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The Meaning of European ‘Resolve’ Against Terror

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Yesterday, March 11, 2013, the European Union commemorates the 9th European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism.

Here’s the key part of an official statement released by the E.U. Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove:

All acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, wherever they took place or whoever committed them. Therefore, our resolve to defeat terrorism must never weaken or falter even for a day, and our support to victims to meet their needs must remain a priority, as well as our commitment to actively promoting a policy of international solidarity.

Seems like a good time to remind him of the need to outlaw the outrageous and flagrant terrorists of Hizbollah whose supporters operate within the law in Europe with no evident interference from officials of the E.U. or of its Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. This ought to surprise us given that a Bulgarian court found last month that it was Hizbollah that stood behind the terrorist attack last summer on a tourist bus full of Israelis, killing five of them and their driver.

Mr de Kerchove knows this. But despite his public call today never to weaken or to falter “even for a day” in the battle to defeat terrorism, he doesn’t actually seem to mean the Hizbollah brand of terrorism, but other terrorisms. (Truthfully, we’re not completely sure which, but it seems that he is).

Here is how he expressed it in a January 28, 2013 interview (“EU official: Hezbollah unlikely to get on terrorism blacklist“) with E.U. Observer when asked if Europe should go along with the requests of the United States and Israel to make it illegal, for instance, to give donation money to Hizbollah:

…For De Kerchove, the situation is not so simple. “First, we need to reach conclusions with strong evidence that it was the military wing of Hezbollah [which indeed carried out the terrorist bombing at Burgas airport in Bulgaria]. That’s the prerequisite, even in legal terms, but then, as always in the listing process, you need to ask yourself: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’… For Hezbollah, you might ask, given the situation in Lebanon, which is a highly fragile, highly fragmented country, is listing it going to help you achieve what you want? … There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack. It’s not only the legal requirement that you have to take into consideration, it’s also a political assessment of the context and the timing…”

The interview was given just before the Bulgarians found, judicially, that Hizbollah was the culprit, so at least that prerequisite was satisfied. But that – why are we surprised? – is evidently not enough.

He noted there is “no consensus” among EU states on whether listing Hezbollah would be helpful or not [E.U. Observer]

which is a very good way to say what official Europe really feels about the battle against the terrorists.

In simple terms, the Commissioner’s official statement today, the one that appears in the press release above, should not be taken too seriously. Perhaps it was only intended for the terror victims and their commemoration ceremonies in the first place. If you really want to go after the terrorists, then the way forward – according to Europe’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator – calls for more than mere resolve. You need consensus and agreement as to whether it will be helpful.

European politics is populated by a multitude of individuals who are hopelessly ambivalent about the Islamists. As for serious European moves against terror, we can expect to see them limited to press releases and wreath laying ceremonies in civic squares.

Out on the streets and railways and airports of Europe? Not so much.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Israelis and Iranians Held Talks on Dismantling their Nuclear Weapons

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Despite the verbal confrontation between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program, Israeli and Iranian officials participated this week in secret talks in Brussels, Belgium, on dismantling both countries’ arsenals of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, Julian Borger reported in the Guardian.

Participants included Jeremy Issacharoff, the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director for Strategic Affairs. The chief Iranian representative is Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. The meetings are moderated by Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava, whom the UN secretary general appointed to organize the planned conference in Helsinki.

The talks, conducted in a seminar format, were held under the auspices of the EU. A media blackout was imposed on the discussions and participants have pledged not to publicize even the fact that the talks are being held, much less anything about their content.

In sharp contrast with the saber rattling of both sides’ leaders, Mark Fitzpatrick, a non-proliferation expert from the International Institute for Strategic Studies and former state department official, told the Guardian that “there were no fireworks and no denunciations” at the conference.

Nazi Leader’s Sister Hid Jews Near Brussels

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

The sister of a Belgian Nazi leader hid three Jews in her home near Brussels during the Holocaust, according to one of the survivors.

Hanna Nadel, now 86, said she, her mother and her niece were rescued by M. Cornet, the sister of Leon Degrelle, who, as leader of the Belgian Nazi Rexen movement, was responsible for deporting Jews to their deaths during the German occupation of Belgium.

Nadel’s account, related to historian Jan Maes, appeared earlier this week in the Belgian-Jewish monthly Joods Actueel,

The three, having escaped deportation orders, wandered  with their suitcases around the town of Sint-Genesius Rode, where they happened upon a help-wanted sign on Cornet’s door.

The mother rang the doorbell and Cornet, without asking many questions, hired the mother as cook and Nadel and her niece to work as chambermaids.

Cornet knew the three women were Jewish and promised them they would survive. Visitors associated with the Flemish Nazi movement would routinely dine at the house , while the three Jewish women hid in the basement.

Nadel’s mother would sometimes cook gefiltefish, which the lady of the house advertised to her guests as “oriental fish”, Nadel recalled.

Nadel immigrated to Israel after the war. Leon Degrelle left for Spain, where he died of old age in 1994, escaping the death sentences that his Nazi associates received back home.

Hungarian Jews Feeling ‘Increasing Danger,’ Jewish Leader Reports

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Hungarian Jews “feel increasing danger” in a country with a government that condones anti-Semitism, the president of Hungary’s Jewish community said.

Peter Feldmajer, president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities, made the remarks Tuesday at a conference on anti-Semitism in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Though Hungarian government officials say they want to combat anti-Semitism, “behind the curtain we face a dark image,” said Feldmajer, who described the government’s policy as “two-faced.”

The extreme-right Jobbik party constantly libels Jews while the state celebrates anti-Semites in school curriculums, he said. And he noted that  several Hungarian municipalities have erected statues honoring Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian Quisling. Under his rule, 450,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to their death in the Holocaust.

“Streets and squares are named after Horthy, who stands as a hero for the people. The Hungarian Jewish people feel increasing danger,” Feldmajer said.

Panayote Dimitras of the Greek Helsinki Monitor, a watchdog on hate crimes, has quoted surveys showing that 80 percent of the Greek and Hungarian populations favored deporting foreigners.

“It’s no coincidence these are the only countries with neo-Nazi parties in parliament,” Dimitras said.

The conference in the Belgian capital was co-organized by B’nai B’rith Europe and CEJI-a Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, along with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism. Some 40 people attended, including several lawmakers.

Reinold Simon, the honorary president of B’nai B’rith Europe, said constant contact with EU institutions was the key to fighting anti-Semitism. In 2005 he founded the Foreign Affairs Network, which is represented at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, as well as at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, among other institutions.

Ron Rafaeli of SPCJ, the security service of France’s Jewish communities, recalled “a previous and similar meeting on anti-Semitism in 2002, when Mohammed Merah was a boy.” Merah, a French-Algerian radical Islamist, killed three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March.

“Only education will ensure no new Mohammed Merahs,” Rafaeli said.

John Mann, a British lawmaker and chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism at the European Parliament, told JTA that part of his job was to “get the European Union to promote more programs that educate to tolerance, like that of CEJI and of Yad Vashem.”

Turkey Blocking Israel’s Participation in NATO Chicago Summit

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Turkey blocked the participation of Israel in next month’s NATO Summit in Chicago, a Turkish newspaper reported.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vetoed Israel’s participation during a NATO foreign ministers meeting last week in Brussels, the Hurriyet Daily News reported Monday.

“There will be no Israeli presence at the NATO meeting unless they issue a formal apology and pay compensation for the Turkish citizens their commandos killed in international waters,” a senior Turkish official told Hurriyet, referring to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens during an Israeli naval commando raid on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara as it attempted to break Israeli’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010.

“Those countries who wish to see normalization in ties between Turkey and Israel should advise Israel to apologize and to compensate the killing of Turks in international waters,” the official told the news service.

Israel, as well as other countries including Egypt, Mauritania, Algeria and Morocco, is a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program.

Turkey has previously vetoed Israeli attempts to participate more fully in NATO. It vetoed an Israeli request to open an office at NATO headquarters and its participation in some Mediterranean Dialogue group activities, according to Hurriyet.

“You are talking about being partners and partnership values. But partners, first of everything, should act like partners, so that we’ll treat them accordingly,” Davutoglu said during last week’s NATO meeting, according to Hurriyet.

No Kosher Food at Malta Jewish Conference

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The European Jewish Press reports that the European Jewish media is criticizing Malta for agreeing to host 120 Jewish students in delegations from 16 countries last week, and then providing no kosher food.

Organizers of the February 9-12, four-day “launch conference” (as opposed to lunch conference) of the Jewish European Professionals (JEP) said it was a real challenge to bring kosher food to “the small and remote Mediterranean island.”

From press reports it appears those organizers simply didn’t know that Jews consumed nothing but kosher food at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and during round the clock coffee breaks.

In the end they apparently decided on a quick and expensive fix, combining some air deliveries with a seven ton truck that set out from Brussels to Italy, where it boarded a ferry to Sicily, then was ferried to Valletta, Malta. Then the food transport had to go through clearance, as did the kosher wine. It took quite a few hours.

All imported food had to be shared carefully, since no additional kosher could be purchased during the program.

JEP is a sister organization of Brussels-based ECJS (European Center of Jewish Students). It provides young professionals, aged 27-39 personal and professional networking opportunities.

It is designed to create a vibrant young Jewish community focused on making a positive contribution to the world. The organization will hold three major European events each year.

Claims Conference Chairman Julius Berman Sees New Era In Holocaust Restitution

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

“We feel that this is a critical moment in the history of property restitution,” Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, told The Jewish Press last week, after returning from a weeklong trip to Europe.

Berman spent the waning days of January in Brussels, attending and speaking at an event marking the ascendancy of Belgium to the presidency of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research – which is being renamed the International Holocaust Remembrance Organization.

Berman sees the organization’s new name as significant in itself. “A task force sounds relatively temporary and ad hoc. Now, they’re formalizing the institution.”

What Berman is especially excited about, however, is the attitude he observed at a World Jewish Restitution Organization briefing that same week for members of the European Parliament, where he also spoke. “What I found remarkable is that they were listening – you should excuse me – to the mussar to really [get serious about restitution for Holocaust-era assets]. There were people from the EU that got up and really started talking tachlis.”

Berman said that while Germany has given close to $70 billion in restitution, Eastern European countries have been much slower to offer compensation. Two years ago, though, 46 countries gathered for the Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets – a meeting that Berman now regards as a major turning point. “The mere fact that there’s going to be a meeting near the end of the year to see what results have come down the pike since [the Prague conference] gives us the feeling that now business is business…. That conference evidently is a real new demarcation point.”

He added: “Of course, if you ask me, ‘Well, does that mean the money is coming around the corner?’ we know the answer is no. We know Eastern European countries are still [going to plead] poverty and claim there’s too much money involved and that if we give the Jews, we have to give the others too. But we’re just going to have to keep pushing away. This is the new front.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/claims-conference-chairman-julius-berman-sees-new-era-in-holocaust-restitution/2012/02/08/

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