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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center’

‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Many Jews reacted with horror when the news began to spread on Wednesday, April 15, that the Jews of a particular area in Ukraine are being required to register with local authorities.

Those requests were allegedly made in flyers distributed to Jews leaving shul on Passover. The flyers informed “Ukraine nationals of Jewish nationality” to report to a particular location in order to register their religion and to provide documentation of their ownership of any property. All Jews had to pay a registration fee or lose their citizenship and face deportation, according to the leaflet.

The leaflets were distributed in Donetsk, where pro-Russian militants have commandeered government buildings.

The Jewish Press covered the story, with appropriate notations that there was some uncertainty about the authenticity of the flyers, coupled with a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism in Ukraine in just the past few months.

The flyer – authentic or not – constitutes the 17th anti-Semitic incident to have taken place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Most were violent attacks. Several were aimed at Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a few were life-threatening. Five took place in Kiev alone, according to statistics gleaned from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism(CFCA) website.

The story resulted in a huge outcry.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the demand for Ukranian Jews to register “intolerable” and “grotesque.”

Reporters at BuzzFeed pooh-poohed the story. One of the reporters, Max Seddon, tweeted a link to their article,  “Signal and noise in Donetsk over nonexistent Jew registration scandal.”

But actually, the leaflets – which were written in Russian, marked with a Russian symbol and one of the Donetsk People’s Republic, and allegedly signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of the Donetsk interim government, were distributed in Donetsk. And they were distributed to Ukranian Jews.

A Daily Beast reporter in Ukraine went to the office in the building in Donetsk designated in the leaflet at which Jews were told to register and pay their fee. She wrote that it was empty.

In a statement issued on Thursday, April 16, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote that Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. Ambassador in Kiev, told a senior SWC official that no one currently knows who created the “Jewish Registration Leaflets.”

Pyatt said the leaflets were “clearly part of a general effort to sow fear among Ukranian Jews.”

The SWC denounced “this grotesque action that is clearly designed to spread more fear among the Jewish community, already reeling from the increased instability that has racked the region for the past few months.”

Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the two most senior officials of the Wiesenthal Center, urged “authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Jewish communal institutions.”

According to a reputable Russian blogger, “this is a fake intended to present the pro-Russian forces in Donetsk as a dark antisemitic power with the worst intentions.”

On September 28, 1941, notices were posted informing all of the Jews of Kiev that they were to appear the following day, with all of their belongings, to a particular location. The next day, September 29, tens of thousands of Jews showed up at the designated location. They were marched to the forest, to the ravine known as Babi Yar. All of those Jews were stripped of their belongings and their clothing, and then shot. By the following day, more than 34,000 Jews were murdered.

EXCLUSIVE: Jewish Leader: US Must Tell Saudis Action Not Acceptable

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

“Saudi Arabia cannot have it both ways,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center exclaimed, regarding the decision to exclude a Jewish American reporter for an Israeli paper from entering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As reported late yesterday, on Monday, March 24, Saudi Arabia denied a visa to the White House correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. That reporter, Michael A. Wilner, is not Israeli and he has never lived in Israel.

Initial reports about the incident hinted at, then later there was public confirmation, that the U.S. administration  was “deeply disappointed” about the decision to exclude the Jewish American journalist.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the U.S. national security adviser and a special assistant to the president both made requests of the Saudi ambassador to the United States that Wilner be granted a visa; those requests were rebuffed.

But expressing “deep disappointment” does not begin to cover what the U.S. administration needs to do, according to Hier.

Rabbi Hier called on either President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry to issue a public statement denouncing the discriminatory treatment of the Jewish American reporter, and explaining the consequences.

“I think the U.S. must say, bluntly, to the Saudis, ‘You can’t have it both ways, you cannot claim to be the source of an important Middle East peace initiative, the Saudi Peace Plan, and at the same time declare that your own country is Juden Verboten,’” Hier told The Jewish Press by telephone from Dubai.

“The leadership of this administration is certainly not reluctant to publicly call out the Israeli government on actions it takes with which the U.S. disagrees, such as constructing homes in Jerusalem,” Hier pointed out. “Of course this administration cannot quietly accept with mere “deep disappointment” when an American citizen is discriminated against because of his religion.”

“Saudi Arabia is effectively banning the entry into their country of 98 percent of all Jews. Other than Jewish haters of Israel – that’s why I’m saying 98 percent of all Jews – all Jews are connected to Israel, despite differences in politics and denominational affiliation.

“What Saudi Arabia is doing is pure anti-Semitism. The United States must not accept such a position. And it certainly cannot recognize that country as a source of a legitimate Middle East peace plan,” Hier explained.

Today’s report in the Jerusalem Post included a statement from U.S. National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, “We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa.”

“We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision,” was the extent of the promised future action by the U.S. government.

Alleged Ex-Auschwitz Medic, 93, Arrested in Germany

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

An alleged former medic at Auschwitz was arrested in Germany on accusations that he was an accessory to murder.

The name of the 93-year-old man was not released in accordance with German privacy laws. He is accused of serving as a medic at the concentration camp in September 1944. Eight transports arrived at Auschwitz during that time, and 1,721 people were murdered after being labeled unfit to work, according to Der Spiegel.

Stefan Urbanek, a spokesman for the state prosecutor in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in northeast Germany, told reporters that the accused has not denied being at Auschwitz, but he “said that he had had no idea about the purpose of the camp” at the time.

Court doctors have determined that the man is well enough to stand trial and serve jail time.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder praised German authorities for making the arrest, noting that such prosecutions nearly 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz “sends a clear message that justice must be done, no matter how late the hour. There cannot be a statute of limitation for crimes against humanity, and mass murderers must continue to live in fear of the long arm of the law.”

“Old age should not afford protection to those who helped run the largest mass murder operation in human history,” the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, Israel director Efraim Zuroff, told JTA in an email.

Zuroff last fall renewed the Operation Last Chance campaign to find the last Nazi war criminals in Germany.

Clues leading to about 30 suspects last fall came from the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes in Ludwigsburg, which made a major push to identify former death camp guards after the conviction of John Demjanjuk in 2011 for his role in the murders of nearly 30,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp in Poland.

The Demjanjuk case set a precedent that serving as a guard at a death camp was sufficient to prove complicity in murder.

UPDATED: Norway’s YMCA Boycotts Israel, Jewish NGO Objects

Friday, March 14th, 2014

PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT END OF ARTICLE (GOOD NEWS)

Late last month the Norwegian branch of the YMCA, the Young Men’s Christian Association, aligned itself with the economic warfare movement known as the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against the only Jewish State, Israel. This salvo goes beyond the Peter Beinart version of BDS, and calls for an economic boycott of all goods and services from all of Israel, including the areas within the 1949 Armistice Line.

The Norwegian branch of the YMCA, which in Norwegian is abbreviated, “KFUK-KFUM,” is one of the largest and oldest youth groups in that country.

The KFUK-KFUM announced on its Facebook page that it “encourages broad economic boycott of goods and services from Israel and Israeli settlements to pressure the Israeli government to follow up on U.N. resolutions and end the illegal occupation of Palestine.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to KFUK-KFUM’s boycott by dashing off a letter to the Secretary General of the Geneva-based World Alliance of YMCAs, urging the parent body to denounce the Norwegian branch’s action.

“This proposed boycott of the only democratic state in the Middle East is totally opposite of the principles expressed in the World Alliance of YMCA’s Mission Statement of “fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people,” wrote the Weisenthal Center’s associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

Ironically, as the SWC noted, the boycott action targets all citizens of Israel, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Cooper pointed out that the activities endorsed by the BDS movement “don’t improve the life of a single Palestinian.” Instead, its “sole goal is to demonize and isolate the lone democracy in the Middle East, the Jewish State of Israel.”

Cooper’s letter called the Norwegian YMCA’s boycott action an “unjust, one-sided, anti-peace policy.”

“It is outrageous that any branch of a respected organization which prides itself on inclusion and tolerance would embrace the anti-Semitic poison of the radical anti-Israel BDS campaign,” he noted.

UPDATE MARCH 14, 2014: We received news from a European reader that the Oslo chapter of Norway’s YMCA – the largest chapter in the country – is not a part of the Norwegian YMCA boycott. This chapter stated on its website that it neither “stands behind or support the campaign,” and that it was “not informed of the campaign before it was launched.”

German Police Three Auschwitz Guard Suspects

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

German police arrested three men in their 80s and 90s Thursday on suspicion of accessory to murder when they were guards at the Auschwitz death camp. Three others, all in their 90s, may also be arrested if police uncover enough evidence to warrant putting them on trial.

“This is a major step,” said Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. After being told of the arrests, he told the Associated Press, “Given the advanced age of the defendants, every effort should be made to expedite their prosecution.”

German authorities announced last year they would investigate former guards at Nazi death camps. At the trial of former Sobibor death camp guard John Demjanjuk, who died in 2012 while appealing his conviction, the courts set a precedent by accepting prosecutors’ arguments that death camp guards were accessories to murder.

Nearly Half the Dutch Believe Israel Trying to Exterminate Arabs

Friday, February 14th, 2014

In response to an alarming finding from a study conducted last year by the University of Bielefeld, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent a letter to the deputy prime minister of the Netherlands, calling on him to take immediate steps to counter the spike in ugly anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes amongst the Dutch.

That study revealed that nearly 39 percent of Dutch citizens hold extreme, inflammatory ideas about Israel.  Among other appalling views, this large cohort of Dutch believe that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper reminded Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Frans Asscher.

In other words, about five million Dutch believe that Israel is engaged in a genocide against the Palestinian Arabs.

Cooper discussed the disturbing results of the Bielefeld study with Asscher when Cooper visited the Netherlands last April, shortly after the results of the study were made public. He also discussed the issue with various parliamentarians when he visited the Hague last month.

But although Asscher publicly called the issue “worrisome” and “unacceptable,” according to the SWC, no action has yet been taken, and that in itself is unacceptable.

“An important first step should be a government-ordered study to trace how such an utterly false and insidious image of Israel was created,” Cooper wrote to Asscher in a letter he released on Thursday, Feb. 13.

“Those who conceive and promote an unjustified extreme criminal view of others should be exposed and held accountable in the Court of Public Opinion,” added Cooper.

“We know too well from the 1930s in Germany what can happen when the delegitimization and demonization of a people goes unchallenged.”

Austrian-born Israeli scholar Manfred Gerstenfeld has written a great deal on the subject of contemporary European anti-Semitism.

Gerstenfeld pointed out in an article last year that an earlier study of European hostility towards Israel, one carried out for the European Union and carried out by Eus Gallup Europe as a flash survey of the EU’s Opinion Polls had an equally astounding finding.

That Eurobarometer revealed that most European countries believe Israel is the biggest threat to world peace. The only European country at that time in which fewer than half of all citizens believed Israel constitutes a threat to global peace was Italy, for whom a mere 52 percent did not feel that way.

According to that Eurobarometer, which was published in 2003, a whopping 74 percent of the Dutch believe that Israel constitutes a threat to world peace. That’s more than believe North Korea constituted such a threat (70 percent), or that Iran was such a threat (64 percent), or that Russia was such a threat (a mere 25 percent). The United States was considered a threat to world peace by 64 percent of those living in the Netherlands.

Cooper told the Dutch politician he will be sending Gerstenfeld’s book “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” which analyzes the results of various studies dealing with European anti-Semitism.  The lack of an aggressive response to understand and correct the misconceptions will have dire consequences.

The rabbi also offered the SWC’s help in undertaking a study that “would focus on how this climate was created and what can be done to remedy this unacceptable situation. I believe it would spark a necessary national discussion among Dutch leaders and citizens.”

Church’s New Study Guide is Textbook Example of Israel Hatred

Friday, February 7th, 2014

It is a standard, if stale, practice for Israel critics to portray themselves as bravely daring to “break the silence” with their public criticism of Israel. It is a passive form of aggressive manipulation, and it continues, because it seems to work.

One of the practitioners of this pretend courage is the Presbyterian Church (USA). A current manifestation of that role playing by the PCUSA is an ugly attack on Israel, masquerading as a “study guide,” called Zionism Unsettled.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has long been regarded as a church hostile to Israel as a Jewish State. It typically dresses up that hostility as loving concern for the Arab population within Israel and in the disputed territories.

PAST DIVESTMENT VOTES

In 2004, the church voted to approach corporations that “aiding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank,” and asking them to reconsider business with the Jewish state. This position was repeatedly reaffirmed in subsequent votes.

In July of 2012, the PCUSA brought to a vote another resolution targeting Israel. That divestment resolution was directed at companies which “sell military equipment to the Israeli military in the West Bank” was defeated by only two votes 331 – 333 – with two abstentions.

FINANCIAL AND OTHER SUPPORT FOR MESSIANIC CHURCHES

The PCUSA has exhibited its hostility to Judaism in other ways in recent years as well. For a time it directly funded efforts by “Jews for Jesus” to hoodwink, proselytize and convert Jews to Christianity.

For example, in 2004, the Philadelphia area Presbytery poured more than $250,000 into launching a church masquerading as a synagogue. The church was set up in a church at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, and the congregation was named Avodat Yisrael.

An exposé in the Wall Street Journal that fall revealed the congregation leader, Rev. Andrew Sparks, publicly and falsely claimed he was a rabbi. By 2005 the Presbytery chose to discontinue funding what they had called its “new church development.” Nevertheless, the congregation continued as a messianic church, under the name “Messiah Now Ministries,” with Rev. Sparks as its leader.

PCUSA’S LATEST UNSETTLING ATTACK

The PCUSA’s latest attack, its “teaching guide,” made available through its online store, is a doozy.

This new guide, Zionism Unsettled, has accomplished one neat feat thus far, however. It has united Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel in their immediate and unequivocal denunciations.

Zionism Unsettled is a 74 page booklet and comes with accompanying DVD which PCUSA says is a “how-to guide for class leaders with focused discussion prompts.” It is being marketed as an “ideal resource for multi-week exploratory educational programs in churches, synagogues, mosques and all classroom settings, faith-based or secular.”

Ah yes. Surely they are trying to use this booklet to explain, as they claim, “what steps can be taken to bring peace, reconciliation and justice to the homeland that Palestinians and Israelis share?”

But one of the quotes from a church leader makes clear exactly what the PCUSA is trying to do by promoting this booklet.

Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, remarks “The urgency of the Palestinian plight in the face of Israeli intransigence indicates that intentional, concrete and sustained public action is necessary to respond credibly to the crisis. Zionism Unsettled is a welcome study guide. It will prove an effective vehicle for helping to mobilize public opinion so that both attitudes and policies can be transformed in the face of an imperious and exploitative ideology.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center knows exactly what the PCUSA is up to with its latest anti-Israel effort.

“This outrageous screed is the theological twin of the infamous 1975 UN ‘Zionism is Racism’ resolution,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the SWC.

Swastika Adorns California Politician’s Head in Hate Fliers

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

In liberal Oakland, California, some people still hate Jews enough to blanket a neighborhood with fliers on which they have emblazoned a swastika of the forehead of a nominally Jewish politician.

Or maybe it’s a kind of tribute to Holocaust education that a swastika is such a symbol of hate that for some it simply represents evil, or plain old banal “bad.” Just a few months ago, also in Oakland, fliers with the picture of another councilmember with a swastika on his forehead was plastered on lamp posts.  That council member is a hispanic, who is Catholic.

The Jewish Press caught up with Libby Schaaf, the councilwoman who was the latest victim in the swastika flier series, late on Tuesday afternoon. The fliers were put up in the very early hours of Monday, Jan. 20.

Schaaf said the symbol drawn on her forehead was “hurtful,” but that it had gotten a lot of attention and she wanted people to know that Oakland is primarily a diverse community which is very proud of its acceptance of different cultures.

She explained that although she was not raised Jewish, her father was born Jewish and she always had great respect for and pride in her “Jewish ancestry.” And, she said, “that symbol on anyone’s head is anti-Semitic.”

When asked whether there has been any response from the Jewish community in the area, the council member was openly enthusiastic.

“There has been a fantastic outpouring of support and concern from the local Jewish community,” said Schaaf, “and Rabbi Meyer May called me twice to check in on me.” The council member was very impressed that Rabbi May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, had taken time out of his busy schedule to call her and express his concern. The main office of the Wiesenthal Center is in Los Angeles.

Schaaf said that “as a public official, I cannot let experiences like this cloud my judgment or curtail my activities.” However, she felt it was oddly fortuitous that the hateful incident occurred on Martin Luther King Day. “I was able to take my children, ages six and eight, to an event commemorating Dr. King, and really stress to them how important it is for everyone to work hard to express their tolerance and their love towards others.”

The council member said she and her husband had not yet had the chance to sit down with their children and discuss what happened in their community, but they plan to.  Still, the coincidence of the fliers being posted on Martin Luther King Day, and her position as a public servant, “just gave me an even greater incentive to continue working to help create a just society.”

It remains unclear whether the Oakland police are going to categorize the incident as a hate crime.  Schaaf said she told them she didn’t want any extra resources devoted to the investigation, as there are so many other concerns on which they need to focus.

Schaaf has represented Oakland’s District 4 since 2010, and is currently running for mayor of Oakland.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/swastika-adorns-california-politicians-head-in-hate-fliers/2014/01/22/

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