Monday, January 23, 2017

UK: The hateful whispers that make me want to move from London to Tel Aviv

Simon Wilder @ The Spectator:
The referendum result didn’t make me decide to leave, but it was a penny on the scales. This no longer feels like home. I may spend too much time on Twitter, but the things people say about Jews and Israel there make me tremble. They feel safe in their hatred, and, scarier still, probably are.

There’s a train of thought among right-thinking people in London at the moment that Israel is culpable; that it is responsible for all the ills of the Palestinians, all the woes of the Middle East. If it weren’t for Israel, they say, the world would be a better place. If you go to a dinner party you can hear things that wouldn’t have sounded unfamiliar in 1930s Germany. They say they’re just ‘anti-Zionist’ but to be anti-Zionist is to be anti-Semitic. No one is anti- any other country. No one questions, say, Iran’s right to exist.

I’ve voted Labour in the past, but these days people in the Labour party all too often say things about Jews having big noses, or controlling the media, or somehow engineering the attack on the World Trade Center. Israel is behind Isis, they say. At demonstrations people hold up placards that say Hitler was right. Those words, exactly. Much of Labour barely raises an eyebrow.
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Poland: President Duda says Jews are safer in Poland than in Western Europe, denies responsibility for Holocaust crimes

Read also Professor Deborah Lipstadt's article on the subject of Poland v. German antisemitism: An enduring myth: "The Poles were worse than the Nazis"

Via European Jewish Press:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his wife, Sara, host Polish President Andrzej Duda (second from right) and his wife, Agata Kornhauser, at the president's residence in Jerusalem. Picture from GPO
Jews are safer in Poland than in Western Europe. Unlike in France or other parts of Western Europe, Jews can freely walk around openly wearing religious garb, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday in Jerusalem where he was on a state visit to Israel. 
He spoke at a forum in Jerusalem jointly organized by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR), which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, and the Polish Institute of International Affairs. 
Duda said: “I say it loud and clear here and in Poland: We also have painful memories but it was not we who invaded Poland in 1939, it was not we who planned the Holocaust, and it was not we who built the death camps on our own territory.” At the same time, Duda denied his country’s collective guilt for the atrocities of the Holocaust, saying Poles also suffered under the Nazi regime. 
Asked by ICFR Board member and distinguished Israeli scholar Shlomo Avineri whether Poland was not resorting to legislative measures to stifle academic discourse, particularly where research on Poland's wartime history was concerned, the president answered: 
"Historical truth is as it is. It is not always pleasant, and that is true for the Polish nation as well."We do not want to prosecute those who are conducting scholarly research but rather those who, in the wider world, promulgate lies defaming my country, my compatriots and me," he added, referring to a bill currently under discussion in Poland. He said no final decision about the law had been taken yet. 
President Duda defended recently passed legislation that criminalizes the use of the phrase “Polish death camps” in reference to Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland. He said the world should not refer to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Belzec, Sobibór or Chełmno as Polish concentration camps. 
“They were not Polish camps. This absurd name refers only to geography,” he said. 
“How would you feel if a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv was called ‘an Israeli attack’? How would the Japanese feel if the Hiroshima atomic bomb was referred to as ‘a Japanese nuclear attack’? It is a historical distortion.”
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German Court Rejects Effort to Ban Neo-Nazi Party

Via New York Times:
Germany’s highest court rejected on Tuesday an attempt to ban the National Democratic Party, the country’s oldest far-right political organization, finding that it did not pose a danger to democracy even though its principles violate the Constitution.

The ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court came after years of deliberation and at a time of soul-searching in the country, where another right-wing party, Alternative for Germany, is poised to win representation in Parliament in national elections this year.

Although the National Democratic Party “pursues aims contrary to the Constitution,” there was a lack of “concrete supporting evidence” that the neo-Nazi party would be able to successfully achieve its goals and to pose a genuine threat, said Andreas Vosskuhle, the president of the court.

“That a party has aims that run contrary to the Constitution is not sufficient grounds for banning a party,” he said.

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UK: SOAS students 'scared to wear the star of David and speak Hebrew’

Via Evening Standard:
A proudly-progressive stance is part of SOAS’s draw. Russell Brand and political activists are among its current student body, alongside more typical students (one on SOAS steps was debating the merits of cigarettes versus spliffs when I visited), while Jemima Khan received her MA there in 2003. The school is diverse: its 5,900 students hail from 133 countries, and it likes to celebrate this diversity.

But according to Avrahum Sanger, president of SOAS’s Jewish Society (JSoc), there is a minority that doesn’t feel able to express itself. He believes there is an anti-Semitic sickness in the heart of Bloomsbury.

“Some students tell me they are too scared to wear the star of David, or speak Hebrew, and Israeli students don’t want to attend Jewish events because they’re afraid of being singled out,” he tells me. “Even I feel uneasy when I go into the student union. And yet someone from the student union...” — he wouldn’t be drawn on who — “...told me that the anti-racism officers didn’t have a mandate to address anti-Semitism as it wasn’t in their manifesto. Anyway, the only form of anti-Semitism people think of here is Hitler.” 

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

France: Remember Ilan Halimi, 11th anniversary of his kidnapping, torturing and murder

Nidra Poller, The murder of Ilan Halimi (February 23, 2006):

Last week, a 23-year-old man initially identified as “Ilan” was found by a passerby stumbling in a field near the railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris. Handcuffed, naked, with four-fifths of his body covered with bruises, stab wounds and serious burns, Ilan died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Soon after, police provided more details. The victim had been kidnapped Jan. 20 and held for 24 days by a gang from the banlieues, the poor suburban projects that ring the French capital, who eluded capture while repeatedly contacting Ilan’s family with ransom demands. The police suspect the group was involved in other kidnapping attempts in the last two months that used young women as bait.

Yet one detail was consistently played down by the investigators and missing from the early media reporting on the killing. The victim, whose full name is Ilan Halimi, was Jewish. Most of the men targeted in other kidnapping attempts were Jewish. Most members of the gang who allegedly carried out the crime are Muslims, whose families come from the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa and live in the very sort of neighborhoods that went up in flames during three weeks of nationwide rioting last fall. read more
Ilan Halimi reburial in Jerusalem
Ilan Halimi garden in the Jerusalem ForestPlaque in Jerusalem forest, David Mordekhai Mae'ir street, at the beginning of the Cedar Trail

UK: Shabbat calm shattered with a brick through a Jewish family’s window, eggs hurled at Jews and a swastika daubed on a home

Via CAA:
The calm of the Jewish sabbath (Shabbat) was shattered yesterday as a brick covered in swastikas was hurled through the window of a Jewish family’s home, Jewish pedestrians were pelted with eggs and a swastika was drawn on another home.

Shomrim North West London, a volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol run by the Jewish community, have reported that in three seemingly separate incidents, Jews were sought out for racist attacks.

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Increase in reported antisemitic attacks in Germany, UK

Via Jerusalem Post:
The number of reported antisemitic attacks in Germany doubled from 2015 to 2016, according to an annual report on antisemitism released by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry on Sunday, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day this Friday.

Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) presented the report at the weekly cabinet meeting.

While in 2015, there were 194 reported antisemitic incidents reported in Germany between January to September, last year that number rose to 461. According to the ministry, this increase is in part due to the refugee crisis and the strengthening of the extreme Right, but also the result of an improvement in the reporting of incidents.

Britain saw an even more dramatic increase, with 62% more antisemitic incidents recorded than the previous year, 75% of them based on political motives affiliated with the extreme Right.
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Belgium: Tzipi Livni threatened with arrest if she lands in Brussels

The organisation behind the move is reported as being the Belgian-Palestinian Association.  It is in reality the Belgian-Palestinian Association Wallonia-Brussels (Flanders is not part of the outfit).  It was founded in 1976 by Pierre Galand.  It is 41 years' old, and is probably the oldest anti-Israel NGO in Europe and in the world and still going strong.  It receives generous grants from the government and enjoys widespread among the elites.  Unsurprisingly, a recent report revealed that 74% of Belgians feel they have been let down (abandoned) by their elites and are apprehensive about their future.  To add insult to injury Belgian prisons and the judicial system lack funding (Council of Europe worried about Belgian prisons crisis) and Le manque de moyens ronge la Justice: "La Belgique prend des risques inouïs")  There will always be money to bash Israel by way of "lawfare" or by other means: UN, Unesco, not allowing members of the royal family to visit Israel in an official capacity, NGOs, media, statements, kangaroo courts (The Russell Tribunal on Palestine: A Legal Farce and Total Failure) etc.

Via The Jerusalem Post:
Israel has denounced Friday as a "cynical exploitation" of the Belgian judicial system reports that former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni could have been questioned during a visit to Brussels next week in a war crimes investigation in Gaza. 
Quoting a magistrate at the prosecutor office, Belgian daily Le Soir reported that Tzipi Livni, who is now a Member of the Knesset for the opposition Hatnuah party, will be detained and questioned in connection with a complaint filed by a local pro-Palestinian activist group for war crimes charges if she lands in Brussels. The complaint was in connection with the 2009 Israeli Cast Lead Operation against Hamas in Gaza. 
Livni was due to attend in Brussels a conference of Jewish leaders on security of Jewish communities and anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) as well as a gathering in the European Parliament on countering BDS the anti-Israeli BDS, set up by Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA), but she cancelled her trip several days ago for ‘’personal reasons.’’ 
The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, denounced "a cynical exploitation of the Belgian judicial system" and "a shabby media stunt with no legal basis on the part of an anti-Israeli organization." Israel shares "with Belgium the will to hold accountable to the perpetrators of serious crimes" but expects "of the Belgian authorities" that they oppose the exploitation of this principle, "he added.
Via The Times of Israel:
The Belgian-Palestinian Association supporting the complaint said in a statement it wanted to hold Livni responsible for her role in the war, as well as Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, then prime minister and minister of defence.
Note: The Belgian-Palestinian Association is in reality the Belgian-Palestinian Association Wallonia-Brussels (which leaves Flanders out).  It was founded in 1976 by Pierre Galand - 41 years ago, which makes it probably the oldest anti-Israel NGO in  Europe and in the world.  It receives generous subsidies from the government and its support is widespread among the elites.  A recent report revealed that 74% of Belgians feel they have been left down by their elites and are apprehensive about their future.  To add insult to injury prisons and the judicial system lack funding (Council of Europe worried about Belgian prisons crisis) and Le manque de moyens ronge la Justice: "La Belgique prend des risques inouïs")  There will always be money to bash Israel.

'German research institute trivializes Holocaust to attack Israel'

Via Jerusalem Post:
Israel’s embassy and leading deputies in the German parliament slammed a Max Planck Institute branch for stoking hatred of Israel and Jews with a series of lectures from a pro-Hezbollah US academic who trivialized the Holocaust and is popular among neo-Nazis.

“It is outrageous that a distinguished German institution [Max Planck Institute branch in Halle] gives a stage to someone who spreads, in the best case, science fiction, and in the worst, pure incitement against Israel. Supporting [Norman] Finkelstein to maintain his academic facade is highly dangerous and an abuse of the scientific standards,” the Israeli Embassy in Berlin told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Michaela Engelmeier, a Social Democratic deputy in the Bundestag, told the Post she was astonished that “with our history it is possible to welcome academics who play down the Nazi regime’s murder of six million Jews and present it as trivial.”

She added that the fact that the anti-Israel academic is delivering talks close to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 is “especially insensitive.”

She urged the Max Planck Institute to cancel next week’s Finkelstein lecture titled “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom.”

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UK: Row over plans to erect new Jewish 'eruv' boundary around north London

Via Evening Standard:
Plans to create a Jewish “eruv” around several neighbourhoods in north London have sparked an angry row.

Hundreds of objectors have asked Westminster council to throw out plans to enclose a large swathe of the north of the borough — including St John’s Wood, Little Venice, Maida Vale, Regent’s Park, and parts of West Hampstead — within a perimeter of fishing wire suspended from 51 telegraph poles up to 18ft tall.

Critics claim a religious boundary has no place in a secular society and could become a target for terror attacks.

The symbolic boundary would give religious Jews living within it greater freedom from the restrictions of the Sabbath, when all work is banned.

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Croatian School Removes Anne Frank Exhibition

Via BalkanInsight (h/t glykosymoritis):
A travelling exhibition about Holocaust victim and diarist Anne Frank was removed from a high school in the coastal town of Sibenik after the school’s director complained that it portrayed the Croatian fascist Ustasa movement negatively, local media reported on Thursday.

The educational exhibition for pupils depicts the life of Anne Frank but also shows the broader context of World War II and the Holocaust, as well as its effects on Croatia and the region, highlighting crimes committed against Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist by the Ustasa.

School director Josip Belamaric asked the organisers of the exhibition, the Hermes NGO – local partner of the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank House museum – to remove six panels describing the local context of the war.

“According to these panels, it seems that the Ustasa were criminals who slaughtered Serbs, Jews, starved children, and the [Yugoslav anti-fascist] Partisans were innocent. What about the crimes committed by the Partisans?” Belamaric old local news site Sibenik In.

Belamaric asked why there were no billboards showing what happened in May 1945 when “Partisans killed Croats” in Bleiburg in southern Austria, or about the Yugoslav prison camp on the island of Goli Otok which was run by the Communists.

Maja Nenadovic from the Anne Frank House told BIRN that this was the first problem they had encountered after 23 successful exhibitions in Croatia, which attracted over 40,000 visitors.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

EU's Mogherini: 'We will not move our EU delegation in Tel Aviv' worried about consequences in Europe

Via the European Jewish Press:

“We will not move our European Union Delegation that is in Tel Aviv and we hope that there can be a reflection on consequences of any move that is taken,’’ EU foreign policy chief declared Monday at a press conference following a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels.  
Asked about a possible move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under the new Trump administration, she replied: “We still do not have a new US administration – we have an administration in the US, not a new one yet. And I believe that it is very important for us to refrain from unilateral actions, especially those that can have serious consequences in large of public opinions in large parts of the world’’, the EU foreign policy chief told reporters after chairing their talks in Brussels. “We hope that there can be reflection on consequences of any move that is taken,” she said. 
Mogherini said that the EU would continue to respect the international consensus that embassies should not be based in Jerusalem as laid out in U.N. Security Council Resolution 478, dating from 1980.  
“I am worried that large parts, as I say, of not only institutions but public opinion in parts of the world that are quite significant - the Arab world but also Africa, Asia, parts of Europe could have in reaction to a move that for sure would not be in line with, as I said, the international consensus embodied in the UN Security Council Resolutions, especially 478.’’
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

UK: The hateful whispers that make me want to move from London to Tel Aviv

Via The Spectator (by Simon Wilder):

As a Jew, the city where I grew up and have always lived feels less and less comfortable

I’ve always lived in London. I grew up near Baker Street and went to school in Camden. Even when I was at college in Kent, I lived in Islington and commuted. Five years ago I moved to Belsize Park and I’ve been here, the nicest place I’ve lived, ever since. I didn’t mean to stay — I was going to see the world, but my father died and my mother said she needed me to be close. She said it with a tremor in her voice, so I stayed. 
London is in my heart and in my blood, but the wind has changed, like it did for Mary Poppins, and I think it’s going to blow me out of the city, all the way to Tel Aviv. (...)
There’s a train of thought among right-thinking people in London at the moment that Israel is culpable; that it is responsible for all the ills of the Palestinians, all the woes of the Middle East. If it weren’t for Israel, they say, the world would be a better place. If you go to a dinner party you can hear things that wouldn’t have sounded unfamiliar in 1930s Germany. They say they’re just ‘anti-Zionist’ but to be anti-Zionist is to be anti-Semitic. No one is anti- any other country. No one questions, say, Iran’s right to exist. (...)
If only those people who wish ill on Israel, on Jews, could know what it’s like to hear their hatred — to live in London and hear that Jews are the puppet-masters of the world, that Israel only helps in disaster zones to harvest organs. My father would have known. He spent time in the 1940s in Nazi concentration camps, because he was Jewish. His parents and sister were murdered for the same reason. My father would feel the same dread chill, and know — first-hand — where all this blame and hatred of Jews leads. If you think I exaggerate, then tell me; where do you think it leads? It may be only the first ugly murmur, from stupid people, but it won’t end there.
I’ve been to Tel Aviv four times in five years, and it seems to me a place of positive things: hope, investment in the future, strength and patience and humour. This is why I’m thinking of moving. 
A large section of the city was designed by European émigrés who had studied at the Bauhaus in the 1930s. The lucky architects who managed to leave Germany in time, of course. The buildings are rarely more than three or four storeys and often have curved balconies. These are lovely streets to walk along, not least because of the exotic trees planted close together, casting cool shadows.
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Netherlands: Municipal employee fired for antisemitic comments

Via Telegraaf:
A municipal employee of Doetinchem was fired after it was discovered he had made antisemitic comments on Facebook two years ago.

The man, who lives in Enschede, wrote "Fucking Jews.. the Germans did a job half done."  He was employed for the past few months as a debt counselor.
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Netherlands: Utrecht fans shout slogans against Jews

Utrecht - During the game with Sparta some fans who came with FC Utrecht starts to riot. They sang songs about Jews before as a preparation to the game between FC Utrecht and Ajax next week.
Viewers and people in the stadium heard the songs clearly. The referee Sardar Gözübüyük said after the game that he did not hear anything.

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