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July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Netherlands Tightens Security at Jewish Sites

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Security officials in the Netherlands have decided to tighten protection measures at Jewish sites in the wake of last Saturday’s terror attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Four people died, including an Israeli couple from Tel Aviv.

Police officers will be deployed at Jewish community centers, schools and synagogues, officials said. The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice told international media, however, that there were no indications the Brussels shooter had arrived in the Netherlands.

FM Liberman Reminds US, Europe: ‘We Know How to Investigate’

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman rebuked the U.S. and Europe after their calls for a “thorough” investigation of the deaths of two Palestinian Authority Arabs in Nakba Day riots last week.

The two Arab teens were killed on May 15, allegedly by IDF soldiers, during violence outside the Ofer Prison, located next to the PA capital of Ramallah in Samaria.

“”We don’t need an American request to investigate the subject,” Liberman told reporters Wednesday while visiting Samaria’s Ariel University. “I reject any request and the hypocrisy we see worldwide.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki called for a “prompt and transparent” investigation in response to a reporter’s question during a briefing on Capitol Hill.

European Union missions in the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah and in Jerusalem made similar statements. “We reiterate the need for security forces, whether Israeli or Palestinian, to refrain from the use of lethal force, except in cases where there is a real and imminent threat to life,” they said.

In response, Liberman pointed out that the Israeli army is the “most moral” military force in the world.

“I am saddened these demands don’t come up in other cases,” he commented. “In Syria around 170,000 people have been killed and I didn’t see any act or request from the international community to investigate those murders. Hamas executed two men in Gaza after accusing them of spying for Israel, both without a lawyer or fair trial. I didn’t see any request to investigate that [either],” he added.

As Liberman has pointed out, the video footage that has made the rounds was posted after several days and may have been edited, as such videos often are. Leftists groups with an agenda hoping to incriminate Israel often show only part of an incident, or judiciously edit the footage to falsify the information altogether, as in the Al Dura case.

At the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, one must ask the question:

Why were these two young men there in the first place, during a violent Nakba Day riot at Ofer Prison?

‘End of Term’ in 2014 for EU’s Catherine Ashton

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has announced she will end her term at the end of December this year.

In a speech earlier this week, Ashton — who often has faced a flood of negative press for her actions — appeared to express relief that her time in office at the EU was over at last.

In sharing the news at a meeting of the German Marshall Fund earlier this week, Ashton remarked, “you lay the foundations but there are people who can do things with this that probably I couldn’t do, so it will be good to hand it over.”

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who has led the European Council since November 2009, also said he would step down. Van Rompuy said he would retire from politics.

Ashton’s place in history will be marked by her founding the anti-Israel European External Action Service (EEAS), a body the Lisbon Treaty allegedly ensures is independent from other institutions. However, it is headed by the European Commission vice president, which calls into question the entity’s autonomous status.

Danish Jewish Leader Disputes Report of Ban on Kosher Slaughter

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The president of Denmark’s Jewish community has disputed a government minister’s claims that new regulations would outlaw all kosher slaughter in the country.

“We find this an odd statement,” Finn Schwarz, the community’s president, told JTA on Thursday about statements made earlier in the week by Agriculture Minister Dan Jorgensen to the Ritzau news agency.

Jorgensen was speaking about slaughter without prior stunning — a requirement for kosher certification of meat in Jewish Orthodox law and for halal certification of meat for observant Muslims. Jorgensen said, “I am in favor of religious slaughter, but it must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning.”

Danish Jews already agreed in 1998 to the certification as kosher of meat from cattle that were stunned with non-penetrative captive bolt pistols, Schwarz said, adding that the decision was made in consultation with the British Chief Rabbi’s office. The new regulation will not ban the slaughter of animals after stunning with non-penetrative captive bolts, he added.

The new regulations, regardless of how they are interpreted, do not directly affect Denmark’s 6,000 Jews because there are not kosher slaughterhouses in the country. All kosher meat is imported.

The European Jewish Press reported Thursday that European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg told a Jewish leader during a meeting in Brussels that the new Danish legislation regulating ritual slaughter in the country contradicts European laws that ensure the right of religious groups to perform ritual slaughtering.

Jewish Orthodox law and Muslim law require animals be intact and conscious when they are killed. Non-penetrative captive bolts were permitted because they do not wound the animal, which is slaughtered immediately after being knocked on the head.

Rabbi Yitzi Loewenthal of Copenhagen said the agreement on the use of captive-bolt, non-penetrating pistols may have applied to post-cut stunning, a procedure in which the animal’s head is knocked immediately after its neck is cut. Some rabbis have allowed the procedure elsewhere in the world. However, because shechitah is not regularly performed in Denmark, some issues regarding the procedure are not immediately clear, Loewenthal said.

Anti-Semitism Spurs More European Jews to Flee

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Nearly one-third of European Jews are considering emigrating because of rising anti-Semitism, and 25 percent of Jews in Europe are afraid to appear in public with cloths or symbols that would identify them as Jews, a new report reveals.

There was no indication of which countries were the desired new homes of those wanting to flee, but Israel presumably is high on the list.

The study released in Israel prior to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 also shows that social websites on the Internet serve as a platform for rising anti-Semitism.

“Social networks have the growing ability to mobilize crowds to attend events, and [have increasing] influence in the political public sphere. They have also become a means of communication reaching hundreds of millions of people, also on aspects related to the disclosure of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism,” according to the report.

As earlier reported here, three pig heads were mailed to Rome’s main synagogue and to the Jewish Museum of Rome, which is displaying en exhibit concerning the Holocaust.

Naftali Bennett, who serves as Minister of Diaspora Affairs, said, “Like the efforts to delegitimize Israel, anti-Semitism is both a disgrace and a blot on every society. Trying to understand their ‘causes’ legitimizes them. There is no reason or justification for anti-Semitism.”

“Despite what people might think, anti-Semitism does not strengthen our ties with Jews overseas,” he said. “For every Jew who makes Aliya as a result of anti-Semitism, there are many others who cut ties with Judaism and the Jewish way of life.”

Dutch Funds Divest from Israeli Banks but not from Occupied Tibet

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

A Dutch pension administrator has divested from five Israeli banks over their activity in the Judea and Samaria as a matter of “responsible investment policy” but it retains its investments in Chinese banks operating in Tibet on land widely seen internationally as land occupied by China.

The pension investment company PGGM announced its decision to divest from Bank HaPoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank on Tuesday on its website.

The text cited the banks’ “involvement in financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This was a concern, as the settlements in the Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international humanitarian law.”

PGGM had a marginal investment of several dozen millions of dollars in Israeli banks out of billions it invests all over the world, according to the NRC Handelsblad daily. The paper reported PGGM was Holland’s second-largest pension administrator.

In its statement, the company also cited its “responsible investment policy,” which excludes investing in bodies involved in “violations of fundamental human rights and labor rights.”

But according to a document released by the company in 2013, PGGM investments abroad include two Chinese banks – Bank of China and China Construction Bank — with offices and activities in Tibet, which is widely seen internationally as land occupied by China. PGGM also invests in China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, which is exploring for oil in Tibet.

PGGM’s international investments also include the Malaysian palm oil producer Sime Darby, which last year paid a million dollars in reparations to villagers in Liberia amid accusations that the firm had violated their human rights and confiscated their property.

PGGM spokesperson Maurice Wilbrink declined to answer JTA’s questions on the scope of his company’s investments in Chinese firms active in Tibet, explaining the figures were confidential.

Dutch Christians’ Mega-Menorah Helps Jews Come Out of their Shell

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Amsterdam’s Chabad Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs lit the candles on the first night Hanukkah Wednesday on a 36-foot menorah with a six-ton base that was made with donations by Christian Zionists.

Klaas Zijlstr designed and built the menorah, in the shape of a Star of David, in his metal workshop in the northern tip of the Netherlands. Possibly the largest in all of Europe, the handiwork of a Protestant metal contractor is meant to be a sign of solidarity by Christian Zionists with the Jewish people.

“It’s exactly like the rabbi wanted,” Zijlstra said.

Rabbi Jacobs helped Zijlstra and a group called Christians for Israel design the nine-branch candelabrum so it could be used for the eight-day holiday, which began Wednesday night and which was lit in front of hundreds of Christians and Jews during a public ceremony in Nijkerk, not far from Amsterdam.

Though commonplace in the United States and even in Russia, public Hanukkah events are a recent and revolutionary development in the Netherlands. Here they signify the growing self-confidence and openness of a Jewish community whose near annihilation in the Holocaust left a deeply entrenched tendency to keep a low profile.

“Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t‎‎ have been possible,” said Arjen Lont, the Christian Zionist businessman who donated $40,000 to build and transport the menorah. “It requires a lot of openness.”

Lont says the purpose of the giant menorah, which can be used either with electric bulbs or oil lamps, is to send a message.

“After unspeakable suffering, the horrors of the Holocaust and most recently the attacks on Israel, Jews may feel they are alone,” Lont told JTA. “This is our way of saying you are not alone; we are behind you.”

The first public Hanukkah lighting ceremony in the country was organized in 1989 in Buitenveldert, near Amsterdam, by the wife of a Chabad rabbi, according to Bart Wallet, a historian of Dutch Jewry at the University of Amsterdam.

Today, such events are held annually in 19 municipalities, from the northern city of Leeuwarden, near Berlikum, to the southern border city of Maastricht, according to Rabbi Jacobs.

He said that public menorah lightings in the country signify the Jewish community’s confidence in asserting its place in Dutch society.

“Nowadays it’s also saying we are here; we are also a part of the fabric of religious communities and society,” he explained.

Dutch Jewish reticence toward public displays of faith dates back at least to the 19th century, according to Wallet, when Dutch rabbis decreed that no Jewish rituals should be held in the public domain. At the time, Dutch Jews were keen on integrating into a democratic society as equal citizens, and they considered it counterproductive to showcase religious customs that set them apart from their compatriots.

The tendency was greatly reinforced after the Holocaust, when three-quarters of Holland’s population of 140,000 Jews perished — a higher percentage than anywhere else in occupied Western Europe. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in the Netherlands.

Wallet says things began to change in the 1970s, when Dutch Jews began displaying greater activism around anti-Semitism and Israel.

Even today, however, many Dutch Jews retain a sense of reticence when it comes to public displays of religion.

“There’s nothing wrong with these Hanukkah events, but to me they don’t seem familiar,” said Jaap Hartog, chairman of the umbrella group of Dutch Jewry, called the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK. “To me, Hanukkah is more a holiday that you celebrate at home with your family. The public candle lightings are more of an American thing.

“On a personal level, I’m not too keen on participating.”

Initially, Chabad rabbis organized candle lighting ceremonies as part of their efforts to reach lapsed Jews, but today the menorah lightings are not organized exclusively by Chabad. Nathan Bouscher, a Jewish activist who is not himself religious, has co-organized candle lightings at the Dam, Amsterdam’s best-known square.

“It’s a way to build bridges between Jews and the non-Jewish environment, but also within the community and between Dutch-born Jews and the thousands of Israelis who live here and the tourists from Israel,” Bouscher said.

Back at Zijlstra’s metal workshop, his menorah is attracting attention from neighbors. During the test run last week, a few of them stopped by to admire his handiwork and congratulate him.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/dutch-christians-mega-menorah-helps-jews-come-out-of-their-shell/2013/11/27/

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