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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Turkish Students Arrested for Nazi Salute at Polish Nazi Camp Site

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Two students from Turkey were arrested in Poland for using a Nazi salute on a group of Israeli students visiting the Majdanek concentration camp.

The students made the Nazi salute and said “Heil Hitler” when they met a group of students from Israel according to Turkey’s Today’s Zaman newspaper. The Israeli group filed an official complaint, leading to the detention of the two Turkish students.

The students said that the action was a joke, but if they are found guilty of the charges of promoting fascist propaganda, they could face up to three years in prison.

Polish Righteous Gentile Donates Memorabilia to Jewish Museum

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

A Polish historian and statesman who was imprisoned at Auschwitz and recognized as a Righteous Gentile for saving Jews in World War II has donated a collection of his memorabilia to a museum in Poland.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 91 and a  former member  of the underground “Żegota” Polish Council to Aid Jews during the Holocaust, presented his donations to the new Museum of the History of Polish Jewish in Warsaw at a ceremony on Wednesday.

He also has twice served as Poland’s foreign minister and has held other senior positions and received many international honors.

The museum said the memorabilia include his Righteous among Nations medal, which he received in 1966; a certificate of his planting of a tree in honor of “Żegota” at Yad Vashem; his honorary citizenship of the State of Israel; the Elie Wiesel Award, which he received this year from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington; an original ring made in the Litzmannstadt (Lodz) Ghetto; as well as various books and historical documents from the period of World War II.

“One never knows what will and what will not pay off in life, but one always knows what is worth doing,” he said during the ceremony, recalling his experience in “Żegota.”

Council of Europe Says Ritual Circumcision Won’t Be Banned

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Council of Europe has assured President Shimon Peres that Europe will not ban religious circumcision despite last week’s non-binding resolution of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly that cited circumcision of males as a violation of human rights and equated it with female genital mutilation.

President Peres wrote on Monday to Thorbjorn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to protest the resolution. Although it has no legal significance, the Council is very influential on decisions by the European Union.

Jangland said male circumcision did not violate human rights, and Daniel Holtgen, the Director of Communications at the Council of Europe, sent a tweet quoting Jagland as saying, “Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not.”

The resolution angered Muslims as well as Jews. It called for European states to “promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks of some of these procedures,” which the assembly lists as the circumcision of boys, early childhood interventions in the case of intersexual children and the coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Marlene Rupprecht, the rapporteur behind the resolution, claimed the text did not aim to “stigmatize any religious community or its practices” but simply called for public debate “aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity.”

While Jagland’s statements were good news for Jews and also for Muslims, it is scary that we are so susceptible to the threat of a ban on circumcision that we have to be grateful to someone deciding to suspend what would be a death sentence to Judaism.

Jews have died rather than accept decrees against circumcision, but today’s trend to use “human rights”  and “animal rights” to disguise campaigns that deprive Jewish rights is more subtle and devious than the open anti-Semitism of the past.

A judge in a German province earlier this year banned circumcision, leading to an uproar that prompted the national parliament to make it clear that ritual circumcision is legal.

The anti-circumcision movement is increasingly popular in Scandinavia, where the influx of Muslims also is a factor behind the campaign to prohibit the religious rite.

Jews and Muslims are constantly threatened with a ban on local slaughtering of animals according to Jewish and Muslim laws, which prohibit the method of stunning before using the knife. There are some leniencies in Muslim law.

The most recent controversy is in Poland, which banned ritual slaughter this year but where Jews now have to be thankful to the Catholic Church for supporting the rights of Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals according to religious laws.

The Polish parliament in July rejected a bill, sponsored by the government, to legalize kosher slaughter, but Pope Francis recently has voiced concern over the ban.

“Animal rights” supporters have successfully campaigned in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland to outlaw kosher slaughter.

The European Union’s official policy states, “European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter” generally requires stunning before slaughter, but allows member states to allow exemptions for religious slaughter.”

Holland two years nearly outlawed kosher slaughter after the Animal Rights Party managed to convince the Lower House of parliament to pass a bill, which was rejected by the Upper House, to ban the practice.

Israel is the only country that comes to mind where Jewish rights still are unquestionably more important than “animals’ rights.”

As for circumcision, the only argument might be over “Metzitzah b’peh.”

Holocaust Hideout in Warsaw Destroyed by Polish Couple

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

A Polish couple pleaded guilty to the desecration of a historic site for destroying a Holocaust-era Jewish hideout in the Warsaw apartment the couple was renting. The hideout was made into an official historic monument in 1999.

A Holocaust hideout built by a Warsaw ghetto inmate was destroyed by a polish couple who pleaded guilty to the desecration of historical property.

Dariusz P. and Elzbieta P. were indicted after their actions were discovered in 2012. They had removed the wardrobe hideout to make space for a kitchen. The original hiding place was built by Warsaw ghetto inmate Leon Jolson.

He and his wife, who survived the Holocaust, hid their family there from 1942 until September 1944, but his mother died while in hiding, the Associated Press reported.

Polish Photographer Uses Jewish Cemetery for Naked Photo Shoot

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Polish photographer Lukasz Szczygielski has apologized for conducting a photo shoot with a half-naked model at the Jewish cemetery in the southern Polish town of Checiny.

Szczygielski explained that he actually wanted to draw attention to what he said was a “neglected” and forgotten cemetery. The Jewish cemetery in Checiny was opened in the 17th century. There are approximately 150 tombstones in the cemetery.

The model posed against the headstones naked from the waist up, with a necklace bearing a large cross hanging between her breasts.

“This is not the appropriate form of drawing attention to Jewish cemeteries. I would prefer that this man rather clean up the cemetery rather than doing naked session there,” Krzysztof Bielawski of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews told local television station TVP Kielce.

“If it offended anyone I deeply apologize. This was not the intention of the session,” Szczygielski told the TV station.

Russia Giving Up to $1 Million to Auschwitz Conservation Fund

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Russia will contribute up to $1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation for the conservation and maintenance of the site of the former Nazi concentration camp, the Polskie Radio website reported.

A statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Warsaw stated that support for the project is “a common moral duty as it serves the mission of preserving the memory of the huge number of victims of the Nazi camp and of other crimes against humanity.”

The four-year-old foundation is working to raise nearly $160 million for a perpetuity fund to continue to maintain the site. Twenty-four countries have contributed thus far. Germany has contributed $80 million, followed by the United States with $15 million. Poland, where the camp is located, has promised about $13 million, according to Polskie Radio.

Some 155 buildings on the site are in need of repair. The money is needed as well for conservation projects such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau archives, documents and objects in the museum collection.

Kosher Slaughter Ban Shows Poland Has a Jewish Problem

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, has a Jewish problem.

In a painful affront to the Jewish community, it recently defeated a government initiative to reinstate the legality of kosher slaughter of animals. This prompted Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, to threaten resignation and triggered sharp criticism of the Sejm from Jewish communities in Poland and around the world.

What happens in Poland regarding Jews has special significance because of the Holocaust. More than 90 percent of the country’s three and a half million Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation. Poland began legislating against kosher slaughter in 1936, and once the Germans occupied the country three years later, the practice was banned entirely.

Since the fall of the communist regime in 1989, however, Jewish life in Poland has undergone a remarkable, and previously unimaginable, renaissance. Full recognition of the rights of Jews to practice their faith – including kosher slaughter – was enshrined in an agreement the government signed with the Jewish community in 2004.

Indeed, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, addressing an overflow crowd at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in Washington several weeks ago, declared it was his country’s responsibility to ensure “that today’s Jewish community in Poland is safe, welcome and respected.”

He honored Poland’s Jewish community “not just for how it died, but for how it lives, and how it is coming back to life.”

When legislation was adopted a few years ago mandating the use of electronic stunning equipment before an animal is killed – a practice prohibited under Jewish law –the Jewish community was granted an administrative exemption. In January, however, a court ruled the exemption unconstitutional. Alleged violations of animal rights trumped age-old Jewish religious practice.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government framed legislation to override the court decision. What should have been a fairly easy corrective measure was instead defeated on July 12 by a vote of 222 to 178, leaving in place the judicial ban.

Thirty-eight Sejm members representing Tusk’s ruling Civic Platform party joined with the opposition in voting to outlaw ritual slaughter. In Poland, this was viewed as a major victory for animal rights advocates, as their views prevailed against the nation’s farmers and meatpackers, who had developed a lively business exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim countries.

Jews, however, see matters quite differently. From their perspective, the Sejm’s action stigmatizing kosher slaughter as inhumane blatantly contradicts Foreign Minister Sikorski’s pledge to make Jews “safe, welcome and respected.” They point out that kosher slaughter, whereby the animal is rendered immediately unconscious by severing the carotid artery, is humane, and that the continued legality of hunting in Poland, which results in far greater and more indiscriminate pain to animals, suggests there may in fact be another, unstated reason for outlawing kosher slaughter: anti-Semitism.

In the wake of the Sejm vote, pejorative comments about Jews in some of the Polish media and online give some credence to these fears.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident. The situation for European Jews looks even grimmer in a broader context. Just a few months ago, a similar scenario unfolded in Germany when a court banned ritual circumcision, another fundamental element of the Jewish religion, on the grounds that it mutilated children without their consent. There, too, anti-Semitic motivation was not hard to discern in certain quarters amid the talk about physiological and psychological harm.

Fortunately, Chancellor Angela Merkel navigated a bill through the German parliament overruling the court and reestablishing the religious freedom of Jews to continue an age-old tradition of their faith. Whether Poland will successfully follow her example and push through a law guaranteeing the right to kosher slaughter remains to be seen.

Such attacks on Jewish religious practice, in fact, constitute just one front in a wider struggle over the future of Jewish life in Europe. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise, increasing by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012. In France, there was an astounding 58 percent jump over that same period, including the targeted murder last year of four Jews, three of them small children, in Toulouse.

Vocally anti-Semitic political parties are represented in the Greek and Hungarian parliaments and are gaining power on the local and regional levels in other countries. Public opinion polls show alarmingly high levels of anti-Semitic attitudes. Demonization of Israel in the media and among some intelligentsia is often indistinguishable from Jew-baiting. No wonder that opinion surveys point to a striking number of European Jews contemplating emigration.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/kosher-slaughter-ban-shows-poland-has-a-jewish-problem/2013/08/14/

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