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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center’

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.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-jews-should-care-about-dennis-rodmans-trip-to-north-korea/2013/12/23/

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