Archive for the ‘Jews’ Category

How the young Jews of Budapest are resisting the rise of hate – Jewish News (blog)

Hungarys nationalist government is clamping down on human rights and refugees, Roma and sexual minorities are under attack.

I visited Budapest in May, on a programme run by UK Jewish human rights charity Ren Cassin.

Iwas alarmed by the brazenly illiberal march of government policy and the rise of the far right, and asks if this could happen in the UK.

But I also found inspiration in the human rights activists many of them Jewish who are resisting the regime at every turn.

Hungary Jews lead resistance to government attacks on human rights

Its Sunday evening in Budapest and anyone whos anyone is at Romanys new show. Laszlo, a DJ better known as Gypsy Robot, is spinning tunes, accompanied by guitar & accordion.

A poet, a singer, and an MEP are strutting down the catwalk, their clothes emblazoned with coloured patterns and the faces of Roma people killed during the 1956 uprising.

A tall, thin, moustachioed man in a dress is posing for the cameras. In one corner of the room, a small group of impressed, if bemused, British Jews stands at the back, here for five days on the Ren Cassin Fellowship Programme to learn about human rights issues in Hungary.

Wait, what exactly does this have to do with human rights?

Hungary is a country where, by most standards, human rights are in retreat.

The government, led by Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party, has systematically set about removing checks and balances on power, and is promoting a nationalist, authoritarian public discourse.

An almost overtly anti-Semitic campaign against George Soros, the US-based Hungarian-born billionaire who backs much of Central & Eastern European civil society through the Open Society Foundations, has led to the attempted outlawing of Central European University, seen as a symbol for democratic values & Hungarian liberalism.

When we were in Budapest, the government had recently adopted a new tactic: decrying foreign-funded NGOs which receive grant money from foreign governments, particularly Norway and proposing new legislation aimed at drastically impeding their capacity to operate.

Virtually everyone we met, whether from major NGOs like the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) or the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, or smaller organisations and individuals working in the Roma community and with refugees, painted a similar picture.

Hostility to refugees, discrimination against minorities and the rise of the far right

Government policy towards refugees & migrants consists of a border fence, transit zones that only let in five people a day, and push back to the Serbian border for anyone attempting to claim asylum or caught undocumented in Hungarian territory.

Roma communities face constant discrimination, with school segregation enforced through the mechanism of choice, and whole neighbourhoods in cities such as Miskolc in the north-east being cleared of their residents and demolished. LGBTQI rights are under constant threat.

The far right is on the rise.

They recently targeted the Aurora Centre, a bar, events space, NGO hub & Masorti Synagogue (the only Kabbalat Shabbat Ive been to where youre encouraged to take your beer in with you) in the heart of the historically Roma and historically poorer District 8.

Fighting back against attacks on human rights

And, yet, against this disastrous backdrop, every single person we met is doing incredible work challenging abuses and sticking up for the rights of everyone in Hungary.

Organisations like the HCLU and the Helsinki Committee provide vital legal assistance and push back against government attacks on rights in a media landscape that is anything but sympathetic.

Roma activists including the inimitable Laszlo, DJ, social media personality and the best known out gay Roma man in Hungary do incredible work making their community visible.

We witnessed inspiring examples of activism in action. When the Hungarian government installed a monument seen as whitewashing Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust, local activists built a living memorial underneath it, displaying photographs and personal items from victims and survivors.

When refugees began entering Hungary in large numbers initially from Afghanistan a graphic designer and an architect created Open Doors Hungary, working with unaccompanied minors to help ease their path into Hungary and provide useful skills training.

The Jewish community leads the resistance

Similarly, the Hungarian Jewish community, so often typecast against the shadow of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, has fostered a vibrant, dynamic scene of young people many of whom did not grow up with a Jewish identity working to both explore their own Judaism and defend human rights.

At the height of the refugee crisis, many young Jews were on the frontline, providing aid and support to new arrivals from Syria.

It couldnt happen here? Not if we can help it. What Hungary today tells us about Britain tomorrow

Reflecting on how we take what we have learnt in Budapest back with us, Im struck by two conflicting thoughts.

On the one hand, Hungary provides an example of just how easily the hard won gains of human rights can be lost.

With a clear strategy and strong leadership, political forces can roll back legal protections and norms, and, in Hungary, the public at large seems to approve. Could this happen in the UK?

On the other hand, the activists we met in Budapest are amongst the most committed, clear-eyed people Ive ever encountered.

They understand what the government is doing, and they know why they cannot stay silent. The work of both the human rights activists and the Jewish community activists (and many were the same people there seems to be a vastly disproportionate number of Jews working in Hungarian NGOs) is imbued with a DIY, community-led culture that lives the values it seeks to promote.

As Jews in the UK and as people committed to human rights this idea should inspire what we do.

NGO clampdown confirmed

A couple of weeks after we got home, the NGO law was passed. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has announced that it will not register as foreign-funded until the case against the law is decided in court.

The future of these organisations and of human rights and democratic values in Hungary is uncertain.

Hungarys European and EU allies, including the UK, cannot stay silent.

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How the young Jews of Budapest are resisting the rise of hate – Jewish News (blog)

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June 28, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Amb. Friedman: Unthinkable that Jewish NGOs will cut ties with Israel – The Jerusalem Post

David Friedman (front, C), the newly appointed United States Ambassador to Israel, arrives to a ceremony whereby President Reuven Rivlin will receive Friedman’s diplomatic credentials at his residence in Jerusalem May 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

In his maiden public speech as US ambassador, David Friedman steered clear of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and instead waded into the wars of the Jews over the Western Wall, saying: We will defeat our enemies, the question is if we can survive ourselves.

In a speech in Jerusalem on Tuesday that the ambassador devoted to the topic of Jewish unity, Friedman referred to his past comments about J Street, when he called the groups supporters worse than kapos, and said, I am as guilty as anyone else for having entered the partisan divide that has, unfortunately, to some extent fractured the Jewish community in the US and in Israel. But it has to end.

He pledged to treat the Jewish people of whatever stripe, whatever political views, with the same dignity and respect that they all deserve. And I hope we all do the same. We must turn the page.

Friedman was speaking at a Bnai Brith World Center award ceremony for excellence in journalism on Diaspora affairs.

Friedman, who went off script in a speech he said originally was to deal with the breadth and depth of the US-Israeli relationship, said he wanted to speak, not as an ambassador, but as a member of the Jewish faith and the son of a rabbi who committed his life to Jewish unity. His father was the rabbi of a Conservative synagogue in New Yorks Long Island.

Sadly, Friedman said, the Jewish people is not where it needs to be in terms of unity.

Yesterday, I heard something I thought I would never hear before, he said. I understand the source of the frustration and the source of the anger. I heard a major Jewish organization say they need to rethink their support of the State of Israel. That is something unthinkable in my lifetime, until yesterday. We have to do better. We must do better.

Friedman did not say to which group he was referring, but Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, was quoted as saying that Sundays cabinet decisions on the Western Wall and conversion could lead many to rethink their support for Israel.

There is a limit to how many times you can be delegitimized and insulted, he was quoted as saying.

Friedman said he was not going to take sides on the issues, but that they can be resolved only through mutual respect and understanding.

We have to get back to those basic principles of Jewish unity, he said. And the key to Jewish unity is that this is not a question of winning, it is a question of mutual understanding, respect and coexistence.

And as soon as somebody has to win, we are all going to lose.

Friedman, who spoke in a schmoozy fashion and punctuated his remarks with humor and words of Torah, said it was not enough for the Jewish people to unite around common enemies.

We should unite about what is wonderful about our common existence, he said.

We should unite behind the miracle of the State of Israel. We are living through the incredible miracle of the birth and growth of the State of Israel.

Friedman spoke briefly about the Trump administration, saying it was a strong team very supportive of Israel.

I can assure you that you have people in the US administration whose hearts are in the right place, he said.

Regarding the diplomatic process, he said only: We are working very hard on the peace process. Those who talk, dont know; and those who know, dont talk. I know, and am not going to talk.

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On Kotel, US Jews Must Get Shas, UTJ, Israeli Politics The Forward – Forward

One day in May 1935, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin welcomed French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval to Moscow to discuss the rising Nazi threat and Frances defensive plans. How many troops mobilized? Armored divisions? Artillery? At one point, historians say, Laval asked Stalin to ease his harsh treatment of Russian Catholics in order to ensure the popes support for their side. The pope? Stalin replied in mock surprise. How many divisions has he got?

Some version of that conversation is surely replaying in the back of Benjamin Netanyahus mind this week as the Israeli prime minister ponders the latest uproar in his relations with the Jewish Diaspora. In the space of a single day, June 25, his government approved two separate measures to tighten certain religious restrictions, rolling back several modest liberal reforms that the biggest American Jewish organizations had fought for years to achieve.

One of the new measures will tighten the rules for conversion to Judaism, which had been eased in recent years following decades of Diaspora pressure and tough Israel-Diaspora negotiating. The other measure freezes construction on a new prayer plaza alongside the Western Wall, Judaisms holiest shrine, meant to accommodate non-Orthodox worship services. The changes result from pressure by Israels Haredi or ultra-Orthodox community, whose parties hold 13 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, enabling them to make or break ruling coalitions.

Leaders of centrist and liberal American Jewish institutions maintain that undoing the long-sought reforms highlights Israeli officialdoms refusal to recognize the Judaism practiced by most American Jews and sours relations between the worlds two largest Jewish communities. But ultimately, Americans ability to influence Israeli law is dependent on the willingness of government decision-makers to stand on principle and defy the Haredi parties. And when push comes to shove, government leaders ask American Jewish liberals the question Stalin asked: How many Knesset seats have you got?

Its important to note that the two measures differ widely in the populations theyll affect and the nature of their impact. The Western Wall measure, ending the effort to build a non-Orthodox prayer space, amounts to a symbolic delegitimation of the Judaism practiced by the majority of American Jews by telling them there is no place for their prayers at Judaisms holiest site. It has little impact on Israelis, however, because American-style liberal Judaism has little foothold and gets little attention in Israel.

The conversion measure, by contrast, has no direct connection to American Jews advocacy of religious pluralism in Israel. American Jewish organizational leaders have been pressing for Israeli recognition of conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis. The Israeli liberalization thats targeted for rollback ended the monopoly of Israels Haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate and allowed would-be converts to seek out more permissive or liberal-leaning Orthodox rabbis, but still excluded non-Orthodox rabbis. The main beneficiaries have been the quarter-million-odd immigrants, mostly from the former Soviet Union, who are not recognized as Jewish by the state rabbinate mostly children of intermarriage who can become citizens but cant marry other Jews. The bill approved by Netanyahus ministers on June 25 and sent to the Knesset for consideration would restore the Chief Rabbinates monopoly.

The liberalization was a response to the growing strength and influence of the Haredi rabbinate within Israeli Orthodoxy, particularly their influence on the Chief Rabbinate, nominally a Religious Zionist institution. In recent decades, under Haredi pressure, the rabbinate has tightened standards for conversion, requiring that converts commit themselves to living an Orthodox lifestyle after conversion this on the assumption that while a born Jew may fail to observe the commandments, one cannot apply from outside to become a bad Jew. Since the process coincided with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants whose Jewishness was not recognized by the rabbinate, a crisis arose. Just when demand for conversion began to soar, the process became increasingly draconian. Whats important is that the struggle had virtually nothing to do with the demands of the U.S.-based non-Orthodox denominations.

As different as they are, though, the two new measures share this: They reflect the growing power of the Haredi rabbinate and its Knesset representatives. The Haredi parties have punched above their weight for years because they held the balance of power within the Knesset, being willing to join either a left-wing or a right-wing coalition. Haredi rabbis reject the Modern Orthodox doctrine that the modern state of Israel is part of a divine plan to restore the ancient Jewish kingdom. Accordingly, they believe that biblical laws governing monarchy and statecraft dont apply to modern Israel. Therefore theres little religious significance to the question of who rules the West Bank.

So Shas, the Sephardic Haredi party, was part of the Yitzhak Rabin government that signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, as well as the Ehud Barak government that offered the Palestinians statehood at Camp David in 2000. For part of that time, the Ashkenazi Haredi party, United Torah Judaism, followed Shas to the government table.

Shas comfort level in Labor-led governments was enhanced by the partys leader, Aryeh Deri. In addition to his religious fundamentalism, Deri is a dove on foreign policy and a social democrat on economic policy, and hes long been close to several key Labor Party leaders. However, Deri went to prison for bribery in September 2000, shortly after the Camp David talks collapsed. His replacement, Eli Yishai, is a hard-right hawk with strongly conservative economic views. He pulled Shas out of the Barak coalition as soon as Deri went to prison, leading to the collapse of Baraks government and a long period of Likud rule in which Yishai was a permanent partner.

Deri reentered politics in 2012, though, and quickly returned to the Shas leadership. He has since been one of the most liberal members of Netanyahus cabinet. Hes publicly stated that his own inclination would be to join a left-leaning coalition, but his mostly working-class voters expect him to join with Likud.

But Deris backing could be up for grabs again this year. Netanyahu, whos expected to call new elections soon, is under investigation by Israels national police for at least three suspected corruption cases, and is expected to face indictment in the coming weeks or months. If hes charged, the next election could be competitive.

Labor and the larger body it controls, the Zionist Union, hold 24 seats (to Likuds 30) in the current Knesset. Under the respected but colorless chairman Isaac Herzog, its dropped to single digits in the polls. However, the party will hold a leadership primary on July 4, and some observers see a possible revival in the cards. The two leading candidates likely to advance to a runoff are popular figures with the public trade union firebrand and former defense minister Amir Peretz and former banker, telecoms executive and environmental affairs minister Avi Gabbai. Significantly, both are of Moroccan origin, countering Labors longtime image as a voice of the Ashkenazi elites and possibly opening new opportunities among Likuds working-class Sephardic base. Perhaps most important, both are on good terms with fellow Moroccan-born Deri.

Also in the mix is the Yesh Atid party of former finance minister Yair Lapid. Polls in recent months have shown him running close to and occasionally ahead of Netanyahu. He entered politics as a foe of Haredi Judaism, but as the prime ministers job has seemed more attainable, hes moderated his views and worked hard to ingratiate himself with the traditionalists.

The bottom line in all this is that Deri and the 13 Haredi Knesset seats are in play in a way they havent been for more than a decade. A half-year ago, when Netanyahu began toying with early elections, it looked like a cakewalk for him. Now, between his own legal troubles, new energy on the left and Deris visible impatience with the company hes now keeping, the prime minister has every reason to be very nervous nervous enough to risk seriously damaging relations with American Jewry, Israels most important ally, in order to keep his coalition together.

American Jews may have good sense and historical necessity on their side as they fight for a place to pray alongside the Western Wall, but as Stalin might have reminded them, they dont have the weapon that counts.

On the other hand, Stalin didnt live long enough to see another pope, John Paul II, bring down the Soviet Union without a single division under his command. So its worth remembering another maxim, this one from the rabbinic wisdom literature: Since the fall of the Holy Temple, prophecy has been bequeathed to children and fools. Or as Yogi Berra once said: its tough to make predictions, especially about the future.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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On Kotel, US Jews Must Get Shas, UTJ, Israeli Politics The Forward – Forward

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This 400-year-old Jewish library survived Hitler and the Inquisition – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Staff preparing the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam for a tour, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) Livraria Ets Haim is the worlds oldest functioning Jewish library. As such, it is no stranger to the prospect of imminent destruction.

Founded in 1616 by Jews who fled Catholic persecution in Spain and Portugal, the three-room library is adjacent to Amsterdams majestic Portuguese Synagogue in the Dutch capitals center.

The30,000-volume collection mostly contains manuscripts written by people who fled the Inquisition on the Iberian Peninsula or their descendants. The oldest document is a copy of the Mishneh Torah, the codeofJewishreligious lawauthored byRabbiMoshe ben Maimon, or Maimonides, that dates to 1282. Ets Haims volume is pristine but for the scars left behind by an Inquisition censor, a Jew who had converted to Christianity and singedaway entirepassages of the book.

Ets Haim as a whole faced a similar fate or worse in 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and had 75 percent of its Jews murdered. Yet the Nazis left the Portuguese Synagogue intact, and instead of burning the librarys collection, they shipped the books to Germany. The collection was discovered there, with light damage, after the war.

After the war, the books were returned to Amsterdam. But the Dutch Jewish community lacked the resources to preserve the collection. Library curators determined that the Ets Haim building would need to be renovated thoroughly to ensure the proper conditions, so in 1979 the books were sent to Israel.

Following extensive renovations to the building, which dates to 1675, the collection returned home in 2000. And now, relying upon 21st-century technology, its custodians are determined to make the librarys works accessible to interested parties around the world. The aim, according to Ets Haims curator, Heide Warncke, is to ensure that the knowledge stored between its pages is never lost again.

In 2014, using advanced imaging equipment, the National Library of Israel has partnered with Ets Haim to digitize its entire catalog. And now the partners will make everything available online and for free.

The Jerusalem library will include Ets Haims books in Ktiv, a vast international collection of digitized Hebrew manuscripts that is set to launch in August. The scans from centuries-old stores like Ets Haims are ultra high-resolution files that are resistant to digital decay. For added security, they are stored on several servers worldwide.

Cataloger Ruth Peeters, center, telling visitors about the history of the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

Like many Holocaust survivors have in their lives, the books of Ets Haim have demonstrated a remarkable ability to cheat death, said Aviad Stollman, head of collections at the National Library of Israel.But we still need to do our part to ensure this exquisite Jewish library is preserved for centuries to come.

The library is housed in a two-story wooden building with a steep, spiral staircase and two octagonal sky windows that provide defused light. It is open to the public only a handful of times each year during guided tours that typically need to be booked in advance. (Accredited scholars may access the library year-round.)

Warncke said the restrictive policy is meant to protect the books, which are at risk of being damaged by humidity and changes in temperature.

The Ets Haim collection, which in 2003 was added to UNESCOslist of World Heritage items, owes its richness to its genesis from Iberian Jews,she added.

These Jewish immigrants were pioneers in philosophy, innovation, trade and medicine, she said. When they fled the Inquisition, they brought knowledge to the Netherlands on theology, astronomy (as evidenced in Ets Haims Hebrew-language book from the 17th century titled Collection of Astronomical Treatises) and medicine.

One decidedly modern volume, the Dictionary of Maritime Terms, was published in 1780 by the translator David Franco Mendes in Amsterdam, offering entries in Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish alongside fine sketches of ship parts. Though his book is secular in essence, Mendes was aprominent member of the Jewish congregation as well as an insurance broker.

Other Sephardic Jews used the relative tolerance they encountered in the Netherlands to resume the study of Jewish texts that had been largely stunted throughout Europe following the Inquisition.

The people who founded Ets Haim and helped it grow had been living under persecution for decades, said Ruth Peeters, a senior cataloger at the library. You can see in the books their enthusiasm about being able to reconnect with their Jewish traditions openly and resume the study of it. Ets Haim is a testament to the cultural revival they led.

A researcher working at the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

At times, this enthusiasm for theological debate tested the borders of acceptability even in the Netherlands, which despite being a relatively tolerant nation was also a deeply religious Christian one. One such publication was the benignly titled book Selected Works by Various Authors. Written in Spanish in the 17th century by Saul Levi Mortera, it contains refutation of the gospels, acts, epistles according to Ets Haim, and arguments against Christianity, according to the Israeli library.

Such explosive publications were kept at Ets Haim as manuscripts and were printed rarely, Warncke said, so as to limit their distribution and avoid angering Dutch society.

This culture of debate among the Jewish community, as well as its exposure to different religions and ideas that an international trading hub provided, produced heretics like the philosophers Baruch Spinoza who was excommunicated by Jews for his atheist musings, possibly because they also offended Christians and Uriel da Costa.

There is no way of knowing for sure, but both men (who died in 1632 and 1640, respectively) may well have frequented Ets Haim to conduct their research, Warncke said.

It was, after all, the largest collection around of Jewish writings, she said.

And while there is no record of Spinozas activity at the library, his father had enrolled him in theEts Haim seminary, which was Amsterdams first Portuguese Jewish seminary, of which the library was a part.

Another controversial figure did leave an indelible mark on the library: Shabbetai Zevi, the Turkey-born Jewish eccentric who divided the Jewish world with his claim that he was the Messiah. Under duress, he converted to Islam in 1666.

One of Ets Haims most remarkable documents is a letter sent that year to Zevi by 24 Dutch Jews who left thecommunity overtheir support for Zevis messianic claim. In the three-page Hebrew-language document, they ask for word from their messiah and recount the story of Shabtai Raphael, who was banned from the city over his support for Shabbetai Zevi. The letter never reached the self-proclaimed messiah, probably because he had already converted to Islam when the envoy sent with it reached the Ottoman Empire.

Whereas these documents are well researched, new discoveries are always being made, said Warncke. As an example, she cited a 15th-century authors dedication to his wife a rare tribute for a woman that reflected the progressive nature of Dutch Jewry at the time.

Digitization, shesaid, is one of the possibilities to make our manuscripts accessible to a bigger audience. That can lead to more knowledge. There are many secrets still to be unlocked.

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Many Jews support BDS Movement – St. Catharines Standard

I am writing on behalf of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJVCanada.org). We are a nationwide Jewish human rights organization which promotes a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine. We do this through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties.

We, too, condemn St. Catharines regional Coun. Andy Petrowskis clearly anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist tweets. We agree with Synagogue Bnai Israel and the multicultural councils calls for regional council to censure him.

However, it is with great consternation that we read about Niagara regional councils motion to wholly condemn the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement as anti-Semitic. Here is why: At IJV Canada we know a great deal about BDS, and about anti-Semitism. IJV-Canada has recently celebrated its 10th year with chapters in many Canadian cities, and a growing number of student chapters on major university campuses. IJV supports the right of Canadians to criticize and challenge the current laws and policies of the State of Israel, including through the BDS Movement. IJV abhors anti-Semitism. However, we do not conflate anti-Semitism with BDS which your council did in its June 8 meeting.

Our view is the same as tens of thousands of other Jewish people across Canada, the U.S and in Israel itself. We believe Israel must end its 50 years of illegal and brutal military occupation of Palestine. The United Nations has passed more than 150 resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from its occupation of Palestine. International human rights groups including Amnesty International, OXFAM and Israels own Btselem have documented Israels human rights abuses and called for an end to Israels illegal occupation.

Since 2005, Palestinians and their allies worldwide have adopted non-violent, peaceful tactics to fight Israels occupation. This is what BDS is all about.

BDS does not seek to destroy Israel, or Jews, but urges nonviolent pressure and peaceful protest against Israel until it complies with international law. Boycott, divestment and sanctions were key to the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa, more than 25 years ago, and we feel that this strategy can work to support Palestinian human rights.

BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Indeed, a recent EKOS poll shows that Canadians are very supportive on these issues: 91 per cent accept the view that criticism of Israeli government policy is like criticism of any other country and is not necessarily anti-Semitic. Far more Canadians have a negative view of the Israeli government (46 per cent) than positive (28 per cent); 66 per cent believe that sanctions on Israel are reasonable, given its violations of international law; 78 per cent believe that the Palestinians call for a boycott of Israel is reasonable in the circumstances.

As we watched the video of your council meeting, it was clear that the debate and deliberations would have been less one-sided had you also invited IJV-Canada to present. We are Jews who represent many in the Canadian Jewish community. Im afraid neither Bnai Brith nor CIJA nor the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre represent all the Jewish people in Canada.

We would be pleased to explain why many Jews and other Canadians support BDS and answer your questions at an upcoming council meeting. We could participate through Skype.

Judy Haiven

For the IJV Canada steering committee

Halifax

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Jeremy Corbyn ‘gave the middle finger to Jews’ by botching anti-semitism crackdown, top author says – The Sun

Howard Jacobson blasted the Labour leader for his reaction to claims of Labour anti-semitism

JEREMY CORBYN gave the middle finger to Jews with his failure to crack down on Labour anti-semites, a leading author said last night.

Booker Prize-winning writer Howard Jacobson said he was shocked by the Labour leaders response to allegations of anti-Jewish hate in the party.

PA

Mr Corbyn last year commissioned an inquiry into anti-semitism, which was widely derided as a whitewash.

And he sparked anger by giving the reports author Shami Chakrabarti a peerage shortly afterwards.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Mr Jacobson said yesterday: Im quite shocked by the giving of a peerage to Chakrabarti.

Im shocked by the speed of it and shocked by what that suggested about Corbyn.

Getty

He then held up his middle finger and added: That was what Corbyn was saying to all of us who complained.

Mr Jacobson, who won the Booker Prize in 2010 for his novel The Finkler Question, slammed the way Mr Corbyn often says he condemns all racism when asked for his views on anti-semitism.

The Labour boss asked Lady Chakrabarti a former human rights lawyer to investigate anti-semitic views in the party after a spate of racist attacks from pro-Corbyn trolls.

PA

But she concluded that there was no systemic anti-Jewish sentiment in Labour and two months later, Mr Corbyn appointed her to the House of Lords.

Lady Chakrabarti is now a leading member of the Shadow Cabinet.

A number of Labour supporters have been accused of viciously harassing Jewish people online under the guise of opposing Zionism.

At the launch of the anti-semitism report last year, a Labour MP who is Jewish was left in tears by the abuse she got from a Corbynite thug.

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Jeremy Corbyn ‘gave the middle finger to Jews’ by botching anti-semitism crackdown, top author says – The Sun

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Conservative View on Marriage and Covenant – Atlanta Jewish Times

The Jewish Theological Seminary, the flagship educational institution of the Conservative movement, issued the following statement regarding interfaith marriage Thursday, June 22.

The Jewish Theological Seminary affirms that the study of Torah, the sacred wisdom of our people, and the performance of mitzvot, Judaisms sanctified pattern of religious practice, stand at the very core of Jewish identity. Torah and mitzvot have always been the foundation of the Jewish peoples covenant with G-d, guiding and sustaining us for three millennia in nearly every corner of the globe. They remain so today. Individuals from other backgrounds are warmly invited to join the covenant through conversion. There is also much that Jews can and must do to signal our respect and welcome for non-Jews in our community, whether or not they choose to become Jewish. What we must not do is to abandon the core beliefs and practices which are the very foundation of Jewish life.

For JTS and its partners in the Conservative movement, the wedding ceremony is not only a celebration of a couple, but a commitment to the Jewish covenant. Its opening blessing thanks G-d for infusing our lives with holiness through the mitzvot, and its closing lines connect this marriage to the rebirth of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Such statements can be said truly only if both partners identify as Jews.

Judaism was never meant to be practiced alone. Our faith emerged as a family journey, and it is in the concentric circles of family, community and peoplehood that Jewish civilization has flourished. Throughout our history many individuals from other backgrounds have been welcomed into the Jewish people. That remains true, even in the greatly altered circumstances of life today. For those who are or wish to be members of our communities and of our families, the door is open to study and commit to join our ancient faith. We respect the choice of those who prefer not to become Jewish, understanding that their religious identity is no less significant than is our own.

We understand the arguments made for our clergy to officiate at interfaith weddings, knowing that they come from a place of genuine concern for bringing near individuals and families who are or might be estranged from the community and tradition we love. However, we believe and the data confirm that by far the most effective path toward building a Jewish future is to strengthen Jewish identity, beginning with the Jewish family. This is also the path which Torah and tradition command. JTS will in coming months expand our efforts to welcome all families, including those that are interfaith, to explore Judaism together with us. We will do all we can along with our partners in the Conservative movement to make the process of joining our age-old covenant attractive, accessible and compelling. This is not the moment for Conservative Jews and their rabbis to abandon the profound and joyful practice of rituals and learning, work for social justice and encounter with the divine, love of Torah and love of the Jewish people that continue to make this form of Jewish life a source of community and meaning for hundreds of thousands of Jews in North America and beyond. Let us join together in confidence about the wisdom of the path to which we are committed.

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Can young Jews in US turn tide against Israel? – The National


The National
Can young Jews in US turn tide against Israel?
The National
Signs of Israel's troubles with the next generation of American Jews are already apparent. They are at the heart of a new project near Hebron in the West Bank of non-violent direct action against the occupation. Sumud Freedom Camp “sumud” is Arabic
Why I Support the Israeli 'Occupation'The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com (blog)
Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: June 26, 2017Haaretz

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Can young Jews in US turn tide against Israel? – The National

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Hungarian Jews slam prime minister’s praises for Hitler ally Horthy – Cleveland Jewish News

Hungarian Jews condemned their prime ministers praises for a former leader who was an ally of Adolf Hitler and oversaw the murder of more than 500,000 Holocaust victims.

In a speech on Wednesday, Orban included Miklos Horthy among people he said were exceptional statesmen in Hungary for leading the country after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Horthy signed anti-Jewish laws in 1938 and 1939, and earlier in 1920.

Andrs Heisler, the president of the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish organizations and communities, said in a statement on Friday that the serious historical experience of our community proves that our country had been buried by the history of the 20th century largely by Mikls Horthys actions.

The anti-Semitism of the Horthy era, which he also espoused, cannot be put as an example for the future generations, Heisler added. He also wrote Horthy was responsible for the murder of the majority of Hungarian Jews. We think it would be more advanced if the contesting political parties would focus on the questions of present and future instead of evaluating Horthy, the statement concluded.

Mazsihisz and other Jewish groups have clashed repeatedly with Orbans rightwing government over the veneration of individuals from Hungarys past whose legacy is divisive because of their anti-Semitic views or actions.

Wary of losing supportto the far-right Jobbik party, Orbans ruling Fidesz party has cracked down in recent years on liberal activist groups and increased efforts to celebrate figures like Horthy, Gyorgy Donath and Balint Homan politicians who are considered patriotic by the right but whom many Hungarians view as dishonorable.

In 2014, Mazsihisz briefly suspended its ties to Orbans government when a statue seen as minimizing Hungarian complicity during the Holocaust was unveiled in Budapests Freedom Square. The monument depicts an angel (understood to represent Hungary) attacked by an eagle (understood to represent Germany.

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Hungarian Jews slam prime minister’s praises for Hitler ally Horthy – Cleveland Jewish News

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How the young Jews of Budapest are resisting the rise of hate – Jewish News (blog)

Hungarys nationalist government is clamping down on human rights and refugees, Roma and sexual minorities are under attack. I visited Budapest in May, on a programme run by UK Jewish human rights charity Ren Cassin. Iwas alarmed by the brazenly illiberal march of government policy and the rise of the far right, and asks if this could happen in the UK. But I also found inspiration in the human rights activists many of them Jewish who are resisting the regime at every turn. Hungary Jews lead resistance to government attacks on human rights Its Sunday evening in Budapest and anyone whos anyone is at Romanys new show. Laszlo, a DJ better known as Gypsy Robot, is spinning tunes, accompanied by guitar & accordion. A poet, a singer, and an MEP are strutting down the catwalk, their clothes emblazoned with coloured patterns and the faces of Roma people killed during the 1956 uprising. A tall, thin, moustachioed man in a dress is posing for the cameras. In one corner of the room, a small group of impressed, if bemused, British Jews stands at the back, here for five days on the Ren Cassin Fellowship Programme to learn about human rights issues in Hungary. Wait, what exactly does this have to do with human rights? Hungary is a country where, by most standards, human rights are in retreat. The government, led by Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party, has systematically set about removing checks and balances on power, and is promoting a nationalist, authoritarian public discourse. An almost overtly anti-Semitic campaign against George Soros, the US-based Hungarian-born billionaire who backs much of Central & Eastern European civil society through the Open Society Foundations, has led to the attempted outlawing of Central European University, seen as a symbol for democratic values & Hungarian liberalism. When we were in Budapest, the government had recently adopted a new tactic: decrying foreign-funded NGOs which receive grant money from foreign governments, particularly Norway and proposing new legislation aimed at drastically impeding their capacity to operate. Virtually everyone we met, whether from major NGOs like the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) or the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, or smaller organisations and individuals working in the Roma community and with refugees, painted a similar picture. Hostility to refugees, discrimination against minorities and the rise of the far right Government policy towards refugees & migrants consists of a border fence, transit zones that only let in five people a day, and push back to the Serbian border for anyone attempting to claim asylum or caught undocumented in Hungarian territory. Roma communities face constant discrimination, with school segregation enforced through the mechanism of choice, and whole neighbourhoods in cities such as Miskolc in the north-east being cleared of their residents and demolished. LGBTQI rights are under constant threat. The far right is on the rise. They recently targeted the Aurora Centre, a bar, events space, NGO hub & Masorti Synagogue (the only Kabbalat Shabbat Ive been to where youre encouraged to take your beer in with you) in the heart of the historically Roma and historically poorer District 8. Fighting back against attacks on human rights And, yet, against this disastrous backdrop, every single person we met is doing incredible work challenging abuses and sticking up for the rights of everyone in Hungary. Organisations like the HCLU and the Helsinki Committee provide vital legal assistance and push back against government attacks on rights in a media landscape that is anything but sympathetic. Roma activists including the inimitable Laszlo, DJ, social media personality and the best known out gay Roma man in Hungary do incredible work making their community visible. We witnessed inspiring examples of activism in action. When the Hungarian government installed a monument seen as whitewashing Hungarian complicity in the Holocaust, local activists built a living memorial underneath it, displaying photographs and personal items from victims and survivors. When refugees began entering Hungary in large numbers initially from Afghanistan a graphic designer and an architect created Open Doors Hungary, working with unaccompanied minors to help ease their path into Hungary and provide useful skills training. The Jewish community leads the resistance Similarly, the Hungarian Jewish community, so often typecast against the shadow of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, has fostered a vibrant, dynamic scene of young people many of whom did not grow up with a Jewish identity working to both explore their own Judaism and defend human rights. At the height of the refugee crisis, many young Jews were on the frontline, providing aid and support to new arrivals from Syria. It couldnt happen here? Not if we can help it. What Hungary today tells us about Britain tomorrow Reflecting on how we take what we have learnt in Budapest back with us, Im struck by two conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, Hungary provides an example of just how easily the hard won gains of human rights can be lost. With a clear strategy and strong leadership, political forces can roll back legal protections and norms, and, in Hungary, the public at large seems to approve. Could this happen in the UK? On the other hand, the activists we met in Budapest are amongst the most committed, clear-eyed people Ive ever encountered. They understand what the government is doing, and they know why they cannot stay silent. The work of both the human rights activists and the Jewish community activists (and many were the same people there seems to be a vastly disproportionate number of Jews working in Hungarian NGOs) is imbued with a DIY, community-led culture that lives the values it seeks to promote. As Jews in the UK and as people committed to human rights this idea should inspire what we do. NGO clampdown confirmed A couple of weeks after we got home, the NGO law was passed. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee has announced that it will not register as foreign-funded until the case against the law is decided in court. The future of these organisations and of human rights and democratic values in Hungary is uncertain. Hungarys European and EU allies, including the UK, cannot stay silent.

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Amb. Friedman: Unthinkable that Jewish NGOs will cut ties with Israel – The Jerusalem Post

David Friedman (front, C), the newly appointed United States Ambassador to Israel, arrives to a ceremony whereby President Reuven Rivlin will receive Friedman’s diplomatic credentials at his residence in Jerusalem May 16, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS) In his maiden public speech as US ambassador, David Friedman steered clear of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and instead waded into the wars of the Jews over the Western Wall, saying: We will defeat our enemies, the question is if we can survive ourselves. In a speech in Jerusalem on Tuesday that the ambassador devoted to the topic of Jewish unity, Friedman referred to his past comments about J Street, when he called the groups supporters worse than kapos, and said, I am as guilty as anyone else for having entered the partisan divide that has, unfortunately, to some extent fractured the Jewish community in the US and in Israel. But it has to end. He pledged to treat the Jewish people of whatever stripe, whatever political views, with the same dignity and respect that they all deserve. And I hope we all do the same. We must turn the page. Friedman was speaking at a Bnai Brith World Center award ceremony for excellence in journalism on Diaspora affairs. Friedman, who went off script in a speech he said originally was to deal with the breadth and depth of the US-Israeli relationship, said he wanted to speak, not as an ambassador, but as a member of the Jewish faith and the son of a rabbi who committed his life to Jewish unity. His father was the rabbi of a Conservative synagogue in New Yorks Long Island. Sadly, Friedman said, the Jewish people is not where it needs to be in terms of unity. Yesterday, I heard something I thought I would never hear before, he said. I understand the source of the frustration and the source of the anger. I heard a major Jewish organization say they need to rethink their support of the State of Israel. That is something unthinkable in my lifetime, until yesterday. We have to do better. We must do better. Friedman did not say to which group he was referring, but Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, was quoted as saying that Sundays cabinet decisions on the Western Wall and conversion could lead many to rethink their support for Israel. There is a limit to how many times you can be delegitimized and insulted, he was quoted as saying. Friedman said he was not going to take sides on the issues, but that they can be resolved only through mutual respect and understanding. We have to get back to those basic principles of Jewish unity, he said. And the key to Jewish unity is that this is not a question of winning, it is a question of mutual understanding, respect and coexistence. And as soon as somebody has to win, we are all going to lose. Friedman, who spoke in a schmoozy fashion and punctuated his remarks with humor and words of Torah, said it was not enough for the Jewish people to unite around common enemies. We should unite about what is wonderful about our common existence, he said. We should unite behind the miracle of the State of Israel. We are living through the incredible miracle of the birth and growth of the State of Israel. Friedman spoke briefly about the Trump administration, saying it was a strong team very supportive of Israel. I can assure you that you have people in the US administration whose hearts are in the right place, he said. Regarding the diplomatic process, he said only: We are working very hard on the peace process. Those who talk, dont know; and those who know, dont talk. I know, and am not going to talk. Share on facebook

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On Kotel, US Jews Must Get Shas, UTJ, Israeli Politics The Forward – Forward

One day in May 1935, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin welcomed French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval to Moscow to discuss the rising Nazi threat and Frances defensive plans. How many troops mobilized? Armored divisions? Artillery? At one point, historians say, Laval asked Stalin to ease his harsh treatment of Russian Catholics in order to ensure the popes support for their side. The pope? Stalin replied in mock surprise. How many divisions has he got? Some version of that conversation is surely replaying in the back of Benjamin Netanyahus mind this week as the Israeli prime minister ponders the latest uproar in his relations with the Jewish Diaspora. In the space of a single day, June 25, his government approved two separate measures to tighten certain religious restrictions, rolling back several modest liberal reforms that the biggest American Jewish organizations had fought for years to achieve. One of the new measures will tighten the rules for conversion to Judaism, which had been eased in recent years following decades of Diaspora pressure and tough Israel-Diaspora negotiating. The other measure freezes construction on a new prayer plaza alongside the Western Wall, Judaisms holiest shrine, meant to accommodate non-Orthodox worship services. The changes result from pressure by Israels Haredi or ultra-Orthodox community, whose parties hold 13 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, enabling them to make or break ruling coalitions. Leaders of centrist and liberal American Jewish institutions maintain that undoing the long-sought reforms highlights Israeli officialdoms refusal to recognize the Judaism practiced by most American Jews and sours relations between the worlds two largest Jewish communities. But ultimately, Americans ability to influence Israeli law is dependent on the willingness of government decision-makers to stand on principle and defy the Haredi parties. And when push comes to shove, government leaders ask American Jewish liberals the question Stalin asked: How many Knesset seats have you got? Its important to note that the two measures differ widely in the populations theyll affect and the nature of their impact. The Western Wall measure, ending the effort to build a non-Orthodox prayer space, amounts to a symbolic delegitimation of the Judaism practiced by the majority of American Jews by telling them there is no place for their prayers at Judaisms holiest site. It has little impact on Israelis, however, because American-style liberal Judaism has little foothold and gets little attention in Israel. The conversion measure, by contrast, has no direct connection to American Jews advocacy of religious pluralism in Israel. American Jewish organizational leaders have been pressing for Israeli recognition of conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis. The Israeli liberalization thats targeted for rollback ended the monopoly of Israels Haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate and allowed would-be converts to seek out more permissive or liberal-leaning Orthodox rabbis, but still excluded non-Orthodox rabbis. The main beneficiaries have been the quarter-million-odd immigrants, mostly from the former Soviet Union, who are not recognized as Jewish by the state rabbinate mostly children of intermarriage who can become citizens but cant marry other Jews. The bill approved by Netanyahus ministers on June 25 and sent to the Knesset for consideration would restore the Chief Rabbinates monopoly. The liberalization was a response to the growing strength and influence of the Haredi rabbinate within Israeli Orthodoxy, particularly their influence on the Chief Rabbinate, nominally a Religious Zionist institution. In recent decades, under Haredi pressure, the rabbinate has tightened standards for conversion, requiring that converts commit themselves to living an Orthodox lifestyle after conversion this on the assumption that while a born Jew may fail to observe the commandments, one cannot apply from outside to become a bad Jew. Since the process coincided with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants whose Jewishness was not recognized by the rabbinate, a crisis arose. Just when demand for conversion began to soar, the process became increasingly draconian. Whats important is that the struggle had virtually nothing to do with the demands of the U.S.-based non-Orthodox denominations. As different as they are, though, the two new measures share this: They reflect the growing power of the Haredi rabbinate and its Knesset representatives. The Haredi parties have punched above their weight for years because they held the balance of power within the Knesset, being willing to join either a left-wing or a right-wing coalition. Haredi rabbis reject the Modern Orthodox doctrine that the modern state of Israel is part of a divine plan to restore the ancient Jewish kingdom. Accordingly, they believe that biblical laws governing monarchy and statecraft dont apply to modern Israel. Therefore theres little religious significance to the question of who rules the West Bank. So Shas, the Sephardic Haredi party, was part of the Yitzhak Rabin government that signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, as well as the Ehud Barak government that offered the Palestinians statehood at Camp David in 2000. For part of that time, the Ashkenazi Haredi party, United Torah Judaism, followed Shas to the government table. Shas comfort level in Labor-led governments was enhanced by the partys leader, Aryeh Deri. In addition to his religious fundamentalism, Deri is a dove on foreign policy and a social democrat on economic policy, and hes long been close to several key Labor Party leaders. However, Deri went to prison for bribery in September 2000, shortly after the Camp David talks collapsed. His replacement, Eli Yishai, is a hard-right hawk with strongly conservative economic views. He pulled Shas out of the Barak coalition as soon as Deri went to prison, leading to the collapse of Baraks government and a long period of Likud rule in which Yishai was a permanent partner. Deri reentered politics in 2012, though, and quickly returned to the Shas leadership. He has since been one of the most liberal members of Netanyahus cabinet. Hes publicly stated that his own inclination would be to join a left-leaning coalition, but his mostly working-class voters expect him to join with Likud. But Deris backing could be up for grabs again this year. Netanyahu, whos expected to call new elections soon, is under investigation by Israels national police for at least three suspected corruption cases, and is expected to face indictment in the coming weeks or months. If hes charged, the next election could be competitive. Labor and the larger body it controls, the Zionist Union, hold 24 seats (to Likuds 30) in the current Knesset. Under the respected but colorless chairman Isaac Herzog, its dropped to single digits in the polls. However, the party will hold a leadership primary on July 4, and some observers see a possible revival in the cards. The two leading candidates likely to advance to a runoff are popular figures with the public trade union firebrand and former defense minister Amir Peretz and former banker, telecoms executive and environmental affairs minister Avi Gabbai. Significantly, both are of Moroccan origin, countering Labors longtime image as a voice of the Ashkenazi elites and possibly opening new opportunities among Likuds working-class Sephardic base. Perhaps most important, both are on good terms with fellow Moroccan-born Deri. Also in the mix is the Yesh Atid party of former finance minister Yair Lapid. Polls in recent months have shown him running close to and occasionally ahead of Netanyahu. He entered politics as a foe of Haredi Judaism, but as the prime ministers job has seemed more attainable, hes moderated his views and worked hard to ingratiate himself with the traditionalists. The bottom line in all this is that Deri and the 13 Haredi Knesset seats are in play in a way they havent been for more than a decade. A half-year ago, when Netanyahu began toying with early elections, it looked like a cakewalk for him. Now, between his own legal troubles, new energy on the left and Deris visible impatience with the company hes now keeping, the prime minister has every reason to be very nervous nervous enough to risk seriously damaging relations with American Jewry, Israels most important ally, in order to keep his coalition together. American Jews may have good sense and historical necessity on their side as they fight for a place to pray alongside the Western Wall, but as Stalin might have reminded them, they dont have the weapon that counts. On the other hand, Stalin didnt live long enough to see another pope, John Paul II, bring down the Soviet Union without a single division under his command. So its worth remembering another maxim, this one from the rabbinic wisdom literature: Since the fall of the Holy Temple, prophecy has been bequeathed to children and fools. Or as Yogi Berra once said: its tough to make predictions, especially about the future. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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This 400-year-old Jewish library survived Hitler and the Inquisition – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Staff preparing the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam for a tour, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz) AMSTERDAM (JTA) Livraria Ets Haim is the worlds oldest functioning Jewish library. As such, it is no stranger to the prospect of imminent destruction. Founded in 1616 by Jews who fled Catholic persecution in Spain and Portugal, the three-room library is adjacent to Amsterdams majestic Portuguese Synagogue in the Dutch capitals center. The30,000-volume collection mostly contains manuscripts written by people who fled the Inquisition on the Iberian Peninsula or their descendants. The oldest document is a copy of the Mishneh Torah, the codeofJewishreligious lawauthored byRabbiMoshe ben Maimon, or Maimonides, that dates to 1282. Ets Haims volume is pristine but for the scars left behind by an Inquisition censor, a Jew who had converted to Christianity and singedaway entirepassages of the book. Ets Haim as a whole faced a similar fate or worse in 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and had 75 percent of its Jews murdered. Yet the Nazis left the Portuguese Synagogue intact, and instead of burning the librarys collection, they shipped the books to Germany. The collection was discovered there, with light damage, after the war. After the war, the books were returned to Amsterdam. But the Dutch Jewish community lacked the resources to preserve the collection. Library curators determined that the Ets Haim building would need to be renovated thoroughly to ensure the proper conditions, so in 1979 the books were sent to Israel. Following extensive renovations to the building, which dates to 1675, the collection returned home in 2000. And now, relying upon 21st-century technology, its custodians are determined to make the librarys works accessible to interested parties around the world. The aim, according to Ets Haims curator, Heide Warncke, is to ensure that the knowledge stored between its pages is never lost again. In 2014, using advanced imaging equipment, the National Library of Israel has partnered with Ets Haim to digitize its entire catalog. And now the partners will make everything available online and for free. The Jerusalem library will include Ets Haims books in Ktiv, a vast international collection of digitized Hebrew manuscripts that is set to launch in August. The scans from centuries-old stores like Ets Haims are ultra high-resolution files that are resistant to digital decay. For added security, they are stored on several servers worldwide. Cataloger Ruth Peeters, center, telling visitors about the history of the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz) Like many Holocaust survivors have in their lives, the books of Ets Haim have demonstrated a remarkable ability to cheat death, said Aviad Stollman, head of collections at the National Library of Israel.But we still need to do our part to ensure this exquisite Jewish library is preserved for centuries to come. The library is housed in a two-story wooden building with a steep, spiral staircase and two octagonal sky windows that provide defused light. It is open to the public only a handful of times each year during guided tours that typically need to be booked in advance. (Accredited scholars may access the library year-round.) Warncke said the restrictive policy is meant to protect the books, which are at risk of being damaged by humidity and changes in temperature. The Ets Haim collection, which in 2003 was added to UNESCOslist of World Heritage items, owes its richness to its genesis from Iberian Jews,she added. These Jewish immigrants were pioneers in philosophy, innovation, trade and medicine, she said. When they fled the Inquisition, they brought knowledge to the Netherlands on theology, astronomy (as evidenced in Ets Haims Hebrew-language book from the 17th century titled Collection of Astronomical Treatises) and medicine. One decidedly modern volume, the Dictionary of Maritime Terms, was published in 1780 by the translator David Franco Mendes in Amsterdam, offering entries in Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish alongside fine sketches of ship parts. Though his book is secular in essence, Mendes was aprominent member of the Jewish congregation as well as an insurance broker. Other Sephardic Jews used the relative tolerance they encountered in the Netherlands to resume the study of Jewish texts that had been largely stunted throughout Europe following the Inquisition. The people who founded Ets Haim and helped it grow had been living under persecution for decades, said Ruth Peeters, a senior cataloger at the library. You can see in the books their enthusiasm about being able to reconnect with their Jewish traditions openly and resume the study of it. Ets Haim is a testament to the cultural revival they led. A researcher working at the Ets Haim Jewish library in Amsterdam, May 17, 2017. (Cnaan Liphshiz) At times, this enthusiasm for theological debate tested the borders of acceptability even in the Netherlands, which despite being a relatively tolerant nation was also a deeply religious Christian one. One such publication was the benignly titled book Selected Works by Various Authors. Written in Spanish in the 17th century by Saul Levi Mortera, it contains refutation of the gospels, acts, epistles according to Ets Haim, and arguments against Christianity, according to the Israeli library. Such explosive publications were kept at Ets Haim as manuscripts and were printed rarely, Warncke said, so as to limit their distribution and avoid angering Dutch society. This culture of debate among the Jewish community, as well as its exposure to different religions and ideas that an international trading hub provided, produced heretics like the philosophers Baruch Spinoza who was excommunicated by Jews for his atheist musings, possibly because they also offended Christians and Uriel da Costa. There is no way of knowing for sure, but both men (who died in 1632 and 1640, respectively) may well have frequented Ets Haim to conduct their research, Warncke said. It was, after all, the largest collection around of Jewish writings, she said. And while there is no record of Spinozas activity at the library, his father had enrolled him in theEts Haim seminary, which was Amsterdams first Portuguese Jewish seminary, of which the library was a part. Another controversial figure did leave an indelible mark on the library: Shabbetai Zevi, the Turkey-born Jewish eccentric who divided the Jewish world with his claim that he was the Messiah. Under duress, he converted to Islam in 1666. One of Ets Haims most remarkable documents is a letter sent that year to Zevi by 24 Dutch Jews who left thecommunity overtheir support for Zevis messianic claim. In the three-page Hebrew-language document, they ask for word from their messiah and recount the story of Shabtai Raphael, who was banned from the city over his support for Shabbetai Zevi. The letter never reached the self-proclaimed messiah, probably because he had already converted to Islam when the envoy sent with it reached the Ottoman Empire. Whereas these documents are well researched, new discoveries are always being made, said Warncke. As an example, she cited a 15th-century authors dedication to his wife a rare tribute for a woman that reflected the progressive nature of Dutch Jewry at the time. Digitization, shesaid, is one of the possibilities to make our manuscripts accessible to a bigger audience. That can lead to more knowledge. There are many secrets still to be unlocked.

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Many Jews support BDS Movement – St. Catharines Standard

I am writing on behalf of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJVCanada.org). We are a nationwide Jewish human rights organization which promotes a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine. We do this through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. We, too, condemn St. Catharines regional Coun. Andy Petrowskis clearly anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist tweets. We agree with Synagogue Bnai Israel and the multicultural councils calls for regional council to censure him. However, it is with great consternation that we read about Niagara regional councils motion to wholly condemn the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement as anti-Semitic. Here is why: At IJV Canada we know a great deal about BDS, and about anti-Semitism. IJV-Canada has recently celebrated its 10th year with chapters in many Canadian cities, and a growing number of student chapters on major university campuses. IJV supports the right of Canadians to criticize and challenge the current laws and policies of the State of Israel, including through the BDS Movement. IJV abhors anti-Semitism. However, we do not conflate anti-Semitism with BDS which your council did in its June 8 meeting. Our view is the same as tens of thousands of other Jewish people across Canada, the U.S and in Israel itself. We believe Israel must end its 50 years of illegal and brutal military occupation of Palestine. The United Nations has passed more than 150 resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from its occupation of Palestine. International human rights groups including Amnesty International, OXFAM and Israels own Btselem have documented Israels human rights abuses and called for an end to Israels illegal occupation. Since 2005, Palestinians and their allies worldwide have adopted non-violent, peaceful tactics to fight Israels occupation. This is what BDS is all about. BDS does not seek to destroy Israel, or Jews, but urges nonviolent pressure and peaceful protest against Israel until it complies with international law. Boycott, divestment and sanctions were key to the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa, more than 25 years ago, and we feel that this strategy can work to support Palestinian human rights. BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Indeed, a recent EKOS poll shows that Canadians are very supportive on these issues: 91 per cent accept the view that criticism of Israeli government policy is like criticism of any other country and is not necessarily anti-Semitic. Far more Canadians have a negative view of the Israeli government (46 per cent) than positive (28 per cent); 66 per cent believe that sanctions on Israel are reasonable, given its violations of international law; 78 per cent believe that the Palestinians call for a boycott of Israel is reasonable in the circumstances. As we watched the video of your council meeting, it was clear that the debate and deliberations would have been less one-sided had you also invited IJV-Canada to present. We are Jews who represent many in the Canadian Jewish community. Im afraid neither Bnai Brith nor CIJA nor the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre represent all the Jewish people in Canada. We would be pleased to explain why many Jews and other Canadians support BDS and answer your questions at an upcoming council meeting. We could participate through Skype. Judy Haiven For the IJV Canada steering committee Halifax

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Jeremy Corbyn ‘gave the middle finger to Jews’ by botching anti-semitism crackdown, top author says – The Sun

Howard Jacobson blasted the Labour leader for his reaction to claims of Labour anti-semitism JEREMY CORBYN gave the middle finger to Jews with his failure to crack down on Labour anti-semites, a leading author said last night. Booker Prize-winning writer Howard Jacobson said he was shocked by the Labour leaders response to allegations of anti-Jewish hate in the party. PA Mr Corbyn last year commissioned an inquiry into anti-semitism, which was widely derided as a whitewash. And he sparked anger by giving the reports author Shami Chakrabarti a peerage shortly afterwards. According to the Jewish Chronicle, Mr Jacobson said yesterday: Im quite shocked by the giving of a peerage to Chakrabarti. Im shocked by the speed of it and shocked by what that suggested about Corbyn. Getty He then held up his middle finger and added: That was what Corbyn was saying to all of us who complained. Mr Jacobson, who won the Booker Prize in 2010 for his novel The Finkler Question, slammed the way Mr Corbyn often says he condemns all racism when asked for his views on anti-semitism. The Labour boss asked Lady Chakrabarti a former human rights lawyer to investigate anti-semitic views in the party after a spate of racist attacks from pro-Corbyn trolls. PA But she concluded that there was no systemic anti-Jewish sentiment in Labour and two months later, Mr Corbyn appointed her to the House of Lords. Lady Chakrabarti is now a leading member of the Shadow Cabinet. A number of Labour supporters have been accused of viciously harassing Jewish people online under the guise of opposing Zionism. At the launch of the anti-semitism report last year, a Labour MP who is Jewish was left in tears by the abuse she got from a Corbynite thug.

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Conservative View on Marriage and Covenant – Atlanta Jewish Times

The Jewish Theological Seminary, the flagship educational institution of the Conservative movement, issued the following statement regarding interfaith marriage Thursday, June 22. The Jewish Theological Seminary affirms that the study of Torah, the sacred wisdom of our people, and the performance of mitzvot, Judaisms sanctified pattern of religious practice, stand at the very core of Jewish identity. Torah and mitzvot have always been the foundation of the Jewish peoples covenant with G-d, guiding and sustaining us for three millennia in nearly every corner of the globe. They remain so today. Individuals from other backgrounds are warmly invited to join the covenant through conversion. There is also much that Jews can and must do to signal our respect and welcome for non-Jews in our community, whether or not they choose to become Jewish. What we must not do is to abandon the core beliefs and practices which are the very foundation of Jewish life. For JTS and its partners in the Conservative movement, the wedding ceremony is not only a celebration of a couple, but a commitment to the Jewish covenant. Its opening blessing thanks G-d for infusing our lives with holiness through the mitzvot, and its closing lines connect this marriage to the rebirth of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Such statements can be said truly only if both partners identify as Jews. Judaism was never meant to be practiced alone. Our faith emerged as a family journey, and it is in the concentric circles of family, community and peoplehood that Jewish civilization has flourished. Throughout our history many individuals from other backgrounds have been welcomed into the Jewish people. That remains true, even in the greatly altered circumstances of life today. For those who are or wish to be members of our communities and of our families, the door is open to study and commit to join our ancient faith. We respect the choice of those who prefer not to become Jewish, understanding that their religious identity is no less significant than is our own. We understand the arguments made for our clergy to officiate at interfaith weddings, knowing that they come from a place of genuine concern for bringing near individuals and families who are or might be estranged from the community and tradition we love. However, we believe and the data confirm that by far the most effective path toward building a Jewish future is to strengthen Jewish identity, beginning with the Jewish family. This is also the path which Torah and tradition command. JTS will in coming months expand our efforts to welcome all families, including those that are interfaith, to explore Judaism together with us. We will do all we can along with our partners in the Conservative movement to make the process of joining our age-old covenant attractive, accessible and compelling. This is not the moment for Conservative Jews and their rabbis to abandon the profound and joyful practice of rituals and learning, work for social justice and encounter with the divine, love of Torah and love of the Jewish people that continue to make this form of Jewish life a source of community and meaning for hundreds of thousands of Jews in North America and beyond. Let us join together in confidence about the wisdom of the path to which we are committed.

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June 27, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Can young Jews in US turn tide against Israel? – The National

The National Can young Jews in US turn tide against Israel? The National Signs of Israel's troubles with the next generation of American Jews are already apparent. They are at the heart of a new project near Hebron in the West Bank of non-violent direct action against the occupation. Sumud Freedom Camp “sumud” is Arabic … Why I Support the Israeli 'Occupation' The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com (blog) Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: June 26, 2017 Haaretz all 238 news articles »

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June 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed

Hungarian Jews slam prime minister’s praises for Hitler ally Horthy – Cleveland Jewish News

Hungarian Jews condemned their prime ministers praises for a former leader who was an ally of Adolf Hitler and oversaw the murder of more than 500,000 Holocaust victims. In a speech on Wednesday, Orban included Miklos Horthy among people he said were exceptional statesmen in Hungary for leading the country after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Horthy signed anti-Jewish laws in 1938 and 1939, and earlier in 1920. Andrs Heisler, the president of the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish organizations and communities, said in a statement on Friday that the serious historical experience of our community proves that our country had been buried by the history of the 20th century largely by Mikls Horthys actions. The anti-Semitism of the Horthy era, which he also espoused, cannot be put as an example for the future generations, Heisler added. He also wrote Horthy was responsible for the murder of the majority of Hungarian Jews. We think it would be more advanced if the contesting political parties would focus on the questions of present and future instead of evaluating Horthy, the statement concluded. Mazsihisz and other Jewish groups have clashed repeatedly with Orbans rightwing government over the veneration of individuals from Hungarys past whose legacy is divisive because of their anti-Semitic views or actions. Wary of losing supportto the far-right Jobbik party, Orbans ruling Fidesz party has cracked down in recent years on liberal activist groups and increased efforts to celebrate figures like Horthy, Gyorgy Donath and Balint Homan politicians who are considered patriotic by the right but whom many Hungarians view as dishonorable. In 2014, Mazsihisz briefly suspended its ties to Orbans government when a statue seen as minimizing Hungarian complicity during the Holocaust was unveiled in Budapests Freedom Square. The monument depicts an angel (understood to represent Hungary) attacked by an eagle (understood to represent Germany.

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June 26, 2017   Posted in: Jews  Comments Closed


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