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US evangelical leader announces he’ll give ‘Friends of Zion’ award to Putin – The Times of Israel

Posted By on January 25, 2020

An American evangelical leader who advises US President Donald Trump on Israel announced that he will present an award to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mike Evans, one of Trumps informal group of evangelical advisers, said Wednesday that he would award his Friends of Zion award to Putin to honor the role of the Soviet Union in saving Jews during World War II. Evans was visiting Israel this week for the World Holocaust Forum.

We want to give him the award for the following reasons. Number one, the Soviet Union liberated Auschwitz. Number two, 8,660,000 Soviet soldiers died fighting the Nazis, Evans told the Times of Israel. Number three, if the Soviet Union had not fought the Nazis, then Hitler would probably have taken over all of Europe, which would have meant the deaths of another three million Jews.

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Lastly, the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the state of Israel. There are a lot of reasons to thank the Russian people for what theyve done, Evans said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin escorts his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to his seat during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020. Behind them os the Forums Moshe Kantor (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)

During his speech Thursday at the World Holocaust Forum 2020 event at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Putin highlighted the Red Armys central role in defeating the Nazis, and the colossal loss of Soviet lives. He also castigated collaboration with the Nazis in many European countries. Putins speech at the event was criticized by some historians as containing self-serving misrepresentations of history.

The organizers of the Forum earlier Thursday rejected claims that the event was being utilized to politicize the Holocaust. The presidents of Poland and Lithuania withdrew from the event, as Polands president was not invited to speak at the Yad Vashem ceremony, and Ukraines president, who did come to Jerusalem, chose not to attend the Yad Vashem gathering at the last moment. Russia is under international sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine and the event in Jerusalem, organized by a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin, has been interpreted by some observers as an attempt to use the Holocaust to help Russia rehabilitate its international reputation.

Russia and Poland are at the heart of an intensifying battle over the the World War II and Holocaust narrative, with Poland accusing Russia of glorifying positive aspects of Soviet history and eliding over events like the MolotovRibbentrop Pact of 1939 between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

Evans said he had told the Russian Embassy in Israel that Putin would be given the award, and it was now up to the Russian government to decide when and where to receive it.

Asked what message he wanted to send to Putin with the award, Evans said he wanted to thank the Russian people as well as to inform Putin of US evangelicals vital role in electing Trump.

It is our evangelical base that elected the president of the United States, he said.

Evans also said that he had played a part in the formulation of a bill Trump signed last month targeting anti-Semitism on college campuses.

When the president passed his anti-Semitism legislation against the universities, I was on the platform with Alan Dershowitz, Evans said. When the president signed it, he handed me the pen that he used to sign it. It was his way of thanking me.

President Donald Trump signs an executive order targeting what his administration says is growing anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Mike Evans is fourth from right (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Evans runs the organization Jerusalem Prayer Team, which has close to 70 million followers on Facebook. The organizations purpose is to encourage Christians all over the world to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as well as to inform them about developments in Israeli politics from a Christian perspective.

According to the website, Jerusalem is important because most all prophecy points to Jerusalem and the end times; the new Temple being built, the Antichrist, the Battle of Armageddon and the 144,000 Evangelists. When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem we are praying for the Lord to return. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Evans was behind the dozens of billboards that went up around Jerusalem in May 2017 urging Trump to Make Israel Great. The purpose of the billboards was to remind Trump of his election promise to evangelicals to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Evans told the Times of Israel. Trump announced the move several months later in December 2017.

Evans is also responsible for the Friends of Zion Heritage Center, a multimedia museum in central Jerusalem dedicated to the history of the friendship of non-Jews toward Jews and Israel. Evans said that 100 percent of the funding for the museum comes from evangelicals and that the Friends of Zion center is in the process of expanding its campus to nine buildings.

These will house a recently opened media center dedicated to teaching journalists about Israel, an Ambassador Institute to teach 100,000 Christian ambassadors to advocate for Israel abroad, as well as a communications center that will teach online activists to fight against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement and other perceived anti-Israel activity on social media.

Evans organization on Wednesday also announced upcoming exhibits honoring Russia and Trump.

Friends of Zion Heritage Center will be building a special exhibition honoring Russia for saving a multitude of Jews during World War II. FOZ is also building an exhibition in honor of President Trump for all he has done to support the State of Israel and combat anti-Semitism, Evans said in a statement.

Evans told The Times of Israel that the Friends of Zion Heritage Center is not involved in missionary activity; Evans was in the past criticized for zealous efforts to convert Jews to Christianity.

Thats not our purpose, our purpose is combating anti-Semitism, Evans said. All of our staff is Jewish. I believe anti-Semitism is the root problem that Israel is faced with [vis-a-vis] its enemies. If you can take the anti-Semitism out you can solve the Iran problem and the Palestinian problem.

Evans said that more than a dozen world leaders had received the Friends of Zion award since 2015. Previous recipients include Trump; former US president George W. Bush; Crown Prince of Monaco, Albert II; former president of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev; Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro; and Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili.

Asked if he thought the award to Putin might mislead his 70 million followers into believing that Israelis support Putin when in fact Israelis views of the Russian leader are mixed, Evans replied: I believe that the wisest way to build friendships from Israel is to find the positive things that people do. Our position isnt to evaluate a person based upon perfection. Were only saying thank you for the good deeds they did to help. Because if you think about it, if the Soviet Union had taken the Chamberlain position and hadnt confronted the Nazis, maybe all of Europe would have been lost and all of the Middle East and there would be no Jewish state.

Asked what Russia had done recently to show friendship to Israel, Evans replied, This week [at the World Holocaust Forum] is about combating anti-Semitism. The fact is that Putin took the time in his schedule to come here to talk about anti-Semitism, especially when you could be sure the Palestinians are very unhappy with that. The fact that the Russians lost so many fighting in World War II, and the fact that they liberated Auschwitz, in our opinion is something they should be thanked for.

Evans is the author of over 100 books, some of which have become bestsellers. As recently as August 2016, Evans expressed criticism of Russia in a blog post about the allegations that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to interfere in US elections.

It appears now that the Russians are making a bold attempt to get a finger in the US election pie, he wrote. We will see who comes up with the plum when the polls close on November 8, 2016.

Asked if his view of Russia had evolved since then, Evans replied, Im not involved in American intelligence. I dont know anything about what transpired. The only mission I have is combating anti-Semitism and building bridges.

Salome Zourabichvili speaking at a reception at the Friends of Zion museum in Jerusalem on January 21, 2020. Zourabichvili was honored with a Friends of Zion award for her friendship to Israel (Simona Weinglass/Times of Israel)

On January 21, the Friends of Zion museum hosted a reception for Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, who was also presented with the Friends of Zion award. The event was attended by the Georgian Ambassador to Israel Lasha Zhvania as well as Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev. Two of the other headliners who had been scheduled to speak, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Georgian-Israeli businessman Mikhail Mirilashvili, canceled at the last minute.

Many of the speakers at the event said that Georgia was a country that has historically been uniquely free of anti-Semitism.

There is a 27-century-long friendship between Georgians and Jews, President Zourabichvili said.

She said that Holocaust remembrance events like the one being held this week in Jerusalem are necessary because only if humans remember can they prevent the repetition of intolerable things. We must have the ability to acknowledge where we failed and to repent.

A famous Georgian-Israeli musical duo, Kolan, sang the song Tbilisi.

In his speech honoring Zourabichvili, Evans compared her favorably to Trump. He related an anecdote describing how he had spent the evening of election day in 2016.

I was here at the David Citadel Hotel having dinner with the chief rabbi of Moscow the night that Donald Trump won. The rabbi looked at me and he said to me, hes going to win. I said, You think so? He said, I know so. Why? Because of our scripture reading for this week. I said, What is it? The story of Abraham and the blessing and the curses. This president wants to bless Israel and God is going to bless him and give him the presidency.

It might have sounded very simplistic, but I can tell you as one of 25 evangelical leaders, we delivered the presidency to Donald Trump by a landslide, and well do it again because of his moral clarity, his support for the state of Israel and his support for our values. You have the same thing, Madame President and we applaud you, God bless you.

Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, a senior adviser to Ambassador David Friedman, encouraged Zourabichvili to move the Georgian embassy to Jerusalem.

When its time to pick up the artwork for your embassy in Jerusalem, Mrs. Friedman and the ambassador look forward to partnering with you, he said.

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US evangelical leader announces he'll give 'Friends of Zion' award to Putin - The Times of Israel

The BroadsheetDAILY ~ News of Lower Manhattan ~ 1/24/20 –

Posted By on January 25, 2020


Dear Editor:

I am so glad to see that the Governor has created the Friends of St. Nicholas (non-profit) to raise funds and complete the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. And I am happy to see that Dennis Mehiel, who served as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority from 2012 to 2018, has been appointed to lead this project.

It has been a disgrace and a sadness to see this unfinished and neglected building sitting at the edge of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. Having a house of worship at this location creates a place for quiet reflection and peaceful observance. The new church can be a reminder of the generous spirit of the first-responders, residents and workers who helped others to survive and heal.

Mr. Mehiel showed himself to be a competent and responsive leader as BPCA chairman. Many important projects were completed and undertaken during his tenure. Further, he showed his open-mindedness to adapt and change.

Although initially resistant to having community members address the Board, he changed the rules. He listened and responded and acted on community input. This positive attitude has been continued in the Board and the Management of the Authority, and makes BPCA a wonderful place to live and work.

I am sure I am not the only local with high hopes for this new St. Nicholas Church.

Thank you,

Maryanne P. Braverman


To the editor:

The folks trying to save the bridge (or improve the Albany St. crossing) might try to get their hands on the statistics from the recently installed speed camera clocking northbound West St traffic just north of the bridge (south of Albany).

It appears to be flashing once or more after almost every green light. It could possibly add weight to crossing risks.

Keith Rathman


To the editor:

As of this moment, the only person who can save the Rector Street Bridge is New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

If you want to act to save the bridge, you and your friends, children and associates are all encouraged to write our Governor Cuomo.

Please email his Manhattan representative at:

Yesterday, our District 1 Councilmember, Margaret Chin, sent the following letter to the governor. We applaud the Councilmembers efforts on our behalf! .

The Bridge still has a chance.

Its time for US to make a great noise to make a great difference!!!

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The BroadsheetDAILY ~ News of Lower Manhattan ~ 1/24/20 -

Russian-American Lobbyist of Trump Tower Meeting Fame Forms His Own ‘Anti-Defamation League’ – The Daily Beast

Posted By on January 25, 2020

A Russian-American dual citizen who found himself at the center of allegations of Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential election has established a new nonprofit to combat the political vilification of his erstwhile countrymen.

Rinat Akhmetshin is a Washington-based lobbyist and former Soviet military officer whose 2016 meeting with Trump campaign hands including the presidents son and son-in-law was a major subject of interest for investigators into Russian election meddling. Last week, he officially incorporated the nonprofit Russian-American Anti-Defamation League, according to District of Columbia corporate records.

The nonprofits specific plans werent immediately clear. Neither Akhmetshin nor his attorney responded to requests for comment. But the groups formation comes as Akhmetshin tries to sustain legal action against a prominent Kremlin critic who dubbed him a Russian spy, allegations that caught fire after Akhmetshins June 2016 meeting with top Trump campaign aides came to light the following year.

Akhmetshin formed the Russian-American Anti-Defamation League on January 16, according to D.C. corporate records. The group is headquartered at his Washington home.

The groups formation came a couple of months after Akhmetshin appealed a federal courts dismissal of his libel case against Bill Browder, a businessman who has spearheaded campaigns around the globe to sanction corrupt Russian government officials. Browder labeled Akhmetshin a Russian intelligence asset" and "a Russian GRU officer" in a number of tweets that Akhmetshin alleges were defamatory. He sued in 2018 in a federal court in Washington. The suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds last year. Akhmetshins appeal is currently pending.

Akhmetshin played a significant role in the controversy surrounding Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and the investigation into Trump campaign knowledge or solicitation of it. He was one of two Russian nationals who met with Trump aides including Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. in the summer of 2016 after promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Trumps opponent.

After the Mueller probe concluded, and found no proof of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government, Akhmetshin told ABC News that the affair had hit me hard financially and led to baseless personal attacks.

After his Trump Tower meeting came to light, The New York Times reported that Akhmetshin has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service, the F.S.B., and a history of working for close allies of President Vladimir V. Putin. Last year, BuzzFeed News reported that financial investigators had flagged a number of suspicious payments to Akhmetshin around the time of the Trump Tower meeting.

Akhmetshin and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the other Russian who attended the Trump Tower meeting, also worked with the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig into Browders business activities in Russia on behalf of a sanctioned Russian company. That work coincided with Fusions efforts to dig up dirt on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Last year, Akhmetshin was paid $60,000 to assist with lobbying efforts on behalf of a former Kazakh government official accused of defrauding the country out of millions.

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Russian-American Lobbyist of Trump Tower Meeting Fame Forms His Own 'Anti-Defamation League' - The Daily Beast

Trump’s Still Normalizing Anti-Semitism, and It’s Only Going to Get Worse – The Daily Beast

Posted By on January 25, 2020

After the horrific anti-Semitic attack in late December when five people were stabbed while celebrating Hanukkah at the home of a rabbi in New York, Donald Trump tweeted, The anti-Semitic attack in Monsey, New York, on the 7th night of Hanukkah last night is horrific. We must all come together to fight, confront, and eradicate the evil scourge of anti-Semitism.

Those were the right words. But tragically Trump has followed that up with the wrong actions as hes continued to normalize anti-Semitism in our country at a time when anti-Semitic hate crimes are at alarming levels. While his daughter and son-in-law are Jewish, Trump appears to be doing this by design in order to court and maintain his supporters who respond to this kind of bigotryjust as he did in 2016.

There were two alarming examples this week. First, Trump doubled down on using an anti-Semitic slur by calling Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is Jewish, shifty. When Trump first used this trope in October, Peter Beinart, who is Jewish, explained in The Forward, Its no surprise that Trump called Schiff shifty which means tricky or deceitful, adding, When discussing Jews, Trump often plays on well-worn caricatures about cleverness, deviousness, and physical weakness.

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Trump's Still Normalizing Anti-Semitism, and It's Only Going to Get Worse - The Daily Beast

Were in this fight together, Jews and Muslims – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 25, 2020

This week we are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where at least one million Jews were killed, to remember the horrific chapter of our modern history, and to appreciate how far we have come to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism and hatred from the face of the Earth.It is not enough. Only this month the Anti-Defamation League documented 22 antisemitic episodes in the US. Since the incident in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, when white supremacists and neo-Nazis spewed antisemitic hate and killed a counter-protester, a number of antisemitic and violent incidents have laid bare the troubling trend.In October 2018, a gunman killed 11 Jewish worshipers in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Last April, an armed man killed a woman and injured three others in a synagogue near San Diego. Last month, three people were killed at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey, and five worshipers were stabbed as a man broke into an Orthodox Jewish familys home in Monsey, New York.In fact, what we do will never be enough. The only way to ensure that antisemitism doesnt rear its ugly face again is to remain ever-vigilant. Most Jews migrated to the US, just like other victims of oppression around the world, because they thought they would find a safe haven in this country. We should prove that they were right.Hatred is like starting a fire. Once it begins, you dont know where it will end. Hatred doesnt recognize any gates and boundaries. Once it starts prevailing in any society, no groups are immune to it.Standing up against antisemitism is the first line of defense for any society. If history is any guide, we know that nations that embrace antisemitism as normal go down a troubling path in burying their democracy, curbing freedoms and undermining the rule of law. Rising antisemitism in Hungary and Poland today are prime examples of that.ACCORDING TO a recent survey sponsored by the ADL, one in four Europeans still harbor pernicious and pervasive attitudes toward Jews. Stereotypes such as Jews control business and the financial markets, or Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust are still pervasive in many European countries. Many people also believe in Jewish disloyalty, a claim that they have dual loyalty.When we take a closer look at the discourse and rhetoric used against Jews in the 1920s and 30s in Europe, we see a striking resemblance to the language used by todays autocrats. Its not surprising because hatred has only one language. The methods and tools are remarkably similar. In short, we are fighting the same war.The hatred that results in antisemitism is from the same source that fabricates Islamophobia and other types of ethnic and religious intolerance. It is the exact same mindset; the kind of mentality that considers itself a part of a superior culture that rejects diversity. It is ironic that those who believe their culture is superior so-called supremacists feel insecure about welcoming other cultures. We should start accepting the fact that living with other cultures is not a threat to our own culture. It is, in fact, enriching.There is a particular duty that falls on the shoulders of American Muslims, who have faced their own share of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hostility, to spearhead efforts to battle antisemitism and reject this scourge. Educating our society and the next generation is a good way to start.Over the years, I have donated and supported dozens of interfaith groups and activities across the US that aim to build tolerance among diverse groups, and encouraged them to continue educating the public about the importance of interfaith dialogue and tolerance. I believe that Americas secret sauce is its ability to co-exist, and we should do whatever it takes to preserve this very fabric.As part of my efforts to encourage everyone to raise their voices whenever and wherever they see injustice or see people suffering, I recently launched an online campaign called You Are My Hope ( to raise awareness about the oppression and its victims in my home country.Antisemitism, Islamophobia and other types of ethnic or religious animosities will never go away. We can tame them or we can suffocate them, but we always will have to be vigilant so that they dont show their ugly heads again. No one can do this alone. We are in this fight together.The author is a Human Rights advocate and NBA player for the Boston Celtics.

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Were in this fight together, Jews and Muslims - The Jerusalem Post

Attic size of a queen bed served as home for Holocaust survivor, family hiding from the Nazis – Desert Sun

Posted By on January 25, 2020


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Holocaust survivor Henry Friedman was 14 when his family was given a place to hide from the Nazis by a Ukrainian family.

Friedman was born in Brody, Poland, a town with a Jewish population of about 10,000 before World War II. After they were liberated and returned to the city in July 1944, there were fewer than 100 Jews who had survived the concentration camps, Friedman said.

My family was the only one in the city that the husband, wife and children survived, he said.

Of the rest of his extended family, only a cousin survived, he said. Everybody else was killed.

Steven Geiger, founder of Mensch International Foundation, and Holocaust survivor Henry Friedman stand near the Desert Holocaust Memorial in Palm Desert, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.(Photo: Vickie Connor/The Desert Sun)

Sitting on a bench at the Holocaust Memorial in Palm Deserts Civic Center Park on Thursday morning, Friedman recalled his experience and why it is important to him that people remember the Holocaust.

On Monday he will be among the speakers at the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day observance, hosted by the Gerald R. Ford Chapter of the Mensch Foundation International.

The day marks the 75th anniversary of the Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, the largest concentration and forced-labor camp established by the Nazi Germans in what is now Poland.

It is estimated that more than 1 million people were killed at Auschwitz, most of them Jews, before the camp was liberated by Soviet Red Army troops. The liberation of the camp, however, didnt mark the end of World War II and other concentration camps continued killing Jews, gays and others tagged as "undesirables."

In 2010, the United Nations established Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember those who died, celebrate those who survived and to remind all to never forget what happened.

They survived because Friedmans father was warned that the Gestapo would be coming for him, and in October 1942 they went into hiding, assisted by two Ukrainian families in the village of Suchowola.

Friedman, his mother and younger brother were sheltered in a barn attic, about as big as a queen-size bed and with no room to stand or walk around.

Holocaust survivor Henry Friedman stands in the Desert Holocaust Memorial in Palm Desert, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.(Photo: Vickie Connor/The Desert Sun)

All I could do was lay down or sit up. When I was liberated, I couldnt walk, my muscles were all atrophied, he said.

His father hid out about a half-mile away in a barn that belonged to a business acquaintance.

They would get their news by listening to people talking on the street, he said.

When people wanted us to hear news, they would talk below us in the barn, he said.

They remained hidden until the Russian army liberated Suchowola in March 1944.

While in hiding, Friedman would try to help keep his brothers spirits up by telling him, If we survive, everybodys going to love us because we may be the only Jews that survive, he recalled.

I was right on one thing, very few of us had survived. But loving us is another story because the people that hid us didnt want us even to reveal their names because they were afraid that people may kill them, he said.

His family migrated to America in December 1949.

Now 91 years old, Friedman, a snowbird from Seattle and a veteran who served with the United States Army in the Korea War, has been speaking at the local Holocaust Remembrance Day observance and wherever possible for at least 30 years.

He hopes his experience will not only remind people of the Holocaust as the number of survivors dwindles but also serve as a message of what can happen in a society that is not tolerant of differences.

It does not matter the color of your skin. It does not matter what political affiliation you have. What matters is how we react to those things, Friedman said.

And this is the reason that I have dedicated the last 30 years of my life to teaching, speaking on the subject of the Holocaust, he said.

The Desert Holocaust Memorial is located in Palm Desert Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, Calif.(Photo: Vickie Connor/The Desert Sun)

He volunteers at the Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage and started the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle where and his wife, Sandra, live full-time. The center is named for the Friedmans.

History has a way of repeating itself, Friedman said. Look at whats happening today, all over the world. Christians are being killed by Muslims. Muslims are killing Muslims because of their different beliefs.

In 2017, the United States experienceda record 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents a 57% increase from 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

That was down slightly to 1,879 in 2018, according to ADL statistics.

Statistics arent available yet for 2019, but in December, two men opened fire in a Jewish market in New Jersey, killing three people. The shooters, the New Jersey state attorney said, were fueled by hatred of Jewish people and law enforcement.

The New York Police Department reported that in 2019, the number of hate crimes in the city was nearly double that of 2018 and most incidents were anti-Semitic. Between Jan. 1 and May 19, 2019, the department reported receiving 176 hate crime complaints, an 83% increase over the same period in 2018.

Anti-Defamation League National Director Jonathan Greenblatt stated through Twitter that 59% of the complaints were anti-Semitic hate crimes.

While the Coachella Valley overall is accepting of different religions, minorities and the LGBTQ community, there have been hate crimes and acts of anti-Semitism over the years, including a fire started when a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a mosque in Coachella five years ago.

People were inside praying at the time, and all escaped without injury. Carl Dial was immediately arrested, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

There have also been incidents in local schools, including one in which a Shadow Hills High School student came dressed as a Nazi for Halloween in 2016.

The Coachella Valley is a fairly tolerant area, but schools have had incidents of anti-Semitism in the past, said Steve Geiger, who heads the Gerald R. Ford Chapter of the Mensch Foundation International.

You can never be complacent, and no one can remain a bystander. Its a fight that has to continue all the time, said Geiger, whose father survived a concentration camp, but his grandparents were gassed in Auschwitz along with 80 other relatives.

Friedman recalled a meeting in Rome with Pope John Paul II in commemoration of the Holocaust, and as he shook his hand, the papal told Friedman that anti-Semitism is a sin.

We have to hear those voices from the churches and the temples, from the mosques, that anti-Semitism is a sin, Friedman said.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

What: Observance of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, with a variety of speakers including survivor Henry Friedman; Palm Desert Councilman Sabby Jonathan; Rabbi Benny Lew, Chabad Rancho Mirage; Monsignor Howard Lincoln, Sacred Heart Catholic Church; and Mayors Iris Smotrich of Rancho Mirage and Geoff Kors of Palm Springs.

When: 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27

Where: Palm Desert Civic Center Park amphitheater, on the northeast corner of Fred Waring Drive and San Pablo Avenue.

Information: Email or call (760) 416-3685

Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at or (760) 778-4694. Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherry

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Attic size of a queen bed served as home for Holocaust survivor, family hiding from the Nazis - Desert Sun

Second family claims Universal Studios costumed actor made racist OK hand gesture in photo with child – New York Daily News

Posted By on January 25, 2020

Universal has refused to give us any information as to the identity of the Gru character they allegedly dismissed despite our numerous requests for such, Lisa Riddle, a Miami-based attorney representing both families, told the Daily News. She added that the focus at the present is to identify the costumed character and learn what hiring, training and supervising shortfalls led to this.

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Second family claims Universal Studios costumed actor made racist OK hand gesture in photo with child - New York Daily News

After Jersey City shooting, ADL and NAACP say, We are in this together –

Posted By on January 25, 2020

By Richard Smith and Evan R. Bernstein

On Dec. 10, 2019, two individuals parked a stolen van in front of a kosher supermarket in Jersey City. They went on to enter the store armed with a shotgun and assault rifle and brutally murdered three innocent civilians. They had already killed Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals less than a mile away. A mere two weeks later, in Monsey, New York, another armed individual entered a Rabbis house during a Hanukah celebration. He savagely stabbed and critically wounded several of the guests.

These two incidents were the latest in a string of high profile and lethal attacks on Jews that began with the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg over a year ago. While these violent attacks underscore anti-Semitism as a driving force for hatred and extremism, Jews are rarely the only target. Just a few years ago, in June 2015, a white supremacist entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot nine worshippers.

The attacks in Jersey City and Monsey show that anti-Semitism is widespread, and it is becoming increasingly violent. At the same time, we have seen a very troubling increase in the use of hateful rhetoric and anti-Semitic stereotypes by elected officials and community leaders in New Jersey. According to Attorney General Gurbir Grewals office, there were a staggering 944 bias incidents in 2019, an increase of 65%. In 2018, ADL recorded 200 anti-Semitic incidents, the third highest in the nation. Preliminary estimates are that this number will be even higher in 2019.

As the representatives of the NAACP and the ADL in New Jersey, we came together this month to say enough is enough and to establish a partnership to stop this trend in our state. Our message is clear. We will not allow hateful individuals to drive a dangerous wedge between our two communities.

This is because we know that anti-Semitism threatens Jews, but it also harms African Americans by reinforcing racist tropes and fomenting division. Jews of Color, for example, who live and worship in communities throughout our state, bear the brunt of both anti-Semitism and racism. In addition, for the many African Americans who are not Jewish, anti-Semitism reinforces racist tropes and divides us instead of uniting us to address the real challenges our communities face. The stereotyping and scapegoating of Jews that we see in anti-Semitism is all too familiar and connected to the racism faced by African-Americans. When we fail to confront anti-Semitism, it undermines our collective goal of ending all forms of hate and securing equal rights for all.

For over a century, the NAACP and ADL stood on the front lines of the joint fight for freedom, justice and equality. And we fully intend to continue this fight together by bringing this partnership to New Jersey.

Moving forward, ADL New York / New Jersey and the NAACP State Conference of New Jersey are committing our organizations to the joint objective of strengthening intercommunal understanding and combating all forms of hate in New Jersey. We will offer anti-bias education to elected officials, build bridges of tolerance and understanding between our constituents, and respond with a united voice to incidents of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.

At ADL and the NAACP, we know that to truly eradicate anti-Semitism and racism once and for all, we must have meaningful conversations about the way hate functions. We must be able to have difficult conversations about the challenges facing our communities without invoking painful tropes or stereotypes. We must be willing to call out and vehemently reject hatred and bigotry each and every time we see it.

This is no easy task. It involves a commitment to increased dialogue and continued learning. It requires us to see and celebrate the exceptional diversity within the Black and Jewish communities. Dating back to NAACPs founding, Jewish activists and the ADL have played a disproportionate role in the civil rights movement. Similarly, the NAACP and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. stood with their Jewish brothers and sisters in strong condemnation of anti-Semitism. They understood we are in this together.

Whether it involves swastikas scrawled onto our childrens schools, white supremacist propaganda disseminated in our towns, or hateful vitriol sprouted online, the perpetrators of these acts carry a deep-seated disdain for all marginalized communities. We know that we are stronger when we combat these acts of hate together. We can and must do better, because our collective safety and security depend on it.

We welcome all New Jersey residents to join us in this fight.

Richard Smith is president of the NAACP State Conference in New Jersey and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors. Evan R. Bernstein is the Vice President, Northeast Division at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The Star-Ledger/ encourages submissions of opinion. Bookmark Follow us on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and on Facebook at Opinion. Get the latest news updates right in your inbox. Subscribe to NJ.coms newsletters.

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After Jersey City shooting, ADL and NAACP say, We are in this together -

Letters to the Editor: January 24, 2020 – Atlanta Jewish Times

Posted By on January 25, 2020

Letter to the editor:

Ya Basta Bre!

The recent and ever-increasing violence, terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism in the U.S. is alarming. Each one of us has the responsibility to assure that in addition to being respectful of others beliefs and practices, we speak out whenever inequities or misguided perception are present.

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Most hate crimes, anti-Semitism, etc. are based on ignorance. Each one of us has the responsibility to educate when the opportunity arises. Uninformed individuals need to be reminded that, as Americans first, we are guided by a set of values, embraced by most if not all religions, of respect, tolerance and understanding of others. Similarly, those that deviate from American values and laws should understand that actions have consequences.

Individually and collectively, we should all be proactive and subscribe to the Ladino/Spanish refrain; Ya Basta Bre!- Enough is Enough!

Dr. Albert Barrocas, Atlanta

Letter to the editor:

Over the last decade, Ive had hundreds of op-eds in Georgia newspapers and online, publications which reflect my progressive anti-racism views on controversial topics. On every issue, my views as a Southern Jew are the same as most African Americans, not surprising given my past.

However, your 12-30 column, Jewish Atlanta Reacts to New York Anti-Semitic Stabbing, clearly left out a key element of the issue: black anti-Semitism. Surprisingly, theres a hesitancy to ignore black anti-Semitism in both the Jewish and general media.

As similar ADL surveys since 1992 have shown, black anti-Semitism is not a recent thing. Bigotry towards Jews is nearly two-thirds higher in the black community. The Anti-Defamation League 2016 survey that found that 23 percent of African Americans held anti-Semitic views.

Numerous black leaders have long condoned it and, in some cases, promoted it. To give just a few examples among the many:

*Rep Omars Benjamin remarks, etc.;

*Tamika Mallory, organizer of the Womens March, called anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, the GOAT, i.e. the greatest of all time;

* Mallory stated: Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people;

* Per Farrakhan, the powerful Jews are my enemy, and the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men. (Mallory was there and did not object);

* Farrakhan praised Adolf Hitler, calling him: a very great man;

*Jesse Jackson stated: Thats all Hymie wants to talk about, is Israel; every time you go to Hymietown, thats all they want to talk about;

*Alice Walker, author and activist, states in the New York Times: In [David] Ickes books there is the whole of existence. Mr. Icke blamed the Jews for the Holocaust.

Unlike most whites, I have a long relationship with (and compassion for) the African American community. My first jobs were with the poverty program, working under black men/women. My territory included the rural Georgia county where Alice Walker was raised. When I received threats to burn down my trailer because I was a n***** lover, I left.

I eventually went into the healthcare industry and established the first national GPO minority vendor program, working with major companies and hospital systems to set goals and establish minority set asides. I now do volunteer mentoring of primarily black businesses.

Which, once again, is why it pains me to see that the bigotry of anti-Semitism is more accepted in the black community versus in America as a whole. Its personally disturbing that the Black Caucus came out against a specific declaration against anti-Semitism based on Rep. Omars original comments.

House Minority Whip Rep. Clyburn stated: There are people who tell me, Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors. Its more personal with her Ive talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.

My father, a refugee, lost all of his grandparents to the Holocaust. Was he not living in pain? Does Rep. Omars pain supposedly negate his? Is this a contest Rep. Clyburn?

African American leaders like Clyburn must change their one-sided views. They need to come forth and declare that the Jewish and black communities should work in concert as they did back in the 1960s civil rights era. And, they must specifically condemn negative stereotypes regarding Jewish people for what they are: undefendable bigotry.

Al Sharpton, guilty of anti-Semitism in the past, has started this movement forward. Others must join him. Now, not later.

Jack Bernard, Peachtree City

Letters to the Editor: January 24, 2020 - Atlanta Jewish Times

Simon Thacker to celebrate the spirit of India at Celtic Connections – The Scotsman

Posted By on January 25, 2020

Punjabi folk song, flamenco and Sephardic music from the Mediterranean, Sanskrit alchemy and Gaelic folklore they all seem grist to the mill for Simon Thacker, the East Lothian-based classical guitarist whose musical re-imaginings range between continents and draw from a bewildering well of inspiration ranging from Native American chants to medieval cosmology.

Thacker appears with his Indo-Western group Svara-Kanti at Celtic Connections on 1 February, and has recently released a new album with Ritmata, his collaboration with three Scots jazz players.

When we speak on the phone, he is in Goa, working on material for the Svara-Kanti concert, following a solo Indian tour. Asked whether he was picking up material that might re-emerge at the concert, he points out that while he is constantly absorbing potentially inspiring material, it can take years for it to re-emerge.

As it is, Svara-Kantis Celtic Connections gig is likely to be quite inspiring enough. Thacker will be joined by the groups regular violinist, Jacqueline Shave, leader of the renowned Britten Sinfonia, who slips easily into the groups microtonalities: Whatever I write for her, I know shes going to play it beautifully, says Thacker.

He has also enlisted the virtuosic, Grammy-winning tabla player Sukhvinder Singh Pinky, with whom he claims a near-telepathic rapport especially in our improvisations, like four hands on one instrument.

Adding a beguiling vocal strand to the group is Afsana Khan, a young Sufi-Punjabi folk singer and Bollywood star. This is a very special line-up which offers so many possibilities for me as a composer, says Thacker, as well as a distinctive improvisational sound world developed through playing and exploring together.

Support on the night will come from a new Indo-Scottish project, Nad-Haara, featuring Lewis singer Mischa Macpherson and Indian mezzo soprano Ankna Arockiam, a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, exploring their respective traditions.

For Thacker, the concert follows the release of his latest album with perhaps the most muscular of his collaborations, Ritmata, in which he is joined by three well-respected names from Scottish jazz, pianist Paul Harrison, drummer Stu Brown and bassist Andrew Robb.

The albums Gaelic title, Tradh, with its overtones of psychic travelling, may reflect Thackers wide-ranging interest in folklore, but its music journeys even further, inspired by flamenco and Sephardic music in particular, as well as Native American traditions and medieval liturgy.

The concept of tradh, the guitarist explains, is that if someone is travelling and they imagine themselves back at home or somewhere else, their sounds are heard there, even though theyre not there yet. Its a sort of symbolism for my imagination in creating sound worlds I have visions of where I want to be musically and thats the first stage of me getting there.

Ritmata he describes as his musical laboratory and it is certainly a potent one, as the albums opening track, Asuramaya, demonstrates, with its smouldering flamenco guitar flickering against vigorously responding piano and drums.

Another track, Quadriga in 5, Thacker describes as the biggest work hes written for the band so far, with tumultuous sparring between instruments, while, as ever seeking out notable guests, he enlisted a young flamenco cantaora, ngeles Toledano, for Muero Yo de Amor, a Sephardic song which he heard years ago on a Turkish recording from early in the 20th century. Toledano gives an impassioned account, her voice bursting out of the explosive opening chord.

Sephardic music associated with the Jews expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century has always fascinated Thacker, and while Toledano is a flamenco artist, he reckoned that a Sephardic song would be a powerful symbol for her, given that the flamenco-bearing gypsies were equally persecuted in Spain.

We had just one rehearsal before recording. I wrote it in a very short time, he says. It was as if the song had been waiting to be discovered. Jim Gilchrist

Simon Thackers Svara-Kanti is at Tramway, Glasgow on 1 February. For details, see

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Simon Thacker to celebrate the spirit of India at Celtic Connections - The Scotsman

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