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

Posts Tagged ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center’

UNESCO: Postponing ‘Jewish Connection to Israel’ Exhibit to June

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A brouhaha broke out last week after UNESCO summarily canceled the opening of an exhibit it had long-promised to co-sponsor with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

UNESCO’s reason for the last-minute cancellation was that it had been told by the Arab League that the exhibition might adversely impact the ongoing “peace process” negotiations intended to achieve peace between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21 – the day after the scheduled opening – UNESCO posted a notice on its website:

Following numerous requests for information regarding the Exhibition, “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land,” UNESCO wishes to reaffirm that the exhibition has not been cancelled but postponed.

UNESCO is in discussions with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to finalize the last points and inaugurate the exhibition in the month of June.

Really?

This announcement might lead one to think that the exhibit wasn’t quite ready.  You certainly would not know, although it is true, that at the time of the original “postponement,” the exhibition materials had already been hung on the walls, thousands of invitations had been sent out, and people were already arriving in Paris in anticipation of the opening event at UNESCO’s headquarters.

This is what actually went down:

Last Tuesday, Jan. 14, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sent a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that despite having agreed two years ago to co-sponsor an educational exhibition, which was vetted by UNESCO-sponsored academics, about the relationship between the Jews and the Holy Land, UNESCO was summarily cancelling the exhibition opening, scheduled for the following Monday, Jan. 20.

Two years in the planning? Two years of paying academics, gathering materials, flying internationally acclaimed historians and other experts in and out, restoring the materials so that they could be displayed. But on the very day that the very first peep was heard from the Arab League, and on the basis of the League’s position – without any room for discussion, negotiation or representation – the exhibit was cancelled.

The leaders of the Wiesenthal Center, dean and founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, and associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, immediately dashed off a letter to Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general.

They started out reminding the good madam that the SWC had followed every request and condition laid down by UNESCO in order to ensure a smooth process and a successful event. Then they reminded her that she was the one who put her own signature on the agreement to launch the joint undertaking. And then they told her what they expected of her:

we insist that you live up to your responsibilities and commitments as the co-organizer of this exhibition by overturning this naked political move that has no place in an institution whose mandate is defined by education, science, and culture — not politics. Failure to do so would confirm to the world that UNESCO is the official address of the Arab narrative of the Middle East.

Rabbi Cooper spoke with The Jewish Press on Thursday, Jan. 16. In Cooper’s view, the exhibition was not pulled because of the content. It is a purely historical body of work. And if there are critics out there who cannot believe the SWC could be trusted to ensure absolute honesty and partiality about the topic, surely the UNESCO-appointed academics made sure that was the case.

“No, pulling the exhibition had nothing to do with the content, it was simply the very idea – truth or not – that Jews have had a 3,500 years long relationship with the Holy Land” that the Arab League could not permit and the League’s displeasure was not something UNESCO could abide for even a single day.

UNESCO Cancels Israel Expo following Arab Pressure

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Complaints by Arab states led the United Nation’s cultural arm, UNESCO, to cancel the opening of an exhibition on the Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

The exhibition, organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center along with the governments of Canada and Montenegro, was scheduled to open Jan. 20 at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova on Wednesday said in a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the exhibit, titled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” would be postponed indefinitely. She said the decision arose out of UNESCO’s support for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“We have a responsibility in ensuring that current efforts in this regard are not endangered,” she wrote.

The cancellation followed a letter sent to Bokova on Jan. 14 by the Arab group at UNESCO, which admitted the Palestinian Authority as a member in 2011. “The Arab group is deeply disturbed by the exhibition, which it condemns,” said the letter by the Arab group’s president, Abdullah Elmealmi.

“This cause is championed by those who oppose peace efforts,” Elmealmi said. “The media campaign accompanying the exhibition will inevitably damage the peace talks, the incessant efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UNESCO’s neutrality.”

In an email, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of international affairs, Shimon Samuels, wrote that the center was outraged by Bokova’s decision. He called for an email campaign opposing cancellation.

Wiesenthal Center’s Top Ten Anti-Semitic Slurs of 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has just released its top ten anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs for the year 2013.

The SWC saw the most extreme hatred exemplified by three Arab and/or Muslim leaders, a UN official, a Christian Canadian denomination, a far right-wing European party, an aging rock star, an aging formerly famous novelist, an overripe teenager, an American academic association, a small New York school district, and quite a few European athletes.

1. The very top of the list of outrageous insults comes from Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who referred to Israel as the “rabid dog” in the Middle East region. Successfully adding insult to injury, Khamenei also said that Israel’s “leaders look like beasts and cannot be called human.”

“The genocidal animus of Iran’s Supreme Leader against the Jewish state continued unabated throughout the secret and direct negotiations with the United States and the P5+1,[which] places him at the top of the list,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Center’s Associate Dean.

2. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan placed second on the SWC’s most worst list. Erdogan achieved this dubious honor in a year characterized by a dramatic deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel. Twice the Turkish leader blamed Israel – using the code word “interest rates lobby” for serious challenges to his authority by the citizens of his country.  First it was the Gezi Park uprising and most recently that same “interest rates lobby” was blamed for a huge, still ongoing corruption scandal that has profoundly affected his government, with more than a dozen ministers either resigned or being fired or reshuffled.

3. In third place is the first Jew on the list. It is the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Arab Territories, Richard Falk.  This year Falk described Israel has harboring Nazi-like genocidal intentions towards the Palestinian Arabs. The hatred he exudes towards Israel is, perhaps, summed up best in his justification of suicide bombings perpetrated against Israel as a legitimate means to inflict sufficient harm on Israel.  There is much more to make your blood boil on the SWC site.

4. In fourth place the SWC listed the economic and legal warfare against the Jewish state known as BDS.  BDS stands for the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel that is urged on by haters of the Jewish State.

In this BDS category, special mention is made of several practitioners. The first example offered is the American Studies Association.  Much has already been written on these pages about the ASA’s misguided effort to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The good news, of course, is that the ASA appears to have done far more damage to its own organization than any harm that could possibly befall Israeli academic institutions because of the ASA’s stunt. With close to 100 universities condemning the ASA’s boycott and several withdrawing from the organization altogether, perhaps we should really place the ASA’s boycott on a list of efforts taken which resulted in nationwide solidarity in support of the Jewish State.  So, thanks, actually.

The other practitioners mentioned are Pink Floyd’s former frontman Roger Waters, and the United Church of Canada.Waters has also been the subject of several articles here at The Jewish Press. The United Church of Canada, however, merits special attention.

“As Christians suffer in Syria, ethnic cleansing in Iraq, and are threatened in Egypt, the United Church of Canada endorsed a boycott of Israel – the only Middle East state that guarantees full religious freedom and protection to all faiths,” is how the SWC describes the UCC’s folly.

5. The extreme far-right wing Hungarian party, Jobbik, is fifth on the list of most awfuls. The deputy leader of the Jobbik party called for a registry of all Jews in Hungary as a security measure last year.  He also alleges that Israel “runs a Nazi system.”

6. In sixth place is a meme that never seems to go away.  This is the “Hitler as Hero” meme, which was taken up by an alarmingly large and diverse group of Arabs and Europeans over 2013, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Iraqi cleric Qays bin Khalil al Kalbi, Saudi cleric Muhammal al Farraj, a famous Lebanese singer, and several Turkish immigrants in Holland.

7. Several particularly egregious Cartoons That Defame Israel are seventh on the SWC list of most anti-Semitic/anti-Israel Slurs for 2013.  In what passes as an art form that has been around for centuries, this year’s entries into the pantheon of dehumanizing depictions of Jews (and the Jewish State) are prize winners.  Check the SWC site to see this ugly art.

8. The small upstate New York school district of Pine Bush has permitted ugly anti-Semitic abuse of its Jewish students. Parents have sued the school district for allowing the ugliness to continue. One school official allegedly responded that the complainants’ “expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic.”  Really? Let’s hope that official’s hope to keep his job is a bit unrealistic.

9. Two American authors, one a has-been and the other a never-been, are in the 9th place “poison pen” position on SWC’ list. Alice Walker, who easily could have appeared in the fourth place as a practitioner of BDS, appears here because her most recent book, The Cushion in the Road, is described by the SWC as being approximately 25 percent “a diatribe against the Jewish state.”

Walker was the author of a hugely popular and powerful novel, The Color Purple, albeit that was 30 years ago.  The second person in the poison pen category is mostly famous for having a semi-famous daddy, Sidney Blumenthal, a speechwriter for Bill Clinton. Max Blumenthal seems to have spent the past 20 years of his life attempting to be an enfant terrible, but now he’s mostly just terrible. His new book, Goliath, practically takes anti-Semitism to pornographic heights.  He refers to Israelis as Judeo-Nazis, and blames the Arab-Israeli conflict on “Israeli society’s nationalistic impulses.” Blumenthal is at least nominally Jewish.  So sad.

10. The Wiesenthal Center describes various European Sports Venues as having been “Hijacked for Hate,” and placed them in the final slot of its 2013 list of most egregious anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs. Of particular note were European soccer stadiums as the stage where a great deal of ugly anti-Semitism played out over the past year. Italian, English, Polish, Hungarian, Latvian and Croatian teams or their members were cited for anti-Semitic activity this past year.

In a late-breaking addition to the list, the Wiesenthal Center included its request that NBA Star Tony Parker apologize for using a Nazi-like salute which is currently widely used by neo-Nazis in Europe. The gesture is called a quenelle, or a reverse Nazi salute.  It has been denounced by French authorities and leaders of the French Jewish communities.

The Wiesenthal Center asks readers to share with it incidents of anti-Semitic or anti-Israel slurs so that such incidents can be explored and exposed, and the perpetrators held accountable.

Jewish Center: NBA Stars Must Say No to Birthday Game for Dictator

Friday, December 27th, 2013

The Simon Wiesenthal Center wants National Basketball Association players to just say no to Kim Jung Un.  The SWC is urging NBA players to refuse to travel to North Korea to play at Dennis Rodman’s invitation, at what really will just be a big birthday celebration for the fascist dictator Kim Jung Un. The event will be held on January 8 in Pyongyang. It is being called (no joke) “The Bang in Pyongyang.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and long-time activist for human rights in North Korea, issued a statement calling on ex-NBAers to do the right thing.

Paddy Power, the Irish online betting company which had originally agreed to sponsor the NBA Birthday Bash for the North Korean dictator announced that it had pulled out. Paddy Power decided not to support the event, due to “changed circumstances.”  What changed circumstances?  North Korea has been a brutal dictatorship run by megalomaniacal tyrants for quite a long time.

The North Korean government’s latest horror: arresting and executing Kim Jung Un’s uncle, and then bragging about the dirty deed proved to be too much even for Paddy Power.

As word came that the Irish company withdrew its sponsorship of Rodman’s Bang in Pyongyang, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading human rights NGO, urged all former NBA stars to stay away from North Korea.

“Everyone, it seems – except Dennis Rodman – understands that this is not a game  to promote peace, but an undeserved birthday gift to a murderous tyrant who heads a regime with the worst human rights record on the planet,” charged Rabbi Cooper.

“Playing a basketball game in Pyongyang before a handful of cronies of the youthful dictator gives Kim Jong Un an undeserved birthday present that enables Kim to change the narrative for the international media.  It shifts the focus of attention away from his execution of his uncle, on North Korea’s brutal gulag, and his nuclear missile threats against his neighbors.”

“There may yet be a time and place for basketball diplomacy in North Korea, but now is neither the time and Kim’s birthday party isn’t the place for such a gesture. We hope ex-NBAers will do the right thing”‘ Cooper concluded.

Why Jews Should Care about Dennis Rodman’s Trip to North Korea

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

In 1977, I helped Rabbi Marvin Hier found the Simon Wiesenthal Center. For 30 years, I had the honor of knowing and working with the famed Nazi-hunter, Simon Wiesenthal z”l, who helped bring 1,100+ Nazi War Criminals to justice. But carrying the name of Simon Wiesenthal also meant that we have had the responsibility to speak out on crimes against humanity wherever it rears its ugly head—from Cambodia to the gassing of the Kurds by Saddam Hussein to Rwanda and Darfur.

So when I began to hear rumors that North Korea was using poison gas to kill selected political prisoners, I felt compelled to travel to Seoul, South Korea, to personally debrief three North Korean defectors who had admitted involvement in such activities.

The oldest of the three was more interested in touting his skills in forging nearly undetectable $100 U.S. bills. When I pressed him on the human guinea pigs killed in gas chambers, he showed zero remorse, and stated matter-of-factly “…those (political) prisoners were as good as dead anyway.”

The second North Korean defector was a man possessed by images of dying parents,unsuccessfully trying to breathe air into their small child dying at the feet of the choking parents in a glass-encased chamber. He and his colleagues in white coats took copious notes as to how long the poison took to suffocate the doomed family– each detail duly noted and forwarded for further analysis to those in charge of the production and upgrade of North Korean poison gasses (some of which constituted Assad’s arsenal which originally threatened Israel but was ultimately deployed against his own civilian population).

The youngest defector haltingly described his team’s involvement in experiments carried out on live specimens—animal and human…

Where did these victims come from and why should we care?

For decades, North Korea has been the most controlled society and its regime among the most repressive. Taking a page from Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Pyongyang maintains a Gulag — a series of punitive forced labor camps, where as many as 200,000 ‘enemies of the state’ languish, accused of criminal activity or merely of having the wrong neighbor or parent. Inmates have virtually no rights, no knowledge of the outside world, and little hope of getting out. Nuclear families are difficult to maintain and some of the few escapees describe a system where the jailers choose which inmates can cohabitate and when or if they can have children who then also live in captivity.

As a rogue regime, Pyongyang has always given top priority to developing WMDs (weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological), often directly cooperating with Israel’s implacable enemies— Syria and Iran. Indeed, in 2007, Israel destroyed a nuclear facility being built with NorthKorean help in Syria. Iran and North Korea are reportedly working together on extending long-range missile capabilities.

North Korean youthful leader, Kim Jong Un has a problem. Seems he’s been taking a lot of heat for recently having Jang Song Thaek, his uncle and mentor, arrested, publicly humiliated in front of the country’s ruling elite, called out as a traitor, put on trial and executed – all with the lightening speed of an NBA All-Star fast-break. There are reports that many members of his uncle’s family have been disappeared into the gulag. Suddenly, Kim’s carefully nurtured image of a youthful, vibrant, basketball-loving, Swiss-educated 21st leader is taking a beating.

Imagery, photo-ops, and other staged media events are critically important in North Korea and often auger changes, large and small to come.

It is interesting to note the many photos of Kim Jong-Un in the company of children that have appeared in the tightly controlled State media since he took became the leader. They are eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s carefully nurtured public image in the 1930s.

Did SFSU Student Post Selfie with Knife: ‘I Want to Stab an Israeli Soldier’

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

The Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a warning to officials at San Francisco State University on Monday, Dec. 2, advising them of a potential threat to Jewish students there.

The basis for the warning was the posting on the social media forum Tumblr which appears to be by the president of San Francisco State’s General Union of Palestine Students, Mohammad Hammad.

The photo shows Hammad with a knife, beneath which is the caption, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade.  It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”

The AMCHA Initiative, the co-founder of which has been featured in The Jewish Press for her tireless work in exposing anti-Semitism on California campuses, first found the photo and threatening language.

Earlier this month, AMCHA discovered that GUPS was involved in another event at SFSU at which students were encouraged to create art projects using a stencil bearing the image of a notorious terrorist and another stencil that stated “MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS KILLED COLONIZERS.”

Both AMCHA and the Wiesenthal Center contacted SFSU President Leslie Wong over the past several days, warning her that statements such as the one allegedly issued by Hammad, especially given the other recent event in which GUPS was involved that also glorified killers of Jews, potentially constitute a threat to the university’s Jewish students.

The Wiesenthal Center told Wong and issued a public statement that “it is outrageous and unacceptable that the leader of a university-funded group would invoke a message of death and violence.”

“How can Jewish students feel safe on a campus where the leader of a university-sanctioned and funded student organization, known for its antisemitic activity, has publicly proclaimed his desire to stab an Israeli soldier?

“President Wong needs to take immediate and firm steps to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students at San Francisco State,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, told The Jewish Press by email.

The photo and violent statement disappeared from Hammad’s account after the two Jewish groups contacted Wong, but a cached version of the picture on Tumblr remains.

A close-up of part of the Tumblr page pictured in full at the top of the article.

A close-up of part of the Tumblr page pictured in full at the top of the article.

 

Norway Official Wants to ‘Educate’ Jews against Circumcision

Monday, November 25th, 2013

The anti-circumcision bill in Norway, which the country’s foreign minister vows will not become law, is being pushed by the country’s child welfare adviser who wants Jews and Muslims to understand that causing pain is tantamount to a sin far worse than violating the Jewish law of circumcision.

New legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 is scheduled to be introduced before mid-April.

“With good information about risk, pain and lack of health benefits of the intervention, I think parents from minorities would voluntarily abstain from circumcising children,” Anne Lindboe, Norway’s Children’s Ombudsmen, told the Norwegian Aftenpost daily last week.

Her claims are questionable to say the least, but lest she be accused of trying to negate religious practice, she has a solution to those Jews who insists on upholding the ritual that is the physical bond among Jews since Abraham and which is the bond with God, for which Jews have been cursed and killed.

Her solution, reported here, is simply to perform a “symbolic ritual,” presumably one in which the baby will not cry, God forbid.

It would be easy to criticize her for ignorance of Judaism, but why expect a non-Jewish pediatrician from one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe to understand Jewish law and belief?

Lindboe is a pediatrician. She has seen children abused and even killed by parents, some of them mentally disturbed, drunk or simply wicked, and she puts them in the same basket as normal parents who circumcise their baby boys.

“We introduced a law on violence against children even though we had reason to believe that individuals would still be beaten and mistreated,” she told the newspaper,, dismissing concerns raised in Norwegian media that a ban on ritual circumcision would mean that parents would perform it illegally.

“If 15 years is set as the minimum age, we expect Norwegian parents follow and respect the law,” said Lindboe, a longtime advocate of the criminalization of ritual circumcision, which she considers a form of abuse and infringement of children’s rights to “physical integrity.”

“I think it’s disrespectful towards minorities to assume that they are going to break the law,” she added, showing an unbelievable ignorance of the very concept of any religion.

Her thinking, so to speak, reflects a modern and sterile philosophy that there is no such thing as “religious law” if a government views it as wrong.

Her attitude also reflects a modern view, often Christian, that no one has to suffer in life. Smile, have a nice day and don’t struggle with everyday difficulties that cause pain.

It is the same type of bleeding heart mentality that is behind “engagement” with monsters like Syrian President Bassar al-Assad and with masters of evil, such as the Islamic regime in Iran.

Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, told JTA he did not expect her campaign to lead to a ban on ritual circumcision in Norway. The country’s new Foreign Minister Børge Brende has promised the Simon Wiesenthal Center that “the Norwegian Government recognizes the importance of ritual male circumcision for the Jewish community in Norway…[and] it will not propose a ban on ritual circumcision.”

Regardless of whether Norway keeps its promise, the anti-circumcision campaign is alive and well around the world, even  though Germany passed legislation last year to protect Jews and Muslims’ right to circumcise their children.

As reported here and here, the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly passed a non-binding resolution to ban ritual circumcision.

Some politicians in Quebec, a long-time bastion of anti-Semitism, have floated the idea of a ban.

Jews in Quebec have no fear of a ban, but more worrisome is the thinking, or lack of thinking, in which intelligent people want to see the world as the cover of a Saturday Evening Post magazine from the 1950s, or as a Woodstock festival, where no one has to struggle and everyone lives in complacence.

The problem with the dream world is that it leaves it defenseless against the Assads and Ayatollahs.

Linboe’s “no pain” world  that she wants to replace religious circumcision, about which she knows only a bit of the physical side and less than nothing about the metaphysical side, is a world that pretends evil does not exist and therefore does not have to be fought.

The Wiesenthal Center has said about all of the campaigns to ban circumcision, “Historically, such draconian actions were taken by tyrants, dictators and mass murderers. Today we are confronted with such initiatives being proposed and passed in democracies.”

The results are the same, but that doesn’t matter to the anti-circumcision crowd. The only thing that matters is that they don’t feel the pain when an Iranian or Hezbollah nuclear bomb blows up in their back yard.

Lithuanian Jews to Get Compensation for Holocaust, Soviet Occupation

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Government officials in Lithuania said they would offer symbolic reparations to nearly 1,800 Jewish Holocaust survivors.

The officials told the Baltic News Agency on Wednesday that each survivor will receive a payment of $622 this year. The compensation was also for “suffering during the Soviet occupation,” according to the announcement.

Lithuanian governments have faced criticism by international bodies, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, for drawing parallels between Nazism and communism.

In 2011, the Lithuanian Parliament voted to offer Holocaust survivors and the Jewish community compensation for assets seized during the Holocaust. The government set up a $50 million fund to support the “religious, cultural and social” needs of Lithuania’s Jewish community.

Lithuania had a Jewish population of 250,000 in 1939, but 95 percent of its Jews were murdered during the Holocaust by Nazi soldiers and Lithuanian collaborators. Today Lithuania has some 5,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/lithuanian-jews-to-get-compensation-for-holocaust-soviet-occupation/2013/11/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: