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Poll: Bennett, Shaked and Smotrich are the hope of the right – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on January 13, 2020

A poll conducted by the Direct Polls institute on Sunday revealed the distribution of voting among the religious Zionist public, if elections were held today.

According to the data, 53.59% of the religious Zionist public would vote for the New Right led by Naftali Bennett in an alliance with the National Union led by Bezalel Smotrich, and only 17.49% would vote for the Jewish Home in its alliance with Otzma Yehudit.

9.87% of religious Zionists members would vote for the Likud, 0.67% would vote for Agudat Israel and 0.45% for Shas.

No less than 14.13% of the voters are undecided, an equivalent of an estimated one and a half Knesset seats.

In the case of a joint run in the format of the September elections (Yamina) and this time together with Itamar Ben Gvir, the latter could add to this list a little less than one Knesset seat, i.e. only 7.5% of religious Zionists.

The institute said that "the data show a decisive trend, following the agreement between Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Itamar Ben Gvir - an agreement that pushed Bezalel Smotrich into an alliance with Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked - of a major abandonment of the remaining Jewish Home voters towards the New Right-National Union. This data is likely to have a dramatic effect.

The poll was conducted Sunday afternoon, among 471 respondents who defined themselves as belonging to religious Zionism across all levels.

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Poll: Bennett, Shaked and Smotrich are the hope of the right - Arutz Sheva

Will Labor-Gesher union bring about unity between the Religious Zionist parties? – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on January 13, 2020

Itamar Ben Gvir, Rafi Peretz, Bezalel Smotrich, Ayelet Shaked, and Naftali Bennett


A senior Likud official on Monday urged the smaller right-wing parties to follow the lead of the left's Labor-Gesher and Meretz parties and sign an agreement for a joint run.

"This is the time for the right to unite," he said. "[Defense Minister] Naftali Bennett (New Right) must put his ego aside and unite all of the right-wing parties in order to avoid the loss of Knesset seats for a third time. We believe that responsibility should be stronger than personal considerations."

Another right-wing source told Maariv that "the union on the left certainly influences the right, and advances negotiations for a joint list."

Otzma Yehudit Chairman Itamar Ben Gvir said, "While the left-wing parties are joining with each other in order to maximize the votes and bring about a victory, with us on the right the games and arguments continue. We call on all the ideological right-wing parties to gather together to agree on a joint run including all of the right-wing parties. Enough time has been wasted, now is the time to immediately reach an agreement."

Earlier, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (National Union) called for the formation of a joint right-wing list of all the smaller right-wing parties, ostensibly including Otzma Yehudit, the Jewish Home, National Union, and the New Right.

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Will Labor-Gesher union bring about unity between the Religious Zionist parties? - Arutz Sheva

Liberman: ‘We’ll support the appointment of a Religious Zionist to role of Chief Rabbi’ – Arutz Sheva

Posted By on January 13, 2020

Avigdor Liberman

Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beytenu party, on Saturday night said his party will support the appointment of Religious Zionist rabbis.

"We need a serious reform in the entire issue of religion and state. We need to make a change there. The deal that we see right now is immunity in exchange for religious coercion," he told Israel's "Meet the Press" program.

"I have no problem with religious people and haredim. I have a problem with their representatives in the State. We need to return the Chief Rabbinate to being a government job. We will support new elections for the position of Chief Rabbi, and we will support Religious Zionist rabbis: Haim Amsalem, Rabbi Stav - and we will demand this in coalition negotiations."

Regarding the issue of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's request for parliamentary immunity, Liberman said he expects Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) to allow the proper Knesset committee to discuss the matter.

If the committee approves the request, it will be brought before the full Knesset for a vote.

"I appreciate the Knesset Speaker, but with him or without him, we will form the Knesset committee. The Knesset Speaker has a government job, not a party job, and therefore I expect Yuli [Edelstein] to act with statesmanship. I'm not working to get rid of him, but the opposite. I want to form a Knesset committee, not get rid of him, and I hope it won't come to that."

The New Right party responded: "We thought that we would have an evening without Evet's remarks, but it turns out that this evening as well, Evet is busy with his chitchat. Unlike Defense Minister [Naftali] Bennett - who is busy with action."

Avigdor Liberman was born Evet Liberman. He changed his name to the Hebrew Avigdor after immigrating to Israel in 1978. In recent months, politicians angry with Liberman have begun referring to him as Evet.

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Liberman: 'We'll support the appointment of a Religious Zionist to role of Chief Rabbi' - Arutz Sheva

Joseph and Herzl seeking their brethren – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on January 13, 2020

Two mystery men, one who encountered Joseph and another who encountered Herzl, lead them to their brethren and altered the course Jewish evolution. The first finds Joseph while lost in the fields around Shechem (todays Nablus): And the man asked him, saying: What seekest thou? Joseph tells the man that he seeks his brethren, and the man directs him to them. This brief conversation triggered a sequence of events that changed the faith of a nation: Joseph finds his brothers, they incarcerate him in a ditch, he is fetched by traveling merchants, sold to Egypt as a slave, rises up the ranks to deputy king and then invites his family to descend to Egypt to survive the famine. That family-turned-nation stays in Egypt until Moses emancipates them, and in doing so, instilling the Torah and setting the core principles of Judaism.The other mystery man appears in the Jewish ethos about 3,500 years later in somewhat similar circumstances. Theodor Herzl, in the summer of 1895, is lost in his thoughts. Infatuated with the Zionist idea that was bestowed upon him, Herzl departs Paris and heads to the Austrian lakes for summer vacation with his family and fellow Jews. This rural area has been transformed around that time into a prime summer vacation destination for upscale Jews and other intellectuals from Vienna as well as from other European metropolises (akin to todays Hamptons). Herzl notices how Jews expand their lakeside properties, purchase more and more land from the locals and build hotels to welcome more Jews in. The Jews were complacent. The hypnotizing view of the lake made the idea of the Palestine wilderness utterly ridiculous. The occasional antisemitic slur, such as the one heard by the lake in the week Herzl arrived from Paris, generates some good chatting over beer in Schuneiderwirt Gasthaus, but not much more than that. In conversation after conversation, in beer after beer, Herzls despairs increase: A Viennese lawyer tells Herzl that the frustration is not against the Jews but merely against the liberals, and that the government will protect the Jews from antisemitism. Two doctors from Budapest explain to Herzl that the Hungarians actually look favorably at the massive land purchase by Jews. A doctor from Berlin shares with Herzl that he is certain that baptizing himself will save his children, not realizing that all it would do, as Herzl notes, is change the slur that was heard by the lake a few days prior from Jewish pig to baptized pig.Herzl sees how deeply those liberal cosmopolitan Jews are enslaved to their own delusion. The Jews refuse to be saved, and are due to utterly reject his grandiose idea. Herzl recognizes he is alone. Wandering in the field of his despair, he seems to be on the verge of giving up. And it is right there, like Joseph before him, that Herzl encounters a mystery man on the banks of the lake a fisherman who tells Herzl: The most remarkable thing is a man who never gives up.Those simple words of encouragement seem to have provided Herzl with the boost he needed. Within six months, he publishes The Jewish State a book that would change both Herzl and Judaism. Herzl noted that the one man who appeared in his mind on the day of publication while he was staring at those 500 fresh copies of The Jewish State was, indeed, that fisherman from the lake.LIKE JOSEPHS angel, Herzls fisherman triggered a sequence of events that eventually led to the establishment of the Jewish state. Right there at those two intersections of Jewish history, an angel arose who helped navigate the path toward Judaism 1.0 (Mosess Judaism), and to Judaism 3.0 (Herzls Zionism).Joseph epitomizes the fishermans axion that the most remarkable thing is when a man does not give up. Joseph persistently sought his brethren. Yet, they never accepted him not when he was expressing his dreamy vision as a teenager, nor decades later while in Egypt. This is in spite of everything that Joseph did for his brethren: saving them from famine; giving them prime Egyptian real estate; exempting them from the state-wide re-domiciling edict; providing them government jobs (as indicated by Pharaohs offer); and arranging for a grandiose state funeral for Jacob, even including embalming. As Parashat Vayeshev and the Book of Genesis conclude, we learn that in spite of all this, the brothers continued their rejection of Josephs courting. And when Josephs brethren saw that their father was dead, they said: It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully requite us all the evil which we did unto him. Offering themselves as slaves to Joseph to save their lives from the threat that did not exist, Joseph could only do one thing: And Joseph wept when they spoke unto him.Josephs weeping would continue long past his death, as his brothers descendants continued to reject his. This would lead to civil war, and eventually result in the disappearance of Josephs tribes. Joseph was an outsider, and tragically stayed on the outside in perpetuity.Like Joseph, Herzl, too, was an outsider. He as well had only filtered exposure to his brethren growing up, and he, too, engaged in dreamy visions for them that they utterly rejected. He, too, was critical of his brethren, and even shared his dreamy indictment of them through his play The New Ghetto. They rejected him, but Herzl, like Joseph, listened to the advice of his angel and did something remarkable; he never gave up and he continued to seek his brethren.Herzl, just like Joseph, was 37 when he began the process to revive the spirit of Israel. Herzl was welcomed with cheers in the First Zionist Congress in Basel, where he declared: We are one nation. And yet, just like with Joseph, this did not translate into broad unconditional acceptance. Sadly, by the time of his death in 1904, less than 1% of the Jews joined Herzls Zionist movement. Many remained staunch anti-Zionists.Yet, unlike Joseph, Herzls acceptance spread to the vast majority of the Jewish nation shortly after his death, so much so that his vision, Zionism, has turned into a primary vehicle by which Jews connect to Judaism and the prism by which the outside world relates to the Jews. In Zionism, Herzl implanted a bedrock ideology in which the Jewish state is rooted. Herzl himself remains a symbol of unity the national Independence Day ceremony of the state he dreamed takes place by his grave in Jerusalem.Yet, there are still Jewish brethren who fail to respond to Herzls cry. The angel near Shechem and the fisherman at Altaussee those good people in the middle of the Jewish road remind us of a core Jewish principle: Never give up in the search for our brethren. The writer researches Herzl and analyzes trends in Zionism, Europe and global affairs. He is a board member of the America-Israel Friendship League and chairman of the AIFL think tank. For more of his analysis visit: For more parasha and Herzl articles visit:

Joseph and Herzl seeking their brethren - The Jerusalem Post

Israel Must Call More Attention to Hizballah’s Failure to Comply with the 2006 Cease-Fire – Mosaic

Posted By on January 13, 2020

At the end of the five-week war in 2006 between Israel and Hizballah, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1701 with the aim of keeping both parties out of southern Lebanon; the resolution also created a peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, to enforce its terms. As required, in November the United Nations published one of its periodic reports on the situation in southern Lebanon; it was unusually frank about the extent to which Hizballah, with the cooperation of the Lebanese military and government, has been violating the resolutions terms. Yet the report depicts only the tip of the iceberg, as Assaf Orion writes:

[T]he campaign of harassment of UN forces in southern Lebanon, two incidents of anti-tank-missile launches, the excavation of attack tunnels into Israeli territory that have been in existence for more than a decade, dozens of rocket incidents, four arms depots that exploded, and almost ten explosive-device attacks against UNIFIL and the IDF demonstrate the diversity and abundance of Hizballahs military presence in southern Lebanon, and its ability to employ it at will. Contrary to the reports claims, . . . it is blatantly clear that the Lebanese army does nothing against Hizballahs massive military deployment in southern Lebanon, and subsequently UNIFIL is unable to help it do so.

In response, Orion argues that Jerusalem should do everything it can to document the violations of Resolution 1701 and bring the evidence to the attention of sympathetic governments:

Israel should encourage its Western partners to review their policy toward Lebanon. . . . The economic-political crisis in Lebanon reinforces the states dependence on external aid, which can be made conditional on significant progress not only in areas that top the international agendareforms, combating corruption, improved governance, and political-economic stabilitybut also [compliance with Resolution 1701]. The economic crisis likewise reinforces the value to Lebanon of a possible agreement regarding Mediterranean gas, which could be the first step toward a gradual economic-security settlement [with Israel].

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Second Lebanon War, United Nations

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Israel Must Call More Attention to Hizballah's Failure to Comply with the 2006 Cease-Fire - Mosaic

5-time public masturbator charged with exposing himself on steps of NW Portland synagogue – OregonLive

Posted By on January 13, 2020

A man convicted five times of exposing himself in public was arraigned Wednesday on another charge of public indecency for allegedly masturbating on the steps of a Northwest Portland synagogue.

Authorities say they received a call that Alan Bruce Robinson, 48, had pulled down his pants at Congregation Beth Israel on Tuesday afternoon while children were attending an afterschool program at a charter school on the property near Northwest 19th Avenue between Flanders and Glisan streets.

Alan Bruce Robinson, 48, was arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 under allegations of public indecency. (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

A probable cause affidavit offers no indication that children saw Robinson. But the affidavit does say a man walking his dog spotted Robinson, told him to leave, then told someone at the charter school and that person called police.

Robinson had been convicted of public indecency in 1994, 2001, 2012, 2015 and 2018.

Robinson was sentenced to about two years in prison in 2015, after a woman reported she was walking with her baby through Farragut Park in North Portland when she saw Robinson masturbating. He received an identical sentence in 2018 for doing the same on the lawn in front of De La Salle High School in North Portland.

He is homeless and lists his address as the Portland Rescue Mission on the west side of the Burnside Bridge. He is required to register as a sex offender and last reported his address to authorities as under the St. Johns Bridge.

Robinson told jailers that he lives off Social Security disability and has mental health problems, but didnt specify a diagnosis.

-- Aimee Green


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5-time public masturbator charged with exposing himself on steps of NW Portland synagogue - OregonLive

Monsey Rabbi Stabbing Survivor Gives Invocation At NY State Of The State Address – Jewish Week

Posted By on January 13, 2020

NEW YORK (JTA) Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, whose home was the site of astabbing last month on the holiday of Hanukkah,delivered an invocation at Governor Andrew Cuomos State of the State address.

Joseph Gluck, the man who stopped the attackerby throwing a coffee table at his head, was also in attendance and received a standing ovation.

The attacker injured five people at Rottenbergs home in Monsey, New York, on Dec. 28, including the rabbis son. One of those wounded, Joseph Neumann, remains in critical condition.

May it be your will that we all join together in the struggle to see divine dignity in all of humanity, Rottenberg said Wednesday, ahead of the governors annual address in Albany. Father in heaven, bless and heal us. I will never forget the horror of that night. But I will also never forget how we continued to celebrate after the attack, how we continued to rejoice in the miracle of Hanukkah. I will never forget the resilience on display that night and in the following days, the resilience of Jewish people and the resilience of New York.

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Rottenberg also advocated for protection of the Hasidic way of life. In particular, he spoke out on behalf of Hasidic private schools, which may be forced to devote more hours to secular subjects like math, science and English pending aproposalnow under consideration by the state Department of Education. The proposal has met intense resistance from Hasidic leaders.

We pray that divine providence should continue protecting us from evil forces who are out to harm us physically or from those who are out to attack our Hasidic traditional way of life and system of education, he said.

Later, referring to Cuomo, he added, Help him promote and instill the values of tolerance and appreciation among all our neighborhoods and communities who may look different, talk in a different language or raise and educate their children according to their unique ancestral traditions.

Cuomo condemned anti-Semitism near the beginning of the speech and praised Gluck, calling him the definition of New York bravery. Near the end of the speech, he called on New York to end the national rise in anti-Semitism.

There is no place for hate in our state, period, he said. What happened in Monsey is intolerable and we will not allow it to happen in this state.

Cuomo proposed a series of measures to prevent anti-Semitism. Against the backdrop of a photo of the recent march against anti-Semitism, he repeated an earlier call to define hate crime attacks as domestic terrorism, promised to increase the capacity of the New York state police hate crimes task force, and provide additional funding for security to schools and houses of worship.

He also called for adding classes about bigotry and religious freedom to the educational curriculum. He recounted George Washingtons letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, in which he wrote that Jews would be able to practice their religion freely in America, and he called for clergy to preach against hate crimes.

Cuomo also proposed an expansion of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Holocaust museum in Lower Manhattan, and called for schools across the state to visit the museum.

Lets make sure our schools are teaching our young children, who are frighteningly involved in so many of these incidents, lets teach them what America truly stands for, he said. I want our schools to add to their curriculum a lesson that teaches our young people our civic values and our history on diversity, and that a fundamental premise of this nation is religious freedom.

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Monsey Rabbi Stabbing Survivor Gives Invocation At NY State Of The State Address - Jewish Week

Poland Urged to Look for Nazi-Looted Art Still Held in Its Museums – The New York Times

Posted By on January 13, 2020

The systemic looting of Poland by the Nazis during World War II still resonates today in that country, where officials continue to seek the return of more than 63,000 works of art and cultural properties, many of which were stolen from Jews there.

But experts say Poland has done a poor job of providing the same justice to Dutch Jews and others whose art works were stolen during the war and ended up in German-occupied Poland and now are part of official museum collections.

Seven Dutch works that researchers have identified as missing are held by one museum in Gdansk. Scholars say they suspect dozens more are in art institutions in other Polish cities where the Nazis stored cultural artifacts they had looted, or bought under dubious circumstances, from the Netherlands.

The Polish government wants to have as much as possible back, said Kamil Zeidler, a law professor at the University of Gdansk who has studied the issue, but they dont want to give anything back to others.

For example, according to a report prepared in 2018 but never publicly released, 81 works seized in the Netherlands by the Nazis or their agents most likely ended up in occupied Poland. The report, by the Origins Unknown Agency, a Dutch organization that investigates cases of looted art, was commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. But the Polish museums and authorities have not done much to track the works, the researchers said.

There is no commitment at a museum level, or at a national level, or at a political level to return these works that are in the country, said Anne Webber, the founder and co-chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, a London-based nonprofit that helps to foster restitutions.

Recent work by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted, a senior research associate at Harvard Universitys Ukrainian Research Institute, has traced two works now housed at the National Museum in Gdansk back to Dutch owners who lost them in the war.

One is Jan van Goyens 1638 painting Huts on a Canal, which portrays a farmer and his pigs crossing a rickety bridge near thatch-roofed houses. It hung in the Amsterdam gallery of the Dutch Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker in May 1940, when he died trying to flee the Nazi invasion, she said. It has been in the Gdansk National Museum for decades.

Poland still lacks a viable procedure for processing restitution claims from Holocaust victims both within the country and from abroad, Ms. Grimsted wrote in an article to be published in the International Journal of Cultural Property.

In response to questions from The New York Times, curators at the Gdansk museum acknowledged that six other paintings in their collections are also identified on the Origins Unknown Agencys list of missing Dutch works thought to be in Poland.

In addition to the van Goyen, the art includes paintings attributed to Pieter de Hooch and Ferdinand Bol. One of the works, by Jacob van Ruysdael, was taken from a Jewish publisher in Berlin, German researchers found, and ended up in the hands of Dutch art dealers who appear to have sold it to the museum in Gdansk.

Willi Drost, the director of the Gdansk art museum during the war, was an avid buyer of Dutch old master paintings, according to the Origins Unknown Agency report.

Magda Mielnik, curator of the historical art department at the Gdansk museum, said she and her colleagues are working to document the history and provenance of the collection with a plan to publish a book about all the works next year. The paintings looted from the Netherlands are an important part of our research, she said.

Frank Lord, a New York-based lawyer for the Goudstikker heirs, said the family believes two works in the museum are from the Dutch art dealers collection. He declined to discuss any plans to seek their return.

The Polish Culture Ministry, which has actively sought the return of art the Nazis looted from Poland, suggested the criticism is unfair. So far, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has not received any restitution claims from the Dutch government regarding works of art plundered during World War II from the Netherlands and located in Polish museums, the ministry said in a statement.

The Polish government, the statement said, only responds to claims that are placed before it through an official government procedure on the basis of international law. Individual claimants, it noted, could also pursue restitution through the courts.

The Dutch Ministry of Culture said restitution claims should be filed by individuals, not the state. Should a Dutch citizen need help from the Dutch state, they will receive the required support said Martijn Kamans, a ministry spokesman, in an email.

Dutch museums have also confronted criticism that they have not done enough to return works of art to owners who lost them during World War II.

As frustrating as Polish efforts have been to outside researchers, inside the country there is a broad sense that people beyond Polands borders need to recognize the scale of the losses in that country, where millions died and some 500,000 cultural objects went missing during the war.

We have to stress and we need to mention that Poland as a country was a victim and probably was the biggest victim of the Second World War concerning the looting of cultural property, said Professor Zeidler.

At conferences on the restitution of art looted during the Holocaust, an adviser to the State Department, Stuart E. Eizenstat, has identified Poland as one of several countries that have failed to live up to the 1998 Washington Principles, which set requirements for international cooperation in returning plundered art.

Mr. Eizenstat said in an interview last month that he considered it urgent that the Polish and Dutch authorities form a joint working group to try to identify and return the dozens of artworks that have already been tracked to Poland. But more broadly, he said, it would help if Poland undertook a thoroughgoing provenance research project to determine whether or not they are holding other Nazi-looted art, not that they took, but that migrated to Poland in one way or another.

Just as important, he added, is that other countries access the Polish database of its war losses to ensure the return of any of those objects taken from within Polands World War II borders.

The database created by Dutch researchers lists some 15,000 works still missing from the Netherlands, though experts call that a partial count.

During the war, Dutch Jewish families were required to relinquish all property to a formerly Jewish bank, Lippmann, Rosenthal and Co., which the Germans Aryanized and looted. Artworks from Jewish-owned galleries were purchased at cut-rate prices by Nazi art agents, and often sold to top Nazi officials.

Some of this art was later sold through dealers or auction houses in Poland under the control of the German Reich. The Germans used the Polish museums as depositories for looted art, explained Ms. Webber.

Ms. Grimsted said a group of paintings from the Netherlands ended up in Gdansk through Albert Forster, the Nazi governor who targeted Jews and other Poles for death while promoting Nazi art preferences in the local museum, which became a gathering point for Nazi-looted works of art.

After the war, the territory was returned to Poland, though some of the Dutch art was probably carted off to the Soviet Union by the Red Army, as were many museum records.

Ms. Mielnick said in an interview that the museum is making an earnest effort to identify and return paintings but that the process is difficult. It is worth remembering, she said, that many documents are nonexistent or in many different institutions, sometimes like puzzles that you need to put together.

Piotr Michaowski, the curator of the gallery of European Art at the Polish National Museum in Poznan, said in an interview that in 1945, almost all the museums records were destroyed, either burned during fighting between German and Soviet forces or taken to Russia.

We have no inventory books and no other records connected with collections and everything that happened with the Second World War here, he said.

Mr. Michaowski said that the museum has not yet conducted provenance research of its collection, but is planning to do so in the next couple of years. He said he knew of eight paintings that had been purchased by the museum in 1942 at the Dorotheum auction house in Vienna, two of them by Dutch masters, and one with a label from the Goudstikker Gallery. He also found a painting the museum had purchased in 1942 from the Galerie Gurlitt in Berlin, owned at the time by Hildebrand Gurlitt, a dealer the Nazis had assigned to sell art seized from museums and Jews.

Although these works have a dubious provenance, more research is needed to determine whether they were looted from Jews in the Netherlands.

Gideon Taylor, chair of operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization, an advocacy group based in New York, said Poland should take two steps to catch up with international restitution standards.

The first step is transparency: to make publicly available information about what artworks it holds so that families can know that these works still exist, said Mr. Taylor. The second is to set up a process to deal with claims to return those works to those families. So far, we havent seen any progress from Poland on either of those two steps.

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Poland Urged to Look for Nazi-Looted Art Still Held in Its Museums - The New York Times

‘We are living by the sword’: The regrets of an Israel founder’s son – Middle East Eye

Posted By on January 13, 2020

In wide-ranging interview, Yaakov Sharett, the son of one of Israel's founding fathers, says he regrets settling the Negev in the 1940s - and the entire Zionist project

My name is Yaakov Sharett. I am 92 years old. I happen to be my fathers son for which I am not responsible. So this is how it is.

Yaakov chuckles and looks up from under a woolly hat towards a photograph of his father - proud in collar and tie - on his study wall in Tel Aviv. Moshe Sharett was a founding father of Israel, its first foreign minister and its second prime minister from 1954-55.

But I hadnt come to talk about Yaakovs father. I had come with photographs of a well which was once located in an Arab village called Abu Yahiya, situated in the Negev region in what is now southern Israel.

'I happen to be my fathers son for which I am not responsible. So this is how it is'

- Yaakov Sharett

Researching a book, I had recently found the well and learned something of the history of Abu Yahiya village. I had heard how the Palestinians who once lived there were expelled in the war of 1948, which led to the creation of Israel.

I had also heard that Zionist frontiersmen, who set up an outpost near the village before the 1948 war, used to draw water from the Arabs well. Among them was a young Jewish soldier called Yaakov Sharett. So I had come to see Yaakov in the hope he might share his memories of the well, the villagers and the events of 1948.

In 1946, two years before the Arab-Israeli war, Yaakov and a group of comradesmoved to the area of Abu Yahiya to help spearhead one of the Zionists most breathtaking land grabs.

As a young soldier, Sharett was appointed mukhtar or chief - of one of 11 Jewish outposts established by stealth in the Negev. The purpose was to secure a Jewish foothold to ensure Israel could seize the strategic area when war came.

Draft partition plans had designated the Negev, where Arabs vastly outnumbered Jews, as part of an Arab state, but Jewish strategists were determined to take it as theirs.

The so-called 11 points operation was a huge success, and during the war the Arabs were virtually all driven out, and the Negev was declared part of Israel.

For the daring frontiersmen involved, it was a badge of honour to have taken part and Yaakov Sharett seemed excited by his memories at first.

We set off, with wire and posts and tracked through Wadi Beersheva, he says. I flick open a laptop showing photographs of the Arab well, now an Israeli tourist spot.

Yes, says Yaakov, amazed. I know it. I knew Abu Yahiya. A nice man. A tall, lean Bedouin with a sympathetic face. He sold me water. It was delicious.

What happened to the villagers, I wonder? He pauses. When war came, the Arabs fled - expelled. I somehow dont remember, he says, pausing again.

I returned afterwards and the area was quite empty. Empty! Except, and he peers at the photo of the well again.

You know, this nice man was somehow still there afterwards. He asked for my help. He was in a very bad way - very sick, and barely able to walk, all alone. Everyone else was gone.

But Yaakov offered no help. I said nothing. I feel very bad about it. Because he was my friend, he says.

Yaakov looks up clearly pained. I regret it all very much. What can I say?

And as what was to be our short interview ran on, it became clear that Yaakov Sharett regretted not only the Negev venture, but the entire Zionist project as well.

Panning out across the history, Yaakov seemed at times more like a man confessing than giving an interview.

After the 1948 war and the establishment of Israel, Yaakov studied Russian in the US and was then posted as a diplomat to the Israeli embassy in Moscow, only to be expelled from Russia accused of being a Zionist propagandistand a CIA spy.

On return to Israel, he worked as a journalist and on retirement devoted his later years to establishing the Moshe Sharett Heritage Society, dedicated to publishing Sharett's papers and diaries one section in English. The Sharett diaries have been highly acclaimed, described by one critic as among the best political diaries ever published.

Often referring in our interview to his fathers central role in establishing Israel, Yaakovs thoughts had evidently been brought into focus by the years hed spent editing Moshe Sharetts writings. Haaretz, the centre-left Israeli newspaper, commenting on the eight-volume Hebrew edition of the diaries, said it was difficult to overstate their importance to the study of Israeli history.

This week, publication of the abridged English edition, also translated by Yaakov My Struggle for Peace (1953-1956) - will be celebrated at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. It is the apex of my lifes work, says Yaakov.

Often referring in our interview to his fathers central role in establishing Israel, Yaakovs thoughts had evidently been brought into focus by the years hed spent editing Moshe Sharetts writings - or my lifes work, he says.

This work had also made the pain of his conclusions all the deeper as he now disavowed the validity of much of his fathers lifes work and, I learn, his grandfathers too.

His grandfather, Jacob Shertok - the original family name - was one of the first Zionists to set foot in Palestine, leaving his home in Kherson, Ukraine, in 1882 after Russian pogroms.

He had this dream of tilling the land. The big Zionist idea was going back to the land and leaving the superficial activities of Jews who had become remote from land, he says.

They thought that, little by little, more Jews would immigrate until they became a majority, and could demand a state, which they then called a homeland to avoid controversy.

I wonder what Yaakovs grandfather thought would happen to the Arabs, who then comprised about 97 percent of the population, with Jews around 2 to 3 percent.

I think he thought the more Jews that came, the more theyd bring prosperity and the Arabs would be happy. They didnt realise people dont live only on money. We would have to be the dominant power, but the Arabs would get used to it, he says.

Adding with a wistful smile: Well, either they believed it or they wanted to believe it. My grandfathers generation were dreamers. If they had been realists, they would not have come to Palestine in the first place. It was never possible for a minority to replace a majority that had lived on this land for hundreds of years. It could never work, he says.

Four years later, Jacobwished he hadnt come, returning to Russia, not because of Palestinian hostility - Jewish numbers were still tiny - but because he couldnt make a living here.

Many of the very early settlers in Palestine found working on the land far harder than they had ever imagined, often returning to Russia in despair. But in 1902, after more pogroms, Jacob Sharett returned, this time with a family including Moshe, aged eight.

Palestinians were still - for the most part - welcoming to Jews as the threat of Zionism remained unclear. A member of the prosperous Husseini family, who was headed abroad, even offered Yaakovs grandfather his house to rent in the village of Ein Siniya, now in the occupied West Bank.

For two years, grandfather Shertok lived there like an Arab grandee while his children attended a Palestinian kindergarten. My father herded sheep, learned Arabic and generally lived like an Arab, says Yaakov.

But the Zionist plan was to live like Jews so before long, the family had moved to the fast-growing Jewish hub of Tel Aviv and Moshe was soon honing every skill - including studying Ottoman law in Istanbul - in order to further the Zionist project.

Thanks to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine and ushered in British colonial rule, plans for a full-blown Jewish state now seemed possible, and over the next two decades, Moshe Sharett helped design it, becoming a key figure in the Jewish Agency, the states government-in-waiting.

Central to the project was the creation of a Jewish majority and ownership of as much of the land as possible, to which end Sharett worked closely with his ally David Ben-Gurion. Immigration rose fast, and land was bought, usually from absentee Arab landlords.

'My father and the rest still thought that most Arabs would sell their national honour for the food we would give them'

- Yaakov Sharett

The pace of change provoked the Palestinian revolt of 1936, brutally crushed by the British. In the light of that revolt, did the future prime minister ever question whether the Jewish state could work?

No, says Yaakov. The leadership were still full of justifying their ideas of Zionism. You must remember that they all thought in terms of being Jewish and how they had been subjugated by majorities in the countries in which they had lived.

My father said this: Wherever there is a minority, every member has a stick and rucksack in his cupboard'. Psychologically, he realises a bad day will come and he will have to leave. So the priority was always to create a majority and shake off the psychology of the minority for ever.

My father and the rest still thought that most Arabs would sell their national honour for the food we would give them. It was a nice dream, but at the cost of others. And anyone who did not agree was a traitor.

As a young teenager, in the early 1940s, Yaakov didnt question his fathers outlook. Quite the contrary.

I must say, he continues, when I was in the Zionist Youth Movement, we went around the Arab villages on foot and you saw an Arab village and learned its Hebrew name as in the Bible and you felt the time has not divided between you and it. I have never been religious, but this is what you felt.

By 1939, World War Two had broken out and many young Israelis had joined the Jewish Brigade of the British Army, serving in Europe. The Jewish Brigade was an idea of Yaakovs father, and as soon as he was old enough, Yaakov volunteered, joining up in 1944, aged 17. But a few months later in April 1945 the war was over and Yaakov was too late to see any service.

Back in Palestine, those young Jewish soldierswho had served in Europewere amongst those now being recruited to fight in what many knew was coming next: a new war in Palestine to establish a state of Israel.Yaakov - who had clearly not yet started to see that Zionism was at the cost of others - readily agreed to play his part.

Now aged 19, Yaakov was picked to play the role of a Jewish mukhtar, or village head, at a quasi-military outpost in the Negev, a barren terrain barely settled by Jews.

I didnt think a lot about politics back then. To build this settlement was literally our dream, he says.

His wife, Rena, has joined us, perching on a stool, and nods in agreement. Rena Sharett was another eager Zionist who claimed the Negev in 1946.

Before 1948, the Negev constituted the British administrative district of Beersheva and the district of Gaza, which together made up half the land of Palestine. Touching the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, the terrain had vital access to water.

So not surprisingly, the Zionists, who had to date succeeded in purchasing just 6 percent of Palestinian land, were determined to seize it.

However, given that about 250,000 Arabs lived in the Negev, in 247 villages, compared to about 500 Jews in three small outposts, a recent Anglo-American partition plan had divided mandate Palestine between Jews and Arabs, apportioning the Negev region as part of a future Palestinian state.

A British ban on new settlement had also hindered Zionist attempts to alter the status quo. Arabs had always opposed any plan that envisaged the Palestinians as an indigenous majority living on their ancestral soil, being converted overnight into a minority under alien rule, as the Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi, summarised it.

In late 1946, however, with a new United Nations partition plan in the making, the Zionist leaders saw it was now or never for the Negev.

So the 11 points plan was launched. Not only would the new settlements boost the Jewish presence there, they would serve as military bases when war broke out, as it inevitably would.

Everything had to be done in secret due to the British ban and it was decided to erect the outposts on the night of 5 October, just after Yom Kippur. The British would never expect the Jews to do such a thing the night after Yom Kippur, says Yaakov.

I remember when we found our piece of land on the top of a barren hill. It was still dark, but we managed to bang in the posts and soon, we were inside our fence. At first light, trucks came with pre-fabricated barracks. It was quite a feat. We worked like devils. Ha! I will never forget it.

'I remember when we found our piece of land on the top of a barren hill. It was still dark, but we managed to bang in the posts and soon, we were inside our fence'

- Yaakov Sharett

Looking out from inside their fence, the settlers at first didnt see any Arabs, but then made out the tents of Abu Yahiyas village, and a few dirty huts, as Yaakov described them.

Soon, they were asking the Arabs for water. I collected our water for our settlement from that well every day in my truck, thats how I became friends with Abu Yahiya, he says.

With his smattering of Arabic, he chatted to others too: They loved to talk. On it went when I had work to do, he laughs. I dont think they were happy with us there exactly, but they were at peace with us. There was no enmity.

Another local Arab chief watched out for their security in return for a small payment. It was a kind of agreement we had with him. Hed act as guard and every month, hed come up to our fence and sit there quite still he looked like just a small bundle of clothes, Yaakov says, smiling broadly.

He was waiting for payment and I shook his hand and got him to sign some sort of receipt with his thumb which I gave to the authorities in Tel Aviv and they gave me money for the next time. That was my only real responsibility as mukhtar, says Yaakov, adding that everyone knew he only got this role as chief because he was his fathers son.

Moshe Sharett, by now a leading political figure, was known as a moderate, and as such was viewed with suspicion by some military hardliners.

The new Negev desert outposts were planned in large part as centres for gathering intelligence about the Arabs, and Yaakov believes it was probably because of his father he too was distrusted and excluded by those sent to the outpost to lay military plans

Instead I was really used just as a jack of all trades - driving, collecting water, buying fuel in Gaza or Beersheba. He sounds nostalgic for the freedom of that arid landscape, though the settlers were always back inside their fence at night.

He came to know other Arab villages, too, like Burayr which was always hostile, I dont know why, but most were friendly, particularly a village called Huj. I used to drive through Huj often and knew it well.

During the 1948 war, the residents of Huj reached an agreement in writing with Jewish authorities that they be allowed to stay, but they were driven out like all the other 247 villages of this area, mostly to Gaza. The Palestinians called the expulsions their Nakba or catastrophe.

I asked Yaacov what he recalled of the Arab exodus in May 1948, but he was absent at the time as Renas brother was killed in fighting further east so the couple had left to join her family.

I told Yaacov Id met survivors of the Abu Yahiya clan, who recounted being driven by Jewish soldiers into Wadi Beersheba where the men were separated from the women and some were shot, then the rest were expelled.

Somehow I dont remember that, says Yaakov. But plumbing his memory, he suddenly recalls other atrocities including events at Burayr, the hostile village, where in May 1948 there was a massacre, with between 70 to100 villagers killed, according to survivors and Palestinian historians.

One of our boys helped take Burayr. I remember he said when he got there the Arabs had already mostly fled and he opened the door of a house and saw an old man there so he shot him.He enjoyed shooting him, he says.

By the time Beersheba was taken in October 1948, Yaakov had returned to his nearby outpost, now given the Hebrew name, Hatzerim.

I learned our boys had led the army to the town, he says. We knew the area very well and could guide them through the wadis [riverbeds].

After Beersheba fell, Yaakov drove his comrades down in a truck to take a look: It was empty, totally empty. The entire population of about 5,000 had been expelled and driven in trucks to Gaza.

I had heard there was a lot of looting. Yes, he says. We took things from several empty houses. We took what we could - furniture, radios, utensils. Not for ourselves, but to help the kibbutz. After all, Beersheva was empty and belonged to nobody now.

What did he think of that? Again, I must confess I didnt think much at all at the time. We were proud of occupying Beersheva. Although I must say, wed had so many friends there before.

Yaakov says he couldnt remember if he had looted himself: I probably did. I was one of them. We were very happy. If you dont take it, someone else will. You dont feel you have to give it back. They were not coming back.

What did you think about that? He pauses. We didnt think about it then. My father, in fact, said they will not come back. My father was a moral man. I dont think he was a party to the orders to expel the Arabs. Ben-Gurion was. Sharett no. But he accepted it as a fact. I think he knew something was going wrong, but he didnt fight it, he says.

After the war my father gave a lecture and said I dont know why a man should live two years secluded in a village [a reference to his time growing up in Ein Siniya] to realise that Arabs are human beings. This kind of saying you wont get from any other Jewish leaderthis was my father.

Then, as if confessing on behalf of his father too, Yaakov adds: But I have to be frank, my father had some cruel things to say about the refugees. He was against their return; he agreed with Ben-Gurion on that.

Far more cruel than Sharett was Moshe Dayan. Appointed after the war as chief of staff by David Ben-Gurion, Israels first prime minister, Dayan had the task of keeping back the Negev refugees and many others fenced in behind the Gaza armistice lines.

In 1956, a Gaza refugee killed an Israeli settler, Roi Rotberg, and at his funeral, Dayan gave a famous eulogy urging Israelis to accept, once and for all, that the Arabs would never live in peace beside them, and he spelled out why: the Arabs had been expelled from their homes which were now lived in by Jews.

But Dayan urged the Jews to respond not by seeking compromise but by looking squarely at the hatred that consumes and fills the lives of Arabs who live around us and be forever ready and armed, tough and hard.

This speech made a profound impression on Yaakov Sharrett. I said this was a fascist speech. He was telling people to live by the sword, he says. Moshe Sharett, who was foreign minister at the time, had been urging compromise through diplomacy for which he was called weak.

But it wasnt until 1967, when he started working as a journalist for the centrist Israeli paper, Maariv, that Yaakov lost his faith in Zionism.

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel seized more land, this time in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, where military occupation was imposed on the Palestinians who hadnt fled this time.

Touring the West Bank, Sharett stared at the stunned but defiant Arab faces and felt uneasy once again, particularly when he visited his old family village of Ein Siniya, which his father, now dead, had spoken of so affectionately. It was here that as a child, Moshe had herded sheep and learned that Arabs were humans, as Moshe Sharett would say in a later speech.

The villagers were under the first shock of occupation. They knew the Jews were now the dominating power, but they showed no feelings of hatred. They were simple people. And I remember that several residents came and surrounded us and smiled and told me they remembered my family and the house in which our family lived. So we smiled at each other and I left. I didnt go back. I didnt like this occupation and I didnt want to go there as a master, he says.

Have you heard of shooting and weeping? he asks, with another wistful smile, explaining this was an expression to describe Israelis who, after fighting in the West Bank in 1967 showed shame, but accepted the results.

'We smiled at each other and I left. I didnt go back. I didnt like this occupation and I didnt want to go there as a master'

- Yaakov Sharett

But I wanted nothing more to do with this occupation. It was my way of non-identification with it. I was depressed by it, and ashamed.

The faces of the Ein Sinya villagers revealed something else: I saw in this defiance that they still had the psychology of the majority. My father used to say war always makes waves of refugees. But he didnt see that usually those who flee are the minority. In 1948, they were the majority so they will never give up.This is our problem.

The rest is here:

'We are living by the sword': The regrets of an Israel founder's son - Middle East Eye

NAACP suspends official who said ‘the Hasidics are generally not too friendly’ – The Times of Israel

Posted By on January 11, 2020

NEW YORK (JTA) A local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People official in New Jersey has been suspended from his position for six months after giving a speech castigating Orthodox Jews in Jersey City and the largely Jewish city of Lakewood.

James Harris, the chair of the education committee for the Montclair, New Jersey branch of the civil rights organization, has apologized for his remarks.

Harris gave a speech at a December 30 community meeting on gentrification in which he called Hasidic Jews unfriendly and blamed Hasidic Jewish developers for pressuring longtime residents of African-American neighborhoods to sell their homes, which he said has happened in Brooklyn and Lakewood as well.

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Harris said that African-Americans in Jersey City and in Montclair live in fear of being replaced by these strangers who really arent friendly.

How many people are familiar with the Hasidics? he said. The Hasidics are generally not too friendly to anybody other than themselves. So, some stress started to develop because people remember Brooklyn and Lakewood. Are we going to be displaced by these people who are not all that friendly?

Screen capture from video of NAACP official James Harris speaking in Montclair, New Jersey, December 30, 2019. (Facebook via JTA)

Later, he pushed back at the notion that criticizing Israel or Jewish people is necessarily anti-Semitic. He had not mentioned Israel previously in his speech.

I found out that people are very, very quick to label anything thats critical of Israel or the Jewish people as anti-Semitic, he said. Excuse me, if the facts are facts it doesnt necessarily make it anti-Semitic.

He also urged people in the audience to to go on their cellphone and look up the word Semitic. What is a Semite? Look it up in the dictionary. Youd be surprised.

Harris, who also serves as president of the New Jersey Association of Black Educators, claimed that the Lakewood Jewish community controls the local Board of Education as well as the City Council, and said that the school board drained funding from the local public schools. He said that the board apportioned $15 million for busing to Jewish private schools.

The Jewish community controls the Board of Education and the City Council but they spend huge amounts of money sending kids to the yeshiva, and they gutted the budget for the black and Latino students who are left in the public schools, he said.

On Tuesday, the president of the Montclair NAACP, Al Pelham, announced that Harris was suspended for six months. In his statement, Pelham noted that the groups mission is to secure equal rights and well-being for all people.

Some of Mr. Harriss overall comments and tone that evening were in clear contradiction of the NAACPs mission and thus the Montclair Branch condemns them, Pelham said, according to the publication Montclair Local. There is much work to be done regarding the many issues facing the Montclair Public Schools and the branch does not want this unfortunate issue to be a distraction.

Harris apologized for the remarks, and expressed his condolences for the victims of the shooting at a Jersey City kosher supermarket, which had taken place about three weeks before his speech. He said his remarks did not represent the NAACP or the New Jersey Association of Black Educators.

Orthodox Jews in Lakewood, New Jersey (YouTube screen capture)

I would like to express my sincere regret and apologize for the remarks I made about the Hasidic community and the development of Montclair, NJ, he said in a statement, according to Montclair Local. My personal statement was meant to focus on the impact of gentrification on lower socioeconomic communities in Montclair, NJ. Instead, I used a regional example of Lakewood, NJ real estate and public education funding. Unfortunately I used terms and examples that have been interpreted as anti-Semitic.

Over the weekend, Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson condemned anti-Semitism and racism, and announced that he would convene a meeting of African-American clergy and rabbis to address the incendiary cloud hanging over our community at the moment.

Heinous incidents nationwide, and in Jersey City and Monsey in particular, shocked and sickened all of us, he said in a statement on Janury 4. However, recent developments have made it abundantly clear that there is much work to be done, even in our beloved Montclair. Hate, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and intolerance have no place anywhere and particularly in our community and as a community we will work tirelessly to ensure that they are addressed head-on and rooted out.

More here:

NAACP suspends official who said 'the Hasidics are generally not too friendly' - The Times of Israel

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