Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

Jews, Fearing for Their Own Safety, Ask Poland’s Leader to Denounce Rising anti-Semitism – Haaretz

In letter to leader of the ruling party, the head of the Jewish community in Poland expresses their growing concern with increased verbal and physical attacks

The leaders of Poland’s Jewish community have written to the country’s most powerful politician, urging him to denounce what they say is rising anti-Semitism that has left them fearing for their future in the country.

The letter, a rare voicing of concern, comes nearly two years after the election of Law and Justice, a deeply conservative, nationalistic and anti-migrant party that is backed by some groups with anti-Semitic views. Observers including the country’s human rights commissioner have noted a rise in anti-Semitism and other hate speech and as well as attacks on dark-skinned people since the party came to power.

“We are appalled by recent events and fearful for our security as the situation in our country is becoming more dangerous,” Leslaw Piszewski, the head of the Jewish community in Poland, and Anna Chipczynska, the head of the Warsaw community, wrote in the letter.

Chipczynska told The Associated Press on Thursday that the community sent the letter last week to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, but so far had no reply. The AP made several attempts to reach the party spokeswoman but all calls went unanswered.

The letter says there has been a “rise of anti-Semitic attitudes in recent months, accompanied by aggressive hate speech and violent behavior that are directed towards our community” and asked Kaczynski to decisively condemn the anti-Semitism.

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Among examples it mentions the increasingly visible presence, even at state events, of members of an extremist right-wing group, the National Radical Camp, and an attack last week on a visiting Israeli soccer team.

It also cited a recent comment by a lawmaker from Law and Justice, Bogdan Rzonca, who said on Twitter earlier this month that he wondered “why there are so many Jews among abortionists despite the Holocaust.”

Another incident that raised the community’s concern was when a journalist for state television TVP, Magdalena Ogorek, highlighted the Jewish ancestry of a senator, Marek Borowski, when criticizing his politics. The incident sparked a wave of critical comments, and the head of TVP demanded an explanation from Ogorek.

Some Polish observers have said the climate evokes the mood in the country in 1968, when the communist regime waged an anti-Semitic campaign against Jews that culminated in thousands being expelled from the country.

“We are afraid for our security and our future in Poland,” the Jewish leaders wrote to Kaczynski. “We do not want a return to the year 1968.”

Poland’s Jewish community was the largest in Europe before the Holocaust, with some 3.3 million people. Today’s community is much smaller but had been growing amid a new tolerance that came with the collapse of communism in 1989.

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Jews flee Venezuela amid growing political violence – The Times of Israel

Jews in Venezuela are increasingly fleeing the country amid the rising political instability and violence under President Nicolas Maduro, with a growing number decamping for Israel.

Speaking at their new apartment in Jerusalem, Estella and Haim Sadna, a religious couple with four kids from the Venezuelan capital Caracas, described the food scarcity and rampant crime that drove them to move the Jewish state.

Most of the supermarkets are empty. Everything is empty. You can see that all the aisles are completely empty, Haim Sadna told Channel 2 in an interview aired Saturday.

His wife Estella complained of the difficulty in Venezuela of buying basic products such as milk for her kids, adding that since Passover we havent had bread.

We lived in a beautiful home with seven rooms. But we left everything behind. We left the house, we left the furniture, the cars. Everything remained [there], the couple said. We brought the clothes that we use. That is what we brought, clothes and shoes.

The Sadna family at their apartment in Jerusalem. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The Sadnas also noted the collapse of public services in the country such as healthcare, as well the sky-high crime rates, with Venezuela having some of the worlds worst murder statistics.

The crime situation is [so bad] that it is scary to go out to the street. I only go out of it is essential and that is it, Estella said. At five p.m. we would run home.

The situation got worse and worse. We could no longer go out to the street, she continued. On most days the kids didnt go to school. They said they were in jail, that the house was a jail. The children have no life [in Venezuela].

While Venezuela once had one of the largest Jewish communities in the region, numbering some 25,000 in 1999, only about 9,000 Jews are believed to remain in the country. Israel has been working behind the scenes in order to bring as many of those remaining as possible to Jewish state, according to Channel 2.

Illustrative: A young Jewish boy reads from the Torah on his Bar Mitzvah in Magen David synagogue in Caracas, Venezuela. January 01, 2005. (Serge Attal/Flash90)

Nissim Bezalel, who moved to Israel from Venezuela a year and a half ago, said that Jews are in an increasingly perilous situation as a result of the widespread poverty stemming from the collapse of the Venezuelan economy.

Because there is the image of Jews as wealthy people that they have money they are a target, to kidnap them and demand a ransom for them, he told Channel 2. It is not because they are Jews, it is because they have money.

While most of the Jews leaving Venezuela would flee to Mexico, Panama or Miami, an increasing number of have been coming to Israel. Last month, a batch of 26 Jews arrived in the Jewish state from Venezuela.

Ofer Dahan, who heads the immigration department for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, told Channel 2 that the state has increased its aid to Venezuelan immigrants as the situation in the country has gotten worse.

An opposition activist throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with security forces in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on August 12, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

While many Jews have fled the country amid the growing instability, a number have joined the protesters demonstrating against Maduros rule.

Alex Cohen, who said he joined the protests in Caracas four months ago, told Channel 2 that the goal of the demonstrators is the return of Venezuela to the people.

In Venezuela there is a dictator and Venezuela is held as a hostage by ten people, he said, while calling on the international community to come to the assistance of the demonstrators.

Opposition figure Nixon Moreno, who said he was forced to go underground after being arrested, likened the oppositions struggle to Israels fight against terror.

Israel understands us very well because Israel is a victim of terror by extremist groups, he said, adding that Venezuela is fighting against another kind of terror.

Despite once being one of the wealthiest nations in South America, with the worlds largest proven oil reserves, the Venezuelan economy has collapsed as a result of the economic mismanagement beginning under the late president Hugo Chavez.

The economic situation has further deteriorated since Chavezs death in 2013 and the rise to power of his hand-picked successor Maduro, a former bus driver, with inflation hitting some 800 percent and ever growing shortages of basic foodstuffs, toilet paper and medicine.

With the collapsing economy, the country has been rocked by political turmoil, as Maduro has sought to consolidate power following the oppositions victory in the 2015 parliamentary elections by weakening the legislatures powers and imprisoning political opponents.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses the new constitutional assembly that replaced the parliament and is tasked with rewriting the constitution, in Caracas on August 10, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Last month, Venezuela held elections for a new constitutional assembly that supersedes the parliaments authorities. The US and a number of other Western and Latin American have refused to recognize the results, citing fraud and other irregularities.

The US slapped sanctions on Maduro following the vote and on Friday US President Donald Trump said he was weighing a military response to the very dangerous mess in Venezuela.

JTA contributed to this report

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Jews flee Venezuela amid growing political violence – The Times of Israel

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MacGyver and the Jews – Aish

I loved watching MacGyver when I was a kid. He was always finding himself trapped in some kind of difficult situation, with little or no chance of getting out. Despite everyone around him giving up hope, the ever resourceful MacGyver would scrounge around the underground cave or sealed bomb shelter, gathering random items. Hed grab someones shoelaces, confiscate someone elses candy wrapper and then pluck a leaf from the ground, and using these things, hed create an explosive device to make a hole just big enough for everyone to escape.

I was enthralled watching MacGyver week after week find his way out of the most impossible situations. His tenacity, grit and resourcefulness made an impression on me. Heres why:

Theres a Yiddish expression I heard growing up: Ah yid getzech an aitzah a Jew gives himself a suggestion or idea. No matter how difficult things seem, the Jew figures it out and finds a way. Every time I complained that I couldnt do something, I was told there had to be a way to do it, and to emphasize the point, this Yiddish axiom was invoked.

Dont give up. A Jew finds a way.

I wasnt always as successful as Id hoped, but I dutifully did my best to always try to find a way.

Becoming a teacher gave me a newfound appreciation for MacGyver. I kept seeing students who would try, make a mistake, and promptly give up. They were so devastated by their error that they refused to continue or try again.

Dont you know? I would shout in my head, Ah yid getzech an aitzah! No matter how I tried to soothe their feelings and help them move on, I couldnt seem to reach them. The shame of making a mistake seemed to be an insurmountable barrier that prevented them from continuing. Then, one semester, while teaching a college class on Positive Psychology, I encountered Carol Dwecks Mindset Theory.

Dr. Dweck set out to discover what made some people successful, while others with the same advantages, backgrounds, and demographics were unsuccessful. She discovered that a persons success is tied to their perspective of themselves as learners. Those with a fixed mindset see themselves as having a fixed amount of intelligence and ability. Whatever they are good at and can do is. what they are good at and can do. They believe that there is no growth possibility, no way to change or improve their abilities or knowledge. So if theyre bad at math, they believe thats just how it is and how it always will be, and nothing can change that.

By contrast, someone with a growth mindset believes that intelligence is not static. They believe that people can learn to do things that are difficult for them, or achieve things that dont come naturally to them. These individuals are undeterred by mistakes because they understand that learning is a process and mistakes are a part of that process. They are more concerned with the transformational journey theyre taking than on the immediate results.

Once students internalize this way of thinking, they embrace learning without the fears of messing up that often stand in the way. Ive seen it work successfully with my first graders, as well as high school students.

Dr. Dwecks Mindset Theory and MacGyvers can-do attitude resonate with the Yiddish saying Ah yid getzech an aitzah a Jew finds a way. From the very beginning, starting with Abraham, the Jewish people have been trying to find a way to do the seemingly impossible to embody and share the values and wisdom that bring light and meaning to the world. Faced with relentless persecution, exile and scattering to the four corners of the earth that would have vanquished most nations, the Jewish people never gave up. Despite all odds, they persevered with Gods help in their mission to find a way to bring the light of Torah to the world, laying the moral foundations of the western world.

MacGyver always arrived at a neat, happy ending with the best possible results. In the real world, there are no guarantees that our specific efforts will succeed. But that does not mean we shouldnt try; it means we need to try even harder. After all, weve got the Almighty on our side, the Ultimate MacGyver. Ah yid getzech an aitzah a Jew finds a way.

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MacGyver and the Jews – Aish

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Donald Trump, Betrayer-in-Chief – Jewish Journal

On Saturday, the President betrayed the Jews.

Some 500 white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, VA. They chanted, The Jewish media is going down! and hurled the n-word at counter-protestors. Violence broke out. A car plowed into a group of peaceful counter-protesters walking away from the rally, killing one of them.

After waiting far too long, President Donald Trump made a statement. He condemned violence on many sides. If it wasnt clear that he was apportioning blame equally between the people who marched in support of slavery and killing Jews and those who opposed them, he repeated that phrase, on many sides.

And that was the moment Donald Trump betrayed the Jews.

Would it have been so hard to say racism and anti-Semitism have no place in the United States of America? The marchers, out to protest the removal of a stature of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, alternated chants of, You will not replace us! with Jews will not replace us! But Trump the father and grandfather and father-in-law of Jews refused to blame them. Refused to hold them accountable. Refused to threaten them with anywhere near the fire and fury he uses to lash out at Sen. Mitch McConnell or CNN or the New York Times.

This is not Republican. Right after the violence broke out, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, tweeted, White supremacy crap is worst kind of racismits EVIL and a perversion of Gods truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.

Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted, White supremacists arent patriots, theyre traitors Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry.

But Trump couldnt do it.

And instead of slapping the instigators of all this violence back, it gives them cover to go on. They can tell themselves, Were no worse than them even the President said so. Trump just leveled the playing field between good and evil.

For years Trump and his supporters accused President Barack Obama of refusing to use the phrase, radical Islamic terrorism something President George W. Bush also refused to do.

But here he is refusing to name and condemn the terrorists in his own backyard.

And the cowardice or complicity was echoed by Trumps Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In his statement, Sessions condemns hate and intolerance and violence. He doesnt name white supremacists or the Klan. Those people can read his statement and be perfectly justifiable it applies to the people who came out to oppose them.

The reaction to Trumps shameful statement has been swift and bipartisan. He may, as he has in the past, come out with a lame, too-late correction.

But the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville today will say hes just doing it to calm the critics, that he doesnt really mean it.

And that is one thing those racist losers and I agree on.

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Donald Trump, Betrayer-in-Chief – Jewish Journal

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Filmmaker Isaac Artenstein’s Tales of Frontier Jewish Life – Times of San Diego

Share This Article: By Mimi Pollack

Filmmaker Isaac Artenstein likes to tell good stories, especially unknown ones, and if those stories inform and entertain others, even better. He feels that the Jews of the Southwest have an untold story as the narrative has been mostly about the Anglo westward expansion. He wants to show one of the missing pieces of the puzzle.

To that end, he is working on a four part series of documentaries, Frontier Jews, which covers Jews of the Southwest, including New Mexico, San Diego, Tucson and El Paso. The documentary on New Mexico, Challah Rising in the Desert, has just been completed and the one on San Diego, To the Ends of the Earth, is near completion.

Artenstein was born in San Diego and grew up as a child of the border. He went to school in Tijuana and high school in Chula Vista. Fluent in both English and Spanish, he moves comfortably between both worlds. In addition, with an Ashkenazi father and Sephardic mother, he was also exposed to the different aspects of Judaism, all of which served him well while making the documentaries.

Early in life, Artenstein told his stories by painting. I can remember drawing and painting since I was very young. This love of art led to photography and later filmmaking. He studied painting and photography at UCLA and filmmaking at the California Institute of the Arts where he got his degree. He uses his artistic eye as a filmmaker.

After years of people asking him where he was from and not understanding that Artensteins could be Mexican, he decided to make a documentary on the Jews of Tijuana. He started by interviewing his own family and went on to interview other families and individuals who were all part of Tijuanas history. The documentary Tijuana Jewscame out in 2005 and was well received. It was shown at many Jewish film festivals.

At the Tucson film festival, he was given a book, Pioneer Jews by Harriet and Fred Rochlin, which piqued his interest in learning more. He spent the next ten years fundraising to accomplish his goal. As I traveled and interviewed people in Tucson, El Paso, and New Mexico, I realized that the stories were very similar to those of the pioneer Jews in San Diego whose lives were centered in Old Town. At the same time, each place had something unique.

Artenstein also has a methodical side to go along with his creative one. In preparing for each documentary, he likes to interview a wide array of people to find a dramatic structure and a theme. Although he is making a documentary, he feels it is still storytelling. He knows that the visual, lighting, mood, and music are important for each documentary, so he surrounds himself with talented people. His director of photography is Sergio Ulloa. As Artenstein says, For Challah Rising in the Desert, Sergio and I realized that the New Mexico landscape was also a character in our film as it is so diverse and beautiful. His co- composers are Jaime Valle and Alan Phillips. They composed very different music for each documentary.

The first documentary in the series, Challah Rising in the Desert, explores the history of the Jews in New Mexico. The braided challah bread represents the five strands or waves of settlements that have come, including the converso Jews escaping the Spanish inquisition 400 hundred years ago, the German Jewish pioneers of the Santa Fe trail in the 1800s, the scientists who came in the 1940s to Los Alamos, the counterculture youth of the 1960s, and the Jews of today. It also shows the special influence New Mexico has had on its Jewish community. Only there will you find bakers who mix green chilis into the challah dough, producing a hybrid and delicious bread.

San Diegos documentaryTo the Ends of the Earth came about from a collaboration between Artenstein and Bill Lawrence, the executive director of the San Diego History Center, for the History and Heritage of San Diegos Jewish Community exhibit, which is running until May 2018. Artenstein was commissioned to produce a series of standalone video capsules for the exhibit. He interviewed various people in the community. Although the videos are separate, this collaboration was the catalyst for the documentary. Artenstein shot the capsules concurrently while shooting for the documentary.

While doing research, he was particularly intrigued when he discovered and read a detailed diary by Victoria Jacobs, who lived in Old Town as a teenager. She wrote of her daily life. At that time, Jews were well integrated in the fabric and society of San Diego.

However, after the railroad was built and more Anglos arrived in San Diego, the climate towards the Jews began to change. By the 1940s and 1950s, there were restrictive covenants in certain areas of town where blacks, Mexicans and Jews were not allowed to live. La Jolla was one of them. Although these covenants were illegal, they still existed. This changed with the opening of UC San Diego in 1960. The head of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Roger Revelle, served as a point man for the UC Board of Regents. He made it clear that if the university was going to open in La Jolla, he wanted all the professors to be able to live nearby.

The 1960s and the university brought internationally influential Jews to San Diego such as virologist Jonas Salk, electronic engineers Irwin Jacobs and Andrew Viterbi, and poet Jerome Rothenberg. This renaissance was scientific, entrepreneurial, and cultural.

Artenstein interviewed diverse people for the documentary, including Jewish historian Joellyn Zollman, San Diego Jewish World publisher Don Harrison, actor and writer Salomon Maya, Jonas Salks son Peter, and Congresswoman Susan Davis. He learned from Zollman that 20 percent of the Jewish community in San Diego is foreign born and there are Jews from Mexico, South Africa, Israel and Russia. The Jewish community in San Diego is truly rich in diversity.

Challah Rising in the Desert will go to general distribution in September. To the Ends of the Earth will be completed by the end of the summer, and Artenstein plans to submit it for the next San Diego Jewish Film Festival. His goal is to complete all four documentaries or Frontier Jews by the end of 2018.

Mimi Pollack is an English as a SecondLanguage teacher and a freelance writer. This article is reprinted with permission of LChaim Magazine.

Filmmaker Isaac Artensteins Tales of Frontier Jewish Life was last modified: August 12th, 2017 by Editor

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This weekend’s Charlottesville rally represents an alliance between pro-Confederates and Nazis – Vox

The alt-right rally Friday night at the University of Virginia campus and Saturday in the city of Charlottesville is technically about a statue of Robert E. Lee. But common to many participants in the rally is a willingness to use and celebrate Nazi symbols and ideology.

Fridays protesters shouted anti-Semitic and Nazi-associated slogans, including “blood and soil: a phrase that references the German ideology of Blut und Boden, or the idea that a person is defined by his or her relationship to ethnic ancestry (blood) and the land they cultivate (soil).

Protesters also shouted Jews will not replace us (a more explicitly anti-Semitic take on you will not replace us, a white-supremacist alt-right slogan that arose in response to actor Shia LaBoeufs anti-Trump performance art piece He Will Not Divide Us).

Attendees at the rally also wore Nazi paraphernalia, carried flags with swastikas alongside Confederate flags, and wore shirts with quotations by Adolf Hitler.

The use of anti-Semitic slurs and display of Nazi imagery is ubiquitous among certain factions of the alt-right. But the rhetoric and imagery of Charlottesville, in which the tropes of the Ku Klux Klan including the burning torches of Fridays protest and the trappings of Nazism collide, is particularly unsettling. In adopting the Nazified ideology of Blut und Boden, the Charlottesville demonstrators arent just expressing hatred against one group of people, which would be sickening enough on its own.

Rather, theyre doing something even more terrifying: advocating for a radically reactionary understanding of societal relations thats predicated on the idea that people are solely obligated to fight for the future and well-being of people who look just like them.

Theyre also, implicitly, firing up their base by creating an even greater chasm between the good old boys, whom they portray as defending their own, and the gold old boys enemies: the implicit metropolitan (and coded-as-Jewish) elites. Its a strategy that may yet work to gather more disenfranchised, rural whites into the fold.

After all, Blut und Boden worked so powerfully and insidiously as a Nazi ideology not just because it privileged certain bloodlines among others, but also because it harkened back to an ahistorical, nationalist notion of rural idyll. Today, many on the American right today see that same rural idyll in their idealized recollections of the pre-Civil War South.

Nazi propaganda used Jews as a convenient scapegoat for the economic crises of the 1930s. Blaming Jews for making wretched ethnic Germans by lending them money and demanding they pay interest, one Nazi propaganda pamphlet characterized Jews as singly responsible for the decline of rural Germany:

They had to move to the cities. Torn from the land to which they belonged, robbed of their labor that gave their lives purpose and meaning, they fell victim to poverty and misery. Worn down, their souls crushed, they accepted Jewish doctrines that denied the Fatherland and opposed all that was nationalistic. Their strength and ability faded. The Jew had reached his goal.

In other words, blood and soil is about stoking the twin fires of false nostalgia and outright bigotry. Its at once an invitation to good old boys to Make America Great Again and a channel through which they can direct their anger by blaming an imagined other.

The use of anti-Semitic slurs in Charlottesville this weekend, therefore, is about more than just insidious bigotry. Its about creating an alliance between two historic hatreds, predicating the imagined greatness of Trumps America on expelling the undesirables.

That propaganda worked in the 1930s. It cannot be allowed to work today.

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German Jews interrogated POWs for US in World War II – STLtoday.com

In 1944-45, a few thousand German Jewish exiles returned to the fatherland wearing U.S. Army uniforms. They were part of the Ritchie Boys alien refugees trained to interrogate enemy prisoners of war.

In Sons and Soldiers, popular historian Bruce Henderson tells the story of six of those Ritchie Boys. He starts with their misery in Germany as the brutally anti-Semitic Nazis took over, then follows them into exile, and then into the Army, and then on to Camp Ritchie, Md., for their training and finally to Europe and into combat.

During their training, they came to understand that they werent at Camp Ritchie just because they spoke the language. They also knew the culture and psyche of Germans better then anyone else a deep, intimate knowledge born from the small details of their lives growing up in Germany. As children, they had gone to school and played sports with boys who were now German soldiers. And as interrogators of German prisoners of war, they would be familiar with the workings of German minds, the habits of German lives, and the influences of Nazi doctrine upon German soldiers and civilians alike.

Author Henderson goes on to describe the positive results that the Ritchie Boys gleaned from POWs and some of their harrowing adventures under fire. (One Ritchie Boy made his first parachute jump at night into Normandy, under enemy fire, early on June 6, 1944.)

Hendersons book will appeal greatly to readers with a connection to the Holocaust. Theyll overlook some problems with the authors prose for example, a redundant reference to Buchenwalds having posts with automatic machine guns.

Local readers will take special interest in a Ritchie Boy named Gnter Stern, whose family got him away from their hometown of Hildesheim to faraway St. Louis. There, he lived with an uncle, baker Benno Silberberg. Stern graduated from Soldan High School (Class of 39) and picked up some money by busing tables at the old Chase Hotel.

In 1940, he enrolled at St. Louis University. A few months after Pearl Harbor, he tried to join the Navy but was turned away as a foreigner. A few months later, the less-demanding Army drafted Stern. The Army sent him to Camp Barkeley, Texas, for training as a medical administrator.

On May 1, 1943, he and some other foreign-born soldiers went to Abilene to be sworn in as American citizens. They were told that the court could change their Germanic or Jewish-sounding names if they wished. A number of soldiers, not wanting to go overseas with their birth names on their dog tags in case of capture, opted to do so. On that day, Gnter Stern of Hildesheim became Guy Stern of St. Louis.

Stern arrived in Britain in January 1944. Five months later, on June 9, he landed at Omaha Beach. He began interviewing POWs that very day, under German artillery fire.

On hand at the POW camp was Post-Dispatch correspondent Virginia Irwin. The sixth paragraph of her story opens this way:

Through an interpreter, who turned out to be Staff Sgt. Guy Stern of 1110A Maple Place, St. Louis, I talked with several Germans who had been captured.

Later, Stern ran into another well-known woman German-born actress Marlene Dietrich, on a USO tour. She accepted Sterns invitation to visit his POW camp.

But as Henderson notes, whatever curiosity Marlene had about seeing German POWs paled compared to their excitement at seeing her. The world had spread rapidly in the cage: Marlene Dietrich ist hier! Hundreds of them pressed against the wire enclosures on both sides, trying to see her, touch her, speak to her.

At one point, Stern and a fellow interrogator pushed the rules by having Stern pose as a Soviet commissar. Any prisoner who refused to answer questions was ushered into a tent housing Stern, dressed in a Soviet uniform and posing as Commissar Krukov. Under threat of being turned over to the Soviets, most of the POWs gave in and talked at length.

Henderson writes that as the war wound down in the spring of 1945, Stern kept alive the hope that his family would find a way to survive, and that once the war was over they would all be reunited.

But what he saw at Buchenwald ripped at his heart and took away what hope remained.

Shortly after the war ended, Stern returned to Hildesheim, in the British zone of occupation. Henderson says that his journey home had erased whatever hope he had that he would be reunited with his family. The truth was inescapable.

As he left the town of his youth, Guy Stern had no intention of ever returning.

Back in the postwar United States, Stern moved to New York, got a doctorate from Columbia and taught German studies, retiring from Michigans Wayne State University in 2003.

The afterword notes: Guy returned to his hometown of Hildesheim in the 1960s to speak at the dedication of a new synagogue.

Harry Levins of Manchester retired in 2007 as senior writer of the Post-Dispatch.

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The Catholic Church & the Jews: What is the True Story?

Though history has shown Catholics sometimes acting ignobly towards Jews, much more often Catholics have acted as protectors of them

Few episodes in recent Church history arouse as much attention as the alleged silence of Pope Pius XII regarding the Holocaust. Despite the fact that many respected scholarsincluding Jewish oneshave demonstrated that the pope gave European Jews much aid, this negative image of Pius XII prevails in many circles. Interestingly, unlike Pius, Allied leaders such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill did absolutely nothing to aid European Jews, although they do not have the same stigma. Perhaps this is because Pius XII is a symbol. Historical sources often present the Holocaust as the logical conclusion of traditional Catholic anti-Judaism; the pope should be demonized because he headed an institution that was the source of the hatred of Jews that culminated in the Shoah. Is this accusation fair?

In the Imperial War Museum of Londons otherwise excellent exhibit on the Holocaust, one can view a short documentary on the history of anti-Semitism. Before jumping into Nazi ideology, the film details Christian misdeeds against Jews during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. While the narrator of the documentary in the London museum explicitly states that modern anti-Semitism had little to do with traditional anti-Judaism, a similar documentary on the history of anti-Semitism in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum makes no such demarcation; it jumps directly from medieval anti-Judaism to the Dreyfus affair and the rise of the Third Reich.

Often times in texts about the Holocaust, the idea that the Nazi ideology was an extension of Christian anti-Judaism is presented as axiomatic. The problem with this presentation of history is that it solely focuses on Christian anti-Judaism. Why is it not acknowledged enough that the ancient Hebrew people were persecuted by many other groups? Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, and Romans all harmed Jews long before Christ was born. Perhaps this is because the Holocaust happened in Europe and was perpetrated by the traditionally Christian German nation. Was this the extension of Christian anti-Judaism?

Indeed, negative attitudes towards Jews among Christians have a long history. For centuries, Christians often blamed Jews for killing Christ; only did the 1965 document Nostra Aetaete officially absolve them of this charge. When bubonic plague ravaged Europe, many Christians in Europe accused Jews of poisoning wells. Throughout the centuries, Jews were accused of kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make matzos (blood libel). During the Crusades, Christian soldiers killed numerous Jews on the way to the Holy Land. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that Jews wear special clothing to distinguish them from Gentiles. As recently as the nineteenth century, Pope Pius IX reopened the Roman ghettothe last European ghetto before the Nazis came to powerand the Vatican kidnapped a Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, who was raised by the pope and became a priest.

All these are troubling aspects of the historic relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Pope John Paul II was right in apologizing in the name of the Church in 2000 for these and other historic abuses at the hands of Catholics. However, this is only one part of the story. There is also a long tradition of the Churchs defense of the Jews. While it is true that the Churchs relationship with Judaism improved radically in the past half-century beginning with Pope John XXIII, who removed the prayer for the conversion of the perfidious Jews from the Good Friday liturgy and especially under John Paul IIwho had Jewish friends growing up in Poland and was the first pope to make an official visit to a synagogue, who established diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Israel, and who condemned anti-Semitism vocally and explicitlythese two were not the first major papal allies of the Jews.

The first was Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), one of the four Latin Church fathers. He issued the edict Sicut Judaeis, which stated that the Jews should have no infringement of their rights. We forbid to vilify the Jews. We allow them to live as Romans and to have full authority over their possessions. During his pontificate, Gregory the Great repeatedly intervened on behalf of the Jews; for example, when the bishop of Palermo confiscated Jewish schools and synagogues, the pope intervened to stop him. More papal edicts prohibiting violence against the Jews, forced baptism, and other abuses, and promising papal protection, were signed by later popes, including Calixtus II, Clement VI, Boniface IX, and Martin V. Numerous edicts by medieval and Renaissance popes starting with Innocent IVs 1247 bull also condemned the blood libel myth.

The anti-religious polemicists who topped the bestseller lists several years agoincluding Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkinsoften present Adolf Hitler as a Catholic and claim that the Holocaust was the result of historical anti-Semitism. In fact, Hitler most qualifies as a lapsed Catholic. As an adult, he no longer participated in the sacraments. His wedding with Eva Braun was a secular civil ceremony. The Nazi leadership was not influenced by Christianity, but instead was fascinated with Germanic mythology, the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the mysticism of the Far East, of which S.S. head Heinrich Himmler was especially enamored, believing that the origins of the Aryan master race could be traced to India.

The Nazis were not atheists, but pagans. They were, however, strongly anti-Christian. After coming to power, the Nazi persecuted the Catholic Church in Germany. Catholic youth organizations and newspapers were banned, as was the Catholic Center Party. In Dachau, the first concentration camp, they imprisoned many priests in a famous priest block.

Of course, there were Catholics who acted deplorably during the Holocaust, and their misdeeds have to be enumerated. Arguably, the most pernicious was Monsignor Jozef Tiso. Following Nazi Germanys annexing of Czechoslovakia, a Slovak fascist puppet state was formed headed by Monsignor Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest. In 1939, Tisos puppet state sent 50,000 Slovak soldiers to aid in the German invasion of Poland. Tiso passed anti-Jewish legislation requiring Jews to wear yellow armbands and banning marriages between Jews and ethnic Slovaks. Tiso also helped the Germans deport 70,000 Jews to concentration camps. In 1942, he gave a speech in which he defended these deportations. Two years later, when the Slovak resistance launched an anti-Nazi uprising, Tiso accused the Jews of leading the rebellion and continued to support the deportations. Adolf Hitler himself was greatly impressed with Tisos sadism: It is interesting how this little Catholic priest Tiso is sending us the Jews! he remarked.

Slovakias fascist government was unique in that it was led by an ordained clergyman. However, there were two other pro-Nazi puppet governments that claimed to be Catholic in nature. The first was in Croatia. In 1941 in German-occupied Yugoslavia, the fascist Ustae formed the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Ustae made Catholicism the official religion of the regime and committed acts of genocide against Serbs, Jews, and Roma. The Ustaes treatment of Serbs, more than 300,000 of whom were killed, mostly in concentration camps located in Croatia, was especially barbaric: The Croat education minister wanted to murder one-third of the Serbs, forcibly convert one-third to Catholicism, and expel the remaining third. However, Jews were also targeted, and the Ustae were complicit in the killing of 30,000 Jews.

Another Catholic pro-Nazi puppet state was founded in Vichy France, headed by World War I hero Marshal Philipe Petain from 1940 to 1944. Wanting an ethnically French and Catholic state, Vichy adopted Nuremburg-style laws that discriminated against Jews and pursued pro-natalist policies among autochthonous French. The French police helped the Germans deport almost 80,000 French Jews to concentration camps. In numerous roundups, French policemen herded Jews onto trains sending them to near-certain death often without the presence of a single German. The Vichy French themselves built and ran concentration camps in France in which Jews, Roma, and political dissidents were interned.

Looking at the examples of Slovakia, Croatia, and France, one could be tempted to believe that the Catholic Church, if not indirectly responsible for the Holocaust, was Nazi Germanys partner in exterminating European Jewry. However, the mature historian must always look at the entirety of a situation before passing a judgment. There were many counterexamples of lay and ordained Catholics who acted heroically to aid Jews.

In all three Catholic fascist puppet states mentioned above, there were numerous priests and bishops who aided Jews. In Slovakia, the Greek Catholic bishop of Presov Pavel Gojdic, in particular, was a resister of the Holocaust. In 1939, he wrote a letter to the faithful in his diocese protesting against the discrimination of Jews. When the Slovaks and Germans began deporting Jews to concentration camps, Bishop Gojdic wrote a protest letter and informed the Vatican of the deportations. He also directly helped several Jews. In Croatia, the cardinal-archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, initially welcomed the Ustae regime and the creation of a semi-independent Croatia, although he did publicly condemn the governments persecution of Jews and secured hiding spots for Jews. In France, many bishops directly aided Jews; the most famous was Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier of Lyon who hid Jewish children in convents and parishes.

Elsewhere in Europe, priests and bishops also actively opposed the Holocaust. In 1942, the Dutch bishops wrote a letter condemning the deportations of Jews that was read in all parishes in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands; as a punishment, the Germans increased deportations of Jews, especially targeting converts. In Hungarywhich by 1944 was ruled by a fascist puppet state that collaborated with the Nazis in deporting Jews to concentration camps, but before was a relatively safe country for refugees, Jewish and otherwisethe nations primate, Cardinal Jusztinin Gyrgy Serdi helped find shelter for many of the 150,000 Polish refugees who fled the country after the German-Soviet invasion of 1939, many of whom were Jewish. In 1944, as Nazis and Hungarian fascists began deporting Jews, Cardinal Serdi publicly protested. In the United Kingdom, which avoided Nazi occupation thanks to victory during the Battle of Britain, Cardinal Arthur Hinsley organized a Catholic Day of Prayer for Poland in Westminster Cathedral in 1942, publicly condemning Nazi atrocities against Poles and Jews. In western Ukraine, Greek Catholic monasteries protected several hundred Jewish children from German Nazis and Ukrainian nationalists. Martin Gilbert, an esteemed historian of the Holocaust, estimates that hundreds of thousands of Jews across Europe were saved by Catholics.

Perhaps the most surprising Catholic who aided the Jews was General Francisco Franco. This right-wing military dictator, aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, likely saved more Jews than any other political leader during World War II. The devoutly Catholic Spanish dictator refused to hand over Jews who had sought refuge in neutral Spain. Franco instructed Spanish diplomats in Nazi-occupied Europe to aid Jews. He also helped Jews obtain Spanish passports and flee to Latin America. In total, General Franco is credited with saving about 40,000 Jews.

Two countries where Catholic aid to the Jews merits special mention are Poland and Italy. Before the Second World War, Poland had Europes largest Jewish population, at more than three million. Invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, non-Jewish Poles themselves suffered greatly during the war, losing two to three million people. Even without figuring in Jewish losses, Poland lost the largest proportion of its pre-war population of all European countries. It is true that before 1939, anti-Semitism increased in Poland, and that the Church was not immune to this. In 1936, the countrys primate Cardinal August Hlond issued a pastoral letter in which he accused Jews of spreading pornography and Bolshevism (although the letter also condemned physical violence against Jews and anti-Jewish prejudices, even though the author of the letter clearly himself had such prejudices).

Yet despite these souring relationsand despite the fact that Poland was the only occupied country where aiding Jews was punishable by death and that Polish priests themselves suffered under the occupation enormously, as half of all Polish priests and numerous bishops were deported to concentration campsthe Polish Churchs aid to the Jews was enormous. In his authoritative history of the Jews in Poland and Russia, Prof. Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University writes that 1,000 of 1,600 Polish convents sheltered Jewish children during the Holocaust. Irena Sendler, the famous Polish social worker who helped smuggle 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, often placed the children in convents and remarked in an interview with Anna Mieszkowska that she never had a priest turn down a request to aid a Jewish child. The Polish bishops never issued a document officially condemning the Holocaust. However, they never made an official protest against the massive deportations of Polish priests, either. Actions speak louder than words: Recent research reveals that of the thirteen Polish bishops who were not killed by the Nazis, exiled, or deported to concentration camps, eleven are documented as having aided Jews. One of the exiles, Bishop Karol Radoski, officially condemned the Holocaust on the radio in London.

Italy merits mention because the Vatican, whose wartime role has been the source of much controversy, is located there. Of the 45,000 Jews registered in Italys 1938 census, 7,000 fled the country and 8,000 died in concentration camps; this makes Italys wartime Jewish survival rate one of Europes highest. Naturally, there are numerous reasons for this: the Jewish population there was relatively small; the punishments for aiding Jews in Italy were not as draconian as in, say, Poland; and Italian Jews were not isolated from the rest of the population in walled or fenced ghettoes, as in Eastern Europe. At the same time, given the facts that in 1938, Mussolini passed anti-Semitic laws banning Jews from Italian public life and banning intermarriage and that the Italian Fascist militia collaborated with the Nazis in hunting down Jews, this high survival rate is remarkable.

Another reason for the high survival rate of Italian Jews must be attributed to the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII is frequently presented as Hitlers pope or as the silent pope. The truth of the matter is that Pius XII appealed to the Italian monasteries to hide Jewish children and himself hid several thousand Jews in Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, and in the Vatican itself. Reading the testimonies of Italian Holocaust survivors, it is clear that many Italian Jews were rescued by priests or nuns. Additionally, Pius sent protests to the pro-Nazi governments of Hungary and Slovakia, begging them to halt the deportations of Jews to concentration camps (tragically, without effect). Pius XII used a network of his papal nuncios across Europe to help persecuted Jews flee to Latin America or neutral countries and to secure hiding places; the most famous were Monsignors Angelo Rotta, papal nuncio to Hungary, and Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, Vatican ambassador to Greece and Turkey.

Pius XIIs record is imperfect. Before World War II, he pressured Poland to give the Free City of Danzig to Nazi Germany to avoid military conflict. After the war, the Vatican assisted some Nazi criminals in fleeing to Argentina; was Pius unaware of this? He also did not condemn the post-war pogroms against Jews that occurred across Eastern Europe. However, Pius record regarding the Jews is certainly better than that of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who as Jewish historian Walter Laqueur has chronicled in extensive detail, were well-informed about the Holocaust. However, they did not intervene, despite the fact that, unlike Pius XII, they had the military capacities to do so. For example, President Roosevelt refused to increase immigration quotas to allow more Jewish refugees from Europe to seek asylum in the United States, while his Department of War decided to not bomb the death camp crematoria.

It is true that when Pius XII condemned the Holocaust (on Vatican Radio, for instance), he used generic terms rather than referring to specific atrocities. Still, we must remember that Pius previously was a Vatican diplomat. He likely knew that speaking out too forcefully could have unintended tragic consequences; the abovementioned example of the increased deportations of Jews following the Dutch bishops letter shows this. The fact is that Pius XII saved thousands of Jews, including a great many Italian Jews, by hiding them in the Vatican, securing hiding places for them in Italian convents, and helping Jews through to his network of papal diplomats. Pius compares favorably not only to the wartime leaders of the United States and Britain, but above all to another prominent cleric, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem who openly supported Nazi Germanys Jewish policy.

The historical relationship between Catholics and Jews has frequently been portrayed in a negative light. The fact that Catholics did commit many transgressions against their elder brothers in the faith over the past two millennia is a historic fact. However, as we have seen, this relationship has often been portrayed in a one-sided way. Alongside genuine examples of Catholic mistreatment of Jews, such as the Fourth Lateran Council, we have examples of medieval bishops condemning anti-Semitic canards. In addition to perverted priests like Tiso, there were many Catholic bishops, priests, and nuns in every European country who helped Jews.

Before making a judgment on the relationship between Catholicism and the Holocaust, it is worth asking: Which group of Catholics truly lived out the Churchs teachings on the Jews? In Catholicism, the doctrine of mortal sin, the notion that all humans have an inherent tendency to commit wrong, is strong. This is why the sacrament of reconciliation is so important in Catholicism. Even very saintly men and women confess their sins (in fact, they do so more frequently than ordinary mortals). Were Catholics who harmed Jews acting out of their own iniquity, or because of their faith?

Unique among most of the worlds great religions, Christianity proposes a system of ethical universalism. As St. Paul said, there is no man or woman, Greek or Jew, slave or free. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that the Church eschews any primitive tribalism; all are to be treated equally. Nowhere in the New Testament is it said that Jews (or any other ethnic or religious group, for that matter) are somehow inferior. And with the exception of the Fourth Lateran Council, never did the official teachings of the Church promote any discrimination against Jews.

In addition to human corruptibility, is there any other origin of this well-documented, long-standing tradition of Christian hostility towards Jews and Judaism? In my opinion, two additional factors were at work. First, there is the fact that Christianity was born of Judaism, and so the two religions began as competitors. In addition to the battle for souls, many Christians have traditionally been disappointed that Jews refused to accept their Messiah. Meanwhile, Jews have themselves often been mistrustful towards Judaism. The Talmud presents Jesus Christ in an extremely negative light, while in Israel Jewish fundamentalists have set fire to churches, and Christiansboth ethnically Jewish ones and Palestinian Christiansare treated as second-class citizens (and sometimes not citizens at all) in Israel. I mention these facts not to suggest equivalence between Christian mistreatment of Jews and Jewish prejudice against Christiansthroughout the ages, Christian atrocities against Jews have been far more numerousbut to instead show how a certain mutual distrust often results from religions with a similar origin.

Second, there is the fact that human beings seem to have an inherent nasty tendency towards tribalism. Throughout most of European history, Jews have dressed differently, worshipped differently, spoken a different language (Ladino or Yiddish as opposed to the local language), and looked different in terms of physiognomy. Unfortunately, people often dont like those who are different. This is reflected in the fact that the Nazi ideology singled out the Roma and Sinti peoples for extermination, just as it did the Jews. Like Jews, Gypsies are of non-European origin and, like the Jews prior to 1948, have no state. Anti-Roma prejudice, both popular and institutional, is still strong today across Europe.

In conclusion, the historic relationship between Catholics and Jews has often been fraught. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of recent popes, anti-Judaism is marginalized within the Catholic Church. It is quite telling that the most anti-Semitic faction within the Church today is a schismatic one, the Society of St. Pius X started by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. However, the history of Catholic-Jewish relations has often been told in a one-sided way. In particular, the Holocaust is not an extension of Catholic tradition, and the attitudes of the Church towards Jews during that period must be presented in a more nuanced light. Catholics have every right to protest when the history of their Church is presented in a distorted fashion. The historical legacy of anti-Semitism is not limited to the Christian world, and in addition to Catholics acting ignobly towards Jews, there were many Catholic protectors of them.

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French Jews Demand Extradition of Suspects in Deadly 1982 Paris Deli Terror Attack – Algemeiner

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The site of the 1982 attack. Photo: David Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons.

Thirty-five years after a deadly terrorist attack at a Jewish deli in Paris, French Jews are calling for the three suspects still at large to be extradited to France.

The Chez Jo Goldenberg attack was the deadliest atrocity committed against French Jews since the Holocaust. On August 9, 1982, a group of terrorists burst into the restaurant, threw a grenade, and began randomly firing at the patrons. Six were killed, including two American citizens.

All the attackers escaped, but as a statement on the matter from the French-Jewish umbrella organization CRIF relates, the investigating judge at the time, Jean-Louis Bruguire, found that the attack was planned and carried out by followers of Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal.

The investigation was stalled completely until 2007, when a new probe was launched by Judge Marc Trvidic, eventually leading to the identification of two of the suspects. In 2015, this finally resulted in international arrest warrants being issued for three individuals two for involvement in the attack and one for organizing it.

August 11, 2017 1:53 pm

The current locations of the suspects are known: Mohamed Souhair al-Abassi, the suspected mastermind, resides in Jordan; Mahmoud Khader Abed lives in the West Bank city of Ramallah; and Walid Abdulrahman is in Norway.

In June 2015, al-Abassi was arrested and held by Jordanian authorities in connection with the matter. At the time, Judge Trvidic stated, In all likelihood, there will be a trial. Thus far, however, Jordan has refused to extradite al-Abassi to France.

Norway has steadfastly refused to extradite Abdulrahman.

Francis Kalifat, president of the French-Jewish umbrella group CRIF, marked the 35th anniversary of the attack by criticizing France and the worlds indifference to the victims.

How can such a crime go unpunished? he asked. Can terrorists continue to enjoy happy days while the victims are waiting for a trial where they can receive justice? One can only regret that France has accommodated itself to the situation and has never asked the Palestinian Authority to hand Mahmoud Khader Abed over to the French court. Thirty-five years later, the victims and their families can no longer wait, they need to rebuild, we have to help them.

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French Jews Demand Extradition of Suspects in Deadly 1982 Paris Deli Terror Attack – Algemeiner

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Jews, Fearing for Their Own Safety, Ask Poland’s Leader to Denounce Rising anti-Semitism – Haaretz

In letter to leader of the ruling party, the head of the Jewish community in Poland expresses their growing concern with increased verbal and physical attacks The leaders of Poland’s Jewish community have written to the country’s most powerful politician, urging him to denounce what they say is rising anti-Semitism that has left them fearing for their future in the country. The letter, a rare voicing of concern, comes nearly two years after the election of Law and Justice, a deeply conservative, nationalistic and anti-migrant party that is backed by some groups with anti-Semitic views. Observers including the country’s human rights commissioner have noted a rise in anti-Semitism and other hate speech and as well as attacks on dark-skinned people since the party came to power. “We are appalled by recent events and fearful for our security as the situation in our country is becoming more dangerous,” Leslaw Piszewski, the head of the Jewish community in Poland, and Anna Chipczynska, the head of the Warsaw community, wrote in the letter. Chipczynska told The Associated Press on Thursday that the community sent the letter last week to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, but so far had no reply. The AP made several attempts to reach the party spokeswoman but all calls went unanswered. The letter says there has been a “rise of anti-Semitic attitudes in recent months, accompanied by aggressive hate speech and violent behavior that are directed towards our community” and asked Kaczynski to decisively condemn the anti-Semitism. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. Among examples it mentions the increasingly visible presence, even at state events, of members of an extremist right-wing group, the National Radical Camp, and an attack last week on a visiting Israeli soccer team. It also cited a recent comment by a lawmaker from Law and Justice, Bogdan Rzonca, who said on Twitter earlier this month that he wondered “why there are so many Jews among abortionists despite the Holocaust.” Another incident that raised the community’s concern was when a journalist for state television TVP, Magdalena Ogorek, highlighted the Jewish ancestry of a senator, Marek Borowski, when criticizing his politics. The incident sparked a wave of critical comments, and the head of TVP demanded an explanation from Ogorek. Some Polish observers have said the climate evokes the mood in the country in 1968, when the communist regime waged an anti-Semitic campaign against Jews that culminated in thousands being expelled from the country. “We are afraid for our security and our future in Poland,” the Jewish leaders wrote to Kaczynski. “We do not want a return to the year 1968.” Poland’s Jewish community was the largest in Europe before the Holocaust, with some 3.3 million people. Today’s community is much smaller but had been growing amid a new tolerance that came with the collapse of communism in 1989. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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Jews flee Venezuela amid growing political violence – The Times of Israel

Jews in Venezuela are increasingly fleeing the country amid the rising political instability and violence under President Nicolas Maduro, with a growing number decamping for Israel. Speaking at their new apartment in Jerusalem, Estella and Haim Sadna, a religious couple with four kids from the Venezuelan capital Caracas, described the food scarcity and rampant crime that drove them to move the Jewish state. Most of the supermarkets are empty. Everything is empty. You can see that all the aisles are completely empty, Haim Sadna told Channel 2 in an interview aired Saturday. His wife Estella complained of the difficulty in Venezuela of buying basic products such as milk for her kids, adding that since Passover we havent had bread. We lived in a beautiful home with seven rooms. But we left everything behind. We left the house, we left the furniture, the cars. Everything remained [there], the couple said. We brought the clothes that we use. That is what we brought, clothes and shoes. The Sadna family at their apartment in Jerusalem. (Screen capture: Channel 2) The Sadnas also noted the collapse of public services in the country such as healthcare, as well the sky-high crime rates, with Venezuela having some of the worlds worst murder statistics. The crime situation is [so bad] that it is scary to go out to the street. I only go out of it is essential and that is it, Estella said. At five p.m. we would run home. The situation got worse and worse. We could no longer go out to the street, she continued. On most days the kids didnt go to school. They said they were in jail, that the house was a jail. The children have no life [in Venezuela]. While Venezuela once had one of the largest Jewish communities in the region, numbering some 25,000 in 1999, only about 9,000 Jews are believed to remain in the country. Israel has been working behind the scenes in order to bring as many of those remaining as possible to Jewish state, according to Channel 2. Illustrative: A young Jewish boy reads from the Torah on his Bar Mitzvah in Magen David synagogue in Caracas, Venezuela. January 01, 2005. (Serge Attal/Flash90) Nissim Bezalel, who moved to Israel from Venezuela a year and a half ago, said that Jews are in an increasingly perilous situation as a result of the widespread poverty stemming from the collapse of the Venezuelan economy. Because there is the image of Jews as wealthy people that they have money they are a target, to kidnap them and demand a ransom for them, he told Channel 2. It is not because they are Jews, it is because they have money. While most of the Jews leaving Venezuela would flee to Mexico, Panama or Miami, an increasing number of have been coming to Israel. Last month, a batch of 26 Jews arrived in the Jewish state from Venezuela. Ofer Dahan, who heads the immigration department for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, told Channel 2 that the state has increased its aid to Venezuelan immigrants as the situation in the country has gotten worse. An opposition activist throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with security forces in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on August 12, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt) While many Jews have fled the country amid the growing instability, a number have joined the protesters demonstrating against Maduros rule. Alex Cohen, who said he joined the protests in Caracas four months ago, told Channel 2 that the goal of the demonstrators is the return of Venezuela to the people. In Venezuela there is a dictator and Venezuela is held as a hostage by ten people, he said, while calling on the international community to come to the assistance of the demonstrators. Opposition figure Nixon Moreno, who said he was forced to go underground after being arrested, likened the oppositions struggle to Israels fight against terror. Israel understands us very well because Israel is a victim of terror by extremist groups, he said, adding that Venezuela is fighting against another kind of terror. Despite once being one of the wealthiest nations in South America, with the worlds largest proven oil reserves, the Venezuelan economy has collapsed as a result of the economic mismanagement beginning under the late president Hugo Chavez. The economic situation has further deteriorated since Chavezs death in 2013 and the rise to power of his hand-picked successor Maduro, a former bus driver, with inflation hitting some 800 percent and ever growing shortages of basic foodstuffs, toilet paper and medicine. With the collapsing economy, the country has been rocked by political turmoil, as Maduro has sought to consolidate power following the oppositions victory in the 2015 parliamentary elections by weakening the legislatures powers and imprisoning political opponents. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses the new constitutional assembly that replaced the parliament and is tasked with rewriting the constitution, in Caracas on August 10, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt) Last month, Venezuela held elections for a new constitutional assembly that supersedes the parliaments authorities. The US and a number of other Western and Latin American have refused to recognize the results, citing fraud and other irregularities. The US slapped sanctions on Maduro following the vote and on Friday US President Donald Trump said he was weighing a military response to the very dangerous mess in Venezuela. JTA contributed to this report

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MacGyver and the Jews – Aish

I loved watching MacGyver when I was a kid. He was always finding himself trapped in some kind of difficult situation, with little or no chance of getting out. Despite everyone around him giving up hope, the ever resourceful MacGyver would scrounge around the underground cave or sealed bomb shelter, gathering random items. Hed grab someones shoelaces, confiscate someone elses candy wrapper and then pluck a leaf from the ground, and using these things, hed create an explosive device to make a hole just big enough for everyone to escape. I was enthralled watching MacGyver week after week find his way out of the most impossible situations. His tenacity, grit and resourcefulness made an impression on me. Heres why: Theres a Yiddish expression I heard growing up: Ah yid getzech an aitzah a Jew gives himself a suggestion or idea. No matter how difficult things seem, the Jew figures it out and finds a way. Every time I complained that I couldnt do something, I was told there had to be a way to do it, and to emphasize the point, this Yiddish axiom was invoked. Dont give up. A Jew finds a way. I wasnt always as successful as Id hoped, but I dutifully did my best to always try to find a way. Becoming a teacher gave me a newfound appreciation for MacGyver. I kept seeing students who would try, make a mistake, and promptly give up. They were so devastated by their error that they refused to continue or try again. Dont you know? I would shout in my head, Ah yid getzech an aitzah! No matter how I tried to soothe their feelings and help them move on, I couldnt seem to reach them. The shame of making a mistake seemed to be an insurmountable barrier that prevented them from continuing. Then, one semester, while teaching a college class on Positive Psychology, I encountered Carol Dwecks Mindset Theory. Dr. Dweck set out to discover what made some people successful, while others with the same advantages, backgrounds, and demographics were unsuccessful. She discovered that a persons success is tied to their perspective of themselves as learners. Those with a fixed mindset see themselves as having a fixed amount of intelligence and ability. Whatever they are good at and can do is. what they are good at and can do. They believe that there is no growth possibility, no way to change or improve their abilities or knowledge. So if theyre bad at math, they believe thats just how it is and how it always will be, and nothing can change that. By contrast, someone with a growth mindset believes that intelligence is not static. They believe that people can learn to do things that are difficult for them, or achieve things that dont come naturally to them. These individuals are undeterred by mistakes because they understand that learning is a process and mistakes are a part of that process. They are more concerned with the transformational journey theyre taking than on the immediate results. Once students internalize this way of thinking, they embrace learning without the fears of messing up that often stand in the way. Ive seen it work successfully with my first graders, as well as high school students. Dr. Dwecks Mindset Theory and MacGyvers can-do attitude resonate with the Yiddish saying Ah yid getzech an aitzah a Jew finds a way. From the very beginning, starting with Abraham, the Jewish people have been trying to find a way to do the seemingly impossible to embody and share the values and wisdom that bring light and meaning to the world. Faced with relentless persecution, exile and scattering to the four corners of the earth that would have vanquished most nations, the Jewish people never gave up. Despite all odds, they persevered with Gods help in their mission to find a way to bring the light of Torah to the world, laying the moral foundations of the western world. MacGyver always arrived at a neat, happy ending with the best possible results. In the real world, there are no guarantees that our specific efforts will succeed. But that does not mean we shouldnt try; it means we need to try even harder. After all, weve got the Almighty on our side, the Ultimate MacGyver. Ah yid getzech an aitzah a Jew finds a way.

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Donald Trump, Betrayer-in-Chief – Jewish Journal

On Saturday, the President betrayed the Jews. Some 500 white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, VA. They chanted, The Jewish media is going down! and hurled the n-word at counter-protestors. Violence broke out. A car plowed into a group of peaceful counter-protesters walking away from the rally, killing one of them. After waiting far too long, President Donald Trump made a statement. He condemned violence on many sides. If it wasnt clear that he was apportioning blame equally between the people who marched in support of slavery and killing Jews and those who opposed them, he repeated that phrase, on many sides. And that was the moment Donald Trump betrayed the Jews. Would it have been so hard to say racism and anti-Semitism have no place in the United States of America? The marchers, out to protest the removal of a stature of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, alternated chants of, You will not replace us! with Jews will not replace us! But Trump the father and grandfather and father-in-law of Jews refused to blame them. Refused to hold them accountable. Refused to threaten them with anywhere near the fire and fury he uses to lash out at Sen. Mitch McConnell or CNN or the New York Times. This is not Republican. Right after the violence broke out, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, tweeted, White supremacy crap is worst kind of racismits EVIL and a perversion of Gods truth to ever think our Creator values some above others. Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted, White supremacists arent patriots, theyre traitors Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry. But Trump couldnt do it. And instead of slapping the instigators of all this violence back, it gives them cover to go on. They can tell themselves, Were no worse than them even the President said so. Trump just leveled the playing field between good and evil. For years Trump and his supporters accused President Barack Obama of refusing to use the phrase, radical Islamic terrorism something President George W. Bush also refused to do. But here he is refusing to name and condemn the terrorists in his own backyard. And the cowardice or complicity was echoed by Trumps Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In his statement, Sessions condemns hate and intolerance and violence. He doesnt name white supremacists or the Klan. Those people can read his statement and be perfectly justifiable it applies to the people who came out to oppose them. The reaction to Trumps shameful statement has been swift and bipartisan. He may, as he has in the past, come out with a lame, too-late correction. But the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville today will say hes just doing it to calm the critics, that he doesnt really mean it. And that is one thing those racist losers and I agree on.

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Filmmaker Isaac Artenstein’s Tales of Frontier Jewish Life – Times of San Diego

Share This Article: By Mimi Pollack Filmmaker Isaac Artenstein likes to tell good stories, especially unknown ones, and if those stories inform and entertain others, even better. He feels that the Jews of the Southwest have an untold story as the narrative has been mostly about the Anglo westward expansion. He wants to show one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. To that end, he is working on a four part series of documentaries, Frontier Jews, which covers Jews of the Southwest, including New Mexico, San Diego, Tucson and El Paso. The documentary on New Mexico, Challah Rising in the Desert, has just been completed and the one on San Diego, To the Ends of the Earth, is near completion. Artenstein was born in San Diego and grew up as a child of the border. He went to school in Tijuana and high school in Chula Vista. Fluent in both English and Spanish, he moves comfortably between both worlds. In addition, with an Ashkenazi father and Sephardic mother, he was also exposed to the different aspects of Judaism, all of which served him well while making the documentaries. Early in life, Artenstein told his stories by painting. I can remember drawing and painting since I was very young. This love of art led to photography and later filmmaking. He studied painting and photography at UCLA and filmmaking at the California Institute of the Arts where he got his degree. He uses his artistic eye as a filmmaker. After years of people asking him where he was from and not understanding that Artensteins could be Mexican, he decided to make a documentary on the Jews of Tijuana. He started by interviewing his own family and went on to interview other families and individuals who were all part of Tijuanas history. The documentary Tijuana Jewscame out in 2005 and was well received. It was shown at many Jewish film festivals. At the Tucson film festival, he was given a book, Pioneer Jews by Harriet and Fred Rochlin, which piqued his interest in learning more. He spent the next ten years fundraising to accomplish his goal. As I traveled and interviewed people in Tucson, El Paso, and New Mexico, I realized that the stories were very similar to those of the pioneer Jews in San Diego whose lives were centered in Old Town. At the same time, each place had something unique. Artenstein also has a methodical side to go along with his creative one. In preparing for each documentary, he likes to interview a wide array of people to find a dramatic structure and a theme. Although he is making a documentary, he feels it is still storytelling. He knows that the visual, lighting, mood, and music are important for each documentary, so he surrounds himself with talented people. His director of photography is Sergio Ulloa. As Artenstein says, For Challah Rising in the Desert, Sergio and I realized that the New Mexico landscape was also a character in our film as it is so diverse and beautiful. His co- composers are Jaime Valle and Alan Phillips. They composed very different music for each documentary. The first documentary in the series, Challah Rising in the Desert, explores the history of the Jews in New Mexico. The braided challah bread represents the five strands or waves of settlements that have come, including the converso Jews escaping the Spanish inquisition 400 hundred years ago, the German Jewish pioneers of the Santa Fe trail in the 1800s, the scientists who came in the 1940s to Los Alamos, the counterculture youth of the 1960s, and the Jews of today. It also shows the special influence New Mexico has had on its Jewish community. Only there will you find bakers who mix green chilis into the challah dough, producing a hybrid and delicious bread. San Diegos documentaryTo the Ends of the Earth came about from a collaboration between Artenstein and Bill Lawrence, the executive director of the San Diego History Center, for the History and Heritage of San Diegos Jewish Community exhibit, which is running until May 2018. Artenstein was commissioned to produce a series of standalone video capsules for the exhibit. He interviewed various people in the community. Although the videos are separate, this collaboration was the catalyst for the documentary. Artenstein shot the capsules concurrently while shooting for the documentary. While doing research, he was particularly intrigued when he discovered and read a detailed diary by Victoria Jacobs, who lived in Old Town as a teenager. She wrote of her daily life. At that time, Jews were well integrated in the fabric and society of San Diego. However, after the railroad was built and more Anglos arrived in San Diego, the climate towards the Jews began to change. By the 1940s and 1950s, there were restrictive covenants in certain areas of town where blacks, Mexicans and Jews were not allowed to live. La Jolla was one of them. Although these covenants were illegal, they still existed. This changed with the opening of UC San Diego in 1960. The head of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Roger Revelle, served as a point man for the UC Board of Regents. He made it clear that if the university was going to open in La Jolla, he wanted all the professors to be able to live nearby. The 1960s and the university brought internationally influential Jews to San Diego such as virologist Jonas Salk, electronic engineers Irwin Jacobs and Andrew Viterbi, and poet Jerome Rothenberg. This renaissance was scientific, entrepreneurial, and cultural. Artenstein interviewed diverse people for the documentary, including Jewish historian Joellyn Zollman, San Diego Jewish World publisher Don Harrison, actor and writer Salomon Maya, Jonas Salks son Peter, and Congresswoman Susan Davis. He learned from Zollman that 20 percent of the Jewish community in San Diego is foreign born and there are Jews from Mexico, South Africa, Israel and Russia. The Jewish community in San Diego is truly rich in diversity. Challah Rising in the Desert will go to general distribution in September. To the Ends of the Earth will be completed by the end of the summer, and Artenstein plans to submit it for the next San Diego Jewish Film Festival. His goal is to complete all four documentaries or Frontier Jews by the end of 2018. Mimi Pollack is an English as a SecondLanguage teacher and a freelance writer. This article is reprinted with permission of LChaim Magazine. Filmmaker Isaac Artensteins Tales of Frontier Jewish Life was last modified: August 12th, 2017 by Editor > > Subscribe to Times of San Diegos free daily email newsletter! Click here

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

This weekend’s Charlottesville rally represents an alliance between pro-Confederates and Nazis – Vox

The alt-right rally Friday night at the University of Virginia campus and Saturday in the city of Charlottesville is technically about a statue of Robert E. Lee. But common to many participants in the rally is a willingness to use and celebrate Nazi symbols and ideology. Fridays protesters shouted anti-Semitic and Nazi-associated slogans, including “blood and soil: a phrase that references the German ideology of Blut und Boden, or the idea that a person is defined by his or her relationship to ethnic ancestry (blood) and the land they cultivate (soil). Protesters also shouted Jews will not replace us (a more explicitly anti-Semitic take on you will not replace us, a white-supremacist alt-right slogan that arose in response to actor Shia LaBoeufs anti-Trump performance art piece He Will Not Divide Us). Attendees at the rally also wore Nazi paraphernalia, carried flags with swastikas alongside Confederate flags, and wore shirts with quotations by Adolf Hitler. The use of anti-Semitic slurs and display of Nazi imagery is ubiquitous among certain factions of the alt-right. But the rhetoric and imagery of Charlottesville, in which the tropes of the Ku Klux Klan including the burning torches of Fridays protest and the trappings of Nazism collide, is particularly unsettling. In adopting the Nazified ideology of Blut und Boden, the Charlottesville demonstrators arent just expressing hatred against one group of people, which would be sickening enough on its own. Rather, theyre doing something even more terrifying: advocating for a radically reactionary understanding of societal relations thats predicated on the idea that people are solely obligated to fight for the future and well-being of people who look just like them. Theyre also, implicitly, firing up their base by creating an even greater chasm between the good old boys, whom they portray as defending their own, and the gold old boys enemies: the implicit metropolitan (and coded-as-Jewish) elites. Its a strategy that may yet work to gather more disenfranchised, rural whites into the fold. After all, Blut und Boden worked so powerfully and insidiously as a Nazi ideology not just because it privileged certain bloodlines among others, but also because it harkened back to an ahistorical, nationalist notion of rural idyll. Today, many on the American right today see that same rural idyll in their idealized recollections of the pre-Civil War South. Nazi propaganda used Jews as a convenient scapegoat for the economic crises of the 1930s. Blaming Jews for making wretched ethnic Germans by lending them money and demanding they pay interest, one Nazi propaganda pamphlet characterized Jews as singly responsible for the decline of rural Germany: They had to move to the cities. Torn from the land to which they belonged, robbed of their labor that gave their lives purpose and meaning, they fell victim to poverty and misery. Worn down, their souls crushed, they accepted Jewish doctrines that denied the Fatherland and opposed all that was nationalistic. Their strength and ability faded. The Jew had reached his goal. In other words, blood and soil is about stoking the twin fires of false nostalgia and outright bigotry. Its at once an invitation to good old boys to Make America Great Again and a channel through which they can direct their anger by blaming an imagined other. The use of anti-Semitic slurs in Charlottesville this weekend, therefore, is about more than just insidious bigotry. Its about creating an alliance between two historic hatreds, predicating the imagined greatness of Trumps America on expelling the undesirables. That propaganda worked in the 1930s. It cannot be allowed to work today.

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

German Jews interrogated POWs for US in World War II – STLtoday.com

In 1944-45, a few thousand German Jewish exiles returned to the fatherland wearing U.S. Army uniforms. They were part of the Ritchie Boys alien refugees trained to interrogate enemy prisoners of war. In Sons and Soldiers, popular historian Bruce Henderson tells the story of six of those Ritchie Boys. He starts with their misery in Germany as the brutally anti-Semitic Nazis took over, then follows them into exile, and then into the Army, and then on to Camp Ritchie, Md., for their training and finally to Europe and into combat. During their training, they came to understand that they werent at Camp Ritchie just because they spoke the language. They also knew the culture and psyche of Germans better then anyone else a deep, intimate knowledge born from the small details of their lives growing up in Germany. As children, they had gone to school and played sports with boys who were now German soldiers. And as interrogators of German prisoners of war, they would be familiar with the workings of German minds, the habits of German lives, and the influences of Nazi doctrine upon German soldiers and civilians alike. Author Henderson goes on to describe the positive results that the Ritchie Boys gleaned from POWs and some of their harrowing adventures under fire. (One Ritchie Boy made his first parachute jump at night into Normandy, under enemy fire, early on June 6, 1944.) Hendersons book will appeal greatly to readers with a connection to the Holocaust. Theyll overlook some problems with the authors prose for example, a redundant reference to Buchenwalds having posts with automatic machine guns. Local readers will take special interest in a Ritchie Boy named Gnter Stern, whose family got him away from their hometown of Hildesheim to faraway St. Louis. There, he lived with an uncle, baker Benno Silberberg. Stern graduated from Soldan High School (Class of 39) and picked up some money by busing tables at the old Chase Hotel. In 1940, he enrolled at St. Louis University. A few months after Pearl Harbor, he tried to join the Navy but was turned away as a foreigner. A few months later, the less-demanding Army drafted Stern. The Army sent him to Camp Barkeley, Texas, for training as a medical administrator. On May 1, 1943, he and some other foreign-born soldiers went to Abilene to be sworn in as American citizens. They were told that the court could change their Germanic or Jewish-sounding names if they wished. A number of soldiers, not wanting to go overseas with their birth names on their dog tags in case of capture, opted to do so. On that day, Gnter Stern of Hildesheim became Guy Stern of St. Louis. Stern arrived in Britain in January 1944. Five months later, on June 9, he landed at Omaha Beach. He began interviewing POWs that very day, under German artillery fire. On hand at the POW camp was Post-Dispatch correspondent Virginia Irwin. The sixth paragraph of her story opens this way: Through an interpreter, who turned out to be Staff Sgt. Guy Stern of 1110A Maple Place, St. Louis, I talked with several Germans who had been captured. Later, Stern ran into another well-known woman German-born actress Marlene Dietrich, on a USO tour. She accepted Sterns invitation to visit his POW camp. But as Henderson notes, whatever curiosity Marlene had about seeing German POWs paled compared to their excitement at seeing her. The world had spread rapidly in the cage: Marlene Dietrich ist hier! Hundreds of them pressed against the wire enclosures on both sides, trying to see her, touch her, speak to her. At one point, Stern and a fellow interrogator pushed the rules by having Stern pose as a Soviet commissar. Any prisoner who refused to answer questions was ushered into a tent housing Stern, dressed in a Soviet uniform and posing as Commissar Krukov. Under threat of being turned over to the Soviets, most of the POWs gave in and talked at length. Henderson writes that as the war wound down in the spring of 1945, Stern kept alive the hope that his family would find a way to survive, and that once the war was over they would all be reunited. But what he saw at Buchenwald ripped at his heart and took away what hope remained. Shortly after the war ended, Stern returned to Hildesheim, in the British zone of occupation. Henderson says that his journey home had erased whatever hope he had that he would be reunited with his family. The truth was inescapable. As he left the town of his youth, Guy Stern had no intention of ever returning. Back in the postwar United States, Stern moved to New York, got a doctorate from Columbia and taught German studies, retiring from Michigans Wayne State University in 2003. The afterword notes: Guy returned to his hometown of Hildesheim in the 1960s to speak at the dedication of a new synagogue. Harry Levins of Manchester retired in 2007 as senior writer of the Post-Dispatch.

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

The Catholic Church & the Jews: What is the True Story?

Though history has shown Catholics sometimes acting ignobly towards Jews, much more often Catholics have acted as protectors of them Few episodes in recent Church history arouse as much attention as the alleged silence of Pope Pius XII regarding the Holocaust. Despite the fact that many respected scholarsincluding Jewish oneshave demonstrated that the pope gave European Jews much aid, this negative image of Pius XII prevails in many circles. Interestingly, unlike Pius, Allied leaders such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill did absolutely nothing to aid European Jews, although they do not have the same stigma. Perhaps this is because Pius XII is a symbol. Historical sources often present the Holocaust as the logical conclusion of traditional Catholic anti-Judaism; the pope should be demonized because he headed an institution that was the source of the hatred of Jews that culminated in the Shoah. Is this accusation fair? In the Imperial War Museum of Londons otherwise excellent exhibit on the Holocaust, one can view a short documentary on the history of anti-Semitism. Before jumping into Nazi ideology, the film details Christian misdeeds against Jews during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. While the narrator of the documentary in the London museum explicitly states that modern anti-Semitism had little to do with traditional anti-Judaism, a similar documentary on the history of anti-Semitism in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum makes no such demarcation; it jumps directly from medieval anti-Judaism to the Dreyfus affair and the rise of the Third Reich. Often times in texts about the Holocaust, the idea that the Nazi ideology was an extension of Christian anti-Judaism is presented as axiomatic. The problem with this presentation of history is that it solely focuses on Christian anti-Judaism. Why is it not acknowledged enough that the ancient Hebrew people were persecuted by many other groups? Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, and Romans all harmed Jews long before Christ was born. Perhaps this is because the Holocaust happened in Europe and was perpetrated by the traditionally Christian German nation. Was this the extension of Christian anti-Judaism? Indeed, negative attitudes towards Jews among Christians have a long history. For centuries, Christians often blamed Jews for killing Christ; only did the 1965 document Nostra Aetaete officially absolve them of this charge. When bubonic plague ravaged Europe, many Christians in Europe accused Jews of poisoning wells. Throughout the centuries, Jews were accused of kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make matzos (blood libel). During the Crusades, Christian soldiers killed numerous Jews on the way to the Holy Land. In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that Jews wear special clothing to distinguish them from Gentiles. As recently as the nineteenth century, Pope Pius IX reopened the Roman ghettothe last European ghetto before the Nazis came to powerand the Vatican kidnapped a Jewish boy, Edgardo Mortara, who was raised by the pope and became a priest. All these are troubling aspects of the historic relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Pope John Paul II was right in apologizing in the name of the Church in 2000 for these and other historic abuses at the hands of Catholics. However, this is only one part of the story. There is also a long tradition of the Churchs defense of the Jews. While it is true that the Churchs relationship with Judaism improved radically in the past half-century beginning with Pope John XXIII, who removed the prayer for the conversion of the perfidious Jews from the Good Friday liturgy and especially under John Paul IIwho had Jewish friends growing up in Poland and was the first pope to make an official visit to a synagogue, who established diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Israel, and who condemned anti-Semitism vocally and explicitlythese two were not the first major papal allies of the Jews. The first was Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), one of the four Latin Church fathers. He issued the edict Sicut Judaeis, which stated that the Jews should have no infringement of their rights. We forbid to vilify the Jews. We allow them to live as Romans and to have full authority over their possessions. During his pontificate, Gregory the Great repeatedly intervened on behalf of the Jews; for example, when the bishop of Palermo confiscated Jewish schools and synagogues, the pope intervened to stop him. More papal edicts prohibiting violence against the Jews, forced baptism, and other abuses, and promising papal protection, were signed by later popes, including Calixtus II, Clement VI, Boniface IX, and Martin V. Numerous edicts by medieval and Renaissance popes starting with Innocent IVs 1247 bull also condemned the blood libel myth. The anti-religious polemicists who topped the bestseller lists several years agoincluding Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkinsoften present Adolf Hitler as a Catholic and claim that the Holocaust was the result of historical anti-Semitism. In fact, Hitler most qualifies as a lapsed Catholic. As an adult, he no longer participated in the sacraments. His wedding with Eva Braun was a secular civil ceremony. The Nazi leadership was not influenced by Christianity, but instead was fascinated with Germanic mythology, the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the mysticism of the Far East, of which S.S. head Heinrich Himmler was especially enamored, believing that the origins of the Aryan master race could be traced to India. The Nazis were not atheists, but pagans. They were, however, strongly anti-Christian. After coming to power, the Nazi persecuted the Catholic Church in Germany. Catholic youth organizations and newspapers were banned, as was the Catholic Center Party. In Dachau, the first concentration camp, they imprisoned many priests in a famous priest block. Of course, there were Catholics who acted deplorably during the Holocaust, and their misdeeds have to be enumerated. Arguably, the most pernicious was Monsignor Jozef Tiso. Following Nazi Germanys annexing of Czechoslovakia, a Slovak fascist puppet state was formed headed by Monsignor Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest. In 1939, Tisos puppet state sent 50,000 Slovak soldiers to aid in the German invasion of Poland. Tiso passed anti-Jewish legislation requiring Jews to wear yellow armbands and banning marriages between Jews and ethnic Slovaks. Tiso also helped the Germans deport 70,000 Jews to concentration camps. In 1942, he gave a speech in which he defended these deportations. Two years later, when the Slovak resistance launched an anti-Nazi uprising, Tiso accused the Jews of leading the rebellion and continued to support the deportations. Adolf Hitler himself was greatly impressed with Tisos sadism: It is interesting how this little Catholic priest Tiso is sending us the Jews! he remarked. Slovakias fascist government was unique in that it was led by an ordained clergyman. However, there were two other pro-Nazi puppet governments that claimed to be Catholic in nature. The first was in Croatia. In 1941 in German-occupied Yugoslavia, the fascist Ustae formed the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Ustae made Catholicism the official religion of the regime and committed acts of genocide against Serbs, Jews, and Roma. The Ustaes treatment of Serbs, more than 300,000 of whom were killed, mostly in concentration camps located in Croatia, was especially barbaric: The Croat education minister wanted to murder one-third of the Serbs, forcibly convert one-third to Catholicism, and expel the remaining third. However, Jews were also targeted, and the Ustae were complicit in the killing of 30,000 Jews. Another Catholic pro-Nazi puppet state was founded in Vichy France, headed by World War I hero Marshal Philipe Petain from 1940 to 1944. Wanting an ethnically French and Catholic state, Vichy adopted Nuremburg-style laws that discriminated against Jews and pursued pro-natalist policies among autochthonous French. The French police helped the Germans deport almost 80,000 French Jews to concentration camps. In numerous roundups, French policemen herded Jews onto trains sending them to near-certain death often without the presence of a single German. The Vichy French themselves built and ran concentration camps in France in which Jews, Roma, and political dissidents were interned. Looking at the examples of Slovakia, Croatia, and France, one could be tempted to believe that the Catholic Church, if not indirectly responsible for the Holocaust, was Nazi Germanys partner in exterminating European Jewry. However, the mature historian must always look at the entirety of a situation before passing a judgment. There were many counterexamples of lay and ordained Catholics who acted heroically to aid Jews. In all three Catholic fascist puppet states mentioned above, there were numerous priests and bishops who aided Jews. In Slovakia, the Greek Catholic bishop of Presov Pavel Gojdic, in particular, was a resister of the Holocaust. In 1939, he wrote a letter to the faithful in his diocese protesting against the discrimination of Jews. When the Slovaks and Germans began deporting Jews to concentration camps, Bishop Gojdic wrote a protest letter and informed the Vatican of the deportations. He also directly helped several Jews. In Croatia, the cardinal-archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, initially welcomed the Ustae regime and the creation of a semi-independent Croatia, although he did publicly condemn the governments persecution of Jews and secured hiding spots for Jews. In France, many bishops directly aided Jews; the most famous was Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier of Lyon who hid Jewish children in convents and parishes. Elsewhere in Europe, priests and bishops also actively opposed the Holocaust. In 1942, the Dutch bishops wrote a letter condemning the deportations of Jews that was read in all parishes in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands; as a punishment, the Germans increased deportations of Jews, especially targeting converts. In Hungarywhich by 1944 was ruled by a fascist puppet state that collaborated with the Nazis in deporting Jews to concentration camps, but before was a relatively safe country for refugees, Jewish and otherwisethe nations primate, Cardinal Jusztinin Gyrgy Serdi helped find shelter for many of the 150,000 Polish refugees who fled the country after the German-Soviet invasion of 1939, many of whom were Jewish. In 1944, as Nazis and Hungarian fascists began deporting Jews, Cardinal Serdi publicly protested. In the United Kingdom, which avoided Nazi occupation thanks to victory during the Battle of Britain, Cardinal Arthur Hinsley organized a Catholic Day of Prayer for Poland in Westminster Cathedral in 1942, publicly condemning Nazi atrocities against Poles and Jews. In western Ukraine, Greek Catholic monasteries protected several hundred Jewish children from German Nazis and Ukrainian nationalists. Martin Gilbert, an esteemed historian of the Holocaust, estimates that hundreds of thousands of Jews across Europe were saved by Catholics. Perhaps the most surprising Catholic who aided the Jews was General Francisco Franco. This right-wing military dictator, aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, likely saved more Jews than any other political leader during World War II. The devoutly Catholic Spanish dictator refused to hand over Jews who had sought refuge in neutral Spain. Franco instructed Spanish diplomats in Nazi-occupied Europe to aid Jews. He also helped Jews obtain Spanish passports and flee to Latin America. In total, General Franco is credited with saving about 40,000 Jews. Two countries where Catholic aid to the Jews merits special mention are Poland and Italy. Before the Second World War, Poland had Europes largest Jewish population, at more than three million. Invaded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, non-Jewish Poles themselves suffered greatly during the war, losing two to three million people. Even without figuring in Jewish losses, Poland lost the largest proportion of its pre-war population of all European countries. It is true that before 1939, anti-Semitism increased in Poland, and that the Church was not immune to this. In 1936, the countrys primate Cardinal August Hlond issued a pastoral letter in which he accused Jews of spreading pornography and Bolshevism (although the letter also condemned physical violence against Jews and anti-Jewish prejudices, even though the author of the letter clearly himself had such prejudices). Yet despite these souring relationsand despite the fact that Poland was the only occupied country where aiding Jews was punishable by death and that Polish priests themselves suffered under the occupation enormously, as half of all Polish priests and numerous bishops were deported to concentration campsthe Polish Churchs aid to the Jews was enormous. In his authoritative history of the Jews in Poland and Russia, Prof. Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University writes that 1,000 of 1,600 Polish convents sheltered Jewish children during the Holocaust. Irena Sendler, the famous Polish social worker who helped smuggle 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, often placed the children in convents and remarked in an interview with Anna Mieszkowska that she never had a priest turn down a request to aid a Jewish child. The Polish bishops never issued a document officially condemning the Holocaust. However, they never made an official protest against the massive deportations of Polish priests, either. Actions speak louder than words: Recent research reveals that of the thirteen Polish bishops who were not killed by the Nazis, exiled, or deported to concentration camps, eleven are documented as having aided Jews. One of the exiles, Bishop Karol Radoski, officially condemned the Holocaust on the radio in London. Italy merits mention because the Vatican, whose wartime role has been the source of much controversy, is located there. Of the 45,000 Jews registered in Italys 1938 census, 7,000 fled the country and 8,000 died in concentration camps; this makes Italys wartime Jewish survival rate one of Europes highest. Naturally, there are numerous reasons for this: the Jewish population there was relatively small; the punishments for aiding Jews in Italy were not as draconian as in, say, Poland; and Italian Jews were not isolated from the rest of the population in walled or fenced ghettoes, as in Eastern Europe. At the same time, given the facts that in 1938, Mussolini passed anti-Semitic laws banning Jews from Italian public life and banning intermarriage and that the Italian Fascist militia collaborated with the Nazis in hunting down Jews, this high survival rate is remarkable. Another reason for the high survival rate of Italian Jews must be attributed to the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII is frequently presented as Hitlers pope or as the silent pope. The truth of the matter is that Pius XII appealed to the Italian monasteries to hide Jewish children and himself hid several thousand Jews in Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, and in the Vatican itself. Reading the testimonies of Italian Holocaust survivors, it is clear that many Italian Jews were rescued by priests or nuns. Additionally, Pius sent protests to the pro-Nazi governments of Hungary and Slovakia, begging them to halt the deportations of Jews to concentration camps (tragically, without effect). Pius XII used a network of his papal nuncios across Europe to help persecuted Jews flee to Latin America or neutral countries and to secure hiding places; the most famous were Monsignors Angelo Rotta, papal nuncio to Hungary, and Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, Vatican ambassador to Greece and Turkey. Pius XIIs record is imperfect. Before World War II, he pressured Poland to give the Free City of Danzig to Nazi Germany to avoid military conflict. After the war, the Vatican assisted some Nazi criminals in fleeing to Argentina; was Pius unaware of this? He also did not condemn the post-war pogroms against Jews that occurred across Eastern Europe. However, Pius record regarding the Jews is certainly better than that of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who as Jewish historian Walter Laqueur has chronicled in extensive detail, were well-informed about the Holocaust. However, they did not intervene, despite the fact that, unlike Pius XII, they had the military capacities to do so. For example, President Roosevelt refused to increase immigration quotas to allow more Jewish refugees from Europe to seek asylum in the United States, while his Department of War decided to not bomb the death camp crematoria. It is true that when Pius XII condemned the Holocaust (on Vatican Radio, for instance), he used generic terms rather than referring to specific atrocities. Still, we must remember that Pius previously was a Vatican diplomat. He likely knew that speaking out too forcefully could have unintended tragic consequences; the abovementioned example of the increased deportations of Jews following the Dutch bishops letter shows this. The fact is that Pius XII saved thousands of Jews, including a great many Italian Jews, by hiding them in the Vatican, securing hiding places for them in Italian convents, and helping Jews through to his network of papal diplomats. Pius compares favorably not only to the wartime leaders of the United States and Britain, but above all to another prominent cleric, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem who openly supported Nazi Germanys Jewish policy. The historical relationship between Catholics and Jews has frequently been portrayed in a negative light. The fact that Catholics did commit many transgressions against their elder brothers in the faith over the past two millennia is a historic fact. However, as we have seen, this relationship has often been portrayed in a one-sided way. Alongside genuine examples of Catholic mistreatment of Jews, such as the Fourth Lateran Council, we have examples of medieval bishops condemning anti-Semitic canards. In addition to perverted priests like Tiso, there were many Catholic bishops, priests, and nuns in every European country who helped Jews. Before making a judgment on the relationship between Catholicism and the Holocaust, it is worth asking: Which group of Catholics truly lived out the Churchs teachings on the Jews? In Catholicism, the doctrine of mortal sin, the notion that all humans have an inherent tendency to commit wrong, is strong. This is why the sacrament of reconciliation is so important in Catholicism. Even very saintly men and women confess their sins (in fact, they do so more frequently than ordinary mortals). Were Catholics who harmed Jews acting out of their own iniquity, or because of their faith? Unique among most of the worlds great religions, Christianity proposes a system of ethical universalism. As St. Paul said, there is no man or woman, Greek or Jew, slave or free. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that the Church eschews any primitive tribalism; all are to be treated equally. Nowhere in the New Testament is it said that Jews (or any other ethnic or religious group, for that matter) are somehow inferior. And with the exception of the Fourth Lateran Council, never did the official teachings of the Church promote any discrimination against Jews. In addition to human corruptibility, is there any other origin of this well-documented, long-standing tradition of Christian hostility towards Jews and Judaism? In my opinion, two additional factors were at work. First, there is the fact that Christianity was born of Judaism, and so the two religions began as competitors. In addition to the battle for souls, many Christians have traditionally been disappointed that Jews refused to accept their Messiah. Meanwhile, Jews have themselves often been mistrustful towards Judaism. The Talmud presents Jesus Christ in an extremely negative light, while in Israel Jewish fundamentalists have set fire to churches, and Christiansboth ethnically Jewish ones and Palestinian Christiansare treated as second-class citizens (and sometimes not citizens at all) in Israel. I mention these facts not to suggest equivalence between Christian mistreatment of Jews and Jewish prejudice against Christiansthroughout the ages, Christian atrocities against Jews have been far more numerousbut to instead show how a certain mutual distrust often results from religions with a similar origin. Second, there is the fact that human beings seem to have an inherent nasty tendency towards tribalism. Throughout most of European history, Jews have dressed differently, worshipped differently, spoken a different language (Ladino or Yiddish as opposed to the local language), and looked different in terms of physiognomy. Unfortunately, people often dont like those who are different. This is reflected in the fact that the Nazi ideology singled out the Roma and Sinti peoples for extermination, just as it did the Jews. Like Jews, Gypsies are of non-European origin and, like the Jews prior to 1948, have no state. Anti-Roma prejudice, both popular and institutional, is still strong today across Europe. In conclusion, the historic relationship between Catholics and Jews has often been fraught. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of recent popes, anti-Judaism is marginalized within the Catholic Church. It is quite telling that the most anti-Semitic faction within the Church today is a schismatic one, the Society of St. Pius X started by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. However, the history of Catholic-Jewish relations has often been told in a one-sided way. In particular, the Holocaust is not an extension of Catholic tradition, and the attitudes of the Church towards Jews during that period must be presented in a more nuanced light. Catholics have every right to protest when the history of their Church is presented in a distorted fashion. The historical legacy of anti-Semitism is not limited to the Christian world, and in addition to Catholics acting ignobly towards Jews, there were many Catholic protectors of them. Books on the topic of this essay may be found inThe Imaginative ConservativeBookstore.The Imaginative Conservativeapplies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politicswe approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please considerdonating now. “All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable.”

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French Jews Demand Extradition of Suspects in Deadly 1982 Paris Deli Terror Attack – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “French Jews Demand Extradition of Suspects in Deadly 1982 Paris Deli Terror Attack” to a friend The site of the 1982 attack. Photo: David Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons. Thirty-five years after a deadly terrorist attack at a Jewish deli in Paris, French Jews are calling for the three suspects still at large to be extradited to France. The Chez Jo Goldenberg attack was the deadliest atrocity committed against French Jews since the Holocaust. On August 9, 1982, a group of terrorists burst into the restaurant, threw a grenade, and began randomly firing at the patrons. Six were killed, including two American citizens. All the attackers escaped, but as a statement on the matter from the French-Jewish umbrella organization CRIF relates, the investigating judge at the time, Jean-Louis Bruguire, found that the attack was planned and carried out by followers of Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal. The investigation was stalled completely until 2007, when a new probe was launched by Judge Marc Trvidic, eventually leading to the identification of two of the suspects. In 2015, this finally resulted in international arrest warrants being issued for three individuals two for involvement in the attack and one for organizing it. August 11, 2017 1:53 pm The current locations of the suspects are known: Mohamed Souhair al-Abassi, the suspected mastermind, resides in Jordan; Mahmoud Khader Abed lives in the West Bank city of Ramallah; and Walid Abdulrahman is in Norway. In June 2015, al-Abassi was arrested and held by Jordanian authorities in connection with the matter. At the time, Judge Trvidic stated, In all likelihood, there will be a trial. Thus far, however, Jordan has refused to extradite al-Abassi to France. Norway has steadfastly refused to extradite Abdulrahman. Francis Kalifat, president of the French-Jewish umbrella group CRIF, marked the 35th anniversary of the attack by criticizing France and the worlds indifference to the victims. How can such a crime go unpunished? he asked. Can terrorists continue to enjoy happy days while the victims are waiting for a trial where they can receive justice? One can only regret that France has accommodated itself to the situation and has never asked the Palestinian Authority to hand Mahmoud Khader Abed over to the French court. Thirty-five years later, the victims and their families can no longer wait, they need to rebuild, we have to help them.

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