Bearing Witness Through the Voices of Our Survivors
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Barcelona's Jews welcome long-lost Sephardim to their ranks
According to the new legislation, the doors will remain open to applicants for three years – with a possible further year extension to resolve outstanding cases.
BARCELONA, Spain – They are not holding their breath in Barcelona. It’s not, stresses Catalonia-born and bred Nily Schorr, that the Jewish community would not like thousands of new members. They would. “The aim of this legal reform was not to open a wide door,” he says of the new Spanish law which, with Senate approval, passed its final hurdle on June 11. “My impression is that it was to close that door forever.”
According to this much-awaited and discussed law, starting October 1, Sephardic Jews who can trace their roots to their ancestors and prove they were forced out of Spain in 1492, can reclaim that long-lost citizenship, without having to give up their current nationalities. According to the new legislation, the doors will remain open to applicants for three years – with a possible further year extension to resolve outstanding cases. And then, as Murga stresses, the story will be over.
The Spanish government reportedly estimates that some 90,000 people might apply for citizenship. Meanwhile, Centro Sefarad-Israel, a Madrid-based institution that educates people about the country’s Jewish heritage, has indicated that the number of Sephardic Jews who are potentially eligible could be as high as 3.5 million – with 1.4 million of that number in Israel and over 300,000 each in the United States and France.
But the process remains highly confusing, quite complicated and possibly expensive. No one, so it seems, is clear on what exactly the criteria will be or who is in charge of certifying applicants. Itzhak Erez, the Israeli consul in Madrid, stresses that it is not the Israeli authorities that need to be consulted when it comes to determining eligibility – but rather the Madrid-based Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain and the Spanish authorities themselves.
Like the embassy in Madrid and Jewish community centers around Spain, the FJCS has been receiving thousands of requests for clarifications and information, and is still studying the final form of the law – which has gone through many iterations since it was first proposed in 2012 – and has yet to come out with guidelines. As of now, it remains unclear if it is the FJCS, or applicants’ local rabbinical courts – or both, or neither – that will be in charge of reviewing and authenticating potential applicants’ documents.
Lutheran pastor says Jews to blame for destroying Christian values after US approves gay marriage
The pastor insists that Jewish influence and money were being used to destroy Christian culture and values globally.
June 28, 2015
Mark Dankof, a Lutheran pastor and political activist, declared the Jews to blame for the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday which declared any law to ban gay marriage unconstitutional.
Speaking to reporters from Iran's Press TV, Dankof insisted that Jewish influence and money were being used to destroy Christian culture and values globally.
"It should not be ignored that the victories for abortion on demand and LGBT rights are reflective of the disproportionate influence of Jewish power, money, and activism in the United States," he declared.
“The key Jewish role played in the mainstreaming of abortion, LGBT, and pornography in the United States may be documented in Google search, especially in looking at the Frankfurt School and its Institute for Social Research,” added Dankof.
Dankof declared that Russian President Vladamir Putin is one of few national leaders who recognize the threat of Jewish power.
“I believe Mr. Putin is a key ingredient in destroying this global threat, and restoring cultural integrity and national sovereignty to his country, and providing a model for defeating the Zionist agenda globally,” he concluded.
Nazi propaganda left lifetime mark on Germans: study
June 16, 2015
BERLIN -- Antisemitic propaganda had a lifelong effect on German children schooled during the Nazi period, leaving them far more likely to harbour negative views of Jews than those born earlier and later, according to a study published Monday.
The findings indicate that attempts to influence public attitudes are most effective when they target young people, particularly if the message confirms existing beliefs, the authors said.
Researchers from the United States and Switzerland examined surveys conducted in 1996 and 2006 that asked respondents about a range of issues, including their opinions of Jews.
The polls, known as the German General Social Survey, reflected the views of 5,300 people from 264 towns and cities across Germany, allowing the researchers to examine differences according to age, gender and location.
By focusing on those respondents who expressed consistently negative views of Jews in a number of questions, the researchers found that those born in the 1930s held the most extreme antisemitic opinions -- even 50 years after the end of Nazi rule.
"It's not just that Nazi schooling worked, that if you subject people to a totalitarian regime during their formative years it will influence the way their mind works," said Hans-Joachim Voth of the University of Zurich, one of the study's authors.
"The striking thing is that it doesn't go away afterward."
But members of the group, which was systematically indoctrinated by the Nazi education system during Adolf Hitler's 1933-1945 dictatorship, also showed marked differences depending on whether they came from an area where antisemitism was already strong before the Nazis.
For this, the researchers compared the survey with historical voting records going back to the late 1890s.
Belgian Muslim Community Reminds Us That Peacefully 'Living Together' Is the Under-reported Norm
June 3, 2015
By Paul Brandeis Raushensbush
When word went out that the Jewish congregation was short of the funds needed to re-open, a local Muslim community took it upon themselves to call for donations at Friday prayer -- even though they themselves do not have a permanent mosque and pray in a converted house.
The movement to help their Jewish neighbors then spread to Muslims across Belgium who contributed to the fund. In a communiqué released by the Association of Muslims of Arlon (AMA), Hajib el-Hajjaji urged fellow Muslims to contribute: "It is important to save this synagogue for the families and children who find comfort and fraternity there. The Jewish community needs support to live fully -- like all other faiths -- in full freedom, security and comfort."
The Muslim community ended up raising 2,400 Euro (about 2,600 dollars), which they presented to Rabbi Jacobs at an emotional roundtable discussion on the theme of "Living Together" where they were joined by other religious and secular leaders from the city.
Ultimately it was not about the money, but about "a much larger project," Bouezmarni explained:
"Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries. Do you know that the first hydraulic clock was invented by a Jew so that Muslims can observe prayer times? Imams in France protected Jews during war. It is regrettable that religions are used for political purposes and sow discord between men."
Sephardic Jews Feel Bigotry’s Sting in Turkey and a Pull Back to Spain
Anti-Jewish sentiment is not uncommon in the Turkish news media, but the implications of the crossword puzzle sent shock waves across Turkey. It featured an image of Adolf Hitler with the slogan, “We are longing for you.”
May 28, 2015
By Cylan Yeginsu
ISTANBUL — For Rafi, a local newspaper’s anti-Semitic crossword puzzle was the final affront. He knew he had to leave Turkey.
“There are many reasons to leave: a lack of work opportunities, growing polarization within society and oppressive leadership. But the hatred toward our community has been the tipping point for me,” said Rafi, 25, a graphic designer based in Istanbul, who provided only his first name out of fear of harassment by Turkish nationalists. “There is no future here.”
Rafi is one of thousands of Sephardic Jews in Turkey who trace their ancestry to Spain and are now applying for Spanish citizenship in anticipation of a parliamentary bill expected to pass this month in Madrid that would grant nationality to the Jews who were expelled in 1492, during the Inquisition.
Most are seeking visa-free travel within Europe and an opportunity to escape what they see as rising anti-Semitism in Turkey. But many are taken with the idea of reversing the trek their ancestors took centuries ago as they escaped persecution in Spain and settled in the more tolerant environs of the Ottoman Empire. Anti-Jewish sentiment is not uncommon in the Turkish news media, but the implications of the crossword puzzle sent shock waves across Turkey. It featured an image of Adolf Hitler with the slogan, “We are longing for you.”
“Jews are attacked all over the world, but last year the level of hate speech in Turkey reached an unnerving level,” Rafi said.
Greek town demands Star of David removed from Holocaust memorial
Memorial commemrates 1,484 Jews murdered by Nazis. Greek Minister of Culture blasts local authorities.
May 24, 2015
JTA — Jewish groups reported that authorities in the Greek port of Kavala want the Star of David to be removed from a Holocaust memorial or they will not permit its display.
The American Jewish Committee said Friday that its partner body in Greece, the Central Board of Jewish Communities, reported that municipal authorities had canceled a May 17 ceremony unveiling the memorial.
A Star of David is engraved into the monument. The authorities want the ancient Jewish symbol, which also features on the Israeli flag, removed before they allow the memorial’s display.
“How can it be that the eternal symbol of the Jewish people – the very symbol that the Nazis required Jews to wear in the death camps and ghettos of Europe during the Second World War – is deemed unfit for public display in Kavala?” AJC’s executive director, David Harris, said in a statement.
The memorial commemorates the 1,484 Jews in the northern city murdered by the Nazis.
“The mayor and the City Council have insulted the memory of victims, the Greek Jewish community, and Jews around the world, and we join with the Greek Jewish community in voicing our outrage,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, said in a statement.
The AJC statement quoted the Greek minister of culture, education and religious affairs as blasting the Kavala municipal authorities.
“As an Orthodox Christian, I feel deeply insulted by this issue, because it would be as if someone asked us to erase or modify for ‘aesthetic reasons’ the symbol of the cross on the tombs of our grandfathers executed by the Germans,” the statement quoted Giorgos Kalantzis as saying.
Jewish teen, woman hurt in Paris anti-Semitic attacks
Attackers allegedly yell ‘Hitler didn’t finish the job’ while beating female victim; Jewish group demands wider police inquiry
May 19, 2015
A Jewish boy and a woman were assaulted in separate anti-Semitic incidents in the Paris region. The incident involving the woman occurred on May 13 on a street in Sarcelles, an impoverished northern suburb of the French capital where some 60,000 Jews live in close proximity to many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Africa.
he woman was lightly injured by three African women who assaulted her because she complained to them about the behavior of children, whom the Jewish woman thought belonged to at least one of the African women, the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, wrote in a report published Friday. The children, the report said, had hurled a soccer ball at the daughter of the Jewish woman, identified in the report only as L.D.
As they were allegedly assaulting the woman, witnesses heard the African women shouting anti-Semitic remarks, including “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and a statement about Jews being “a filthy race,” according to the report. “You need some more beatings,” one of the women also said.
Police were called to the scene and the alleged victim filed a criminal complaint for assault. She was also treated in the hospital for her injuries, which required several days of recovery.
“Increasingly, banal conflicts involving Jews degenerate into anti-Semitic incidents and assaults,” BNVCA wrote in its statement, which urged police to “get to the bottom of what happened.”
George Galloway blames 'racists and Zionists' for defeat to Naz Shah in Bradford West
May 9, 2015
By Jenn Selby
George Galloway delivered a typically eccentric speech after he suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of Labour’s Naz Shah. The Respect party MP, who lost his Bradford West seat with 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977 said he feared the “racists and Zionists” would be celebrating long into the night upon hearing the news.
“I don’t begrudge the Labour members here their moment of celebration of course,” he said.
“But there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact I’m going off now to plan the next campaign.”
The victory will be particularly sweet for Shah, who Galloway accused of lying about the details of her forced marriage and troubled childhood in an open letter she wrote earlier this year.
Jean-Marie Le Pen suspended after Front National disciplinary hearing
Causes outrage by repeating his view that the Nazi gas chambers were just a “detail” of the second world war and saying he had never considered Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of the collaborationist Vichy government, “a traitor”.
May 8, 2015
Jean-Marie Le Pen has been suspended from the Front National, the party he founded, after a disciplinary hearing on Monday afternoon.
In an additional blow to the veteran far-right politician, who caused a political row in 2002 when he won his way into the second round of the presidential elections, Le Pen faces being stripped of his role as honorary president of the party.
FN members will be asked to vote on a definitive change of the party’s rules at an extraordinary general assembly to be held within the next three months. In the interim, Le Pen’s membership of the party has been suspended.
Le Pen had earlier stormed out of the FN headquarters after refusing to attend the disciplinary hearing. He said he had been “disowned” by his political family and that it was “beneath his dignity” to face FN officials when he was “perfectly innocent”.
Le Pen was summoned to Monday’s hearing after allegedly making racist and antisemitic remarks to the anger and dismay of his daughter Marine, the FN president, who has spent years trying to clean up its image.
He caused outrage by repeating his view that the Nazi gas chambers were just a “detail” of the second world war and saying he had never considered Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of the collaborationist Vichy government, “a traitor”.
On Monday, hours after Marine Le Pen said her father should not be allowed to speak on behalf of the party, Jean-Marie Le Pen turned up for a meeting to decide on FN candidates for the regional elections in December.
Pope Francis receives the Conference of European Rabbis
April 20, 2015
For the first time a delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, presided by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, has met with the Successsor of Peter in the Vatican. Pope Francis, who received them this morning, expressed his joy at this event, and at the same time offered his condolences, which he extended to the Jewish community of Rome, for the death yesterday of the ex Grand Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, a “man of peace and dialogue”, who received Pope John Paul II during his historical visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome in April 1986. For this reason, the current Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, was not present at the meeting.
In his address to the delegation, the Pope emphasised that the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish communities continues to progress as it has for half a century; 28 October will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which is still the reference point for efforts in this regard. “With gratitude to the Lord, may we recall these years, rejoicing in our progress and in the friendship which has grown between us”, he said.
“Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasise the spiritual and religious dimension of human life”, he continued. “In a society increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if God did not exist. People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will. It is so important to remember, however, that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always. Jews and Christians have the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable”.
Francis voiced his concerns regarding increasing anti-Semitism and acts of hatred and violence in Europe, and affirmed that “every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people”. He also referred to the recent seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp which has come to be synonymous with the great tragedy of the Shoah. The memory of what took place there, in the heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations. Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere”.
“Dear friends”, he concluded, “I heartily thank you for this very significant visit. I extend my best wishes to your communities, with the assurance of my closeness and prayers. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. Shalom alechem!”.
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2015
The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life: Seventy Years Since the End of WWII
April 16, 2015
Please click link below to read the inspiring stories of the 2015 torchlighters.
Museum Strongly Condemns Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Contest
April 16, 2015
Washington, DC—The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum strongly condemns the Second Holocaust International Cartoon and Caricature Contest being organized by the Tehran-based House of Cartoons and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex, under the supervision of the Supreme Leader. As in the first such contest, this one invites contributors to create cartoons questioning the historical truth of the Holocaust. Winning submissions from the 2006 contest denied and minimized the genocide committed against the Jews and came from Brazil, France, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, and Syria.
This second contest sponsored by official Iranian organizations continues a dangerous pattern of government-sponsored or sanctioned demonization of Jews. For example, this contest specifically calls for caricatures of Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler. This comes from a country whose influential leaders use genocidal language against Israel and employ inflammatory speech to incite violence.
We call on world leaders to join us in denouncing this unacceptable event and all forms of Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
Raped and resold in same day: Yazidi girls tell of lives (and suicide attempts) as jihadist sex slaves
April 16, 2015
By Ruth Sherlock
BEIRUT — Yazidi girls – some as young as eight – were raped by jihadists and then resold, a report released Wednesday says.
The most harrowing account yet of what became of Yazidi females abducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been compiled by Human Rights Watch.
The rights group interviewed 20 women and girls who managed to escape after their ethnic minority sect was targeted by ISIL last summer.
They described how the hostages became the victims of a mass program of sexual slavery, with girls as young as eight being traded between the jihadists or given as gifts.
Jalila, 12, whose name has been changed for her own protection, told of being separated from her mother and sister and taken to a house in an ISIL-controlled part of Syria that had become a market for Yazidi women.
“The men would come and select us,” she said. “When they came, they would tell us to stand up and then examine our bodies. They would tell us to show our hair and sometimes they beat the girls if they refused. They wore dishdashas [ankle length garments) and had long beards and hair.”
Jalila told of being repeatedly raped before she managed to flee.
Pope Francis calls Armenian slaughter 'first genocide of the 20th century'
April 12, 2013
Pope Francis sparked a diplomatic incident with Turkey on Sunday by calling the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks "the first genocide of the 20th century" and urging the international community to recognize it as such.
Francis, who has close ties to the Armenian community from his days in Argentina, defended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honour the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were "senselessly" murdered by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago this month.
"Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it," he said at the start of a mass in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter's Basilica honouring the centenary.
n a subsequent message directed to all Armenians, Francis called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes "without ceding to ambiguity or compromise."
Turkey, which has long denied a genocide took place, immediately summoned the Vatican ambassador to express its displeasure, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Ankara said on customary condition of anonymity.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of the First World War, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Buchenwald camp survivors mark 70 years since liberation
April 11, 2013
American forces entered the camp on 11 April 1945, bringing an end to the ordeal of 21,000 prisoners being held there by Nazi troops.
Former inmates and war veterans returned to the site, near the German city of Weimar to mark the anniversary.
It was the first major camp to be liberated by the Americans at the end of World War II.
Survivor Henry Oster said his memories of Buchenwald would last "forever".
"When someone asks how Buchenwald was, you immediately see the dead bodies again," he told AP.
More than 250,000 men, women and children were held at Buchenwald from its opening in 1937 until its closure eight years later. About 56,000 people, including Jews, Roma and Soviet prisoners, died within its walls.
Crowds laid flowers at a memorial for the victims on Saturday and held a minute's silence at 15:15 - the time US troops entered the site.
Mr Oster, 86, recalled the day the soldiers arrived to free prisoners.
"We had no idea the Allies were in Europe. When we heard noises at about 15:30, we looked out of the window, which took a great effort," he said.
"One of my friends said with a weak voice, 'I think we are getting liberated'. We thought he had lost his sense of reality like so many people there."
Mr Oster, a German Jew from Cologne, was taken to an orphanage in France and emigrated to the United States in 1946.
Former army medic James Anderson, 91, also attended the commemoration ceremony.
"The devastation was so tremendous," he said. "The prisoners were so glad to see us, they would hug us and everything.''
New exhibition at Warsaw zoo honors Polish couple who saved Jews during World War II
Jan and Antonia Zabinski, former Warsaw zookeeper and his wife, saved lives of dozens of Jews through various methods, including hiding Jews in animal enclosures.
April 11, 2015
By Vanessa Gera
AP - It was World War II, Warsaw was under German occupation, and the wife of the director of the Warsaw zoo spotted Nazis approaching the white stucco villa that she and her family inhabited on the zoo grounds.
According to plan, she went straight to her piano and began to play a lively tune from an operetta by Jacques Offenbach, a signal to Jews being sheltered in the house that they should be quiet and not leave their hiding places.
That scenario, repeated over years of war, was one of the tricks that allowed Jan and Antonina Zabinski to save the lives of dozens of Jews, a dramatic chapter in Poland's wartime drama that was virtually unknown until an American author, Diane Ackerman, published a book about the Polish couple in 2007 called "The Zookeeper's Wife."
The Zabinskis' remarkable wartime actions — which included hiding Jews in indoor animal enclosures — seem certain to gain even more renown with the inauguration Saturday of a permanent exhibition in the villa, an attractive two-story Bauhaus home from the 1930s still on the grounds of the Warsaw Zoo.
The exhibition pays homage to the couple with photos of them, sometimes with their beloved zoo animals, in rooms recreated to evoke the wartime period. There are sculptures of animals made by a Jewish artist, Magdalena Gross, who stayed there during the war. Visitors will also be able to see basement chambers where the Jews took shelter, as well as a narrow tunnel they crawled through to reach animal enclosures.
Among those attending an opening celebration on Saturday evening will be 78-year-old Moshe Tirosh, who sheltered there for three weeks in 1943, when he was just 6, as well as the Zabinskis' son and daughter, Ryszard and Teresa. There is only one other known living Jewish survivor, Tirosh's sister Stefania, who lives in Canada.
Fight the Jewish scum!' Shocking anti-Semitism on streets of BRITAIN as Jewish journalist is spat at, abused and even stalked... and the same happens in Copenhagen
David Cameron: ‘The idea that Jewish people feel unsafe again in Europe strikes at the heart of everything we stand for. We must fight anti-Semitism with everything we have got and make sure Britain remains a country that our Jewish communities are proud to call home."
March 8, 2015
By Jonathan Kalmus
With as many as 45 per cent of British Jews fearing they 'may not have a future in Britain', according to a survey by the Campaign Against Antisemitism - and following an experiment by Israeli Zvika Klein on the streets of Paris, British journalist Jonathan Kalmus decided to test the levels of prejudice in two British cities with shocking results. Volunteers in Copenhagen and Rome also suffered some abuse, as well as welcoming reactions, while Jewish journalists in Stockholm and Berlin walked for hours without incident.
'You Jew' was the anti-Semitic scream which came from a passing car. My shaken wife tried to explain it away to my seven-year-old daughter as a very large sneeze. They were simply playing in a local park in Manchester a few weeks ago when the incident ripped through what should have been a peaceful and wholesome time for any mother and child.
'Fight the Jewish scum' and 'Jew, Jew, Jew... Run', were the more vicious threats hurled at me in the past few days, however, when I decided to secretly film and find out whether 'Jew-hatred' really is alive and kicking on British streets.
The answer to that question is a resounding and heart-sinking yes.
In 25 minutes on that one single street in Longsight, I was spat at by one man and called 'a Jew' multiple times by passers by, even by a young boy walking with his father.
In Bradford the situation was more shameful. It took 13 minutes, during which I was stalked by a man who repeatedly took pictures of me. He followed me on foot for five minutes and thirty seconds according to my footage.
There was a shout of 'you Jew' at me as I crossed the road to Bradford City Park. Minutes later a man turned his head and yelled 'fight the Jewish scum' just behind my back.
National Assembly denounces anti-Semitic graffiti in N.D.G.
March 2, 2015
By Geoffrey Vendeville
The National Assembly unanimously condemned on Wednesday the swastikas spray-painted on hoods of four cars in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
“I wish to reassure the public that we will not tolerate that Quebecers be subject to threats because of their origins or religious beliefs,” said Premier Philippe Couillard in the assembly, in a rare English declaration.
Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault, who introduced the motion, called the act of vandalism unacceptable. “Citizens who have lived all their lives in safety were attacked because they were Jewish,” he said. “They now live in fear.”
The incident dates back to Monday night, when tenants of a building at the corner of Côte-St-Luc Rd. and Hampton Ave. discovered four cars spray-painted with red swastikas.
PQ interim leader Stéphane Bédard described Quebec as a “land of welcome for the Jewish community,” remarking that it was the first place in the British Empire to elect a Jewish representative: Ezekiel Hart.
Couillard seized the occasion to give the opposition a history lesson, reminding them that Hart was never allowed to take his seat due to his faith.
Elected on his second try in Trois-Rivières in 1807, Hart was sworn in with his head covered and with his hand on the Torah instead of the Bible, according to Denis Vaugeois’s The Extraordinary Story of the Hart Family. He was barred from the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada because legislators protested that he, as a Jew, “cannot be bound by his oath, he has profaned the religion of the oath and cannot take his place, nor sit, nor vote in this House.”
“There is often a dark side to these success stories,” Couillard said.
He added that “Quebec, too, has its demons,” including intolerance, racism and xenophobia.
Referring to the hate crime in N.D.G., he said gestures such as these “in no way reflects Quebec society’s values and have no place in our society that is open to diversity.”
Judge's refusal to hear case of woman in hijab left her in tears
March 2, 2015
A Quebec woman says she was left in tears after a judge refused to hear her case in court unless she removed her Islamic headscarf.
Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul inside a Montreal courtroom on Tuesday that she had to remove her hijab. Marengo said that the court was a secular space and that El-Alloul was not suitably dressed.
"I was shocked. I was surprised. I told her I cannot remove it," El-Alloul told CTV Montreal on Friday.
"I am proud of my hijab – I will never remove it, not for a small case because of my car," she added.
El-Alloul was in court to apply to get her car back after it was seized by Quebec's automobile insurance board.
She said that the judge's ruling left her feeling dehumanized and disrespected.
"Outside I cried; on the streets, on the metro, on the bus – I couldn't stop my tears," she said.
"I am Canadian. It is my right and I am feeling not Canadian anymore because what she did to me, but really I am Canadian," she added.
When El-Alloul first appeared before Marengo, the judge asked her why she was wearing a scarf. El-Alloul told her it was because she is a Muslim.
Marengo proceeded to take a 30-minute recess. When she returned, she offered El-Alloul a choice: remove the scarf or seek a postponement in order to consult with a lawyer.
The judge cited Article 13 of the rules of Quebec court, which states that "any person appearing before the court must be suitably dressed."
Marengo's interpretation included hijabs.
"I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding," Marengo says in a recording of the proceedings.
Copenhagen shooting suspect was a 22-year-old Danish man with gang ties and a criminal past, police say
February 16, 2015
By Jan Olsen and Karl Ritter
Police say the suspected gunman in two deadly shootings in Copenhagen was 22 years old and had a background in criminal gangs.
Danish police shot and killed the man early Sunday after shooting attacks at a free speech event and then at a Copenhagen synagogue that killed a documentary filmmaker and a member of Denmark’s Jewish community. Five police officers were also wounded in the attacks.
“Denmark has been hit by terror,” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said. “We do not know the motive for the alleged perpetrator’s actions, but we know that there are forces that want to hurt Denmark. They want to rebuke our freedom of speech.”
Jens Madsen, head of the Danish intelligence agency PET, said investigators believe the gunman was inspired by Islamic radicalism.
“PET is working on a theory that the perpetrator could have been inspired by the events in Paris. He could also have been inspired by material sent out by (the Islamic State group) and others,” Madsen said.
Islamic radicals carried out a massacre at the Charlie Hebdo newsroom in Paris last month, followed by an attack on Jews at a kosher grocery store, taking the lives of 17 victims.
Up to 400 Jewish gravestones desecrated and daubed with Nazi graffiti in 'heinous anti-Semitic attack' in French cemetery
February 16, 2015
Hundreds of Jewish graves have been desecrated in a 'heinous anti-Semitic attack' in France.
The country's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack happened at the main Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace, on the German border.
Up to 400 gravestones were vandalised by being kicked over, or had Nazi swastikas daubed on them in red paint.
Mr Cazeneuve said: 'This was an odious act against religious freedom and tolerance. France will not tolerate this latest attack which harms the values all French people share.'
The incident follows the murder of four Jewish people by a Kalashnikov wielding terrorist following a siege in a Paris Kosher store last month.
Mr Cazeneuve said 'everything will be done to establish the identity of the perpetrators' of the Sarre-Union attack 'so as to bring them to justice'.
Manuel Valls, France's Prime Minister, joined in condemning the 'vile anti-Semitic act', and also pledged that the criminals responsible would be brought to justice.
Many of the Jews buried in Sarre-Union were linked with the Second World War Holocaust, when some 76,000 French Jews were entrained to their deaths in German concentration camps.
Philippe Richert, UMP President of the Alsace Regional Council, said it 'was too early to say' who might be responsible for the Sarre-Union attack, but confirmed that police were 'flooding the area'.
A gun attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen left one Jewish man dead this weekend, as Jewish leaders complain of a rising tide of anti-Semitism.
The Paris attack in January was part of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine atrocities, in which a total of 20 died, including the three terrorists responsible.
Belgian teacher tells Jewish student: ‘We should put you all on freight wagons’
February 9, 2015
A Brussels high school teacher was summoned to appear before a local school board for telling a Jewish student, “We should put you all on freight wagons.”
The incident occurred at the Belgian capital’s Emile Jacqmain school and involved a 16-year-old female student and her mathematics teacher, the La Derniere Heure magazine reported Friday.
The teacher, who was not identified, was summoned to appear before the board following a complaint filed against him for inciting racism and anti-Semitic hatred. The student, according to the report, told the teacher that “one does not joke about such subjects.”
Tens of thousands of Belgian Jews, along with countless other Jews from across Europe, were transported by the Nazis to deaths in cattle and freight wagons.
Moments earlier, the teacher reportedly told a pupil with a Polish-sounding last name to “go back to Poland” while imitating a German accent.
Four days after the “freight wagons” incident, the teacher said publicly at school, “I did not mean to say it, and I apologized to anyone shocked by it.”
But the pupil’s parents filed a complaint, which the school board processed promptly, earning praises from Joel Rubinfeld, president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA. Rubinfeld told the RTL broadcaster that the school’s action was exemplary.
“My feeling is that this teacher meant to say exactly what he said, and that this is yet another example of the anti-Semitism that is making life increasingly difficult for Belgian Jews here,” he told JTA on Monday.
Muslims' WW2 help for Jews displayed at Cardiff synagogue
February 8, 2015
Stanley Soffa, chair of Jewish Representative Council for South Wales who has brought it to Wales said it was a "heroic story".
It is part of Open Doors 2014, the annual event offering free entry to many attractions throughout September.
The programme is marking 30 years of making heritage more accessible.
The Righteous Muslim Exhibition documents the story of Bosnia Muslims who went to great lengths to preserve Jewish tradition during World War Two by safeguarding the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 600-year-old manuscript which narrates the Exodus from Egypt every Passover.
When a Nazi official came to seize the Haggadah, two men carried it through Nazi checkpoints, to a mountain village above Sarajevo. A Muslim cleric kept it hidden beneath a floor of a mosque until the war was over.
Mr Soffa said: "The exhibition was very well received in London last year, so we are delighted to have the opportunity to share this story with the people of Wales... this weekend.
"For us, it is a heroic story of Muslims saving Jewish lives which provides a unique bond between to communities that we can celebrate together and remember together."
The exhibition aims to inspire new research into instances of collaboration between the Muslim and Jewish communities.
Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, added: "The Holocaust is probably the most documented event in modern history but to this day very few people knew about this factual event during World War Two when two religious events came together to save one another.
Iranian public gets the truth about Holocaust as documentary airs
'Germany's Fuhrer,' shot by the first Iranian film crew to visit Auschwitz, was aired over satellite TV by Manoto1, a London-based station, UK Times reports.
February 3, 2015
While a number of Iran's leaders officially continue to deny that the Holocaust happened, average Iranians for the first time were able to view the truth, through a documentary marking Holocaust Memorial Day, media reports say.
The Times of London reported that "Germany's Fuhrer" was aired over satellite TV by Manoto1, a London-based satellite-TV station.
The film, tracing Hitler's rise to power and attempt to exterminate the Jews, was shot by the first Iranian film crew to visit Auschwitz, the paper reported.
The UK Telegraph noted that the film represents a challenge to the hardliners in Iran, although President Hassan Rouhani said in a September 2013 CNN interview that the Holocaust did occur.
Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cited his public Holocaust denial as a key achievement of his presidency.
The Telegraph also noted that some in Iran were unconvinced. “All these crimes were committed by the Jews themselves so they reach their real objectives," an Iranian hard-liner wrote on Facebook, the paper reported.
New report maps the global status of Holocaust education
How is the Holocaust taught in schools worldwide? Are textbook representations of the Holocaust complete and accurate? What do textbooks tell us about the status of the Holocaust internationally?
January 30, 2015
UNESCO and the George Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research have published an ambitious new study - International Status of Education about the Holocaust: A Global Mapping of Textbooks and Curricula (ISEH) - comparing ways in which the Holocaust is presented in curricula and textbooks worldwide. It shows where Holocaust education stands today in secondary school level history and social studies curricula, through analyses of 272 curricula from 135 countries, and 89 textbooks published in 26 countries since 2000.
Aimed primarily at educational policymakers, teachers, academics and textbook authors, the study formulates recommendations for the development of educational content and policies about the Holocaust. These recommendations relate to such issues as the use of concepts, the comprehensiveness of historical facts, the definition of the causes of the genocide, the combination of universal and local approaches, and the development of historical literacy. They are critical today, to “mitigate the misuse of references to this event in an age […] where knowledge about the Holocaust is fragmented and often distorted, if not used to political ends.”
ISEH can help young people to acquire knowledge and an understanding of this complex event, and even encourage awareness of what may be required in order to avoid similar events happening again. For author Peter Carrier, it is “one piece in a puzzle whose aim is to better understand how world affairs are interconnected, to encourage learning about other peoples' histories, and to foster reflection about the relation between learning and genocide prevention. Although one cannot directly ‘learn’ how to implement human rights or even how to be a global citizen by studying genocides, their negative example does help young people to learn to avoid humiliating and harming others, and to appreciate and preserve what human decency each of us, to differing degrees, enjoys.”
Reaffirmation of the Stockholm Declaration on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
January 27, 2015
Today, 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, the 31 member and eight observer countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), together with our seven Permanent International Partners, have collectively reaffirmed our strong and unqualified support for the founding document of our organization, the Stockholm Declaration of the year 2000, and the solemn commitments which our governments then undertook.
The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning for us. We are committed to remembering and honouring its victims, to upholding the terrible truth of the Holocaust, to standing up against those who distort or deny it and to combatting antisemitism, racism and prejudice against the Roma and Sinti.
We are determined to continue to develop our international cooperation on Holocaust education, remembrance and research and the prevention of future genocides.
The members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance are committed to the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, which reads as follows:
1. The Holocaust (Shoah) fundamentally challenged the foundations of civilization. The unprecedented character of the Holocaust will always hold universal meaning. After half a century, it remains an event close enough in time that survivors can still bear witness to the horrors that engulfed the Jewish people. The terrible suffering of the many millions of other victims of the Nazis has left an indelible scar across Europe as well.
2. The magnitude of the Holocaust planned and carried out by the Nazis must forever be seared in our collective memory. The selfless sacrifices of those who defied the Nazis, and sometimes gave their own lives to protect or rescue the Holocaust's victims, must also be inscribed in our hearts. The depths of that horror, and the heights of their heroism, can be touchstones in our understanding of the human capacity for evil and for good.
3. With humanity still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils. Together we must uphold the terrible truth of the Holocaust against those who deny it. We must strengthen the moral commitment of our peoples, and the political commitment of our governments, to ensure that future generations can understand the causes of the Holocaust and reflect upon its consequences.
4. We pledge to strengthen our efforts to promote education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust, both in those of our countries that have already done much and those that choose to join this effort.
5. We share a commitment to study the Holocaust in all its dimensions. We will promote education about the Holocaust in our schools and universities, in our communities and encourage it in other institutions.
6. We share a commitment to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to honour those who stood against it. We will encourage appropriate forms of Holocaust remembrance, including an annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance, in our countries.
7. We share a commitment to throw light on the still obscured shadows of the Holocaust. We will take all necessary steps to facilitate the opening of archives in order to ensure that all documents bearing on the Holocaust are available to researchers.
8. It is appropriate as this, the first major international conference of the new millennium, declares its commitment to plant the seeds of a better future amidst the soil of a bitter past. We empathize with the victims' suffering and draw inspiration from their struggle. Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.
I Won't Fear Muslims
When I'm asked if I feel safe in France as a Jew, I know what they really mean. My answer is always the same
January 26, 2015
By Miranda Richmon Mouillot
After “Do you miss home?” the question I am asked most frequently about my 10 years in France is, “Do you feel safe as a Jew?” Invariably, the query cloaks another, usually unspoken one: Am I afraid of all the Muslims? And so I wish to say what a decade here has shown me: The generalizations contained in those questions frighten me more than any experience in France ever has.
I don’t mean this in ideological or statistical terms, although those are important points to be made as well. Those terms are too general, and what I wish to share is the opposite; it is purely personal. But as the wave of terror that follows crimes committed in the name of any creed or god pushes us to embrace stereotypes and generalizations, I believe it bears repeating: In my 10 years on French soil I have learned that choosing how and when to discuss my Jewishness with a French person can be a fraught and sometimes painful affair – unless, that is, he or she happens to be Muslim. I have never been treated with anything approaching intolerance by a Muslim in France; more often than not, I am hailed and welcomed as a kind of distant cousin.
When I first arrived here, I was lunching alone in a restaurant in the small village where my family and I now live. I asked for my salad without lardons, the bits of cured ham the French would probably put in their toothpaste if they could find a way to do so, and when the owner served me, he smiled. “Cacher,” he whispered, raising an eyebrow at the Star of David around my neck. “Comme moi.” Kosher. Like me. I returned his smile gratefully but didn’t quite understand – not yet, at any rate. His name was Rachid.
During the years we lived in Paris my husband worked for a company that restored historical monuments. It was an all-male, testosterone-charged environment that fostered sexism, racism and homophobia, and my husband spent many a lunch break considering which comments he would or wouldn’t let slide. After years with a Jewish wife, it was often the non-Muslims’ attempts to get the Muslims to eat pork and drink wine that bothered him most. One day, a Muslim colleague asked him why. “My wife doesn’t eat pork either,” my husband explained.
“And she follows the dietary laws?” the co-worker inquired.
My husband nodded.
“She doesn’t smoke?”
“Sure she does,” my husband replied with a wink. “Wine every Friday night – it’s a commandment.”
UN holds first ever meeting devoted to anti-Semitism
'Faulting the Jews is once again becoming the rallying cry of a new order of assassins,' French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy says at meeting.
January 14, 2015
By Associated Press
French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy challenged the world at the first-ever UN General Assembly meeting devoted to anti-Semitism to counter the rising hatred of Jews, which he denounced as "radical inhumanity."
In a keynote address on Thursday, Levy decried that "faulting the Jews is once again becoming the rallying cry of a new order of assassins."
The United Nations was established on the ashes of the Holocaust after World War II, and one reason was to fight the "plague" of anti-Semitism, Levy noted.
The assembly was held in response to the global increase in violence against Jews and was scheduled before the killing of four French Jews at a kosher market during three days of terror in Paris earlier this month. Paris was just the latest attack to raise fears among European Jews, following killings at a Belgian Jewish Museum and a Jewish school in southwestern France.
A surprise speaker was Saudi Arabia's Ambassador Abdallah Al-Moualimi, who told the meeting that Islamic countries condemn all words and acts that lead "to hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia."
Note to reader - Given the widespread reporting around the events in Paris regarding the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher murders, we have chosen to report on stories that have arisen from these events rather than the events themselves
Dieudonné arrested over Facebook post on Paris gunman
January 18, 2015
French comedian accused of justifying terrorism after linking attacker to tribute slogan by writing ‘I feel like Charlie Coulibaly’
January 15, 2015
Agence France Presse
Notorious French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has been arrested for being an “apologist for terrorism” after suggesting on Facebook that he sympathised with one of the Paris gunmen, a judicial source has said.
Prosecutors had opened the case against him on Monday after he wrote “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” – mixing the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, used in tribute to the journalists killed at magazine Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to gunman Amédy Coulibaly. Dieudonné was arrested on Wednesday.
Coulibaly killed four people at a Jewish supermarket on Friday and a police officer the day before.
The comedian made international headlines in 2013 when French footballer Nicolas Anelka was banned for five matches by English football authorities for using a gesture created by Dieudonné that many consider to echo the Nazi salute.
Dieudonné posted his controversial Facebook post after attending Sunday’s unity march against extremism that brought more than 1.5 million people on to the streets of Paris in the wake of the attacks.
He described the march – considered the biggest rally in modern French history – as “a magical moment comparable to the big bang”.
The French government has in the past banned Dieudonné’s shows because it considers them “antisemitic”.
Dieudonné has removed the remark from his Facebook page.
Egyptian Court Bans Annual Festival Honoring Moroccan Rabbi
December 31, 2014
An Egyptian court on Monday banned an annual festival in honor of a Moroccan rabbi that was regularly attended by hundreds of Jewish pilgrims.
After the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Egypt began allowing organized and heavily secured trips to the tomb of Yaakov Abu Hatzira in the Nile Delta province of Beheira, south of Alexandria. The Culture Ministry declared the site an Egyptian cultural monument in 2001.
The Administrative Court of Alexandria banned the visits and stripped the ministry's designation. It acted on a complaint filed by local residents who objected to the mingling of men and women and the consumption of alcohol at the festival, and claimed that strict security measures applied during the festival negatively affected their normal daily life.
Abu Hatzira, born in northern Morocco in 1805, was a son of the chief Rabbi of Morocco. He fell ill during a visit to the sacred sites in Jerusalem and died in Egypt in 1879. His grave became a shrine built on a small plot of land in the largely rural Nile Delta province. He is revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The annual festival has in the past drawn hundreds of religious pilgrims each year, mostly Jews from Israel, Morocco and France.
The tomb is a vestige of Egypt's once-prosperous and thriving Jewish community, which dates back to the time before Moses. At the time of the founding of Israel in 1948, they numbered about 80,000 people. But the multiple Arab-Israeli wars, and the resentment and expulsions that they engendered, have reduced Egypt's Jewish community to a few dozen elderly people in Alexandria and Cairo, according to the Israeli embassy.
The annual religious festival has been a long-term source of controversy in Egypt. A court cancelled the event in 2001, but it was later resumed. In 2009, the Egyptian government banned Jewish pilgrims from entering because it took place during the Israeli government's Cast Lead offensive in the Gaza Strip; officials said they could not guarantee the pilgrims' safety at a time of intense public anger toward Israel.
In 2010, Egyptian security authorities arrested 25 men suspected of forming a new Islamic militant group that planned to carry out attacks on targets inside Egypt including the tomb of Abu Hatzira. In 2012, the government called off the festival, citing political instability in the wake of the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. Monday's court ruling, if it stands, seeks to permanently ban the festival.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said his office is examining the decision of the local Egyptian court and, if necessary, will approach the Egyptian authorities about the issue and stress the importance of freedom of worship.
Bullet smashes through window at Paris synagogue
Earlier this month, France was rocked by a rape of a Jewish woman in an anti-Semitic attack. In what President Francois Hollande described as an “unbearable” attack, assailants stormed the flat of a young couple, raping the woman and stealing jewelry and bank cards on December 3. That attack also drew fierce criticism from Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who said the fight against anti-Semitism must be “a national cause.”
December 23, 2013
Times of Israel
By JTA and Marissa Newman
A bullet fired from an air gun crashed through a window of a Paris synagogue’s office. The rabbi and his assistant were in the David Ben Ichay Synagogue in Belleville, in the northeastern section of the French capital, when the bullet was fired on Monday night. Nobody was injured in the attack. French police arrested a suspect, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Tuesday night. It said the shooting took place during evening prayers.
Two suspects were seen outside the synagogue about 10 minutes before the attack, the JSSNews website reported earlier.
Police found a bullet hole in the office windowpane, Israel Radio said.
Surveillance cameras did not provide much information on the incident, according to the website. It was unclear whether the shots originated from the street or a nearby building.
The Bureau for National Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, condemned what it called the “anti-Semitic assault on a place of worship in Paris.” The watchdog group has made a public call for “everything to be done to identify and question the anti-Jewish criminals.”
Earlier Monday, a motorist had rammed his vehicle into a crowd in western France shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is greatest.” On Sunday, in a similar attack, a driver in eastern France had shouted “This is in the name of the children of Palestine” while slamming into a Christmas market crowd.