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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Report: IAF Trained with Pakistani, UAE Air Forces

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Israel Air Force pilots last week trained for the first time with pilots from the Pakistani and United Arab Emirates air forces, as part of the “Red Flag” exercises in Nevada, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Thursday. The teams from the two countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel nevertheless trained and cooperated with the Israeli team during the exercises. The Red Flag exercises also included pilots from the US and Spain and featured dozens of attack sorties, dogfights, bombings, and long-range flight midair refueling.

The report noted that the fact that the Pakistani and UAE teams did not object to flying alongside their Israeli counterparts suggests that they were more interested in studying and exercising than in politics. The lists of participating teams is composed solely by the Pentagon, and participating countries cannot modify it — but they can refuse to participate.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III addresses Airmen at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. / US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III addresses Airmen at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. / US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman

A senior IAF official told Chanel 2 News that “the Americans are excellent pilots, it’s clear they know how to fly and fight.” He said the Americans downed Israeli planes in dogfights, “but we downed them, too.” Each sortie involved many dozens of fighter planes, as well as refueling and intelligence support aircraft, and took place in day and night-time conditions, testing the teams’ ability to work together.

But the official noted that “this is not just about flying together, but about preparing for the mission ahead of time. You see right away who’s good and who’s not. There’s no place to hide. Everything stands out. We got better all the time, and the real deal was to learn from our mistakes.”

The exercise included IAF F-16I “Sufa” (Heb: Storm) aircraft, and for the first time Boeing 707 refueling aircraft. “It’s the nearest exercise to real warfare you can have,” the official said, “dealing with enemy planes, anti-aircraft missile threats—including the S300 systems Iran has—and cyber attacks on our aircraft. We still need to explore our performance, but the pilots are saying it was good.”

Next year, Israel will host the “Blue Flag” exercises, with the air forces of the US, France and Poland.

JNi.Media

Digging for Treasure Resumes in Tracks of Illusive Nazi Gold Train

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

A small band of hopeful explorers on Tuesday resumed the search for a Nazi train which was, supposedly, buried with a full cargo of stolen gold and weapons: local legend says as many as three Nazi trains were buried underground near the Polish city of Wałbrzych (Waldenburg) in Lower Silesia, south-western Poland, in January 1945, before the end of World War II.

Explorers Andreas Richter (German) and Piotr Koper (Pole), and several others, believe they’ll hit pay dirt in only a few days. A year ago, they used radar to receive a positive signal from one train beneath the city of Walbrzych. Then Polish Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Żuchowski announced that Koper’s and Richter’s radar images confirmed “with 99% probability” that a train 300 ft long is waiting to be plundered down there. But the local governor voiced his doubts about those prospects, and several teams that conducted similar surveys in the area came up empty-handed.

Nevertheless, last May, Koper and Richter secured a permit from Polish State Railways to dig for the gold train, and on Tuesday, one year to the day after their original announcement, they’re out there, digging three exploratory shafts from which they plan to start moving in on the buried treasure.

The World Jewish Congress last year issued a call on the Polish government that the train most likely holds valuables that were robbed from Jewish victims, and that once they are retrieved, a search must be conducted to locate the heirs of their owners.

Tadeusz Slowikowski, 86, is responsible for the Nazi gold train rumor. In 2015 he told the Daily Mail: “I became aware of the tunnel after saving a German man named Schulz from being attacked by two men. As gratitude for saving him, he told me about the tunnel.” That was in the 1950s, and Slowikowski has spent much of his time since searching for that train.

Local historian Pawel Rodziewicz told the AP that he had seen documentation showing without a doubt that the gold was transported to the German central bank in Berlin, and that the Nazis were not going to bury their stolen gold in Waldenburg, where the advancing Soviet Red Army could grab it. It made no sense for the Germans to invest in digging a secret railway tunnel, when for a lot less money they could ride that train home, he argued.

Of course, that’s exactly what someone who knows where the gold is buried would say to discourage competition…

JNi.Media

Last Survivor of Sobibor Death Camp, Philip Bialowitz, obm, Passes Away

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Philip Bialowitz, age 90, was the last Polish Jewish survivor of the infamous Sobibor Nazi death camp.

After decades of bearing witness to the revolt staged by a small group of Jews who overpowered their captors and freed hundreds of their fellow prisoners, he passed away peacefully this past Saturday in a Florida hospice, surrounded by his four children.

Bialowitz saw it as a sacred duty to bear witness, having been exhorted to do exactly that by the two leaders of the revolt who stood on a table to launch the fight for survival.

“If you survive, bear witness!” they cried to their fellow prisoners. “Tell the world about this place!”

Bialowitz spent the rest of his life doing exactly that, honoring the memories of the 250,000 Jews whose lives were lost and the few who survived at Sobibor. Their “fighting spirit” became their legacy, that which he recounted to the thousands of children and adults in his countless speaking engagements around the world. “I had the honor of meeting Philip numerous times with former Deputy Minister of Education for the State of Israel Avi Wortzman, at Treblinka extermination camp and most memorably at Chabad in Warsaw, where I learnt of his love of Chazanut, Jewish music,” Jonny Daniels, founder of the Holocaust commemoration foundation ‘From the Depths’ wrote on Facebook.

“He always had a smile on his face and was always so open and willing to speak of his difficult past.

“Now is our turn to stand as his witness.”

His popular book, ‘A Promise at Sobibor,’ told the story of his life from his childhood in pre-war Poland and his teen years in WWII to the years after the war, when he married and grew a family. He helped build a community and bring Nazi monsters to justice while never forgetting to keep his promise to tell the story of the revolt at Sobibor.

Baruch Dayan HoEmes. “Yehi Zichro Baruch – May he rest in peace.”

Hana Levi Julian

The Nozyk Genizah Of Warsaw: Historic Torah Fragments Discovered In Poland

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

More than seven decades after the devastation of the Jewish community of Poland, there are still new discoveries being made on a regular basis.

The genizah before examination.

The genizah before examination.

Recently a genizah of old Torah fragments called yeriot was discovered in the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw. The Nozyk Synagogue was the only synagogue out of some 400 in Warsaw to survive the Shoah because the Germans decided to desecrate it by turning the beautiful, sacred place into a stable for their horses.

“We don’t know the exact origins of the genizah,” said Rabbi Moshe Bloom, rosh kollel of Nozyk, “but we can conjecture that after the Shoah the Nozyk Synagogue was returned to the Jewish community of Warsaw and it became a magnet for all things Jewish.

“Over the years, non-Jewish Poles would at times approach the synagogue, sometimes to honor lost friends, sometimes out curiosity, sometimes out of guilt. Some brought with them artifacts that they had kept hidden in their homes and felt a responsibility to return them. The Torah fragments were collected for eventual burial as prescribed by Jewish law.”

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

Special embellishments found on the last words of the Torah.

When I was recently in Warsaw Rabbi Bloom asked if I would be able to raise money to bury them with proper kavod and ceremony.

I wondered whether anybody had examined them.

“Why?” he asked.

Because, I told him, Torah scrolls from the pre-Shoah period had often been used for hundreds of years and therefore might have unique characteristics that are no longer in use. I asked Rabbi Bloom if I could examine the scrolls. He gave me permission to look them over and even photograph them.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

A fragment showing unique tagim in Az Yashir.

The genizah consists of about 30 fragments (there are no complete scrolls), some only one or two columns and others much larger. Some showed signs of fire or water damage, slashes from knives, and other ravages of age and war. Almost all sections of the Torah are represented in the collection, from Bereishit to the end of Devarim.

Upon examination, I found that most of the fragments were very similar to those one would find in any synagogue today. A few of them looked to be over five hundred years old due to some of the variant letter shapes and tagim (crowns) that are no longer used.

When I returned to New York I visited with Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam on 13th Avenue in Boro Park. An expert in the laws, and lore of Torah scrolls, he helped me understand some of the history behind the strange letter forms.

He explained that tradition tells us that the form of the Torah we have today was copied by Eli HaKohen off the stones that Joshua had set up when he brought the Jews into the land of Israel after the death of Moses.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

A burnt Torah fragment from the genizah.

For thousands of years these letter forms were the way all Torah scrolls were written; it was only about 400 years ago that they began to be used less and less frequently. The Chatam Sofer in his Teshuvah 265 says that Jews stopped using them after a Torah scroll from Tzefat was found without them. He explains that the special letters and tagim were used to remind people of certain lessons in the Torah but since we do not learn from Torah scrolls (other than during prayers) they should no longer be used.

There are many books that describe the different letters and tagim. Torah Sheleimah by Menachem Mendel Kasher covers many of the letter forms and lists many sources. Sefer Tagi lists different letters and reports that the letter peh with the special shape can be found 191 times, the letter lamed 26 times, and the letter ayin eight times.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

A fragment with the peh lafufa in the Torah portion describing the fight between Jacob and the angel.

The final disposition of the Nozyk genizah is still being decided. Many of the badly damaged yeriot will be buried while some of the others will be put on display thanks to generous support from Monika Krawczyk of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (www.fodz.pl). The proposed exhibit will be located in the synagogue in the town of Leczna and hopefully include the complete story of stam — the writing of Torahs, mezuzahs, and tefillin.

Rabbi Traube of Bais Hastam was excited about the exhibit and is looking forward to making a special trip to Poland to examine the fragments for himself.

“It is rare enough to find a genizah,” he said. “We would be lucky to find one or two interesting items in a genizah but here they have so many it is truly a historic find.”

 

Editor’s Note: For more information, to organize a lecture, or help support the genizah project, contact Shmuel Ben Eliezer, who serves as the project’s director of research and development, at nozykgeniza@aol.com.

Shmuel Ben Eliezer

UNESCO to Question Jewish Ties to Western Wall in Arab-Sponsored Draft Resolution

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog organization, expressed concern today that UNESCO may fuel anti-Jewish incitement and violence, and the increasing PA Arabs’ denial of Jewish religious and cultural rights, by adopting an Arab-sponsored draft resolution that denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The Jordanian-Palestinian draft text on the Old City of Jerusalem was submitted to the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which meets over the next 10 days in Istanbul for its 40th annual session.

“This inflammatory resolution risks encouraging the past year’s wave of Arab stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, which began with false claims that Israel was planning to damage holy Muslim shrines,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Under the battle cry of “Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger,” incitement in September by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sparked a wave of terror attacks across Israel which began on the Temple Mount and eastern Jerusalem. At least 40 have been killed and more than  500 wounded. The Arab attacks include 155 stabbings, 96 shootings, 45 car ramming attacks, and one bus bombing.

The draft now before UNESCO includes the following problematic language:

  • The draft refers ten times to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, exclusively using the Islamic term for Temple Mount, without any mention that it is the holiest site in Judaism. This is part of a larger campaign at the UN, and particularly in UNESCO, to Islamize sites historically belonging to other faiths.
  • This year’s proposed draft is even more extreme than the resolution adopted in 2015. The new version three times uses the Islamic term Buraq Plaza while placing the parallel name “Western Wall Plaza” in scare quotes, implying skepticism or disbelief concerning what is the most hallowed site for Jewish worshippers over two millennia, due to the ancient wall’s connection to the Holy Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 CE. Last year’s resolution also sought to diminish the Jewish connection by putting the name Western Wall in parentheses after the Islamic term, yet the new use of quotation marks intensifies the denialism that was famously promoted by Yasser Arafat’s negotiator at Camp David, and which continues in Palestinian Authority statements.
  • Israel, which is referred to throughout as “the Occupying Power” in Jerusalem, is called to restore “the historic Status Quo,” with the new word “historic”—a change from last year’s text—implying a reversal of any changes since 1967.
  • Jerusalem’s light rail, which is used daily by thousands of Arab residents among others, is accused of having a “damaging effect” on the “visual integrity” and “authentic character” of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—even though the track passes through an existing highway and only facilitates transportation for visitors of all faiths.

The 21 members on the UNESCO world heritage committee are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Good luck to all of us.

Jewish Press Staff

Yad Vashem Leadership Mission Arrives in Israel

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

More than 50 influential friends and advocates of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, participating in a Leadership Mission arrived in Israel today. The Mission brings together Yad Vashem’s steadfast supporters from around the world to explore prewar Jewish life in Europe, to reflect on the past, present and future, and to connect to Yad Vashem as well as to one another. Among some of the notable members of the Mission are Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem Lenny Wilf, world-renowned hotelier Mark Moskowitz, entrepreneur and philanthropist Yossie Hollander, Holocaust survivor Roberto Kucinski, and Barry Levine. In Poland, the Mission visited Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Wroclaw and Wolfsberg forced labor camps before spending a meaningful Shabbat in Krakow, where they were joined by Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. 

 The Israel portion of the Mission begins with an private audience with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. Participants will also meet with Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Director General Dorit Novak, and many of Yad Vashem’s Senior Staff. They will tour the campus on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, and be briefed about Yad Vashem’s far-reaching activities in the fields of Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education.   

David Israel

Report: Ambitious Justice Minister Using Polanski Extradition to Pave Own Career

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Polish Justice Minister and Prosecutor General (in Poland you can be both) Zbigniew Ziobro on Tuesday declared that he plans to appeal a Polish court ruling not to extradite 82-year-old, Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski, to face charges of jumping bail for a 1977 case of statutory rape, news agencies reported. Ziobro told Polish radio that the reason for his attempt to extradite Polanski is that “he is accused of a terrible crime against a child, the rape of a child.”

Justice Minister Ziobro has gained a reputation in Poland of a stickler for the law, but also of being a polarizing figure in Poland’s politics. His uncompromising prosecutorial style has earned him the title of Man of the year for 2006, awarded by Newsweek-format Wprost magazine. But his policies have been criticized as partisan and overzealous by local and international press.

According to Wprost, Ziboro has turned the Polanski extradition into one of his pet campaign issues, and last October, after a Krakow Regional Court ruled against the extradition of Roman Polanski to the United States, Ziobro promised to take action to extradite Polanski. “Mr. Polanski cannot stand above the law,” he declared. “Therefore, I believe that the future minister of justice, whoever he may be (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) should agree to extradite Polanski to the United States. There can be no protection from responsibility due to the status of a person for such heinous acts, such as sexually abusing a minor in the absence of her parents. Pedophilia is evil and must be definitely removed.”

Krakow Regional Judge Dariusz Mazur wrote in his October ruling that “had Poland accepted the US extradition request, it would have violated the rights of Mr Polanski and at the same time the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Jerzy Stachowicz, an attorney for the aging Polanski, told AFP: “We were expecting this. Ziobro had previously announced he was going to do this. For the moment, we won’t be commenting because we don’t know whether he has already done it or whether he is about to do it.”

Presumably, Polish defendants receive some manner of notification in these instances.

Roman Polanski / Photo credit: FICG.mx

Roman Polanski / Photo credit: FICG.mx

In 1977, Polanski was arrested in Los Angeles and charged with five counts against Samantha Gailey, 13: rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance to a minor. At his arraignment Polanski pleaded not guilty to all charges, but later accepted a plea bargain which dismissed the five initial charges in exchange for a guilty plea to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse. Polanski underwent a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, followed by a recommendation of probation. But according to the documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” things changed after a conversation with LA Deputy District Attorney David Wells and the judge, Laurence J. Rittenband. Polanski’s attorneys insist that the judge suggested to them he planned to send the director to prison and order him deported. In response to the threat of imprisonment, Polanski fled the United States, first to England, then to Paris. He was born in Paris in 1933 to Polish Jewish parents, and his family returned home to Poland just before World War II.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-ambitious-justice-minister-using-polanski-extradition-to-pave-own-career/2016/05/31/

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