Category Archives: Israel

(Algemeiner) Act Against ‘Any Whiff’ of Resurgent Antisemitism, Pope Says

(Algemeiner)

Pope Francis on Jan. 8, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Medichini / Pool.

Pope Francis paid tribute on Sunday to Jews killed by the Nazis and victims of murder and deportation by the Soviet KGB, in twin visits to memorials marking the darkest periods of Lithuania’s history.

On the 75th anniversary of the wartime liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto, Francis stopped to pray at a simple stone monument commemorating the 200,000 Lithuanian Jews killed either in the country or in Nazi concentration camps in Europe.

Minutes later, he paid an emotional visit to the nearby Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, a former KGB basement jail where Lithuanians who were considered enemies of the Soviet Union were either executed or tortured before being sent to labor camps in Siberia.

A somber-looking Francis prayed and lit a candle in a room whose walls were lined with pictures of Catholic priests and bishops either killed or tortured in the jail.

UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed Britain’s former chief rabbi on Sunday, calling his comments on Labour’s and his…

He then entered the execution chamber where, according to the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre, more than 1,000 people were killed during the Soviet period. In at least one case, nearly 50 were killed in just one night.

“Your cry, O Lord, is echoed in the cry of the innocent who, in union with you, cry out to heaven,” Francis said in a prayer to a crowd outside that included several survivors in their 90s.

The jail, Francis said, evoked the “sorrow and bitterness, of abandonment and powerlessness, of cruelty and meaninglessness” that Lithuanians suffered “as a result of the unrestrained ambition that hardens and blinds the heart.”

After Lithuania broke from the Soviet Union in 1991, the remains of nearly 800 people executed in the jail were found in a mass grave in Vilnius.

“This was our nation’s Golgotha, a trial of our faith,” Bishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, 79, who was imprisoned there in 1983 before spending six years in Soviet labor camps and who accompanied the pope to the jail, told Reuters before the visit.

About 70,000 Lithuanians died at the hands of Soviets.

On Sunday morning in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, Francis said society should be vigilant for “any whiff” of resurgent antiSemitism, calling for new generations to be taught the horrors of the Holocaust.

“The Jewish people suffered insults and cruel punishments,” Francis told a crowd of about 100,000 at an open-air Mass.

“Let us … ask the Lord to give us the gift of discernment to detect in time any seed of that pernicious attitude, any whiff of it that can taint the heart of generations that did not experience those times,” he said.

Reports of anti-Semitic acts have increased in Europe, coinciding with the rise of populist, right-wing parties in a number of countries.

(Mosaic) Searching for the Traces of Judaism in Portugal

(Mosaic) In the late 14th century, as the persecution of Spanish Jews by their Christian rulers grew more severe, many fled to nearby Portugal. Many more would arrive after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492; only a few years later, however, the Portuguese monarchy forcibly converted its own Jewish population. As a result, crypto-Judaism persisted in Portugal much longer than it did in Spain. The historian Henry Abramson describes several weeks spent in Portugal on a tour of Jewish sites, and tells the story of the country’s Jews;

Portugal boasts an ancient Jewish settlement that reached a population of some 30,000 by the end of the 15th century. Perched on the edge of the Iberian peninsula, Portugal earned a reputation for tolerance that had long attracted Jews fleeing Spanish oppression, including [the 15th-century rabbi and diplomat] Don Isaac Abravanel’s grandfather Samuel, who fled the 1391 riots and forced baptisms [in Spain] to reclaim his Jewish faith in Portugal. . . .

In a break with Portugal’s history of relative religious tolerance, King João II initially refused to admit the estimated 100,000 Jewish refugees massing at his borders [in 1492]. Intensive petitioning finally moved the king to grant a six-month transit visa to 600 prominent families, at the exorbitant price of six cruzados per person (approximately $20,000 in contemporary currency). Despairing, many Jews chose to turn back, accept Christianity, and risk the depredations of the Inquisition. Others entered Portugal illegally, hoping to blend into the local population.

Both João and his successor Manuel I imposed harsh anti-Semitic decrees aimed at forcing the Jews to accept baptism, including the kidnapping of Jewish children and exiling them to São Tomé, a recently acquired island off the coast of west Africa; according to the historian Samuel Usque, himself a Jewish refugee from Portuguese persecution, nearly 2,000 of the 2,500 children abandoned on São Tomé died there, perhaps eaten by huge indigenous lizards. By 1497, the Portuguese persecution reached its nadir with the mass conversion of all remaining Jews, both Portuguese [natives] and Spanish refugees, such that the entire Iberian Peninsula was rendered [officially] Judenrein: free of Jews.

Amazingly, [these Jews] persisted. Traces of crypto-Jewish activity over the following centuries are recorded in Inquisition trial records and memoirs of those who managed to emigrate to safe havens like Amsterdam. [S]ecret traditions continued through the centuries, right up to the 20th century, when a Polish Jewish civil engineer named Samuel Schwarz . . . heard rumors of a Portuguese community that practiced Judaism in a tiny village called Belmonte. . . . Schwarz reported that the Belmonte conversos were skeptical that he was even Jewish. Only when he recited the familiar words of the Sh’ma prayer did they accept the fact that the Inquisition had not reached every living Jew.

(EXP) Entrevista: “O antissemitismo é um ingrediente da cultura ocidental” – Raphael Gamzou

(EXP) Raphael Gamzou, embaixador de Israel em Portugal: “O antissemitismo é um ingrediente da cultura ocidental”

ENTREVISTA

Raphael Gamzou, embaixador de Israel em Portugal

“O antissemitismo é um ingrediente da cultura ocidental”

Celebrando as semelhanças entre portugueses e israelitas, que deteta inclusive na fisionomia, o representante em Portugal do Estado hebraico queixa-se de tentativas de boicote no nosso país

O que é que atrai os israelitas em Portugal?

Culturalmente é um país fascinante, com muito para ver. Os meus familiares e amigos que cá vêm notam que cidades como Lisboa ou Porto, sendo grandes, não têm a tensão e o stresse que se encontra nas metrópoles, mesmo europeias. Aqui sentem-se relaxados. A cidade é grande, mas relaxante. As pessoas são fantásticas e não há agressividade nas ruas, o que é muito importante.

Os números do turismo têm crescido?

No verão passado visitaram Portugal cerca de 130 mil israelitas. É muito, para um país minúsculo como o nosso. Há dias em que aterram quatro ou cinco aviões de companhias israelitas em Lisboa e mais dois no Porto. No final de outubro teremos o primeiro voo direto regular da [linha aérea israelita] El Al em muitos anos, duas vezes por semana. Havia um voo direto do aeroporto Ben-Gurion, em Telavive, mas foi interrompido, creio que em 2000. Isto também é muito importante para o mundo empresarial. E a TAP, que já tem voos em code-share com a El Al, também pondera lançar o seu próprio voo.

As previsões são, então, de interação crescente entre portugueses e israelitas.

Há muitas semelhanças entre nós, de comportamento e mentalidade, pelo que os israelitas se sentem facilmente em casa em Portugal. O meu amigo e colega Miguel Almeida de Sousa, até há um ano embaixador em Israel e hoje em Dublin, dizia que ao andar pelas ruas de Telavive se esquecia de que era estrangeiro. Até na fisionomia das pessoas, na forma de vestir, e já nem entro naquela ideia de que todos os portugueses têm algum ADN judeu! Ainda este fim de semana estive no Porto e em Guimarães, onde a israelita Dvora Morag era artista convidada numa bienal de arte. E a caminho de Serralves vi uma rapariga com dois filhos e disse à minha mulher: “Passava bem por israelita!”. A Dora diz que em Bragança, onde esteve o ano passado, ainda é mais assim.

Essa identificação tão intensa é surpreendente.

Senti o mesmo recentemente, da primeira vez que fui a um concerto na Gulbenkian. O auditório estava cheio mas não havia show-off na atitude nem nas roupas, as pessoas estavam lá mesmo para ouvir a música. Também é assim em Israel. Quando fui nomeado recebi imensos telefonemas de amigos próximos, e não só, a celebrar o facto de vir para um país tão bom. É engraçado que nós, israelitas, raramente estamos de acordo. Discutimos por tudo e por nada. Mas em relação a Portugal há um consenso.

Contribui para isso o facto de não haver em Portugal o antissemitismo que se vê noutros países europeus?

A Universidade de Lisboa realizou, em junho, uma conferência sobre a história dos judeus em Portugal, com professores portugueses e israelitas, americanos, alemães, holandeses… alguns deles usavam quipá [barrete judaico]. E eu disse-lhes que em Lisboa ou no Porto um judeu pode andar de quipá na rua sem preocupações, o que infelizmente já não sucede na maioria das grandes cidades europeias.

Encontrou no nosso país manifestações do movimento BDS (boicote, desinvestimento, sanções) contra Israel?

Sim, mas de pequena dimensão e, felizmente, sem êxito. Dois exemplos: no início do ano abrimos uma exposição de arte do Museu de Israel no museu Berardo, fruto de uma maravilhosa colaboração entre as instituições. Logo surgiu um movimento de solidariedade com a Palestina a escrever cartas ao museu Berardo a acusar o Museu de Israel de ter sido construído em solo palestiniano. E quando fizemos, em junho, um concerto de angariação de fundos para as vítimas dos incêndios de 2017, pedi apoio à Câmara de Cascais, que também foi alvo de protestos. Mas fizémo-lo à mesma, com o cantor israelita David d’Or, na presença do Presidente da República portuguesa, e foi uma noite muito bonita. A rede internacional do BDS, a pretexto de pressionar Israel no tocante aos territórios, pretende na verdade demonizar e deslegitimar o país.

A que motivos atribui o reforço do antissemitismo na Europa? Há casos de judeus nados e criados em países europeus que optam por se mudar para Israel.

Creio que o antissemitismo, tristemente — e de forma consciente ou não — é um ingrediente da cultura ocidental. Está lá, é atávico, desde que os judeus foram acusados da morte de Cristo. Depois, tornou-se oficial até ao Concílio Vaticano II. Era o que toda a gente ouvia na missa ao domingo. Nas fachadas de importantes igrejas e capitais vemos estátuas de duas memórias. Uma, Sinagoga, representa o Velho Testamento. É representada vendada, pois não vê a Verdade. A outra mulher, Eclésia, representa o Novo Testamento e tem os olhos descobertos. Isto é algo tão enraizado que mesmo entre judeus vemos, por vezes, comportamentos antissemitas, de um certo ódio por si mesmos.

Esse antissemitismo é, não raro, inconsciente, o que não o torna menos grave.

Claro, muita gente não sabe que é antissemita, mas depois diz coisas como “Vocês, judeus, têm imenso dinheiro!” Está sempre ligado ao mito de que os judeus eram ricos, por estarem associados ao dinheiro, aos empréstimos, na Europa de antes do Holocausto. Ora, sempre houve Rothschilds, mas houve pobreza terrível e miséria em muitos bairros judeus. Trabalhavam com dinheiro porque muitas outras profissões lhes estavam barradas e porque a igreja católica proibia os seus fiéis de trabalhar com dinheiro.

Já sentiu o antissemitismo na pele?

Quando era mais novo, mais magro e mais bonito, tive uma namorada australiana, filha de imigrantes jugoslavos, que achava que o antissemitismo era coisa do passado. Mas depois reagiu muito mal quando eu lhe disse, a meio de um passeio romântico pela Piazza Navona, em Roma, que com o apelido Kosovič podia passar por judia! Acabou por me pedir desculpa. E recordou que na escola que frequentara, se um miúdo pedisse dinheiro emprestado a outro, este respondia-lhe “não sejas judeu”. E nem um nem outro sabiam, sequer, o que vinha a ser um judeu.

Em Portugal também se diz “não sejas somítico” ou “não faças judiarias”.

É algo arraigado, mas reforçado nos últimos tempos pelo fundamentalismo islâmico. As grandes vagas de migração muçulmana para a Europa criam coligações desafortunadas entre a extrema-esquerda e o Islão radical. Misturam o ódio aos judeus com as críticas ao Estado de Israel e com isso legitimam atos como o do muçulmano que entrou em casa de uma senhora de idade judia em Paris para a assassinar.

A extrema-direita também é antissemita.

Claro! Sempre tendeu a odiar as minorias. Agora foca-se nos migrantes islâmicos, mas eu aconselho sempre os judeus a desconfiarem de quem hoje os trata bem enquanto dedica racismo aos muçulmanos. Um racista é sempre um racista e parte da extrema-direita é-o declaradamente. A questão é mais complexa com a extrema-esquerda porque esta não é consciente do seu ódio visceral e patológico a Israel.

Não há atos do Governo israelita que reforcem essa confusão entre Estado e povo?

Represento um país que é não só uma democracia, como uma democracia selvagem. Temos uma imprensa muito agressiva. Por exemplo, o jornal “Há’aretz” é sempre muito crítico do Governo, seja qual for a sua cor política. Até a televisão estatal chega a enfurecer [o primeiro-ministro] Benjamin Netanyahu. A opinião pública israelita não é homogénea e há críticas justas a fazer. O antigo secretário de Estado americano Henry Kissinger dizia que Israel não tem política externa, só interna. Temos sempre governos de coligação cuja sobrevivência depende de manobras. Enquanto que em Portugal só o ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros fala de política externa, e ainda bem, em Israel é um caos: o ministro da Saúde ou da Educação fazem declarações para satisfazer os respetivos eleitorados. Digo sempre que o principal desporto israelita é o debate.

Então o problema de Netanyahu são os parceiros de Governo?

Ou a ignorância sobre eles. Ouço dizer “os judeus ultraortodoxos são de extrema-direita”. Não é verdade, ainda que sejam conservadores! Aliaram-se a Netanyahu por motivos pragmáticos: querem dinheiro para as suas escolas religiosas, querem continuar isentos do serviço militar, mas em relação aos territórios palestinianos são menos assertivos. Podiam aliar-se aos trabalhistas se estes tivessem vencido as eleições. E até há um partido não-ortodoxo, a Casa Judaica, que é bem mais nacionalista.

O que está a dizer é que o seu país tem mais matizes do que se possa crer?

Deve saber que Israel não tem uma Constituição, apenas Leis Básicas. Uma delas, muito importante, diz respeito à dignidade e liberdade dos cidadãos. É muito progressiva, garante liberdade plena de expressão, trabalho, e em todos os aspetos, a toda a população de Israel. Recordo que temos um importante partido árabe no Parlamento, e além disso há deputados árabes em todos os partidos, trabalhistas, do Likud [direita, no poder], até no partido de Avigdor Lieberman [Yisrael Beiteinu, nacionalista, liderado pelo ministro da Defesa]. Mas no partido Lista Conjunta [árabe], que tem 12 deputados, muitos são extremistas e, apesar de jurarem lealdade ao Estado quando tomam posse, têm discursos que vão para lá de críticas ao Governo e mostram que o seu desejo é ver Israel desaparecer enquanto Estado judaico. Não me refiro a um Estado teocrático, sou um judeu secular e isso era a última coisa que queria. Mas esses deputados fazem muito mail às relações entre judeus e árabes no meu país. Dito isto, penso que a maioria dos árabes israelitas são cidadãos leais.

Isso devia ajudar a alcançar a paz…

O facto de os dirigentes palestinianos se recusarem a reconhecer Israel como Estado legítimo do povo judeu inculca nos israelitas a ideia de que o que os palestinianos desejam é a via do salame, plasmada nas suas escrituras. Quando no partido Fatah [do presidente palestiniano Mahmud Abbas] se começou a debater o diálogo com Israel, houve um dirigente muito moderado, Issam Sartawi, que foi o primeiro a defender as negociações com Israel. Veio a ser assassinado em Portugal, onde viera a uma reunião da Internacional Socialista. Os debates entre dirigentes palestinianos vão sempre dar à tal via do salame ou teoria das fases. Para justificar uma abordagem pragmática às negociações, não defendem mudanças profundas mas a ideia de que toda e qualquer porção de território que consigam obter é valiosa, fatia a fatia. Não porque exista uma mudança de corpo e alma. Esperam que com o tempo a demografia os torne maioritários e Israel desapareça.

A eterna disputa pela Terra Santa.

Foram os judeus que fizeram de Israel a Terra Santa. Só depois se tornou santa para os cristãos e, em seguida, para os muçulmanos. Somos nós os fundadores da terra e de Jerusalém. Mesmo depois de expulsos pelos romanos, quando estavam na Europa e até aqui, na Península Ibérica, asquenazes e sefarditas — e eu descendo de uns e de outros — rezavam voltados para Jerusalém. Mais nenhuma religião o faz! Os muçulmanos rezam virados para Meca. E nós até mencionamos Jerusalém nas nossas orações. Nos casamentos judaicos, partimos copos em memória da destruição do Templo, para que a nova família que nasce seja a sua reconstrução. No jantar da Páscoa, que foi o da última ceia de Cristo, lemos a Hagadá [texto sagrado pascal] e acabamos com “para o ano, em Jerusalém”. Logo, ao longo de 2000 anos, é claro que é a nossa terra. Quando os guarda-costas portugueses me perguntam se nós conquistámos a Palestina, digo-lhes que não. Nunca houve um Estado palestiniano e nós até fomos os primeiros a oferecer um Estado aos palestinianos. Mais pequeno do que sonhavam, é certo, mas Israel também é mais pequeno do que era a Palestina, mesmo durante o mandato britânico. Palestina é um termo inventado pelos romanos que junta os filisteus, o povo helénico a que pertencia o gigante Golias, e a palavra hebraica palash, que significa “invadir”.

Como descendente de sefarditas, talvez tenha direito à nacionalidade portuguesa.

Tenho tudo planeado. Quando me reformar peço a nacionalidade portuguesa e candidato-me a vosso embaixador em Israel [risos]!

Como antigo jornalista freelancer, que título daria à história de Israel?

“Um milagre que devia inspirar muitos outros.”

(Algemeiner) Poll: Nearly 40% of UK Jews Would ‘Seriously Consider Emigrating’ If Corbyn Becomes PM

(Algemeiner)

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters / Pierre Albouy.

Nearly 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister, according to a poll published by The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday.

Labour has been roiled by a series of antisemitism scandals since the far-left Corbyn took control of the party in 2015.

Jonathan Goldstein — the chair of the Jewish Leadership Council — was quoted as saying of the poll:

“As someone who has always been a proud British Jew, it saddens me that almost 40% of our community would consider emigrating if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister. This is deeply worrying.

“Our community is open, confident and proud of our traditions, while at the same time also being proud how we are integrated across society and public life. The current difficulties with the Labour leadership serve as a sharp reminder that our values and our people have often needed defending.

“The Jewish Leadership Council and its members will always work to ensure that our community is protected and secure both physically and otherwise.

“Ultimately, we must also remind everyone that antisemitism is the world’s most reliable early warning sign of a major threat to freedom. If members of our community would even consider leaving Britain because they feel threatened by the prospect of our potential next prime minister, this should worry everyone.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May — the head of the Conservative Party — said during Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons on Wednesday, “Jewish people living in this country should feel safe and secure — and not have to worry about their futures in their own country.”

Also on Wednesday, Dave Rich — the head of the Community Security Trust (CST) ––told a parliamentary committee that a recent surge of antisemitic incidents in the UK was linked to the Labour situation.

“Over the last two years we have seen a much closer correlation between events in the Labour Party and our antisemitic incidents statistics than any other single factor,” he said, according to a Daily Mail report.

(PUB) O edifício do Rato e a sinagoga – Esther Mucznik

(PUB) A história não volta atrás, mas pode-se evitar que o imóvel previsto para o Largo do Rato venha, em democracia, completar a obra de ocultação de uma época há muito terminada.

No seu artigo de 31 de Agosto, a jornalista Bárbara Reis começa por questionar as expressões pejorativas utilizadas para qualificar o projecto para o Largo do Rato, contestando os argumentos de origem estética e arquitectónica apresentados para o denegrir.

Nesse ponto concordo com ela, porque sei bem que quando se quer deitar abaixo uma obra é frequente falsificar as características da mesma, exagerando a sua dimensão, os materiais e outras.

Também não sou jurista e não sei se o projecto viola ou não os princípios constitucionais da “igualdade e da liberdade religiosa” que terá invocado o Ministério Público para embargar a obra.

O que sei é que o Ministério Público tem razão em dizer que o edifício do Rato “acentuará de modo especialmente gravoso o enclausuramento da sinagoga, escondendo-a e afastando-a ainda mais da cidade e dos cidadãos” e que é falso afirmar como a autora o faz que de qualquer modo a comunidade judaica “nunca mostrou o mínimo interesse em abrir-se à cidade”.

Bárbara Reis sabe certamente que a construção da sinagoga de Lisboa, inaugurada numa época em que ainda vigorava a Constituição de 1826, teve de se conformar com a obrigação expressa no seu artigo 6.º: “A Religião Católica Apostólica Romana continuará a ser a Religião do Reino. Todas as outras Religiões serão permitidas aos Estrangeiros com o seu culto doméstico, ou particular, em casas para isso destinadas, sem forma alguma exterior de Templo”. Inaugurada em 1904, antes da instauração da República, segundo um projecto do arquitecto Ventura Terra, a sinagoga foi em consequência construída dentro de um quintal muralhado sem fachada para a rua. Para a Comunidade Israelita de Lisboa e respectiva sinagoga, a República ou dito de outro modo a separação Estado/Religião veio demasiado tarde…

Mas isso não impede hoje a Comunidade de procurar abrir-se à cidade: todos os dias durante o ano lectivo, escolas de todo o país fazem visitas de estudo à sinagoga; todos os dias grupos de turistas e visitantes, judeus ou não, visitam a sinagoga; os seus cursos de hebraico e história judaica estão abertos e são frequentados por judeus e não judeus, tal como as conferências, concertos ou efemérides diversas.

No entanto, tal como outros templos de outras religiões, a sinagoga não é um lugar público, é um espaço privado no qual as visitas são feitas por marcação por razões de organização e por razões de segurança. Interpretar este facto como “desinteresse em abrir-se à cidade”, é alhear-se por completo da realidade europeia e confundir dois conceitos completamente distintos: visibilidade e segurança. Quem quiser visitar uma sinagoga em França, Bélgica, Roma, ou Berlim poderá constatar que grande parte dessas sinagogas são visíveis da rua, com fachadas por vezes imponentes viradas para a calçada. A sua construção terá sido possível dessa forma, tal como a sinagoga do Porto inaugurada em 1938 ou a de Belmonte em 1996. Mas o mesmo visitante será confrontado nomeadamente nas sinagogas dos países europeus acima mencionados (e outros) com uma barreira de segurança extremamente rígida. Será necessário explicar porquê?

Em síntese, a ser construído o imóvel previsto para o Largo do Rato, a Sinagoga de Lisboa ficaria de facto penalizada duplamente: em primeiro lugar sem a reduzida visibilidade que ainda disfruta a partir do Largo, mas ficaria também privada de luz, enclausurada num espaço escondido lembrando os priores momentos dos “guetos” medievais.

A história não volta atrás, mas pode-se evitar que o imóvel previsto para o Largo do Rato venha, em democracia, completar a obra de ocultação de uma época há muito terminada.

(JerusalemPost) AMOS GITAI TO DIRECT FILM ON 16TH-CENTURY JEWISH HEROINE

(JerusalemPostAt Venice Film Festival, director says the Israeli gov’t is working ‘to destroy the very idea of an open society.’

Filmmaker Amos Gitai

Filmmaker Amos Gitai. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

Famed Israeli director Amos Gitai’s next project will be a period drama about Doña Gracia Mendes Nasi, the wealthy Jewish woman who helped smuggle Conversos out of Spain in the 16th century.

According to an exclusive report in Variety, Gitai will be directing Doña Gracia, a project he has been developing for several years along with Marie José Sanselme. The film will begin shooting next year in Europe and Israel, said the report.

Nasi “was among the most formidable figures of the Sephardi world in the 16th century,” according to the Jewish Women’s Archive. Born in Portugal in 1510 to Jewish parents who had fled Spain, she later moved to Antwerp, and then Italy amid the persecution of the Portuguese Inquisition. In Ferrara, Italy, Nasi was able to openly practice Judaism for the first time, and became a well-known benefactor of Jewish life in the city. She also continued her work in aiding “fugitives from the Iberian Peninsula, providing relief to Jewish captives and Jews in distress elsewhere, and supporting rabbinic scholars, hospitals, and synagogues throughout the Ottoman Empire,” said JWA. Later, while living in Constantinople, Nasi organized a boycott of the port of Ancona to protest the city’s persecution of Jews.

Gitai is attending the Venice Film Festival this week where two of his latest works – A Tramway in Jerusalem and A Letter to a Friend in Gaza – are being screened. In an interview this week on the sidelines of the festival, Gitai slammed the current Israeli government and Culture Minister Miri Regev.

“[Regev] wants to censor everything that moves,” the director told ScreenDaily.com. “We have a culture minister who wants to constrain and to dominate the industry… We have to be semi-underground to not be confronted by the government pressure. I think it’s even stronger on young filmmakers. It makes some of them move to much more conformist works and I think that’s a pity.”

According to an AFP report on Monday, Gitai told reporters that Israel is heading in the wrong direction and that “the government can destroy the very idea of an open society.” The director slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for welcoming Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to Israel with open arms.

“You see Netanyahu shaking hands with the worst antisemitic leaders in Europe and at the same time he allows shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza,” Gitai said. “He only believes in physical force. This is very un-Jewish so it needs to be criticized.”

(JerusalemPost) ANALYSIS: IDF’S NEW MISSILE CORPS WILL REVOLUTIONIZE HOW ISRAEL WAGES WAR

(JerusalemPostYears from now, it will also likely be looked at as one of the most significant decisions Avigdor Liberman will have made as Israel’s defense minister.

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires during a combined forces drill in Shizafon military base

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires during a combined forces drill in Shizafon military base, near Eilat in southern Israel June 7, 2016. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The idea has long been in the works, but the Defense Ministry’s decision on Monday to finally purchase new precision ground-to-ground rockets for the Ground Forces is nothing short of a revolution. Years from now, it will also likely be looked at as one of the most significant decisions Avigdor Liberman will have made as Israel’s defense minister.

The idea to establish a “Missile Corps” has been floating around for years in Defense Ministry corridors but has traditionally run up against opposition from the air force. The thinking was simple: Proponents believed it was important to diversify Israel’s offensive capabilities, while opponents feared budgets would be taken away from the IAF, which until now has had a monopoly on Israel’s sole long-range offensive strike capability.

For years, the IAF lobby succeeded in warding off the corps’ establishment – until now. While the idea might seem new, Liberman has been pushing it for about 15 years, ever since he was a junior Knesset member.

At the time, though, the technology was not yet ripe and he was not in a position to implement the idea. Now he can.

The changes are both in the technology and in the threats Israel faces on the battlefield. Technologically, Israeli companies like Israel Military Industries manufacture rockets today that are guided by GPS and have the ability to strike their targets with unprecedented precision in all weather conditions – sun, rain or fog.

The rockets have various ranges of between 30 and 150 kilometers.

The need for such rockets stems from changes on the battlefield. The IDF today faces enemies that are fast and slippery. Hamas and Hezbollah don’t operate out of identifiable military bases, but rather move between homes, schools and hospitals through underground passageways.

The IDF not only needs to be quick when engaging the enemy but, due to the civilian environment, it also needs to be accurate. Firing 170,000 artillery shells like it did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 won’t have much of an effect in a future war with Hezbollah. They need to be accurate.

While the IAF has long objected to the establishment of the missile corps – it will cost about NIS 500 million of initial investment – the procurement of the rockets will actually benefit the air force by freeing it up to focus on strategic missions.

Coordinating missions, as is done today between the infantry corps and the IAF, is a complicated and long process. In times of war it goes faster but is still not immediate. Having a rocket capability attached to ground forces gives infantry commanders the independence to take out targets faster than in the past. Considering how Hezbollah and Hamas operate, this is a huge advantage.

All of this is made possible by the dramatic upgrade to IDF communication networks, particularly integration of the Tzayad battle management system, which enables all IDF units to see one another on digital maps and then to identify the position of enemy forces by simply hitting their location on the screen.

It will take some time before we see these rockets in action, but one thing can be said about Liberman’s decision: Israel is once again revolutionizing modern warfare.

(Algemeiner) Antisemitism in France Has Moved ‘From Streets Into Homes,’ Says Head of French Jewish Community

(Algemeiner)

CRIF President Francis Kalifat (center), Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen (second left) and philosopher and human rights advocate Bernard-Henri Lévy (far right) were among those leading the March 2018 rally in Paris for murdered Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. Photo: Reuters / Gonzalo Fuentes.

Antisemitism in France has moved “from the streets directly into the homes of Jewish people,” the head of the country’s 465,000-strong Jewish community told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

“The Jews in France feel threatened in their own homes,” Francis Kalifat — president of CRIF, the French Jewish communal body — said during a discussion of the antisemitism that has resulted in several deaths and injuries among French Jews over the past decade.

Kalifat underlined that “what used to be attacks on buildings, or insults thrown in the street, has evolved into the most violent acts.”

In the last eighteen months, two elderly Jewish widows in Paris — Sarah Halimi in April 2017 and Mireille Knoll in March 2018 — have been murdered in brutal antisemitic assaults, while several incidents of violent raids on Jewish homes involving gangs of mainly Muslim youths have also been reported.

Sadly, as Kalifat acknowledged, the problem is not new — though the pattern of Jewish response is changing.

Following what Kalifat called “the paroxysm” of antisemitic violence in 2012-13 — a year that witnessed the murders of a rabbi and three young children during a terrorist attack at a Jewish school in Toulouse — French aliyah to Israel climbed precipitously, with 8,000 Jews emigrating to Israel in 2015 alone. That trend has now slowed, Kalifat said, overshadowed by what some call an “internal aliyah.”

“We’re seeing a new phenomenon whereby Jews are leaving the neighborhoods where they were born and raised,” Kalifat said. “It’s happening in Paris, in Marseille, in Lyon, in Toulouse and in other cities. They are moving into neighborhoods that are more Jewish.”

This movement of population was the consequence of “day-to-day antisemitism,” Kalifat explained. “It’s not necessarily related to violence, often it’s more low level — for example mezuzot being ripped from the doorposts, hostile looks in the street, graffiti on the walls.”

The wider political environment in France isn’t necessarily more comforting. Kalifat pointed out that France has both a powerful extreme right, led by Marine Le Pen of the Front National (FN), and a powerful extreme left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of a bloc of left-wing parties known as La France Insoumise.

“We reject both, because we believe that both of them are participating in the rise of antisemitism in France,” Kalifat remarked. “On the extreme right, we are talking about old-fashioned antisemitism, very often masked by positive comments about the State of Israel. On the extreme left, the antisemitism is masked by a very violent anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel, and there is strong support for the BDS movement.”

Kalifat continued: “We refuse to have relationships with these groups, because they are fueling antisemitism in our country.”

On the other hand, current President Emmanuel Macron — the victor in the bitterly-fought presidential election of April 2017 — does inspire confidence among Jews. “This president is very conscious of what Jews have brought to France and French culture,” Kalifat said.

“Macron, like former Presidents [Francois] Hollande and [Nicolas] Sarkozy, is very serious about fighting antisemitism and is willing to use the available means to do so,” Kalifat stated. All three administrations were distinguished by their support for their Jewish community in the face of indifference to antisemitism among the wider population, he added.

For now, French Jews are anxiously awaiting the next development in the investigation into the murder of Sarah Halimi. Having believed that Halimi’s killer, Kobili Traore, would be standing trial despite the efforts of his lawyers to have the case dismissed on the grounds of alleged mental illness, the community received a shock in July. A new assessment of Traore’s mental health commissioned by the investigating judge concluded that he lacked the mental awareness required for a charge of intentional homicide aggravated by antisemitic prejudice.

The panel’s finding flatly contradicted the conclusion of a previous expert, Dr. Daniel Zagury, who examined Traore in September 2017. As The Algemeiner reported at the time, Zagury deemed that Traore’s brutal assault on Halimi — which culminated in her being thrown to her death from a third-floor window — was both “antisemitic” and a “delirious act” influenced by the assailant’s heavy consumption of marijuana. However, Zagury was clear that Traore was not sufficiently intoxicated at the time of the attack to be absolved of criminal responsibility — a key demand of Traore’s lawyers.

“I can’t explain why the judge ordered a second expert assessment, and their conclusion is totally incomprehensible to us,” Kalifat said. “We have many reasons to believe that this was an antisemitic attack. He [Traore] chanted verses from the Quran as he was torturing Halimi, he shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar!’ when he threw her from the window.”

Kalifat said that a third assessment into Traore’s mental state had now been ordered, with a report expected later this year.

“We hope that at the end of the day, the killer will be held responsible,” Kalifat said.

He expressed the same hope with the more recent murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll, whose assailants were reported by police to have talked about”rich Jews” prior to their frenzied assault.

Criminal trials in both the Halimi and Knoll cases would serve a dual purpose, Kalifat argued.

“On trial would be the killers themselves, alongside the system that enables antisemitism to kill in this country,” he said.

(Times) How antisemitism in Britain is rooted in the Second World War

(Times) Archive papers released to The Times show that Churchill’s bastion of propaganda and censorship allowed prejudice towards Jews to grow relentlessly. Dominic Kennedy reports

Sir Oswald Mosley leading his British Union of Fascists
Sir Oswald Mosley leading his British Union of FascistsTHOMSON NEWSPAPERS

That enduring motto of British stoicism, “Keep calm and carry on”, was coined by Winston Churchill’s Ministry of Information.

The morale-boosting message has been revived on mugs, posters and teatowels as a cheerfully ironic invocation of the wartime spirit that defeated the Nazis.

Yet archive papers released to The Times show that Churchill’s bastion of propaganda and censorship harboured one of the most disturbing secrets of the Second World War: throughout the struggle against Hitler, British prejudice towards Jews grew relentlessly.

The discovery will revive nagging doubts about whether, had the Nazis invaded, Britons would have betrayed or rescued their Jewish neighbours.

A long withheld file, called Antisemitism in Great Britain and disclosed by the National Archives, shows that officials confronted by reports of rising prejudice decided that Jews themselves were to blame.

“A considerable increase in antisemitic feeling”
The ultimate consequences of antisemitism on the continent were revealed as British soldiers liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
The ultimate consequences of antisemitism on the continent were revealed as British soldiers liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration campGETTY IMAGES

On May 26, 1943, Cyril Radcliffe, the ministry’s director-general, gathered his regional information officers to brief him. Mr Radcliffe wrote to his minister that the only regions untroubled by antisemitism were northeastern England and Northern Ireland.

“All the others showed general agreement on the fact that from the beginning of the war there had been a considerable increase in antisemitic feeling,” Mr Radcliffe wrote. “They seemed to regard it as quite beyond argument that the increase of antisemitic feeling was caused by serious errors of conduct on the part of Jews . . .

“This view held true both of officers dealing with industrial centres and those dealing with rural areas; it held true of officers coming from old-established Jewish centres, such as Manchester and Leeds, and officers coming from areas which had known the Jews mainly as war-time evacuees from the cities.

Cyril Radcliffe memo to the Minister of Information
Cyril Radcliffe memo to the Minister of InformationNATIONAL ARCHIVES

“The main heads of complaint against them were undoubtedly an inordinate attention to the possibilities of the ‘black market’ and a lack of pleasant standards of conduct as evacuees.

“I reminded them that it was part of the tragedy of the Jewish position that their peculiar qualities that one could well admire in easier times of peace, such as their commercial initiative and drive and their determination to preserve themselves as an independent community in the midst of the nations they lived in, were just the things that told against them in wartime when a nation dislikes the struggle for individual advantages and feels the need for homogeneity above everything else.

“I thought that our main contribution from headquarters would be to try to keep before people’s minds the recollection that antisemitism was peculiarly the badge of the Nazi.”

The tensions around evacuation have long been forgotten but they were noted by Tony Kushner, professor of Jewish/non-Jewish relations at the University of Southampton, in his 1989 study The Persistence of Prejudice. His book estimated that about half those fleeing the East End of London were Jews. Among prejudiced comments from provincials were that Jewish evacuees had “extraordinary bad manners — noisy, aggressive, loud and tactless”.

Women and children taking cover in Bethnal Green air raid shelter, scene of the war’s worst civilian tragedy
Women and children taking cover in Bethnal Green air raid shelter, scene of the war’s worst civilian tragedyREX FEATURES

The worst civilian disaster of the war unleashed a wave of antisemitism. In March 1943, 173 people were killed in a stampede at the Bethnal Green bomb shelter in east London. The public blamed panicking Jews, although when the bodies were identified only five Jewish people were among the victims. An inquiry found the slur to be baseless.

The conclusion of Cyril Radcliffe’s memo to the Minister of Information
The conclusion of Cyril Radcliffe’s memo to the Minister of InformationNATIONAL ARCHIVES

Mr Radcliffe wrote: “If specific stories hostile to the Jews could be traced and pinned down as untruths, such as the recent canard of the Jews being responsible for the London shelter disaster, this should be done by countering it with the individuals who were putting it about, not by giving it general publicity.”

After the war, Mr Radcliffe drew the “bloody line” that partitioned India from Pakistan. He was knighted and became a law lord.

As Mr Radcliffe’s minute was being typed, in Amsterdam the Nazis began to round up Jews for the death camps. Anne Frank, still 13 and hiding in the secret annexe of a warehouse, was recording in her diary how, despite the hot weather, the family needed to light a fire each day to burn vegetable peelings. Any rubbish thrown into bins might arouse suspicions. “One small act of carelessness and we’re done for!” she wrote. She died in Bergen-Belsen before the camp was liberated by the British.

Alec Guinness in make-up as Fagin for the post-war Oliver Twist movie, which provoked demonstrations in Berlin
Alec Guinness in make-up as Fagin for the post-war Oliver Twist movie, which provoked demonstrations in BerlinREX FEATURES

The depths of the horrors uncovered by the liberators transformed the public’s view of the enemy. The historian Antoine Capet has written of “the peculiar atmosphere of the summer and autumn of 1945, when ‘the Nazi camps’ provided a ready-made ex post facto justification for the war in Britain”.

Antisemitism became taboo. In the post-war movie Oliver Twist, Alec Guinness as Fagin was made up faithfully to replicate the caricature by the illustrator George Cruikshank in the original 1838 Charles Dickens novel, complete with long hooked nose and beard. Outrage ensued. The film was banned in Berlin following demonstrations. Hollywood was so offended that the release was delayed for three years in the United States; eventually only a heavily censored version was shown.

Prejudice against Jews on the home front was quietly forgotten and tidied away. The file released by the National Archives was due to be kept under lock and key until 2021 but was opened early in response to a request from The Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Walking into the jaws of destruction again”
Duff Cooper, minister of information, with his wife, Lady Diana Cooper
Duff Cooper, minister of information, with his wife, Lady Diana CooperTIMES NEWSPAPERS LTD

The caste of leaders confronted with the rise in British prejudice belonged to the decadent interwar generation satirised in works such as Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies “walking into the jaws of destruction again”.

Churchill’s first information minister was Duff Cooper, married to the exquisite society beauty and actress Lady Diana Cooper. The politician’s gossipy diaries were edited posthumously by their son, the much loved author John Julius Norwich. Cooper’s great-great nephew is David Cameron.

Cooper’s set ranged from the Jewish banking family the Rothschilds to the minor aristocrats the Mosleys, among them the MP Sir Oswald Mosley, known as “Tom” to family and friends. “I can’t bear the Mosleys,” Cooper once confided to his diary, which was protected from prying eyes by a lock. “The sight and sound of them talking their tedious twaddle makes me feel sick.”

When Cole Porter telegrammed him an invitation for dinner at the Ritz, Cooper sat alone in the Piccadilly hotel until it dawned on him that his musical friend had meant the one in Paris. Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth and Cary Grant added vim to Cooper’s social whirl.

The Coopers attended the Mosleys’ fancy dress barge party in Venice on September 7 1922. According to the diaries, Diana made a friend “up as a Venetian Jew and he looked very well . . . Tom Mosley made a declaration of love to Diana this evening. She told him not to be silly. He said he had adored her all this summer — that he had never felt anything like it in his life before.”

Then there was Brendan Bracken, an Irish Catholic fantasist who entered British high society by pretending to be the orphaned son of Australians who died in a bush fire.

Bracken inspired the character of Rex Mottram, the vacuous colonial adventurer satirised in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited who, after complaining that he could not taste brandy served in what he derided as a “thimble”, was brought “a balloon the size of his head”.

Winston Churchill with Brendan Bracken
Winston Churchill with Brendan BrackenGETTY IMAGES

Among those fooled by the Irish chancer was Cooper, whose diary entry for January 15 1924 recalls a dinner with Winston Churchill, his wife Clemmie “and a young Australian journalist called Bracken. It was a very enjoyable evening.” Cooper dined at Claridge’s with Anthony de Rothschild, known to him as “Tony Rothschild”.

Sir Oswald ultimately had as little success in seducing the electorate as he did with Cooper’s wife. Losing his seat in the Commons, he founded the British Union of Fascists in 1932. Cooper recalled on February 26 1933: “I attended a debate between Tom Mosley and [James] Maxton [radical Clydesider and leader of the Independent Labour Party] on Fascism v Socialism, in which I thought that Mosley got the best of it.”

When Hitler took power, Jews in Britain were quick to rally. Anthony de Rothschild became founding chairman of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, whose creators read “like a Who’s Who in Anglo-Jewry”, according to Men of Vision, the fund’s history by its late archivist Amy Zahl Gottlieb.

Anthony de Rothschild
Anthony de RothschildROTHSCHILD ARCHIVE

Britain had earned a reputation as a haven from persecution. During the 19th century, 140,000 Jews fled here from pogroms. The Jewish-born Benjamin Disraeli became prime minister for the first time as early as 1868. At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 the Jewish Chronicle proclaimed: “England has been all she could be to Jews, Jews will be all they can be to England.”

The leading Jewish families all “benefited from Britain’s liberalism of the late 19th century, which had granted political emancipation to its Jews”, Gottlieb wrote. “Members of the cousinhood were soon elected to parliament. Some were elevated to the peerage.”

Now Simon Marks of Marks & Spencer, the chief rabbi and the banking brothers Anthony and Lionel de Rothschild set about helping Jews in peril from the Nazis.

Communal tensions peaked with the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when Jews and locals erected barricades and fought running battles to prevent Mosley’s fascist Blackshirt marchers entering Jewish neighbourhoods in the East End.

In the Kristallnacht emergency, Anglo-Jewry’s fund arranged for 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children to escape from Hitler to Britain in a humanitarian rescue known as the Kindertransport.

Sir Oswald Mosley inspects members of his British Union of Fascists
Sir Oswald Mosley inspects members of his British Union of FascistsGETTY IMAGES

Cooper stuck out in the 1930s as an opponent of appeasement and was the only cabinet minister to resign in protest against Neville Chamberlain’s popular but doomed Munich agreement with Hitler. Cooper’s friend Noël Coward sent a handwritten note congratulating him on his strength and courage while lamenting how odd and unpleasant it had been “to see thousands and thousands of English people wildly cheering their own defeat”.

Cooper was alert to antisemitism. In the final years of peace, he warned Chamberlain’s secretary of state for war, the Jewish politician Leslie Hore-Belisha (who introduced the eponymous beacons as transport minister) of impending bigotry. The episode is recalled in Kushner’s The Persistence of Prejudice.

Hore-Belisha, who became lifelong friends with Cooper and Lady Diana, wrote in his diary that Cooper predicted that “the military element might be very unyielding and they might try to make it hard for me as a Jew”.

Once war broke out Chamberlain indeed sacked Hore-Belisha because “there was a prejudice against him”.

Hore-Belisha was then vetoed as a potential minister of information by the Foreign Office, whose attitude was summed up by the undersecretary Sir Alexander Cadogan: “Jew control of our propaganda would be a major disaster.”

William Joyce, known as Lord Haw-Haw, addressing a fascist meeting in London
William Joyce, known as Lord Haw-Haw, addressing a fascist meeting in London

Churchill, appointed prime minister in 1940, sent Cooper to run the Ministry of Information. The airwaves were buzzing with Nazi propaganda. As many as six million listeners a night were tuning in to William Joyce, the Hitler enthusiast known as “Lord Haw-Haw”.

The virulent antisemite, known for his catchphrase “Germany Calling”, sought to undermine British morale with broadcasts threatening bombing raids against civilian targets.

“Frequently ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ warned the Eastenders what was coming to them,” recalled R G Burnett in These My Brethren, his history of a mission that tended to London’s poor. “He tried to make their flesh creep — and succeeded.” After the war, Joyce would become the last man hanged for treason against Britain.

An early warning was sounded of wartime British prejudice. Anthony de Rothschild wrote to “Dear Duff” on March 26 1941 that: “There is an impression that there has been of recent weeks a growth of antisemitism in the country and there is some reason for supposing that it may not be unconnected with enemy propaganda, although this is hard, of course, to establish.

“Representatives of the Jewish community in London have considered the matter and are naturally perturbed from their own point of view, but it also seems to them that developments on this line help the enemy and damage the war effort.” He suggested a radio broadcast condemning antisemitism as potentially destructive to Britain.

Anthony de Rothschild’s letter to Duff Cooper warning of the growth of antisemitism
Anthony de Rothschild’s letter to Duff Cooper warning of the growth of antisemitismNATIONAL ARCHIVES

Cooper wrote back to “My dear Tony”, stating: “I shall be very pleased to have a talk with you about the important matter.”

Cooper’s position as minister of information was weak. John Julius Norwich recalled: “The appointment was not a success. The press, terrified of censorship, mounted a virulent campaign against him.” Newspapers derided the ministry’s social surveyors, sent out to question the public about morale, as “Cooper’s snoopers”. An Achilles’ heel was that Cooper had allowed the ten-year-old John Julius to be evacuated to safety in America.

Four months after replying to Anthony de Rothschild, Cooper was replaced as minister of information by none other than Churchill’s friend, the imposter Bracken.

There was no doubt where Cooper’s heart lay. He went on to complete a wartime biography of the biblical King David, dedicating it “to the Jewish people to whom the world owes the Old and the New Testaments and much else in the realms of beauty and knowledge: a debt that has been ill repaid”.

Duff Cooper’s reply to Anthony de Rothschild
Duff Cooper’s reply to Anthony de RothschildNATIONAL ARCHIVE

The importance attached by Cooper, at the Ministry of Information, to challenging antisemitism never bore fruit. Bracken would be the minister who received Radcliffe’s memorandum recording that prejudice had risen throughout the war.

In northwest England, police in Salford discovered a clandestine basement printing press that was flooding the market with forged clothing coupons. In a confidential memo of April 17 1942, a regional information officer wrote: “Since the Salford coupon case we have observed anxiety among the Jews culminating in the visit of two representative Jews to the regional office.”

Jews believed that they were being discriminated against for jobs: “In spite of the shortage of nurses and the wishes of the Ministry of Health, local authorities are unwilling to employ Jewish girls.”

The official blamed Jews for the prejudice against them: “It appears that the Jewish leaders are so anxious to avoid admitting that ‘The People’ have been especially blameworthy in black markets that they are unwilling to take strong spiritual and communal action. Blindness to facts and alternate periods of arrogance and whines are unlikely to endear the Jewish cause to Britain.” A London civil servant applauded the “reasoned arguments put forward in this memorandum”.

The Ministry of Truth
Senate House in Bloomsbury was the secret headquarters of the Ministry of Information
Senate House in Bloomsbury was the secret headquarters of the Ministry of InformationALAMY

The Ministry of Information was secretly housed away from Whitehall in the University of London’s Senate House amid the elegant garden squares of Bloomsbury.

The early skyscraper, when it was opened in 1937, was the second tallest building in the capital, almost as high as St Paul’s Cathedral.

There was hostility to an institution dedicated to such an un-British endeavour as propaganda. The ministry employed some of the finest writing talents of the age, including appointing Laurie Lee as publications editor.

The future poet laureate John Betjeman, working on government films, immortalised in verse his muse “Miss Joan Hunter Dunn”, whom he found there doing the catering. Yet the ministry remained unloved.

Joan Hunter Dunn worked in catering at the Ministry of Information and inspired John Betjeman to write a love poem
Joan Hunter Dunn worked in catering at the Ministry of Information and inspired John Betjeman to write a love poemJOHN BETJEMAN : A LIFE IN PICTURES

Graham Greene, a recruit, recalled “the high heartless building with complicated lifts and long passages like those of a liner and lavatories where the water never ran hot and the nail-brushes were chained like Bibles. Central heating gave it a stuffy smell of mid-Atlantic except in the passages where the windows were always open for fear of blast and the cold winds whistled in.”

George Orwell’s wife worked in its censorship division, while the author himself broadcast ministry-approved propaganda at the BBC.

In Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, a thinly disguised Senate House served as the Ministry of Truth where Winston Smith worked.

“The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak — was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

There has been speculation that Big Brother was deliberately given the same initials as Brendan Bracken.

The Ministry’s ham-fisted meddling extended to refusing permission for Coward’s classic wartime morale-boosting movie In Which We Serve, with officials complaining that “the film was exceedingly bad propaganda for the Navy, as it showed one of HM’s ships being sunk by enemy action”.

The story was inspired by the loss of HMS Kelly, captained by Lord Mountbatten, who saved the movie by submitting a script to George VI. Filming went ahead after the King wrote that “the spirit which animates the Royal Navy is clearly brought out in the men”. It won an Oscar.

The ministry was quickly closed down in peacetime and replaced by the more modest Central Office of Information.

“Nothing to suggest organised activity”
A camp leader ringing the dinner bell for Jewish Kindertransport refugees from Germany and Austria at Dovercourt Bay near Harwich
A camp leader ringing the dinner bell for Jewish Kindertransport refugees from Germany and Austria at Dovercourt Bay near HarwichGETTY IMAGES

Through much of continental Europe, Jewish people in countries falling to the Nazis were rounded up and sent for slaughter.

Jews in Britain expected the same fate if the Germans invaded. “Some East End Jews, knowing what had been done to their compatriots by the Nazis in Germany, made ready for the coming of Hitler by carrying pellets of poison,” wrote R G Burnett in These My Brethren. “There was a moment when some began to trek out of London, pushing their belongings on handcarts, like the continental refugees in countries overrun by the Germans.”

An Eastender born in 1902 told the Jewish Museum London’s oral histories that he believed that British antisemites would not have bothered to gas Jews, as Hitler had done: “I’ve always maintained it, if they had their way here . . . while you’re alive, they would absolutely chop lumps off you. They wouldn’t wait to put you in a gas chamber, they’d be so eager to get at you.”

The British government’s only wartime acknowledgement of the Holocaust came in 1942 when Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, told the House of Commons that “the German authorities are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe”.

Anthony Eden was foreign secretary during the war
Anthony Eden was foreign secretary during the warGETTY IMAGES

Scepticism remained. Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, chairman of the joint intelligence committee, regarded the reported use of gas chambers as an exaggeration by Jews “to stoke us up”, according to Tony Kushner in The Persistence of Prejudice. “Doubts of the atrocity stories, based on distrust of Jewish sources, continued in government circles until the end of the war,” Professor Kushner wrote.

On June 2 1943, the Lvov ghetto in Poland was liquidated by the Nazis and the last of the city’s 110,000 Jews were sent to a concentration camp.

The same day, it fell to Margaret Corbett Ashby to struggle to sound the alarm about rising antisemitism in Britain.

Mrs Corbett Ashby had begun her political activism campaigning for women to have the vote, creating a group called the Younger Suffragists when she was 18 at the turn of the century.

Victor Burgess, British fascist
Victor Burgess, British fascist

Now 61, she was the grande dame of English liberalism and was invited to a meeting of the committee advising Bracken. She confided her concerns that Jews in Britain were facing increasing hostility and prejudice. Doubtless she was heard in respectful silence. Behind her back, though, officials treated her warning with disdain.

One civil servant responded by leafing through issues of the Home Office Special Branch’s fortnightly summary. In a paper marked “Secret” he wrote to a colleague that the following were the only examples of anti-Jewish action that he could find.

November 15 1942: Large numbers of an antisemitic [sticker] portraying two Jews and bearing the words “Britannia rules the waves — yeth, but we rule Britannia” found affixed to doors and windows of business premises in Shoreditch, east London.

January 1-15 1943: A Fascist typewritten broadsheet called The Flame featured antisemitism.

March 16-31 1943: A pamphlet by R D Lees, who formed a branch of the wartime far-right movement the British National Party in Blackpool, argued that antisemitism was provoked by Jews. He opposed any measures for succouring Jews now under Nazi domination.

March 1943: Antisemitic slogans chalked and painted on walls and pavements in London districts and in Old Trafford, Manchester. Reference was made to the Jewish connections of Churchill, the foreign secretary Anthony Eden and other public figures. At Hove, typewritten slips bearing the words “Down with the filthy Jews” were found fixed to shop windows of a tobacconist and confectioners, the proprietor of which was Jewish, and to the windows of a Jewish hotel.

April 1-15 1943: Edward Godfrey of the British National Party bought 1,000 copies of the antisemitic booklet The Truth About The Jews published by Alexander Ratcliffe of the British Protestant League, Glasgow.

April 16-30: Antisemitic notices such as “burn the Jews” were chalked on five occasions in the Paddington area of west London. Slogans were chalked on a wall in Old Trafford.

The civil servant wrote: “You will agree that there is nothing in all this to suggest anything in the nature of organised activity, at any rate on an important scale.”

A scrawled response to the typed memorandum states: “I did not think that Mrs Corbett Ashby’s account showed signs of careful consideration.”

Nearly all the Jews from Lvov would be killed by November.

Once the war ended, there was a price to pay for the British authorities’ tolerance of antisemitism.

A shop in London run by Victor Burgess, who had been temporarily interned as a suspected enemy sympathiser under the same defence regulations as Sir Oswald and his wife Lady Diana Mosley, was issuing “anti-Jewish propaganda”, officials were told in January 1945. The Home Office was alerted but did nothing. Burgess persisted to become a notorious post-war fascist orator.

Lady Diana Mosley speaking at a meeting on behalf of Sir Oswald Mosley’s Fascist party in 1934
Lady Diana Mosley speaking at a meeting on behalf of Sir Oswald Mosley’s Fascist party in 1934PA

Returning from the war, appalled Jewish ex-servicemen formed the 43 Group, which physically smashed up Mosley’s gatherings and attacked fascists and antisemites. “Any six of us was more than a match for 20 of them. We never failed, we always won. We always closed their meetings down, never failed to close a meeting down,” Len Sherman, a martial arts expert from the Welsh Guards, told the Jewish Museum London’s oral history collection.

In 1947 anti-Jewish riots spread through many parts of Britain, triggered by the hanging of two British sergeants in Palestine by the Irgun, an insurrectionary Jewish paramilitary group. A crowd of 700 broke windows at Jewish-owned shops in Eccles, Manchester. Anti-semitic slogans and the fascist sign were daubed on a synagogue in Plymouth. There were days of rioting in Liverpool. Slaughtermen at Birkenhead refused to handle kosher meat.

Officials had turned a blind eye to latent antisemitism throughout the war. When the Ministry of Information staged a touring show, The Evil We Fight, highlighting Nazi atrocities to rouse the public against Hitler in 1944, copies of a subversive pamphlet were found stuffed into exhibition screens.

The typewritten, two-page tract warned that parliament was controlled by “The City of London International Jew Finance” and rejoiced that “Hitler is ridding the world of Jews and Judaism”. Condemning the British authorities, it said: “They lock up Fascists who at least want Britain for the British and clear the country of these slimy, oily, greasy, immoral Jewish dagoes . . . ANTI-SEMITISM MUST BE ENCOURAGED! Britain for the British and to Hell with Jews and all other alien swine.”

One official wrote: “It is my opinion that the open letter to Fellow-Britons is not antisemitism — it is pure German propaganda. Antisemitism is merely a part of the whole.”

Another commented in a handwritten note that it was childish nonsense which left him quite unconcerned. At the Ministry of Information, they kept calm and carried on.

(Times of Israel) Portugal gets its first artisanal kosher beer

(Times of IsraelAs supervised food grows in pupularity among a community that can trace their roots back to the Inquisition, the brew will debut at the country’s annual kosher market in October

(Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

(Wikimedia Commons via JTA)

Brewers in Portugal have announced the country’s first kosher artisanal beer, which will debut at the country’s kosher market in October.

The first brew in July yielded about 500 bottles, or 50 gallons, of the Cabralinha label, the RTP public broadcaster reported. Its name means “little goat” in Portuguese.

The brewery is located in Belmonte, one of the three municipalities in Portugal with their own rabbis and synagogues, and is under the supervision of Elisha Salas, the local rabbi. A municipality spokesperson said Thursday that the beer would be part of the kosher market of Belmonte, an annual event that began in 2010. This year, the market will open on October 14 in the central Portuguese city.

The beer is produced with honey from Israel and local ingredients from the Serra da Estrela mountain range on which Belmonte is situated, Ana Bogalheiro, who works for the brewery, told RTP.

The area has only a few dozen practicing Jews, but thousands of others trace their lineage to ancestors who were forced to abandon Judaism during the 16th century under the Inquisition campaign of persecution. Salas is an emissary of the Shavei Israel organization, which works to bring communities who were lost to the Jewish people into the fold of Judaism.

The region’s historical background is key to understanding the growing popularity of kosher products there, Michael Freund, Shavei Israel’s founder, has said.

Last year, one of Serra da Estrela’s oldest producers of olive oil, Casa Agrícola Francisco Esteves, located in the town of Manteigas, launched a kosher label in time for Hanukkah, the holiday when Jews celebrate a miracle connected to oil.

In the nearby town of Covilha on the range’s southern tip is the Braz Queijos cheese factory, which in 2009 obtained a kosher certificate for most of its products, becoming the first to do so in Portugal in modern times.

Five years earlier, a winery in the same town produced what was said to be Portugal’s first kosher-certified wine in centuries.

A kosher hotel that was opened in Belmonte in 2016 has received 16,000 guests recently, Jornal do Fundao reported.

(Axios) Artists are facing pressure not to perform in Israel

(Axios)

Protestors hold up a banner calling for Radiohead to cancel a show in Israel.
Protesters calling on Radiohead to cancel their concert in Tel Aviv last year. Photo: Roberto Ricciuti/WireImage

Lana Del Rey is the latest performer pressured to explain performing in Israel, tweeting: “We don’t always agree with the politics of the places we play within or even in our own country … but we are musicians and we’ve dedicated our lives to being on the road.”

The big picture: Social media campaigns and protests are putting pressure on artists to cancel shows in Israel over the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two fans that implored Lorde to cancel her show last year cited Israel’s “policies of oppression” and “apartheid,” per the Washington Post.

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Lorde cancelled her show in December, saying in a statement: “I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t make the right call on this one.” She received support from a “hundred artists,” the Post reports, while critics pointed out that she performed in Russia despite “human-rights abuses.”

The pressure on artists has been building for several years:

  • Elvis Costello cancelled two performances in Israel in 2010, per the Guardian, on “a matter of instinct and conscience.”
  • Lauryn Hill also cancelled her show in 2015, saying in a Facebook post: “It is very important to me that my presence or message not be misconstrued, or a source of alienation to either my Israeli or my Palestinian fans. For this reason, we have decided to cancel the upcoming performance in Israel.”

Flashback: There was a wave of cancellations in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, a nearly two-month conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

  • Neil Young and Crazy Horse: “It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we must cancel our one and only Israeli concert due to tensions which have rendered the event unsafe at this time. We’ll miss the opportunity to play for our fans and look forward to playing in Israel and Palestine in peace.”
  • Cee Lo Green: His promoter in Israel said the performance had to be postponed “because this is not the right time to advertise and push a concert and also because Israel Defense Forces’ regional Home Front Command allows gathering of up to a thousand people only.”
  • Megadeth“The band was looking forward to this concert and is disappointed they will not be able to put on the show for their fans but expect to return to Tel Aviv on their next international tour.”

The bottom line: The social media campaign is far from slowing down. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said in a statement on Twitter, in response to Lana Del Rey’s defense: “We would welcome you to Palestine should you cancel your Meteor performance. … But we cannot accept your token gesture as you step across our boycott picket line.”

(Ynet) Photos show Corbyn at graves of Munich Massacre terrorists

(Ynet) Daily Mail publishes photos from the British Labour leader’s 2014 visit to cemetery where leaders of Black September terror group, responsible for murder of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Oympics in Munich, are buried.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has denied visiting to the graves of the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Massacre, but photos published by the Daily Mail on Saturday show him at a memorial service for members of the Black September terror organization in Tunisia in 2014.In photos taken a year before Corbyn was elected as the leader of the Labour Party, he is seen holding a wreath over the grave of Atef Bseiso, the head of intelligence for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), who helped plan the attack at the Munich Olympics, which claimed the lives of 11 Israeli athletes. 

Source close to Corbyn insisted to the Daily Mail that the 2014 service he attended commemorated the 47 Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike on a Tunisian PLO base in 1985.

But the monument for that attack is some 14 meters (45 feet) away from where Corbyn was photographed, in a different part of the complex, according to the Daily Mail. 

The photos, which were posted on the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia’s Facebook page, show Corbyn also standing near the graves of Black September founder Salah Khalaf, his aide Fakhri al-Omari and PLO chief of security Hayel Abdel-Hamid. 

Another photo shows Corbyn apparently joining in prayer while at the graves. An insider insisted the Labour leading was not taking part in the Islamic prayer, but merely “copying the others out of respect,” according to the Daily Mail. 

Corbyn spoke of his visit to Tunisia in an article in communist newspaper the Morning Star, writing: “After wreaths were laid at the graves of those who died on that day and on the graves of others killed by Mossad agents in Paris in 1991, we moved to the poignant statue in the main avenue of the coastal town of Ben Arous, which was festooned with Palestinian and Tunisian flags.” 

According to the Daily Mail, the Mossad did not carry out any assassination in Paris in 1991, but Khalaf, al-Omari and Abdel-Hamid were indeed killed that year. Foreign media does attribute the assassination of Atef Bseiso to the Mossad in 1992. 

During the 2017 general elections in Britain, Corbyn insisted he was not honoring Bseiso in his visit. “I was in Tunisia at a Palestinian conference and I spoke at that Palestinian conference and I laid a wreath to all those that had died in the air attack that took place on Tunis, on the headquarters of the Palestinian organizations there. And I was accompanied by very many other people who were at a conference searching for peace. The only way we achieve peace is by bringing people together and talking to them.”

 

There have recently been calls in the Labour Party to oust Corbyn from the Labour leadership due to his extreme anti-Israeli positions, with Jewish Labour MPs calling on him to resign amid accusations of anti-Semitism in the party

Videos that came to light a week ago from six and eight years ago show Corbyn calling Hamas terrorists his “brothers” and comparing between the destruction in Gaza to that in Stalingrad and Leningrad during World War WII—essentially comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. 

One video shows Corbyn, a serious contender for the British premiership, speaking at a rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London in 2010. 

“I was in Gaza three months ago. I saw the mortar shell that had gone through the school buildings, the destroyed UN establishments, the burned out schools, the ruined homes, the destroyed lives, the imprisoned people, the psychological damage to a whole generation, who’ve been imprisoned for as long as the siege of Leningrad and Stalingrad took place,” Corbyn, at the time a backbench MP, told the crowd. 

“This is a war crime that has been undertaken, but this time on live television,” he added.

(Haaretz) Why Younger Saudis Won’t Fund, Facilitate or Fight for a Palestinian State

(Haaretz) An emerging Gulf leadership has shaken off its elders’ attachment to the Palestinian cause. They’re convinced an independent Palestine means handing Iran and Sunni political Islamists yet another Arab capital

That there is a wide gap between the position of Saudi Arabia‘s King Salman bin Abdel Aziz, endorsing full rights for Palestinians, as opposed to his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) should come as no surprise to Western policymakers.

There have been clear recent indications of this difference. The Crown Prince has recognized Israel’s right to exist and was reported as saying the Palestinians should either “shut up” or make peace with Israel.

Pushing back, King Salman reiterated “the kingdom’s steadfast position towards the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state,” and lately declared that U.S. President Trump’s peace plan had to include East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. February 12, 2018
Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. February 12, 2018 \ Faisal Nasser/ REUTERS

The Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are experiencing tremendous socio-political change that has accelerated a generation gap that has been widening for some time.  One particular divergence in the thinking between the younger generations and the older ones is what approach to adopt towards the Palestinians.

Older Saudis grew up in the 1950s and 1960s during the heyday of Arab nationalism, and its embrace of the Palestinian cause as the main driver for all events in the region. While the Saudis never fully embraced Arab nationalism, they adopted the Palestinian cause to preempt attacks based on a lack of solidarity from their arch-opponents, Arab nationalists.

Thus, the older generation in the Gulf that Saudi King Salman embodies believes deeply in the Palestinian cause, whatever political complexion the Palestinian leadership exhibits.

However, the younger generations, characterized and led by MBS and his close ally Mohamed bin Zayed (MBZ), the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and primary driver of the UAE’s foreign policy, display far less political equanimity; they prioritize realpolitik over political nostalgia. They long ago stopped overlooking what they consider problematic political biases within the West Bank, Gaza, and even among the Palestinian diaspora around the world.

They realize that Palestinians in general are not enthusiastic toward or supporters of Saudi and Emirati interests in checking the power of political Shia Islamists, most notably Iran, and Sunni political Islamists, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood.

There has long been a school of thought in the Gulf that called for a separation between Gulf states’ national interests and the Palestinian cause, but this was still an unpopular position among the general public. But over the last few years, this position has been increasingly adopted, first by younger elites and then more broadly, not least as Saudi Arabia itself has come under missile attack from Iranian proxies.

A Palestinian man uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip, May 14, 2018
A Palestinian man uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip, May 14, 2018 SAID KHATIB/AFP

The younger Gulf generation has seen for itself the attacks launched by Palestinians against their countries on social media, including the burning of MBS’ pictures in Gaza. During the soccer World Cup, many Palestinians rushed to root for Iran against its Western opponents, while supporting Western countries against the Saudi national team. This immediate, visceral experience differentiates the younger Gulf generation from its elders.

The older generation of Saudi and Emirati policymakers have known these Palestinian political tendencies for years, but they overlooked them in the hope that once a Palestinian state is established, local actors sympathetic to Iran would have an incentive to moderate their positions, providing the Saudis offer generous financial contributions. The general prognosis was that the emergence of other moderate groups would counterbalance the radicals.

However, the younger Gulf generations are now unconvinced that moderation would follow the establishment of a Palestinian state. They believe it is more likely that a fully independent Palestinian state would itself be hostage to radical forces, and would in fact become an extreme source of instability in the region.

MBS and MBZ believe that establishing a Palestinian state would mean handing Iran and Sunni political Islamists another Arab capital to control and influence. Iranian influence among Palestinian groups has solidified over the years, and the two crown princes’ assessment is that it is irreversible.

They are fortified in that position by the example of Gaza. Sunni political Islamists have run the Strip disastrously for over a decade, opening the door for Qatar and Turkey to project influence there. That this is also leading to conflict in Egypt further reinforces the belief that an independent Palestine would be a source of instability.

MBS and MBZ are certainly not foolish enough to lobby for and fund the establishment of a state that would most certainly be an Iranian client state, analogous to a Soviet-era satellite state.

Despite this, many Western policymakers still fantasize about the idea that the Gulf countries could provide money to birth and develop a Palestinian state – indeed, this is reportedly one of the founding principles of the Trump-Kushner peace plan.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. March 20, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. March 20, 2018 \ Jonathan Ernst/ REUTERS

That is never going to happen. Those who actively dictate policy in the Gulf are convinced that every dollar the Saudis give to the Palestinians means handing it to Iran. The Saudis and Emirates are likely to promise to provide financial assistance in public, but U.S. policymakers should not believe that they would ever deliver when push really comes to shove.

For those in Washington dreaming of another peace process breakthrough, another Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn, this time midwifed by the Gulf – there is little chance this will become anything more than a mirage.

The Middle East has moved on from the 1990s, and just like the Saudis and Emirates have woken up to the facts of the Palestinians’ political biases, policymakers in D.C. must keep up and evolve their thinking to better serve American interests, and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Haisam Hassanein is a PhD candidate at Tel Aviv University and a former Glazer Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Twitter: @HaisamHassanei1 

(PUB) Porque é que vocês nos odeiam mais do que o necessário? (2) – Raphael Gamzou

(PUB) Usar os termos ‘Estado racista’ ou ‘apartheid’ para descrever Israel é demasiado simplista e desvirtua totalmente a realidade.

As reacções que chegaram à Embaixada depois da publicação da primeira parte deste artigo indicaram-me dois fenómenos: a multiplicidade dos portugueses que apoiam a democracia israelita e o facto de muitos deles sofrerem da chamada ‘síndrome da mulher agredida’: assustados pelas frequentes ondas de hostilidade mediática contra Israel, hesitam em expressar abertamente o seu apoio. E, hélas, ficam surpreendidos quando prontamente um órgão de comunicação concede (tanto) espaço ao Embaixador de Israel.

A muitos devo uma explicação sobre o título que escolhi. É uma referência a uma velha anedota judaica baseada na pergunta ‘quem é um anti-semita?’, sendo a resposta ‘todo aquele que nos odeia mais do que o necessário’. Também exprime a minha convicção de que se pode, obviamente, criticar Israel (debater é, aliás, o nosso desporto de eleição). Contudo, quando se demoniza, quando termos como ‘fascista’, ‘racista’, ‘apartheid’ lhe são atribuídos e nunca àqueles com quem tem de confrontar-se, já estamos ao nível do ódio patológico.

Infelizmente, também nos media encontramos aqueles que preferem o Hezbollah, o Irão dos Ayatollahs, o Hamas, a Jihad Islâmica e semelhantes garantindo-lhes total imunidade. Nestes últimos quatro meses o leitor viu alguma reportagem escandalizada pelos 1300 fogos ateados em florestas e terrenos cultivados no sul de Israel por militantes do Hamas em Gaza? E eu que inocentemente julgava que na imprensa – bem como entre a classe política – havia muitos com sensibilidades ambientalistas.

Continuemos:

“Governo de Tel Aviv” – não existe governo em Tel Aviv, tal como não existe governo em Coimbra ou Évora. O governo de Israel e as suas instituições democráticas estão sitas em Jerusalém. É suposto os media prestarem um serviço credível de informação ou adoptarem uma agenda política, ainda que à custa da mentira?

“Israel atacou Gaza” – muitas vezes os espectadores de televisão vêem uma notícia que dá conta de uma operação militar de Israel contra Gaza. O jornalista ‘esqueceu-se’ de dizer que a organização terrorista Hamas, que governa Gaza, e o seu aliado, a Jihad Islâmica, foram quem antes lançou rockets contra cidadãos israelitas. De alguma forma, ‘perde-se’ a sequência de acontecimentos.

“O cerco israelita a Gaza” – será que o consumidor de notícias sabe que não temos outra escolha senão controlar o que entra em Gaza, porque os seus governantes seguem uma carta de princípios que estipula a eliminação do Estado de Israel? E que, ao invés de cuidar da sua população que vive miseravelmente, investe apenas na sua máquina de guerra? Será que sabe que Israel transfere diariamente mercadorias, comida e medicamentos em centenas de camiões para Gaza? E que, também diariamente, palestinianos doentes são transferidos para tratamentos em Israel? Haverá aqui alguém que se põe ao serviço de um lado ou, até pior, contra o outro à custa da verdade?

“Palestina” – foi alguma vez explicado aos portugueses que este foi um nome atribuído pelos romanos à terra de Israel quando expulsaram o povo judeu, tentando arrasar assim também com o seu sentimento de pertença ao país? Que o termo ‘povo Palestino’ é recente, que nunca houve um Estado Palestiniano e que mesmo quando a ONU estipulou a Partição, na Resolução 181 de Novembro de 1947, foi entre dois Estados, o Judaico e o Árabe? E que a liderança judaica encabeçada por Ben Gurion aceitou este compromisso enquanto os árabes o rejeitaram? Que entre 1948 e 1967 a Faixa de Gaza estava sob ocupação egípcia e que a Cisjordânia (ou, na sua denominação bíblica, Judeia e Samaria) estava sob ocupação jordana e que nenhum destes países árabes sonhou sequer permitir ao povo ocupado estabelecer um Estado Palestiniano? Saberão os portugueses que, como parte do acordo de paz entre o Egipto e Israel, este ofereceu aos palestinianos uma autonomia que (mais uma vez) rejeitaram? E que, provavelmente, se tivesse sido garantida uma boa vizinhança com Israel já teriam um Estado? Saberá o leitor que Israel concordou com a solução com dois Estados-nação e que os palestinianos estão prontos a falar de uma solução de dois Estados mas nunca de dois Estados para dois povos? Porque os palestinianos que pediram durante anos, com o apoio massivo da Europa, o reconhecimento do seu direito à autodeterminação, não reconhecem o mesmo direito ao povo judeu: “Nunca reconheceremos Israel como Estado judaico”, declarou Abu Mazen, em demanda pelo reconhecimento de um Estado para o seu povo.

É este o âmago do conflito e é importante que o leitor o saiba, mesmo que os media não se esforcem para o dar a conhecer e que a UE não faça suficiente pressão sobre a liderança palestiniana no intuito de reconhecer o nosso direito à autodeterminação.

“Colonatos” – os media descrevem-nos como a razão do não-atingimento da paz. A UE apressa-se a denunciar Israel pela construção de qualquer par de casas. Mas será este verdadeiramente o obstáculo? Quando não existiam colonatos, os árabes reconheceram Israel? Estavam prontos para fazer a paz connosco? E quando, por pressão do Presidente Obama, a sua construção foi congelada durante quase um ano, o Presidente Abu Mazen sentou-se à mesa das negociações? E porque não ter uma porção de população judaica num futuro Estado Palestiniano, exactamente como temos uma porção de população árabe em Israel? Os colonatos não foram e não serão um obstáculo se os palestinianos aceitarem a existência de um Estado judaico e desistirem de fantasiar com a destruição de Israel usando a guerra, o terrorismo ou a demografia – a que chamam o Direito de Retorno.

E daqui passo à contextualização da controversa Lei da Nacionalidade. ‘Estado racista’ e ‘apartheid’ são dois termos com que a extrema-esquerda há muito já nos havia baptizado. Atreveu-se a usar estes mesmos termos contra os nossos vizinhos que perseguem as suas minorias, incluindo as muitas comunidades cristãs no Médio Oriente? Contra aqueles que apedrejam mulheres sob acusação de adultério? Contra os que enforcam homossexuais pela sua orientação sexual?

Ironicamente, é muito provável que só devido ao ataque que nos foi dirigido por causa desta Lei é que o leitor tenha tomado conhecimento de que em Israel os árabes podem votar e ser eleitos para o Parlamento e que os árabes-israelitas são os únicos, em todo o Médio Oriente, que participam num processo democrático eleitoral. E talvez valha a pena acrescentar que neste Estado, em que dizem vigorar o apartheid, a minoria árabe está integrada em todas as áreas da sociedade, incluindo juízes em todos os tribunais (até no Supremo), oficiais das Forças Armadas e diplomatas de carreira.

A Lei da Nacionalidade provoca em Israel um debate inflamado, como é normal num país democrático como o nosso, que vive uma realidade complexa. Muitos acreditam que é desnecessária, outros criticam a sua semântica.

Neste caso, também é necessário entender o contexto, mesmo que não se concorde com a Lei. O sentimento em Israel, de cerco, que mencionei na primeira parte do artigo, intensificou-se nos últimos anos pelo facto do direito do povo judeu a um pequeno Estado ser questionado.

A moda da extrema-esquerda europeia, para quem a fundação do Estado de Israel foi um erro, e o seu apoio ao movimento BDS (Boicote, Desinvestimento e Sanções), que é uma rede internacional que aparentemente combate a “ocupação”, mas na prática é parte de um esforço concertado de deslegitimação do Estado de Israel; e a recusa dos palestinianos, mesmo os dados como pragmáticos, em reconhecer o direito do povo judeu à sua autodeterminação, na fórmula completa de dois Estados para dois povos, em muito contribuíram para esse sentimento.

O extremismo crescente dos membros do Knesset do partido Joint Arab List, que enquanto prestam juramento ao Estado de Israel e suas leis, como quaisquer outros parlamentares, proferem declarações radicais contra a legitimidade de um Estado para o povo judeu, enquanto existem 57 Estados muçulmanos, dos quais 21 são árabes. A grande maioria dos cidadãos árabes-israelitas é leal ao Estado mas o crescente extremismo no sector árabe alimenta o extremismo no sector judaico.

Pode-se rejeitar e ser contra a Lei tal como ela é, como sucede com muitos cidadãos israelitas, judeus e árabes, no seu todo. Aliás, de acordo com uma sondagem feita esta semana à população judaica (80% do total), 52% concordam com a necessidade da Lei (potencialmente baseados nas razões que invoquei atrás), mas 60% exigem que se inclua um artigo que garanta igualdade a todos os cidadãos, judeus ou não, no espírito da nossa Declaração de Independência de 1948.

Usar os termos ‘Estado racista’ ou ‘apartheid’ é demasiado simplista e desvirtua totalmente a realidade. A democracia israelita enfrenta desafios que nenhuma outra democracia ocidental tem de enfrentar. Porém, a realidade em Israel não mudará, isto é, os seus cidadãos, todos eles, ainda que religiosa e etnicamente diversos, continuarão iguais perante a Lei. Este princípio de igualdade está ancorado na Declaração de Independência, nas leis que já existem e na solidez das nossas instituições judiciais.

Se eu fosse português seria um apoiante desta forte e única democracia num tão próximo Médio Oriente. E insistiria para que respeitassem o meu direito a receber informação fidedigna sobre Israel, a sua complexidade e os desafios que enfrenta.

(Haaretz) Mossad Assassinated Syrian Weapons Chief, NYT Reports

(Haaretz) Middle Eastern spy agency claims Dr. Aziz Asber was working closely with Iran’s Quds Force chief on long range missiles capable of reaching Israeli cities

City of Masyaf in northwestern Syria, 2016
Pavel Golovkin / AP

Israel is responsible for the car bombing assassination of a Syrian rocket scientist on Sunday, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The account in the report, given by an official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the highly classified nature of the operation, claims the car bombing near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf that killed Dr. Aziz Asber was executed by Israeli Mossad agents.

Dr. Asber ran the northern bureau for research and science in Masyaf, where he was believed to be developing an underground weapons manufacturing facility with the help of the Iranians.

Photo of Asbar distributed on social media

>> How the Mossad broke into an Iranian facility and stole half a ton of nuclear files

The official, who said his agency was notified of the operation, alleged that this was the fourth time in the last three years Israel has covertly killed a weapons engineer on foreign soil.

Despite the attack being claimed by a Syrian rebel group, the Abu Amara Brigades, pro-Assad and Hezbollah-affiliated media outlets were quick to point the finger at Israel as responsible for the assassination.

According to the official, the Mossad had been keeping tabs on Asber for some time and believed him to be working closely with Iran’s Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani on future plans to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria by modifying Syrian SM6000 Tishereen rockets.

Israel had targeted Asber as key player of the Syrian missile program long before the civil war had begun, according to a representative of the Syrian-Iranian alliance who spoke on terms of anonymity, as he was not allowed to talk to Western journalists. He was close with both Syrian and Iranian top brass, and coordinated with Iranian and Hezbollah forces working in Syria, said the intelligence official.

In recent months, in his role as chief of a classified weapons development program known as Sector 4, Asber was focused on modifying the Syrian artillery array’s range and accuracy – which the official posits made his termination more imperative for Israel, as it works to limit and suppress Iran and Hezbollah’s presence and involvement in Syria.

Several strikes on Masyaf, the city where the Scientific Studies and Research Center is located, have been attributed to Israel in recent years. The last one was on July 22. The factory Asber was said to be building with Iranian aid is set to replace the one allegedly destroyed by Israel last September.

The Israeli government has not officially commented on the report, or the allegations. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking to Israel’s News Company, dismissed the claims and said “Every time, they try to place the blame on us. So we won’t take this too seriously.”

(PUB) Porque é que vocês nos odeiam mais do que o necessário? (1) – Raphael Gamzou

(PUB) A história pessoal que vos conto aqui é, muito simplesmente, o indicador da traição da esquerda europeia a Israel.

Em Maio de 1967, o Presidente egípcio, Gamal Abdel Nasser, deslocou enormes contingentes do seu exército para o Sinai e Gaza, violando o acordo de cessar-fogo com Israel. Bloqueou os estreitos do mar Vermelho por forma a evitar que embarcações e mercadorias chegassem ao porto israelita de Eilat. Resumidamente, cercou um Israel pequeno e ainda frágil. Nas ruas do Cairo, bem como nas de Damasco, muitos milhões marchavam e gritavam em árabe “morte aos judeus”, prometendo chacinar-nos e atirar-nos ao Mediterrâneo.

Em França, o meu falecido pai sentia-se bem acolhido. Após terminar o ensino secundário em Telavive, viveu em Paris e estudou na Sorbonne, tendo mesmo sido jornalista no jornal de esquerda La Marianne. Esteve lá até ao último momento, o que significa até ao momento em que os nazis atingiram o limiar de Paris. Sendo um palestiniano — sim, o termo era válido para qualquer pessoa detentora de um passaporte de Eretz Israel/Palestina, emitido pelo Mandato Britânico —, não impediram o seu regresso à pátria, ao contrário do que fizeram, infelizmente, a tantos milhões de judeus que foram deixados à morte. A sua vida foi salva no último momento. Durante muitos anos crítico de arte e director do Museu de Arte de Telavive, o meu pai cultivou as relações com França, recebendo todas as condecorações possíveis de vários presidentes pelo seu contributo como promotor da cultura francófona. Os seus colegas e amigos franceses lançaram sobre nós, durante esse período de Maio de 67, muitas expressões de solidariedade. Temiam pela nossa vida, perguntavam se tínhamos um bom abrigo (que não tínhamos, tínhamos de escavar uma vala no quintal) e muitos propuseram ao meu pai pegar na família e regressar imediatamente a França. O meu pai agradeceu, mas recusou fugir do seu país em perigo.

Em Junho de 67, após um mês de cerco, de sufoco económico e de ameaças de extermínio, Israel lançou um ataque preventivo numa operação brilhante que arrasou no terreno a quase totalidade da força aérea egípcia e, no espaço de seis dias, alcançou a vitória sobre os exércitos egípcio, sírio e jordano, reforçados por forças iraquianas e marroquinas. Na sua grande maioria, o mundo felicitou o pequeno Estado de Israel. Já os amigos franceses do meu pai, gente do meio cultural e boémio, todos eles liberais do que se usava chamar a “nouvelle gauche”, os mesmos que nos inundaram de empatia às vésperas da guerra, tornaram-se reservadamente frios. E note-se que, até 1967, não existiam colonatos para lá das fronteiras da linha verde. Termos como “ocupação” e “colonatos” não faziam ainda parte da realidade e, portanto, do jargão político.

Quando Israel declarou estar disposto a trocar território por uma paz verdadeira, a resposta do mundo árabe traduziu-se em três rotundos “nãos” expressos em Cartum na cimeira da Liga Árabe: ao reconhecimento de Israel, às negociações com Israel e à paz com Israel.

O nosso então primeiro-ministro, Levi Eshkol, pediu ao meu pai para viajar para Paris e perguntar aos seus amigos de esquerda as razões da sua mudança em relação a nós. Alguns disseram-lhe que não podíamos permanecer e controlar a Cidade Velha de Jerusalém, detentora de tantos lugares sagrados para eles, cristãos. O meu pai contestava: “Se Jerusalém tem todos estes locais sagrados, é precisamente devido à sua matriz judaica. E não se esqueçam que Jesus Cristo era judeu.” “Quando a Jordânia muçulmana ocupou esses mesmos locais durante os últimos 20 anos (1948 a 1967), sentiram o mesmo desconforto?”, perguntou o meu pai. “Ou é mais difícil para vocês digerirem uma ordem judaica sobre estes locais, embora seja claro que garantiremos livre acesso e total liberdade religiosa a todos os crentes de todas as religiões, mais do que quaisquer outros?”

“E verbalizaram a vossa revolta durante todos os anos em que foi proibido aos judeus acederem aos seus próprios locais sagrados na Cidade Santa?”

“Manifestaram-se contra a destruição do bairro judeu na Cidade Velha, incluindo as suas sinagogas? Ou contra terem usado as lápides judaicas do cemitério do Monte das Oliveiras no pavimento das estradas das casernas militares jordanas?”

“E como explicam a vossa solidariedade connosco às vésperas da guerra, quando um pequeno Israel estava sob cerco e os seus habitantes sob ameaça de morte, e agora encontro-vos reservados, se não mesmo frios, ao invés de mostrarem coerência, expressando alegria pela nossa vitória surpreendente?”

Amigável conquanto intensa foi a discussão do meu pai com os seus amigos de esquerda. A certo ponto confessaram que um judeu perseguido e acossado despertava neles a necessidade de protegê-lo e apoiá-lo. Já um herói militar, um judeu vitorioso, era algo mais difícil de assimilar. Criava, explicaram, uma dissonância cognitiva. O judeu como parte integrante do que era percebido como civilização europeia (ainda que um terço do nosso povo tenha perecido em solo europeu), que venceu os árabes (estes mesmos representantes de nações que tinham acabado de se livrar do colonialismo europeu), isso, sim, era ainda mais doloroso para eles como esquerdistas imbuídos de uma ética terceiro-mundista anticolonialista.

A história pessoal que vos conto aqui é, muito simplesmente, o indicador da traição da esquerda europeia a Israel. Uma traição que gozou do apoio ideológico e financeiro da máquina de propaganda bem lubrificada e anti-semita da URSS, por um lado, e dos produtores de petróleo árabes, por outro. Os primeiros, quando entenderam que os governos socialistas de Israel se viam como parte das famílias democráticas ocidentais, e os segundos pagaram desta forma o seu lip service à causa palestiniana.

Ora, a URSS já foi desmantelada e a maior parte dos países árabes sunitas, incluindo os produtores de petróleo, já não vêem um inimigo em Israel. O Irão incomoda-os muito mais. Contudo, o “anti-israelismo” tornou-se um critério necessário, se alguém na Europa quiser definir-se como parte de uma esquerda iluminada ou liberal e tal inclui, naturalmente, os media (e peço desculpa, a priori, a todos aqueles a quem esta generalização não faz justiça). Existem uns poucos corajosos que nadam contra a corrente, rompendo o politicamente correcto distorcido, apenas por uma questão da busca da verdade. E a verdade é que Israel é uma democracia pluralista, seguramente imperfeita, mas que com todas as suas falhas e fraquezas representa os mesmos valores pelos quais qualquer progressista europeu se bateria. E este Israel que mantém um regime democrático desde o primeiro momento da sua independência enquanto luta constantemente pela sua existência e sobrevivência contra o terrorismo (da AP, Hamas e do Hezbollah), contra ameaças de extermínio pelo Irão, contra a educação para o ódio da Autoridade Palestiniana, esperaria mais empatia por parte das democracias europeias e da UE e uma cobertura mais justa por parte dos media. Pelo contrário, o país enfrenta demasiadas vezes uma abordagem hostil quando lida com a extrema-esquerda, encontrando um ódio visceral que em nada é melhor do que o anti-semitismo da extrema-direita. Desta feita, a esquerda europeia, bem como parte do establishment político europeu contribuem há muito para o processo de enfraquecimento da esquerda israelita. O Israel que sente que a sua sobrevivência é ameaçada e que uma parte significativa da opinião pública europeia e suas instituições políticas o traíram tende a votar em quem garante firmeza e protecção à sua existência. E a direita é percebida como tal. Os media, ainda que não na sua totalidade, detêm aqui a sua quota-parte de responsabilidade. Muitas vezes são parciais, selectivos, superficiais, descontextualizados e, por vezes, até mentirosos.

Na segunda parte deste artigo, no próximo sábado, vou identificar alguns exemplos aplicáveis à realidade portuguesa.

(DW) Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg slammed by Germany over Holocaust comments

(DW) Mark Zuckerberg has backtracked on comments he made about allowing Holocaust deniers to post their beliefs on his social media platform. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned Zuckerberg’s comments.

    
Mark Zuckerberg (picture-alliance/dpa/AP Photo/J. Sanchez)

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has criticized Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for saying that while he finds Holocaust deniers abhorrent, they should still be allowed to post their beliefs on Facebook.

Maas said in a tweet that “Nobody should defend anyone who denies the Holocaust. On the contrary, worldwide, everything must be done to protect Jewish life.”

Heiko Maas

@HeikoMaas

darf nirgendwo einen Raum haben.
Wer den Holocaust leugnet, den sollte niemand verteidigen. Im Gegenteil: Weltweit muss alles getan werden, um jüdisches Leben zu schützen.

FAZ.NET

@faznet

Guten Morgen, liebe Leser. Mark #Zuckerberg will Posts von Holocaust-Leugnern auf @facebook nicht entfernen und hat dafür eine sehr eigenwillige Erklärung: https://buff.ly/2mrkqUd 

In Berlin, the Justice Ministry also chimed in and said that Zuckerberg caused outrage by saying his platform should not delete such comments.

“There must be no place for anti-Semitism. This includes verbal and physical attacks on Jews as well as the denial of Holocaust,” said Justice Minister Katarina Barley on Thursday.

“The latter is also punishable by us and will be strictly prosecuted,” Barley said.

Heiko Maas in Yad Vashem (picture-alliance/dpa/I. Yefimovich)Heiko Maas recently visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial site

Zuckerberg made the comments during a recent interview with tech website Recode. He said that while Facebook was dedicated to stopping the spread of fake news, certain beliefs that were sincerely held would not be taken down.

The controversy began when Zuckerberg gave an unprompted example of Holocaust deniers to Recode host Kara Swisher to make a point about allowing hoaxes to be published on the site.

Zuckerberg was forced to backtrack after the remarks caused a backlash on social media. He said that if any post advocated violence or hate against a group, it would be removed.

Online Holocaust deniers a problem

There are laws in Germany that impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($58 million) on social media sites that fail to remove hateful messages promptly. Officials made it clear that Holocaust denial was a punishable crime and it was Maas who, in his previous job as justice minister, introduced the Facebook law.

Earlier this month, a study from the Technical University in Berlin showed that online anti-Semitism has become a “worrying phenomenon” in Germany. The study analyzed more than 300,000 entries from Facebook and other online forums.

The study demonstrated that the proportion of anti-Semitic content in German social media rose from 7.5 percent in 2007 to more than 30 percent in 2017.

The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said the study empirically proved that online anti-Semitism was increasing and becoming more aggressive.

Josef Schuster in a file photo at Augsburg Synagoge (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Puchner)Central Council of Jews in Germany head Josef Schuster in a file photo

Zuckerberg later sent an email to Recode to clarify his comments, saying that if something is spreading and rated as false by the site’s fact checkers, “it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed.” And added, “…of course if a post crossed (the) line into advocating for violence or hate against a particular group, it would be removed.”

Kara Swisher

@karaswisher

I got an email today from Mark Zuckerberg in which he clarifies some stuff we discussed: https://www.recode.net/2018/7/18/17588116/mark-zuckerberg-clarifies-holocaust-denial-offensive?utm_campaign=www.recode.net&utm_content=entry&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter  via @Recode

Mark Zuckerberg clarifies: ‘I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely…

The Facebook founder has attracted controversy for how the social network deals with content that is offensive to many, such as Holocaust deniers

recode.net

The episode was an unwelcome distraction for Facebook after it held a briefing on the company’s new policy to remove bogus posts likely to spark violence.

The new strategy being rolled out across the global social network was tested in Sri Lanka, which was recently rocked by inter-religious violence over false information posted on the platform.

A Facebook spokesman announced that the platform may remove inaccurate or misleading content, such as doctored photos, created or shared to stir up or ignite volatile situations in the real world.

Hate speech and threats deemed credible are violations of Facebook rules and are removed.

(Economist) Why Binyamin Netanyahu is fudging east European history

(Economist) Israel’s prime minister has reasons to suck up to nationalist politicians in eastern Europe, even if they revise their countries’ controversial history regarding Jews

YAD VASHEM, Israel’s national authority for research and commemoration of the Holocaust, is a staid institute, as befits its role, and usually shies away from political controversy. So a public announcement by its leading historians on July 5th, denouncing a joint statement by the prime ministers of Israel and Poland, which it said contained “grave errors and deceptions”, was highly unorthodox.

The statement had been issued a week earlier by Binyamin Netanyahu and Mateusz Morawiecki, to end a crisis in relations between the two countries caused by a new Polish law on the death camps in Poland. It had threatened fines or imprisonment for anyone who blames the Polish nation or state for their part in the Holocaust. Many historians viewed this law as an attempt by the conservative Polish government to revise history, by playing down the willing participation of many Polish citizens in the murder of 3m Polish Jews by Nazi Germany. After months of talks, the Polish government agreed to amend the law, deleting the criminal clauses. In return, Mr Netanyahu signed a statement saying that both countries “reject the actions aimed at blaming Poland or the Polish nation as a whole for the atrocities committed by the Nazis”. The statement also asserts that “the Polish government-in-exile created a mechanism of systematic help and support to Jewish people.”

The historians of Yad Vashem argue that this flies in the face of documentation and historical research which “yield a totally different picture”. Historians say the Polish government-in-exile did little to aid Poland’s Jews and that the Polish resistance, though it fought the Germans, “not only failed to help Jews, but was also not infrequently actively involved in persecuting them.” Though there had been cases of Poles saving Jews, these were “relatively rare”.

This forthright reaction from some of Israel’s most respected historians led to an unusually chastened answer by Mr Netanyahu. “I have listened to the historians’ comments,” he acknowledged. “I respect them and will give them expression.” But there was no question of his changing the joint statement with the Poles.

Mr Netanyahu’s move seems out of character. A historian’s son, he is deeply aware of the Jewish people’s past. Some complain that Mr Netanyahu has exploited the trauma of the Holocaust in his speeches, especially to warn against Iran’s nuclear programme and that he overuses the Holocaust for his political ends.

But Mr Netanyahu has a particular interest in keeping the Polish government happy. In recent years he has pursued closer ties with the central and east European members of the European Union in the hope that they will oppose the block’s support for Palestinian statehood and its members’ joint refusal to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He also wants to weaken the EU’s commitment to abide by a deal with Iran to curtail its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Mr Netanyahu has identified the Visegrad Four, consisting of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as his main allies within the EU.

The increasingly nationalist Visegrad leaders have given Mr Netanyahu a warmer hearing than he gets in Brussels or Berlin. In July 2017 he was their guest at a Visegrad summit in Budapest.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is due to arrive on his first official visit to Israel on July 18th. Leaders of the Jewish community in Hungary have repeatedly condemned the government of Mr Orban’s Fidesz party for minimising the role played by the country’s regime during the Holocaust in the deportation and murder of over half a million Hungarian Jews. More recently, it protested against the government’s virulent campaign against the financier George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation sponsors pro-democracy groups in Hungary. The campaign against Mr Soros, who is Jewish, used well-worn anti-Semitic themes, portraying him as a “global capitalist” and puppeteer, who tries to control Hungary from behind the scenes.

Israel’s leaders have generally been the first to support Jews around the world on such matters. But Mr Netanyahu has pointedly refused to condemn the attacks on Mr Soros. He seems content to let Poland and Hungary revise history as long as they serve his political purposes.

(ynet) Panthéon burial honors French rights icon, Holocaust survivor Simone Veil

(ynet) Thousands of people gather in Paris to pay their final respects to Simone Veil a year and a day after she died at the age of 89; ‘She’s not going into the Panthéon as a Holocaust victim but as someone who overcame this horror and that’s why she’s in people’s hearts,’ one French citizen says.

Thousands of people gathered in Paris on Sunday to pay their final respects to Holocaust survivor and women’s rights icon Simone Veil as she was given the rare honor of burial at the Panthéon a year and a day after she died.

Veil’s death at the age of 89 prompted an outpouring of emotion as she had long been considered one of France’s most popular and trusted public figures.

The Panthéon in the heart of Paris houses the remains of many great French figures, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola. But Veil is only the fifth woman to be buried there, being laid to rest alongside her husband Antoine, a high-ranking civil servant who died in 2013.

French Republican Guards arrive to carry the coffins of Simone Veil and her husband Antoine Veil to the Panthéon on Sunday (Photo: EPA)

French Republican Guards arrive to carry the coffins of Simone Veil and her husband Antoine Veil to the Panthéon on Sunday (Photo: EPA)

 

Their two coffins were escorted by Republican Guards through Paris from the Holocaust Memorial where they had stood for 48 hours to allow the public to pay their last respects. The coffins were then placed on funeral biers before carried by pall-bearers on a blue carpet leading to the Pantheon.

Among the crowds were many women wearing T-shirts with the slogan: “Thank you Simone.”

Simone Veil had long been considered one of France's most popular and trusted public figures (Photo: AFP)

Simone Veil had long been considered one of France’s most popular and trusted public figures (Photo: AFP)

 

“She broke every glass ceiling, in terms of women in society, but also that of (France’s role in) the extermination of the Jews: it was taboo,” said Bernard Greensfeld, one of those standing outside the Holocaust memorial.

“She’s not going into the Panthéon as a Holocaust victim but as someone who overcame this horror and that’s why she’s in people’s hearts,” he told AFP.

The 5th woman

Simone Veil was 16 when she was deported along with family members in 1944 to Auschwitz. Her mother, father and brother were killed in the Holocaust. After her return, she became a resolute advocate of women’s rights as well as European reconciliation, securing her biggest political victory in 1974 by convincing the French parliament to legalize abortion despite fierce opposition.

She also became the first elected president of the European Parliament in 1979, a post she held for three years.

 (Photo: EPA)

(Photo: EPA)

 

The move to have Veil’s remains transferred to the Panthéon began immediately after her death on June 30, 2017, with two petitions quickly gaining hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Until now, only four women have been interred there: scientist Marie Curie, Sophie Berthelot, who was buried alongside her chemist husband Marcellin Berthelot and two resistance fighters Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion.

A national decision

As the sun beat down, a large crowd gathered for the ceremony which was attended by members of her family, and a host of politicians and dignitaries, among them the former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.

At the ceremony, President Emmanuel Macron said the decision to bury her in the Panthéon was a decision taken by the entire nation.

President Macron stands by the coffins (Photo: EPA)

President Macron stands by the coffins (Photo: EPA)

 

“It is… what all French people wanted,” he said. “With Simone Veil, all the women that have made France are here.”

The transfer of Veil’s remains had began on Friday, when the couple’s coffins were exhumed from the Montparnasse cemetery and brought to the crypt of the French Holocaust Memorial in central Paris, which she helped found.

After Macron’s address, the two coffins were transferred into the Panthéon where the coffins will lie in state until Monday, with admission free until July 8.

(Haaretz) New Iraqi Leader Proclaims Jews Can Return: ‘They Are Welcome’

(Haaretz) Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who formed a coalition with a pro-Iranian political bloc, is known to call for ending sectarianism in Iraq.

Jewish writings on the tomb are seen at a Jewish cemetery in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018.  REUTERS/Wissm Al-Okili
\ WISSM AL-OKILI/ REUTERS

The newly elected Iraqi leader, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said that Jews, who were expelled decades ago, are welcome to return, Newsweek reported Tuesday.

Al-Sadr, who recently formed an alliance with a pro-Iranian political bloc, said that “If [Jews’] loyalty was to Iraq, they are welcome.” He stated that Jews who wanted to return would receive full citizenship rights. Currently, the Iraqi constitution does not recognize Judaism as one of the country’s official religions.

Iraq’s Jewish community is one of the most ancient in the world. Before Jews either left or were displaced from Iraq following the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, they accounted around two percent of the country’s population, around 150,000 strong. In 1951 most Iraqi Jews immigrated to Israel, to be followed in the following decades by the few thousand who remained. All in all, Iraq expelled 120,000 Jews, and today few Jews remain.

In this Dec. 29, 2015 file photo, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr speaks during a press conference in Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq.
AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File

Al-Sadr’s political bloc, the Sairoon Alliance, won the largest number of parliamentary seats in elections in mid-May. Al-Sadr then announced that he was teaming up with a pro-Iranian political bloc, the National Iraqi Alliance, led by Hadi al-Amiri, in order to form a coalition.

The comments from the cleric come amidst political upheaval in Iraq, as the country is still reeling from a contentious election, which members of the political opposition have alleged was rigged.

Al-Sadr’s comments welcoming Jews are not new. He made similar remarks in a 2013 interview, saying he “welcomes any Jew who prefers Iraq to Israel and there is no difference between Jews, Muslims or Christians when it comes to the sense of nationalism. Those who do not carry out their national duties are not Iraqis even if they were Shiite Muslims.”