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May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

Salonika’s Re-elected Mayor Wore the Yellow Star

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

The mayor of Salonika, second-largest city in Greece, wore a yellow Star of David to his second term inauguration at city hall last week.

Mayor Iannis Boutaris, 72, wore the star as a gesture of respect to honor the memory of the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, he explained.

Boutaris pinned the star to his jacket as a resposne to the presence of a radical right parliamentarian from the Golden Dawn party, Artemis Mathaiopoulos, on the city council, the European Jewish Press reported.

Golden Dawn has become the third most popular party in the national elections.

The Nazis deported more than 90 percent of Jews from Thessaloniki (Salonika) at the time – some 60,000 Jews – and then later wiped them out. Only 1,200 Jews live in Salonika today.

British Man Beats Up Anti-Semite George Galloway

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

British police have arrested a 39-year-old man, (not Jewish, we’re not sure if that surprises us or not) for assault anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Member of Parliament George Galloway, who was hospitalized for broken ribs and a head injury.

The attacker was identified as Neil Masterson.

Galloway has been released from the hospital, but it is doubtful that the attacker was able to beat some sense into his head.

The MP, who has built his political career on loving Saddam Hussein and Hamas and hating Jews and Israel, was posing for pictures in west London Friday night when the attacker jumped on him while calling him “Hitler.”

The assault “appears to be connected with his comments about Israel because the guy was shouting about the Holocaust,” said Galloway’s spokesman. The name of his one-MP party is Respect, which indicates his ignorance of the English language.

The party’s name is a very contrived acronym for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism. A more accurate acronym would be “Racist, Extremist, Satanic, Pisher, Ethnic=hatingt, Crude and Twisted.

Galloway has been under police investigation since his call earlier this month that the city of Bradford, which he represents, be an “Israel-free” zone that would bar Israeli tourist and place a total ban on anything related to Israel.

We wish Galloway a speedy recovery and hope that some of the medicine he needs is made in Israel.

Mashaal Vows Cease-Fire a Step to New ‘Resistance’ War against Israel

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Hamas’ supreme leader Khaled Mashaal dashed any hopes of long-term peace with Israel in a speech in Qatar on Thursday in which he shot from the hip at Israel and also at his terrorist organization’s new partner, the rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

His lengthy speech in Qatar, which has financed Hamas terror and which fought Egyptian cease-fire proposals, followed by one day a “victory” speech by Ismail Haniyeh, the senior Hamas political leader in Gaza. Mashaal’s silence while Haniyeh accepted the cease-fire is a clear sign of a fierce power struggle between Hamas in Gaza and between Mashaal and Qatar, which holds the purse strings.

Mashaal also claimed victory, with lies that Hamas missiles hit the Ben Gurion Airport, which is not true, and that more than 5 million Israelis hid in bomb shelters, a gross exaggeration. However, there is no doubt that Hamas succeeded in scaring the daylight out of millions of Israelis, interrupting a few flights and generally turning half of Israel into sitting ducks.

And this won’t be the last time, regardless of a cease-fire, he warned.

“Whatever happened [in Gaza] is not the end to this story, and this is not the last operation to free Palestine. It was an important stop on the way to victory,” Mashaal declared.

His speech threw every obstacle possible on the road to negotiations with Israel. The talks are supposed to begin in a month, leaving open the possibility, or probability, that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is carrying on secret negotiations that will be formalized in 30 days.

The Prime Minister suffered another blow to any trust that Israelis may have for him with a report on Thursday that he met secretly with Jordanian King Abdullah, and perhaps Abbas, prior to the cease-fire, circumstantial evidence that Israel negotiated under fire, contrary to Netanyahu’s promise.

If Mashaal gets his way, there won’t be any talks because one of the new powers in Gaza is slated to be Abbas, whose security forces would patrol Gaza borders, according to the Egyptian proposal. That would provide Cairo with another tactic to get rid of Hamas.

Mashaal nailed Abbas to the wall in his speech, accusing him of throwing cold water on the resumption of the intifada during the war by allowing his security forces to limit protests.

“The next operation needs to use all of the Palestinian capabilities, not just part of them,” Mashaal said. “The resistance is holy and weapons are holy. There is no such thing as a country without weapons.”

A country or not, Gaza still has at least 2,000 rockets as well as anti-tank rockets and presumably anti-aircraft missiles. It still has rocket factories, one of which was filmed in production by Hamas during one of the failed cease-fires during the war.

Netanyahu had demanded that any halt in violence would be accompanied by disarming Hamas, but this week’s cease-fire only left the issue to be put on the negotiating table, along with Hamas’s demands for a deep-sea port and an airport.

Mashaal’s speech was full of hate and crude accusations that Israel inflicted a “Holocaust” on Gaza by “destroying schools and hospitals,” which all but the most extreme anti-Israel media now know were used by Hamas as rocket launching and terrorist command centers.

“We are against what Hitler did to the Jews, and Israel committed a second Holocaust in Gaza. Israel is an embarrassment to Jews and to the entire world,” according to Mashaal.

His rhetoric was aimed at Abbas as well as Israel. If and when negotiations begin, Egypt and the United States will be on the side of Abbas, who despite his unity government with Hamas has proved politically smart by a patient and single-minded tactic of using international support to slowly but surely win concession after concession from Israel until there is nothing left to negotiate.

Kites for Survivors

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Members of Machnot Olim youth movement along with Holocaust survivors, flying kites for the 72 year rememberence of the execution of Yanush Korjack and his students in Treblinka at Yad Vashem on August 7, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Still A Nation That Dwells Alone

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Days turn into weeks and the ominous news continues. Our precious sons are in harm’s way and we hear the horrific news that some of them will never come home. One boy was about to get married; another’s wife just had a baby; and still another left behind a wife who was in her ninth month. I realize you are all aware of this. I am not telling you anything new but still I have a compulsion to share and speak and write.

I listen to the news day and night. People have suggested that I stop, that it’s too depressing. But even if I were to shut out the media, in my mind I would still see and hear bereaved parents, and young wives who in the blink of an eye have become widows, and little orphans who are crying for their daddies.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that I am a survivor. I saw this all before and everything is coming back to me from those days in Europe before Hitler occupied Hungary. My revered father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, ztl, was the chief Orthodox rabbi of our city Szeged, the second largest city in Hungary (not to be confused with Sziget).

Our home became a gathering place not only for Jews from our city but for community leaders from the provinces. The discussions went on late into the night. “What to do?” everyone asked. And the answer to that question, the conclusion to all such discussions, was always the same: “Surely the civilized world will never countenance such beastly evil. People will protest and Germany will find itself a pariah among the family of nations.”

I have often thought about those conversations. Why were we so blind to our horrific reality? Simply put, there was nothing much we could do. We had no weapons. We had no friends. There was no place to run. No place to hide. Hitler was determined to annihilate every Jew and he kept meticulous records of the Jewish populations in the countries he conquered.

Some years ago I was invited to speak at Fort Hood to over 40,000 U.S. military personnel. After one of my presentations some officers asked if they could invite their families to listen to me. They wanted their wives and children to know about the Holocaust. When I concluded my address, an adorable little girl stood up.

“Rebbetzin, Ma’am,” she said in her innocent sweet voice, “why didn’t you call the police?”

For a moment I was astounded by the question. What an American question! And then I explained to the little girl that there were no police we could call. The police were equally as cruel as the Nazis. Jewish blood was cheap and could be shed with impunity. The question from the little girl continues to echo in the wind.

When the sinister darkness of the Holocaust had finally lifted, I heard the cry “never again” – “never again will we allow such satanic evil to take place. Never again.” Those words have become a clarion call. Tourists visit the sites where the death camps operated and nations build Holocaust museums to ensure that people learn from the past.

Under such circumstances, who could be a Holocaust denier? It’s there for all to see. And yet, incredibly, the Holocaust denial movement is alive and well.

But the problem extends well beyond out-and-out Holocaust deniers. Let a Jew raise his hand to defend himself and suddenly otherwise placid people become seething cauldrons of Jew hatred.

It has been my privilege to speak throughout the world. Recently I’ve been receiving calls from many friends in the countries I’ve visited. Be it Paris, London, Johannesburg, or any of a couple dozen other locations, anti-Semitic demonstrations are taking place. Not that we have to cross the ocean to hear this message –it’s happening right here in our own back yard.

Downplaying the Holocaust, A TEDx Talk

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

If only more members of this generation were like Anna Blech: a poised, factual and no-holds-barred truth teller.

Blech attended Hunter College High School in New York. For her 11th grade history paper, Blech chose to explore the media’s coverage of the Holocaust, while it was happening.

She chose this topic because three of her four grandparents escaped from Germany and Austria before the outbreak of World War II. They spent the war years in New York City.

Her grandparents explained to Blech that they really had no idea of the extent of the destruction of European Jewry until after the concentration and labor camps were liberated. This led her to wonder what news was available in the American media.

“The works of historians David Wyman, Deborah Lipstadt, and, especially, Laurel Leff, helped me understand how the knowledge of the Holocaust did not enter the public psyche despite the fact that the Holocaust was covered extensively in the New York Times,” Blech told The Jewish Press.

After her paper won the New York City History Day prize, Blech was invited by her school principal to give a TEDx Talk for the high school’s TEDx event.

 

When asked by The Jewish Press how her grandparents responded to the information she had garnered and presented at the TEDx Talk, Blech said they were very proud of her.

“They found the information true and painful,” Blech explained. “My grandmother said that she knew of people who almost made it out of Europe and who might have been able to, if the situation had been better publicized.”

Blech has since graduated from high school, and will be spending part of the summer in China for the Student Leaders Exchange of the National Council on U.S.-China Relations.

During this coming academic year, Blech will be on a special program called kivunim which is based in Jerusalem, but which takes participants to many different countries to explore the history of their Jewish communities and also explore all aspects of Israel.

Once finished with her year of travel with kivunim, Blech will become a freshman at Yale University in the fall of 2015.

Considering future, Claims Conference weighs shutting down vs. Holocaust education

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

A special panel tasked with examining the governance and strategic vision of the Claims Conference is recommending that the organization shift its long-term focus to Holocaust education and remembrance, JTA has learned.

The panel was appointed last year following a scandal involving the Claims Conference’s failure to detect a $57 million fraud scheme there that persisted until 2009. It also recommended cutting in half the size of the board’s executive committee and the number of special board committees.

The special panel did not, however, recommend any changes to the composition of the Claims Conference’s board, which critics have complained is unrepresentative because it does not include enough Israeli or survivor groups and includes too many once-robust Jewish organizations that are quite small today.

The new recommendations, outlined in two hefty documents sent to Claims Conference board members last week and this week and obtained by JTA, will go to a vote when the board holds its annual meeting in New York on July 8.

Consisting of board members and outside experts and guided by Accenture consultants, the special panel was charged with reviewing the administration, management and governance structure of the Claims Conference, which obtains Holocaust restitution and compensation from Germany and Austria. The central question the panel examined was what the Claims Conference should do after the last of the survivors dies.

Three possible courses of action were given serious consideration: shutting down; funding education and remembrance projects; or shifting its focus to general Jewish educational programming, helping victims of other genocides obtain restitution or preserving Jewish cultural sites in the former Soviet Union.

Given the Claims Conference’s successes at convincing Germany to increase its funding for survivors, the panel concluded that “to close down without attempting to leverage its position and significant experience in the service of Holocaust education and remembrance would be to miss a major opportunity.”

In an interview with JTA, the Claims Conference’s chief executive, Greg Schneider, emphasized that Holocaust education isn’t new to the Claims Conference: The organization currently funds education and remembrance to the tune of $18 million per year with money obtained from the sale of unclaimed Jewish properties in the former East Germany.

“The Claims Conference has always dealt with the consequences of the Shoah,” Schneider said of the board’s mandate for the organization. “When that meant direct payments to survivors, we did that. When that meant rebuilding communities, we did that. When that meant home care [for elderly survivors], we did that. Educating people about the Shoah and confronting Holocaust denial all deal with consequences of the Shoah. To be faithful to our mandate, we should continue to do that. And we are uniquely qualified to do so.”

The new vision for the Claims Conference hinges on the organization’s ability to get material support for it from the perpetrators of the Holocaust — namely Germany, but also Austria and companies complicit in the Nazi genocide. If that funding cannot be secured, the Claims Conference should go out of business once there are no survivors left, Schneider said.

“If we’re unable to get money from perpetrator governments, and the survivors have all died, we should close down,” he said. “We should not try to reinvent ourselves into something else.”

Stuart Eizenstat, a lead Claims Conference negotiator and special assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry on Holocaust issues, said he’s optimistic about getting Germany to support the proposed new focus, noting that the country already does so through mandatory Holocaust education in German schools.

“There’s every reason to think that they would be supportive of this,” Eizenstat said. “After all the survivors are gone this is the right thing to do.”

Though survivors are dying, their overall need for aid actually is rising because of their growing infirmity and relative poverty. The Claims Conference estimates that survivor needs will peak in about two or three years, followed by a progressive decline.

Globally there are an estimated 500,000 living Nazi victims — a category that includes not just survivors of concentration camps, ghettos and slave labor camps but also those forced to flee the Nazi onslaught, compelled to go into hiding or who endured certain others forms of persecution. About half are expected to die in the next seven or eight years, according to a new demographic assessment that was part of the special panel’s work, and survivors of some kind or another are expected to be around for another 20-25 years.

The debate about what to do about the Claims Conference once the last of the survivors dies is not new. Established in 1951 to secure compensation and restitution from Germany, the Claims Conference has negotiated successfully for an estimated $70 billion for survivors and survivor needs over the course of its existence.

Most of that money has come directly from Germany in the form of pensions and compensation payments, with the Claims Conference acting only as the processor of payments and verifier of claims (this latter area is where the $57 million fraud occurred). As each survivor dies, these payments cease.

The Claims Conference also has a bucket of discretionary funding: billions generated from the sale of heirless Jewish property from the former East Germany. But that bucket, known as the Successor Organization, is expected to run dry by 2020 at its current annual allocation rate of about $118 million to groups that aid survivors and $18 million to Holocaust education and remembrance.

In 2004, the Claims Conference managed to get Germany to begin to fund a new area: home care for survivors, including food, transportation and medical care. Berlin has steadily increased the amount of money it provides the program, from $42 million in 2009 to $190 million in 2013. Last year Germany agreed to another $800 million in funding through 2017.

If the Claims Conference board adopts the new plan next month, the question for Claims Conference negotiators is whether they’ll be able to get Germany to move into another new area — one that, unlike aid to aging survivors, has no particular expiration date.

“I believe the good will is there,” said Julius Berman, the Claims Conference’s chairman. “Their issue is more in terms of budget rather than concept. If we do a correct job to explain the need, I think we’ll have a receptive audience on the other side.”

The mandate for reexamining the Claims Conference’s future and governance grew out of a public storm a year ago over the discovery that the organization had conducted two investigations in 2001 into questionable conduct that failed to uncover a massive fraud scheme being perpetrated by a senior Claims Conference official. The fraud continued unabated until Claims Conference leaders discovered it in late 2009. In all, 31 people pleaded guilty or were found guilty in connection with the scheme, which resulted in $57 million in illegitimate payouts by Germany.

A Claims Conference probe last year into the bungled 2001 investigations proved highly controversial when it was disavowed by two of its four committee members and then rebutted in a 21-page missive by Schneider. In the end, the Claims Conference board elected to end its reexamination of the 2001 episode and rebuffed proposals to open up to any additional outside oversight.

The committees that oversaw this most recent Claims Conference reexamination process were, however, led by outsiders. The strategic vision committee was chaired by Jeffrey Solomon, president of the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Philanthropies, and the governance committee was chaired by Michael Miller, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. The committees themselves included outsiders as well as Claims Conference board members.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/considering-future-claims-conference-weighs-shutting-down-vs-holocaust-education/2014/06/22/

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