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Terry Mattingly: Rabbi Lord Sacks on the surge of anti-Semitism – Joplin Globe

Posted By on January 26, 2020

Andrew Neil of the BBC kept asking Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn the same question over and over.

Eighty percent of Jews think that youre anti-Semitic, he stressed. Wouldnt you like to take this opportunity tonight to apologize to the British Jewish community for whats happened?

Corbyn would not yield: What Ill say is this I am determined that our society will be safe for people of all faiths.

The Daily Express called this late-2019 clash a horror show. This BBC interview, with surging fears of public anti-Semitism, lingered in headlines as Brits went to the polls. Corbyns party suffered its worst defeat in nearly a century.

Meanwhile, in America, a wave of anti-Semitic attacks left Jews wondering if it was safe to wear yarmulkes and symbols of their faith while walking the sidewalks of New York City. In suburban Monsey, New York, a machete-waving attacker stabbed five people at a Hasidic rabbis Hanukkah party. Finally, thousands of New Yorkers marched to show solidarity with the Jewish community.

The New York City Police Department estimates that anti-Semitic crimes rose 26% last year. Anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are expected to hit an 18-year high, according to research at California State University, San Bernardino.

No one who watches the news can doubt that the darkness has returned. It has returned likewise to virtually every country in Europe, argued Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who led the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2005 and entered the House of Lords.

That this should have happened within living memory of the Holocaust, after the most systematic attempt ever made ... to find a cure for the virus of the worlds longest hate more than half a century of Holocaust education and anti-racist legislation is almost unbelievable. It is particularly traumatic that this has happened in the United States, the country where Jews felt more at home than anywhere else in the Diaspora.

Why now? In an essay for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Rabbi Sacks urged religious and political leaders to study trends often digital behind these tragedies.

Anti-Semitism, or any hate, he argued, becomes dangerous in any society when three things happen: when it moves from the fringes of politics to a mainstream party and its leadership; when the party sees that its popularity with the general public is not harmed thereby; and when those who stand up and protest are vilified and abused for doing so.

Imagine the hellish Protocols of the Elders of Zion updated for the internet. In the age of smartphones and viral videos, noted Sacks, millions of people can brew hate online rarely speaking face-to-face with their disciples or their victims. This gap creates what researchers call a disinhibition effect that turns up the heat.

Cyberspace has proved to be the most effective incubator of resentment, rancor and conspiracy theories ever invented, noted Sacks. Most people encounter these phenomena ... in the privacy of their own home. This allows them to be radicalized without anyone realizing it is happening. Time and again, we read of people carrying out horrific attacks, while those who knew them recall not having seen any warning signs that they were intent on committing evil attacks.

Its crucial to grasp the logic behind political and cultural fears on both the left and the right. Many people are furious because they believe the world as it is now is not the way it used to be, or ought to be, he argued.

The far left has not recovered from the global collapse of communism and socialism as ideologies. ... The far right feels threatened by the changing composition of Western societies, because of immigration on an unprecedented scale and low birth rates among the native population. ... Many radical Islamists are troubled by dysfunctions in the Muslim world.

Thus, many people around the world want to know why bad things are happening. Anyone seeking to fight anti-Semitism, Sacks wrote, needs to understand what can go wrong with that process.

When bad things happen, good people ask, What did I do wrong? ... Bad people ask, Who did this to me? They cast themselves as victims and search for scapegoats to blame. The scapegoat of choice has long been the Jews.

Terry Mattingly leads GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tenn. He is a senior fellow at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.

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Terry Mattingly: Rabbi Lord Sacks on the surge of anti-Semitism - Joplin Globe

Rabbi: Rise of anti-Semitism linked to cyberspace – NWAOnline

Posted By on January 26, 2020

Andrew Neil of the BBC kept asking Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn the same question -- over and over.

"Eighty percent of Jews think that you're anti-Semitic," he said. "Wouldn't you like to take this opportunity tonight to apologize to the British Jewish community for what's happened?"

Corbyn would not yield: "What I'll say is this -- I am determined that our society will be safe for people of all faiths."

The Daily Express called this late-2019 clash a "horror show." This BBC interview, with surging fears of public anti-Semitism, lingered in headlines as Brits went to the polls. Corbyn's party suffered its worst defeat in nearly a century.

Meanwhile, in America, a wave of anti-Semitic attacks left Jews wondering if it was safe to wear yarmulkes and symbols of their faith while walking the sidewalks of New York. In suburban Monsey, N.Y., a machete-waving attacker stabbed five people at a Hasidic rabbi's Hanukkah party. Finally, thousands of New Yorkers marched to show solidarity with the Jewish community.

The NYPD estimates that anti-Semitic crimes rose 26% last year. Anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are expected to hit an 18-year high, according to research at California State University, San Bernardino.

No one who watches the news can doubt that "the darkness has returned. It has returned likewise to virtually every country in Europe," argued Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who led the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2005 and entered the House of Lords.

"That this should have happened within living memory of the Holocaust, after the most systematic attempt ever made ... to find a cure for the virus of the world's longest hate -- more than half a century of Holocaust education and anti-racist legislation -- is almost unbelievable. It is particularly traumatic that this has happened in the United States, the country where Jews felt more at home than anywhere else in the Diaspora."

Why now? In an essay for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Sacks urged religious and political leaders to study trends -- often digital -- behind these tragedies.

"Anti-Semitism, or any hate," he said, "becomes dangerous in any society when three things happen: when it moves from the fringes of politics to a mainstream party and its leadership, when the party sees that its popularity with the general public is not harmed thereby and when those who stand up and protest are vilified and abused for doing so."

Imagine the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" updated for the internet. In the age of smartphones and viral videos, Sacks noted, millions of people can brew hate online -- rarely speaking face-to-face with their disciples or their victims. This gap creates what researchers call a "disinhibition effect" that turns up the heat.

"Cyberspace has proved to be the most effective incubator of resentment, rancor and conspiracy theories ever invented," Sacks said. Most people "encounter these phenomena ... in the privacy of their own home. This allows them to be radicalized without anyone realizing it is happening. Time and again, we read of people carrying out horrific attacks, while those who knew them recall not having seen any warning signs that they were intent on committing evil attacks."

It's crucial to grasp the logic behind political and cultural fears on both the left and the right. Many people are furious because they believe the "world as it is now is not the way it used to be, or ought to be," he said.

"The far left has not recovered from the global collapse of communism and socialism as ideologies. ... The far-right feels threatened by the changing composition of Western societies, because of immigration on an unprecedented scale and low birth rates among the native population. ... Many radical Islamists are troubled by dysfunctions in the Muslim world."

Thus, many people around the world want to know why bad things are happening. Anyone seeking to fight anti-Semitism, Sacks wrote, needs to understand what can go wrong with that process.

"When bad things happen, good people ask, 'What did I do wrong?' ... Bad people ask, 'Who did this to me?' They cast themselves as victims and search for scapegoats to blame. The scapegoat of choice has long been the Jews."

Terry Mattingly leads GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tenn. He is a senior fellow at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.

Religion on 01/25/2020

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Rabbi: Rise of anti-Semitism linked to cyberspace - NWAOnline

Erich Fromm and Religion Without God | Jewish & Israel News – Algemeiner

Posted By on January 26, 2020

Psychiatrist Erich Fromm in 1974. Photo: Mller-May / Rainer Funk / CC BY-SA 3.0 (DE) via Wikicommons.

Erich Fromm was one of the most influential psychiatrists of the last century. He was educated in Germany. When the Nazis came to power in 1934, he moved to Switzerland and then on to New York. He was a restless and brilliant man. I first encountered his work when, as a student, I read his short book You Shall Be as Gods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition.It was originally published in German in 1954 and English in 1966. I still recommend it heartily as it is still relevant today.

Here was one of the most acclaimed psychiatrists of the century arguing for the benefit of Orthodox Judaism but without God. He was a completely non-religious, atheist Jew writing about how psychologically important Jewish Law and its behavioral rituals (including keeping Shabbat and Kashrut) were for the sanity of modern society.

He was born to an Orthodox, scholarly family in Frankfurt. He studied Talmud and Hasidism in depth. He had a deep knowledge of Jewish mysticism. However, in 1926 he turned away from Orthodox Judaism and towards secular interpretations of scripture. He described his position as nontheistic mysticism.

Reading his book had a huge impact on my thinking. I had my own very personal relationship with God. But Fromm argued that religion did not have to be circumscribed by the idea of God. Being religious without God could still be very beneficial. At the time, I was coming into contact with many Jews who had rejected the idea of God and/or Jewish practice and could not identify with the Jewish religion. Here seemed an answer for them.

January 26, 2020 7:10 am

Fromm said that humans should take independent action and use reason to establish moral values rather than blindly adhering to the dictates of authorities. He disliked all authoritarian systems, yet argued that humans needed the discipline that religious practice provided. Their rituals and training helped people think about morally right decisions. Otherwise, humans would tend to take the easiest and most selfish way out.

Fromm often used the Bible to illustrate his points of view. The story of Adam and Eve was, he said, an allegorical explanation for humans defying God and struggling to work out for themselves how to act. And, of course, mistakes have consequences. The book of Jonah described someone who did not wish to save the people of Nineveh from the consequences of their sins. It advocated the importance of care and responsibility for others even if one disagreed with them. Important ideas for human beings both religious and non-religious. Autonomy, the freedom to make up ones own mind, was paramount. But so was being part of a community.

Fromm liked the Talmudic story of Rabbi Eliezer who, in a dispute with a majority of his fellow rabbis over a minor issue of Jewish law, asked God to intervene with miracles to prove him right. But the rabbis insisted that, since the Torah had been given, it was no longer up to God to intervene in such matters but for human beings to use their powers of thought to deal with current situations and challenges. This was evidence that we should be able to use our deductive tools to deal with life.

He admired Hasidic tales in which God was challenged and called to account by man for the horrible things that happen on earth. It was dangerous to accept God unquestioningly. The Bible, he said, was more concerned with the fight against idolatry than with a correct theology. Idolatry was the worship of oneself, ones own intelligence, and ones own strength. Only by embracing freedom could one free oneself from idolatry. Failing to do this was the root of psychological conflicts.

Fromm thought that modern societies focused too much on freedom from responsibility. Too few people respected the autonomy of their fellow human beings what other people truly wanted and needed. They preferred conformity.This led to destructiveness the process which tried to eliminate others. All of which became manifest in Nazism and Marxism. Sadly, most people find it harder to try to be free than to simply accept conformity. Submitting ones freedom to someone else diminishes freedom of choice. This preference for controlled lives was a danger to religion itselfas well.

As I look around me nowadays I see too much of todays Jewish life is conformism. Layers have been added for social reasons, not spiritual ones. Too many people observe rituals out of social pressure instead of religious commitment. Yet without accepting the discipline of a religious way of life, one flounders and struggles for comfort and a sense of belonging. Humans, said Fromm, need to be excited and stimulated by striving for goals. And to find their own places in the world.

Hewanted to eliminate the concept of God except as a poetical symbol of the primary and mystical ego-transcending experience of man. This was where I parted company. I believe the idea of God is important as a personal experience (more than a concept). This is what adds the spiritual dimension to the structure of the law. God is a way of reaching beyond oneself. Even if I question the theology.

I agree we must try to experience life on a higher, more intense, personal level. But I also value the Torah concept of accepting first and questioning afterward (Naaseh VeNishma). Without a structure to begin with, one is in danger of wandering, getting lost and not finding. Like a child with no discipline.

All of this makesYou Shall Be as Godsone of the most important books on the relevance of religion even in our skeptical, modern world where everything is open to challenge.

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen received his rabbinic ordination from Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He has worked in the rabbinate, Jewish education, and academia for more than 40 years in Europe and the US. He currently lives in the US, where he writes, teaches, lectures, and serves as rabbi of a small community in New York.

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Erich Fromm and Religion Without God | Jewish & Israel News - Algemeiner

Holocaust poetry and the reclamation of many identities – The Conversation UK

Posted By on January 26, 2020

The first Holocaust poems were written 90 years ago, when the full extent of the horror was yet to be known. Starting in the 1930s, those first works foreshadowed the catastrophe that was soon to come. As the second world war erupted and the Nazi killings began, people continued to write poetry that recorded direct experiences of persecution and lamented the murder of loved ones.

While many writers of Holocaust poetry are Jewish, there are those who belong to other groups targeted by the Nazi regime. Including those who were perceived to have disabilities, Roma and Sinti people, political and religious opponents and homosexual men.

Writing poetry of the Holocaust has often been a way to reclaim identity, as writer and translator Lou Sarabadzic puts it:

Victims of the Holocaust are not the Other in these lines, but rather the authors, the ones we listen to, the ones expressing emotions.

As such, they continue to be written today as people continue to reckon with the memories and impact of the Holocaust.

Published in 2019, Poetry of the Holocaust: An Anthology brings together poems from 19 languages that were previously unavailable in English. The translations in this book are followed by the original texts. These include poems in languages not normally associated with the Holocaust, such as Norwegian and Japanese, and from places like Argentina, Denmark and South Africa.

Holocaust poetry in the 1930s and through the war wrestled with the incomprehensible reality its writers were facing. The earliest poems in Europe responded to the foreboding of the fascist regime and its politics of elimination.

In 1932, the German poet Eduard Saenger wrote in reaction to the sinister change of atmosphere that he was witnessing in his country:

A silent wind sends fear through the land / with an edge like the howling of wolves.

Like Saenger, many wrote poems warning of the approaching dark times and also in reaction to specific events, like the book burnings of May 1933 and Kristallnacht in November 1938.

During the war, the poems documented life in ghettos, prisons and concentration camps. They spoke of mass shootings and of seeing neighbours deported.

Writing in the Terezn (Theresienstadt) ghetto in the early 1940s, the Czech teenager Dagmar Hilarov expressed the desire to die rather than undergo further humiliation and torture:

Like a bird with wounded wings / To lie down, / And not to wait for morning.

Poems written in concentration camps were memorised or hidden, often later found by others. Sallie Pinkhof wrote a poem in Bergen-Belsen in 1944, in which he mocked the state of his body:

What a hoot / these loose-fitting tendons / and bones in my foot!

Pinkhof did not survive but his poems were preserved by fellow camp inmates. An anonymous poem found in the Zigeunerlager (Gypsy Camp) of Auschwitz-Birkenau opens with the wish:

Do not wake me from my dream, / so the world need never know / how they treat a Roma.

Read more: Nazis murdered a quarter of Europe's Roma, but history still overlooks this genocide

For many the horror of the Holocaust is both lifelong and unspeakable. As the memory and impact of the catastrophe continue to be felt by survivors, their children and people touched by its reverberations, poems continue to be written about the Holocaust to express what is almost beyond words. Dutch poet Chawwa Wijnberg (2001), whose father was executed by the Nazis:

Always present is the unsaid / the unsaid / that rips the wound open

Silence is a recurrent theme. Rita Gabbai-Simantov, a Sephardic-Turkish poet who lives in Greece and writes in Ladino, Judaeo-Spanish, about Thessaloniki old Saloniki and its wiped-out Jewish community (1992): As you walk, your companion / will be silence.

After her visit to Auschwitz, the Lithuanian poet Janina Degutyt recorded in 1966 the enduring silence of the people who were deported from her country and murdered:

Lips gasp for air / The only sound is the rustling of golden leaves, / The rustling flow of time: which was is will be .

Later poetry also gave voices to persecuted groups who were previously unrepresented. In 1995, French writer Andr Sarcq was the first to express the fate of gay men who for decades after the war, in France and elsewhere, could not speak about their experience in concentration camps. This was because homosexuality continued to be outlawed and they felt, in Sarcqs words, like "the rag of a pool of souls.

Poetry of the Holocaust continues to be written in our time. A striking example is the poem by Angela Fritzen, a journalist who has Downs syndrome. Written after visiting an exhibition in Bonn, Germany in 2016, the poem is about the fate of people with disabilities during the Nazi era. To have strength is how Fritzen ends her deeply felt poem.

Holocaust poetry is a rich and diverse genre that continues to be added to. Both the older and the contemporary poems need readers, because Holocaust poetry is about communication. The poets felt the need to share their pain and it is vital that readers take the chance to empathise with what they have been through. By way of reflecting on the experience of others we recognise what it means to be human.

The translators of the quoted lines of poetry in this article are: Jean Boase-Beier (Saenger, Fritzen, Sarcq), Maria Grazina Slavnas (Degutyt), Marian de Vooght (Pinkhof, Sarcq) and Philip Wilson (Hilarov).

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Holocaust poetry and the reclamation of many identities - The Conversation UK

The darkness that blinds us | Elana Kaminka | The – The Times of Israel

Posted By on January 26, 2020

The mosque they burned is in Beit Safafa, but Beit Safafa was swallowed by Jerusalem long ago. Waze directs me to the Gilo off-ramp and down a narrow, unmarked road. Its dark the street lamps that brighten the streets of Jerusalem dont light the streets here. I follow the robotic voice that distorts the pronunciation of the street names, no longer Begin and Dov Yosef, but Al-Butma and A-Zeitun.

The streets are dark, but the Jews who park their cars on the sidewalks and against the walls of the alleys are easy to spot here in Beit Safafa. They huddle together, pretending that its because of the frigid Jerusalem air and not due to the strangeness of being in an Arab village five minutes from the Malcha Mall. Hagai said 2 Badareen Alley, and look, this is 40 Badareen Alley, so we just have to keep walking. The Jerusalem municipality has neatly labeled the streets with blue signs, the street names printed in Hebrew and Arabic. There it is! someone points at the green neon lights of the minaret peeking over the rooftops. I trail behind them towards a narrow staircase.

A man in a quilted jacket with the logo of a security company welcomes us in. Did the police send a security guard to the mosque, I wonder? But it isnt a police uniform, and he speaks Arabic easily with a group of men on the stairs. A private security guard, I realize, like the ones Jews hire to keep them safe in synagogues in Europe and the US. I step over the threshold and wonder if I should take my shoes off.

Visitors from Tag Meir listen to the mukhtar.

The arched ceilings and walls are blackened with soot and the carpets have melted into the tile floors. Scoot in, scoot in, someone says. There are more people coming. Most of the mosques I have visited are big, touristy affairs. El Aqsa in Jerusalem, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This one is cozy and strikingly similar to a Sephardic synagogue. It feels familiar.

A rabbi speaks This week we remember the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Rabbi Abraham Heschel was Dr. Kings friend and a civil rights activist. When confronted with the violence and hatred directed at the black community in America he said, We are not all guilty, but we are all responsible. We are all responsible here. The crowd murmurs in agreement.

The mukhtar speaks next, his Hebrew fluent and unaccented. The Jews are our friends we dont want trouble here. We know that this is an aberration. Again, the crowd murmurs. There are 150 people here, maybe 200, I think. If this is an aberration, where is everyone else? I look at the blackened bookcases, full of holy books and remember my grandmothers stories of Kristallnacht, of Nazis desecrating the holy Torah.

The mukhtar continues, Our Imam gave a sermon on Friday, calling for calm, telling us that we must all live in peace, Jews, Christians and Muslims. It was inspirational we should translate it to Hebrew, post it on Facebook. I wonder what speeches would be given if Muslims had burned a synagogue, if, unlike this attack, it would have made the news.

Damage caused by the fire.

Has anyone from the municipality been here? someone asks. The mukhtar and the Imam shake their heads sadly. Others speak, decry what happened, and the Imam ends the event with a soulful prayer in Arabic.

The crowd mills around the mosque, slow to leave. An old man wipes the soot off a bookcase. See here, he says, pointing to the words engraved upon it. My mother donated this bookcase, before she died.

The man and his mothers bookcase.

Im sorry, I tell him. Ive been crying since yesterday, when I first heard what happened. I am ashamed. Tears flow down my cheeks as I say this. What can I offer him other than my tears?

This mosque is 800 years old, another man says. It was built here in the time of Saladin.

Im sorry, I am ashamed, I say again. My tears fall to the ground, dotting the soot. My words echo against the blackened walls. There is no more to say. I step out of the mosque into the darkness.

Gadi Gvaryahu, the head of Tag Meir, with a Bet Tsafafa community leader. (Yossi Zamir, Tag Meir)

*The visit described was organized by Tag Meir: Light instead of terror.

After having several life-changing educational experiences in her teens, Elana Kaminka dedicated many years to creating those experiences for others. Originally working in the field of Israel programs, she became fascinated by the field of development and worked for Tevel b'Tzedek, an Israeli NGO that both runs quality volunteer programs and does quality development work in Nepal. She is currently an independent content writer, working on a novel.

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The darkness that blinds us | Elana Kaminka | The - The Times of Israel

Holocaust Remembrance Falters in Europe | William Echikson – The Times of Israel

Posted By on January 26, 2020

Red lights are flashing. As world leaders gather in Jerusalem and Auschwitz to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the camps liberation, Europes report card on Holocaust Remembrance is worrying.

A year ago, the Holocaust Remembrance Project found numerous European Union countries commemorating collaborators and war criminals while minimizing their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews. Revisionism was worst in new Central European members Poland, Hungary and Croatia, and Lithuania.

This years update finds new signs of concern, particularly in Western Europe:

Little progress was observed throughout Central Europe, the site of Nazi killing grounds. The Baltics continue to host commemorations for anti-Soviet resistance fighters who collaborated with the Nazis. Hungary continues to downplay the role of Hungarians in deporting Jews. Croatia, despite taking over the EU presidency, continues to display an unclear attitude towards its wartime Ustasha regime.

Tensions remain in Poland over its law criminalizing suggestions that Poles contributed to the Holocaust. After Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Poland of collaborating with the Nazi regime, President Andrzej Duda rightfully denounced him of rewriting history and downplaying the full significance of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact, which divided Poland. ICovernstead of staying on the moral high ground, however, Duda protested Putins speaking spot at last weeks Jerusalem commemoration by boycotting the event. The Lithuanian President followed his lead, also citing Putins presence.

This troubled landscape around Holocaust remembrance reflects our troubled times. Despite the clear evidence of how prejudice can lead to catastrophe, we ignore its lessons. The post-Cold War liberal world seemed to have put these demons to rest. Jews felt at home, both in my native United States and my adopted Belgium, facing little discrimination or danger. Today, this is no longer the case.

Defenders of our tolerant, multinational ideal must stand up. One sign of light over the past year has been the much-maligned European Union. In declaration after declaration, officials representing its 28 countries have stood up and declared that a Europe without treating Jews as full, patriotic citizens and promoting a flourishing Jewish life will be a betrayal of the European ideal.

In two strong resolutions, Brussels has outlined a series of measures that member governments should take, from appointing a senior official to fight anti-Semitism to ensuring mandatory Holocaust education. As we move forward into a new decade, I plan to study and benchmark Europes performance in living up to these commitments to protect and promote Jewish life.

William Echikson is the director of the Brussels office of the European Union of Progressive Judaism. Before joining the EUPJ, Mr. Echikson worked with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to bring the State of Deception exhibit on Nazi Propaganda to Europe. He also worked for six and a half years at Google running corporate communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He launched the companys Europe blog and led its efforts around data center government affairs and Internet freedom Issues.Mr. Echikson began his career as a foreign correspondent in Europe for a series of US publications including the Christian Science Monitor. Wall Street Journal, Fortune and BusinessWeek. From 2001 until 2007, he served as Brussels Bureau Chief for Dow Jones. Mr. Echikson also has written, directed and produced for television documentaries for BBC and Americas Public Broadcasting Service. He is the author of four books, including works on the collapse of communism in Central Europe and the history of the Bordeaux wine region.An American and Belgian citizen, Mr. Echikson graduated from Yale College with a Magna Cum Laude degree in history.

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Holocaust Remembrance Falters in Europe | William Echikson - The Times of Israel

Netanyahu says he and Trump will make history this week – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 26, 2020

US President Donald Trumps peace plan will advance Israels interests, a confident Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday before boarding a plane to Washington for what he predicted would be a historic meeting with Trump.I am going to Washington to face an American president who is bringing forward a plan that I believe will advance our most vital interests, Netanyahu said. During the last three years I spoke countless times with Trump who is a great friend of Israel and his team, Netanyahu said.During those conversations he discussed Israels vital interests, its security and the issue of justice, Netanyahu said.He recalled the time he had traveled to the US under very different circumstances, to hold a speech in Congress to argue against former US president Barack Obamas Iran deal. It was a plan that he felt endangered Israels very existence.The circumstances have now changed when it comes to Israels future,Netanyahu said.I am meeting with President Trump tomorrow, and on Tuesday, together with him, we will make history, he stated.US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined Netanyahu on his flight.Blue and White leader Benny Gantz will also have a one-on-one meeting with Trump on Monday, and he left for Washington earlier Sunday on a commercial flight with a stopover in Zurich.An invitation had originally been extended to Netanyahu and Gantz to meet together with the president, but Gantz and his advisers opposed the idea for political reasons. The Blue and White leader said on Saturday night that he had now accepted an invitation to meet with Trump alone.The long-delayed Trump peace plan, expected to be extremely generous to Israel, was drawn up by the former special envoy Jason Greenblatt, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Friedman.Some of the expected details of the plan, according to KAN, are that Israel would maintain control of Jerusalems Holy Basin, which includes the Western Wall, while some of the Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem would be part of a future Palestinian state.Israel will be able to annex 30% of the West Bank, including all the settlements in Area C and the entire Jordan Valley, according to KAN. However, Israel will have to evacuate illegal outposts, and give the Palestinians land in exchange for the annexed areas.A demilitarized Palestinian state would be formed on the other 70% of the land. Gaza would also have to be demilitarized. Israel will also have freedom of military action in the Palestinian state.The Blue and White leader will meet with Trump in the White House at 12:00 noon to discuss the details of the plan, which is expected to be released in the coming days. The meeting will be closed to the press but Gantz will give a briefing to the press at his hotel shortly afterwards. He will leave to the airport to fly back to Israel at 15:30 so as to be present during hearings in the Knesset on Netanyahus request for immunity from prosecution.We are in the critical hour of designating the national and security border of the State of Israel, Gantz said in a speech on Saturday night before he headed out to the US capital. That is why I responded to his invitation to meet with him personally as the head of the largest party in Israel.The Blue and White leader, who has heard many of the details of Trumps plan, said it could be a significant milestone in defining a path to resolving the IsraelPalestinian conflict, but also that the presidents plan could be the basis of an agreed-upon accord with the Palestinians and regional states, a possible acknowledgment of the deep hostility of the Palestinians to the proposals.Accompanying Gantz on his trip is Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, a former Israel Air Force commander who has been serving over recent months in an advisory capacity to the Blue and White leader on the American peace plan, and as a liaison to the American government on his behalf.Gantz is also taking Yoram Turbowitz, a member of Blue and Whites strategic team, as well as by Maayan Cohen Israeli, his chief of staff.Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Blue and White MK Chili Tropper said it appeared there were some good aspects of the peace plan for Israel, but demurred from commenting on it until the details are fully released.Asked if Blue and White can agree to a Palestinian state if the Trump plan calls for it, Tropper said the party was first and foremost concerned with the security of Israel, and that any further comment must wait until it is clear what kind of entity is envisioned in the forthcoming proposals.Blue and White includes a diverse array of politicians across the political spectrum, although Gantz is the driving force in its decision-making mechanisms, in consultation with the so-called cockpit of Yair Lapid, Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi.The MK also said the fact that the Palestinians have already rejected the plan must be taken into account.You cannot ignore the fact that there have been proposed plans which have been far more generous to the Palestinians which they have also opposed, said Tropper.It is thought that there are contingencies built into the plan in the event that the Palestinians reject it outright, which might include allowing Israel to take unilateral steps, such as annexing settlement blocs or the Jordan Valley.Gantz is wary of using the terminology Palestinian state but sources say he believes some sort of Palestinian entity should be established, with some form of autonomy, as long as Israels security concerns are met.The Blue and White campaign is not unduly worried about the introduction of the Trump peace plan and believes the focus of the elections will swing back quickly to domestic issues, Netanyahus immunity request and the criminal complaints against him.Tovah Lazaroff and Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.-US President Donald Trumps peace plan will advance Israels interests, a confident Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday before boarding a plane to Washington for what he predicted would be a historic meeting with Trump.I am going to Washington to face an American president who isbringing forward a plan that I believe will advance our most vital interests, Netanyahu said.During the last three years I spoke countless times with Trump who is a great friend of Israel and his team, Netanyahu said.

During those conversations he discussed Israels vital interests, its security and the issue of justice, Netanyahu said.

He recalled the time he had traveled to the US under very different circumstances, to hold a speech in Congress to argue against former US president Barack Obamas Iran deal. It was a plan that he felt endangered Israels very existence.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman joined Netanyahu on his flight.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz will also have a one-on-one meeting with Trump on Monday, and he left for Washington earlier Sunday on a commercial flight with a stopover in Zurich.

An invitation had originally been extended to Netanyahu and Gantz to meet together with the president, but Gantz and his advisers opposed the idea for political reasons. The Blue and White leader said on Saturday night that he had now accepted an invitation to meet with Trump alone.

The long-delayed Trump peace plan, expected to be extremely generous to Israel, was drawn up by the former special envoy Jason Greenblatt, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Friedman.

Some of the expected details of the plan, according to KAN, are that Israel would maintain control of Jerusalems Holy Basin, which includes the Western Wall, while some of the Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem would be part of a future Palestinian state.

Israel will be able to annex 30% of the West Bank, including all the settlements in Area C and the entire Jordan Valley, according to KAN. However, Israel will have to evacuate illegal outposts, and give the Palestinians land in exchange for the annexed areas.

A demilitarized Palestinian state would be formed on the other 70% of the land. Gaza would also have to be demilitarized. Israel will also have freedom of military action in the Palestinian state.

Gantz will meet with Trump on Monday morning in the White House to discuss the details of the plan, which is expected to be released in the coming days, although the meeting will be closed to the press.

Following his meeting with Trump, Gantz will fly back to Israel immediately so as to be present during hearings in the Knesset on Netanyahus request for immunity from prosecution.

We are in the critical hour of designating the national and security border of the State of Israel, Gantz said in a speech on Saturday night before he headed out to the US capital. That is why I responded to his invitation to meet with him personally as the head of the largest party in Israel.

The Blue and White leader, who has heard many of the details of Trumps plan, said it could be a significant milestone in defining a path to resolving the IsraelPalestinian conflict, but also that the presidents plan could be the basis of an agreed-upon accord with the Palestinians and regional states, a possible acknowledgment of the deep hostility of the Palestinians to the proposals.

Accompanying Gantz on his trip is Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel, a former Israel Air Force commander who has been serving over recent months in an advisory capacity to the Blue and White leader on the American peace plan, and as a liaison to the American government on his behalf.

Gantz is also taking Yoram Turbowitz, a member of Blue and Whites strategic team, as well as by Maayan Cohen Israeli, his chief of staff.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Blue and White MK Chili Tropper said it appeared there were some good aspects of the peace plan for Israel, but demurred from commenting on it until the details are fully released.

Asked if Blue and White can agree to a Palestinian state if the Trump plan calls for it, Tropper said the party was first and foremost concerned with the security of Israel, and that any further comment must wait until it is clear what kind of entity is envisioned in the forthcoming proposals.

Blue and White includes a diverse array of politicians across the political spectrum, although Gantz is the driving force in its decision-making mechanisms, in consultation with the so-called cockpit of Yair Lapid, Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi.

The MK also said the fact that the Palestinians have already rejected the plan must be taken into account.

You cannot ignore the fact that there have been proposed plans which have been far more generous to the Palestinians which they have also opposed, said Tropper.

It is thought that there are contingencies built into the plan in the event that the Palestinians reject it outright, which might include allowing Israel to take unilateral steps, such as annexing settlement blocs or the Jordan Valley.

Gantz is wary of using the terminology Palestinian state but sources say he believes some sort of Palestinian entity should be established, with some form of autonomy, as long as Israels security concerns are met.

The Blue and White campaign is not unduly worried about the introduction of the Trump peace plan and believes the focus of the elections will swing back quickly to domestic issues, Netanyahus immunity request and the criminal complaints against him.

Tovah Lazaroff and Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.

More:

Netanyahu says he and Trump will make history this week - The Jerusalem Post

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.

Read more here:
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 – ebroadsheet.com

Posted By on January 25, 2020

Letters

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!!!

Read the original post:
The BroadsheetDAILY ~ News of Lower Manhattan ~ 1/24/20 - ebroadsheet.com

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.

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


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