Sunday, February 18, 2018

UK: Jewish student says she does not feel safe at City University

Via The Jewish Chronicle:
Jewish students said they felt threatened and intimidated by a “hostile mob” as students at a London university passed a motion supporting the Israel boycott movement, BDS.

The vote at City, University of London, resolving to ban any links between the institution and companies linked with “Israeli war crimes”, was passed by a large majority on Thursday evening during a student union meeting.

Jewish students were jeered and sworn at by BDS supporters who took photographs of opposing speakers and those voting against the motion.

Gabriella Soffer, a student at City, described the BDS supporters as “a hostile mob”.

She wrote in a Facebook post: “Having experienced what I did tonight – people taking pictures of me and various other Jews individually, having someone behind me whispering obscenities in my ear to intimidate me and telling me to ‘shut the f**k up’ every time I spoke - I can safely say that no longer do I feel safe as a Jew at City.”

Student Union officials said they refused to eject the students taking photos because they were “afraid of the reaction of the opposing side”.

The Jewish students were a minority among the 150 people in attendance and seven said they chose to abstain from voting, for fear of being targeted afterwards.

One non-Jewish student described how “there was an extremely hostile environment in the room that even I felt highly uncomfortable in, despite not being on any particular side.”
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Iceland: Circumcision ban will prevent Jewish life, leaders warn

Via Times of Israel:
The leaders of the Jewish communities of four Nordic countries said that a bill proposing to ban nonmedical circumcision in Iceland “will guarantee” that no Jewish community is established there.

The presidents of the umbrella groups of Jewish communities in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland issued the unusual warning Tuesday in an open letter to all Icelandic lawmakers in reaction to the submission last month of a bill proposing to ban all nonmedical circumcision of boys younger than 18 in Iceland, a Scandinavian island nation of some 300,000 people with a few hundred Jews and Muslims.

Lawmakers from four parties with 46 percent of the seats in parliament, including the ruling party, co-authored the bill.

If passed, “Iceland would be the only country to ban one of the most central, if not the most central rite in the Jewish tradition in modern times,” wrote Aron Verständig, Dan Rosenberg-Asmussen, Ervin Kohn and Yaron Nadbornik in the letter.

Referencing the Nazi prohibition on brit milah, Jewish ritual circumcision, they noted: “It would not be the first time in the long tradition of the Jewish people. Throughout history, more than one oppressive regime has tried to suppress our people and eradicate Judaism by prohibiting our religious practices.”

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Polish Jews stunned, scared by eruption of anti-Semitism

Via ABC News:
Matylda Jonas-Kowalik has spent most of her 22 years secure in the belief that she would never know the discrimination, persecution or violence that killed or traumatized generations of Polish Jews before her. She once thought the biggest problem that young Jewish Poles like herself faced was finding a Jewish boyfriend or girlfriend in a country dominated by Catholics.
But an eruption of anti-Semitic comments in public debates amid a diplomatic dispute with Israel over a new Holocaust speech law has caused to her to rethink that certainty. Now she and others fear the hostile rhetoric could eventually trigger anti-Semitic violence, and she finds herself thinking constantly about whether she should leave Poland.

"This is my home. I have never lived anywhere else and wanted this to keep being my home," said Jonas-Kowalik, a Jewish studies major at Warsaw University. "But this makes me very anxious. I don't know what to expect."

(...)
Anna Chipczynska, the head of Warsaw's Jewish community, said members feel psychologically shaken or even depressed, and that the hostile rhetoric has triggered hateful phone calls and emails and other harassment.

In recent events, two men tried to urinate in front of Warsaw's historic Nozyk Synagogue, and then shouted obscenities when security guards intervened. One Jewish community member found a Star of David hanging from gallows spray-painted outside a window of his apartment. A woman found the word "Zyd" — Polish for "Jew" — written in the snow outside her home.

Agnieszka Ziatek of the Jewish Agency for Israel said she has seen a spike in the number of Polish Jews inquiring about immigrating to Israel.

(...)
Mikolaj Grynberg, a writer and photographer, said while young Polish Jews feel shocked and "lost," he, at 52, has long been aware of Poland's anti-Semitic undercurrent. While on book tours, Grynberg said people would sometimes ask him "why did you choose to write in our language?" as if he weren't as Polish as they.
As the descendant of Warsaw Ghetto survivors, he has faced years of hateful emails and online messages and says he has been prepared psychologically for a return of bad times.

"Each time you have an anti-Semitic wave, there are Jewish people who leave," Grynberg said. "It's not just a whim: It's about their fear. Jewish people know what can come after."
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German gets jail time for running neo-Nazi website 'Altermedia'


Via DW:
A court in Stuttgart has sentenced the 29-year-old creator of a banned neo-Nazi website to two and a half years in prison. The site published content that denied the Holocaust and targeted Jews, refugees and foreigners.

A 29-year-old IT specialist and driving force behind the neo-Nazi "Altermedia Deutschland" website was given a prison sentence by a court in Stuttgart on Thursday, two years after authorities shut the site down.

The man, identified as Ralph Thomas K. in accordance with German privacy laws, was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and being the ringleader of a criminal organization. He was sentenced to two years and six months behind bars.

Three women were also on trial for their roles in maintaining the right-wing extremist internet platform. One of them, a 48-year-old woman who worked in a call center, was identified as a key player in the website and she was given a two year suspended sentence.
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Poland's Premier: There Were Polish Perpetrators in the Holocaust Just as There Were Jewish Ones


Via Haaretz:
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday that the Holocaust had Polish perpetrators, just as it had Jewish ones.

Moraweicki made the statement at the Munich Security Conference in response to a question by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman regarding the controversial law that criminalizes mentioning the Polish nation's complicity in the Holocaust. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply rebuked the 'outrageous' remarks.

Bergman told of his mother's past as a Holocaust survivor and concluded by asking, "If I told her story in Poland, I would be considered a criminal. What are you trying to do? You're drawing more fire to the matter." The crowd applauded following the question.

The Polish prime minister said that according to the amended law, those who claim that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust would not be punished, since there were Polish perpetrators, "just as there were Jewish and Russian perpetrators, as well." 

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Friday, February 16, 2018

France: Islamic anti-Semitism towards ethnic cleansing


Via Gatestone Institute (Guy Millière):
(...) The French Jewish community may still be the largest in Europe, but it is shrinking rapidly. In 2000, it was estimated at 500,000, but the number now is less than 400,000, and sinking. Jewish districts that once were thriving are now on the verge of extinction. "What is happening is an ethnic cleansing that dare not speak its name. In few decades, there will be no Jews in France," according to Richard Abitbol, ​​president of the Confederation of French Jews and Friends of Israel.

Without the Jews of France, France would no longer be France, said Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls in 2016 . But he did not do anything.

Recently he said that he had done his best, that he could not have done more. "The problem," he said, "is that anti-Semitism today in France comes less from the far right than from individuals of the Muslim faith or culture".

He added that in France, for at least two decades, all attacks against Jews in which the perpetrator has been identified have come from Muslims, and that the most recent attacks were no exception.

Valls, however, quickly suffered the consequences of his candor. He was elbowed to the margins of political life. Muslim websites called him an " agent of the Jewish lobby" and a "racist." Former leaders of his own party, such as former Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, said that Valls' wife is a Jew and hinted that he was "under the influence".

In France, telling the truth about Islamic anti-Semitism is dangerous. For a politician, it is suicidal.  (...)

In French Muslim neighborhoods, Islamist imams denounce the "bad influence" of Jews and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. French politicians stay silent.

Islamic bookstores in France sell books banned elsewhere, such as the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and CDs and DVDs of violent anti-Semitic speeches by radical preachers. For instance, Yussuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is prohibited from entering France and the US, says he regrets that Hitler did not "finish the job". French politicians stay silent.

Although synagogues in France have not been attacked since 2014, they all are guarded around the clock by armed soldiers in bulletproof vests who are protected behind sandbags, as are Jewish schools and cultural centers. (...)

A growing percentage of the French say that the Jews in France are "too numerous" and "too visible."

Reports for the Ministry of National Education reveal that expressions such as "Don't act like a Jew", intended to criticize a student who hides what he thinks, are widely used in public schools. Jewish students are more and more often the object of mockery -- and not just by students who are Muslim.

A few days ago, the comedian Laura Laune was the winner on the reality television series "France's Got Talent". Some of her jokes make fun of the fact that there were fewer Jews in the world in 1945 than in 1939. Jewish organizations protested, but in vain. Now, she appears to packed halls. The anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné also fills the stadiums where he performs.
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Slovakia: Synagogue turned into trendy café

On the same topic:
Swimming Pool, Furniture Shop and Police Station: The Sorry Fate of Europe's Old Synagogues

Via YNet:
Eighty-two percent of the Jews residing in Trnava, Slovakia, were murdered in the Holocaust, destroyed along with an ancient Jewish heritage dating back to the 12th century. The city's synagogues were similarly demolished—or were converted for other uses. Israeli traveler Meir Davidson found one such synagogue, converted to a café.

During his travels in Trnava—nicknamed "Slovakia's Rome" due to its proliferation of churches—Davidson found a crowded coffee shop attempting to blend into the architectural space which it occupied without totally eradicating it.

"The main street had a model of the city containing two synagogues near the local basilica," Davidson told Ynet. "We looked for them and were shocked to find an active café, filled with local yuppies."

The coffee shop's management, he added, made no effort to disguise the structure's previous designation as a house of worship and even stated it explicitly—as the café was named Synagóga Café and the "synagogue's history was printed on the menu." 
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lithuania, Poland, and Eastern Europe’s confrontation with the Holocaust

Via Mosaic Magazine:
In the late 1990s, and again a decade later, attempts to prosecute a few Lithuanian citizens for their involvement in the slaughter of Jews during World War II were countered by efforts to prosecute a Nazi hunter and then two Holocaust survivors for committing “crimes” against Lithuanians. At the time, the historian Antony Polonsky wrote an essay on these and related controversies in Lithuania, comparing them with similar controversies in Poland and Germany; the essay was published in Poland in 2010 but has now been made available online for the first time in the wake of the recent Polish law forbidding false statements about the Polish role in the Holocaust:
Lithuanian and Jewish collective memories [are still] very far apart. The Lithuanians, who lost their independence after World War II, felt that the Jews had shown little appreciation for the favorable way they had been treated in interwar Lithuania [which, on the whole, was marginally better than what Jews experienced in neighboring countries, or had experienced under the Tsars] and held the Jews collectively responsible for aiding the first [1940-41] and second [1944-1991] Soviet occupations of their country. Only a small number of Lithuanians had participated in the mass murder of the Jews, comparable to the minority of alleged Jewish collaborators with the Soviets.
Jews for their part highlighted the growth of anti-Semitism [in Lithuania] in the 1930s. They were particularly affronted by what they saw as the massive involvement of Lithuanians in the mass murder of the Jews, both just before the establishment of Nazi rule and particularly in cooperation with the Nazi occupiers, and were shocked by the brutal behavior of Lithuanians in such incidents as the massacre at the Lietukis garage in Kaunas on June 27, 1941.
Given the large-scale complicity of Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews in 1941, the traumatic effect of the two Soviet occupations of Lithuania, the second lasting nearly a half-century, and the unstable nature of the Lithuanian political scene, with the temptation this offers to demagogic politicians to engage in populist rhetoric, it is not surprising that the discussion of wartime issues has proved a difficult and painful topic and has led to bitter exchanges between Jews and Lithuanians. . . .
From the first days of independence, a series of public statements by Lithuanian leaders expressed regret at the participation of Lithuanians in the Holocaust and condemned the genocide. The culminating point was the visit of then-President Brazauskas to Israel during which, in his address to the Knesset in March 1995, he publicly asked forgiveness “for [the actions of] those Lithuanians who mercilessly murdered, shot, deported, and robbed Jews.” This was not universally well-received in Lithuania and led to calls for the Jews in response to apologize for their “crimes” against the Lithuanian nation during the Soviet occupation.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Polish public figures have begun making similar appeals for Jewish apologies in recent days.
Read more at Tablet

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Greece: Anarchist group distributes pro-Palestinian flyers during two raids

Via Ekathimerini (watch the video):


Members of the anarchist group Rouvikonas (Greek for Rubicon) on Thursday stormed the offices of the Hellenic-American Union in Kolonaki in central Athens, scattering fliers with the message “Freedom to Palestine.”

The increasingly-active group carried out a similar raid at the premises of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on Mesogeion Avenue.

No arrests were reported.

Norway: Lawmaker says nomination of BDS for Nobel Peace Prize is against Israel, not Jews

Via JTA:
The Norwegian lawmaker that nominated the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel for a Nobel Prize said his nomination is against Israel and not the Jewish people.

Norway Parliament Member Bjornar Moxnes said Friday in an interview with the Middle East Eye that “The BDS movement is a legitimate, peaceful, non-violent movement trying to push the Israeli government to abide by international law, and trying to struggle for a peaceful solution in Palestine and in the Middle East.”

Moxnes, who heads Norway’s far-left Red Party which he says works to achieve social justice in Norway and internationally, told the news outlet that said the nomination has received overwhelming support from inside Norway and “people all over the world who struggle for peaceful and just solution between Israelis and Palestinians,” and acknowledged negative reactions from advocates for “the right-wing extremist government of Israel.”

He said his that his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is completely free of anti-Semitism.”

“It’s not against the people of Israel. It’s not against the Jewish people; it’s against the policies of a state, which (are) without doubt against international law,” he said.

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Swimming Pool, Furniture Shop and Police Station: The Sorry Fate of Europe's Old Synagogues


Via Haaretz:
Europe’s Jewish population has declined from about 10 million on the eve of World War II to about 2 million today. The main reason of course is the Holocaust, followed by emigration and assimilation afterward.

As the Jews disappeared, many of their synagogues were transformed for other uses. Hungarian-Israeli photographer Bernadett Alpern has traveled around 15 European countries documenting these relics. Her work features grand buildings in famous cities as well as countryside shuls.

In some countries the old synagogues now play a cultural role, while in others they’re used for trivial purposes. They remain a silent reminder of a civilization that was part of the European fabric for many generations.
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Poland set to pass controversial new law criminalizing Kosher slaughter


Via JNS:
Just one week after passing a controversial law criminalizing phrases indicating Polish responsibility for heinous crimes against Jews during the Holocaust, Poland’s ruling party has sponsored a new bill including a clause that would criminalize kosher meat slaughter.  If the law is passed, anyone found guilty of slaughtering animals in accordance with traditional Jewish practice would face a prison sentence of up to 4 years.

The restrictions against kosher slaughter are included within a general bill on animal welfare, and includes a ban on exporting kosher meat from Poland.  Israel currently imports a portion of its kosher meat from Poland.

...

The Polish parliament initially outlawed kosher slaughter in 2013, but Poland’s courts reversed the decision.
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Germany averaged four anti-Semitic crimes per day in 2017, report says

Via DW:
The rising trend of anti-Semitic crimes in Germany shows no signs of abating, according to a newspaper report on last year's crime statistics that was published on Sunday.

In 2017, German police registered a total of 1,453 crimes that targeted Jews or Jewish institutions, reported German newspaper Tagesspiegel, citing figures from the German government. The data was compiled in response to an inquiry from Bundestag vice president and Left party lawmaker Petra Pau.

Last year's crimes included 32 acts of violence, 160 instances of property damage, and 898 cases of incitement.

The German government expects the figures to rise even further since the data provided by the states is not yet final, the paper said.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Spain: Anti-Semitic graffiti spray painted on Barcelona synagogue

Via JTA:
"Get out of our country"
Anti-Semitic graffiti was spray painted on the walls of a synagogue in Barcelona. The word “pigs” was written in English followed by a sentence in the Spanish-Latin hybrid language Catalan reading “Get out of the country,” according to local reports.

The graffiti discovered on Wednesday was ordered erased by Barcelona Deputy Mayor Gerardo Pisarello, who called for an investigation into the incident. (...)

The synagogue is no longer in daily use, according to reports. It serves as a cultural center and a museum and as a site to host community events. 
"Pigs"
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Poland’s ‘enemies’ trying to fan anti-Semitism, says ruling party boss


Via Times of Israel:
The influential leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party on Saturday accused “enemies” of the country of trying to fan anti-Semitism, as Warsaw is under fire over a controversial Holocaust law.

The new law sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone ascribing “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich — or other crimes against humanity and war crimes” and set off criticism from Israel, the United States and France.

“Today, the enemies of Poland, one can even say the Devil, are trying a very bad recipe… This sickness is anti-Semitism. We must reject it resolutely,” said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.

“But this doesn’t mean that we provide fodder” for those who insult Poland, he said.

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