Category Archives: Israel

(DN) Nova Zelândia/Ataque: Embaixador israelita em Portugal solidariza-se com comunidade islâmica

(DN)

O embaixador de Israel em Portugal condenou hoje o atentado contra duas mesquitas na Nova Zelândia, que causou 49 mortos, e exprimiu “solidariedade na dor” numa carta enviada ao presidente da Comunidade Islâmica de Lisboa.

“Foi com choque e repugnância que tomei conhecimento do ataque insano a crentes muçulmanos”, declara Raphael Gamzou na carta dirigida a Abdool Karim Vakil, classificando o ataque de “crime de natureza claramente islamofóbica”.

“Só sociedades unidas por indivíduos de paz e tolerância para com todas as religiões, fundeadas em princípios profundamente humanistas (…) poderão derrotar a barbárie”, defende o embaixador israelita, que pede a Abdool Karim Vakil que transmita à comunidade islâmica portuguesa a sua solidariedade.

Pelo menos 49 pessoas morreram e 48 ficaram feridas hoje no ataque a duas mesquitas em Chirstchurch, na Nova Zelândia, tendo sido já detidos quatro suspeitos, três homens e uma mulher.

Um homem que se identificou como Brenton Tarrant, de 28 anos, nascido na Austrália, reivindicou a responsabilidade pelos disparos e transmitiu em direto na Internet o momento do ataque.

Christchurch é a maior cidade da Ilha Sul da Nova Zelândia e a terceira maior cidade do país com cerca de 376.700 habitantes.

(DN) Israel quer “igualar patamar elevado” da Eurovisão em Portugal

(DN) Embaixador de Israel em Portugal não acredita que nenhum país vá boicotar o evento marcado para maio em Telavive.

A dois meses do arranque da Eurovisão, o embaixador de Israel em Portugal falou com o DN sobre a preparação do evento em Telavive. Raphael Gamzou elogia a organização portuguesa do ano passado e espera que o seu país faça, pelo menos, igual.

“Gostaríamos de igualar o patamar muito elevado que Portugal colocou no ano passado e desejamos que as pessoas estejam confortáveis e felizes como estavam no ano passado em Lisboa”, sublinhou.

O diplomata confessa que não viu o concurso nacional – que deu a vitória a Conan Osíris – mas que um amigo fã do certame lhe garantiu que foi um “espetáculo muito bom”. Por isso, não tem dúvidas que a televisão pública israelita – KAN – pode aprender com a portuguesa RTP. “A Eurovisão em Lisboa foi um enorme sucesso, de todos os pontos de vista: produção, organização e a bonita atmosfera na cidade. Tenho a certeza que temos muito a aprender e sei que o estamos a fazer entre as polícias e entre a RTP e a KAN”.

Quanto aos pedidos que foram feitos a Conan Osíris para que boicotasse o evento, Raphael Gamzou acredita que se trata de um reflexo. “São os suspeitos do costume, que agem sempre de acordo com instintos pavlovianos, de forma automática, não são grupos ou pessoas ligados à realidade, mas à sua agenda política.”

Os apelos feitos pelo Comité de Solidariedade com a Palestina, o SOS Racismo e as Panteras Rosa ao vencedor português para não se deslocar a Telavive não tiveram, para já, grande impacto. Da mesma forma, o embaixador de Israel acredita que não se irão verificar boicotes de nenhuma natureza.

“Não acredito que nenhum país ou público vai boicotar a Eurovisão. Penso que vai ser mais um bom concurso de canções e acho que o apelo ao boicote é um fenómeno automático e marginal.”

Para já, o único boicote tem surgido de alguns artistas israelitas que se recusam a participar na final da competição europeia da canção por esta se realizar no sábado, dia sagrado para os judeus. Omar Adan e a banda Shalva são dois dos nomes que já se recusaram a participar. No entanto, Raphael Gamzou defende que este detalhe não será um problema: “A final vai ser extraordinária para todos os participantes e para todas as pessoas que vêm de todo o mundo para assistir ao concurso“, prefere sublinhar.

Num tom mais descontraído admite que não irá ficar dividido entre a participação portuguesa e a israelita. “Fico sempre contente quando o meu país ganha. No futebol, como até hoje, infelizmente, a seleção israelita não tem chegado a fases finais de campeonatos, então aí não tenho dúvidas ou hesitações e apoio totalmente Portugal.”

(CJnews) IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF PORTUGAL’S JEWISH HISTORY

(CJnews)

The Shaare Tikva Synagogue (Toby Saltzman photo)

Truths, legends and visions of history tumbled through my mind as I explored Portugal, treading through narrow alleys and steep paths on a quest to see authentic remnants of the Jewish civilization that had thrived prior to its Inquisition.

Evolution and current splendours aside in this country alluring with pleasures, my mission was inspired by an undeniable truth: some 500 years ago, an entire people – 200,000, then 20 per cent of the population – was eradicated from the western Iberian Peninsula, leaving sparse evidence of the intrinsic culture that distinguished their existence. Legends hold that a romance precipitated the Jews’ forced conversion to Christianity, and a joke instigated executions and their ultimate expulsion.

That was then, this is now. History cannot change, but that it can be transcended by changes in attitude was palpable on the final night of my week-long journey when I heard Ana Mendes Godinho, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, validate the Jews’ pre-Inquisition existence, noting – among many details – that navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral, who discovered Brazil, was a highly esteemed Jewish Portuguese nobleman.

Addressing our rapt audience of seven Canadians and Americans – the first writers and agents to trace part of Portugal’s new “Jewish Legacy” trail – Godinho’s tone was genuinely, sincerely apologetic for the indelible past, yet vivaciously welcoming to Jews now: “Our history is completely bonded to Jewish history. Now is the moment to take down walls [of anti-Semitism built by the Inquisition]. Today we say ‘every Portuguese has a Jewish bone in their body.’”

Godinho was referencing that all Portuguese in the country and Diaspora may be descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Christianity. Today many Portuguese feel quite the opposite of “anti-Semitic” and classify themselves as “philo-Semitic” for interest in their possible Jewish heritage.

READ: A VISIT TO PALESTINE, MINUS THE POLITICS

Our introduction to the Jewish experience in Portugal began with Gabriel Steinhardt, president of Lisbon’s Jewish community, officially known as Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa. Dining on cod at Aura, an elegant restaurant bordering the historic, harbourside Praça do Comércio square where Jews once scrambled to ships bound for freedom, Steinhardt – an Ashkenazic Jew whose parents fled to Portugal from eastern Europe in the 1930s – explained: “The Inquisition was not against Jews, but against the New Christians who had converted from Judaism, but secretly practiced Jewish rituals.” These “secret Jews” (conversos) were denounced as heretics of the church and threats to the social order.

Jews had inhabited Iberia for some 3,000 years. By the 1400s, Jews were thriving in Portugal’s prime trading, commercial and intellectual centres. As Lisbon developed, Jews were shuffled to three, less desirable areas, including the stone dwellings sloping down the steep, rocky pocket of Alfama that remains today. When Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand decreed the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, some 100,000 Jews fled to Portugal. When Portugal’s King Manuel I begged to marry King Ferdinand’s daughter, the Spanish monarch allowed it providing Portugal expels its Jews.

In 1496, King Manuel ordered Jews to convert or leave on specified ships which never arrived. Lucky Jews escaped to Amsterdam, Germany, Italy, France, Constantinople, Morocco, Brazil and Peru.

Legends go that tensions exploded in 1506 – a year of drought and deadly epidemics – when a worshipper at Lisbon’s Sao Domingos Church called a glowing aura “a miraculous light from Christ” and a New Christian joked, “Instead of light, Christ should give us rain.” On April 19, 1506, over 2,000 Jews were massacred on the church square. Ending the madness, King Manuel gave New Christians a grace period of 30 years without persecution to stop Jewish practices or leave. By May 23, 1536 when Pope Paul II’s edict officially initiated Portugal’s Inquisition, all Jews had converted and assimilated. All elements of their culture, including synagogues, signs and architectural details had vanished.    

A monument to the massacre of Jews in Lisbon in 1506. (Toby Saltzman photo)

Years later, New Christians were blamed for the wrath of nature when  on Nov. 1, 1755, an earthquake decimated Lisbon, just as worshippers were lighting candles for All Saints Day. The flaming candles created a fiery apocalypse, burning nearby Christians’ wood-built homes while the New Christians’ homes – embedded in Alfama’s rocky threshold – survived.

After the earthquake, the Marques de Pombal rebuilt Lisbon on a geometric grid into the architecturally significant, neo-Classical city core it is today. By then, the Enlightenment era was stimulating change. Although the Inquisition quit interrogations in the mid-1700s, the Vatican officially abolished it in1821.

By the mid-1800s, descendants of Jews who had fled from Portugal or Spain began settling in Portugal’s Azores Islands and southern Algarve region. Gibraltar Jews arrived with British passports. Those who gravitated to Lisbon created cemeteries and community charities, one dating to 1830. In 1904, they inaugurated Shaare Tikva, the first synagogue built since the Inquisition. Today it is a Portuguese National Monument. “Lisbon’s Jewish community officially became legal in 1912,” Steinhardt noted.

The Discoveries monument in Lisbon commemorates the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. (Toby Saltzman photo)

Portugal’s population increased between the two world wars with central European Jews fleeing pogroms, economic hardships, and Nazis. Portugal maintained its neutrality in the Second World War. Spain required all Jews leaving France to have visas to Portugal. In 1940, Portugal’s Consul General Aristide de Sousa Mendes, based in Bordeaux, ignored government orders and issued thousands of visas to Jews. In 1966 he was named Righteous Among the Nations. Jews arriving in Portugal were placed in gated areas and the concrete-set gate poles are still visible in some villages.

In Lisbon, Shaare Tikva Synagogue’s inconspicuous entrance belies its grand, wood-embellished interior. Steinhardt explained that although the congregation is half Ashkenazic, rituals are Moroccan Sephardic Orthodox and there is a mikveh. Friday night and Saturday morning services typically attract only 20, so they welcome visitors’ camaraderie.

In 2017 Shaare Tikva received over 12,000 Jewish and Christian visitors, many tracking family roots. It recently added a kosher kitchen and plans to host glatt kosher affairs and prepare sealed meals for hotel delivery.

Lisbon’s second synagogue, Ohel Jacob, founded in 1934 originally focused on integrating the crypto-Jews or b’nei anousim whose ancestors had been forced to convert.

Today Portugal has one of Europe’s smallest Jewish communities, including about 1,000 in Lisbon and 300 in Porto. A cluster of about 35 to 40 crypto-Jews living in Belmonte all hail from original survivors of the Inquisition who converted outwardly yet maintained Jewish rituals.

For all of Lisbon’s beauty and majesty of its treed Avenida da Liberdade, Rossio Square (a.k.a. Praça de D. Pedro IV) and tiled Rua Augusta leading to the triumphal arch and harbour, it was worth the uphill climb and cable ride to Castelo de Sao Jorge, the ancient Moors’ citadel, captured by Christians in 1147, that became home to successive Portuguese kings.

Its ramparts gave geographic perspective of Lisbon’s seven hills, the Tagus River harbour, the circa 1521 Belem Tower still standing as symbol of Portugal’s maritime prowess, and context to the tiny pockets once inhabited by Jews.

Descending past the castle moat, we entered a recently excavated archeological site, its stony borders historic evidence of a 7th-century BCE Moorish civilization. From here, steep paths sloped down to Alfama, a labyrinth of alleys where Rua da Judiaria – its sign being Lisbon’s sole historic evidence of past Jews – is now clustered by small museums, tavernas and bars boasting soulful Fado singers.  An empty lot is designated for a Jewish museum and cultural centre.

At the corner of Rossio Square, outside San Domingos Church, stands a poignant memorial to the past, a monument to the massacre of Jews in 1506.

(Haaretz) Israel’s First Moon Mission Blasts Off From Florida

(Haaretz)

The unmanned Genesis spaceship, which has already set several records, is scheduled to land on the moon on April 11

The SpaceX rocket that took off from Florida's Cape Canaveral carrying Israel's Beresheet spacecraft, on Thursday, February21, 2019.
The SpaceX rocket that took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral carrying Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, on Thursday, February21, 2019.AFP

Early Friday morning at 3:45 A.M. Israel time marked the beginning of a new era for Israeli space research with the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft heading to the moon. The launch set several records: The ship will be the smallest and least expensive spacecraft ever to land on the moon and will put Israel among the ranks of the superpowers, the United States, Russia and China, which have successfully carried out lunar landings of various kinds.

The unmanned Genesis spacecraft (“Beresheet” in Hebrew), which was privately built by the non-profit group SpaceIL in cooperation with Israel Aeronautics Industries, was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. At a press conference this week, the president of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million of the $100 million cost of the spacecraft, said Genesis was presented as a gift to President Reuven Rivlin and declared a national project.

A simulation of Israel's Genesis spacecraft on the moon.
A simulation of Israel’s Genesis spacecraft on the moon.SpaceIL

“We have been on this journey for eight years and it will be completed in two months, with the landing on the moon. We are making history and we are proud to be part of a group that has dreamed and realized the dream that many countries have had but only three have fulfilled,” Kahn said.

In addition to the national pride that the project, which is not entirely a private venture, generates, the symbolic importance of Genesis is huge and the launch has sparked global interest. The spacecraft itself is mostly a demonstration of the capabilities that the project has drawn on. Its scientific mission is simple and the plan is for it to stay on the moon for just two days. Up to this point, only China has had the proven technology necessary for a soft landing on the moon.

Israel’s success could lead to a whole host of future lunar landings and create an entirely different business model in which private firms would offer a range of services. Customers would be able to purchase a spot on a spacecraft for their equipment — ranging from scientific instruments and communications technology to clients who want to spread the ashes of their loved ones on the moon. In the longer term, firms could try to reach the moon to produce products, from precious metals to water that could be used to fuel rockets or to actually settle the moon.

Netanyahu attends an event to watch the launch of the Israeli spacecraft "Beresheet" from the Israel Aerospace Industries control room, in Yehud, Israel, on February 22, 2019.
Netanyahu attends an event to watch the launch of the Israeli spacecraft “Beresheet” from the Israel Aerospace Industries control room, in Yehud, Israel, on February 22, 2019.Eliran Avital

SpaceIL’s project began as an initiative of three young people, Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yehonatan Weintraub, who in 2010 registered for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition. The competition ended in March of last year without a winner, but SpaceIL announced that it would continue to pursue the plans. With the assistance of private donors and with the support of Israel’s Science, Technology and Space Ministry, the threesome managed to fulfill their dream with Friday’s launch.

Thirty-two minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft, which was placed on an Indian communications satellite, the main payload of the launch, separated from the Falcon rocket. Several minutes later, personnel in the project’s control room at Israel Aerospace Industries in Yehud, near Ben-Gurion International Airport, made contact with Genesis.

According to plans, the spacecraft’s lunar landing legs opened and were followed by a series of tests of the spacecraft’s systems to verify that they weathered the launch and are functioning well in space. About an hour after the launch, Genesis entered its first orbit of the Earth.

The unmanned Genesis spacecraft “(Beresheet” in Hebrew) ahead of the launch, on February 22, 2019.
The unmanned Genesis spacecraft “(Beresheet” in Hebrew) ahead of the launch, on February 22, 2019.יואב וייס

Genesis’ path toward the moon includes elliptical orbits of increasing size around the Earth, during which the spacecraft makes use of the Earth’s gravitational pull to increase its speed. All told, Genesis is scheduled to travel 6.5 million kilometers (4 million miles), making it the lunar mission with the longest path ever traveled.

On its final orbit, the spacecraft is scheduled to approach the moon itself, to be followed by a complex maneuver in which it will attempt to be pulled into the lunar field of gravity — about 10 days before it actually lands on the moon. If everything goes well, it will orbit the moon until the timing is right for a landing, which is currently scheduled for April 11.

“Our journey to the moon is full of challenges, and therefore our mission is immeasurably complex. Every step that we take successfully will pave the way for the success of the next step, until the landing on the moon,” Ido Anteby, SpaceIL’s CEO, said at this week’s news conference.

Lightweight and at a relatively low price tag 

Genesis, which weighs just 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), and whose $100 million price tag compares with billions that have been spent on prior lunar missions, was planned without a backup system in the event of a technical malfunction. The spacecraft is a meter and a half tall and 2 meters wide (nearly 5 feet tall and 6 and a half feet wide). Its maximum planned speed is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) per second.

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It will be carrying equipment to measure the moon’s magnetic field, which astronomers still don’t fully understand. In addition, after the spacecraft lands, it will take a selfie of itself and of the Israeli flag from the lunar surface. Genesis also has a time capsule on board with hundreds of digital files, from details regarding the construction of the spacecraft and the team involved, to national symbols, cultural information and other material collected from members of the public over the years.

One of the motivations leading the various partners in the project to support it is the hope that it will spawn the Israeli equivalent of the Apollo effect in the United States, created in connection with the American program to land a man on the moon, leading up to the actual landing of Apollo 11 in 1969. The Israeli entrepreneurs and their donors hope that a successful Genesis mission will encourage Israeli young people to take an interest in space and science and engineering.

(JTA) Congress is now 3 times more Jewish than the United States as a whole


(JTA)

New members of the House of Representatives being sworn in during the first session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 3, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)ADVERTISEMENT

(JTA) — More than 6 percent of the new Congress is Jewish, with 34 Jews among the total of 535 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, so Congress as a whole is more than thrice as Jewish as the country in general, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center on religion in the new Congress, which was inaugurated Thursday.

The number is even larger in the Senate, where eight of the 100 members are Jewish. That’s 8 percent, for the math challenged.

This Congress has four more Jews than its predecessor, which had 30 Jewish members. But it’s far from the most Jewish Congress ever. That was the 1993 Congress, which boasted 51 Jews — nearly 10 percent of the total.

All of the Jews in the Senate are Democrats, as are all but two in the House. The Republican exceptions are Reps. Lee Zeldin and David Kustoff, from New York and Tennessee, respectively. They are the only non-Christian Republicans in the Congress, according to Pew.

Congress as a whole is overwhelmingly Christian — even more so than the country. Seventy-one percent of Americans identify as Christian, compared to 88 percent of Congress. Both Protestants and Catholics are overrepresented on Capitol Hill.

The most underrepresented group is unaffiliated Americans. Twenty-three percent of Americans don’t identify with a religion, but that’s true of just a sole member of Congress — new Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Unitarians are also represented in Congress.

(EUobserver) France to ban far-right groups over antisemitism

(EUobserver)

French president Emmanuel Macron has said France would ban three far-right groups – Bastion Social, Blood and Honour Hexagone, and Combat 18 – and adopt a tougher definition of antisemitism in reaction to a spike in hate crimes, such as recent vandalism of Jewish graves. “Europe, and most Western democracies, seem to be facing a resurgence of antisemitism unseen since World War II,” Macron said.

(Algemeiner) ‘Ça Suffit!’: Thousands Demonstrate in Paris and Across France Against Surging Antisemitism

(Algemeiner)

Demonstrators gather for the rally against antisemitism in the Place de la Republique in Paris. Photo: Reuters / Philippe Wojazer.

More than 20,000 demonstrators filled the Place de la Republique in Paris on Tuesday night in response to a nationwide call for mass rallies against the continuing surge of antisemitism in France.

The show of solidarity with French Jews in the capital was replicated across the country, with rallies against antisemitism being held in more than 60 cities and towns, including Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Strasbourg — the city in eastern France near which only on Tuesday morning dozens of graves in a Jewish cemetery were found defaced with swastikas and antisemitic slogans.

The vandalism at the cemetery came following a week of high-profile antisemitic incidents, including the daubing of a Jewish-owned bakery with the slogan “Juden!” and the abuse hurled at the French-Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut last weekend by protesters affiliated with the populist “yellow vest” movement.

Under the floodlit statue of Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic, the demonstrators who gathered at dusk in Paris held signs declaring “Ça suffit!” (“That’s enough!”), as well as the greeting “Shalom, Salaam, Salut.” Many of the signs at the rally highlighted the figure “74%” — the total increase in the number of antisemitic outrages recorded in France during 2018.

At the podium, children from schools in the local district read out speeches against antisemitism, some of them recalling the mass deportation of the Jews of Paris by the Nazis in July 1942.

French rap artist Abd al Malik closed the rally, leading the crowd in a chorus of “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem.

Initiated by the opposition Socialist Party, Tuesday’s rallies against antisemitism were backed by 14 political parties from the far left to the center-right. Political leaders attending the demonstration in Paris included Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 other members of the French cabinet, including Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal.

Minutes before the rally against antisemitism commenced, French President Emmanuel Macron paid a separate visit to the Holocaust memorial in Paris. After laying a memorial wreath, Macron praised the nearby rally without taking further questions from assembled reporters. On Wednesday night, Macron is scheduled to deliver a much-anticipated speech at the annual dinner of CRIF, the French Jewish communal organization.

On arriving at the Holocaust memorial, Macron — who earlier in the day had visited the vandalized Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim — was accosted by a woman who implored him, “Mr. President, I’m French, Jewish, I need to talk to you! I beg you!” Aides in Macron’s office told newspaper Le Figaro that the president engaged in a short conversation with the woman, but did not share details of their discussion.

Tuesday’s rallies around France followed a debate in the French National Assembly around a new legislative proposal to criminalize anti-Zionism — understood as the call for the elimination of the State of Israel —  as a form of antisemitism.

Speaking in favor of the motion, French Jewish lawmaker Meyer Habib expressed his fear that the current wave of antisemitism would force Jews to leave the country in large numbers.

Asked during his cemetery visit on Tuesday for his view on the National Assembly debate, President Macron said he opposed making anti-Zionism a criminal offense.

“I do not feel that penalizing anti-Zionism is a good solution,” Macron said. “I do believe that those who want Israel to disappear also want to target Jews, but when you examine the issue of outlawing anti-Zionism, you realize this would cause a number of problems.”

While turnout at Tuesday’s rallies did not exceed the numbers at similar previous events — several thousand marched against antisemitism in 2012 following the terrorist attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and did so again last year, following the brutal murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll — French-language social media feeds carried extensive photos and videos of the gatherings in Paris and elsewhere.

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L’Echiquier social@EchiquierSocial

Place de la République : 19h47 #CaSuffit #JeDisNon Rassemblement contre l’antisémitisme7:09 PM – Feb 19, 2019See L’Echiquier social’s other TweetsTwitter Ads info and privacy

Bernard-Henri Lévy@BHL

Ce n’est pas aux #Juifs de se défendre, c’est à la #République, dit #Macron au cimetière juif de #Quatzenheim au lendemain de la profanation. La réaction est rapide. Les mots sont justes et beaux. La France est debout et l’#antisémitisme demeure la honte de notre nation.1,1564:57 PM – Feb 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy491 people are talking about this

Aurélie Sarrot@aureliesarrot · 19hReplying to @aureliesarrot

« Touche pas à mon pote », « salam shalom salut » et #Giletsjaunes place de la République #manif #Paris

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Aurélie Sarrot@aureliesarrot

Mathilde, 22 ans, militante @SOS_Racisme , intervient dans les collèges et lycées contre le racisme et L’antisemitisme. Elle est place de la #Republique #Paris ce soir pour la #manif pic.twitter.com/TeKUGQiF8o265:35 PM – Feb 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy

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France 3 Rhône-Alpes@F3Rhone_Alpes

A #Lyon, plusieurs centaines de personnes sont massées place Bellecour pour protester contre toutes formes d’antisémitisme. (Photos D. Pajonk)226:12 PM – Feb 19, 2019See France 3 Rhône-Alpes’s other Tweets

(EUobserver) Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem

(EUobserver) Hungary and Slovakia have promised to open diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, going against the EU line that the city should be shared between Israel and a future Palestinian state. “We will have an official presence in Jerusalem,” Hungarian leader Viktor Orban said in Israel on Tuesday. The Czech Republic also opened an official delegation in Jerusalem after the US moved its embassy there last year.

(EuroJewCong) Portuguese MEP warns against ‘return’ of antisemitism – European Jewish Congress

(EuroJewCong)

Francisco Assis, a Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) political group has warned against the return of antisemitism and the infantilisation of European public discourse in a column for the Portuguese daily newspaper Publico.

Addressing the huge increase in antisemitic incidents in France as one of the most poignant examples of this phenomenon, MEP Assis wrote: “In recent years, French society has experienced a new kind of antisemitism, stemming from Islamic fundamentalist currents and which has benefited from a certain complacency on the anti-Israel currents in the far left. What also seems to have come back is the antisemitism of an avowedly anti-liberal, anti-cosmopolitan, and anti-universalist far-right.”

“It seems that the movement of the yellow vests in France has contributed to the spread of xenophobic and racist positions and to the popularisation of a proto-fascist discourse,” he added, “yet the effects of globalisation and meagre economic growth in France in recent years do not solely explain this phenomenon: There are  economic roots, but there are also important cultural and political causes.”

“I firmly believe that the intellectual and political collapse of moderate currents of thought, in the context of the infantilisation of public discourse, opens the door for the rise of those brutal and infamous ideologies, which have not been strange to us in the past,” Mr. Assis concluded.

(Algemeiner) German Government Records 60% Surge in Violent Attacks Targeting Jews During 2018

(Algemeiner) b

Demonstrators in Berlin brandish Turkish and Palestinian flags as they burn an Israeli flag. Photo: Jüdisches Forum für Demokratie und gegen Antisemitismus.

In yet another dramatic sign of rising antisemitism on the European continent, Germany’s government disclosed on Wednesday that violent attacks against Jews in the country surged by 60 percent during 2018.

The numbers were published in answer to a request for information from German parliamentarian Petra Pau, a prominent leader of the left-wing socialist party Die Linke (“The Left”). Figures gathered by the German authorities showed an overall rise of 10 percent in antisemitic incidents compared to 2017, with 1,646 offenses reported last year.

Of those, 62 were classified as “violent crimes,” compared with 37 crimes in the same category in 2017.

A total of 43 people were injured in 2018’s violent incidents, while police said they had identified 857 suspects and made 19 arrests.

About two dozen offensive posters were found outside the Hillel building at Tufts University in Massachusetts on Tuesday morning, including one calling…

Germany’s government again reiterated its firm opposition to antisemitism in its response to the numbers. Ulrike Demmer — a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel — emphasized that “there is no place for antisemitism in Germany.”

Jewish life in Germany must be allowed to “develop freely and safely,” Demmer stated.

Josef Schuster — president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany — remarked in an interview with the BBC that what “had already solidified as a subjective impression among Jews is now confirmed in the statistics.”

“The latest numbers are not yet official, but at least they reflect a tendency — and that’s scary,” Schuster said.

“Considering that acts below the threshold for criminal liability are not covered, the picture becomes even darker,” he added.

Last April, the German government appointed career diplomat Felix Klein as the country’s first federal commissioner charged with combating antisemitism. In successive interviews, Klein identified both the far right and elements within Germany’s various Muslim communities as responsible for the increase in offenses against Jews.

Additional government statistics made public on Wednesday showed that more than 19,000 hate crimes were carried out by German far-right extremists in 2018, of which nearly 1,100 involved violence.

News of last year’s precipitate increase in Germany came one day after the French government announced a shocking rise of 74 percent in antisemitic crimes committed last year.

Last week, the Community Security Trust —  the UK Jewish community’s security body — published its highest ever annual toll of antisemitic incidents, with 1,652 offenses targeting British Jews in 2018, more than 100 of which involved violence.

About 100,000 Jews live in Germany, a community swelled in recent years by the arrival of thousands of young Israelis.

(Forward) 52 Iraqi Jews Were Killed By The Secret Police. 50 Years Later, Their Descendants Come Forward.

(Forward)

The men in the back asked for silence, and then one began to read the names of the Iraqi Jews killed half a century ago. There were 52 in all: nine hanged in a public square after a show trial in 1969, the rest disappeared by the secret police. The hangings were a de facto death sentence for Iraq’s 2,500-year-old Jewish community, pushing those who had not already fled to Israel to begin smuggling themselves out of their homeland.

About 150 people gathered Sunday at Congregation Bene Naharayim, the Iraqi synagogue in suburban Queens, for a commemoration of the hangings and the kidnappings. Old and young, refugees and their descendants, mingled in a mix of English and Hebrew with a Mizrahi, or Eastern, accent. They spoke of the significance of this milestone, and the long decline of Iraq’s Jewish community and its American diaspora.

“This oldest and proud Jewish community into which we were born is now all but gone, probably forever, sadly,” said Rita Katz, a private terrorism investigator, told the assembled. Katz’s father was one of the nine men hanged; her family escaped to Israel several months later.

“I’m sure that all of you here never forgot, and will never forgive,” she said. “And we will never, ever will stop loving and missing them, all of them.”

Iraqi Jewish synagogue remembers 1969 Baghdad hangings by the Forward
Raphael AbadaShlomo Yadoo reading the names of the killed or disappeared Iraqi Jews.

Congregation Bene Naharayim, located in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens, was founded in 1984. From the street it looks like one of the larger houses that dot the neighborhood. Inside, its walls are covered in photographs of Jews in Baghdad and Basra, maps of Iraq and plaques of deceased members. It has 300 families paying dues, and 100 active members, according to Shlomo Yadoo, the synagogue’s president.

The community it serves is a minority of a minority in American Jewish culture: Iraqi Jews and their descendants, who are part of the diverse world of Sephardic Judaism, which broadly encompasses the Jewish communities whose roots lie from Spain and Morocco to Iran. In the years after the establishment of the State of Israel, in 1948, many Jewish communities were expelled from the Arab or Muslim countries they had called home for 2,000 years or more.

In 1968, the Ba’ath party rose to power in Iraq, in large part through the efforts of Saddam Hussein, who would go on to lead the party, and be dictator of Iraq, for 24 years. The Jewish community had already largely fled for Israel; its population in Iraq had gone from 130,000 in 1950 to less than 3,000 by 1969.

That was the year the regime hung 14 people accused of being spies: nine Jews, three Muslims and two Christians. Iraqi citizens held cookouts in the Baghdad square where the hangings occurred. In the early 1970s, the regime allowed the rest of the Jews to leave, and by the 21st century fewer than a few dozen Jews remained in the country.

Iraqi Jewish synagogue remembers 1969 Baghdad hangings by the Forward
Raphael AbadaRita Katz, left, and her mother Salima Gabbai.

Iraqi Jews feel that their stories have been broadly forgotten in favor of remembering the tragedies that befell Ashkenazi Jews in Europe, whose descendants now vastly outnumber Sephardic Jewry in America.

“In Israel, and everywhere, they don’t know about Iraqi Jews, or Middle Eastern Jews,” said Ruth Shakarchy, head of Bene Naharayim’s sisterhood group, which organized Sunday’s event. “They know only about the Holocuast.”

Shakarchy said that besides the hangings, many Ashkenazi Jews also don’t know about the Farhud, the Iraqi Kristallnacht in June 1941 when widespread rioting caused the deaths of over 100 Jews and the destruction of over a thousand Jewish homes.

Iraqi Jewish synagogue remembers 1969 Baghdad hangings at lunch by the Forward
Raphael AbadaWomen speaking at lunch after the program.

Jordan Salama’s mother fled Iraq with her family as a teenager. Though raised in Westchester County, Salama, 22, had his bar mitzvah at Bene Naharayim. In high school, he made a half-hour documentary about his grandparents’ journeys in the Mizrahi diaspora, and now hopes to expand his research on his Syrian paternal grandfather’s life in Argentina.

“All these stories keep circulating around in my head, and I think the most important thing is to keep tell them to other people so we don’t forget,” he said.

Part of the reason he wants to tell these stories, Salama said, is because they are often overlooked in the Ashkenazi-dominated American Jewish culture.

“I think it’s important to recognize that there was this time of paradise and coexistence [for Arab Jews], and that maybe hopefully it can happen again, if we’re given the opportunity,” he said.

Iraqi Jewish synagogue remembers 1969 Baghdad hangings by the Forward
Raphael AbadaLighting the memorial candles

After the program, the attendees lined up for an Iraqi and American Jewish spread of lunch fare: bagels and cream cheese; pita, eggplant, roasted eggs and pickled mango sauce (amba) for sabich, the Iraqi-Israeli street food; pound cake and muffins; date cookies and baklava.

Next to the desert buffet, Doris Sheena Zilkha, 66, born in Iraq, recounted how after the 1969 hangings the Jewish community was constantly in fear of disappearances, and fasted on Mondays and Thursdays in a gesture of frantic piety.

“People were landing on the moon, and here we were educated, and sitting ducks,” she said.

Baklava at Iraqi Jewish Baghdad hangings memorial program by the Forward
Raphael AbadaBaklava.

One of the family members of the disappeared men in Iraq was Felix Shamash, who was just a teenager when his father, Shoul, was taken from their home in October 1972.

Shamash said that the manner in which his father was taken away forever was as banal as the other stories mentioned Sunday. He had just come home from school when a member of the secret police arrived to escort his father away. The man promised that Shoul would be home soon. Before he left, Shoul put a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste in his jacket pocket.

“We didn’t even go near him or kiss him,” Shamash recalled. “We were sad. You knew this was goodbye.”

Within six months, they had fled for Athens, where they received U.S. visas and immigrated to New York.

The family never officially learned the fate of Shoul. Shamash said he heard his father’s name once in a radio broadcast from outside Iraq, included in a list of Jews murdered by the regime. But because they didn’t have a date of death, or a grave, Shamash said that no one ever said kaddish for his father.

But a couple years ago, Shamash decided to change course. Now he uses the date of his father’s disappearance as the yartzeit, the anniversary of death.

“I figured I’m getting old, someone has to say kaddish for him,” he said.

Iraqi Jewish synagogue remembers 1969 Baghdad hangings by the Forward
Raphael AbadaListening to Yadoo read the names.

The photographs in this article were taken by Raphael Abada. You can view more of his photographs of the event here.

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at feldman@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

This story “Iraqi Jews In America Remember Baghdad Hangings” was written by Ari Feldman.

Read more: https://forward.com/news/national/418799/iraqi-synagogue-baghdad-hanging-anniversary/

(NYT) The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves

(NYT)

The Nazis left the task of creating inventories for the millions of books they seized to a special task force, members of which are seen here in Estonia.CreditYad Vashem Photo Archives

The Nazis left the task of creating inventories for the millions of books they seized to a special task force, members of which are seen here in Estonia.CreditCreditYad Vashem Photo Archives

The hunt for the millions of books stolen by the Nazis during World War II has been pursued quietly and diligently for decades, but it has been largely ignored, even as the search for lost art drew headlines. The plundered volumes seldom carried the same glamour as the looted paintings, which were often masterpieces worth millions of dollars.

But recently, with little fanfare, the search for the books has intensified, driven by researchers in America and Europe who have developed a road map of sorts to track the stolen books, many of which are still hiding in plain sight on library shelves throughout Europe.

Their work has been aided by newly opened archives, the internet, and the growing number of European librarians who have made such searches a priority, researchers say.

“People have looked away for so long,” said Anders Rydell, author of “The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance,” “but I don’t think they can anymore.”

Given the scope of the looting, the task ahead remains mountainous. In Berlin, for example, at the Central and Regional Library, almost a third of the 3.5 million books are suspected to have been looted by the Nazis, according to Sebastian Finsterwalder, a provenance researcher there.

“Most major German libraries have books stolen by the Nazis,” he said.

But researchers say there are signs they may be on the brink of making measurable progress in restitutions.You have 4 free articles remaining.Subscribe to The Times

In the last 10 years, for example, libraries in Germany and Austria have returned about 30,000 books to 600 owners, heirs and institutions, according to researchers. In one instance in 2015, almost 700 books stolen from the library of Leopold Singer, an expert in the field of petroleum engineering, were returned to his heirs by the library of the Vienna University of Economics and Business.

“There’s definitely progress, but slow progress,” said Patricia Kennedy Grimsted, senior research associate at the Ukrainian Research Institute of Harvard University and one of the world’s foremost experts on the libraries and archives stolen during World War II.

Patricia Kennedy Grimsted of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard is one of the leading researchers on tracking the millions of books that were stolen by the Nazis.CreditYakub Kolas Central Scientific Library of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus

The numbers alone often do not do justice to what a single returned piece of Judaica, or even a more prosaic volume, can mean to a family.

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In Germany last year, the University of Potsdam library gave an important 16th-century volume back to the family of its owner, a man killed in a concentration camp in 1943. The book, written by a rabbi in 1564 and later looted, explains the fundamentals of the Torah’s 613 commandments. The owner’s grandson identified it from a list of looted works that had been posted online. Then he and his father, a Holocaust survivor, flew from Israel to Germany to retrieve it.

“It was quite an emotional experience for my father and myself,” said the grandson, David Schor.Berl Schor, 91, and his son, David, 52, reviewing a 16th-century book once owned by Berl’s father, who died in a concentration camp. It was returned by a German university after David Schor spotted it online.CreditCorinna Kern for The New York Times

Berl Schor, 91, and his son, David, 52, reviewing a 16th-century book once owned by Berl’s father, who died in a concentration camp. It was returned by a German university after David Schor spotted it online.CreditCorinna Kern for The New York Times

The distinctive stamps on the 16th century book, written by a rabbi about the Torah, helped David Schor identify it online and reclaim it.CreditCorinna Kern for The New York Times

The distinctive stamps on the 16th century book, written by a rabbi about the Torah, helped David Schor identify it online and reclaim it.CreditCorinna Kern for The New York Times

Ms. Grimsted’s work in tracking the lost volumes has advanced considerably since 1990, when she discovered 10 lists of items looted from libraries in France by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a task force headed by the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. The task force plundered more than 6,000 libraries and archives all over Europe but left behind the sort of detailed records that have proved invaluable in tracing what was stolen.

Hundreds of thousands of records from the task force and other sources have been posted online in recent years, part of an effort by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the World Jewish Restitution Organization and others to ease the path for researchers, libraries, museums, historians and families tracing the works. Ms. Grimsted’s work has been central to the task, and her publication, “Reconstructing the Record of Nazi Cultural Plunder: A Guide to the Dispersed Archives of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) and the Postwar Retrieval of ERR Loot” is, among other things, an inventory of where the many documents can be found.

The National Library of Israel has also stepped forward to help catalog and identify stolen books from Croatia and make the lists accessible to people who speak Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish and other languages.

Though Rosenberg, who was hanged as a war criminal in 1946, was the major force behind the seizure of books, he had something of a competitor in Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, whose agents also collected books, particularly those associated with Freemasonry.

The Nazi targets were mainly the families, libraries and institutions of Jews but also included the Masons, Catholics, Communists, Socialists, Slavs and critics of the Nazi regime. Though libraries were destroyed and some books were burned by the Nazis early on, they later came to transfer many of the works to libraries and to the Institute for Study of the Jewish Question, which was established by the task force in Frankfurt in 1941.

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“They hoped to utilize the books after the war was won to study their enemies and their culture so as to protect future Nazis from the Jews who were their enemies,” Ms. Grimsted said.Many of the looted books recovered after the war ended up at a depot outside Frankfurt where the United States Army unit popularly known as the Monuments Men attempted to process them for return.CreditYad Vashem Photo Archives

Many of the looted books recovered after the war ended up at a depot outside Frankfurt where the United States Army unit popularly known as the Monuments Men attempted to process them for return.CreditYad Vashem Photo Archives

After the war, the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit of the United States Army, better known as the “Monuments Men” and famed for the return of looted art, also saved millions of books. Its main book collection point, the Offenbach Archival Depot outside Frankfurt, was the former headquarters of IG Farben, a chemical company whose subsidiary had produced a poison gas used in the death camps. The Army unit processed nearly three million books and manuscripts, which were returned, mainly to their countries of origin.

The first director of the depot, Col. Seymour J. Pomrenze, arranged for archives that the Nazis had stolen from a prominent European Yiddish organization in Vilna, then part of Poland, to be shipped to Manhattan, where the group had moved. The organization, now known as the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, houses what is considered one of the world’s foremost collections of Yiddish books and artifacts.Books and papers at the Yiddish Scientific Institute in 1943 in what was then Vilna, Poland (now the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City).CreditYad Vashem Photo Archives

Books and papers at the Yiddish Scientific Institute in 1943 in what was then Vilna, Poland (now the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City).CreditYad Vashem Photo Archives

Many of the stolen books now reside in Russia where, still bitter about their own losses from the war, the Russians have resisted efforts to return items they took from the Nazis, researchers said.

“They stole millions of books looted by the Nazis that are now in libraries from Moscow to Vladivostok,” said Ms. Grimsted. “Many are now in Minsk — but the Russians refuse to do anything. In Belarus, they talk about possible book exchanges with Germany but nothing is happening.”

In Germany, Berlin’s Central Library created a database to help with the restitution effort in 2012. The researchers there studied 100,000 books and found that 29,000 of them had been stolen and still had some mark that identified an earlier owner. But locating those owners is a second, labor-intensive task.

“We have a small team of researchers and, since we started 10 years ago, we have returned 900 books to 20 countries,” Mr. Finsterwalder, the researcher, said.

“Thousands of books were marked by the Nazis with the letter J, an abbreviation for Judenbücher — Jewish books,” he said. “These were erased after the war and replaced with the letter G, as in Geschenk — gifts.”

Overall, libraries in Germany have returned about 15,000 books since 2005, Maria Kesting, a provenance researcher at the Hamburg State and University Library, said. “I have returned books to about 360 heirs, owners and institutions in the United States, Britain, Germany, Israel, South Africa, France and other countries,” she said.

Researchers say the process can be complicated because libraries across a country like Germany will often lack a central database of their holdings or the money to do more than minimal provenance research. Since 2008, the German Lost Art Foundation, which is funded by the federal government there, has provided $5.6 million for provenance research on books “and related items” in German libraries. The foundation publishes descriptions of books with photos in its database when owners or their heirs cannot be located.

Wesley Fisher, research director of the Claims Conference, said that it and the World Jewish Restitution Organization have helped train 180 provenance researchers in Germany, Lithuania, Greece, Italy and Croatia.

In the absence of a coordinated government effort, researchers from libraries in nine German cities have organized to trade notes, according to Ms. Kesting, who said they meet twice a year. Among the problems they have found is that the Gestapo often distributed looted works to multiple libraries.

“The books from the library of one collector were found in seven different cities,” she said.

Markus Stumpf, a provenance researcher at the University of Vienna Library, said that about 15 Austrian libraries have returned at least 15,000 books since 2009.Books owned by Leopold Singer, an Austrian engineer whose library was looted by the Nazis, were returned to his family, who donated them to the Vienna Technical Museum.CreditTechnisches Museum Wien

Books owned by Leopold Singer, an Austrian engineer whose library was looted by the Nazis, were returned to his family, who donated them to the Vienna Technical Museum.CreditTechnisches Museum Wien

“The most difficult part of the work is tracking down owners or descendants,” he said. “Some come easy. Some take years if there are no heirs. With many books, the nameplates, stamps or signatures have been torn out. Names are sometimes unreadable.

“Sometimes,” Mr. Stumpf continued, “it’s difficult to decide who gets the book back if you have one book and five family members. In one case involving one book, we found one family member who lives in the United States and the other in Germany. One didn’t know the other existed. But they talked and decided that the family member who lives in Germany gets the book.”

Ms. Kesting said: “Reaching out to the heirs is always a sensitive issue. For the heirs, it very often is painful to be confronted with their family history, a history of persecution and death and loss. For us as provenance researchers, restitutions are always very special and moving moments.”

Mr. Finsterwalder recalled an experience from 2009 when he returned a book to a man who had survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as a teenager and emigrated to California. His teacher had given him the child’s activity book as a Hanukkah gift.

The concentration camp survivor, who had been reluctant to recount his wartime experience, began giving talks to students in high schools.

“When he got the book back, Mr. Finsterwalder said, “it completely changed him.”

(JewishNews) Travel: Why Portugal’s the most wanted destination post-Brexit

(JewishNews)

A timely initiative by the Portuguese makes their country the place to go for Passover

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Real Marina kosher Hotel & Spa

Real Marina kosher Hotel & Spa

While other countries deliberate over their post-Brexit relationship with the UK, Portugal has thrown down the welcome mat.

Irrespective of deal or no deal, the Portuguese have decided to embrace rather than conspire against us by announcing plans for dedicated fast-track access in their airports to British tourists.

Instead of devising ways to make it difficult, they will be creating special lanes for the millions of Brits who visit Portugal every year and in addition the 23,000 ex-pats will be able to retain their residence, state healthcare and recognition of UK academic qualifications.

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At last a chink of optimism on the bleak horizon at a time when many are tracing European relatives for alternative passport options (try Passportia.)

This is exceptionally good news for those looking to have future hols in a country that still has temperatures of 22 degrees right now and what better time to start than by celebrating Passover at the 5 * Real Marina Hotel & Spa in Olhao.

Real Marina Hotel & Spa

Pesach in the Algarve 2019 as it is officially known will start on Friday April 19 with a week-long programme that will keep all guests happy and occupied be they Ashkenazi or Sephardi, young or old.

Named after the marina it overlooks, the hotel is a bright, well-lit contemporary property with marble entrance that is 15 minutes from the airport and within easy access of great shopping and lots of must-see destinations such as  Faro, Tavira and Olhao itself which can be toured by Tuk Tuk.

Olhao

Guests coming for the chagim will have exclusive use of the hotel, the pools inside and heated outside, the luxury spa and the dining-rooms which will be under Glatt Kosher, Halak Bet Yosef supervision of the Manchester Beth Din for the duration. Be prepared for lots of food as there will be three lavish meals served a day with menus prepared by talented chefs led by celebrated caterer Rochelle Sassoon. To satisfy swimmers and those who like to eat there will be poolside shwarma and salads on Chol Hamoed and if you are still hungry, the generously-stocked snack and soft drink bar will be open throughout the day.

For spiritual fulfillment Minyanim will be available three times a day with inspirational talks from Rabbi and Rebetzin Jonathan and Raaya Tawil and Rabbi and Rebetzin Jonathan and Joanne Dove of SEED.

The entertainment will be non-stop, notably for the children who will be Dancing with Louise and enjoying ther dance, drama, craft and superhero workshops.

The 132 hotel rooms and 12 deluxe suites are large, comfortable and perfect for those with little ones in tow and the exciting opportunities outside of Real Marina include  , water sports, swimming with Dolphins, Go Karting, Bike Tours and the shopping mentioned earlier. And with the Portuguese throwing down the welcome mat, this is the place to spend Passover.

For more information visit: www.pesachinthealgarve.com Or call 020 7101 4068

Why Portugal?

With the Portuguese keen to keep us visiting, it seems only right to give you 10 reasons to do so…

1. To stay at the Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve which is part of Luxury Hotels and even at the height of summer remains a haven of tranquility.

Pine Cliffs Resort

2. To Explore Ria Formosa Natural Park near Olhau which is made up of a large lagoon and coastline of marshes, salt pans, inlets and lakes that stretches for 60 kilometers.

Ria Formosa

3. For drinking port at the Porto Calem the oldest winery in the Vila Nova de Gaia which hugs the bank of the Duoro River in Porto.

4. To attend the Medieval Festival every August at Silves Castle in Xelb which used to be the capital of the Moorish Algarve.

5. To enjoy the art and sculpture created in the Algarve by ex-pats Jessica Dunn (jessicadunnart.comToin Adams (toinadams.com) and Mondo Pena.

Toin Adams

6. Canoe on Furnas Lake in the Azores, a Crater Lake known for its green tinged blue waters that sits between hills covered in mud volcanoes and hot springs.

7. Spend a Sunday afternoon dancing and watching the sunset at the Thai Beach café on Rocha Baixinha, close to Vila Moura. (thaibeach.pt)

Beach café

8. Take the whole family in fact  to Algoz to spend the day at Krazy World the cutest little zoo with animal shows, bird-feeding, swimming pool and zip lining. (krazyworld.com)

9. Try the best falafels outside Israel at Shalom in Albufeira

10.  Stay at one of the three self-contained chalets at Casa De Mondo in Bouliqueme and sign up for a cookery course or some comedy writing.(casademondo.com)

Krazy World

(NYT) He Helped Jews Escape the Holocaust. He Died Unknown.

(NYT) Aristides de Sousa Mendes was his name. We should remember his courage.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes in 1940.CreditSousa Mendes Foundation

Anyone who has seen “Casablanca”knows the connection between Portugal and World War II refugees. But few know the story of the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who in 1940 saved tens of thousands of lives only to be punished for this heroism by his own government. As we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday, we should honor this man who engaged in what one historiancalled “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.”

An aristocratic scion, Mr. Sousa Mendes entered the foreign service after law school and spent years on a whirlwind diplomatic tour taking him from Zanzibar to San Francisco before arriving in the south of France in 1938. Mr. Sousa Mendes was a bon vivant and excelled as a diplomatic host, entertaining luminaries famous across the world like Albert Einstein and King Alfonso XIII of Spain. But with his posting as consul-general in Bordeaux, things took a more serious turn.

As the winds of war swept across Europe, Portugal’s autocratic prime minister, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, was determined to maintain a strict neutrality. So in late 1939, a couple of months after the German invasion of Poland, the Portuguese Foreign Ministry issued its infamous Circular 14 to all embassies and consulates, announcing new regulations concerning categories of people who would not be issued visas without direct approval from the Foreign Ministry. Those “of undetermined, contested or disputed nationality” were excluded, as were those unlikely to be able to freely return to their home country or support themselves. One category was stark: “Jews expelled from the countries of their nationality.” Circular 14 covered the very refugees for whom passage was a matter of life and death.

Mr. Sousa Mendes resisted this order from the start. Then in May 1940, the Nazi blitzkrieg swept into France. Tens of thousands of people descended on Bordeaux by train, car, bicycle and even foot. Crowds formed at the Portuguese consulate. Mr. Sousa Mendes cabled Lisbon for instructions. The response: enforce Circular 14.

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On June 17, Paris fell. Mr. Sousa Mendes became more and more tortured by what he saw. In front of the great synagogue of Bordeaux, he met Chaim Kruger, a young Polish rabbi with his family crowded along with thousands of Jews in the square. Mr. Sousa Mendes offered to help, but his request for visas for Mr. Kruger and his family was rejected. Mr. Sousa Mendes assured the rabbi he would do everything in his power to get the necessary papers.

“It’s not just me that needs help,” the rabbi told him, “but all my fellow Jews who are in danger of their lives.”Opinion | David WolpeThe Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His HandwritingOct. 15, 2018

The words hit Mr. Sousa Mendes like a thunderbolt. For three days, he took to his bed in despair, according to a fine biography by Jose-Alain Fralon, “A Good Man in Evil Times: The Story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes.” Then he emerged full of energy. “From now on I’m giving everyone visas,” the diplomat declared. “There will be no more nationalities, races or religion.”

“I cannot allow all you people to die,” he told the refugees.

Mr. Kruger collected the passports of the Jews in the square. Mr. Sousa Mendes signed them all. Indeed he reportedly proceeded to sign every visa put in front of him, setting up a veritable assembly line. His two sons along with other members of the family and Mr. Kruger prepared the passports and visas for signature, while his deputy, 32-year-old Jose Seabra, dutifully stamped them.

News quickly spread and the consulate was suddenly filled to capacity. The consul himself worked well into the night signing visas, his signature morphing from “Aristides de Sousa Mendes” to “Mendes” as his hand tired. Mr. Seabra desperately tried to maintain order, begging applicants to come only during normal hours. “Come back when the dictator is not here!” Mr. Sousa Mendes joked to them.

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Mr. Sousa Mendes’s actions were brought to the attention of his superiors by an act of fantastic pettiness. An Englishwoman who had been asked to wait a few hours for an ordinary travel visa stormed out of the consulate and filed a complaint. The British Embassy in Lisbon duly complained to the Portuguese Foreign Ministry that Mr. Sousa Mendes was operating outside of normal business hours and falsely asserted that he was demanding fees for visas.

Mr. Salazar personally ordered Mr. Sousa Mendes to shut down, instructing his ambassador to France to investigate what was going on. Luckily, Mr. Sousa Mendes moved to the consulate he oversaw in Bayonne to continue his work. When the local vice consul arrived, he found Mr. Sousa Mendes ensconced at a desk where he spent three days granting visas.

In June 1940, an armistice between France and Germany was imminent, meaning the border would soon be sealed. It was a race against time. Mr. Salazar ordered that Mr. Sousa Mendes be stripped of his right to issue visas, even as Mr. Sousa Mendes made his way to Hendaye, near the Spanish border. There, Mr. Sousa Mendes explicitly defied the dictator’s orders, signing not only the passports thrust at him by desperate refugees, but also identity cards and random scraps of paper that, marked with his signature, allowed entrance to Portugal.

At the border itself, Mr. Sousa Mendes drove a caravan of refugees to a little-known crossing he often used to avoid traffic back to Lisbon. The Spanish border guards, who had no telephone, had not yet received word from Madrid that the border had been closed. “I’m the Portuguese consul. These people are with me,” Mr. Sousa Mendes told them and escorted the group over the border.

In July, Mr. Sousa Mendes returned to Portugal and the alarming news that Salazar had opened up disciplinary proceedings against him. “My aim was first and foremost humanitarian,” he explained in his response.

The Foreign Ministry concluded that Mr. Sousa Mendes had caused a situation that reflected very badly on Portugal in the eyes of the Spanish authorities and German occupying forces.

“Lives had to be saved, and families prevented from being split up,” Mr. Sousa Mendes said. “I also thought of the fate that would be in store for those people were they to fall into the hands of the enemy. Many of them were Jews who had already been hounded and who were trying to escape from the horror of further persecution.”

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At Mr. Salazar’s behest, Mr. Sousa Mendes was removed from his consular position and rank and forced to retire without a pension. At age 55, his career was over.

Mr. Sousa Mendes spent the next decade shunned and in dire financial straits, hobbled by a stroke. Mr. Salazar, meanwhile, boasted of all the things that Portugal had done for those fleeing the Holocaust. “As regards the refugees, we did our duty, though it is a pity we could not do more,” he said, according to Mr. Fralon’s account.

Mr. Sousa Mendes died in obscurity in 1954, blackballed by the government and bombarded by creditors, reduced to being fed by a local Jewish soup kitchen.

“Was he a great man? Was he mad in showing so little instinct for self-preservation?” one of his sons asked. “The answer lies in all of us when we try to pass judgment on him. I am proud of the fact that I was lucky enough to have such a man as my father.”

Tens of thousands today are alive because of his courage.

(105fm) EUROPA CONFRONTA TERRORISMO IRANIANO – Paulo Casaca

(105fm)

A 8 de Janeiro, a União Europeia colocou na sua principal lista de entidades e organizações terroristas os dois principais líderes das acções externas dos Guardas Revolucionários Iranianos, bem como a direcção de segurança interna dos serviços secretos do mesmo país.

A República Islâmica tornou-se assim o único país do mundo com dirigentes e departamentos armados estatais reconhecidos como terroristas pela União Europeia. Tudo isto se sucede a uma vaga de expulsões – e num caso mesmo de prisão – de diplomatas iranianos envolvidos em acções terroristas no solo europeu e à prisão de vários operacionais iranianos detidos na fase final da preparação de um ataque bombista em Paris, a 30 de Junho.

A França, entretanto, bloqueou as contas e encerrou associações francesas anti-Israel comandadas pelos guardas revolucionários iranianos; a Alemanha bloqueou os voos de uma das companhias aéreas iranianas envolvidas em acções logísticas armadas no Médio Oriente, enquanto a Polónia está a promover uma cimeira internacional sobre o Médio Oriente que o lóbi iraniano ocidental tem repetidamente atacado como sendo anti-iraniana.

Em quarenta anos o regime iraniano nada mudou na lógica da Jihad mundial que tem inscrita na sua Constituição e que tem aplicado com zelo dentro e além-fronteiras, com uma brutal repressão interna, expansão externa e terror em todas as direcções.

O que parece estar a mudar são no entanto os dirigentes dos principais países europeus, que parecem finalmente entender que a complacência com o terrorismo iraniano põe em causa a segurança não só do Médio Oriente como da Europa ela mesma.

A viragem da política europeia continua no entanto a enfrentar grande resistência dos partidários do apaziguamento e do poderoso lóbi iraniano que insistem em subvenções e dádivas ao regime de Teerão enfraquecendo a postura europeia.

A Europa precisa de ser clara nos seus princípios e capaz de agir com determinação perante a ameaça do Jihadismo orgânico de Teerão.

Bruxelas, 2019-01-23

(SOL) Preconceito contra Israel continua: a Europa tornou-se “terrorists friendly”!

(SOL)

1.A ladainha repete-se: o jornalismo português está rendido ao terrorismo radical islâmico. Já não é uma suspeita; é uma certeza. Já não é uma opinião; é um facto.

Basta efectuar uma pesquisa rápida pelas notícias para perceber o preconceito pornográfico que a maioria da imprensa portuguesa alimenta contra Israel (confundindo-se muitas vezes com um tom anti-semita, que os próprios não fazem questão de disfarçar) – e a pena, a comiseração que sempre nutre por grupos conhecidos pelos seus actos terroristas. Não se importam de apoiar Estados financiadores do terrorismo que mata na Faixa de Gaza, que já matou nos EUA, que já matou aqui entre nós, em território europeu.

E continuará a matar se nada for feito pelos decisores políticos – importa, pois, que estes nunca se esqueçam de quem verdadeiramente servem: os povos que os elegeram (aqui fica o wishful thinking…).

2.Não admira que assim seja em Portugal: a maioria esmagadora dos jornalistas de política internacional não esconde que são militantes ou simpatizantes do Bloco de Esquerda ou do PCP, encarando o mundo ainda sob a perspectiva do materialismo diláectico, dos “amigos vermelhos” contra os “inimigos capitalistas”.

Estamos em 2019 – contudo, os jornalistas portugueses (fiéis aos seus preconceitos irracionais soixant-huitard) ainda vêem o mundo de acordo com as premissas radicais de esquerda em que foram doutrinados (ou que lhes convém…).

Daí que não surpreenda que, relativamente à tensão que se vive no Médio Oriente, os títulos das notícias apresentam invariavelmente um tom já condenatório de Israel: “ Israel ataca alvos militares na Síria”; “Israel volta a provocar tensões com o Líbano”; “Israel confirma ataque a bases iranianas na Síria”; “Israel pode provocar 3.ª Guerra Mundial” (este último é certamente made in Esquerda. Net).

3.E é isto: a maioria da comunicação social portuguesa foi tomada de assalto por uma esquerda radical, perigosa, que despreza o pluralismo democrático, que ignora a verdade, que manipula o sentido e conteúdo das regras deontológicas  a que está vinculada – tudo para honrar a propaganda aos partidos políticos a que pertencem a maioria dos jornalistas.

E deixem-se de tretas: não nos venham com a história que os jornalistas não têm partido, que não há nenhum jornalista que seja militante de partidos políticos. Formalmente, não o são; todavia, o contacto permanente, as trocas de informações constantes entre políticos do PS, do BE e do PCP e jornalistas é verdadeiramente confrangedor.  

Caríssimas leitoras e caríssimos leitores: não é um mito urbano; é a mais pura das verdades: o jornalismo português foi sequestrado pela esquerda radical.

Por aquela esquerda radical que passeia nas rua defendendo a Palestina, sem saber sequer localizá-la no mapa, muito menos conhecendo a razão da sua própria manifestação. 

Os títulos das notícias atrás citados evidenciam que a narrativa é sempre a mesma: criar o efeito nas leitoras e nos leitores que Israel é o mau da fita, o vilão, o Estado que nasceu apenas para criar guerras, conflitos e desestabilizar a ordem internacional; enquanto que a Palestina, o Irão, a Síria são genuínos paraísos na Terra, países onde a prosperidade reina e a paz, a concórdia e o amor são por demais evidentes em qualquer canto que se visite.

É simplesmente vergonhoso o grau de insídia, de mentira e de falsificação por razões ideológicas a que a maioria dos jornalistas portugueses se presta.

Onde fica o rigor?

Por onde anda a honestidade, a imparcialidade e a verdade que deveriam nortear a actividade jornalística?

Os jornalistas, que se julgam comissários do PCP e do BE (com os novos amigos do PS geringonçado e sem valores de António Costa), são a maior ameaça ao…próprio jornalismo.

E à democracia, pois o jornalismo actual é livre do Estado – mas é dependente dos partidos políticos extremistas de esquerda e dos interesses especiais que a eles se uniram.

4.Dito isto, vejamos, em perspectiva inversa, o que reporta a nossa comunicação social sobre Israel.

Já aqui a conclusão mais saliente – para quem analisa os dados com rigor e honestidade – é a completa omissão dos jornalistas portugueses.

Israel ou é retratado como vilão – ou é ignorado.

Por exemplo, em Novembro de 2018, a maioria dos jornais portugueses deu conta de que sete palestinianos haviam sido mortos na sequência de raide levado a cabo pelo IDF (Isreali Defense Force, o exército israelita): esqueceram-se, porém, de mencionar que tais vítimas eram dirigente de topo da organização terrorista cruel  chamada Hamas.

Fala-se muito dos raides do IDF – porém, ninguém contextualiza tais operações militares. É que os terroristas do Hamas continuam, em termos cada vez mais consistentes e perigosos, a construir túneis subterrâneos para atacar Israel (surpreendendo as forças de segurança israelitas).

Mais: o Hezbollah (outra organização terrorista, barriga de aluguer do terrorismo radical do regime iraniano dos Ayatollahs) segue a mesma estratégia, porventura, com ainda mais sofreguidão e intuito assassino.

Em Dezembro, o IDF lançou uma operação para neutralizar tais túneis, verificando o princípio da proporcionalidade (e proporcionalidade não significa suavidade: significa, isso sim, adequação face ao inimigo terrorista que se combate e que se pretende derrotar clamorosamente) e observando o Direito Internacional – dando, aliás, cumprimento às Resoluções das Nações Unidas n.ºs 1701 e 1559.

Pois bem, a mesma comunidade internacional que, utilizando os mecanismos jurídico-políticos próprios do multilateralismo, condenou o Hezbollah na teoria – na prática, na retórica política quotidiana, resolveu atacar Israel por…executar actos jurídicos da sua autoria! Então, aprova e depois condena Israel por executar as deliberações? Isto é para levar a sério?

Haverá maior hipocrisia que esta? É o cúmulo da cobardia!

5.Mais: o Hezbollah é reconhecido pela União Europeia como uma organização terrorista.

Então, os líderes políticos europeus – com honrosas excepções – vão colocar-se ao lado daqueles que eles próprios consideram ser terroristas?

Daqui só decorre que os políticos europeus são “terrorism friendly” !

E a comunicação social?

Ora, a comunicação social portuguesa do sistema socialista moralmente corrupto, mais uma vez, informou que Israel encetou uma operação militar, escondendo, no entanto, o contexto em que a mesma ocorreu!

Escondendo que se tratava de resposta a uma estratégia meticulosamente planeada (e que continua, com o silêncio conivente da comunidade internacional!) dos terroristas do Hezbollah! 

A comunicação social portuguesa também não lhe contou que o soldade do IDF, Aviv Levi, jovem de vinte e um anos, foi brutalmente assassinado por palestinianos na Faixa de Gaza.

Que Deus o guarde e que descanse, na eternidade, em paz – a paz pela qual lutou na vida terrena e cujo exemplo não deixaremos que seja esquecido. Muito menos permitiremos que o seu esforço tenha sido em vão.

 Ou que um jovem e uma jovem foram brutalmente atacados apenas por conduzirem um carro do IDF à entrada de cidade palestiniana (fará em Fevereiro um ano).

E os casos poderiam multiplicar-se; a maioria das vítimas israelitas é desconhecida por nós porque a comunicação social simplesmente os despreza.

Enquanto que basta uma pesquisa no Google para ler grandes parangonas sobre as “vítimas palestinianas”, já para chegar às vítimas de Israel é preciso despender tempo a confrontar fontes, efectuar pesquisas institucionais, procurar livros e relatórios. É este tipo de parcialidade e desonestidade que importa denunciar e combater.

6.Ao mesmo tempo que a Europa mantém a sua incapacidade crónica de lidar com o problema migratório (que não podemos dissociar de práticas criminosas, quer de terroristas infiltrados, quer de traficantes de seres humanos que financiam o terrorismo), que o nível de alerta terrorista entre nós continua elevado – esta mesma Europa condena o seu aliado democrático e apoia, expressa ou implicitamente, os terroristas que tanto matam na Faixa de Gaza como matam em Paris, Barcelona, Munique ou Berlim.

Os interesses especiais, aliados aos partidos políticos esquerdistas e à comunicação social que lhes presta vassalagem, estão a tornar a Europa um espaço “terrorists friendly”.

Em próxima prosa, prosseguiremos a nossa análise sobre o preconceito anti-Israel e “terrorismo friendly” da nossa classe política do sistema socialista-comunista e dos média que a serve, focando-nos em específico no caso do Irão asfixiado pelo regime bárbaro dos Ayatollah – veremos, enfim, como a Europa trocou Valores (morais e éticos) por valores…monetários, pois claro.

Uma última nota, em tom positivo: apesar da desonestidade da elite política esquerdista e da sua propaganda, a verdade é que os laços entre os povos português e israelita são mais fortes do que nunca. Pense-se no voo directo entre Lisboa e Telavive que a TAP já anunciou e que começará a operar a partir de Abril.

Ou na empresa de Aveiro (só podia ser de Aveiro, sem desprimor para os restantes distritos de Portugal, de que muito gostamos; Aveiro, temos de deixar esta referência, é o melhor) – a OLI – que vai equipar estação de comboios de Telavive.

Ou na crescente interacção académica e cultural entre Portugal e Israel, cada vez mais visível. Ou seja: mesmo quando a elite inventa e deturpa, o povo não vai em cantigas. O povo escolhe bem os seus aliados.

(Algemeiner) Israel Slams The Guardian Over ‘Killing With Impunity’ Allegation

(Algemeiner)b

The Guardian newspaper’s London offices. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson slammed the British newspaper The Guardian on Wednesday over an editorial that accused the Jewish state of “killing with impunity” and “lying without consequence.”

In a tweet, Emmanuel Nahshon accused The Guardian — long known for its hostility toward Israel — of engaging in “typical cheap and false moralizing, deliberately ignoring the realities of Hamas terror from Gaza and Palestinian refusal to return to negotiations.”

“One can only assume that left wing antisemites in the UK will be very happy with this editorial,” he added. “Nasty hypocrisy.”View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Emmanuel Nahshon@EmmanuelNahshon

👎

.@guardian in typical cheap and false moralizing, deliberately ignoring the realities of #Hamas terror from #Gaza and Palestinian refusal to return to negotiations. One can only assume that left wing antisemites in the UK will be very happy with this editorial. Nasty hypocrisy 1416:53 AM – Jan 23, 201981 people are talking about this

(JTA) Israel takes 5th place in Bloomberg ranking of world’s most innovative nations

(JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel moved up to fifth place in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, an annual ranking of the world’s 60 most innovative countries.

The index, unveiled Tuesday, reviews dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.

Israel was ranked 10th in 2018. The United States finished eighth after being 11th last year.

South Korea led the index, followed by Germany, Finland and Switzerland.

Israel was ranked first in the R&D intensity category and fell to second place from first last year in research concentration.

(JTA) Portugal’s only rural Jewish community seeks a seat at the table

(JTA)

A view of Pelourinho Square in Belmonte, Portugal. (Filipe Rocha/Wikmedia Commons)ADVERTISEMENT

BELMONTE, Portugal (JTA) — To a casual observer, the weekend routines of the Jewish community of this placid town of about 6,000 in eastern Portugal are deceptively normal.

There are Shabbat services at the local synagogue on Friday night and Saturday morning, and receptions at the local Jewish museum. Once a year, a small Sunday kosher market is held by the approximately 70 members of its Jewish community of Belmonte — the only one in Portugal outside the larger cities of Lisbon and Porto.

But the community here is the only one on the Iberian Peninsula that has retained rituals and other quirky elements of its identity that date back to the Spanish Inquisition, thanks to the sacrifices and commitment of successive generations of crypto-Jews — Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity under the Inquisition but continued to practice Judaism in secret.

This year, the Jewish Community of Belmonte is for the first time seeking from the government equal status and access to funding as those enjoyed by Portugal’s two larger Jewish communities of Lisbon and Porto.

The post-Inquisition Jewish presence in Belmonte was first documented in 1917 by Samuel Schwarz, a Jewish engineer from Poland who was working at a nearby tin mine when he noticed peculiar habits of certain families in the town.

In a 1925 book titled “New Christians in Portugal in the 20th Century,” he chronicled how only three Jewish holidays were observed in Belmonte: Passover, the Fast of Esther — part of the Purim holiday — and Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, Jews would meet to play cards so as not to appear to be worshipping, and they’re still following the custom today.

Belmonte Jews browse the annual kosher market there, Oct. 14, 2018. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

Shabbat was regularly observed, featuring three daily prayers, Schwarz wrote. On that day, Belmonte’s crypto-Jews did not eat pork. Today, pork is off the menu for most Belmonte Jews, who eat mostly kosher food — some of it even locally produced, including two types of beer and several kinds of cheese.

The food is on display at the annual kosher market during the High Holidays period, where actors dressed in medieval costumes regale visitors with scenes from that period. Some of the enactments show Jews sobbing upon learning of the Inquisition’s arrival in Portugal and Jewish merchants haggling while peddling textiles. The members of the Jewish community don’t seem to mind the humorous approach, playing along with the acts.

“The story of Belmonte’s Jews is like something out of a fairy tale or science fiction series,” Eliyahu Birenboim, a former chief rabbi of Uruguay and the head of Israel’s Strauss-Amiel Rabbinical Seminary, wrote in a 2012 essay detailing his research of the place.

There are darker sides to the community’s strict adherence to centuries-old customs. It’s so old and tight knit that the inmarriage that helped sustain the community at one point has created endemic health problems to many of its members. Many community members suffer from night blindness, among other afflictions. One family has a gravely ill daughter due to genetic complications, said Elisha Salas, a Chile-born rabbi who led the Belmonte Jewish community for eight years before leaving for El Salvador in 2018.

This issue exposes Belmonte Jews to ridicule by some of their coreligionists from elsewhere in Portugal.

“They are all pretty much married to their cousin,” Salas said of his previous congregation.

Actors re-enact scenes from the Inquisition period outside Belmonte’s Jewish museum, Oct. 14, 2018. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

Then there are the normal challenges of life in a small and remote Jewish community. Belmonte’s rural area offers few employment opportunities, and there are only a handful of Jewish children there, raising concerns about the community’s long-term viability. Several dozen people have left for Israel in recent years.

Salas said the effects of this depletion has deepened the impact that old family feuds have on communal life.

“There are whole families who are not on speaking terms not because of something that went on recently,” but due to fights over unrequited marriage proposals from decades ago, he said.

The Jewish communities in Lisbon and Porto announced last year with a Chabad rabbi the formation of a national rabbinical council, omitting Belmonte. In fact, the community wasn’t even informed in advance of the council’s creation, Salas said.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Jaime Henrique Rodrigo, a Belmonte Jew. “Porto and Lisbon are trying to protect their monopoly. They don’t want us taking a seat at the table, so they try to exclude us.”

Belmonte also is not recognized by the state as qualified to vet citizenship applications by descendants of Sephardic Jews. (Portugal passed a law in 2015 that said it will aim to naturalize descendants of Sephardic Jews who can prove their heritage.) This owed to the fact that at the time of the law’s passage, the community had not yet been officially registered with the state for a required minimum period of 30 years. But the community will hit the mandated mark later this year.

It will be at the Justice Ministry’s discretion to recognize Belmonte as vetters once its application is complete; the application is in its early stages.

Rabbi Elisha Salas, wearing kippah, celebrates Tu b’Shvat with Belmonte Jews, Feb. 10, 2017. (Courtesy of Shavei Israel)

When asked, representatives from the communities in Lisbon and Porto would not explain why they excluded Belmonte from the rabbinical council.

Gabriel Szary Steinhardt, the president of the board of directors of the Jewish Community of Lisbon, said JTA’s questions on the matter “do not deserve any response at all.” Meanwhile, the Jewish Community of Porto accused a JTA reporter of working “for proselytizing organizations,” which it did not specify.

The vetting issue is more than about prestige. It has been an unexpected cash cow for the two larger communities, which charge hundreds of dollars for each application, of which there have been hundreds. Salas said the Jewish Community of Belmonte has hired a lawyer and is taking legal action to obtain recognition as a certified vetter.

The dispute underscores the historical differences between the community in Belmonte and those in Lisbon and Porto. While Belmonte Jews are the descendants of those who steadfastly stuck to tradition in secrecy, and against harsh odds, the two others are made up of a mix of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews who immigrated in or after the 19th century, and bnei anusim (or forced converts) who converted back to Judaism as individuals.

Despite the challenges, the Belmonte Jewish community may cheat death yet again, Salas suggested.

The Sephardic citizenship law is bringing dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of Jewish immigrants to Portugal, primarily from Latin America and Israel. At least three Jewish families have bought homes in Belmonte in recent years. There are also hopes that this trend will increase with the completion of the first train station here, connecting it with major cities.

And if Portugal allows Belmonte to vet citizenship applications, its Jewish community would come by a substantial source of income for communal activities and institutions, such as a school, which the community does not have.

“It could go either way for Belmonte’s Jewish community,” Salas said. “But if there’s one thing we do know, it’s that it has a pretty good track record of surviving.”