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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

Dutch Community Rediscovers Forgotten Mikvahs

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch Jewish organization rediscovered two ancient ritual baths that had been forgotten after the Holocaust.

In reporting about the find Friday, the Crescas Jewish education institute wrote on its website that large parts of the 19th-century ritual baths, or mikvahs, were unearthed last week at a Jewish community building in the northern city of Groningen.

“The mikvahs are an exciting find,” Crescas wrote. “They are remarkably well-preserved. The marble of one of the baths was partially damaged during renovations.”

The mikvahs, which are seven-feet deep, have seven marble stairs, according to Crescas.

The Jewish community of Groningen, which was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust, sold the building in 1952 to the municipality, which renovated the building and rededicated it as a seat of the Jewish community in 1981. The mikvahs were covered up and exposed only recently, after members of the local Jewish community chanced upon blueprints of the building, the RTV Noord television station reported.

“The find is so important because Jewish life stopped here in 1943: the Jews were gone. A few buildings that were essential to the Jewish community remained: the synagogue, the old people’s home, the Jewish school, but the mikvah, which is also essential, was gone. No one knew where it was,” Marcel Wichgers, director of Groningen’s Folkingestraat Synagogue Association, or SFS, told RTV.

SFS was unaware until recently that the two mikvahs lay under the floor of a room it used for storage, Crescas wrote.

The Reformatorisch Dagblad daily described the find as one of the most important archeological discoveries made in Groningen in recent years. The structure is now opened to spectators twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays.

In 1930, the Jewish population in Groningen was 2,408, according to the Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum. In 1951, there were 225 Jews, and currently only a few dozen Jews live in the northern city.

Dutch Candidate Compares Geert Wilders with Hitler

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch rightist, pro-Israel Party for Freedom, called for The Hague to be home to fewer Moroccans, which led an opposing candidate to compare him to Hitler.

Wilders, an anti-Islam and anti-immigration politician and a supporter of Israel, made the comments last week during a campaign event. Local elections in Holland will be held on March 19.

Wilders called for “a city with fewer taxes and, if possible, fewer Moroccans,” according to the Het Parool daily. His party, known as PVV, reportedly is set to become the largest party in The Hague.

Following Wilders’ remarks, Fouad Sidali, a senior member of the Dutch Labor Party, compared Wilders to Hitler.

Sidali on Thursday wrote on Twitter: “Hitler is among us. In the figure of Geert Wilders. Hitler also thought that there should be fewer Jews. We will never forget that.”

Sidali later withdrew his comment. He was quoted by Het Parool as saying Friday that the comparison was inappropriate and that he should not have made it, but added: “One needs to understand what emotions Wilders’ statement evokes.”

Wilders responded on Friday in a tweet which stated:  “Sidali … retracted his statement. Wise. Leaving for Morocco would be even wiser.”

“The days that I let myself, my party and voters be insulted with Nazi comparisons are over. Anyone who does that, I will confront through the microphone or through the court,” Wilders said during a filmed interview which appeared last week on the website of the Dutch daily Telegraaf.

He told the ANP agency that he will sue politicians who make the comparison in civil court for defamation, and that Sidali’s apology came after Wilders’ attorney threatened to sue.

PA Allocates $46 Million More for Terrorists

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The Palestinian Authority announced last week it will be giving an additional $46 million a year to released prisoners, including hundreds of murderers of civilians, according to the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). This new funding is an addition to the tens of millions the PA already gives in salaries and other benefits to terrorists in prison and released terrorists.

The PA’s funding of terrorists is enabled to a large extent by money the United States and European countries give to the PA for salaries and its general budget.

PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake explained that the Palestinian Authority was not able to fund this financial support for released prisoners in 2013 because of its “large budget deficit,” so it will only start in 2014.

“Due to the large budget deficit and the PA’s financial situation, establishing the budget, which has been estimated at 160 million shekels a year, has been postponed until April [2014],” he was quoted as saying in a report by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

Most Western countries have laws and regulations prohibiting support for terrorists or former terrorists. The United States, Britain, UK, Holland, Norway, Sweden and others have debated, proposed or passed laws or motions against giving the Palestinian Authority money that ends up in the hands of terrorists, but these countries nevertheless continue to fund the PA’s general budget, thereby paying tens of millions of dollars to terrorists as salaries and other payments.

The PA responded to Western criticism of support for terrorists by mocking European donors for wanting their money to remain “clean.” In the words of the same PA Minister who announced the $46 million for released prisoners on official PA TV, ”The Europeans want their money that comes to us to remain clean – not to go to families of those they claim to be ‘terrorists.’ [They] need to renounce this occupation (Israeli) mentality. These [prisoners] are heroes, self-sacrificing fighters (fedayyeen), and fighters who fought so that we could live in dignity… These heroes, whom you [the audience] are applauding, must live in dignity, so that we will continue to hold our heads high. We appreciate the people of the revolution and are proud of them.”

Dutch Pension Fund Rejects Boycott of Israel

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The giant Dutch ABP pension fund has rejected dis-investing from Israeli firms as was done earlier the past several days by funds in Denmark and Norway.

The bank announced that it issued a statement that it is holding on to its investments in three Israel companies because of the publicity over the other funds’ boycott actions.

Germany to Pay Amsterdam Jews for ‘Voluntary’ Ghetto Labor

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

More than 1,000 people have applied for new compensation of a one-time payment of $2,700 from Germany for labor performed in Amsterdam’s Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust.

The compensation is offered to people who lived in three districts of the Dutch capital that served as ghettos for the city’s Jewish community during the German occupation and performed voluntary labor there, the ANP Dutch news agency reported.

The distribution of money for the labor was announced this week by the Dutch Union for Holocaust Survivors, which is known in the Netherlands by its Dutch-language acronym, VBV.

Some 1,200 applicants have submitted requests for payment as compensation for labor performed in the so-called Jodenbuurt in central Amsterdam, the Rivierenbuurt area in the capital’s south and Transvaalbuurt, east of the center, according to VBV.

“Dutch Jews were driven out of their professions and forced into ghettos before their deportation to concentration camps,” VBV Chairwoman Flory Neter told ANP. “In the ghettos of Amsterdam they often did random chores such as sewing bags to feed their families. It wasn’t forced labor but they were coerced to live in the ghettos so it wasn’t voluntary either.”

VBV has negotiated for years with the German government to obtain the compensation and lost a lawsuit against Germany, but was able to obtain the payments in further talks.

Among those eligible for payments are Holocaust survivors who worked in the ghettos as children, Neter also said.

Amsterdam Falafel Joint Takes Israelis for a Non-Kosher Ride

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By the time they end up at Baba’s Grillroom in central Amsterdam, Israeli tourists tend to be somewhat distracted.

Situated near the famous Rembrandt Square, this popular and veteran falafel eatery is literally surrounded by pot-selling coffee shops that help make Amsterdam one of the top holiday destinations for Israelis — and especially for the young craving a cheap and top-quality high.

Giggly and thoroughly “mastoolim,” Hebrew slang for baked or stoned, they are likely to experience another dope-related phenomenon: The munchies. And that’s a problem for observant Jews in a city that is not exactly famous for its selection of kosher foods.

How fortunate, then, to chance upon the entrance to Baba’s place, with its promising signs in Hebrew and stars of David. Those sober enough to remain skeptical despite the Jewish symbolism are welcome to see Baba’s kosher certificate — a document signed by three rabbis from the United States.

The only problem is that one of the rabbis is deceased and the other two say they never certified any business in Amsterdam, according to a Jan. 9 report by the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly.

Acting on a tip, the paper sent one of its reporters, Jigal Krant, on an undercover mission that involved dressing up like an Israeli tourist and asking (in English) about the kashrut at Baba’s. Staff showed Krant a certificate signed by three rabbis. But the two living rabbis told NIW they had no idea their name was being used by Baba’s.

When NIW confronted the owners — two Egyptian Christians named Hanna Basta Tawadrous, 48, and Nermin Angali, 34 — they denied ever claiming they had a certificate, which NIW had photographed. Apparently, the new owners bought Baba’s approximately a year ago. To NIW they explained that their meat is kosher because it’s halal. (The NIW report did not investigate whether the meat is, in fact, halal.)

This article was written for JTA by Cnaan Liphshiz.

Dutch Christians Protest Pension Fund’s Boycott of Israel

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Approximately 350 Dutch Christian activists demonstrated early Monday in front of the headquarters of PGGM, manager of the largest pension fund in Holland, to protest its recent decision to pull out its investments in five Israeli banks, the European Jewish Press reported (EJP).

PGGM said it got rid of shares in Bank HaPoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank  because they are involved in financing in Judea and Samaria, or what it called “occupied Palestinian territories.’’

.The protesters, members of the Christian Foundation for Israel, held Israeli flags and banners reading ’’Stop the Boycott of Israel’’ while distributing pamphlets to the PGGM employees. They were accompanied by Holland’s Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, who denounced the fact that Israel is always singled out while PGGM ‘’should stop invest in many countries.’’

’We want PGGM to reconsider its decision,’’ Roger van Oordt, director of the Christian Foundation for Israel. ‘’

The pension group manages more than ($208 billion) in funds and has more than $150 million worth of investments in Israel.

PGGM’s move is the third high-profile divestment in Holland in recent months, according to EJP. In December, state-owned water company Vitens broke off its alliance with Israeli water group Mekorot, and earlier civil engineering group HaskoningDHV pulled out of a project to develop a waste water treatment plant in Jerusalem after the Dutch foreign ministry said it could conflict with international law.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the divestment decision was a “sanctimonious move intended to pander to a certain nefarious trend in public opinion.”

Last week, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador in Israel, Caspar Veldkamp, for a clarification on the PGGM decision to divest from Israel. ‘’This decision is unacceptable and relies on false pretense,’’ the Ministry’s Deputy Director General of the MFA for European Affairs, Raphael Schutz, told the Dutch Ambassador.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans declared last week that his country opposes a boycott of Israel.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/dutch-funds-divest-from-israeli-banks-but-not-from-occupied-tibet/2014/01/08/

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