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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘World Jewish Congress’

German Culture Minister Promises Reform of Judenfrei Nazi Loot Commission

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

German Culture Minister Monika Grütters is planning to reform the Limbach Commission, established in 2003 to mediate ownership disputes of Nazi-looted art. Ronald Lauder, the founder of the Commission for Art Recovery and president of the World Jewish Congress, has stated that the commission has been “cold and distant” in its treatment of Jews trying to claim their art that was looted by the Nazis.

The cool approach to Jewish rights of ownership of Nazi-looted property could possibly be attributed to the utter absence of Jews from the Limbach Commission.

The non-binding Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, endorsed by 44 countries in 1998, recommend that governments establish independent commissions with “a balanced membership” to “assist in addressing ownership issues.” But according to The Art Newspaper, Germany’s interpretation of the phrase “balanced membership” has not included appointing a single Jewish panel member.

Grütters told the New York Times last March that the move was intentional, because, as everyone knows, a Jewish member “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” Her comment generated a torrent of accusations of anti-Semitism, and the culture minister promised Lauder to appoint a Jewish member. Eventually.

“Thirteen years after it was established it is time to think about the future development of the commission in the interest of improved implementation of the Washington Principles,” Minsiter Grütters said in a recent statement, and culture bureaucrats from the 16 German states and municipal associations are in the process of establishing a committee to recommend reforms, meaning to find a Jewish person they could trust with the process of examining the Nazi-looted art. According to a spokesman for Grütters, proposals should be coming in this year.

To illustrate just how (intentionally) frustrating the recovery process has been, according to the Center for Art Law in January a task force appointed by Grütters released the results of their two-year, $2 million investigation, which found the rightful owners of five of the 1,500 works in the Gurlitt collection. Grütters has admitted her own disappointment, but seems to be taking the slow and steady approach, to avoid “a second seizure” of the art — meaning that some lying Jewish family be improperly awarded one of the stolen masterpieces. Meanwhile, the entire collection continues to be exhibited in Germany this year.

In late February, also according to the Center for Art Law, Germany announced that it will pay for at least another year of research and hire additional staff to establish the provenance of works in the Gurlitt collection. Minister Grütters reaffirmed Germany’s pledge to return any looted art to its rightful owners or their descendants, and awarded the (ostensibly meticulous) research a budget of $6.5 million.

JNi.Media

Global Forum on Anti-Semitism This Year in Buenos Aires

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

For the first time, the Global Forum on Anti-Semitism (GFCA) traditionally held biennally in Jerusalem is taking place this weekend (July 16-18) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference this year is organized by the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Latin American Jewish Congress, the regional chapter of the World Jewish Congress.

Anti-Semitism is rising around the world, and this year’s conference is focused on creating an action plan to respond to the attacks on an international level.

On Monday forum participants are slated to attend a ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. The attack was suspected to have been perpetrated by Iran via its Lebanon-based terror proxy Hezbollah. In that attack 85 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

“The first GFCA in Latin America presents a unique opportunity to discuss the issue of anti-Semitism in Latin America and develop an action plan that would complement the one drafted at the last GFCA in Jerusalem in June 2015,” the HILC said in a statement.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent experts to the conference to participate in a panel discussion on best practices in tackling cyberhate – the spread of anti-Semitism online.

ADL resources which have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese are being presented during a session on identifying and opposing cyberhate and community safety online.

“With the advent of various social media platforms, and the volume of pernicious content, no continent is immune to the growing phenomenon of online hate,” warned Jonathan Vick, ADL Assistant Director for Cyberhate Response.

Hana Levi Julian

‘Woman in Gold’ Helen Mirren Testifies for Holocaust Art Restitution Bill

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

British actress Helen Mirren testified in Congress Tuesday in support of a bill to make restitution easier for American heirs of Holocaust era victims, The Art Newspaper reported. Mirren starred in the 2015 British drama “Woman in Gold,” about Austrian-born Jewish American Maria Altmann’s court fight to recover her family’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” by Gustav Klimt (her late aunt modeled for the picture), which had been stolen by the Nazis.

Mirren told two Senate judiciary subcommittees in a joint hearing on the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act that “the very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was inhumane.” She added, “Greed, cruelty, self-interest and domination will always be with us, it’s an easy option. Justice is so much more difficult, so much more complex. But we all dream of justice. We are incapable of changing the past, but fortunately we have the ability to make change today.”

“Restitution is so much more, much more than … reclaiming a material good,” Mirren said. “It gives Jewish people and other victims of the Nazi terror the opportunity to reclaim their history, their culture, their memories and, most importantly, their families.”

The legislation is sponsored by Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Other supporters of the bipartisan bill included president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder, and senators Al Franken (D, Minnesota), Chuck Grassley, (R, Iowa) and Orrin Hatch, (R, Utah).

Lauder, who purchased the Klimt painting after Altmann had sued the Austrian government to give it back, and won, told the Senators, “What makes this particular crime even more despicable is that this art theft, probably the greatest in history, was continued by governments, museums and many knowing collectors in the decades following the war.”

Today the Klimt painting is part of the permanent collection of the Neue Galerie, a museum of German and Austrian art Lauder co-founded in New York.

David Israel

Ipsos Survey: One Third of American Students Support Boycotting Israel

Monday, May 30th, 2016

One third of American students believe boycotting Israel is justified and constitutes a legitimate means of applying political pressure on the Jewish State, according to a yet to be released Ipsos survey, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported. Ipsos is one of the world’s leading market research firms for hire, managed and controlled by research professionals, offering comprehensive global research programs in 87 countries.

The original Channel 2 story mistakenly assigned those statistics to the US population at large. It was later corrected.

The survey, which will be officially released in advance of an International conference on the struggle against BDS to open on Tuesday, polled a sample of 1,100 American students. It suggests that 33% find a boycott against Israel to be justified. A similar survey conducted in the UK found that 40% of the students there agree that boycotting Israel is legitimate.

The good news is that a 62% majority of US respondents believe that the BDS movement is a form of modern anti-Semitism. About 50% of Briton students also condemn the BDS as being anti-Semitic.

The anti-BDS international conference, titled, “Building Bridges and Fighting Boycotts,” is organized by Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon, in collaboration with the World Jewish Congress, Keren Hayesod, the American Center for Law and Justice, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, Israel Bonds, StandWithUs, B’nai B’rith International, Hillel, and CAMERA. More than 1,500 are expected to participate, including students, representatives of anti-BDS organizations, Jewish American organizations, and opinion makers.

JNi.Media

Jewish Group Condemns German YouTube’s Neo-Nazi Videos

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Philipp Justus, managing director of the German unit of YouTub’s parent company Google, on Monday received a letter from the World Jewish Congress (WJC), demanding he remove illegal material praising Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. In the letter, released by news agencies, WJC Executive Vice President Robert Singer is asking, “Why is it that Google steadfastly refuses to take action against the proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic material on its platforms? Do you really believe that songs glorifying or inciting the mass murder of Jews fall under freedom of speech?”

Singer highlighted one exceptionally revolting song among many nasty numbers, “In Belsen,” by the neo-Nazi group Kommando Freisler, whose members received suspended jail terms in 2009 for inciting racial hatred. According to Singer, the despicable song is “widely available” on YouTube despite its banning in Germany.

In September, the director of the memorial at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp Jens-Christian Wagner already asked YouTube to remove “In Belsen.” Wagner’s letter received no response, until last Saturday, when Germany’s biggest daily newspaper, Bild, reported it, and then most versions of the song were deleted from YouTube. But dozens of equally hateful Kommando Freisler and other neo-Nazi bands’ songs are still available online in “thousands of clips,” according to WJC spokesman Michael Thaidigsmann.

“It is obvious that Google/YouTube does not seriously deal with this matter, that it lacks any proactive attitude, and that even when offensive posts are being flagged, it is very slow to remove the incriminating files from its service,” Thaidigsmann said, adding bitterly, “If I post something from Adele or Taylor Swift, you can bet it’ll be gone in a few hours.”

A spokesman for YouTube’s German unit told AFP his employers have “clear guidelines to ban hate speech against certain groups or content that incites racial hatred. We remove all videos that violate these guidelines as soon as they are reported. That also applies to banned right-wing extremist music.”

And so it appears the problem lies either with the anti-hate guidelines or with the German YouTube employees who are supposed to follow them.

JNi.Media

British PM Cameron Wins Kudos for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron is winning international kudos for his fight against anti-Semitism, with World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder speaking out to praise the UK leader for his new proposal to fight Islamic extremism.

“We congratulate Prime Minister Cameron for his strong stand against anti-Semitism and Muslim fanaticism. The resurgence of anti-Semitism and the spread of Islamic extremism across Europe is particularly troubling and Mr. Cameron’s plan takes a vital step toward combating these destructive forces,” said Lauder in a statement hailing the UK leader for the 5-year plan to fight homegrown terrorism he unveiled Monday in a speech in Birmingham.

“You don’t have to support violence to subscribe to certain intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish,” Cameron said. He added that conspiracy theories of a Jewish malevolent power or any Western plan to deliberately humiliate Muslims need to be challenged.

Lauder urged other European leaders to follow the Prime Minister’s lead, noting: “Once again, we are seeing the rebirth of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy mongering targeting Jews across Europe – and it is vital that Europe act now before the situation deteriorates.”

Hana Levi Julian

Guess What Each of the US Jewish Organizations Are Saying About the Iran Deal

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

We know the Iran deal is bad. How bad it is is we all may be spending the rest of our lives finding out. That is, unless enough members of Congress are able to inject sufficient spine-strengthening and -straightening serum to override President Barack Obama’s already promised veto of any effort to derail the deal.

So let’s take a stroll through the playground of American Jewish organizations and see what they have to say about the proposed deal which allows many of the things American leaders swore would not be permitted and forbids many of the things that were promised would be included.

First, let’s lay out the general parameters of the deal, as they are currently understood, based on analyses of the 159 page document.

According to the Iranians themselves, the deal blesses Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear programs and will lift sanctions from Iran through a new UN Security Council resolution. It allows all of Iran’s nuclear installations and sites to continue, none of them will be dismantled. Plus, research and development on key and advanced centrifuges will continue.

There will be no “anywhere, anytime” inspections. Instead, there will be a mechanism in place that will ensure that at least 24 days elapses before inspectors can visit any facility which Iran decides it doesn’t want visited.

And although the U.S. administration and its representatives repeatedly insisted that the nuclear program deal would have no impact on any other sanctions imposed against Iran, guess what? It does.

The P5+1 have agreed to lift the arms embargo against Iran within five years, and the embargo on missile sales will be lifted within eight years. Of course, the unfreezing of between $100 and 150 billion is perhaps the most frightening immediate effect of the deal. As with the nuclear and military sites, there will be no transparency to ensure that the money does not get funneled into Iran’s other favorite activity: financing global terrorism, especially murderous terrorism directed at Israel.

Most of the major Jewish organizations either blasted the agreement with Iran or punted, assuming a wait and see stance. However, one “pro-Israel, pro-peace” outfit was thrilled with the deal. More on that in the body of the article.

Here they are, summaries of the statements on the Iran deal issued by American Jewish organizations.In alphabetical order.

The Anti-Defamation League unhappy

Usually known for a more even-keeled approach to most administration ventures, the ADL is highly critical of the Iran deal. The ADL leadership said they were “deeply disappointed by the terms of the final deal with Iran” which “seems to fall far short of the President’s objective of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state.” The ADL leadership praised the administration’s negotiators for sticking to it for so long and for appearing to put off Iran’s ability to become a nuclear state in the short term, but it fails to prevent it for the long term.

The ADL further blasted the “front-end loaded infusion of billions of dollars in sanctions relief [which] will finance Iran’s ongoing global campaign of terror against Israel and other U.S. allies, and be used to further exert its influence across the Middle East, thereby harming U.S. interests.”

While stopping short of calling on Congress to do its best to derail the job, the ADL leadership took the time to urge those debating the matter to do so in a civil and respectful manner.  Some jaded commentators might wonder whether such admonishments are ladled out when the plan of someone considered to be right wing is under attack.

Americans for a Safe Israel angry

Not surprisingly, the small, New York-based, staunchly Zionist organization AFSI is unalterably opposed to the Iran deal. As Helen Freedman, AFSI’s long-time executive director wrote regarding the deal crafted by Obama and Kerry, “there was never any doubt in our minds that this deceitful duo would cross all the red lines and give Iran everything it demands-  and more. Our ‘leaders’ even made it difficult for Congress to do anything to Stop Iran by insisting this is not a treaty, only a ‘deal.’ Only those who applaud the naked emperor will celebrate this travesty.”

American Israel Public Affairs Committee worried

AIPAC’s deep affinity for diplomacy and close connections with the administration as well as members of Congress puts the organization in a bit of a bind. Its statement reflects that dilemma. AIPAC had previously outlined several requirements any deal with Iran had to meet. Those included:”anywhere, anytime” inspections – that ain’t happening; sanctions relief should only come after Iran satisfies all its commitments – nope; any deal had to prevent Iran from the ability to acquire nuclear weapons for decades – not that either; and Iran had to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure – nope again.

“We are deeply concerned based on initial reports that this proposed agreement may not meet these requirements, and thereby would fail to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.” Deeply concerned? Even the President’s talking points make clear that AIPAC’s red lines have not been met.

AIPAC, as did several of the other organizations, signaled that it would continue to review the deal and issue updates on its position.

American Jewish Committee worried

The AJC spent the first third of its statement praising the administration’s negotiators and leadership for its attempt to reach an accord. AJC’s executive director David Harris then called on Congress to ” thoroughly review, debate, and, ultimately, vote it up or down.” Towards the end of the statement, Harris finally gets around to venturing an opinion about the deal. He said that the nuclear deal does not appear to address certain “extremely troubling aspects of Iranian behavior.” He then lists out five different concerns of the AJC regarding the deal, including its reign of terror in the Middle East and its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program (which cannot have a peaceful purpose), and its systematic repression of human rights.

But rather than urging its members to take any particular action, the AJC director concludes his statement by noting that however “Congress decides to vote on the nuclear deal,” Harris concluded, “the need for vigilance regarding Iran will not for a single moment be diminished.”

Endowment for Middle East Truth angry

EMET expressed “profound disappointment” that the deal with Iran is “more deplorable than we had even anticipated. Of particular concern to EMET is that the “Administration has caved on almost every one of its initial criteria. It also pointed out that the Iranian Ayatollah maintained all of his red lines, even those which are contrary to UN resolutions.”

Sarah Stern, the president and founder of EMET said, “we all understand and appreciate that Americans are not eager for armed conflict, but willfully blinding ourselves to the reality of a bad deal does not prevent war.” EMET blasted the deal as a “diplomatic disaster of historic proportions.”

The Israel Project unhappy

TIP’s president, Josh Block, said of the deal with Iran that it “is a realization of the deepest fears and the most dire predictions of skeptics who have, for two years, been warning against exactly this outcome – a bad deal that enriches this tyrannical regime and fails to strip Iran of nuclear weapons capability.” TIP unequivocally called on Congress to reject “this bad deal.” The Israel Project has been providing nearly daily, and extremely detailed, updates and analyses of the negotiations for many months, and is considered extremely knowledgeable regarding both the process and the details of the agreement as it has evolved.

J Street  happy

J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami once described his nascent organization as “President Obama’s blocking back.” It apparently still sees itself that way. While hedging its bets a tiny bit by calling the deal “complex and multi-faceted,” J Street takes President Obama at his word and concludes that the deal “appears to meet the critical criteria around which a consensus of non-proliferation experts has formed for a deal that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.” Tellingly, the statement does not mention what those criteria are.

Every other organization that praised the negotiators did so for their efforts. Not J Street. J Street congratulated them for bringing the negotiations “to a successful conclusion.”

J Street mentioned the upcoming review of the deal by Congress, but sent its own thinly-veiled threat: Congress should be “mindful of the likely consequences of its rejection: a collapse of diplomacy and international sanctions as Iran pushes forward with a nuclear program unimpeded.”

In other words, unless Congress approves the deal, or fails to override the promised veto, J Street is telling its followers that the alternative will be an Iran with nuclear weapons. You can bet that is how they will couch their calls to supporters in the upcoming congressional review period.

Jewish Federations of North America hmmmm

The parent organization of the Jewish Federations and JCRCs was careful to thank the negotiators for their efforts and to express its support for diplomacy, but clearly signaled its discomfort with the way the deal has shaped up, given Iran’s terrorist history. The JFNA statement expresses its concern: “Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas, its human rights violations and its aggressive threats toward neighboring countries – including Israel – make the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran untenable.”

But the JFNA resorted to mouthing the assurances that President Obama has been making – even while the facts regarding them have been changing – for nearly the entire period of the negotiations. The JFNA concluded its statement by urging Congress to give the accord its “utmost scrutiny.”

National Jewish Democratic Council can't talk

Perhaps not surprisingly, the NJDC takes absolutely no position on the content of the deal and does not state one word about it. Instead, the statement issued by the NJDC focuses on the process of deliberations going forward and the need “to take partisan politics completely out of this situation.” In fact, it preemptively takes those who oppose this deal to task for turning the Iran deal into a “wedge issue” which divides Jews. It appears the NJDC did not take the temperature of its erstwhile center and center-left Jewish organizational playmates, as virtually every one of them, and they all contain large numbers of Democrats, are highly critical of the deal.

Republican Jewish Coalition angry

The RJC called the agreement “a bad deal” because “it is not enforceable, verifiable or in America’s national security interest.” The group called on Congress to stop the deal or “the world will be less safe as the United States will remove sanctions on Iran, and in return, Iran will still pursue nuclear weapons.” The RJC called on all members of Congress to reject the deal.

Simon Wiesenthal Center worried

The Wiesenthal Center’s leadership said they are “deeply worried” about the deal which they said “confirms Iran as a threshold nuclear power” and that “will end economic sanctions against the Mullahocracy.” The SWC called on Congress to review the document carefully and to vote against it if it is as dangerous as it appears to be.

World Jewish Congress hmmmm

The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, expressed strong skepticism about the Iran deal. He also mentioned the hard work of the negotiators but repeatedly stated that Tehran has a long history of misleading the world and that there is no reason to trust Iran over the implementation of the deal.

“I fear we may have entered into an agreement that revives the Iranian economy but which fails to stop this regime from developing nuclear weapons in the long terms, which would have disastrous consequences for the entire region and the world.” The WJC urged the international community to stand ready to reimplement sanctions immediately if Iran fails to meet its obligations under the agreement.

Zionist Organization of America angry

No surprises from the ZOA leadership on this issue. If they didn’t use a thesaurus to find every word that means bad to describe this deal, it is only because they have been using those words to describe this deal that way since its infancy.

The ZOA is “deeply horrified, but not surprised by the truly terrible nuclear agreement,” the statement begins. In a highly detailed recitation of how and why the deal is so bad, long-time ZOA president Mork Klein said that the nuclear agreement “is quite simply a catastrophe and a nightmare. It leaves the world standing at an abyss.”

In addition to decrying the lack of spontaneous inspections, the huge boatloads of cash to spend on its terrorist activities and subordinates and the egregiously antagonistic behavior of the Iranian leadership even over the past few days, Klein made another point.

“Two years ago, the Iranian economy was collapsing under the weight of sanctions. President Obama could have intensified pressure and international resolve to compel Iran to relinquish its nuclear program. He never even tried. Instead, he preemptively relieved the pressure on Iran by easing sanctions which enabled Iran to withstand every demand. As a result, we now stand on the precipice of an era of nuclear terror.”

The ZOA, as did several other organizations, urged Americans to call their elected federal representatives through the Capitol Hill Switchboard (202-224-3121) and urge them to oppose the nuclear deal.

****

While there are two outliers, it turns out the Iran deal is so bad that nearly every major American Jewish organization is, at minimum, extremely concerned about it. That’s quite a feat.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/guess-what-each-of-the-us-jewish-organizations-are-saying-about-the-iran-deal/2015/07/15/

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