Category: Magazine

British Jews Seek to Renew German Citizenship After Holocaust

A 48-year-old Jewish author, Thomas Harding is attempting what his ancestors might never have imagined: re-applying for German citizenship.

Harding, whose family perished in the Holocaust feels it is part necessity, part right. When the U.K. voted to leave the European Union earlier this year, Harding decided he should not be denied twice of his European citizenship as did his family previously in wake of the Holocaust.

“It’s not about something for us, or for me. It’s about something spiritual, it’s about reconciliation. It’s about acknowledging the truth of the horrors of the past but also about trying to build a better future together, and as a European, that’s what I hope to do,” Harding said.

Of the many complications arising from the U.K.’s split from the EU has sparked a wave of Britons, whose family came from other parts of Europe and pushed them to claim citizenship of the other 28 other member states so they can retain ties to the EU. Most often requested are German, Austrian and Polish citizenship.

While some apply due to convenience, for Jews the move speaks volumes. Many Jews fled Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler, seeking refuge elsewhere. For many, re-affirming ties to a country which murdered their families is a daunting task indeed.

According to Michael Newman, chief executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees, what locals are referring to as ‘Brexit,’ – the exit of Britain from the EU has inspired many to take such a step. For Jews however, the process is made easier due to recent efforts made by the government of Germany.

“There is an acceptance of guilt, and I think that makes it a different proposition,” Newman said.

Harding is not alone, as several Jews are considering this option which allows them freedom of travel within the EU.

Marc Meyer, director of the Conference of European Rabbis referred to the phenomena as ” open[ing] the floodgates of insecurity and those of opportunity” to European Jews.

But for others the journey has been long towards acceptance of the past. Harding recently documented this journey in his book, “The House by the Lake.”

Six of Harding;s family members where brutally murdered by the Nazis, who forced Harding’;s family to leave behind their property, a cottage which had been in the family for generations. The surviving members escaped to the U.K.

While Harding grew up in a traditional British family, they still refused to buy German household appliances and abstained from traveling to Germany on vacation.

Harding’s grandmother gave him an envelope of family memoirs.

“Inside was the swastika-stamped passport for her husband and father-in-law, along with a black piece of cloth on which had been sewn a yellow J…[grandmother] Elsie’s message was clear – this is my history and this is your history. Do not forget.”

In 2013, Harding returned to his family [property in Germany, and found the cottage in a dilapidated state. Having examined the house, Harding noted, “One room looked as if it had been used as a drug den, littered with broken lighters and soot-stained spoons.”

Harding claims that it’s logical for Jews to cling to the EU, which strove to prevent a Third World War.

“You could argue that the flight of the German Jews, the persecution of the German Jews, was the symbol of the breaking up of Europe, and the European Union was set up specifically to create a political, social context of peace. That’s part of it, isn’t it?”

Source: Israel Hayom; Times of Israel

By: Yafit Ovadia

Memorial Sign in New York for Israeli Girl Murdered by Palestinian Terrorist Vandalized

According to a report by Jpupdates, New York City police are actively investigating the vandalism of a memorial sign for 13-year-old terror victim Hallel Yaffa Ariel. Ariel was fatally stabbed by a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist while sleeping in her home in Kiryat Arba in June.

The memorial sign, which was posted on the door of Congregation Sons of Israel in Queens had the message, “2000 Palestinians murdered by IDF. Why do you only care when Jews die?”  along with “Zionism is racism.”

The suspect approached the synagogue, located at 3321 Crescent Street in Astoria, at around 5:45 p.m. One of the synagogue’s board members approached the suspect and asked him to stop what he was doing, at which point the suspect shouted, “Israel is doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to my relatives in the Holocaust!” according to police Sunday.

“On Tuesday, August 16, at around 7 p.m., we put up a new and bigger sign to mourn the death of this young girl,” Rabbi Jay Shoulson told JP. “When we returned Wednesday morning the sign was gone. Someone who can vandalize and steal such a sign,” Shoulson concluded, “is not a human being.”

NYPD spokesman Detective Hubert Reyes said the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force Unit is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Another NYPD official said detectives have recovered surveillance video showing the suspect vandalizing and stealing the signs. Based on the surveillance footage, the suspect is described as around 5-foot-5-inches tall, with a ponytail and a red baseball cap.

The synagogue did not report the incident until after the sign was stolen, the NYPD official said.

Rabbi Shoulson said the board was considering ignoring the incident, but once the suspect returned and stole the sign, they realized they were dealing with a more serious problem, and called the police.

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by: Chirelle Chekroune

German MP Stands Firm in Face of Anti-Semitism

German MP Michaela Engelmeier is working to fight racism and anti-Semitism in Germany and firmly opposes the BDS movement. Engelmeier, who has visited Israel says nothing will stop her from standing strong in the face of anti-Semitism, despite having received multiple death threats.

Engelmeier, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, visited Israel with a member of the German-Israel lobby, Michael Thews this past week.

In wake of the death threats, Engelmeier retorted “They don’t know who they’re dealing with. They don’t know who they’re dealing with. No anti-Semite or Nazi will silence me. The attacks against me only encourage me and prove to me how important my mission is.”

Engelmeier came under fire earlier this year since coming out strongly against a German high school teacher, Christopher Glanz who promotes the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) Movement and has called for a complete boycott of the Jewish State.

Glanz reportedly was quoted that Israel should have been created in southern Germany, among other offences.

Glanz also dictated to his students on Holocaust Remembrance Day that it was not worthy of commemorating since he noted “Israel was committing genocide against the Palestinians.” Glanz teaches 10th grade in addition to entry classes to Muslim refugees.

The National Teachers’ union in Germany at first published his pro-BDS article and added its support to the boycott of Israel. However, it later claimed to reject Glanz’s anti-Semitic views. The union held an investigation into Glanz’s authority and questioned whether as a school teacher, he was at liberty to voice his political opinions to students.

Glanz lashed out at media and was “appalled at the response of the national union, which was influenced by Jewish politicians and community leaders.”

All of this did not faze Engelmeier who claimed she will not give up in the face of anti-Semitism.

Source: Israel Hayom; Twitter

By: Yafit Ovadia

U.S. Intersection Hit with Anti-Semitic Graffiti for Fifth Time

According to a report by JTA, Anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared for the fifth time this month at one of the busiest intersections in the Chinatown section of Washington, D.C.

On Monday, swastikas were discovered sprayed on a street. A swastika also was drawn on the door of a corner near Starbucks.

The graffiti was found near where vandals in August had previously painted the word “Jew” repeatedly next to images of rats on an outdoor Chinese Zodiac public art display.

Maintenance crews employed by Downtown D.C., a private nonprofit organization that encourages businesses in the city center, have reportedly removed the graffiti, including the swastikas.

D.C. Police are offering a $1,000 reward for information that may lead to arrests. The incidents are being investigated as suspected hate crimes.

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by: Chirelle Chekroune

Hungarian Government Rewards Anti-Semitic Journalist

The Hungarian government’s presented its prestigious Knight’s award to a columnist accused of racism and anti-Semitism, prompting a heavy storm of criticism.

The columnist, Zsolt Bayer, who has been noted repeatedly for his racist views received the award for his writings about Hungarians who died in the Gulag prison system of the former Soviet Union, according to the office of Prime Minister János Lázár. More than 100 former recipients, who received the medal in the past, announced they will be returning it due to it being “sullied” in wake of Bayer’s nomination.

“As a journalist, he gave a true and worthy account of prisoners and their lives in the Soviet labor camps as well as [towards] the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, making him a worthy receiver of the Knight’s Cross,” Lázár’s office wrote, according to the Budapest Beacon.

Lantos Swett, one of the former recipients, was honored for setting up the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute, which focuses on human minority rights. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who died in 2008, was the only Holocaust survivor in the U.S. Congress, according to the Associated Press. “Mr. Bayer’s despicable record of overt and hateful anti-Semitism and racism is beneath contempt,” was written on the Lantos Foundation website.

Bayer claimed that anti-Semitism in Hungary was justified due to the number of Jewish communists of whom he asserts  sought to spread the Russian Revolution to Hungary. In April, Bayer wrote a series of opinion editorials condemning protestors who blocked the dedication of a statue of György Donáth close to Budapest’s Holocaust museum. Donáth was a Holocaust-era politician who helped pass laws calling for the persecution of Jews. The German Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators later used those laws to round up about 500,000 Hungarian Jews, most of whom were put to death by the Nazis.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. urged Hungarian President Janos Ader, who approved Bayer’s award to renounce it. The Hungarian government released a statement that the award could not be recalled.

by: Inbal Zlotnik

Dutch Lawmaker Accused of Anti-Semitism after Refusing to Shake Netanyahu’s Hand

A Dutch-Turkish lawmaker refused to shake hands with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and rejected claims of anti-Semitic behavior.

Tunahan Kuzu, an Istanbul-born former Labour Party politician who represents the far-left and pro-immigration DENK party, refused to shake Netanyahu’s hand when the two met with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament earlier this month.

Kuzu, wearing a Palestinian flag lapel pin posted a short video explaining why he decided to attend the meeting instead of boycotting the event, explaining he wanted to “do my best to make it a difficult talk.”

Some criticized Kuzu’s behavior, noting that it strayed from the norms of discourse between political adversaries, as Michael van der Galien, editor-in-chief of the popular Dutch news and opinion website De Dagelijkse Standard wrote: “This is shameful behavior…even if you disagree with Netanyahu’s policies, as a parliamentarian you are obliged to treat him respectfully on his visit to the Netherlands…but Kuzu apparently can’t do that because just imagine what will happen if you are seen shaking the hand of a Jewish leader of the only Jewish state? An Islamist like Kuzu can’t even bear the thought.”

The Post Online quoted Kuzu as saying: “We are not anti-Semitic, and criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism.”

The incident comes after former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt, a longtime Palestinian activist, said in an interview on a public television station that Netanyahu is a “war criminal,” who should be prosecuted during his visit to the Netherlands.

Source: JTA

by: Inbal Zlotnik

U.S. Woman Turns Anti-Semitic Graffiti into Art

Last week, a U.S. woman discovered a swastika spray-painted on her garbage can. Esther Cohen-Eskin, a resident of Havertown, a small neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania reported feeling shocked and hurt after finding the symbol. Cohen-Eskin believes she was targeted specifically for being Jewish since no other neighbors found similiar signs on their properties.

After reporting the anti-Semitic graffiti to police, Cohen-Eskin decided to turn the trauamtic experience into something which proclaimed the exact opposite. The Philadelphian woman, who works as an artist painted over the swastika with the image of a flower and started a campaign asking her neighbors to paint swatsikas on their garbage cans and then subsequently paint over them with images of flowers, birds, or signs of unity, love and tolerance.

“It’s not like someone wrote some obscenity on my trash can or gave me the finger,” she said. “The swastika is such a deep-rooted sign of hatred for everyone, especially Judaism, that I felt so targeted.”

The idea cites Cohen-Eskin is to turn symbols of hate into ones of love.”We decided that painting something over this … it kind of made the swastika completely meaningless,” she said.

Cohen-Eskin’s story quickly spread across town and she received multiple letters of support worldwide, from countries as far off as Canada, Germany and Ireland. Many people decided to join her cause and paint similiar images of tolerance or the word “unity” in show of support.

“It gave me a whole new reassurance in humanity,” she said. “I feel invigorated by all the love. It’s exciting. It makes you feel there’s so much good out there.”

Source: Fox News, Israel Hayom

By: Yafit Ovadia

Anti-Semitism on U.S. Campuses Reaches New High

Anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses is reaching a new high, according to new statistics reported by the Anti-defamation League (ADL).

The Israeli Knesset held a meeting yesterday drawing attention to the growing trend of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel, which many note leads to increased hostilities and anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish college students on campus. Jewish college students at several prominent U.S. universities reported being harassed by BDS activists and Pro-Palestinian groups. The schools mentioned included New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Connecticut College, the University of Oklahoma, Harvard, Claremont College in Los Angeles, Vassar College in New York, and several University of California schools.

Some students reported finding mock eviction notices attached to their doors and expressed shock over Palestinian students forcibly threatening them to leave campus dormitories and reside elsewhere. Students who were victims of such harrassment accused colleges of doing little to combat this growing wave of anti-Semitism, despite schools firmly stating their opposition to any anti-Israel activities.

“BDS is a wave of anti-Semitism against Jews, which unfortunately has been taking place on so-called enlightened campuses [in the U.S.],” Knesset Member Avi Dichter (Likud) said. “Many of the actions taken by BDS activists stem from their frustration over the loss of interest [concerning] the Palestinian issue. We will not tolerate [attacks] against Jews or Israelis. The Knesset…[is] committed to all Jews, regardless of where they are, especially when they come under attack simply for being Jewish,” Dichter said. The committee promised to strateigize new ways to combat this growing phenonmena and allot Israeli taxpayer funds towards the project.

An Israeli-based NGO, Reservists on Duty, which advocates supporting IDF operations in Israel and the Palestinian territories noted that 90 of 941 total incidents of anti-Semitism in the U.S. during the previous year took place on college campuses. “Jewish college students in the U.S. are a persecuted minority,” founder, Amnon Goldstof remarked.

Source: Israel Hayom

By: Yafit Ovadia

Anti-Semitism at French embassy

An employee of France’s embassy in Tunisia, Selim Dakhlaoui found himself under fire over anti-Semitic comments posted under his name on social media site, Facebook.

“Watch out, my account has been hijacked,” Dakhlaoui wrote on his Facbook account claiming previous comments expressing anti-Semitic remarks were written by hackers. The comment “finish the job”, about Adolf Hitler’s failure was written on Dakhlaoui’s page. Dakhlaoui works as a consulting agent for the embassy and was responding to an outrage following the publication on a French-language blog of multiple copies of anti-Israel messages made under his name.

Even though Dakhlaoui believes his account had been hacked, the subject is still under debate. This past October, the comment “Soon it will be the end of Israel” appeared under Dakhlaoui’s name, which was followed by an icon of a missile. A week later the same account displayed the message, “Go to hell, Israel.” Earlier this year it featured a comment reading, “Hitler didn’t finish the job” in a discussion about Israel’s alleged involvement in Islamist terrorism.

However, the embassy called the statements attributed to Dakhlaoui “unacceptable” adding he was summoned to talks with his superiors. The Foreign Ministry will decide how to handle the affair once it determines whether Dakhlaoui wrote the offensive remarks, the embassy’s statement said.

The act is considered a crime against humanity, which is forbidden under French law and holds a five years in prison penalty and $50,000 in fines. The comments have been removed, and Dakhlaoui’s  account was taken down.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in France during recent years. Last year, a report on the same blog over anti-Semitic statements on Facebook by a Kuwaiti woman interning at the French consulate in New York led to her dismissal.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has expressed his “solidarity” toward French Jews and has strongly condemned anti-Semitism.

Source: Arutz Sheva

By: Inbal Zlotnik

Anti-Semitic Incidents Rise 11% in the U.K.

A strong increase in anti-Semitic incidents was recorded in the first six months of 2016 in the U.K., which was in part due to numerous anti-Semitic statements made by the Labour party, according to the Jewish charity Community Security Trust.

Several are puzzled as to the nature of the increase. Two years ago Israel’s excursion into Gaza led to a big rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.K., however the biggest increase was recorded in April, May and June, when anti-Semitism in the Labour party was the subject of widespread media coverage. Racism and xenophobia were part of the campaign discourse in the run-up to the EU referendum on June 23, 2016.

The anti-Semitic attacks come in graffiti remarks, verbal abuse, abuse via social media, and more. There were 41 violent anti-Semitic assaults among the 557 incidents, a 13% drop compared to those recorded in 2015. Most of the attacks were in London, which noted an increase in number of incidents, and Manchester which listed a fall of 54%.

“This is a worrying rise in incidents set against a backdrop of increasing hate crimes across the country,” said John Mann, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Semitism, “The message should go out to everyone that we will not stand for anti-Semitism, perpetrators of hate crimes against Jews will be caught and prosecuted and the bystanders must be educated. Britain should expect better than this,” Mann said.

Source: The Guardian

By: Inbal Zlotnik