapons. With most Israelis living in 3,400 square miles, only two atomic bombs could kill nearly one million Israelis. Iranian bases, 700 miles from Israel, would need only 11 minutes to fire missiles that could hit Tel Aviv.

 

The second moderate level of threat is the 100,000 missiles and rockets that Hizbollah possesses in Lebanon. Several thousand rockets could hit any target in Israel with more accuracy than Hamas' weapons. In war Ben Gurion International Airport would likely be shut down, thousands of Israelis might be killed and Hizbollah might try an invasion of the northern Galilee. The lowest level of threat would come from the radical Islamic groups near Israel's border who could kill dozens or hundreds of Israelis.

 

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, there has also been much positive news about Israel. This year 15,000 French Jews are likely moving to Israel and 50,000 could come in the next five years. In a region lacking any Arab democratic states, Israel is holding its 20th democratic election since its founding in 1948. Egypt has closed 80% of its tunnels with Hamas-ruled Gaza. General Al Sisi has called for a "religious revolution" among Moslems and repeatedly ordered attacks on 2,000 jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula. The Syrian civil war has driven one million Sunnis into Lebanon, thereby decreasing the power of Shiite Hizbollah already mired down in fighting in Syria. The Syrian civil war has lessened any Syrian threat as the country has fractured into feuding Alawite, Kurdish and radical jihadist areas. Saudi Arabia and the UAE see Israel as a counterweight to Shiite Iran. The Saudi cleric, Iyad Madani, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, just paid an unprecedented visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jordan has turned even closer to Israel from fear of ISIS.

 

Israel has developed strong relations with three BRIC countries. India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to develop closer relations with Israel, especially in the development and military arenas. Sino-Israeli trade is moving towards 10 billion dollars. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently denounced anti-Semitism and compared the importance of Crimea to Russians to the Temple Mount's importance to Moslems and Jews. Despite its small size, Israel has emerged as a top 5 high tech nation in the world with over 20 billion dollars of high tech exports. A MIT-Skolkovo study found Technion to be sixth among 120 universities in high tech entrepreneurship and innovation. The Global Cleantech Index named Israel as the #1 innovator globally in clean technology. The United States (Roosevelt Island), Russia (Skolkovo) and China (Shantou) have asked Israel and Technion to partner in developing hi-tech zones and universities. Tel Aviv is #2, after Silicon Valley, as the best place in the world to bring out a start-up in high tech.

 

Israel exports seven billion dollars of weapons a year. This provides futuristic defense systems ranging from the relatively simple Iron Dome to the highly complex Arrow 3 anti-missile system under development. Its military intelligence, as seen by its successful attack on Hizbollah leaders in Syria this week, is excellent. Even unexpected events — the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Israel and the massive fall of oil prices costing the Iranians tens of billions of dollars — show there is hope for Israel. Israel today faces great dangers — and also great opportunities.

 

                                                           

Contents                                                                                               

                      

THEORIES OVER DEATH OF ALBERTO NISMAN STIR DARK                                            

MEMORIES IN ARGENTINA                                                                                            

Stephanie Nolen                                                                      

Globe & Mail, Jan. 30, 2015

 

Was the death of Alberto Nisman intended as a message? And if so, who sent it? After two weeks of near-unceasing drama, this uneasy question hovers over the Argentine capital. Mr. Nisman was a special prosecutor tasked with investigating one of the most brutal terror attacks in Latin American history. He was found dead on Sunday of a gunshot wound in the bathroom of his elegant Buenos Aires apartment. He had been set to testify on Monday to Congress about charges he filed implicating President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, her Foreign Minister and political aides in a plot to cover up Iranian responsibility for the suicide truck bombing of a 1994 Jewish community centre here that killed 85 people.

 

Police are investigating whether Mr. Nisman killed himself or was murdered, a question still not answered to anyone’s satisfaction. Ms. Fernandez de Kirchner first vigorously proclaimed his death a suicide – and now just as fiercely says he was murdered. Few Argentines are likely to trust any official conclusions in the case, given this country’s history of political state violence and how deeply the government’s tentacles still reach into the police and the judiciary.

 

But in cafés beneath bright awnings, and at scarred wooden tables in parilla steakhouses, theories are debated intensely. The cast of potential suspects includes assassins sent by the President or her allies to eliminate a critic and frighten others following his work; the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah seeking to shut down the investigation of its patron, Iran; and the President’s own latest favourite that Mr. Nisman died at the hands of rogue agents from Argentina’s shadowy domestic spy service.

 

The theories are so complicated, and sometimes so lacking in logic, that it is difficult to imagine them being floated, let alone seriously debated in endless television coverage, in any country but this one, so steeped in political division and dark history. If it was murder, carried out on the watch of an elite security detail, the specific message remains opaque. But the larger tactic is perfectly clear, and it has unsettled many Argentines, stirring dark memories of an era they had hoped they were leaving behind. “It’s like a signal: nobody else investigate power,” said Patricia Bullrich, spreading worried hands across her dining room table. “It’s like when drug traffickers send a message: stop here or you will be next.” Ms. Bullrich, an opposition member of Congress from a patrician family with shifting political ties, chairs the parliamentary committee that had called Mr. Nisman to testify. She spoke to him two days before he died, and recalled in an interview this week that he seemed utterly normal – just tired, a bit worried. Not remotely suicidal.

 

She is among those who believe his accusations against the President had merit. She says she knows he built the case on 5,000 hours worth of wiretapped telephone conversations. “But I can’t imagine the President gave the order to go and kill him,” Ms. Bullrich added, her brow creased with anxiety beneath heavy auburn bangs. Plenty of other powerful people, however, might have been keen to silence Mr. Nisman to demonstrate the price of asking questions. It’s a blunt-force mode of communication in a country where most people have vivid memories of life under dictatorship. “It’s the return of political violence,” Ms. Bullrich said. “That is the feeling. Can you sense it?” The prosecutor’s death is profoundly damaging for Argentina, where an air of progress on some key national issues has been sharply undermined by the tumultuous events of the past few weeks.

 

Mr. Nisman, known as a hard-working federal prosecutor with a tendency for the occasional grandstanding accusation, took charge of investigating the AMIA bombing – it is known by the name of the community centre – in 2004. It was already a politically charged file. In the late 1990s, a group of Argentinian police officers and others were brought to trial on charges of assisting in the bombing, but were acquitted after the judge and investigators were found to have faked evidence and bribed witnesses. A new series of indictments alleges those irregularities extended all the way to the office of former president Carlos Menem, who is among eight people expected to go on trial for obstruction of justice in that case in June. Then, on Jan. 14, Mr. Nisman filed a stunning charge sheet with a judge. President Fernandez de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, he said, had conspired with Iranian officials to cover up the role of Iranian nationals in the bombing. The allegation is that they subverted the course of a nationally important investigation – in effect, as a senior legal official described it in an off-the-record conversation about the charges, they committed treason.

 

Mr. Nisman said that he had uncovered hints of the alleged plot in the course of his AMIA work, and it so disturbed him he had no option but to pursue it. Essentially he said that Ms. Fernandez de Kirchner, eager to build ties with Iran and bolster an economy crippled by her government’s policies, made a secret deal with Iran to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing. That deal, he charged, was made before the countries publicly agreed in 2013 to work together on a so-called Truth Commission to investigate the attack. Under the secret deal, Mr. Nisman alleged, said Argentina would drop the Interpol notices for seven Iranian suspects in the bombing, and redirect its investigation away from Iran, likely onto a local fascist organization. In exchange Argentina would trade food for Iranian oil. The pact was allegedly brokered by aides including Luis D’Elia, a provocative left-wing social activist who dealt with Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attaché in Buenos Aires who some believe was the mastermind of the bombing. Ms. Bullrich compares it to the idea of a U.S. president conspiring with Osama Bin laden on a 9/11 truth commission; she called it “a very dark, illegal negotiation with people not in government.”

 

Reactions to the Nisman charge cleaved along political lines, in accordance with the roughly equal parts admiration and loathing inspired by President Fernandez de Kirchner, a champagne socialist with a flair for populism and a fierce with-me-or-against-me political ethic. Those who hate the President, and there are many, are fully prepared to believe she ordered the prosecutor killed. “She has a sick hunger for power and to keep it she is capable of anything,” said Gabriel Levinas, author of a book about the bombing and commentator on a prominent current-affairs program with the Clarin media group, with which she has battled. Supporters of the President reject the Nisman indictment as legally flimsy and full of fantastic and baseless allegations. A former Interpol chief has said that the Argentine government never tried to get the warrants on the Iranians lifted, noted Horacio Verbitsky, a prominent investigative journalist who also heads a human rights organization. He also pointed out that Argentina does not import the petroleum products Iran sells. In an interview in his book-lined living room, he waved a copy of the Nisman denuncio, fringed in Post-it notes, then threw up his hands. “It’s self-contradictory and rebuffed by reality. It’s an impossible crime.”…

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

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

             

REMEMBERING AUSCHWITZ AND THE ENORMITY OF EVIL                                                               

Rex Murphy                                        

National Post, Jan. 31, 2015

 

January 27th was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most infamous beyond infamy of the Nazi factories of torment and death. It was here the “blood-dimmed tide” unleashed by Hitler reached its most swollen, where a million Jews went in unspeakable humiliation and pain to their end. Anniversaries, perhaps especially those of the most grim event, provoke recollection, and in the case of the Holocaust in particular are meant to reinforce memories. “Lest we forget” is not an idle injunction. Some things have to be remembered.

 

The capture and famous trial of Adolf Eichmann was perhaps the real beginning of Holocaust memorialization, certainly the key event that pushed the horrors of the Nazi era back into the mind of the world. Yet curiously, the most singular account of that trial, Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, gave birth to a terrible shorthand description of that period in its subtitle: A Report on the Banality of Evil. That one phrase, “the banality of evil,” has become a commonplace, a near-signature designation for events so much larger than the words it encompasses. It is grotesquely inadequate, utterly wrong.

 

The scale and depth of the horrors of the extermination machine, invented, set in motion, and kept demonically in exercise for the entire six years of war, are not so much diminished as sidelined, obscured and obliterated from primary notice by Arendt’s semantic sleight of phrase. Nazi evil reached nearly unscalable dimensions, possessed an inverted, perverted sublimity — a negative sublime, for which of all words in all languages “banality” is the last and least it suggests. When we think or read of Auschwitz and its brethren slaughterhouses, most of us don’t have ready or adequate words for its scene — and even in the highest poetry it is difficult to find worthy correlatives, though Milton’s words on Hell are, singularly, very close: No light; but rather darkness visible//Served only to discover sights of woe,//Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace//And rest can never dwell, hope never comes//That comes to all, but torture without end …

 

Auschwitz was a scene not of banality, but enormity — of vast, incomprehensible, massive evil. The operative understanding is not simply the “enormousness” which the associate word instantly implies, but far more centrally the essence of the act being denoted — evil. Enormity is not, first, a word of magnitude; it speaks cardinally of evil and disaster. It is a word of judgment far more than measure. Banality is so far removed from this dimension, is so placid, clinical and even self-satisfied a term — it is, in the worst sense, a writer’s word — that it will not do as anything more than a smart, blunt effort at facile paradox. Arendt was wrong, wrong from the very beginning to deploy it, and however much, in whatever sense it has been used since to dismiss, scorn or reduce Eichmann, it has also been wrong. It is a spectacular misreading. Her error lies in taking the reading of Eichmann’s personality, his demeanour, his dull face, his “boring” presentation of himself, as ascriptive of the character of the deeds which he ruthlessly and with such passionate (not banal) efficiency pursued.

 

The phrase is the very end chord of her long piece, in which she dismisses Eichmann’s speech from the gallows as “grotesquely silly,” and his thoughts and words as rancid with cliché. But the famous equation that concludes the coda is not about Eichmann. It is about evil: “It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us — the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.” That the sadist fanatic in the Israeli dock had no horns and didn’t speak with the manic fluency of his master, Hitler, emphatically does not mean the “work” he superintended with such reptilian frigidity was banal, or that the moral category in which it was so perfectly enfolded — Evil — was itself banal. An easy but unpalatable speculation discloses the error quite succinctly. Were it Hitler that day on the gallows, would his dark, fearsome charisma have suggested a different ascription — the insanity of evil, the monstrousness of evil? Or bloated Goering — would he have suggested the gaudiness, the bestial appetency of evil?

 

Arendt’s urge for a flare of originality, a reach after cleverness, betrayed her, but such was the unexpectedness of the conjunction between the two key words — banality and evil — that her phrase has become fixed in altogether too many glancing minds as something of an assessment. It lowers the moral and intellectual temperature of the reality of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and all those other halls of Hell. Banality is not a word that serves history or language, and “banality of evil” is a hollow, nullifying, profoundly — let me borrow Arendt’s term — silly formulation. Seventy years on from Auschwitz, 54 years after the trial that seized the mind of the world, it is past time to retire it.

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

                                                   

PUGNACIOUS ZIONIST MARTIN GILBERT

WAS THE CHRONICLER OF MODERN JEWRY                                                                    

Jenni Frazer                                                                                                                             

Times of Israel, Feb. 4, 2015 

 

To the outside world, Sir Martin Gilbert was an eminent historian, a member of Britain’s Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot, and – overall – Churchill’s biographer. But to the Jewish world Martin Gilbert, who died Tuesday, was a passionate Jew and Zionist, a Soviet Jewry campaigner and chronicler of the Holocaust, repeatedly using his forensic skills to unpick telling details of the Jewish experience in the 20th century.

 

Just over 10 years ago this writer sat for two fascinating hours as Gilbert, sitting in his book-lined Highgate, London workroom, recalled how it was ultimately Winston Churchill, the man who dominated his life, who was responsible for the young Gilbert’s homecoming after he and his cousins had been evacuated from London to Canada in the summer of 1940. Gilbert was almost 4 at the time and had been sent to Toronto with his aunt. Then an only child, he was very upset to be parted from her and farmed out to foster parents. He recalled, “I used to walk to see my aunt every Shabbat. I thought it was an enormous distance, but when I went back a few years ago…” As Gilbert explained it, by April 1944, Churchill had examined the state of British trans-Atlantic shipping and realized that the RMS Mauretania, which had been converted into a troop ship, was carrying a relatively small number of military personnel. Churchill suggested the ship bring back as many of the evacuated children as possible and, typically, gave orders for there to be extra lifeboats on board.

 

So, on May 22, 1944, Gilbert landed in Liverpool, clutching among his few belongings a suitcase containing oranges, presented by his Canadian hosts and destined to be given to his parents…His father was a manufacturing jeweler based in London’s Hatton Garden and had spent the war years working with industrial diamonds. Gilbert’s grandfather, Aaron, was one of 17 brothers and sisters of whom, Gilbert estimates, around one-third stayed in Russian Poland and perished in the Holocaust…After a brief time in Oxford, the Gilbert family resumed life in London, and Gilbert was sent as a weekly boarder to Highgate School, where, he said, “I was very keen on geography but I fell into the clutches of the history master.” The master in question, Alan Palmer, himself a noted author and historian, laid down for Gilbert guiding principles of his approach to history. Always, Palmer said, be inquisitive about subjects beyond that which you are immediately studying. His other piece of advice also resonated with Gilbert: “Never pass a wall plaque without reading it.”

 

It was, perhaps, in this way that Gilbert maintained his astonishing output. At the time of our meeting he had published 75 books (not just about Churchill, but about Israel, Natan Sharansky, the Holocaust, and war-time appeasement) and was to embark on his 76th, “Churchill and the Jews,” as soon as I left the premises. He ended his long career as the author of more than 80 books, many featuring his trademark history maps showing the paths taken by Jews back and forth, criss-crossing Europe and Russia. He also published a series he nicknamed “Gilbert’s Ghetto Guides,” pocket guides with pull-out maps to allow informed walks around ghettos from Vilna to Venice. Gilbert was frequently criticized as a historian because of his tendency to set out the facts and allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. But he demurred. “I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I was reluctant to publish ‘Auschwitz and the Allies’ because I was concerned that my own voice was too strong. I was worried that my book on Israel might be deemed to have too strong a Zionist voice, and in my history of the Holocaust, my voice is in part the voice of the survivors. Although in one way, I would like to feel that my voice is not there… if I present the evidence fully and honestly, why should my voice be any more interesting than the reader’s voice?

 

School was followed by National Service, and Gilbert used the opportunity to learn Russian, something which stood him in great stead in his later work. He was dismissive, however, of his ability with languages. Despite stints teaching at both Tel Aviv and the Hebrew University, he said his Hebrew was not great. “I struggle with language,” he said. “But one skill I do have is to extract from a mass of documents a clear, strong, narrative.” In his last summer vacation from Magdalene College Oxford, in 1959, Gilbert, who described himself as a “pugnacious Zionist” at university, went with a group of friends to visit Treblinka, Auschwitz and Birkenau, seeing “the doors of the huts, flapping in the wind.” It was an unusual trip to have made at the time, but it undoubtedly sowed the seeds of Gilbert’s life-long, clear-eyed commitment to recording the Holocaust. It eventually led to one of Gilbert’s most popular and accessible books, “The Boys,” the personal stories of 732 concentration camp survivors, men and women, who ultimately made their second homes in Britain…

 

His workload was prodigious, but Sir Martin Gilbert was that rare bird in the British Jewish community, open, always up for a new challenge, and bursting still in his later years with profound enthusiasm and a commitment to the Jewish and Israeli experience. For many years his was the only voice of a professional historian to look at some of the most painful issues of the Holocaust, which has been followed – only relatively recently – by a new generation of Jewish academics. His will be large shoes to fill.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents                                                                                    

 

 

On Topic

 

'Accountant of Auschwitz' To Go On Trial in Germany in April: Ynet, Feb. 4, 2015—Oskar Groening, a 93-year-old man dubbed the 'accountant of Auschwitz,' will go on trial in April on allegations he was accessory to 300,000 murders as an SS guard at the Nazis' death camp, a German court said on Monday.

A Murder in Argentina: Clifford D. May, Natioanl Post, Jan. 29, 2015 —“When heads of state become gangsters, something has to be done.” Winston Churchill said that. It’s a proposition not many people nowadays endorse. Fewer still take it upon themselves to stand up to the thugs-cum-statesmen.

Balancing Faith and Reason: Joseph Epstein, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2014—A high percentage of the best historical novels have been written with the classical world as background.

A Diamond Among Diamonds: Dovid Winiarz OB”M: Sandy Eller, Jewish Press, Jan. 30, 2014—It was January 12th when I got an email asking me to write about the Facebuker Rebbe, an individual named Dovid Winiarz who used Facebook as a kiruv medium.

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

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

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

 

Contents:

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

On Topic Links

 

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

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

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

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

                               

                                   

    

THE COMMANDING VOICE OF AUSCHWITZ

Emil L. Fackenheim

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

 

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

 

                                                                       

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HOW AUSCHWITZ IS MISUNDERSTOOD                                                             

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen                                                                                       

New York Times, Jan. 24, 2015

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

                                                                       

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REMEMBER THE PAST TO BUILD THE FUTURE       

 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

 

Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2015

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

                                                           

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OSKAR GRÖNING TO STAND TRIAL FOR BEING AUSCHWITZ GUARD               

IN CASE THAT COULD MAKE GERMAN LEGAL HISTORY

 

Tony Patterson                                                                                                     

Independent, Dec. 17, 2017

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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ANTI-SEMITISM, OLD AND NEW                                                                         

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                                  

Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2015

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

On Topic

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

WALLENBERG: A SHINING EXAMPLE OF HOW TO CONFRONT EVIL IN OUR CRUEL, & INCREASINGLY VIOLENT WORLD

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

 

Contents:

 

In Dark Times, Remember Wallenberg: Irwin Cotler, Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2015— It has been a dark January.

While the World Has Been Looking Elsewhere, Boko Haram Has Carved Out its Own, Brutal Country: David Blair, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015— You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country.

Let us Mourn for Paris – And No Less for Nigeria: Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2015— Millions gathered in Paris this weekend as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and in defiance of the Islamic extremists who murdered them..

This Is Obama’s Last Foreign Policy Chance: Leslie H. Gelb, Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2015 — Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing.

Obama: Charlie Who?: Charles Krauthammer, National Review, Jan. 15, 2015 — On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie.

 

On Topic Links

 

Satellite Images Show Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria: Drew Hinshaw,  Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Chad Soldiers to Fight Boko Haram in Cameroon: Emmanuel Tumanjong & Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse: Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2015

When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter:  Joe Randazzo, Daily Beast, Jan. 18, 2015

                                                     

                            

IN DARK TIMES, REMEMBER WALLENBERG                                                                       

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                                             

Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2015

 

It has been a dark January. Thus far, 2015 has brought tragic and infuriating terrorism, anti-Semitism, and assaults on liberty in France; a car bomb in Yemen that killed and injured dozens; and the massacre of thousands in Nigeria by Boko Haram, as well as yet another of the group’s mass kidnappings. This is in addition to continuing mass atrocities and humanitarian crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Central Africa, Sudan, and elsewhere, and it comes on the heels of the deadly hostage-taking in Sydney, and the barbarous terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan that left more than a hundred dead, most of them children.  At times like these, the evil in the world can feel overwhelming, and it can be tempting to cede to despair, aggravating the problem of the international community as bystander to atrocity and injustice. How appropriate, then, that January 17 was Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada, in remembrance and tribute to this disappeared hero of humanity.

 

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, was a beacon of light during the darkest days of the Holocaust, and his example remains so today. Prior to his arrival in Budapest in July 1944, some 430,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Auschwitz death camp in the space of ten weeks – the fastest, cruelest, and most efficient mass murders of the Nazi genocide. Yet Wallenberg rescued more Hungarian Jews from the Nazis than any single government, notably saving 20,000 by issuing Schutzpasses – documents conferring diplomatic immunity. He even went to the trains as mass deportations were underway, distributing Schutzpasses to people otherwise consigned to death. Other diplomatic missions followed suit, saving thousands more.

 

Wallenberg saved an additional 32,000 by establishing dozens of safe houses in a diplomatic zone protected by neutral legations. He organized hospitals, soup kitchens, and childcare centres, providing human dignity along with the essentials of life. Moreover, when thousands of Jews were sent on a 125-mile death march in November 1944, Wallenberg followed alongside, distributing improvised Schutzpasses, as well as food and medical supplies. To Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi desk murderer who organized the mass deportations to Auschwitz, Wallenberg was the judenhund, the Jewish dog; to thousands of survivors and their families – many of whom have shared their stories of Wallenberg’s bravery with me – he was a guardian angel. Finally, with the Nazis preparing to liquidate the Budapest ghetto as the war neared its end, Wallenberg warned Nazi generals that they would be held accountable and brought to justice, if not executed, for their crimes. The Nazis desisted, and 70,000 more Jews were saved.

 

Regrettably, 70 years ago on January 17, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviets, who had entered Hungary as liberators. He disappeared into the Gulag, and his fate remains unknown. Initial Soviet claims that he died in custody in July 1947 have since been contradicted by investigations, including the International Commission on the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg, a group I chaired in 1990, and which included Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Soviet scholar Mikhail Chelnov, former Israeli attorney general Gideon Hauser, and Wallenberg’s brother, Guy von Dardel, who was the driving force behind the commission’s establishment. In 1985, a U.S. Federal Court found the evidence “incontrovertible” that Wallenberg lived past 1947, “compelling” that he was alive in the 1960s, and “credible” that he remained alive into the 1980s; but precisely what became of him remains a mystery.

 

It is tragic that, while too many of the Holocaust’s guilty have lived out their lives in peace, this saviour of the innocent was detained and disappeared. Indeed, the person who saved so many was not saved by so many who could. Yet, while we pursue the moral obligation of discovering the truth of Wallenberg’s fate, his legacy endures, reminding us of the power of an individual with the compassion to care and the courage to act to confront evil, resist, and transform history. In recognition of his heroism, Canada named Wallenberg our country’s first honorary citizen 30 years ago. He has been granted the same distinction in Hungary, Australia, Israel, and the USA – where many states mark Wallenberg Day on October 5. There are monuments to him in cities around the world, as well as streets and schools that bear his name. In Paris, there has been a Rue Raoul-Wallenberg since 2007.

Wallenberg is a shining example of how to confront overriding evil. By intervening to save civilians, he personified what today we call the Responsibility to Protect; by giving out food and medical supplies, he provided what today we call humanitarian relief and assistance; and by issuing his warning to Nazi generals, he prefigured the Nuremberg principles and what today we call international criminal law. At a time when it seems as though each day brings a new heart-wrenching catastrophe, let us be inspired by Raoul Wallenberg, who came face to face with the horrors of Nazism, and was moved not to despair, but to action.

                                                           

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WHILE THE WORLD HAS BEEN LOOKING ELSEWHERE,                                  

BOKO HARAM HAS CARVED OUT ITS OWN, BRUTAL COUNTRY                                                          

David Blair                                                                                                                                           

National Post,  Jan. 14, 2015

 

You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country. With its own capital, army and self-styled “emir,” this domain possesses some of the features of statehood. But don’t expect an application to join the United Nations: the consuming ambition of this realm is to reverse just about every facet of human progress achieved over the past millennium. Boko Haram, the radical Islamists responsible for enslaving the Chibok schoolgirls and killing hundreds of people in the past week alone, have carved out a heartland in the plains of northern Nigeria. Every insurgency tries to graduate from launching hit-and-run attacks to controlling territory. Boko Haram has now crossed this vital threshold. Scores of towns and villages have fallen into the hands of its gunmen across the states of Borno and Yobe. Today, Boko Haram rules a domain the size of Belgium with a surface area of about 32,000 square kilometers and a population of at least 1.7 million people. The capital, incidentally, is a town called Gwoza. The terrorist state’s army comprises Boko Haram’s fearsomely well-equipped insurgents and the “emir” is a maniacal figure called Abubakar Shekau.

 

For the second time in less than three years, an African government has been sufficiently absent-minded to lose a swathe of its country. Ever since the attacks on September 11, a central goal of Western counter-terrorism policy has been to prevent al-Qaida or its allies from controlling territory. But, somehow, it keeps happening – over and over again. Back in 2012, al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa managed to take over two thirds of Mali, achieving mastery over an area three times the size of Britain. France’s brilliantly executed intervention broke al-Qaida’s grip on that domain in 2013, but there is no prospect of Boko Haram being similarly defeated in Nigeria. As Shekau proclaims the birth of his new African “Caliphate” – to go with the similar creation of Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) in the Middle East – three questions arise: How did it come to this? How dangerous is the world’s newest country? And, most vitally of all, what is to be done?

 

The first question is easiest to answer: Boko Haram achieved its advances because of the corruption and incompetence of the Nigerian state. Now that a string of towns has fallen, the failure of the country’s army to stand up to the insurgents is glaring. Partly, that is explained by the fact that the Nigerian armed forces are relatively small: the army has only 62,000 soldiers to defend a country four times bigger than Britain, with no fewer than 180 million people. But that is not the sole reason for the failure. Instead of spending their generous security budget – almost $8 billion in 2014 – on proper weapons and equipment, Nigerian generals tend to pocket the money themselves or blow it on showpiece helicopters that attract generous commissions but are of precious little use against Boko Haram. The result is that the beleaguered 7th Division, which has primary responsibility for fighting Boko Haram, confines itself to mounting a static defence of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Back in 2013, the Islamists managed to destroy most of this unit’s helicopters. Lacking the means to wage a mobile war and crippled by a venal and inept leadership, the 7th Division has made no serious effort to recapture territory from Boko Haram…

 

As for the dangers posed by the birth of Boko Haram-land, the immediate threat is that the new state will become a base for more conquests. That has already happened, with the town of Baga falling last Wednesday and the Islamists launching regular raids over the border into neighbouring Cameroon. Does this pose a wider peril, stretching beyond West Africa? At the moment, the answer is probably not. Boko Haram shares the anti-Western fanaticism of al-Qaida, but the insurgency stubbornly fails to conform to neat categories. Even its name is not what it seems. Boko Haram is generally taken to mean “Western education is banned,” but “Boko” means book in the Hausa language, so “books are banned” would be a more accurate translation. By implying that their campaign is motivated by an objection to “Western education,” we risk allowing Boko Haram to appear less atavistic than they actually are…                                 

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

                                                                       

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LET US MOURN FOR PARIS – AND NO LESS FOR NIGERIA                                                                  

Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2014

 

Millions gathered in Paris this weekend as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and in defiance of the Islamic extremists who murdered them. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Islamic extremists continued the grim work of slaughtering innocents. The heavily armed Islamist group known as Boko Haram has cut a bloody swath through the country since 2009. It now controls a territory of roughly the same size as the one that suffers under the yoke of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

 

It’s not yet known how many people died during a vicious, week-long rampage in and near Baga, a fishing town in the strife-ridden northeast. Estimates vary, but it’s claimed that between 600 and 2,000 were killed. The weekend toll from the towns of Potiskum and Maiduguri is more precise: 19 dead and 26 injured, after a pair of explosions in crowded outdoor markets. It’s believed the suicide bombers were 10-year-old girls. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “the international jihadist movement has declared war” and that countries like Canada must face it head on. International jihadists may or may not amount to one monolithic enemy. But Mr. Harper is right. With the Nigerian military on the run in Baga – where the national army has itself been accused of mass killings in the past – and as calls multiply for greater international involvement, this is a good opportunity for Canada to define more clearly how this country could contribute to thwarting radical Islamist violence. Ideally, it would go beyond the modest military involvement in Iraq. It’s not realistic to send on its own a Canadian mission, military or otherwise, to Africa’s most populous nation. But surely Canada has a role to play. Mr. Harper and the other party leaders should urgently sketch out their conceptions of it.

 

The insurgency led by Boko Haram – which explicitly rejects Western niceties like public education, gender equality and democracy – is precisely the sort of thing a country serious about opposing violent, obscurantist zealots ought to help stamp out. It’s time to break with the West’s scandalous pattern of inaction in the face of large-scale loss of life in Africa. Millions proclaim, “Nous sommes Charlie.” Let’s also be Baga.                               

                                        

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THIS IS OBAMA’S LAST FOREIGN POLICY CHANCE                                                                            

Leslie H. Gelb                                                                                                     

Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2015 

 

Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn’t just because President Obama’s or Vice President Biden’s absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is—with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.

 

Mr. Obama will have to excuse most of his inner core, especially in the White House. He will have to replace them with strong and strategic people of proven foreign policy experience. He’ll also need to seed the Defense and State Departments with new top people serving directly as senior advisers to the secretaries. And he also will need to set up regular consultations—not the usual phony ones—with the two key Senate leaders in this field, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, two people who can really improve his decisions and bolster his credibility. Many will be tempted to dismiss these crash solutions as several bridges too far, as simply unrealistic. But hear me out. It can be made much more plausible than it seems at first blush. What’s more, if Mr. Obama doesn’t do something along the lines of what’s proposed here, he and we are in for unmanageable trouble. Before I continue, I have to tell you that I’ve never made such extreme and far-reaching proposals in all my years in this business. I’ve never proposed such a drastic overhaul. But if you think hard about how Mr. Obama and his team handled this weekend in Paris, I think you’ll see I’m not enjoying a foreign policy neurological breakdown. It was an absolute no-brainer for either Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden personally to show the American flag on the streets of Paris. Of course every senior staff person should have recommended it three seconds after the news of the Parisian horrors. So far as we know, none did. Sure, this was an inexplicable and utter staff failure, but the president and the vice president shouldn’t have required anyone to tell them what to do in this situation. It was, after all, about terrorism, the main issue of the era. If all these top officials blew this obvious decision, shudder at how they’ll handle the hard ones.

 

First, Mr. Obama will have to thank his senior National Security Council team and replace them. The must-gos include National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, chief speech writer/adviser Ben Rhodes, and foreign policy guru without portfolio Valerie Jarrett. They can all be replaced right away, and their successors won’t require senatorial confirmation. Here’s who could succeed them and inspire great confidence immediately at home and abroad: first rate former top officials and proven diplomats Thomas Pickering, Winston Lord, and Frank Wisner; Republicans with sterling records like Robert Zoellick, Rich Armitage, Robert Kimmitt, and Richard Burt; or a rising young Democrat of proven ability and of demonstrated Cabinet-level quality, Michele Flournoy. Any one of them would make a huge difference from Day 1 in a top role. Others among them could be brought on to the NSC as senior advisers without portfolio to take the lead on specific problems. These are not just my personal opinions about these individuals; they are practically universal ones.

 

The State Department really needs help, too. Anthony Blinken, the new No. 2 there, is quite good and should stay. But Secretary of State John Kerry has been described even by the faithful in this administration as quixotic. Any of those mentioned above for the top NSC job could also serve as senior advisers without portfolio to Kerry and Blinken. But they would have to be given real access and authority. Even if they could only do their advising two or three days a week, these are the kind of people who carry most of the relevant information in their heads already, and their experience is unmatched. Ashton Carter, the defense secretary to be, will be very strong and very good, but he too could use some senior national security/foreign policy advisers to help him through the long list of problems. Particularly good in this role would be Dov Zakheim, a Pentagon undersecretary in a Republican administration. He knows budgets and policy. Carter could also take aboard first rate retired military minds such as Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army.

 

And Mr. Obama also has a great opportunity that he should try his best to pursue: establishing a genuine working relationship with two new senatorial power brokers. Bob Corker and John McCain really know their stuff and are very good heads. Nothing can stop McCain from going beyond acceptable limits of critiquing Mr. Obama, and if he’s determined to do it so be it, but he has the knowledge and often the good instincts to really improve the president’s defense policies. This can work only if McCain accepts that he is not president of the United States and commander in chief. At some point, he’d have to be a team player as he has proved he can be. Corker is much more self-controlled and a very wise head on foreign policy. The more Americans get to know him in the coming years, the more this gem of a public servant will be recognized. Finally, Mr. Obama will need the usual wise men for regular informal consultation: Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and James Baker. These suggestions are all ad hoc and a bit helter-skelter. But no one can figure out how to make the present Obama team work, and I haven’t heard other solutions.

 

In the end, making the national security system work comes down to one factor, one man—Barack Obama. He’s the key problem, and he’s the only one who can bring about a solution. He’s such a closed person. He’s first rate as an intellectual thinker, but he thinks about problems as an intellectual and not as a policy maker and a leader. Alas, that’s just too clear. He also doesn’t like to be challenged with give and take. If he were to bring in the kind of people I suggest, he would have to resolve at the outset to give them a full hearing and tangible respect for their views. The world’s challenges to America today are not mere distractions from domestic priorities. They are gut challenges to our national security in the Middle East, with Russia and China, and with the terrorist threat inside and outside our borders. The terrorism and cyber warfare challenges in particular imperil our very survival. Mr. Obama will not be a lesser man but a greater man if he recognizes what’s at stake and accepts the help he must have to ensure our survival. End of story.

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

                                                             

OBAMA: CHARLIE WHO?                                                                                                

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                  

National Review, Jan. 15, 2015 

 

On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.” Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of Paris to declare “No” to intimidation, and to pledge solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”), with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations, and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.

 

As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. These were followed by the now-famous absence of any U.S. representative of any stature at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error. But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communication, in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by his staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?) On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying (a) that the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) that the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.” Hence his call in a major address at the National Defense University to “refine and ultimately repeal” Congress’s 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, the very legal basis for the war on terror. Hence his accelerating release of Gitmo inmates, in full knowledge that about 30 percent will return to the battlefield. (Five more releases were announced Wednesday.) Which is why, since, oh, the Neolithic era, POWs tend to be released only after a war is over.

 

Paris shows that this war is not over. On the contrary. As it rages, it is entering an ominous third phase. The first, circa 9/11, involved sending Middle Eastern terrorists abroad to attack the infidel West. Then came the lone wolves — local individuals inspired by foreign jihadists to launch one-off attacks, as seen most recently in Québec, Ottawa, and Sydney. Paris marks Phase 3: coordinated commando strikes in Western countries by homegrown native-speaker Islamists activated and instructed from abroad. (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo killings, while the kosher-grocery shooter proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State.)…

 

The War on Terror 2015 is in a new phase with a new geography. At the core are parallel would-be caliphates: in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State; in central Africa, now spilling out of Nigeria into Cameroon, a near-sovereign Boko Haram; in the badlands of Yemen, AQAP, the most dangerous of all the al-Qaeda affiliates. And beyond lie not just a cast of mini-caliphates embedded in the most ungovernable parts of the Third World from Libya to Somalia to the borderlands of Pakistan, but also an archipelago of no-go Islamist islands embedded in the heart of Europe. This is serious. In both size and reach it is growing. Our president will not say it. Fine. But does he even see it?

Contents           

On Topic

 

Satellite Images Show Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria: Drew Hinshaw,  Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Chad Soldiers to Fight Boko Haram in Cameroon: Emmanuel Tumanjong & Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015—Chad began deploying troops on Friday to fight Boko Haram in neighboring Cameroon, officials from the two countries said, drawing the landlocked, Central African nation into a now-regional conflict against the Islamic militants.

Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse: Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2015 —While the world fixated on the murder of 17 people by Islamic terrorists in and around Paris last week, another slow and grisly massacre was taking place in Nigeria, at the hands of the Islamist militants of Boko Haram.

When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter:  Joe Randazzo, Daily Beast, Jan. 18, 2015—In the first few days after Boko Haram’s recent attack in the remote village of Baga, most of the news coverage I saw about it concerned the lack of news. Why, the media wondered, was the media not more interested? As many as 2,000 people had been slaughtered, a figure that, if true, would dwarf the number killed in Paris around the same time.

           

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

The Dangerous Divided Jerusalem Fantasy: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, May 28, 2014—  On this date in the Hebrew calendar 47 years ago, Israeli forces ended the division of Jerusalem.

One Country Saved Its Jews. Were They Just Better People?: Michael Ignatieff, New Republic, Dec 12, 2013— This magnificent book states its central argument in its title. Danish Jews survived Hitler’s rule in World War II, when other European Jews did not, because Danes regarded their Jewish neighbors as countrymen.

Obama’s Ad Hoc Foreign Policy: Charles Krauthammer, National Review, May 29, 2014— It is fitting that the day before President Obama gives his grand West Point address defending the wisdom and prudence of his foreign policy, his government should be urging Americans to evacuate Libya.

Letters from Our Readers

 

On Topic Links

 

Yom Yerushalayim: Reunification of a People and a Past: Israel Forever Foundation, Jewish Press, May 28, 2014

Jerusalem Day: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2014

The Holocaust's Foremost Unsung Hero: Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom, Apr. 27, 2014

At West Point, President Obama Binds America’s Hands on Foreign Affairs: Washington Post, May 28, 2014

Cadets Not Excited With Obama Speech; Media United Against President: Joseph R. Carducci, Downtrend, May 29, 2014

 

THE DANGEROUS DIVIDED JERUSALEM FANTASY           

Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                           Commentary, May 28, 2014

                         

On this date in the Hebrew calendar 47 years ago, Israeli forces ended the division of Jerusalem. The city had been split during the Arab siege of the capital in 1948 and it remained cut in half by an ugly wall as well as by dangerous no-man’s-land zones. The victory in the Six-Day War ended an illegal occupation of the eastern portion of the city as well as the walled Old City by Jordan that had lasted for 19 years but was not recognized by the world. In breaking down the barriers, the Israelis not only reunited the city but opened access to its religious shrines—including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount—which had been off limits for Jews during the Jordanian occupation. But as Israelis celebrated what is known as “Jerusalem Day” today, support for the push to reinstate the division of the city in the international community has grown. Every Middle East peace plan proposed in the last 15 years, including the three Israeli offers of statehood that the Palestinians turned down, included a new partition of Jerusalem even though both sides remain murky about how that could be accomplished without reinstating the warlike atmosphere that prevailed before June 1967.

 

But for those who believe that such a partition is essential to peace, the process by which a city that has grown exponentially in the last five decades, with Jews and Arabs no longer neatly divided by a wall, could be split is merely a matter of details. To fill in the blanks for its readers, Ha’aretz published a Jerusalem Day feature that provided the answer to the question. Highlighting a complicated scheme put forward by a Jerusalem architectural firm, the paper asserted that most Jerusalemites wouldn’t even notice the difference if their city was re-partitioned. On the surface the plan, which has been funded by a variety of left-wing sources, seems practical if complicated and expensive. But it is not only completely unrealistic; it is based on a fantasy that the real problem in Jerusalem is primarily one of engineering, aesthetics, and logistics. Like every other element of other utopian peace plans that are sold to both the Israeli and Western publics as the solution that “everybody knows” must eventually happen, this vision of Jerusalem ignores the fundamental problem of peace: the fact that the Palestinians don’t want it.

 

The conceit of the divided Jerusalem scheme is that the old “green line” that once cut through the city as well as the West Bank is alive and well. Since the second intifada, Jews largely avoid Arab sectors of the city and Arabs do the same in Jewish sections. The only problem then is how to “soften” the appearance of a division so as to codify the reality of a divided city without actually reinstating the ugly and perilous military fortifications that served as the front lines for the Arab-Israeli wars from 1949 to 1967. There is some truth to the notion that Jerusalem is currently divided in this manner. But it is a fallacy to assert that it is anything as absolute as the authors of the plan and their media cheerleaders claim. Contrary to the notion popularized by the terminology used by the media, there is no real east or west Jerusalem. The city is built on hills with much of the “eastern” section actually in the north and south where Jewish neighborhoods on the other side of the green line have existed for over 40 years. The idea that this can all be easily sorted out by handing out the Jewish sections to Israel and the Arab ones to “Palestine” won’t work.

 

It is a falsehood to assert that 40 percent of Jerusalemites can’t vote in municipal elections. Residents of Arab neighborhoods could vote but don’t. If they did participate they would hold real power, but for nationalist reasons they choose to boycott the democratic process and the result is that they have been shortchanged. While current Mayor Nir Barkat opposes division of the city, he has rightly argued that Israel has to do better in serving Arab neighborhoods because with sovereignty comes responsibility. But what the plan’s authors also leave out of the equation is that a division would deprive many of these same Arabs of their employment and health coverage since a great number work on the Israeli side or get their medical treatment there. Will they give that up for Palestine? Just as when the security barrier was erected, many Arabs will clamor to stay on the Israeli side of any divide for obvious reasons.

 

Left unsaid in the piece is the fact that there are actually a number of interlocked Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Nor does it explain how the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus (which was isolated as a Jewish enclave during the Jordanian occupation) could be reached from what they propose to be Israeli Jerusalem or how Jerusalemites could access the scenic Sherover/Haas promenade in the city. And those are just a few of the anomalies that go unsolved or unanswered in a scheme that treats transportation patterns and border security as if they were mere blots on the map rather than avoidable facts. There’s also no mention here about how security in this intricately divided city could be administered. Would Israelis really be prepared to cede the security of their capital to foreign forces? Could peace monitors be relied upon to respect Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods if they become, after peace, the object of a new intifada whose purpose would be to chip away at the rump of the Jewish state?…

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

                                                                               

                                               

Contents
                                  

                                        

 

ONE COUNTRY SAVED ITS JEWS.

WERE THEY JUST BETTER PEOPLE?

Michael Ignatieff                                                

New Republic, Dec. 14, 2014

 

This magnificent book states its central argument in its title. Danish Jews survived Hitler’s rule in World War II, when other European Jews did not, because Danes regarded their Jewish neighbors as countrymen. There was no “us” and “them;” there was just us. When, in October 1943, the Gestapo came to round up the 7,500 Jews of Copenhagen, the Danish police did not help them to smash down the doors. The churches read letters of protest to their congregations. Neighbors helped families to flee to villages on the Baltic coast, where local people gave them shelter in churches, basements, and holiday houses and local fishermen loaded up their boats and landed them safely in neutral Sweden. Bo Lidegaard, the editor of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken, has retold this story using astonishingly vivid unpublished material from families who escaped, and the testimony of contemporary eyewitnesses, senior Danish leaders (including the king himself), and even the Germans who ordered the roundups. The result is an intensely human account of one episode in the persecution of European Jews that ended in survival.

 

The story may have ended well, but it is a complex tale. The central ambiguity is that the Germans warned the Jews and let most of them escape. Lidegaard claims this was because the Danes refused to help the Germans, but the causation might also have worked in the other direction. It was when the Danes realized that the Germans were letting some Jews go that they found the courage to help the rest of their Jewish community escape. Countrymen is a fascinating study in the ambiguity of virtue. The Danes knew long before the war that their army could not resist a German invasion. Instead of overtly criticizing Hitler, the Social Democratic governments of the 1930s sought to inoculate their populations against the racist ideology next door. It was in those ominous years that the shared identity of all Danes as democratic citizens was drummed into the political culture, just in time to render most Danes deeply resistant to the Nazi claim that there existed a “Jewish problem” in Denmark. Lidegaard’s central insight is that human solidarity in crisis depended on the prior consolidation of a decent politics, on the creation of a shared political imagination. Some Danes did harbor anti-Semitic feelings, but even they understood the Jews to be members of a political community, and so any attack on them was an attack on the Danish nation as such.

 

The nation in question was imagined in civic terms rather than ethnic terms. What mattered was a shared commitment to democracy and law, not a common race or religion. We can see this in the fact that Danish citizens did not defend several hundred communists who were interned and deported by the Danish government for denouncing the Danish monarchy and supporting the Hitler-Stalin pact. The Danes did nothing to defend their own communists, but they did stand up for the Jews.

 

The Danish response to the Nazis illuminates a crucial fact about the Holocaust: the Germans did not always force the issue of extermination where they faced determined resistance from occupied populations. In Bulgaria, as Tzvetan Todorov has shown in his aptly titled book The Fragility of Goodness, the Jews were saved because the king of Bulgaria, the Orthodox Church, and a few key Bulgarian politicians refused to assist the German occupiers. Why did a similar civic sense of solidarity not take root in other countries? In Holland, why did 80 percent of Dutch Jews perish? And what about France: why did liberty, equality, and fraternity not apply to the citizens driven from their homes by French police and sent to deportation and death? These questions become harder to answer in the light of the Danish and Bulgarian counterexamples. One possible explanation is that the German occupation’s presence in Denmark was lighter than in either France or Holland. The Danes, like the Bulgarians, kept their king and maintained their own government throughout the occupation. Self-government gave them a capacity to defend Jews that was never possible in the occupied zones of France or Holland.

 

Both the Danish king and the Danish government decided that their best hope of maintaining Denmark’s sovereignty lay in cooperating but not collaborating with the German occupiers. This “cooperation” profited some Danes but shamed many others. The Danish population harbored ancestral hostility to the Germans, and the occupation reinforced these feelings. The Germans, for their part, put up with this frigid relationship: they needed Danish food, and Danish cooperation freed up German military resources for battle on the Eastern Front, and the Nazis wanted to be liked. They wanted their “cooperative” relationship with Denmark to serve as a model for a future European community under Hitler’s domination. From very early on in this ambiguous relationship, the Danes, from the king on down, made it clear that harming the Jews would bring cooperation to an end and force the Germans to occupy the country altogether. The king famously told his prime minister, in private, that if the Germans forced the Danish Jews to wear a yellow star, then he would wear one too. Word of the royal position went public and even led to a myth that the king had actually ridden through the streets of Copenhagen on horseback wearing a yellow star on his uniform. The king never did wear a star. He didn’t have to wear one, because, thanks to his opposition, the Germans never imposed such a regulation in Denmark.

 

Then, in late summer in 1943, the order came down from Eichmann to the local German authorities in Copenhagen that they had to rid the city of its Jews, these authorities faced a dilemma. They knew that the Danish politicians, police, and media—that Danish society as a whole—would resist and that, once the cooperation of the Danes had been lost, the Germans would have to run the country themselves. The Germans in Copenhagen were also beginning to have second thoughts about the war itself. By then the German armies had been defeated at Stalingrad. While the Gestapo in Poland and Eastern Europe faced the prospect of defeat by accelerating the infernal rhythm of extermination in the death camps, the Gestapo in Denmark began to look for a way out. The local Gauleiter, a conniving opportunist named Werner Best, did launch the roundup of the Jews, but only after letting the Jewish community find out in advance what was coming, giving them time to escape. He did get his hands on some people in an old-age home and dispatch them to Theresienstadt, but all but 1 percent of the Jewish community escaped his clutches. It is an astonishing number.

 

When Adolf Eichmann came to Copenhagen in 1943 to find out why so many Jews had escaped, he did not cashier the local Gestapo. Instead he backed down and called off the deportations of Danes who were half-Jewish or married to Jews. Lidegaard’s explanation for Eichmann’s volte face is simply that the institutions of Danish society all refused to go along. And without their cooperation, a Final Solution in Denmark became impossible. Totalitarianism, not to mention ethnic cleansing and ethnic extermination, always requires a great deal of collaboration. When they got wind of German plans in September 1943, the Danish government resigned, and no politician agreed to serve in a collaborationist government with the Germans thereafter. After the roundups of Jews were announced, leading Danish politicians of different parties issued a joint statement declaring, “The Danish Jews are an integral part of the people, and therefore all the people are deeply affected by the measures taken, which are seen as a violation of the Danish sense of justice.” This is the political culture of “countrymen” with which Lidegaard explains the extraordinary determination—and success—of the Danes in protecting their Jewish population…

 

When the Germans arrived to begin the deportations, Jews had already been warned—in their synagogues—and they simply vanished into the countryside, heading for the coast to seek a crossing to neutral Sweden. There was little or no Jewish communal organization and no Danish underground to help them. What ensued was a chaotic family-by-family flight, made possible simply because ordinary members of Danish society feigned ignorance when Germans questioned them, while sheltering families in seaside villages, hotels, and country cottages. Danish police on the coast warned hiding families when the Gestapo came to call, and signaled all-clear so that boats bearing Danish Jews could slip away to Sweden. The fishermen who took the Danish Jews across the Baltic demanded huge sums for the crossing, but managed to get their frightened fellow citizens to safety. When the Gestapo did seize Jewish families hiding in the church of the small fishing village of Gilleleje, the people were so outraged that they banded together to assist others to flee. One villager even confronted the local Gestapo officer, shining a flashlight in his face and exclaiming: “The poor Jews!” When the German replied, “It is written in the Bible that this shall be their fate,” the villager unforgettably replied: “But it is not written that it has to happen in Gilleleje.”

 

Why did the Danes behave so differently from most other societies and populations in occupied Europe? For a start, they were the only nation where escape to a safe neutral country lay across a narrow strait of water. Moreover, they were not subject to exterminatory pressure themselves. They were not directly occupied, and their leadership structures from the monarch down to the local mayors were not ripped apart. The newspapers in Copenhagen were free enough to report the deportations and thus to assist any Jews still not in the know to flee. The relatively free circulation of information also made it impossible for non-Jewish Danes to claim, as so many Germans did, that “of this we had no knowledge.” Most of all, Denmark was a small, homogeneous society, with a stable democracy, a monarchy that commanded respect, and a shared national hostility to the Germans. Denmark offers some confirmation of Rousseau’s observation that virtue is most easily fostered in small republics…

 

Countrymen is a story about a little country that did the right thing for complicated reasons, and got away with it for equally complicated reasons. It is a story that reinforces an old truth: solidarity and decency depend on a dense tissue of connection among people, on long-formed habits of the heart, on resilient cultures of common citizenship, and on leaders who marshal these virtues by their example. In Denmark, this dense tissue bound human beings together and indirect rule made it impossible for the Germans to rip it apart. Elsewhere in Europe, by contrast, it was destroyed in stages, first by ghettoizing and isolating the Jewish people and then by insulating bystanders from the full horror of Nazi intentions. Once Jews had been stripped of citizenship, property, rights, and social existence—once they could appeal only to the common humanity of persecutors and bystanders alike—it was too late.

 

There is a sobering message in Lidegaard’s tale for the human rights era that came after these abominations. If a people come to rely for their protection on human rights alone, on the mutual recognition of common humanity, they are already in serious danger. The Danish story seems to tell us that it is not the universal human chain that binds peoples together in extremity, but more local and granular ties: the particular consciousness of time, place, and heritage that led a Danish villager to stand up to the Gestapo and say no, it will not happen here, not in our village. This extraordinary story of one small country has resonance beyond its Danish context. Countrymen should be read by anyone seeking to understand what precise set of shared social and political understandings can make possible, in times of terrible darkness, acts of civil courage and uncommon decency.

 

Contents
                                  

OBAMA’S AD HOC FOREIGN POLICY                                    

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                      

National Review, May 29, 2014

 

It is fitting that the day before President Obama gives his grand West Point address defending the wisdom and prudence of his foreign policy, his government should be urging Americans to evacuate Libya. Libya, of course, was once the model Obama intervention — the exquisitely calibrated military engagement wrapped in the rhetorical extravagance of a nationally televised address proclaiming his newest foreign-policy doctrine (they change to fit the latest ad hoc decision): the responsibility to protect, or R2P. You don’t hear R2P bandied about much anymore. Not with more than 50,000 civilians having been slaughtered in Syria’s civil war, unprotected in any way by the United States. Nor for that matter do you hear much about Libya, now so dangerously chaotic and jihadi-infested that the State Department is telling Americans to get out. And you didn’t hear much of anything in the West Point speech. It was a somber parade of straw men, as the president applauded himself for steering the nation on a nervy middle course between extreme isolationism and madcap interventionism. It was the rhetorical equivalent of that classic national-security joke in which the presidential aide, devoted to policy option X, submits the following decision memo: Option 1. All-out nuclear war…Option 2. Unilateral surrender…Option 3. Policy X.

 

The isolationism of Obama’s telling is a species not to be found anywhere. Not even Rand Paul would withdraw from everywhere. And even members of Congress’s dovish Left have called for sending drones to Nigeria, for God’s sake. As for Obama’s interventionists, they are grotesquely described as people “who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak” while Obama courageously refuses to believe that “every problem has a military solution.” Name one person who does.

 

“Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force?” Obama recently and plaintively asked about Ukraine. In reality, nobody is. What actual earthlings are eager for is sending military assistance to Ukraine’s woefully equipped forces. That’s what the interim prime minister asked for when he visited here in March — and was denied. Two months later, military assistance was the first thing Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s newly elected president, said he wanted from the United States. Note: not boots on the ground.

Same for Syria. It was Obama, not his critics, who went to the brink of a military strike over the use of chemical weapons. From which he then flinched. Critics have been begging Obama to help train and equip the outmanned and outgunned rebels — a policy to which he now intimates he might finally be coming around. Three years late. Qusair, Homs, and major suburbs of Damascus have already been retaken by the government. The battle has by now so decisively tilted toward Assad — backed by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, while Obama dithered — that Assad is holding triumphal presidential elections next week.

 

Amid all this, Obama seems unaware of how far his country has fallen. He attributes claims of American decline to either misreading history or partisan politics. Problem is: Most of the complaints are coming from abroad, from U.S. allies with no stake whatsoever in U.S. partisan politics. Their concern is their own security as they watch this president undertake multiple abdications from Warsaw to Kabul. What is the world to think when Obama makes the case for a residual force in Afghanistan – “after all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win” — and then announces a drawdown of American forces to 10,000, followed by total liquidation within two years on a fixed timetable regardless of circumstances?

 

The policy contradicts the premise. If you want not to forfeit our terribly hard-earned gains — as we forfeited all our gains in Iraq with the 2011 withdrawal — why not let conditions dictate the post-2014 drawdowns? Why go to zero — precisely by 2016? For the same reason, perhaps, that the Afghan surge was ended precisely in 2012, in the middle of the fighting season — but before the November election. A 2016 Afghan end date might help Democrats electorally and, occurring with Obama still in office, provide a shiny new line to his résumé. Is this how a great nation decides matters of war and peace — to help one party and polish the reputation of one man? As with the West Point speech itself, as with the president’s entire foreign policy of retreat, one can only marvel at the smallness of it all.

 

 

LETTERS FROM OUR READERS

 

“Dear Fred…I had a high opinion of Barry Rubin, and was sorry to hear of his death at a relatively early age. I also liked and approve of your obituary essay. You presented a case that I would like to see given proper attention by Gentiles as well as Jews, conservatives and liberals. Power to your arm. Best Wishes,   

—Neil (Feb. 8, 2014)

 

“In general I am a supporter of CIJR and consider it an excellent and valuable organization. I have, however, had reservations about some of your positions. For example, you appear to often paint United States president Obama as anti-Israel and pro-Arab. I contend there is little or no evidence for this. He is rather, a weak and ineffictive leader, especially in foreign matters. As well, there is an understandable, but often wrong tarring of left wingers as Israel bashers. Perhaps this last was what you had in mind in reprinting the rather sick and slightly dated article by Steven Plaut called "On the Tikkun Olam Fetish" in today's Daily Briefing. In my view it was nothing more than a puny defence of Orthodoxy and an attack on more liberal strains of Judaism. This does no service to your cause and mine, the defence of Israel, and represents one of Israel's great failings. It was in no way useful, nor appreciated.”

—Ken (Mar. 10, 2014)

 

“The Purimspiel Daily Briefing was lovely and very entertaining. I am wondering where is all the material from and if either of you wrote up one of these funny ones. Happy Purim”

—Jack (Mar. 16, 2014)

 

“As someone who consumes a vast amount of research daily on the Arab-Israeli conflict, I can think of no other pro-Israeli think tank that has  attained the reach, scope, effectiveness, and impeccable credentials as CIJR in its unparalleled original research and analysis: From  the Middle East and international  radical Islam to  internal developments within Canada affecting the Jewish community  and its overpowering intellectual analysis of what is going in Israel, the Muslim World and the reverberations in Canada and north America. CIJR is not just a think tank. It is an intellectual leader and unrelenting activist institution  in protecting the security of the State of Israel and of Canada itself from the unspeakable ravages of international radical Islamic movements, as they have established centers from gravity from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, south America, Western Europe and North America…So on the occasion of the CIJR’s 26th Annual Gala Dinner, let me raise a toast to the incredibly hard working and truly assiduous workers behind this miraculously effective  institute and wish it another 26 years of unparalleled  success.  This is one organization that has truly made a difference in our lives and in improving the security of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. It deserves all of our support. “

—Steven Emerson, Executive Director, The Investigative Project on Terrorism (May 14, 2014)

 

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

Yom Yerushalayim: Reunification of a People and a Past: Israel Forever Foundation, Jewish Press, May 28, 2014—There has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem, and our connection to and passion for the city has been preserved as a memory by Jewish people around the world.

Jerusalem Day: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, May 28, 2014—In the spirit of Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, I would like to share with you a remarkable sermon I have just come across, which was delivered by my late father-in- law, Rabbi Israel Porush, at the Great Synagogue in Sydney one year after the Six Day War.

The Holocaust's Foremost Unsung Hero: Emily Amrousi, Israel Hayom, Apr. 27, 2014—In 1986, a 78-year-old man named Moshe Kraus died in Jerusalem. You probably don't recognize the name. He was never commemorated in any way.

At West Point, President Obama Binds America’s Hands on Foreign Affairs: Washington Post, May 28, 2014 —President Obama has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries.

Cadets Not Excited With Obama Speech; Media United Against President: Joseph R. Carducci, Downtrend, May 29, 2014

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE CONVERGENCE OF OLD, NEW, & “INVENTED” FOES—AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE’S ABILITY TO OVERCOME

BOOK REVIEW: I SLEEP IN HITLER’S ROOM:
AN AMERICAN JEW VISITS GERMANY
Bruce Bawer
Pajamas Media, December 8, 2011

I Sleep in Hitler’s Room: An American Jew Visits Germany. That’s the book’s title, and the text itself is every bit as compelling as the title leads one to expect. So, for that matter, is the book’s back story, as the author, Tuvia Tenenbom, relates it in his preface. Tenenbom spent several months traveling around Germany and recording his observations, and had a contract with the major German publisher Rowohlt, which accepted the completed manuscript and planned to bring the book out in April 2011. But then the head of Rowohlt demanded certain cuts and changes—mainly in Tenenbom’s no-holds-barred references to German anti-Semitism. Tenenbom flatly refused.

“Germans are a tribe, I was told,” explains Tenenbom, “and the tribe will protect itself. This is something I am not used to. Walk into any American bookstore and you will find quite a number of books that are fiercely anti-American.… But Germany…is not America.” An unpleasant struggle ensued, confirming for Tenenbom that German “hate for the Jew then, and the hate of the Jew today…is the same exact hate.”

So it is that the book has now appeared under the imprint of the Jewish Theater of New York, of which Tenenbom is the founder and artistic director. It’s a book in a category all its own—deeply sobering, depressing even, in its observations of the darker side of Germany, yet at the same time so chatty and engaging and laugh-out-loud funny that it’s hard to put down. Tenenbom is an acute observer of his fellowman, but also a born entertainer, a comedian, who approaches his interview subjects—of whom there are dozens, ranging from leading political and cultural figures to folks he runs into on the street—as a combination inquisitor and tumbler.

After he’s spent a while in the land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, Tenenbom decides that Germans “are obsessed with Jews.” It’s impossible, he finds, to get through a day without hearing mention of Jews, Israel, and/or the Holocaust. He is constantly exposed to rote expressions of sympathy for the victims of Auschwitz—and rote expressions of rage over Israel’s supposedly deplorable treatment of the Palestinians. In a bookstore window in Düsseldorf, he sees three titles: “A book about Palestine, a book about the Holocaust, and another book written by an Israeli leftist who is a strong critic of the Israeli government.”

He keeps being told by Germans that there’s more anti-Semitism in the U.S. than in Germany. Why? Because there are more Jews in the U.S.—they simply take for granted that if there are more Jews, there must be more Jew-hate. He meets secondary-school students who complain that their teachers don’t tell them much about the Nazi era: “Just numbers and dates. They don’t go into depth. They don’t tell us what really happened. We want to know more.”

Insights that seem random at the outset gradually coalesce into a picture of a distinctive sensibility. Noting the excessive preoccupation of many Germans with things like recycling, Tenenbom points out that “righteous people can turn into animals in a second.… It wasn’t the bad economy that turned the country to Nazism; it was the Weimar people and their righteousness.” He meets Germans who are so politically correct, so perfect in their leftism, that they cheer for North Korea at a soccer game. And he interviews a young man who’s head of education at Buchenwald—and who’s also such a passionate pro-Palestinian that even after having lost an eye and his brother as the result of a bomb placed in their car by a Palestinian, he remains a fierce supporter of the cause. Tenenbom is brilliant, telling the young man that he has every right to his politics, but asking him how someone in his job cannot “feel the need to be a little more sensitive to Jewish feeling.… I ask him if his hate for the Jew is so deeply rooted that sense has simply failed him.” The young man listens silently, his hands shaking.

What’s going on here? All too many Germans, Tenenbom suggests, “want to erase the shame of being the Jew killers of yesterday by uniting with the Jew haters of today.… Peace and Love, they say, a thousand times a day, and it’s a thousand times empty. They flash two fingers, front and back, for Peace and for Love, but their hearts sing Sieg Heil.” The German media not only don’t expose the Jew-hate, moreover, they strive to hide it. “Eighty-two million Germans,” he notes wryly, and they “have nothing better to do than be obsessed with 106,000 Jews living among them.” Why? One of his interviewees, a businessman, has this to say: “There are basically no Jews in this country, just a very few. The relationship the people here have to the Jews is theoretical, not real.”

As for Tenenbom himself, he has these reflections to offer: “…Subconsciously the Germans think that if they occupy themselves with the Palestinians of Gaza they will erase from memory the Brown Bears of Buchenwald—and will look beautiful in the eyes of the world.”

Tenenbom’s conversation with the young man at Buchenwald is far from the only arresting exchange recorded in these pages. Visiting the concentration camp at Dachau, Tenenbom meets an “average” couple who live in the town and is invited to lunch at their home. He devotes four pages to a stunning account of his unrelenting questioning of them. He asks them about Dachau’s past. At first they profess indifference. But eventually he breaks them down. The man weeps and confesses that he doesn’t want to look into the past because it would be like looking into a mirror. He is the Nazis; the Nazis are him.…

More and more, his own understanding of the German people comes to revolve around the whole business of Germans being a tribe. He notes the ubiquity of the word Verein—which means group, association, fellowship. The Germans, he realizes, “are ‘group’ people.… Germans move together, walk together, act together, and think together.” Adenauer, the businessman, agrees with him that Germans are “tribal,” and that Hitler took advantage of this by “defining the tribe as ‘Aryan’.…”

I don’t know if I agree with this or not, but I’m sure that Tenenbom means what he says. He’s an honest broker—honest to a fault, honest about himself, honest about Jews, America, Islam, and every other topic he takes on. And he’s stubborn in demanding honesty of others. He is, in short, just the right kind of person to push past the often dense politically correct facades of the Germans he meets and discover what’s lurking behind them.…

It’s too bad this book wasn’t published by Rowohlt.… I can only hope that I Sleep in Hitler’s Bed finds its way before too long into the German language—and into as many of those Judaism- and Israel-obsessed bookstores as possible. It may just make a bit of a difference.

A JAMES BOND FOR THE POST-9/11 WORLD
Barbara Kay

National Post, December 14, 2011

I love journalism. But keeping up with the news leaves little time for recreational reading. In my pre-columnizing days, I’d read a novel or two a week. But fiction, especially the detective and spy genres I adore, has become a guilty pleasure.

Last weekend, curious to see why the Gabriel Allon espionage series is so popular, I defied my superego and plunged into Daniel Silva’s latest book, Portrait of a Spy. The pleasure was worth the guilt. I’m officially smitten by the book’s protagonist, Gabriel Allon.

This middle-aged Israeli secret agent is a cosmopolitan polyglot haunted by Holocaust ghosts, with a brilliant record of eliminating latter-day Islamist Hitler wannabees. Allon isn’t just a secret agent, though. He’s a gifted artist with a specialty in the restoration of old masters. He is psychologically torn (de rigeur in this heroic breed) between duty and, as the novel opens, earned respite from it—a quiet, art-centred life in remote Cornwall, with breaks for soulful cliff walks and gourmet meals prepared by his beautiful young Italian wife (also a spy).

His idyll is interrupted. After visiting an art dealer in London, he anticipates, but fails to stop, a suicide bomber from blowing up a group of innocents. So duty prevails when Allon is called on by Shamron, his old, but still leonine Mossad mentor, to collaborate with the CIA in an operation to eliminate the terror network behind the London bombing Allon witnessed, and similar ones in other European cities.

Gathering his formidable team of seasoned Mossad operatives, all brilliant, single-minded, tech-savvy—and did I mention fluent in Arabic?—Allon launches a daring peripatetic scheme, financially and logistically mounted through American largesse, but executed by Israelis working their spyware.

At the plan’s centre is Nadia al-Bakari, the reclusive billionaire heiress of a Saudi terror funder. Nadia’s tragic coming of moral age when her father, felled by an assassin’s bullet, dies in her arms, opens the door to a strange, but persuasive intimacy with Allon. Pledged to roll back her father’s bloody legacy, Nadia is the only one with the resources and credibility to lead Allon to his elusive targets. Can he trust her? He must gamble that he can.

The racy plot unfolds in Washington and, with tension-packed stops along the way in Paris and Dubai, climaxes, in the desolate Saudi Arabian desert, with a riveting showdown between Allon and terror honcho Rashid al-Husseinu, (modelled on the recently assassinated, American-born jihadist, Anwar al-Awlaki).

Terse, entertaining dialogues between Israeli and American agents reveal their mutually dependent, but mutually wary coalition. The White House won’t authorize American covert action in the “quasi-friendly” Saudi Arabia because “it could embarrass the regime,” but, as Shamron wryly notes, “Israelis running amok in Dubai is another matter.”

Israeli and American strengths and weaknesses complement each other. The CIA director says to Allon: “Our ability to collect information is unrivalled, but we’re too big and far too redundant to be effective.… Sometimes, it’s better to be small and ruthless. Like you.”

Foreign-policy hawks will admire the author’s firm grasp of geopolitical realities. A former postgraduate student of international relations, Silva has worked on UPI’s foreign desk in Washington and served as their Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf. He is an American who knows the Middle East well.

Like the hawks, Silva takes a hardheaded view of a patient, triumphalist Islamism that neither sleeps nor wavers in its obsessive jihad against Israel and the West. He seems to think Europe “might be dying,” and definitely thinks America and Israel are in the fight of their lives for the foreseeable future.

Even when his own hero expresses hope for peace in our time, the author demurs. In their desert confrontation, Gabriel says to Rashid, “The Arab world is changing. Your time has passed.” Rashid retorts, “Surely, Allon, a man such as yourself is not so naive as to think this great Arab Awakening is going to produce Western-style democracy in the Middle East. The revolt might have started with the students and the secularists, but the [Muslim] brothers will have the last word.”

Silva has been enormously popular since he began publishing in 1997. In my previous life, I would have twigged to him immediately. My late discovery doesn’t displease me, though: It means I still have nine more Allon adventures awaiting me.

REMEMBERING THE TERROR IN MUMBAI
Warren Kozak

Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2011

Three years ago, believers of two religions came face to face, with horrific results. It is remembered as the Mumbai Attacks. Over the course of four days, 10 terrorists from the Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba perpetrated coordinated attacks on 10 different locations across India’s financial capital. In addition to three hotels, a cinema, and a hospital for women and children, four of the terrorists traveled to the Nariman House, which served as the city’s Chabad Jewish community center.

In all, 164 people were killed in Mumbai and 308 were wounded. What stands out in the horror of those days is the particular viciousness of the attack on the defenseless people inside Nariman House. The Holtzbergs—a young couple, emissaries from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—along with four other Jewish visitors were all killed. But Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka were first tortured, the details of which are too gruesome to recount. (Their 2-year-old son was rescued by his Indian nanny, who grabbed the blood-spattered child and ran outside when the attackers weren’t looking.)

Why did the attackers specifically target Chabad and why with such viciousness? Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Army of the Pure, is South Asia’s largest and most militant terror network. It is based in Pakistan, where it reportedly received planning assistance for the Mumbai operation from Pakistan’s secret service agency. The group’s founding aim was to reclaim the disputed Kashmir region for Muslims, but in recent years Lashkar has expanded to global scope, with particular animus toward India and Israel, declaring Hindus and Jews to be enemies of Islam.  Hence the attack on Nariman House, one of 3,000-plus Chabad Houses around the world that provide assistance, religious services, food, lodging and Torah study to local and visiting Jews.

“Chabad,” an acronym for the Hebrew “wisdom, understanding, knowledge,” is another name for the Lubavitcher movement, named after the city in Russia where this particular movement of Orthodox Jewish Hasidism was founded in the 18th century.

Chabad would probably be unknown to the outside world had it not been for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, its charismatic leader from 1951 until his death in 1994. Known as the “Rebbe” to his followers, he took a small group ravaged in the Holocaust and electrified it with a vision. Based in its new home of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Jewish movement grew rapidly, and today there are Chabad Houses from Morocco to Cambodia to Santa Fe.

While the Rebbe was a great Talmudic scholar, he was also an electrical engineer who studied at the Sorbonne and did work for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Perhaps because of his varied background, the Rebbe infused the Lubavitchers with entrepreneurialism. “This was not a man who was interested in creating followers,” says Jonathan Sacks, the chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth. “This was a man who was passionate about creating leaders.”

Sending out emissaries was part of the program from the start, in 1951. “These extraordinary people could have achieved enormous personal gain in business or as professionals, but instead dedicated their lives to a higher purpose,” says Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of the movement’s educational and social services arms.…

Chabad couples are not sent out to proselytize. They are meant to act as role models for other Jews, in order to create a better world. Lubavitchers believe that every mitzvah (commandment) performed—whether it is helping someone in need or lighting the Sabbath candles—brings us all closer to the coming of the Messiah. “Love of God, of Torah and of every Jew—all three are really one and they cannot be separated,” said the Rebbe upon assuming leadership of the movement in 1951.

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were a typical Chabad couple—devout, devoted to the Rebbe’s principles, and with a strong sense for self-sacrifice for their fellow Jews.… In another community, the violent deaths of such a young and promising couple might have sent shivers through the leadership, prompting them to pull other emissaries from the field. But Chabad’s leadership did the opposite, immediately sending another couple to take their place.

“It was almost instantly reflexive for some, especially from knowing Gabi and Rivki,” observes Rabbi Chanoch Gechtman, who together with his wife Leah now runs the Chabad House in Mumbai. “Great darkness must be challenged with bright light.”

FRIEDMAN IS WRONG
Editorial

Jerusalem Post, December 15, 2011

For the past several years, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, that guru for American Jewish liberals, has shown that he doesn’t really understand Israel or the region. His misunderstanding of Israel is evident in his underlying assumption that appears in his columns repeatedly: that were Israel to just leave the settlements, peace would flow like a river.

Well, Israel uprooted all 21 settlements from Gaza in 2005, but instead of peace, received an unending barrage of missiles in return. The settlements are a consequence of the conflict, not its cause. The PLO, if anyone has forgotten, was established in 1964, three years before the Six Day War and any thought of a West Bank settlement.

As for Friedman’s failure to understand the region, readers need look no further than his breathless “Postcard from Cairo” columns at the outset of the Arab Spring last February. To have read Friedman then was to believe this was 1989 all over again, and that Hosni Mubarak would be deposed and replaced by the Egyptian version of Vaclav Havel. In one piece, he castigated Israel for not being more supportive of the protesters in Tahrir Square. “The children of Egypt were having their liberation moment,” he wrote, “and the children of Israel decided to side with Pharaoh—right to the very end.”

Wrong. Israel wasn’t supporting Pharaoh, but rather deeply concerned that following the Egyptian revolution, Sinai would turn into a terrorist base, the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline would be a constant target of attack, the Israeli Embassy in Cairo would be ransacked, and the Muslim Brotherhood—and Salafists to their right—would win the country’s parliamentary election.

Now, in his latest piece on Israel that appeared Wednesday entitled “Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir,” Friedman demonstrated that he also doesn’t know America. In a line that could have come straight from the pens of AIPAC-bashers Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, Friedman wrote that he hoped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he loathes, understood that the standing ovation he got in Congress earlier this year was not for his politics, but rather one that was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

That’s right—that wicked, despicable Israel lobby. According to Friedman, anybody who supports Israel must be on the nefarious Jewish lobby’s payroll. Otherwise, how could they dare? Maybe Friedman should consider the possibility that the ovation was the result of America’s elected officials—in tune with the feelings of their constituents—seeing in Israel a plucky little country that shares their own basic values and is trying to survive in an awfully bad neighborhood. Maybe Friedman should consider that the ovation was the result of politicians understanding that this conflict is not about one settlement, or one Jerusalem neighborhood, but rather over the Jewish people’s right to a homeland.…

And then came the kicker. Friedman’s proof that Israel is merrily heading down the path toward the abyss is that radical left-wing Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy says so. Dubbing Levy a “powerful liberal voice, writing in Haaretz,” Friedman quotes from a recent Levy column: “What we are witnessing is w-a-r. This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state.” Friedman’s use of an extremist such as Levy to prove his point is akin to taking the writings of America-bashing left-wing linguist Noam Chomsky as proof that America is bad.

The problem with Friedman and those sharing his sentiments about Israel is that they take an exception and make it the rule. This school of thought takes a sex-segregated bus in Mea She’arim and turns the whole country into Iran; takes rocks thrown by bad, misguided youth at an IDF base and turns Israel into a country on the brink of civil war; and takes the government’s refusal to bail out a failing commercial television station as putting Israel on the fast track to Soviet Russia.

What is needed is some proportion. The burning of mosques by Jewish hooligans is deplorable, but it is no more representative of the country—or the direction it is going—than Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ burning of a Koran in May was a reflection of America. Friedman should know this.

GINGRICH’S FRESH HOPE
Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2011

Last Friday, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, did something revolutionary. He told the truth about the Palestinians. In an interview with The Jewish Channel, Gingrich said that the Palestinians are an “invented” people, “who are in fact Arabs.”

His statement about the Palestinians was entirely accurate. At the end of 1920, the “Palestinian people” was artificially carved out of the Arab population of “Greater Syria.” “Greater Syria” included present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. That is, the Palestinian people were invented 91 years ago.… As Daniel Pipes chronicled in a 1989 article on the subject in The Middle East Quarterly [see On Topics below—Ed.], the local Arabs in what became Israel opted for a local nationalistic “Palestinian” identity in part due to their sense that their brethren in Syria were not sufficiently committed to the eradication of Zionism.

Since Gingrich spoke out, his factually accurate statement has been under assault from three directions. First, it has been attacked by Palestinian apologists in the postmodernist camp. Speaking to CNN, Hussein Ibish from the American Task Force on Palestine argued that Gingrich’s statement was an outrage because while he was right about the Palestinians being an artificial people, in Ibish’s view, Israelis were just as artificial. That is, he equated the Palestinians’ 91-year-old nationalism with the Jews’ 3,500-year-old nationalism. In his words, “To call the Palestinians ‘an invented people’ in an obvious effort to undermine their national identity is outrageous, especially since there was no such thing as an ‘Israeli’ before 1948.”

Ibish’s nonsense is easily dispatched by a simple reading of the Hebrew Bible. As anyone semi-literate in Hebrew recognizes, the Israelis were not created in 1948. Three thousand years ago, the Israelis were led by a king named David. The Israelis had an independent commonwealth in the Land of Israel, and their capital city was Jerusalem.…

The second line of attack against Gingrich denies the veracity of his claim. Palestinian luminaries like the PA’s unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told CNN, “The Palestinian people inhabited the land since the dawn of history.” Fayyad’s historically unsubstantiated claim was further expounded on by Fatah Revolutionary Council member Dmitri Diliani in an interview with CNN. “The Palestinian people [are] descended from the Canaanite tribe of the Jebusites that inhabited the ancient site of Jerusalem as early as 3200 BCE,” Diliani asserted.

The Land of Israel has the greatest density of archeological sites in the world. Judea, Samaria, the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan Heights and other areas of the country are packed with archeological evidence of the Jewish commonwealths. As for Jerusalem, literally every inch of the city holds physical proof of the Jewish people’s historical claims to the city. To date, no archeological or other evidence has been found linking the Palestinians to the city or the Jebusites.

From a US domestic political perspective, the third line of attack against Gingrich’s factual statement has been the most significant. The attacks involve conservative Washington insiders, many of whom are outspoken supporters of Gingrich’s principal rival for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.… These insiders argue that although Gingrich spoke the truth, it was irresponsible and unstatesmanlike for him to have done so.

As [Washington Post blogger Jennifer] Rubin put it, “Do conservatives really think it is a good idea for their nominee to reverse decades of US policy and deny there is a Palestinian national identity?” In their view, Gingrich is an irresponsible flamethrower because he is turning his back on a 30-year bipartisan consensus. That consensus is based on ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are an artificial people whose identity sprang not from any shared historical experience, but from opposition to Jewish nationalism.

The policy goal of the consensus is to establish an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan River that will live at peace with Israel. This policy was obsessively advanced throughout the 1990s until it failed completely in 2000, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s and then-US president Bill Clinton’s offer of Palestinian statehood and began the Palestinian terror war against Israel.

But rather than acknowledge that the policy—and the embrace of Palestinian national identity at its heart—had failed, and consider other options, the US policy establishment in Washington clung to it for dear life.…

The consensus that Gingrich rejected by telling the truth about the artificial nature of Palestinian nationalism was based on an attempt to square popular support for Israel with the elite’s penchant for appeasement. On the one hand, due to overwhelming public support for a strong US alliance with Israel, most US policy-makers have not dared to abandon Israel as a US ally. On the other hand, American policy-makers have been historically uncomfortable having to champion Israel to their anti-Israel European colleagues and to their Arab interlocutors who share the Palestinians’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist.

The policy of seeking to meld an anti-Israel Arab appeasement policy with a pro-Israel anti-appeasement policy was embraced by successive US administrations until it was summarily discarded by President Barack Obama three years ago. Obama replaced the two-headed policy with one of pure Arab appeasement. Obama was able to justify his move because the two-pronged policy had failed. There was no peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The price of oil had skyrocketed, and US interests throughout the region were increasingly threatened.…

Unfortunately for both the US and Israel, Obama’s break with the consensus has destabilized the region, endangered Israel and imperiled US interests to a far greater degree than they had been under the failed dual-track policy of his predecessors. Throughout the Arab world, Islamist forces are on the rise. Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. The US is no longer seen as a credible regional power as it pulls its forces out of Iraq without victory, hamstrings its forces in Afghanistan, dooming them to attrition and defeat, and abandons its allies in country after country.…

Thirty years of pre-Obama American lying about the nature of the conflict in an attempt to balance support for Israel with appeasement of the Arabs did not make the US safer or the Middle East more peaceful. A return to that policy under a new Republican president will not be sufficient to restore stability and security to the region. And the need for such a restoration is acute. Under Obama, the last three years of US abandonment of the truth about Israel for Palestinian lies has made the region less stable, Israel more vulnerable, the US less respected and US interests more threatened.

Gingrich’s statement of truth was not an act of irresponsible flame throwing. It was the beginning of an antidote to Obama’s abandonment of truth and reason in favor of lies and appeasement. And as such, it was not a cause for anger. It was a cause for hope.

REMEMBERING: NEVER AGAIN! AND THE HOLOCAUST’S SINGULAR UNIQUENESS

OLDEST HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR TURNS 108

Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known survivor of the Holocaust, celebrated her 108th birthday in London on November 25. A native of Prague and professional pianist in her mid-teens, Mrs. Herz-Sommer, her husband and young son were sent to the Nazi show camp at Terezin in 1943, where she played more than 150 concerts as Jews were sent to their deaths and for visitors from the Red Cross.

Mrs. Herz-Sommer’s husband did not survive the war, but their son, Raphael, who also took part in performances at Terezin, did. Alice swam daily until the age of 97, and continues to play her piano every day. (JTA, November 27.)

A DAY OF INFAMY
Robert Rozett

Jerusalem Post, December 6, 2011

On December 8, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—(is) a date which will live in infamy.” Of course he was talking about the Japanese surprise attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, the attack that catapulted the United States into the Second World War 70 years ago.…

As momentous as the attack on Pearl Harbor was, December 7, 1941 was also the date of another event of no less consequence for mankind. The first transports set out for the first extermination camp, Chelmno, which began its murderous operations the following day, December 8. Over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, the Nazis would murder some three million Jews in a handful of extermination camps, most infamous among them Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Another three million Jews were murdered in a wide variety of venues, first and foremost in the killing fields of Eastern Europe by shooting—a process that had actually begun several months before Chelmno went into operation. December 7, however, marks the start of the unprecedented industrialized mass murder of innocent human beings at a complex designed solely for that purpose.

The American entry into the war is really the beginning of America embracing its role as a great world power. It is true that Nazi Germany was defeated primarily on the ground by Soviet forces in a long, drawn out and extremely deadly war.… Nevertheless, America’s role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was crucial. To a very large degree, it was American supplies that allowed the Soviets to fight for four long years, and certainly after the D-Day invasion of June 1944, the American fighting man made a considerable contribution to the fall of Nazi Germany. The reluctant entry of the Americans into the war on December 7, 1941, to say the least, greatly hastened the destruction of Hitler’s regime.

Significantly, another outcome of the attack at Pearl Harbor was the dawn of the age of nuclear weapons. The first nuclear weapon was not deployed against Nazi Germany, rather the Americans deployed it against Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.… In its wake, the world now would face issues of nuclear arms proliferation and escalation, nuclear arms deterrence, and still true today, the very real fear that such weapons in the wrong hands could wreak new and unimaginable destruction.…

The start of systematic industrialized mass murder in Chelmno is less well known, but has no less importance for mankind. In the Chelmno extermination camp the Nazis murdered over 150,000 people, almost all of them Jews. The murder method was asphyxiation in gas vans—group after group, after group. As is now well known, before being murdered in the extermination camps, Jews were shorn of their hair, fleeced of their valuables and robbed of their clothing and any other possessions they had brought with them.…

The idea that in the name of an ideology a regime could plan and carry out the despoliation and murder of an entire people, using the most modern means available and doing so in a “rational,” “dispassionate” way, continues to reverberate profoundly.…

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the advent of murder in the first extermination camp, Chelmno, are historical signposts that need to be marked and remembered. The first for its great impact on the course of human affairs and role in the ultimate defeat of the consummate evil embodied by the Nazis, and the latter as a ghastly warning of what can happen when barbarians, imbued with an ideology of hate, have the unfettered freedom to act. After 70 years, the significance and caveat of December 7 remain as compelling as ever.

(The writer is director of the Yad Vashem Libraries.)

A DISQUIETING BOOK FROM HITLER’S LIBRARY
Timothy W. Ryback

NY Times, December 7, 2011

On Thursday, a Manhattan auction house will be accepting bids on one of the more disturbing books to come onto the U.S. antiquarian book market in some time: Adolf Hitler’s personal copy of a city-by-city, state-by-state guide to the location of America’s Jewish population.

The book includes detailed data on towns like Peabody and Brookline, Massachusetts, the boroughs of New York City, as well as the farther-flung population clusters in states like Arizona, Arkansas, Minnesota and California. It also provides details of several hundred Jewish organizations, including B’nai B’rith and the Anti-Defamation League, along with names of key individuals and their addresses. In light of the Holocaust, it is a disquieting compendium.

The 137-page report, “Statistik, Presse und Organisationen des Judentums in den Vereinigten Staaten und Kanada” (Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada), was compiled in 1944 by Heinz Kloss, a German linguist who specialized in minorities and visited the United States in the early 1930s. Like many Nazi-era publications, the Kloss report, printed on cheap, highly acidic paper, is brittle and chipping. The cover, which bears a diagonal warning “For Official Use Only,” has become detached. On the verso is a bookplate with a stylized eagle perched on an oak branch clutching a laurel-wreathed swastika in its talons. It is framed, in bold-face type, “Ex Libris Adolf Hitler.”

The Hitler book was among the thousands taken by American G.I.’s from the Nazi leader’s alpine retreat outside Berchtesgaden in the spring of 1945. Most have ended up in attics, basements and bookshelves across America. One of the more notable examples I have seen is Hitler’s personal copy of Shakespeare’s collected works, 10 volumes bound in fine Moroccan leather with a swastika and the letters AH embossed on the spine.…

The Kloss report is being sold by Kestenbaum & Co., a Manhattan auction house that specializes, according to its Web page, in “fine Judaica” and “rare kosher and vintage wines.” The owner, Daniel Kestenbaum, observes that he would normally not auction a Hitler book, or any other object from the Nazi era for that matter, unless it related somehow to “the Jewish experience.…” He has estimated the sales price between $3,000 and $5,000. “I have been in this business since 1986. If I haven’t seen it before, it is rare.”

The price is rather high for a Hitler book. Most such volumes go for a few hundred dollars. But this particular volume, given its provenance and disturbing historical resonances, may be worth the price. The book underscores with stark statistical data how assiduous the Nazis were, even as late as 1944, in pursuing their goal of world domination as well as their designs for extending the geographic compass of the “final solution.” That such a volume found its way into Hitler’s personal library is as understandable as it is chilling.

“When a person gives they have to take,” Hitler once said. “And I take what I need from books.” Hitler was an obsessive reader from childhood, and his understanding of America was shaped in great part by his readings, in his youth, of the cowboy-and-Indian stories of the adventure novelist Karl May, and later in life of the anti-Semitic writings of Henry Ford. Hitler kept copies of Ford’s “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem” on a table outside his office and included it in a list of books “every National Socialist should know.…”

The Kloss report is a fitting addition to Hitler’s American reading list, but this particular book comes with a double-barbed moral hitch. What kind of price tag belongs on a book that would have, but for the defeat of the Nazis, provided a blueprint for the horrific consequences of similar data-collecting efforts across Europe? More problematic still, who would want to own such a book that was almost certainly perused and quite likely studied by Hitler during one of the ritual nocturnal reading sessions, usually with a cup of tea, in his upstairs study at the Berghof?

It would be best if the Kloss report were acquired by an individual or institution willing to donate it to a public collection, ideally, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at the Library of Congress. There it could join 1,200 other surviving volumes from Hitler’s private library and not only be readily accessible to scholars and historians but also occupy appropriate shelf space with an equally sinister companion book from Hitler’s private book collection, a 1925 German translation of Madison Grant’s “The Passing of the Great Race,” bearing a personal inscription to Hitler.

(Timothy W. Rybackis author of “Hitler’s Private Library:
The Books That Shaped His Life.)

THE SHOAH FOUNDATION WIDENS SCOPE
Ian Lovett

NY Times, November 16, 2011

Since Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994, the organization has devoted itself exclusively to the memory of Holocaust survivors. Its archives house more than 50,000 video interviews, in 32 languages, with survivors from 56 countries—the largest such collection in the world.

But in a dramatic expansion of its mission, the foundation is now incorporating testimonies from mass atrocities other than the Holocaust into its archives. Five survivors of the Rwandan genocide are learning the organization’s archiving methods at the Shoah Foundation Institute, part of an effort to add at least 1,000 interviews with Rwandans to the foundation’s archives.… And the foundation will soon begin adding testimonies about other mass killings, including those of Armenians and Cambodians.…

With the broadened scope…the foundation has stepped into a contentious and continuing debate about the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust. Some historians are concerned that the voices of Holocaust survivors could be lost in a deluge of voices from survivors of all sorts of conflicts, its significance and singularity diminished. Menachem Z. Rosensaft, a vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants who also teaches about law and genocide at Columbia Law School, said that one of the responsibilities descendants of survivors have is to maintain “the integrity of memory.”

“I think it is extremely important to record and preserve the first-person accounts of all genocides,” Mr. Rosensaft said. “My concern would be that we not blur the individual experiences of survivors of the Holocaust, or survivors of Rwanda, into one large blur. Every genocide is a separate act, and must be remembered and chronicled as such.”

The Shoah Foundation was born from Mr. Spielberg’s experience making “Schindler’s List,” his 1993 Academy Award-winning film about the Holocaust. Nearly 50 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Mr. Spielberg felt an urgent need to preserve remembrances of the Holocaust before survivors died.

In 2000, after the lion’s share of the 50,000 interviews with Holocaust survivors had been conducted, the foundation’s leaders began to turn their attention toward teaching lessons from the Holocaust to younger generations. Members of the foundation’s board of councilors said the addition of testimonies about other genocides was a natural next step and something Mr. Spielberg had always intended, which his spokesman confirmed. (Mr. Spielberg no longer runs the foundation…but he still has an advisory role and is consulted for all major decisions by the foundation.).…

Some historians argue that the Holocaust—in which the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews, many in gas chambers designed specifically for that purpose—was the only genocide in history, the only systematic effort to wipe an entire race of people from the earth. In Rwanda, around 800,000 people were killed during a few bloody months in 1994, many of them with weapons like machetes. Steven T. Katz, a professor of Judaic studies at Boston University, calls the killings in Rwanda “mass murder,” not genocide. And while Professor Katz, too, supports scholarly efforts to document all cases of mass atrocities, he said the drift toward studying the Holocaust primarily alongside these other mass murders risks misunderstanding the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate the Jews from Europe as just one case of mass murder among many. “With certain kinds of events, one needs to be able to say, this is new, or singular, or unprecedented,” he said.…

SURVIVORS RETURN TO DIG UP TREASURES
Jordana Horn

Forward, December 8, 2011

‘Buried Prayers,” directed by Steven Meyer, stretches the definitions of Holocaust-related cinema by examining not only what happened on the unholy ground of the World War II death camp Majdanek, but also what happened underneath it.

In the spring of 1943, survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto were sent to Majdanek just outside Lublin, Poland, and were forced to wait in a field for days. During that time, realizing that they were to be killed, many families secretly buried their few personal possessions in the dirt beneath them.

Based on witness testimony, the film documents a team of archaeologists and survivors…returning to Majdanek in 2005 to unearth what was hidden more than 60 years ago. The particular survivors featured in the film were teenagers at Majdanek in 1943 who, after the war, moved to Melbourne, Australia. Their English stumbles past the dual impediments of thick accents, both Eastern European and Australian, making an odd-sounding mix for an American audience, but their stories transcend the thickets of their vowels.

Adam Frydman recalled having seen families bury the treasures they hoped could be used as currency to keep them alive. In the film, he speaks of his own time at Majdanek in similar terms: “It’s better to bury it and forget about the whole thing.” But Frydman, sensing that he was approaching the end of his life, told investigators working with the filmmakers, that he had seen people in the Majdanek midfield—an open field where people were forced to wait for their fates for days at a time—hiding personal items.

Frydman supposed, and the film concurs in this analysis, that such efforts were a final act of defiance by people who refused to give their last remaining valuables to the Nazis. Liberating the objects, then, the film convincingly argues, will be a redemption of sorts for the dead. “They said, ‘Let it rot in the ground—the bastards won’t get it,’” recalled survivor David Prince, a trustee of the Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Centre. “It was meant to be found by people exactly like us.”

Tessie Jacob and Ella Prince, along with Frydman, accompany the archaeological crew to Majdanek, recounting the horrors of their past along the way. The film delicately exposes the terror, bitter sadness and fear involved in this difficult journey for the survivors. The camera hangs back and observes people with a sidelong glance rather than a direct scrutiny, and in doing so sensitively avoids a voyeurism of their unspeakable grief.…

At one poignant moment, the 80-year-old Jacob—in the trappings of adulthood, with a red coat and red earrings, but with the unguarded vulnerability of the child she once was—speaks to her parents, who were killed at Majdanek: “I came to apologize. You told me to save yourself. I couldn’t have saved you. I was the baby, and I could not.”

By the time the archaeologists dig up the field and, in two days alone, find more than 80 pieces of jewelry, coins and other keepsakes, it is clear that they find only remnants of the true treasures: those who were murdered in the gas chambers of Majdanek. Though some of these remnants have monetary value—the film points out the precious stones, for example, found in some buried jewelry—we come to realize that their value as links to the past is priceless.

This little film says more implicitly than it does explicitly, and that is its greatest strength. It is humble in that it does not overstep its boundaries and try to tell the story of the Holocaust; rather, it shows the evidence of a simple and singular act of rebellion with a sensitive treatment of the past and present. The archaeologists’—and, for that matter, the film’s—act of excavation, becomes, in its own turn, an act of defiance. And defiance of the murderers will continue, as the producers of the film are currently looking for high school and college students to do more excavations at Majdanek this summer. Nothing is truly gone, the film makes clear, if there are still those who are willing to look for it.

IN ISRAEL, GATHERING FRAGMENTS OF THE HOLOCAUST
Joel Greenberg

Washington Post, December 9, 2011

The elderly men and women trickled in one by one, carrying physical scraps of memory: yellowing letters and postcards, old photos, personal belongings and frayed documents left behind by relatives who lived through the Holocaust.

At tables set up in a senior citizens home in [Netanya, Israel], the visitors talked as interviewers listened and took notes. The stories swirled through the room—told in Hebrew, Russian and Yiddish, conjuring up the painful past as pictures and papers were carefully passed back and forth, examined, read and registered.

The scene unfolded at a collection day organized this week by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial center, as part of a national campaign to find and preserve materials from that period that are scattered in homes across the country. Since its launch in April, the project, called “Gathering the Fragments,” has accumulated more than 33,000 items, including diaries, art works, personal belongings, letters and photographs.

Israel has the largest population of Holocaust survivors of any country—some 200,000—and organizers say they are in a race against time to locate the items while aging survivors can still tell the stories behind them. “We consider this as a last-minute rescue operation, to pass on the story to the next generation,” said Haim Gertner, the archives director of Yad Vashem.

While many items from the Holocaust years have been discarded over time by people unaware of their significance, the campaign is an opportunity to recover materials that have been saved by survivors and their children, Gertner said. To preserve what remains, the items brought to collection points across Israel are examined on site by a team of Yad Vashem staff and volunteers who interview the donors, evaluate the materials and scan them for digital documentation. They are then added to the Yad Vashem collection in Jerusalem, conserved, catalogued and made digitally accessible. Organizers say items of special interest could be considered for public display.

On Monday in Netanya, Mendel Roizman, an 82-year-old immigrant from the former Soviet Union, handed over two items left by his father, who was sent to a labor camp in Nazi-occupied Ukraine in 1943 and survived the war. They were a Yom Kippur prayer book and phylacteries, the small leather boxes containing parchment strips of Hebrew scripture worn by Jewish men during morning worship. “I kept these for years and brought them to Israel, and I want them preserved for the next generations…” Roizman said in Russian, his words translated by the Yad Vashem interviewer, who examined the items with gloved hands.

Yisrael Zvi Halevy, a 61-year-old school principal, produced a letter sent by his father in 1945 to a sister in Jerusalem informing her that he had survived the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Halevy said he could not part with the letter, written from a hospital days after the camp’s liberation, but he was happy to have it scanned for the Yad Vashem archives.…

Sara Peled, 65, a retired teacher, grew tearful after handing over a sheaf of family papers, including her father’s report cards from a Jewish school in Poland—Hebrew documents that testified to the vibrant Jewish life in the country before the war. Peled’s father immigrated to British-ruled Palestine before the Nazi invasion of Poland, but the rest of her relatives who stayed behind perished in death camps, and she brought albums filled with their pictures. “I feel like I’m giving up part of me,” she said, “but I discussed it with my children, and it’s better that it be preserved for generations to come.”

Natan Rom, 82, who escaped the Nazi occupation of Poland and, after a tortuous journey through the Soviet Union and Iran, reached Palestine with other orphaned children in 1943, handed over an autograph book signed by fellow child refugees. “I’m leaving the most precious thing I have,” he said, “but it shows that this once happened.”

Gertner, the Yad Vashem archivist, said that donors described a sense of closure and even relief at having unburdened themselves of items that evoked painful memories, but he said they also voiced confidence that the objects were in safe hands. With its vast Holocaust database, library and research tools, Yad Vashem could enhance the understanding of these materials, he said. “These items connect us with the stories of individuals,” he said. “Through our documentation, we can link them to the bigger story and give them meaning.”