Category: News

A Message from a Holocaust Survivor

Alice Lahaman and Professor Pinchas Bar-Efrat are both Netherland-born Jews. They were both teenagers during the Second World War. Today, they shared their stories with students at Hebrew University, in Jerusalem, Israel.

Alice Ferera lived in Hague in 1942. When she turned 18, she had to separate from her first love in order to find shelter from the Nazis. They promised each other to write diaries and try to pass them to each other if they were doomed to die. If they were to survive the war, they agreed to meet up in the city square where they shared their first kiss. Running from shelter to shelter amid the horrors of Auschwitz, in starvation, cold and harsh conditions, Alice continued writing a diary to her love; and so did he. A close look at both diaries showed their love standing strong, often expressing the same feelings at the same dates, sometimes escaping on the same route.

At the end of the war Alice returned to the square, where they were to meet. She waited on the bench for many days, but to no avail. She knew he wanted to immigrate with her to Israel, to get married and start a big family. She decided to take these words from him and made his dream come true. Alice found a new love in a Jewish Brigade soldier from Israel [the Jewish Brigade consisted of Israeli citizens who volunteered for the British army during the Second World War). She immigrated with him to Israel and they decided to marry.

On their wedding day, as she set her veil over her hair, a package arrived. It was addressed to her. Puzzled, she opened it thinking it might be a wedding gift from someone who couldn’t make it, but was astounded to find that it was the diary of her old love, Bernie. Going rapidly through the pages with his hand writing she became startled and suddenly felt terrible, as though she was caught cheating; but the arrival of the package meant he was not among the living.

She continued hiding the diary in her attic for over 60 years, until her husband died. Her family’s curiosity drove her to open it, read and mourn. With her daughters assistance she translated the book into Hebrew and it was published in English and Italian as well. Alice then went on a fascinating journey to the Netherlands, which was documented in a film, trying to follow Bernie’s footsteps and discover what happened to him.

Finding him would not be possible without Pinchas Bar-Efrat, whom like Alice, survived the Holocaust. Bar-Efrat researched  the relationship between the Dutch people and the Jews during the Holocaust.

After recounting their stories, showing the film to students and various sources, which included the diaries, Red Cross documents and pictures, one student asked: “After having your experience during the Holocaust and living long after, what is the message you wish to pass on to the next generations?”

Alice replied: “I can only say I learned to never give [someone a hard time] or be evil to someone, even someone I don’t like.”

Dr. Pinchas said: “Most people don’t care what’s going on in other people’s lives. For me, what we can take is to think of our surroundings, that you can help someone – poor, disabled, someone who has a particular difficulty – you can reach out and try to help. To help even in the little things; we can’t change the world – but the little we do adds up to something great.”

Alice’s daughter adds: “I couldn’t agree more,” and added that in one of the books her mother mentioned she read during the Holocaust by Rita Von Suchner [the first woman to be awarded the Nobel prize for peace]  the following: “after the verb to love, to help is the prettiest verb in the world.”

Image: Roni Zedek

By: Roni Zedek

What You Need To Know About Holocaust Denial?

Holocaust denial claims the Holocaust never happened, that it wasn’t documented, and that it was not propagated by the Nazis against the Jews.

Holocaust denial is a criminal offence that is a penalty and can end in prison time in Israel, France, Germany, Austria, Spain and Belgium. In Israel however there is a special law that prohibits the actual denial of the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial may divide into two forms: “radical Holocaust denial,” a complete nullification of the idea that the Holocaust occurred and “moderate Holocaust denial” that claims it had occurred but lessens its atrocities by claiming it isn’t a unique crime and similar to other genocides committed against ethnic groups or minorities.

Holocaust denial often develops in Neo-Nazi groups, antisemitic organizations and Islamist groups.

There are many shocking arguments which deny the existence of the Jewish genocide during the Second World War, some of which are:

1. Some assume that the six million total of Jews that died is exaggerated.

2. Claim that the Nazis didn’t use gas chambers as mass murder weapons.

3. The movies presenting the murder and the devastation of the war were Ally propaganda.

4. Claims the evidence for the Holocaust is fake.

5. Argues that it was the Americans who commuted crimes against the Jews in order to enable the establishment of the State of Israel.

6. Argues that the Holocaust was invented by the Zionists in order to justify the establishment of the state of Israel and to dispossess the Palestinians from their rights and land.

7. Another claim was that Adolf Hitler, the Nazi party or the main leadership back then in Germany didn’t order to kill Jews or to commit crimes among them, therefore the Nazis don’t hold any responsibility for the policy towards the Jews, and that the Holocaust was a reasonable reaction for the Jewish people acts.

Although the Holocaust is an historical event that was documented and proven David Irving and the Lipstadt libel case is a known example for Holocaust denial. Lipstadt criticized Irving, a British writer and a historian, for misrepresenting evidences to justify his conclusions, therefore denying the Holocaust. Irving sued Debra Lipstadt and her publisher “Penguin Books” for their statements in Lipstadt book “Denying the Holocaust”. The court was convinced by Lipstadts’ arguments and condemned Irving. In 2006 Irving was convicted in Austria and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. In his trial Irving said he was mistaken and that he changed his opinion, he was convinced that the Nazis committed genocide against Jews. The movie “Denial” is based on Debra Lipstadts book and the trial.

Many countries conducted laws that prohibit the denial of the Holocaust, the European Union spurs more countries to conducts similar laws, The UN condemns every expression of Holocaust denial and declared the 27th January as the international Holocaust Memorial Day. The internet and easiness of publishing information had led to the growing popularity of Holocaust denial through the web. ISCA, Israeli students combating antisemitism, works daily to reduce the amount of Holocaust denial expression online.

Source: Wikipedia

Image: Kosher Delight

By: Yael Soffer

Burnt Mezuzah Found on University of California Dorm Room

A burnt Mezuzah was found last Sunday during the Purim holiday on the doorpost of a room that belongs to a Jewish San Francisco law student.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before at University of California, Hastings (UC Hastings),” said the student, who wishes to remain anonymous. “It’s about Jews in general, [and] not just me. Given the climate around the country, [with] the bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers, it’s not entirely unexpected, but you still don’t imagine it will happen to you,” he added.

Calling the attack an “apparent incident” the UC Hasting chancellor sent a letter to the students saying the university will not tolerate hateful actions towards members of the community.”

In response to the vandalism, representatives of the Jewish Law Students Association said it plans to distribute next week dozens of Mezuzoth to Jewish students wishing to hang them up as a sign of solidarity. The targeted student said he sees this as “the perfect response.”

The vandalism is being investigated as a possible antisemitic hate crime by local police. Authorities reported to have no leads on the perpetrator at the moment.

Source: The Algemeiner

Image: The Algemeiner

By: Efrat Baron

BDS Motion Falls Through At Bath University

A motion supporting the BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement who accuses Israel of war crimes failed to pass at the University of Bath’s Student Union.

The motion accusing Israel of committing “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” states: “Israel is only able to maintain its system of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people because of the support that it receives from world governments and corporations.”

Israel advocates active on campus worked together with students of other societies with common interests such as the Conservative Society, the Christian Union and the Indian Society to push against the vote. The final results were: 343 votes against, 249 votes for, with over 200 students abstaining.

Source: Jewish News Online

Image: University of Bath

By: Hadassah Schwarz

A Modernized Blood Libel: ‘Israel Toasts To Syrian Horrors’

As previously published on our blog, a blood libel is a medieval claim that Jews bake their Passover Matzah with the blood of gentile children. During the past week, this historic accusation came to life again as anti-Israel activists continued to spread lies and hate on social media.

It began when Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely posted a photo of her department’s annual pre-Passover toast to Twitter. Her Hebrew caption read: “A toast for the [Passover] holiday in the foreign ministry office this morning. Israel has a moral responsibility to act in the diplomatic arena against the atrocities of the Syrian regime.”

A guy named Haidar Sumeri tweeted the following: “Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are literally toasting yesterday’s event in #Syria. I thought they were all shocked and outraged?”

The suggestion Sumeri is making is clear: Israel is celebrating the murder of Syrian civilians whilst doing nothing. Toasting before an upcoming Jewish Holiday [Passover, in this case] is a tradition in the Israeli workplace. The events in Syria were mentioned by Hotovely in the context of reminding everyone of the moral responsibility Israel in light of the horrible atrocities being committed in Syria.

Sumeri’s tweet is false and assumes the exact opposite of what is going on in the photo. Sumeri’s antisemitic tweet was retweeted 165 times so far.

Source: Tablet Magazine

Image: Tzippi Hotovely/Twitter

By: Hadassah Schwarz

Swastikas Spray Painted in Petah Tikva

Last week two swastikas were found on a bus stop in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva. A day later another swastika was found on a school wall.

The vandalism occurred during Passover, and went unnoticed since schools and other facilities are closed for the holidays.

A city resident said: “It makes me feel sick that they did [committed these atrocities] it on Passover.” Passover is known as a holiday which celebrates the liberty of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery.

Rami Grinberg, a member of the city municipality erased the swastikas and added: “As a second generation to Holocaust survivors, a number of my relatives were killed during the Holocaust and as a public representative of the city of Petah Tikva, I won’t let this happen again. I will work to diminish these acts quickly, [so that] the memory of the six million Jews who died during the terrible Holocaust will be in our hearts forever. We won’t let anyone mock this.”

Police are investigating the incident.

This is not the first time that Petah Tikvah was affected by antisemitic hate crimes. In 2007, a Neo-Nazi gang was arrested by the city police and several swastikas were found painted on two synagogues and a religious college.

Source: Mynet Petah Tikva

Image: Facebook

By: Yael Soffer

 

Mayim Bialik Defends Israel, Gets Hate Messages

Many Israeli and Jewish prominent figures are on the American show business scene. Few will stand up and defend Israel and their fellow Jews. Mayim Bialik is one exception to this rule. Many know her as Amy Farrah Fowler (Sheldon Cooper’s girlfriend) on “The Big Bang Theory” series, and as a teen playing the main role on the hit sitcom, “Blossom.”

Bialik grew up in a liberal Jewish home in California, and has relatives in Israel whom she visits regularly. Among them you may also find Israel’s national poet, Haim Nahman Bialik. Mayim has a PhD in Neuroscience and studied Hebrew and Jewish Studies. In her personal life she defines herself as a Modern Orthodox Jew, Zionist, a vegan and a feminist. She has two children, and recently published a book discussing her parenting method.

On her blog “Grok Nation” Bialik reacted to the Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour’s articles, which stressed that feminism and Zionism are incompatible. In her column, Bialik explained the definitions of Zionism and feminism and stressed why one doesn’t contradict the other. Furthermore, she stated that bigotry exists since many parts of the world ignore human rights issues. Bialik stressed that in these countries, (a large part Islamist) women’s rights are violated daily and are the norm.

The article went viral and raised a strong reaction. In an interview to a Channel 10 News program in Israel [“Live at Night”] she spoke about the surprising antisemitic reactions she received as a result of her blog post. “Anytime I mention Israel I get threats, I get horrendous things… anytime I mention the right of Israel to exist, just the right, politics aside, it is met with what would absolutely be qualified as antisemitism. So if I say Israel deserves to exist as autonomous country with secure borders, that should not lead to ‘Hitler should have finished the job’, ‘you dirty hook-nose Jew’, ‘you run the world, you run the media’, ‘you all should have died in ovens’”. These stereotypes, Bialik adds express hatred towards Jews through known stigmas and references to the holocaust.

Bialik added that she will continue to voice her opinion and support Israel. On her many blogs on Kevller, Grok Nation, Facebook and Youtube she posts her views regarding her Jewish identity in the American society and preaches liberalism, equality and acceptance.

Source: Ha’tzinor

Image: Gettyimages

By: Roni Zedek

Passover And Christian Blood

Passover is a Jewish holiday which takes place in the spring every year. They are commanded to avoid bread and leavened foods. Instead, they eat Mazah, an unleavened bread [similiar to a hard cracker] for seven days. This custom and a special traditional ‘seder’ night feast are designed to commemorate the exodus of the Jewish nation from Egypt, dated to 1312 BC.

A blood libel (also known as blood accusation) dates back to ancient times and expresses fabrications accusing Jews of murdering Christians (mainly children) in order to use their blood for Matzah baking and other ritual purposes. This clearly ignornes the fact that “thou shalt not murder” is one of the Ten Commandments, Judaism’s main laws, and that eating blood (of any creature) is forbidden. With time, the expressions expanded to include accusations regardless of Passover or children, or as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) put it: “a false, incendiary claim against Jews.”

Blood libels are extremely ancient and referred to as “old antisemitism,” however they are common in the new era as well. Besides for projecting false claims and harming the Jewish public image; blood libels have caused tremendous pain for Jewish people throughout the history, and have justified genocides, murders and pogroms. In this article, we will review a few of the most common libels and their consequences, and see how they still hold impact today.

England to begin the slanderous phenomenon, when a child went missing in the woods in Norwich in 1144, and later found dead. His hagiographer told a story resembling what we know today as “The Protocol of the Elders of Zion.” Selected Jews gathered to decide from where will be the next victim for the annual Passover sacrifice. The story became a slanderous libel and the child, William a martyr. As the stories piled up, by 1190 over 150 Jews were attacked, and in other cases executed and expelled. The libel spread through France to the rest of Europe, and was reused time and time again. Reporting a missing child was enough to convict Jews, even without presenting a valid argument, and often made use of false witnesses.

At the Renaissance transpired blood libels became even more vicious, especially in the context of rivalry based on religious faith. The belief in supernatural powers made it easy for the common man to attribute “witch’” powers to the unfamiliar Jew.

One of the most famous tales is of Simon of Trent, Italy, 1475. A body of a two year old infant was found at the Samuel’s cellar near Passover. The authorities were called, and the entire Jewish community was arrested, and forced to confess under torture of having used the child for demonic purposes. Those who agreed to be baptized were beheaded; others sentenced to death and burnt on the stake. Overall 15 Jews were killed and the rest were expelled from Trent. The rumor of the event spread, and sparked pogroms against Jews all over Italy.

Since the establishment of the state of Israel, relations with Arab countries diminished. Mosques and state leaders made up stories of blood libels. Several of these had severe consequences for Israeli Jews, inspiring Muslim Shahids to seek revenge for the false “murder” of Palestinian and Arab children.

A Facebook post by the Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi used doctored photos and claimed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) used the Palestinian population for organs. In 2016 Mahmoud Abbas, the Head of the Palestinian Authority argued to the European Union that Rabbis in Israel called to poison drinking wells in order to commit mass murder towards the Palestinians. After heavy condemnations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas apologized for the falsehoods.

These are just minor examples describing the use of blood libels against Jews in the Palestinian media, some of which include absurd claims that Israel spreads AIDS, drugs, diseases, commits organs theft, and killings. These lies along with dehumanization of Jews, are prevalent in the Muslim media, network and education system, harming Jews everywhere.

Source: Wikipedia, Moment, Palestinian Media Watch

Image:  Wikipedia

By Roni Zedek

Jewish Graves Vandalized In Pennsylvania

Over 30 tombstones were found broken and toppled over at Mt. Sharon Cemetery in Pennsylvania last Friday, April 7, 2017.

A local resident discovered the vandalism, while paying her respects to her father’s grave and reported it immediately to the police.

The police are investigating the incident. However, no suspects were found.

This ‘grave’ vandalism adds to the antisemitic spree of the past few weeks. Approximately 100 graves were sabotaged at another Jewish cemetery in Pennsylvania, over 150 tombstones were broken at a cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri and a number were also reported toppled in New York.

Source: NY Daily News

Image: More Ezra/NBC 10 Philadelphia

By: Yael Soffer

White House Spokesperson: Hitler Did Not Use Chemical Weapons

At a press briefing in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer made an inflammatory comment on the Holocaust, when mentioning Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Spicer later admitted his mistake and apologized. However, people were offended by his offhand comment. Many Holocaust memorial institutions heavily criticized Spicer’s comment.

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink… to using chemical weapons,” said Spicer. “You have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself, is this a country and a regime you want to align yourself with? “Russia has to recognize (…) that the lines that have been crossed are ones that no country should ever see another country cross.”

Though the political message is one most people agree with, and the use of chemical weapons is condemned across the board, the facts must be clarified and brought to light in wake of Spicer’s incorrect comparison.

The United States produced and stockpiled chemical weapons during World War I.  Nazi Germany used chemical weapons against their enemies and their own people. According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, gassing operations were widely common. This began with the “Euthanasia Program” for Germans who were considered unworthy to live,  such as mentally ill and the disabled. Six gassing installations were established in concentration camps in Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz, murdering millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other minorities. Spicer incorrectly referred to these as “Holocaust centers” during the press statement.

After the heavy criticisims and negative feedback, Spicer rushed to apologize, admitting it was an insensitive mistake. “I made a mistake; there’s no other way to say it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have, and I screwed up.”

Source: USA Today; New York Times

Image: USA Today

By: Roni Zedek and Yafit Ovadia