Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

Israeli virtuoso saxophone player and composer Daniel Zamir is headed to Atlanta for a Feb. 19 performance at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. The Hasidic jazz musician, who has toured with Matisyahu, is one of the most in-demand artists in Israel.

He spoke to the AJT by phone from Israel.

AJT: Will this be your first time performing in Atlanta?

Zamir: Well, I played a few years ago with Matisyahu at the University of Georgia. We were on a college tour, and, every campus we visited, I bought a baseball hat and would play the show wearing it. I remember I shouted, Go, Bulldogs! into the mic at UGA, and the crowd went crazy for it.

AJT: Youve actually been on a few tours with Matisyahu. What was it like touring as two observant Jews?

Zamir: Its an amazing experience to be able to express such a unique message on a big stage in front of so many people. To be able to bridge so many gaps and overcome so many prejudices and stigmas, its really unique and a privilege. AJT: You also have the top-selling jazz album of all time in Israel. How does that feel?

Zamir: Its amazing. I never thought that something like that could happen. Ive loved jazz since I started playing the saxophone, but I never thought I could be this successful in it. Also, to be able to connect jazz and Judaism is something I never thought I could do. From what I can tell, I think Im the only ultra-Orthodox jazz musician in the world.

AJT: How much Jewish or Hasidic influence would you say your music has?

Zamir: When I write my music, I have no concept in mind. In other words, I never planned to be a Jewish musician; its something that happened organically. It actually started before I was religious, and I was calling it world music or ethnic music. Only after (American Jewish composer-saxophonist) John Zorn heard my demo in 1999 and called it Jewish music did I finally accept it.

AJT: Why are there so many top-notch Israeli jazz musicians?

Zamir: I remember people were asking me in New York, What are they putting in your falafel over there? But the truth is jazz is music of the people, and after the 1950s people in Israel were trying to imitate American jazz. But what my generation did Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, myself and others we took our personalities and tradition and infused that into high-quality jazz. The result of that product is so unique and original and alive. I think thats why people love it so much.

Who:Daniel Zamir

Where:Marcus JCC, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody

When:7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19

Tickets:$15-$25; atlantajcc.org/pldb-live/daniel-zamir-32968

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Hasidic Israeli Jazz Musician Coming to JCC – Atlanta Jewish Times

St. Louis Responds to a Rise in Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

More than a hundred and fifty gravestones were recently vandalized at Chesed Shel Emeth, a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.CreditPHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT COHEN / ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH VIA AP

On Monday, more than a hundred and fifty gravestones were found damaged or toppled at a historic Jewish cemetery near St. Louis. As soon as she heard the news, Karen Aroesty drove to the cemetery. Many people she knew are buried there. Though she has seen numerous instances of vandalism in her seventeen years at the Missouri/Southern Illinois office of the Anti-Defamation League, which she now directs, this one was especially painful. I was surprised at how I felt, Aroesty told me on Tuesday. Ive been doing this for a long time. The sadness that I felt was startling. Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, built more than a century ago, in the St. Louis suburb of University City, had always given her a feeling of calm.

The desecration came just days after President Trump, at a bizarre and at times counterfactual press conference in Washington, dodged a question about recent instances of anti-Semitism. It was asked by Jake Turx, a journalist for an Orthodox Jewish magazine. Im the least anti-Semitic person you ever met, the President declared. In the past month, dozens of Jewish Community Center locations have been evacuated due to anonymous bomb threats. On Wednesday morning, the Anti-Defamation League also received a bomb threat at its New York headquarters.

The bomb threats have a rhythm all their own, Aroesty told me. On January 18th, more than twenty J.C.C.s in the U.S. received bomb threats, including the branch in Creve Coeur, closest to Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. (Since then, many more have received threats, most recently on Monday.) Local police responded to the Creve Coeur threat by clearing the area and bringing in K-9 units to investigate. But even after police officers deem a location safe, Aroesty said, it leaves the community feeling that tension and instability for a while. I asked Benjamin Granda, a spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department, if he had ever heard of a bomb threat in the area before this month. This is the first one that I can recall, he said.

Granda did not suggest a link between the threatening call to the local J.C.C. and the cemetery desecration last weekend. Anybody from anywhere can place a phone call, he said, noting that online phone services can make callers difficult to trace. Whoever made the threats on Monday used voice-masking software during the calls. I dont think its connected specifically, Aroesty said of the cemetery desecration. But, she added, many members of the Jewish community now perceive a wider threat to their security. It feels like theres a piling-on.

In my own family, the news from St. Louis brought back old memories. My father grew up in Creve Coeur, and attended college a few miles from the vandalized cemetery. In the seventies, he learned to swim at the Creve Coeur J.C.C.; a few decades later, while visiting my grandparents during school vacations, so did I. I lived a mile from the Jewish Community Center, and I never heard of anybody doing any bad stuff there, he told me. He now lives in California, and was surprised to learn about the recent anti-Semitic acts. Ive always felt that acts of violence, terrorism, whatevertheyre always the tip of an iceberg of discontent, he said. Because for every person thats willing to go and turn over tombstones in a Jewish cemetery, theres probably thousands of people that dont like Jews. At the same time, he didnt want to read too much into these incidents. Most people are not calling in bomb threats against Jews, he said. Most people dont hate Jews. So lets be wary, lets try to apprehend those who are responsible. But lets not let them divide us as a country, as a people, any more than we are already divided.

On Tuesday, President Trump, after receiving criticism from many Jewish leaders for failing to aggressively condemn anti-Jewish sentiment in the U.S.,spoketo the NBC News reporter Craig Melvin. I think its horrible, the President said. Whether its anti-Semitism or racism or anyanything you want to think about having to do with the divide. Anti-Semitism is, likewise, its just terrible. Some Jewish organizations have reacted positively. The President took an important first step today, Jonathan Greenblatt, the C.E.O. of the Anti-Defamation League, said inan interview on PBS. But most reactions were skeptical. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called Trumps remarks a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his Administration. In all honesty, Id like to see more, Aroesty told me.

The Chesed Shel Emeth Society, which oversees the cemetery, spent Tuesday recording the names on each damaged headstone; University City police launched an investigation and are trying to identify the culprits using security-camera footage. While the investigation proceeds, Aroesty said that she cant describe the damage at the cemetery as an act of hate. Perhaps the culprit did not know it was a Jewish site, or did not target it for that specific reason, she explained. There are a lot of folks in this community who, frankly, are challenging me to say, Yes, it is, in fact, a hate crime, she said. Which I cannot do, under Missouri law, until I know what the motivating factors were. Jewish leaders have, in the meantime, emphasized the wider problem of anti-Jewish sentiment, and the resilience of Jewish communities. Were trying to be a voice of reason and calm, Rabbi Jim Bennett, who oversees the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, which represents a range of Jewish denominations, said.

Bennett leads Congregation Shaare Emeth, in Creve Coeur, and he said that, in the days since the cemetery was vandalized, he has been moved by offers of support from local politicians and Muslim leaders, among many others. On Tuesday, CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, offered a five-thousand-dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for J.C.C. bomb threats. Meanwhile, a crowd-funding campaign organized by Muslim nonprofits has raised more than seventy-five thousand dollars for cemetery repairs.

Bennett believes that it is possible to emphasize the specific nature of anti-Jewish acts while also framing such acts as part of a wider threat to religious freedom and minority rights. When he checked his e-mail on Tuesday, his inbox was filled with messages of sympathy. The first one he saw was from Reverend Joseph A. Weber, who presides over St. Monica Catholic Church, situated one mile from the Shaare Emeth synagogue, on the same street as the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.

Two months ago, Weber told me, an arsonistset fireto his churchs Nativity scene; the blaze destroyed the altar and pulpit, leaving the sanctuary unusable. Weber remembers not wanting to cancel services, and thinking, I want people to know that we are still open for business. The day after the fire, Weber received a letter from Rabbi Bennett, on behalf of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. We stand ready to assist you in any way that we can, the letter said. As fellow clergy, we offer our sincere sympathies. Bennett invited the Catholic congregation to meet at his synagogue, if necessary. Weber ultimately held services in the church gymnasium; local police did not classify the fire as a hate crime.

In his e-mail to Rabbi Bennett on Tuesday, Reverend Weber expressed his dismay at the horrible desecration of the Jewish cemetery. This morning at Mass, he added, I mentioned how understanding and helpful the Jewish community was after the fire. Weber asked his congregation to pray for the respect of all people. Rabbi Bennett took heart from the note. When we watch people suffer and feel pain, he told me, the greatest sign of love and unity is when we feel that pain ourselves.

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St. Louis Responds to a Rise in Anti-Semitism – The New Yorker

Pro-Palestine activism must be ‘managed’ under counter-extremism strategy, universities told – RT

British universities have been advised to manage Palestinian activism on campus in order to comply with the UK governments Prevent counter-extremism strategy.

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Vocal support for Palestine, Opposition to Israeli settlements in Gaza, and Criticism of wars in the Middle East are included in a list of contentious topics on the Safe Campus Communities website.

The website includes a training section set up by Universities UK and the governments now defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to help staff fulfil their Prevent obligations.

Since 2015, Prevent has required public sector workers to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

The website says the material is intended to promote free speech by encouraging universities to ensure topics that may be seen as controversial may be debated in a safe environment.

It advises institutions to take steps to manage events in which extremist views are likely to be expressed and ensure such views are challenged by inviting additional speakers with opposing views.

Relevant higher education bodies also need to risk assess and manage events where these or similar views may be expressed, it says.

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Critics fear the guidance could stifle free speech and political expression, according to Middle East Eye.

On Tuesday, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) canceled an Israel Apartheid Week event organized for next week by Friends of Palestine because of concerns it would not be balanced, Middle East Eye reports.

UCLan said it was concerned that the event, called Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement], would fall foul of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the UK government.

The IHRA defines anti-Semitism as a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews, including denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

UCLan said: We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.

In this instance our procedures determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said it was absurd to single out support for a Palestinian state or opposition to Israeli settlements as controversial or extremist.

Given that all major political parties in the UK and the overwhelming majority of governments across the world support a Palestinian state and oppose settlements on the basis that they violate international law and are an obstacle to peace it is absurd to define these as extremist views.

There is an urgent need for the relevant bodies to review these materials and ensure that any training offered to educational establishments truly reflects the stated intention to uphold academic freedom and freedom of expression, he said.

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Pro-Palestine activism must be ‘managed’ under counter-extremism strategy, universities told – RT

Holocaust survivor reflects on traumatizing experience – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Holocaust Survivor Dr. William Samelson talks about the Holocaust and its consequences on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, at Corpus Christi Jewish Community Center in Corpus Christi.(Photo: Gabe Hernandez/Caller-Times)Buy Photo

It’s hard to tell William Samelson had experienced one of the largest atrocitiesin history.

Throughout his talk Tuesday evening at the Corpus Christi Jewish Community Center, he laughed often, and even took a phone call from his daughter in the midst of speaking.

“I’m glad I didn’t silence my phone,” he joked to the crowd after the brief conversation with his youngest daughter.

But life hasn’t always been that pleasant for him. Samelsonsurvived the Holocaust.

Samelson wrote about his life experiences titled “The Holocaust and Its Consequences.” Writing, he said, was his form of therapy.

Samelson was only 11 when Nazis rounded up all the Jews in his Polish village to take them to concentration camps. He carried a violin under his arm and recalls an officer asking him to play it.

“I thought for a moment my musical talent might save some people here,” he told the audience.

The officer immediately shattered Samelson’s comforting thought.

“He ripped the violin from under my chin and destroyed it on my head,” he said.

Samelson was fortunate to go through concentration camps with his brother by his side, but they were separated from their mother and younger sister.

“It was almost 80 years ago that I heard the anguishing cry of my mother,” he said slowly, as he stopped to wipe his tears. “The last time we saw her, she was climbing into the freight train and we lost sight of her.”

In his book Samelson included a chapter about how he imagined the kind of life his sister would have had. In the chapter, he said his sister finds love and gets married.

“Fantasy is a precious thing,” he said.

Samelson also took a moment to recognize the Nazis he encountered whoshowed empathy to Jews. He credited his survival to them.

“If it were not for the ones that were kind, no one would have survived,” he said.

After his camp was liberated by the U.S. Army in 1945, Samelson caught up on his education. He holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and has taught in universities around the country.

Despite the hardships, Samelson has been able to make up for the time he lost in concentration camps, and has enjoyedlife along the way.

“I try to laugh often,” he said. “Life is not a tragedy. It’s a comedy.”

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Holocaust survivor reflects on traumatizing experience – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Student Behind Letter Accusing Bristol University Lecturer Of Anti … – Huffington Post UK

A student who wrote an impassioned open letter accusing his lecturer of anti-Semitism has now criticised calls from campaigners for her dismissal.

Bristol University launched an investigation into Dr Rebecca Gould, a reader in translation studies and comparative literature, after it was revealed that she had written an article in 2011 arguing it was time to stop privileging the Holocaust.

InBeyond Anti Semitism, Gould said the Holocaust was available to manipulation by governmental elites, aiming to promote the narrative most likely to underwrite their claims to sovereignty.

Claiming the Holocaust as a holy event sanctifies the state of Israel and whitewashes its crimes, the academic added.


But despite claiming his tutor had used the language of Holocaust revisionists and anti-Semites,undergraduate Sahar Zivan said Gould should not be sacked and her views should instead be debated.

In a post on Facebook, Zivan wrote: A few weeks ago I wrote an open letter to one of my lecturers, timed to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day.

I ended the article by expressing my hope that the lecturer would use the day to reflect, as we all should, on how we talk about the Holocaust and how we remember it.

Zivan anonymised his initial letter, published in student paper Epigram, in the hope that people would be capable of debating an issue without needing a culprit.

Instead, an external group dealing with antisemitism went all-out to identify the lecturer, and eventually, almost a month later, they succeeded, he wrote.

Explaining how he had since been able to have a vitally important discussion with Gould about the Holocaust after giving a presentation in her class, Zivan added: The people who filed the complaint are not students at the university, but part of an external national campaign. I will not join their calls to sack her.

I will continue to put myself forward for reasoned debate. Especially when its difficult. Especially because its difficult.

Adrian Pingstone

When contacted by the Telegraph, Gould argued that her article was a rallying call to action for people of conscience horrified by the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazi regime to stand up against all atrocities and injustices today around the world, including in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Calls for the academic to be sacked came from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), which wrote on its website: Dr Rebecca Gould, a lecturer at the University of Bristol, has been caught red-handed having written a sickening article about anti-Semitism.

If Dr Gould still holds such views she should be dismissed, and her dismissal should be made public so as to clearly signal the University of Bristols values, it added.

Matt Cardy via Getty Images

Others agreed with the CAAs stance.Bristol graduate Jeremy Havardi wrote on Facebook that the lecturer had stooped to a truly despicable low.

Sir Eric Pickles, the UKs special envoy on post-Holocaust issues, said it was one of the worst cases of Holocaust denial he had seen in recent years.

He told the Telegraph:To describe the murder of six million Jewish people like this frankly beggars belief. I am all for debate and freedom and speech but this passes into a new dimension.

A spokesperson from Bristol University confirmed to The Huffington Post UK that it had launched an investigation.

Academic freedom, and freedom of speech, are at the heart of our mission at the University of Bristol, they said.

Since receiving a letter from the Campaign Against Antisemitism last week we are actively looking into this matter.

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Student Behind Letter Accusing Bristol University Lecturer Of Anti … – Huffington Post UK

After Criticism for His Silence, Trump Condemns Anti-Semitism – Democracy Now!

And white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos has resigned from Breitbart amid widespread outrage over his comments appearing to endorse pedophilia. On Tuesday, Yiannopoulos announced his resignation at a press conference in New York City.

Milo Yiannopoulos: “My employer, Breitbart News, has stood by me while others caved. Theyve allowed me to carry conservative and libertarian ideas to communities that would otherwise never have had them. They have been a significant factor in my success, and Im grateful for the freedom and for the friendships that I forged there. But I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues important job, which is why today Im resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately.”

Milo Yiannopouloss resignation comes after Simon & Schuster canceled the publication of his book “Dangerous” and the American Conservative Union rescinded an invitation to speak at its upcoming annual CPAC conference over his comments discrediting age of consent laws and promoting relationships between “younger boys and older men.”

Milo Yiannopoulos: “This arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent, which totally destroys, you know, the understanding that many of us have of the complexities and subtleties and complicated nature of many relationships. … Some of the most important, enriching and incredibly, you know, life-affirming, important, shaping relationships, very often between younger boys and older men, canthey can be hugely positive experiences for those young boys.”

Milo Yiannopoulos has long faced opposition, led by women of color and transgender activists, over his history of making racist, sexist and xenophobic statements. At the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, for example, he outed and mocked a transgender student, showing her name and photo on screen in December. Best-selling author Roxane Gay, who canceled her book deal in January with Simon & Schuster in protest of its now-canceled deal with Yiannopoulos, wrote, “as someone who endured a bit of [his] harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty.” She said she will still not publish her upcoming book with Simon & Schuster, saying the publisher “should have never enabled Milo in the first place.”

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After Criticism for His Silence, Trump Condemns Anti-Semitism – Democracy Now!

Vandals damage 100 headstones at Jewish cemetery, police say – CNN

Vandals toppled and damaged about 100 headstones at the St. Louis area’s Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the past week, police said Monday. University City police didn’t release further details about when the vandalism happened, but they said officers first responded to a report about the damage at about 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens tweeted Monday night that he was “disgusted to hear about the senseless act of desecration at the cemetery in University City.”

“We must fight acts of intolerance and hate,” the tweet reads.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Greitens called the damage a “cowardly” and “despicable act of what appears to be anti-Semitic vandalism.”

Regardless of the motive for the vandalism, the cemetery is sacred ground, said Karen Aroesty of the Anti-Defamation League of St. Louis.

“The level of tension in the Jewish community is pretty high,” she told the TV station.

The land where the cemetery is located was purchased in 1893 by a group of Jewish immigrants from Russia.

The investigation into the cemetery break-in comes as 11 phoned-in bomb threats were reported by various Jewish centers across the country Monday morning, according to the JCC Association of North America.

From the start of the year through Monday, 69 bomb threats have made to 54 Jewish centers in the United States and Canada, said David Posner, the association’s director of strategic performance.

No bombs were found, and no one was injured in connection with the threats, according to the organization, which is working with law enforcement and the FBI to investigate the calls.

Before the White House denounced the bomb threats Monday, the Trump administration faced criticism that it had not sufficiently rebuked acts of anti-Semitism that have occurred nationwide since the election.

“So here’s the story folks: No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism. The least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.”

White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks explained to CNN the statement omitted references to Jews because “despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.”

CNN’s Dani Stewart, Artemis Moshtaghian and Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report.

Vandals damage 100 headstones at Jewish cemetery, police say – CNN

University of Edinburgh to Be First Scottish Campus to Receive, House Torah Scroll – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “University of Edinburgh to Be First Scottish Campus to Receive, House Torah Scroll” to a friend

University of Edinburgh. Photo: Wikipedia

ATorah scroll will soon come to a Scottishcampus, marking the first time ever a university in the countrywill have one on site, therabbi leadingthe effort toldThe Algemeiner.

It is very exciting for all the students at the University of Edinburgh,saidRabbi Pinny Weinman, co-director of the schools Chabad center, which will house the Torah.

More than 100students and community members are expected to attend thescroll dedication ceremonynext month, whichwill take place at a venue on campus and include an LED show from DeLighters, a physical performance troupe.

February 20, 2017 1:09 pm

Particularly given these challenging times in Europe, this is anopportunity to celebrate Jewish pride publicly in Scotlands capital city, Weinman said, alluding to the rise of antisemitism that has hit the UK, with attacks on Jewish students and faculty doubling last year.

Weinman added that though faculty and administration have been supportive of the Jewish students, life in Edinburgh can betough, with minimal kosher facilities available and basic religious needs difficult to come by not least of which, he said, was a Torah scroll.

Chabad of Edinburgh will receive its Torah courtesy of theBeis YisroelTorah Gemach(BYTG), a free Torah-loan program that finds scrolls sittingunused in synagogues, thenfixes and redeploys them to Chabad centers and some non-Chabad institutions around the world.

Bentzion Chanowitz, who founded BYTG, toldThe AlgemeinertheEdinburgh Torah was made possible through the work of a donor who got involved with the loan program a few years ago.

The donorsawhow widespread the problem is of shluchim (Chabad emissaries) being able to accommodate a minyan, but unableto obtain aTorah. He said, I cant believe there are so many places missing the essential book,’ Chanowitz said.

Through Chanowitzs vetting process, the Edinburgh center was made a top priority with many other locations stilllooking for similar assistance.

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University of Edinburgh to Be First Scottish Campus to Receive, House Torah Scroll – Algemeiner

‘Just like Hitler’: the diminishing of the Holocaust – Spiked

If Jews can be replaced with sheep, why not with embryos, too? This is what Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, was getting at when he argued that abortion is just like the Holocaust. It seems that, sooner or later, all campaigns feel tempted to exploit the Holocaust brand. Animal-rights activists in Canada refer to a holocaust of seals. In Australia there is talk about of the holocaust against Aborigines. Then there is the African-American holocaust, the Serbian holocaust, the Bosnian holocaust, the Rwandan holocaust.

The label Holocaust can be used to attack just about anything these days. Everything from the erosion of biodiversity to the loss of large numbers of jobs can be denounced as a holocaust. Moral entrepreneurs embrace the Holocaust to lend weight and legitimacy to their campaigns. They also sometimes insist that anyone who questions their worldview should be treated in a similar manner to those who say the Holocaust didnt happen: that is, as deniers.

The Holocaust has become the most overused metaphor for evil in modern times. In an era when Western societies find it difficult to discuss morality in a real, meaningful way, the Holocaust serves as the functional equivalent of Hell. Even religious figures find it difficult to resist Holocaust-mongering. Pope Francis has not yet issued a papal bull against populism, but he has warned that populism could lead to the election of saviours who are similar to Hitler. He also echoed the anti-populist consensus when he said the example of populism in the European sense of the word is Germany in 1933. Here, the pope didnt merely compare today with the past and use the phrase like 1933 he went a step further and said populism is Germany in 1933.

Holocaust-mongers seldom explain how or why our world is like the 1930s or their figure of hate is like Hitler. Sometimes they try, but they invariably resort to sophistry rather than making a serious historical comparison. A recent Newsweek article asked: Just how similar is Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler? It answered the question by saying what makes the comparison between Hitler and Trump so poignant is that both men represent their personal character as the antidote to all social and political problems. But many politicians do that; they play the saviour card. Focusing on this one personal attribute that Trump and Hitler reportedly share in common is as arbitrary as saying that both of them have problems with their hair.

Holocaust rhetoric relies on reading history backwards. It is an attempt by people to delegitimise their opponents or targets by associating them with the horrors of the past. This strategy is boosted by the fashionable teleological reading of history, which suggests that all the roads of modernity led to Auschwitz. This fatalistic theory of malevolence can be used to indict almost anything that occurred before the Holocaust and treat it as in some sense responsible for the Holocaust. By the same token, treating the Holocaust as the inevitable outcome of otherwise unexceptional things in history that preceded it means that events in the here and now can be held up as precursors of the next Holocaust.

This anachronistic theory of history is most simplistically expressed in the slogan: The Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers it began with words. This slogan is widely used as part of a cautionary tale that draws a link between speech and action, most often between being offensive and creating the conditions for a new Holocaust. So Trump only needs to say something stupid or offensive for people to remind us that the Holocaust began with words. This inane statement is used to justify shutting down discussion and curbing free speech. The disturbing idea taking hold on American campuses and elsewhere that free speech leads to hate speech, and even that Free speech is hate speech is the logical consequence of the insidious theory that the Holocaust started with words.

Yet as historians of fascism know, the Holocaust did not begin with words. Fascist movements like the Nazis were not simply a more radical version of right-wing, anti-Semitic nationalists. Unlike classical right-wing nationalist movements, they did not merely rely on words. No, from the outset they deployed violence against their opponents and used physical force rather than argument to beat them into submission. The precondition for the emergence of the Holocaust was the destruction of public life in Germany in the context of a catastrophic global war.

It is something of a paradox that the idea that the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chamber but rather with words is so often used to curb democratic freedoms. And not just by campus censors. When Canadas public-safety minister, Steven Blaney, introduced a new anti-terrorism bill, he justified his illiberal measures with the mantra: The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words. His plundering of history to score a cheap point, and to undermine liberty, can only contribute to the debasement of our memory of the Holocaust.

Today, when Holocaust talk is everywhere and all sorts of contemporary events are compared to it, it is easy to overlook the fact that it was a neglected part of the Western historical memory for a long time, particularly in the 1950s and 60s. The Holocaust only really emerged as a powerful symbol of human barbarism in the 1980s and 90s. In the 90s, holding back a future Holocaust became one of the defining claims of the EU and its related organisations; they came to denounce anyone who criticised their worldview as a populist echoing the 1930s.

The belated transformation of the Holocaust into a transcendental sacred value in Western Europe was not so much an act of sincere atonement, as an attempt to come to terms with the moral malaise of Western society in the late 20th century. The absence of moral clarity generated conflict over values and created a demand for symbols and rituals that might confer a measure of coherence on the social and political order. When society finds it difficult to say what its values are, or even to differentiate between right and wrong, it is important that some kind of line be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Without a moral grammar through which to express ideas about right and wrong, ethical guidance tends to become more forced and artificial. This is where the Holocaust has come into play: for institutions like the EU, sacralising the Holocaust became an important way of asserting their moral authority

The sacralisation of the Holocaust also provides society with a very powerful taboo. Not being against the Holocaust is probably the most ritualised and institutionalised taboo in Western society today. Back in January 2006, I warned in an article for the Daily Telegraph that the transformation of the Holocaust into a political symbol, and its constant usage in everyday discussion, threatened to deprive it of its important moral meaning. Worse, the more that the terrible experience of the Nazi era has come to be institutionalised through Holocaust days, Holocaust memorials, Holocaust museums, Holocaust curricula and Holocaust films, the more the Holocaust has become a focus of competitive claims-making.

If Holocaust Memorial Day were just another kind of moral ritual, there would be little reason for concern. But such initiatives actually, and unwittingly, help to foster cynicism and scepticism about what happened during the Nazi era. False morality always incites a response of cynicism, and Holocaust-mongering is no exception. In 2004, a poll carried out in nine European countries by the IPSO research institute found that 35 per cent of those surveyed thought Jews should stop playing the role of Holocaust victims. At present, this mood of scepticism is pretty instinctual, and unformed. But it is surely only a matter of time before the obsessive institutionalisation of the cult of the Holocaust creates a situation where scepticism translates into disbelief.

The concerns I raised in 2006 are even more pressing today. Scepticism towards and even denial of the Holocaust have grown significantly and in parallel with the expansion of public initiatives designed to memorialise the Holocaust. Last month, a report cited Dr Nicholas Terry, a history lecturer at Exeter University, who estimates that there are thousands of low-commitment Holocaust deniers online. In December 2016, the top hit on Google in response to the question Did the Holocaust happen? was a link to a piece claiming the murder of six million Jews is a hoax. It is inconceivable to think that back in the 1950s or 60s, before the public sacralisation of the Holocaust took off, there would have been such an interest in conspiracy theories claiming this act of genocide didnt really happen.

Holocaust-mongering is bad enough on its own terms. It cheapens the memory of the Holocaust and it debases political life. Tragically, it also invites scepticism about the Holocaust and encourages the rewriting of history. The more we hear Today is just like the 1930s, the more Trump or Brexit or other events are spoken about in the same breath as Hitler, the more we lose sight of the true meaning of the singular calamity of the Holocaust.

Frank Furedi is a sociologist and commentator. His latest book, Whats Happened To The University?: A Sociological Exploration of its Infantilisation, is published by Routledge. (buy this book from Amazon(UK)).

Picture by: Getty

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‘Just like Hitler’: the diminishing of the Holocaust – Spiked

Act on rising anti-Semitism, Jewish students tell UK universities | The … – The Times of Israel

Jewish students and academics in the United Kingdom have become increasingly worried about growing anti-Semitism on British university campuses and are calling on university administrations to do more to combat the rising trend.

According to a Saturday report in the Guardian, the concerns were raised following a spate of anti-Semitic incidents at British universities. Most recently, a swastika was found carved into a door and a sign reading Rights for Whites was hung at the entrance to a dorm room at the University of Exeter earlier this week.

Other recent incidents include the appearance of flyers praising Holocaust denier David Irving and swastikas drawn around the campus at Cambridge University earlier this month.

The Community for Security Trust, a British anti-Semitism watchdog, stated in its most recent annual report that there were 41 cases of reported anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, nearly double 2015s tally of 21, showing that anti-Semitism on campuses is indeed growing rapidly.

Baroness Ruth Deech, a Jewish cross-bench peer in the House of Lords and first ever independent adjudicator for higher education handling student complaints, called on universities to rise up and condemn anti-Semitism on campuses. She told the Guardian that she sees parallels between the current situation and how her parents were attacked for being Jewish while at European universities in the run-up to the Holocaust.

Baroness Ruth Deech (Wikimedia Commons, John Cairns, CC0)

In the 1920s and 1930s discrimination against Jews started in German, Austrian and Polish universities, long before the second world war, Deech said, while adding that attacks on Jewish students in universities today should be seen as the canary in the coalmine. It starts there and it spreads.

In an interview in December with The Telegraph, Deech pointed to the large sums of donations many British universities receive from countries such as Saudi Arabia as a possible reason for why so little has been done by campus administrations to combat anti-Semitism, speculating that maybe they are afraid of offending potential donors from Gulf states.

While much of the attention has been focused in recent years on anti-Semitism emanating from the far-left, most notably as a result of a number of controversial statements made by Labour Party politicians, David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, claimed the most recent cases instead seem to be the work of the far-right.

My impression is this is coming from a different place to incidents that arise in the context of criticizing Israel. This is straightforward anti-Semitism and its coming from the right, he said.

The National Union of Students President Malia Bouattia echoed Feldmans claim, telling the Guardian that the uptick is attributable to Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump, both of which drew support from anti-Semitic fringes on the far-right.

Oxford University (Shutterstock)

Josh Nagli, the campaigns director for the Union of Jewish Students, told the Guardian that while he does not consider the recent rise in anti-Semitism to be of serious concern, the multiplicity of incidents at different campuses suggests a level of coordination.

While statistics suggest that reported incidents of anti-Semitism in universities remain low, Universities UK, a representative organization for British universities, told the Guardian, even a single incident is one too many.

Universities UK called on students to be vigilant in reporting any cases of anti-Semitism.

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Act on rising anti-Semitism, Jewish students tell UK universities | The … – The Times of Israel

Technology connects Diaspora youth to their Israeli counterparts – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Snunit CEO Revital Rubin in January with Geoff Cohen, the principal of the Herzliya School in Cape Town, South Africa. (photo credit:Courtesy)

The Snunit Center for the Advancement of Web-Based Learning, the largest educational web portal in Israel, is seeking to launch a new site dedicated to connecting Jewish children and youth in the Diaspora with Israel.

Snunit was established in 1994 as a project of the School of Education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in 1999 officially became a non-profit NGO established by the university and the Nir and Beverly Barkat family.

Responsible for launching the first Hebrew language website, today Snunit creates, develops and manages innovative educational sites for elementary and middle schools pupils, reaching hundreds of thousands of users throughout the country and the world.

The easiest way to transfer educational messages to a critical mass of people, especially to youth, is by technological means with the push of a button, Revital Rubin, CEO of Snunit, recently told The Jerusalem Post.

For youth, Rubin explained, the technological world is their first world.

We take advantage of this media to reach wider audiences of youth and provide them with knowledge, she said.

Snunits latest project, in the process of development, includes a new English site and application aimed at connecting and teaching Jewish children from the Diaspora about Israel.

As a Jew who lives in Israel, I understand the importance and necessity of doing this, Rubin explained, crediting this latest endeavor with her visit last month to South Africa, organized by Community, a joint program of The Gesher Leadership Institution and the Diaspora Ministry to expand and deepen the connection between public opinion leaders in Israel and Diaspora Jewry.

As part of her visit she toured South Africa and also met with pupils and school principals in Cape Town and Johannesburg. She explained that while there, she saw firsthand how little adults and children alike in the Jewish community knew about Israel or had any connection to the country.

They study the bible and Jewish holidays but they dont learn anything about the State of Israel and the culture and what troubles youth in Israel, she said.

It is important that children learn that Israel is not only about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or politics, or the ultra-Orthodox, of course these are issues but there are a lot of other parts of Israel that youth should get to know, she added.

Rubin said she was shocked to discover that around a third of Jews in the world have no connection to Israel whatsoever.

Due to this journey, I understand this need to create connections [with the Diaspora] and today I see this as a mission, she said.

She stressed that it was important to understand that religion is not everything when speaking about Jews and Israel.

If we keep presenting this to the world, we will lose a lot of Jews along the way and the Jewish people cannot afford this, she said. We have to understand that there are also Jews in the world that currently have no link to Israel and there are people in Israel who are secular and we must think how to connect between them to develop a diverse Jewish synergy.

Rubin explained that the applications aim would not only teach Jews about Israel but would also serve to connect between youth and create a dialogue on issues that are important to them.

There are children and youth who deal with the same problems that youth in Israel do, wherever they are in the world and it is important that they make that connection, she said.

Still, she added, it is a two-way street. While children in the Diaspora know little about Israel, so too do Israeli children know very little about their counterparts abroad.

I believe in reciprocity we also need to teach kids in Israel to get to know the Diaspora, she said. And I believe that we need to start establishing roots of this connection at a much younger age, and not only focus on adults or young adults.

Rubin stressed the positive effects of web-based learning in reaching out to youth in the Diaspora and connecting them with Israel.

Israel has brought children and youth to Israel on trips [like Birthright and Masa] but how many children can you bring? Two hundred thousand? Three hundred thousand? With this technology we can reach out to millions of children, she explained.

She acknowledged that it is no substitute for bringing youth to Israel but said it could serve to complement their physical presence in Israel and provide them with knowledge about the country.

We dont need to stand on our two hind legs I think it is a good thing, both tactically and strategically that there will be Jews in the Diaspora and our responsibility is to strengthen our connection with them and to strengthen them with all the challenges they face such as antisemitism, Rubin stressed.

If we dont understand this we will distance youth and adults in the Diaspora from the Jewish people, she said.

Overwhelmed by her experience in South Africa, Rubin ensured that the pupils and teachers in the two Jewish schools she visited would be provided free access to Snunits educational portals.

Many of our websites are in Hebrew only and so now we are also looking to translate these sites to English and we are looking for a partner who understands the importance of this, she said.

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Technology connects Diaspora youth to their Israeli counterparts – Jerusalem Post Israel News

UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus … – The Guardian

Cambridge is among the universities where incidents have been reported. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA

Universities are being urged to act swiftly to tackle antisemitism on campuses after a series of incidents in recent weeks including Holocaust denial leaflets, fascist stickers and swastikas etched on and around campuses which have fuelled anxiety among Jewish students.

Leading academics, student representatives and experts on antisemitism expressed concern at the widespread nature of the incidents, which have affected a number of higher education institutions across the country.

Earlier this week it emerged that a swastika and a Rights for Whites sign had been found at halls of residence at Exeter, which the university described after an initial investigation as an ill-judged, deeply offensive joke.

There have also been incidents reported at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex and University College London recently, which the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said indicated some level of coordination. It is thought to be part of a wider spike in hate crime targeting Jews and other minority communities.

Responding to the incidents, one leading crossbench peer said attacks on Jewish students in UK universities should be seen as the canary in the coalmine.

Ruth Deech, who was the first independent adjudicator for higher education overseeing student complaints, said her parents had been attacked as Jewish students in the years leading up to the second world war and the Holocaust. She urged UK universities to rise up and condemn antisemitism.

In the 1920s and 1930s discrimination against Jews started in German, Austrian and Polish universities, long before the second world war, Lady Deech said. Attacks on Jewish students in universities today should be seen as the canary in the coalmine. It starts there and it spreads.

Josh Nagli, the UJS campaigns director, stressed that Jewish students generally had a positive experience at university, but admitted recent events were concerning. It seems like some sort of coordinated activity. I would not say its something to be seriously concerned about, but theres a risk of seeing it more and more on different campuses.

They dont pose a physical threat to Jewish students but it shows there are people in the vicinity of where Jewish students are living and studying who hold these views on Holocaust denial. Any Jewish student would feel uncomfortable that this sort of literature is being handed out.

Flyers found in Cambridge, which appeared to express support for Holocaust denier David Irving, referred to the new Hollywood film Denial, based on the landmark legal case in which Irving sued and lost his case against American historian Deborah Lipstadt. A spokesman for the University of Cambridge said the matter had been reported to the police.

In November, Sheffield Hallam University was recommended by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for higher education to pay 3,000 compensation to a student after failing to deal adequately with his complaints about posts on the universitys Palestine Society social media accounts.

And last June, York University law student Zachary Confino was paid 1,000 compensation over antisemitic abuse when he was called a Jewish prick, an Israeli twat and subjected to an anonymous social media comment that Hitler was on to something.

Recent figures from the Community Security Trust (CST), a Jewish charity that monitors antisemitism, show a doubling of reported incidents involving Jewish students and academics, with 41 incidents in 2016 compared with 21 the year before.

David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, condemned the latest far-right incidents at universities. Its completely reprehensible and I think that people will find it upsetting and disturbing. But whether its dangerous depends on the extent of support there is for it and how quickly effective action is taken against it.

This is a departure from what weve seen in the recent past. The spotlight in the last couple of years has been on the far-left and the left of the Labour party.

My impression is this is coming from a different place to incidents that arise in the context of criticising Israel. This is straightforward antisemitism and its coming from the right.

Izzy Lenga, a final-year theology student at the University of Birmingham, received a torrent of antisemitic abuse and threats after posting a picture on Twitter of a sticker she and other Jewish students had seen on campus featuring an image of Hitler and the words Hitler was right.

It was horrible, it was terrifying, she told the Guardian. She received more than 2,000 messages within 24 hours from a variety of far-right fascist groups including National Action, which has since been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the government.

Lenga says her university was very supportive, but she went home from campus shaken by the experience and for a few weeks was too scared to return. Antisemitism is a hatred that has been around for so long and it doesnt look like its going away any time soon.

The National Union of Students has just completed a national survey of Jewish students experience of university life, details of which will be released later in the spring. Commenting on the incident at Exeter this week, the unions president, Malia Bouattia, said it was another example of the spike in hate crime students had witnessed in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trumps election.

This kind of blatant antisemitism should not be tolerated in our universities and colleges, and institutions need to do more to combat it. Students must be at the forefront of tackling racism and fascism in all its forms which is why NUSs current programme of work exploring hate crime could not be more timely.

Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, admitted that universities have a difficult balancing act between protecting students from abuse or intolerance, while also allowing legitimate protest and free speech within the law. This is particularly relevant when Israel and Palestine are being discussed, a spokesman said.

The university sector has been clear that there is no place for antisemitism or any other kind of unlawful discrimination at our universities. While statistics from the CST suggest that reported incidents of antisemitism in universities remain low, even a single incident is one too many.

In the context of an increase in the number of reported hate crimes across the UK, universities have procedures in place which should give more students the confidence to report incidents.

The universities minister, Jo Johnson, said this week: Higher education institutions have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe and inclusive environment and act swiftly so that students do not face discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

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UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus … – The Guardian

US ambassador contradicts Donald Trump on two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict – The Independent

Americas ambassador to the United Nations has said the US absolutely supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, directly contradicting comments made by Donald Trump just a day ago.

The US President told reporters after a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu that his administration was no longer wedded to the creation of a Palestinian state.

The remarks signalled a departure from America’s decades-old approach to Middle East foreign policy.

But Nikki Haley, Mr Trump’s appointment for ambassador to the UN, said the US remained committed to a two-state solution.

She said anyone who believed the US was abandoning the policy did so in error.

The UN envoy said: “We are thinking out of the box as well, which is: What does it take to bring these two sides to the table? What do we need to have them agree on?

“We absolutely support a two-state solution.”

The development came as senior figures involved in the Middle East peace process voiced their concern at Mr Trump’s apparent U-turn.

Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator and Secretary-General of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), warned that Mr Trumps vision was akin to apartheid”.

Palestine’s chief negotiator warns Trump against one-state solution

He said the only alternative to a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be one single secular and democratic state with equal rights for everyone, Christians, Muslims and Jews, in all of historic Palestine”.

He called for concrete measures in order to save the two-state solution”.

Mr Trumps media conference with Mr Netanyahu on Wednesday continues to send shock waves throughout the region and the wider Muslim world.

The two leaders mainly talked about the threat of Iran and the cherished relationship between their respective countries.

The new US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, waits to address the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine (EPA)

However, when asked by reporters whether the US will continue its policy of support for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as was suggested by an anonymous White House official a day earlier Mr Trump was equivocal in his answer.

Im looking at two-state and at one-state, and I like the one that both parties like… I can live with either one, he said, in what would be a momentous break from what has been a cornerstone of US policy in the Middle East peace process since Bill Clintons administration.

Trump: Im looking at two-state and at one-state, and I like the one that both parties like

I thought the two-state [solution] looked easier for a while, he added, before reaffirming he would let Israeli and Palestinian negotiators take the lead on the issue.

Mr Netanyahu also dismissed what he said were just labels such as one-state and two-state, saying he would rather focus on a peace deal with the Palestinians of substance.

The UN and the Arab League have since issued a joint statement reiterating their support for the creation of a Palestinian state, exposing a widening rift with Mr Trumps stance.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit told reporters in Cairo on Thursday that a two-state solution is “the only way to achieve comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian cause”.

The international community generally supports a two-state solution in order to preserve the Palestinian identity and Israels unique status as a Jewish-majority state. However, increasing Israeli expansion in the West Bank which shows no sign of slowing under President Trump and the rise to power of Hamas in Gaza has led the two-state peace process to stumble in the last decade.

The Israeli political landscape has also swung to the right in recent years. Many prominent hardline politicians in Mr Netanyahus coalition government are against any form of Palestinian statehood.

A new EU-funded poll released on Thursday found that the number of Israelis and Palestinians who support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state has dropped recently but more people continue to prefer a two-state solution overall.

55 per cent of Israelis and 44 per cent of Palestinians currently support a two-state arrangement, but just 24 per cent of Israelis and one-third of Palestinians prefer a single binational state, the poll jointly conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research found.

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US ambassador contradicts Donald Trump on two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict – The Independent

Complacency towards the Far-Right will only help spread … – Telegraph.co.uk

National Action membersin particular have proven a threat, leafleting and targeting university campuses with graffiti and stickers including phrases such as white power and Hitler was right. The media-savvy group has pulledsuch stuntsat institutions including the Universities of Nottingham, Leicester, Warwick and Coventry in recent years, with members performing Nazi salutes and targeting students.

Monitoring and preventing such activities, which resemble anti-social behaviour rather than more traditional understandings of campus extremism, has proven difficult for universities. This has a real effect on student confidence and raises some deep questions about the way antisemitism rears its head in modern society.

Following the incidents at the University of Cambridge, Adam Goot, a co-president of the Cambridge Jewish Society wrote on Facebook of his disgust at: these potent and enduring tropes which underlie casual anti-Jewish conspiracies and the non-acceptance of Jews as an oppressed minority.

A recent graduate, I remember a similar feeling when a swastika was daubed on my campus atUCL in February 2015;a sense of being violated by mockery of the unimaginable tragedy of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. A swastika is a symbol of genocide, it is not ordinary graffiti and will often be interpreted by Jewish students as incitement to hate and violence.

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Complacency towards the Far-Right will only help spread … – Telegraph.co.uk

Israel passed a controversial law about settlements. Where …

By Devorah Manekin and Guy Grossman By Devorah Manekin and Guy Grossman February 13

Last week, Israels parliament passed a law allowing the state to seize private Palestinian land on which Jewish settlements have been constructed and transfer it to the settlements exclusive use. The law could retroactively legalize several thousand homes of Jewish settlers and suspend any demolition proceedings previously initiated against them. Israels legal establishment has announced its opposition to the new law, saying it violates Israeli and international law and could lead to international repercussions. Israels president also came out against the law, arguing that it would make Israel look like an apartheid state. The law already has come under heavy criticism from several of Israels allies and has been challenged in Israels High Court, where it could eventually be overturned.

Yet despite these far-reaching political implications, the law was backed by Israels entire ruling coalition, with only one dissenting member. Even the Kulanu party, which bills itself as a moderate, pragmatic party, voted for the law, leading to a final count of 60 in favor, 52 against. What explains this widespread support?

Our own research, co-written with Tamar Mitts of Columbia University, sheds light on how a minority of voters can have an outsize influence on controversial policies that may carry a heavy cost.

Traditionally, analysts of Israeli politics contended that the Israeli right is split over control of the West Bank. The first, more ideological, camp is attached to the land for religious and symbolic reasons, viewing the land of Israel as God-given to the Jewish people and therefore indivisible. A second, more pragmatic camp supports territorial control over the West Bank for security reasons. According to this latter view, it is essential for Israel to hold onto the West Bank until a viable and credible peace deal is on the table.

The distribution of voters across this divide has considerable policy implications: If the pragmatic camp is sufficiently large, a bargaining space exists that allows leaders to negotiate land for peace. If, however, the ideological camp dominates, such a bargaining space between Israeli and Palestinian leaders narrows substantially.

Our study, based on surveys of more than 3,000 Jewish adults, was explicitly designed to measure the relative size of these camps. We found, first, that about 53 percent of our respondents supported deepening control over the West Bank through settlement expansion, while about 47 percent supported a settlement freeze. Those who opposed settlement expansion thought it would lead to increased violence and escalate the conflict, but, perhaps surprisingly, many who supported settlement expansion generally thought the same thing.

What could motivate a majority of the public to support a policy of expansion that they thought was likely to worsen the security situation? Using multiple experimental methods to disentangle strategic motivations from symbolic ones, we found that a majority of right-wing respondents (about 55 percent) would prefer to deepen Israeli control of the West Bank even if that meant violence would increase substantially, the economy would be severely harmed, and funding for health and education would be reduced to enable military expansion.

Thus, while the Israeli right does in fact appear divided, the majority of its constituents, approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of the general Jewish-Israeli public, could be classified as ideologues, prioritizing control over the West Bank over security and material considerations.

These findings suggest that Israels ideological right is not a radical fringe but a substantial segment of the public. Nevertheless, it remains a minority. Why, then, is it able to exercise such powerful influence on the Israeli leadership? Our research offers one answer to this puzzle: ideological voters are not concentrated at the far right, as many commentators assume, but rather vote for parties across the right-wing political spectrum. Consequently, Israels political leadership is constrained not by its coalition partners at the far right but by voters that form its core base.

Our findings are reinforced by public opinion polls on the Land Confiscation Law. One such poll not only found that 82 percent of voters for Israels Jewish Home party supported the law as would be expected but that 62 percent of Likud voters and 64 percent of Kulanu voters supported it as well.

Given such public attitudes, it is not surprising that Israels politicians have used symbolic rhetoric to justify the law. Speaking on behalf of the government on the evening of the vote, Israels Science and Technology Minister and Likud member Ofir Akunis stated, The argument tonight is about who this land belongs to, and about our basic right to the land. We are voting about the connection between the Jewish people and its land. I am happy that the public believes in us and not in [the opposition], meaning that it too believes that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel.

Of course, public opinion is not immutable, nor does it necessarily restrict an elected leadership. However, it does pose a substantial constraint on policymakers in democratic settings, who risk losing part of their base if they defy it. At present, it appears that the Israeli leadership isnt willing to take that risk, even at the cost of international repercussions, its strategic interests and violations of basic rights.

Devorah Manekin is an assistant professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalems International Relations Department.

Guy Grossman is an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvanias Department of Political Science. He can be followed on Twitter @guygrossman

Israel passed a controversial law about settlements. Where …

Israel bill in Minnesota House hits an international nerve – Duluth News Tribune

Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, introduced the bill Jan. 23, and the House’s Government Finance committee discussed it Wednesday afternoon.

Previously, Kresha equated boycotting Israel with discrimination against Jews as a whole. He said 16 other states passed similar language, and that it also was the policy of the Obama administration to not do business with companies that boycotted Israel.

During a phone press conference last week, Gov. Mark Dayton said the state’s Department of Administration had found no companies that contracted with the government and that were also boycotting Israel.

“So, this is really a debate about foreign affairs and not about something that directly affects Minnesota,” Dayton said.

Although he added that Kresha’s bill was a “double negative” he said he would support it.

The Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, however, said in a letter that Kresha’s bill, House File 400, violates both the U.S. and Minnesota constitutions.

“HF 400 would require persons who wish to boycott Israel as a means of political expression to sacrifice their First Amendment rights in order to do business with the state of Minnesota,” the group wrote.

The ACLU went on to assert the bill specifically targeted the “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” movement, which opposes the actions of the Israeli government in relation to its conflict with Palestine.

“While the ACLU-MN takes no position on the BDS movement, we oppose bills like these that would require state and local governments to deny benefits (such as contracts) in retaliation for the exercise of freedom of expression and association,” the letter said. “They place unconstitutional conditions on the exercise of constitutional rights.”

The House’s Government Finance Committee voted 10-6 to advance the bill to its third committee hearing, Ways and Means. If H.F. 400 passes there, it will head to the House floor for a vote by the whole body.

Before the committee voted Wednesday to approve the bill, Kresha said the proposal’s objective was simply to prevent Minnesota’s government from subsidizing discrimination against Israeli companies. He compared it to the provision in the Women’s Economic Security Act, passed into law by the Legislature, that prevented discrimination on the basis of gender.

Ethan Roberts, director of government affairs for the local branch of the Jewish Community Relations Council, testified in favor of the bill by reiterating that it was bipartisan response to the “economic warfare” of the BDS moment.

“The goal of the BDS movement is nothing short of the destruction of the state of Israel,” he said.

He said the bill was in fact constitutional, and that his group had been in conversation with the ACLU beginning Tuesday. They were working on compromise bill language that would be ready in time for the bill’s next committee hearing, he said.

Several BDS supporters attempted to differentiate their opposition to the Israeli government with an opposition to Jews, and compared BDS to peaceful nonviolent protest actions throughout American history, such as those carried out by the African-American civil rights movement.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, a Muslim and Somali-American, asked a Palestinian pro-BDS testifier to spell out the difference between the Israeli government and Jewish people. The testifier was a young woman who said she had received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In response to Omar’s prompting, she said she was against the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that violated human rights, not Jewish people.

“The conflict was never about religion pre-1948,” she said. “My grandma is from … Israel. She told me a story about living with Jews in peace before 1948 and the establishment of the Israeli state.”

The cost in money and time

The responsibility of actually implementing Kresha’s bill falls to the state Department of Administration, which handles Minnesota’s contracts with private companies.

Matt Scherer, the legislative director for the department, cautioned the bill would add one more contracting rule to an already 43-page list companies have to navigate when seeking to do business with the state. He also said adding rules contractors have to comply with can have the effect of reducing competition among them, and increasing the risk of “bid protest.” Scherer explained bid protests are when the losers of a bidding process to get a state contract say that the winner violates contracting rules.

The bill’s “fiscal note,”or estimate of how much a particular piece of legislation will cost once it’s put into place, said H.F. 400 would mean an extra $7,000 being spent for the 2017-2018 biennium. Kresha amended his bill Wednesday so the Department of Administration is required to use only its existing budget as appropriated by the Legislature, and they don’t get extra money in order to implement H.F. 400.

During an interview Thursday, Kresha said the fact his bill would cost money didn’t change his position.

“If the Department (of Administration) thinks it’s going to cost money to implement this, they’re going to make that argument,” he said. “However, when other bills have come up, they have not raised that concern. So, it is what it is.”

Kresha said requiring the department to use its existing budget didn’t mean they would have to cut something else to account for the added cost of his bill they would simply have to allocate resources differently. It was the department’s job to check for discrimination among potential contractors, and the rule in H.F. 400 barring contractors from Israel boycotts was doing just that, Kresha said. In addition, his bill didn’t take away people’s right to boycott Israel, he said it simply prevented the state from doing business with them.

“People are going to vote on this, and they’re going to choose whether they support Israel or not,” he said.

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Israel bill in Minnesota House hits an international nerve – Duluth News Tribune

Posters questioning Holocaust death toll found on U of C campus – Gauntlet

By Scott Strasser, February 16 2017

On Feb. 13, roughly a dozen posters questioning the number of Jewish Holocaust victims were found at the University of Calgary.

Several students and staff removed the posters and turned them over to U of C campus security, who confirmed they were posted without the universitys permission. According to campus security, some of the posters were placed on office doors.

The posters included excerpts from a Jan. 31 article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency a Jewish news service similar to Reuters titled Remember the 11 million? Why an inflated victims tally irks Holocaust historians.

Parts of the original article argued that the oft-cited statistic that five million non-Jews were killed in the Holocaust is not based on credible scholarly evidence. JTA Washington D.C. bureau chief Ron Kampeas, who wrote the article, argued that it is a number that was intended to increase sympathy for Jewish suffering but which now is more often used to obscure it.

Around a dozen posters were found.

The rest of Kampeas article criticized the United States government for not mentioning Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement on Jan. 27.

However, the posters found at the U of C read: If the five million didnt die, did the six million really die? The posters suggested that since some Holocaust historians disagree on the number of non-Jews killed, the generally-accepted statistic that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust should also be questioned.

The names David Cole, Ernst Zundel, Robert Faurisson, Mark Weber and Arthur Butz appear at the bottom of the poster, along with the website name codoh.com the website for the Committee of Open Debate on the Holocaust.

U of C political science professor Maureen Hiebert whose research specializes in genocide said codoh.com is a website used by Holocaust deniers and that someof the people listed at the bottom of the posters are well-known Holocaust deniers, such as Zundel, who has faced jail time for inciting racial hatred.

Codoh.com is a website for Holocaust deniers, although it says the site is dedicated to those who wish to debate what they dismiss as Holocaust orthodoxy, Hiebert said. What this means in reality is that they challenge the fact that the Holocaust happened and that it happened the way it happened, including challenging the intent to exterminate Europes Jews as well as the number of Jewish victims.

The U of C said no interviewees would be available to discuss the matter, but issued the following statement:

The University of Calgary community students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus are guided by our Code of Conduct. Along with a commitment to free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinion, the university is committed to sustaining a safe, healthy, inclusive and respectful academy that supports excellence in teaching and research.

Hiebert believes the posters showcased more than just open scholarly dispute.

The poster, in my view, is not simply reporting an academic dispute among historians. It is Holocaust revisionism at the very least and more likely Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism, plain and simple, Hiebert said.

Hillel Calgary is a group for Jewish students in the city. Hillel Calgary director Jordan Waldman said he saw the posters and also felt they constituted anti-Semitism.

These posters were posters of Holocaust denials, Waldman said. They take an academic debate around the five million that died and frame it around the legitimacy of the Holocaust itself.

Waldman said his organization has a positive relationship with the U of C.

We have a very good working relationship with the U of C administration. They strive to make an inclusive campus for Jews and non-Jews, he said. Whether they handled this appropriately or not, I cant speak to their process. I can tell you that we believe these posters are Holocaust denial posters.

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Posters questioning Holocaust death toll found on U of C campus – Gauntlet

Judaism Doesn’t Need This ‘Genius’ – Commentary Magazine

Any professional intelligence officer would attest that the Bond movies were a highly distorted, cartoonish portrayal of the real world of espionage, with their high-speed car chases, exotic weaponry, casual executions, and impossibly sexy women. But the two worlds of espionagethe real one and the cinematic versionactually collided in the person of Joseph Katz, whose name appears nowhere in the Spy Museum.

Katz was one of the more elusive and obscure Americans who worked as a Soviet spy in the 1940sand he played a significant role in the production of several Bond movies. This is the story of Joseph Katzs two lives.

He had been a very busy man. In addition to Bentley, Katz had supervised Tom Black, who did industrial spying, and Harry Gold, who started out as an industrial spy and then became a courier for the Rosenberg spy ring and the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs. Katz had previously handled Robert Menaker and Floyd Miller, who had spied on American Trotskyists (themselves Communists, but enemies of the Stalinist regime in the USSR). It turned out that Katz had personally installed a listening device in the home of James Cannon, the leader of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party.1 In 1945 alone, Katz was meeting with Soviet sources Maurice Halperin, Duncan Lee, and Julius Joseph of the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor to the CIA), Victor Perlo and Harry Magdoff of the War Production Board, and Joseph Gregg of the U.S. State Department. He also met with Charles Kramer, a congressional aide, to sort out complaints about how Perlo was supervising the espionage group he headed. In addition to this punishing schedule, Katz was the chief contact with Bentley and met periodically with Earl Browder and Bernard Schuster, top officials of the Communist Party of the USA. He was so valuable that in 1943 the KGB station chief recommended that he receive a Soviet medal, the Order of the Badge of Honor.

Decades later, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, deciphered KGB cables showed that Katz had at the time owned two companies, Meriden Dental Laboratories, and an import-export firm, Tempus Import Company, both financed by the KGB. He had also operated several parking lots in New York.

The Vassiliev Notebooks, copies of KGB files made by a one-time officer, further revealed that in May 1945, another report mentioned Katzs departure to a commercial fleet. Indeed, there is firm evidenceletters to his brotherindicating that Joseph served in the Merchant Marine during the last half of 1945. He was rejected by the Army for flat feet; volunteering for the Merchant Marine may have been motivated by a desire for some sort of war service or possibly by other personal reasons. He returned to the United States in the late fall of 1945, left the Merchant Marine and resumed his work for the KGB.

Around this time, the KGB had concluded that Bentley had become unreliable, and in late November 1945, the KGB station chief in the United States began to ponder how to assassinate her. His first candidate for the job was Katz, since Bentley trusted and would willingly meet with him. He could drop poison in her wine or present her with a poisoned ladies compact. A riskier option would be to use a duplicate key to enter her room and use a cold steel weapon or stage a suicide. That was dicey since Bentley was a very strong, tall, and healthy woman. In any event, Moscow Center vetoed the idea.

In the end, though, there was little in Bentleys statement to the FBI that was very helpful in identifying Jack. Most of the FBIs efforts were focused on the dozens of spies whose names she had provided. It took three years for the Bureau to come up with a suspect. In 1948, it showed Bentley a picture of Joseph Katz, and she made a positive identification. But while it now had a name and a face, the FBI had no idea where Katz was.

Katz had, in fact, moved to France after Bentleys defection. It was not until early 1950 that interviews with other defectors and witnesses, and the increasing success at decoding Soviet intelligence cables, provided the FBI with a better picture of just how important a KGB operative Katz had been.

To locate him, the Bureau set up a mail cover on his brother, a Yiddish poet living in New York named Menke Katz. Menke regularly received letters from Paris. French intelligence confirmed that Joseph was quietly living at that address, but all indications were that he was not involved in espionage. Under French law, he could not be extradited.

Katz soon vanished again. But the mail cover on his brother led to an address in Haifa, Israel. Robert Lamphere, who had for years directed the Bentley investigation, enlisted the aid of James Angleton, legendary chief of CIA counterintelligence, who had a close relationship with Israeli intelligence. Katz was identifiedagain with no apparent ties to Soviet intelligence. The FBI and CIA hatched a plan to lure him onto an American-registered boat under the guise of a fishing trip, sail into international waters, arrest him, and then transfer to an American vessel. On the trip back to the United States, Lamphere hoped to persuade Katz to cooperate. The plan was aborted after J. Edgar Hoover, angered by some CIA slight, cancelled the operation. Lamphere did manage to have Katz interviewed in Israel, but Katz denied ever having been a Soviet agent.

And there the trail ran cold. But Katz wasnt out of the woods. Decades later, in 1988, an FBI report surfaced from back in the day. The report noted that Aviva Flint, wife of an Israeli official, had been told by Katz that he had been associated with a woman who had gone to the FBI and ratted him out. Katz had also told Mrs. Flint that in 1950 he had been summoned from Paris to Rome, where he had been harshly interrogated by the KGB for three days. That interrogation precipitated his break with Soviet intelligence. This information was likely what led Lamphere to the audacious plan to stage a kidnapping from Israel.

Years after Lamphere left the FBI, he heard from an old friend in the Bureau that Katz was back in the United States visiting his brotheran indication that as late as the mid-1980s, Katz was still being watched and monitored. Lamphere telephoned and spoke to Katz; he was writing a book, he said, and Katz was in it. A surprised Katz had little to say to Lamphere, but did respond that perhaps he, Katz, should also write a book.

In fact, he did. Letters to My Brother, published in 1998 by a small press in upstate New York, consisted of dozens of letters Katz had written between 1943 and 1986 to his older brother, Menke. None makes any mention of espionage, and Joseph never explicitly mentions membership in the American Communist Party. He is described instead as an idealist who dreamed of eradicating social wrongs in the world. But all of the details of his life match what is known of the KGB agent Joseph Katz. And a website devoted to Menke Katz maintained by his son Dovid includes the latters admission that Yeiske (Joe) became a revolutionary and worked in one of the most clandestine branches of the American Communist movement.

Both Menke and Yeiske were born in Lithuania, the latter in 1913. Their father immigrated to America that same year. Their mother and the four surviving children followed in 1920, settling in Passaic, New Jersey. When his father was naturalized in 1925, Joseph became an American citizen, and he and the rest of the family legally changed their names in 1928 from Chait, which his father had used, to the ancestral Katz. Menke devoted his life to poetry. Their younger brother Edward (known as Meishke) began in a menial job and rose to the presidency of the Amalgamated Bank of New York. Joseph studied engineering at Cooper Union but dropped out after one year to become a professional revolutionary. He later worked in or directed a variety of technical and commercial enterprises both to support himself and as cover for his work as a KGB agent.

Menke Katz spent much of his adult life in the uneasy orbit of the Communist Party. He fell in with a group of young Yiddish Communist poets clustered around the Freiheit, the CPUSAs Yiddish-language daily newspaper. His first published poem, however, was denounced by the Partys leading Jewish figure, Mossaiye Olgin, for mysticism, and after his first book of poems appeared, he was expelled from Proletpen, the avatar of socialist realism, after it was denounced as an example of rottenness and degeneracy. But he was rehabilitated later when Olgin praised his newest work at a rally and called his brother Yeiske/Joseph up to the platform to share his brothers plaudits. Menkes up-and-down ride with Communist literary strictures got him into trouble again in the late 1930s, but he resolutely refused to transfer his allegiance to the Forward, the democratic Socialist Yiddish paper: You dont want to spit in the well you drank from all those years, Menke said.

Although Menke at first supported himself as a watchmaker, by the 1930s he was teaching Yiddish in the Communist-controlled cultural movement, an economic dependence that no doubt contributed to his willingness to remain in the partys orbit. Not until after the 1952 murder of prominent Soviet Yiddish writers by Stalin did Menke revolt, storming into the Freiheit office to yell at its editor and publishing a poem, not in the socialist Forward but in the religious and pro-Zionist Morn-zhurnal. His defiance cost him most of his close friends but aligned him politically with his brother, who by this time had also broken with the Communist movement.

Joseph had joined the CPUSA in 1932 while still in college. His route into the Party probably came through his girlfriend, Bessie Bogorad, also a young Communist activist who had grown up in Passaic. The couple got married in Los Angeles in 1936 and the following year Joseph was recruited by Soviet intelligence. Information about why he was in Los Angeles or what he did between 1932 and the late 1930s remains buried in American and Soviet intelligence files. (His FBI file has never been released.) One of his nephews, DavidMeishkes son, now a professor at Tel Aviv Universityheard Joseph tell stories of working among blacks in the American South for some of that period. He also told David that for years he was responsible for laundering money for Soviet intelligence, using the businesses they had set up for him. He had a knack for running things; his enterprises did well.

What is clear is that his abilities and skills led to his acquiring more and more responsibilities and being entrusted with more sensitive assignments over the years. By the time of Bentleys defection, Katz had become one of the KGBs most trusted and important agent-handlers in the United States. The chief of FBI counterintelligence later judged that Joseph Katzs importance as a Soviet agent in the U.S. cannot be overestimated.

As a security measure, the KGB suspended contact with him in late 1945, after Bentleys defection, but it soon decided that it was too risky to leave him in the United States. Unlike most of Bentleys government contacts, who were well known and could not easily disappear, Katz was known only to the FBI as Bentleys Jack. If he was ever caught, dozens of Soviet spies would be in peril. Consequently, by June 1946 the KGB had relocated Katz to Paris, where he continued his espionage work.

Between 1946 and 1949 Joseph wrote letters to Menke from Paris, Rome, Milan, Belgium, the Swiss Alps, and the Pyrenees. Nothing in them carries a hint of what he was doing. But a document in KGB files from December 1948 indicates that he was in Italy at that time, forming a company on our instructions to cover the illegal courier line between Europe and the USA.

Defectors from Communism have often spoken of a Kronstadt2 momentthe event that finally shatters illusions and precipitates a break with the cause to which they have devoted their lives. Stalinist paranoia had several times led to sweeping internal KGB purges. As Stalins anti-Semitic campaign gathered strength in the late 1940s and early 1950s, KGB officers with a Jewish background were shunted aside, demoted, or discharged, and foreign Jewish agents like Katz came under suspicion. As weve seen, Katz had told his Israeli contact Aviva Flint that suspicion about him in 1950 had ended his nearly two decades of revolutionary commitment. His letters that year are guarded but deeply revealing to anyone aware of his history.

One letter from 1950 hints at a recent traumatic eventprobably his interrogation by the KGB and his fear that he would be liquidated. I shall never forget the last few days, he wrote. The kind of things that happened would seem unreal in the worst pulp magazine story. I feel as though everything is unreal and out of focus. He told Menke that a few nights ago I was up all night preparing what I thought may be my last letter to his daughter, Paula.

In October, he lamented the choice he had made in a cautious but nonetheless clear reference to his work for Soviet intelligence: I know now the exact time and the exact chance happening to me that set me on a road from which there is no return. I think now that I had a feeling, a foreboding even then that I was starting on the wrong path, but once begun there was no turning back. I was never sure of what I was doing, but the element of adventure, the desire to impress and feel important overcame the doubts I had. He had, finally, come to the realization that my life up to now, all I believed and worked for, is a fraud and a lie.

He dropped hints that he feared for his life: When you ask me again and again where I will be, I cannot tell you. I am not sure about anything. When you ask such questions of me, it is clear that you do not understand my situation, and it isnt possible for me to make it any clearer. You must forgive my nervousness. Things are not good. He reported seeing himself on a deserted street in a strange city and [I] am a little afraid. Either to evade the KGB or, because he was spooked by the inquiries from French counterintelligence, he took a four-month vacation in the Basque country, writing that how I came here is a long story, but adding that there was a legend that Jews escaping the Inquisition found refuge in the Pyrenees.

Hiding from both the KGB and the FBI, Joseph disappeared again in 1951 before turning up in Israel by early November. He wrote Menke: Who was it that said, There is nothing sadder than a disillusioned revolutionary? He was filled with regret: I am sure that in our dreams of creating a better world we did wrong thingsand hurt those we lovedbut not because we were badwe hurt ourselves even more. He bitterly noted that we tried to spread beauty and truth, but it remained manure, and the flower does not grow.

David Katz later learned from his uncle that Israeli authorities had been suspicious of his bona fides when he arrived; during his first year he was questioned extensively about his Communist allegiance. He never discussed exactly what he told those in intelligence about his espionage activities, but managed to convince them that he had irreparably broken with his past. Exactly how forthcoming he was remains a secret in the archives of Israeli intelligence.

He may have abandoned Communism, but Joseph remained a committed socialist. He established close ties with Menachem Bader, an important figure in Mapam, the pro-Soviet Zionist political party that tried to blend Marxism and Jewish nationalism. In 1953, Mapam faced an existential crisis when one of its leaders, Mordechai Oren, was arrested on a trip to Czechoslovakia and forced to testify against 14 leaders of the Czech Communist Party. Under torture, he falsely confessed to being a British and Zionist spy and implicated the defendants, most of whom were Jewish, as his agents. Eleven of them were hanged, including Party leader Rudolf Slansky. Joseph wrote his brother that he was convinced the trial was a frame-up: In the end our dreams turned to nightmares. He became increasingly anti-Communist and more fervently Zionist. Better a Jewish state without socialism than socialism without a Jewish state, he wrote to Menke. He also remarked that Israeli forces should have conquered Cairo in the 1956 war to force the Egyptians to make peace, and he denounced the Russian fascists who had destroyed the Hungarian Revolution.

He worked with Kibbutz Artzi, a federation of left-wing Mapam settlements, helping individual collective farms with engineering projects. He began to do part-time work for the Ministry of Development and travelled to Europe to inspect equipment being considered for purchase. He spent a year or two in Africa with Solel Boneh, a government-owned construction firm, helping to build the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. (In 1976, the Israeli raid to free Jewish hostages was facilitated by the companys possession of the original blueprints, which helped the military plan the operation precisely.)

Joseph also remarried. He and his first wife, Bessie, had had a daughter, Paula, born in 1941. By 1945 they were estranged and Katz was living with a woman named Eva Getzoff. In March, Moscow reluctantly agreed to allow Getzoff to be used as a courier for Katz but worried that since he lived with her, there could be potential complications with his wife. Not long after this message, Katz signed up with the Merchant Marine; perhaps he was escaping a difficult love triangle.

When Joseph left for Europe in 1946, Eva Getzoff remained in the United States. Joseph must have had a reconciliation with Bessie, because in 1949 he informed Menke that Bessie and Paula had just departed from the home they shared with him in Paris for America. He and Bessie either divorced or he became a widower in the 1950s after she died of cancer, and Eva became his second wife. The shadow of their past never completely disappeared. In 1961, when the FBI arrested the spy Robert Soblen, it named Eva Getzoff as an unindicted co-conspirator. Neither Joseph nor Eva ever talked publicly about their pasts or cooperated with American intelligence.

In the 1960s, Joseph went to work for a film-equipment company and received patents in fiber optics, film lighting techniques, and the development and installation of double filament lighting and automated grid systems. His expertise in lighting and film techniques led to his employment by Berkey Photos, a British company, as its managing director. He moved to London in 1966. Berkey wanted to send him to the United States on company business, and Joseph, who had renounced his American citizenship shortly after arriving in Israel, feared he would be arrested. So he switched jobsand, improbably, helped make films that glamorized and fantasized the world of espionage that he had abandoned.

Despite his service as a technical adviser, Joseph was not listed in any of the credits of the Bond movies. David surmised that he was afraid of being too prominent, perhaps fearing the long arm of the KGB. While the KGB might have lost track of him, the FBI did not, as he knew. Fear of being arrested kept Katz out of the United States for decades. As the years went by, he began to take some risks. Around 1968, he came to America with an entourage that included Saltzman and Sean Connery and managed to avoid attention. Then, in September 1974, a grand family reunion was planned at Meishkes Great Neck home. David Katz was assigned to pick Joseph up at Kennedy Airport. He walked out of Customs and was immediately surrounded by FBI agents who took him into custody. He was eventually released, but Joseph was required to attend several meetings in a room at the Plaza Hotel where he was questioned. He refused to provide any information and, after the last interrogation, hired a car and left for Canada. His youngest brother, Meishke, later employed a law firm that succeeded in reinstating Josephs citizenship and his passport.

Menke and other family members knew the outlines of Josephs involvement in Soviet espionage. He had in fact occasionally spoken of it but mimimized the extent and significance of his activities. When Lampheres book The FBI-KGB War appeared in 1986, with its depiction of Joseph as an important Soviet spy, he told them that it was an exaggeration.

Although he always insisted to family members that he had never acted against American interests, but had primarily spied on Trotskyists and other Communist dissidents, he was more forthcoming to David just a few years before his death. David had shown Joseph a 1999 article in an obscure academic journal on intelligence. Written by Earl Hyde, a retired CIA agent, it was entitled Bernard Schuster and Joseph Katz: KGB Master Spies in the United States. The article praised Katzs versatility, which included skills such as safecracking, lock-picking, electronic bugging, and jujitsu, as well as being a crack shot, and it speculated that he was recruited as a young man and trained in the USSR. The article, Joseph told his nephew, was 100 percent accurate, except for the claim he had trained in the Soviet Union; he had learned his tradecraft in San Jose, California.

His business success had left Joseph a moderately wealthy man. He drove a Bentley. He lived in an expensive flat in London. In Israel he owned homes in Safed and an exclusive area of Tel Aviv. When he visited Lithuania after it became independent, staying for weeks in the most expensive hotel in Vilnius, he fell in love with a woman teaching at the university and wound up buying her an apartment. He was in his eighties; she was four decades younger than him. Eva suffered a fall, broke her hip, and died in 1993. Joseph hired a Ukrainian immigrant to take care of him and soon convinced himself that she was in love with him.

As his health declined he became more reliant on his Ukranian caregiver and on Danny Margalit, an Israeli contractor, whom he treated as a surrogate son. Margalit and his wife cooked meals for him, visited him often, and accompanied him on vacations. When Katz died in 2004 in Israel at the age of 92, he left his estate, worth about $3 million, to Margalit and the Ukrainian woman.

Joseph Katz devoted nearly 20 years of his long life to laboring in the clandestine world of Soviet intelligence. Abandoning both Communism and espionage before he was 40, he became a fervent Zionist and a successful businessman who collaborated in the portrayal of one of the iconic fictional figures of espionage. If he ever marveled at the disparity between the real life of a spy that he had once lived and the derring-do of James Bond, living a life of luxury, casually fending off super-villains with high-tech gadgets and bedding a series of glamorous women, he kept it to himself.

He looked nothing like the handsome leading men who played James Bond, but Katz was remarkably charismatic and remarkably manipulative. During his espionage career, he successfully directed dozens of American agents and sources and satisfied demanding Soviet superiors. He ran successful cover businesses that produced a steady stream of money to finance espionage operations. He was also cantankerous, moody, and volcanic, regularly picking quarrels with family members and breaking contact with them over perceived slights. He cheated on both his wives and left nothing in his will to his only daughter. Born in poverty, he died a wealthy man. Few members of his own family missed him, even though they were fascinated by him. David recalled lots of assholic qualities. Dovid found him unbearable.

In the Bond movie Octopussy, released in 1983, a villain sneers, You seem to have this nasty habit of surviving, to which Bond responds, You know what they say about the fittest. Joseph Katz navigated a remarkable journey. And even though he lived to tell the tale, he went to his grave without doing so.

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Judaism Doesn’t Need This ‘Genius’ – Commentary Magazine

Modern lessons from the Holocaust – Inquirer.net

The exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, launched on Feb. 10, 2017 at the University of Santo Tomas, includes a set of posters from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is a living memorial to the Holocaust. Photo by Kristine Angeli Sabillo/INQUIRER.net

As a young girl, Hadass Nisan had nightmares from hearing stories about the Holocaust.

She imagined gas chambers, crying babies and people killed by dogs.

Should I say more? Im not sure, she tells a hundred or so students attending the Holocaust Remembrance event at the University of Santo Tomas last week.

Nisan, who is now Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Israel in Manila, explained that while she did not experience the Holocaust or the genocide of European Jews, her grandparents survived the Holocaust in Germany.

And from their stories and the things she learned in school, she was exposed to things that you could not even imagine.

For many years, seriously, I had nightmares, she said.

The Holocaust refers to the systematic and state-sponsored persecution of millions of Jews by the Nazi regime, which came to power in Germany in 1933. By the end of World War II, six million Jews have been murdered, many in concentration camps where they were subjected to forced labor.

Fearing the repeat of such harrowing experiences, Nisan asked her mother if the Holocaust can happen again. But instead of assuring her that they were safe in Israel, her mother said that since it happened in the past it might happen again.

Lessons for everyone

Today, Nisan is among those who seek to educate people in order to prevent another Holocaust.

The Holocaust is not an issue of the JewsIt is the issue of (every) human being, she said.

Narcisa Tabirara, UST Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, said remembering the Holocaust is important, especially at a time when the world is seeing images of instability.

I hope we can see how the past can impact our present lives and to ensure we all work together to create a kinder and gentler world, she said.

Meanwhile, UNICs information officer Teresa Debuque pointed out that the Holocaust was considered a turning point in history by the UN General Assembly.

It prompted the world to say, Never again, she said. Never again will the community of nations sit idly by while an entire peopleis exterminated out of a misguided, inflated sense of racial superiority of another.

Debuque said people should remember what human beings are capable of, that there are no limits to the depth that one can sink.

During the program, the audience watched the documentary The Path to Nazi Germany, which detailed the prevailing social and economic realities that led to the rise of Nazi Germany. It showed how Adolf Hitler and the Nazis gained the favor of German citizens as they promised to regain the countrys strong economy and image.

Finding balance

Asked how the present generation can avoid making the same mistakes, especially amid US President Donald Trumps earlier plan to ban travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, Nisan said people should find a balance between nationalism and globalism.

She said each nation has values that reflect its peoples character and identity.

The opposite of having an identity and being part of a nation is the pluralism, to accept everybody, to be a global person, to love everyone, she said.

These are two edges [and we] need to find balance between them, Nisan said. Between the two edges of nationalism and globalism, there is something in between.

Nisan said she decided to become a diplomat to heal the world.

She said people should not be bystanders and instead do as much as we can to prevent such catastrophes.

She called the Filipino people the kindest people on Earth who accept everybody.

During World War II, the Philippines became instrumental in the saving of lives of more than a thousand Jews by opening the countrys doors to refugees.

A documentary on the event, titled Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust was screened at Malacaang Palace in 2014.

READ: How Filipinos became heroes during the Holocaust

Originally posted here:
Modern lessons from the Holocaust – Inquirer.net

Labor leaders back Bob Hawke’s Palestinian statehood call – The Australian Financial Review

Gareth Evans says Australia should “make clear the total unacceptability of any further settlement expansion”.

Former long-serving foreign minister Gareth Evans has joined Bob Hawke in urging Australia to officially recognise the state of Palestine.

In the wake of Israel’s contentious move to legalise settler homes on private Palestinian land, Australia should “make clear the total unacceptability of any further settlement expansion”, the Australian National University chancellor told The Australian Financial Review.

“And on the statehood issue we just go for it. We support it with 130 plus other countries that have already done so.”

Australia’s official position is that it supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Bipartisan policy has been to resist pressure to join other nations in granting diplomatic recognition to Palestine.

They will hearten the left of the ALP, which is pressing for a change in party policy to support an independent Palestinian state.

Former prime minister Bob Hawke sparked fresh debate with a piece in the Financial Review this week condemning an Israelilaw that, according to critics, legalises the theft of Palestinian land and further jeopardises peace prospects in the region.

On Wednesday, Mr Hawke’s comments drew criticism from his own side, with Victorian Labor MP Michael Danby accusing the former PM of making “historical errors”.

Rather than Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the barrier to a peace deal was a failure by the Palestinian leadership to negotiate directly with Israel, he said in a statement.

“Yes, Israel’s parliament passed a bad law on adverse possession of abandoned private property which will, like bad law in Australia or the US, be overruled,” he said.

“But Australians should not view Israel through the prism of one law retroactively legalising ‘absent possession’such laws where quite common for abandoned property throughout the Western World.

“Israel is a creative bastion where the only growing population of Christians in the Middle East live undiscriminated.”

At the last national conference, Labor opened a future government up to “discuss joining like-minded nations who have already recognised Palestine”.

The next conference is not until 2019 but sources said a caucus resolution could force a further shift earlier than that.

Another former Labor foreign minister, Bob Carr, reaffirmed his view that it was time to act.

“Everyone knows what’s going on here.Thehardliners in the Israeli cabinet have seized the opportunity of Trump’s election to unleash a slew of additional settlements on the West Bank. It is plain what the game plan is; smother the prospect of a Palestinian state and simply annex the West Bank or a large part of it.”

That should trigger the circumstances foreseen in the last paragraph of Labor’s 2015 conference resolution, Mr Carr added.

“Recognising Palestine sends a message to thePalestinians that there is still hope for a negotiated solution and to the hardliners in Israel that spreading settlements is losing Israel friends, even its most rusted on.”

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Labor leaders back Bob Hawke’s Palestinian statehood call – The Australian Financial Review