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Category : In the News

Ignoring pleas of local Jews, Greece swears in anti-Semitic minister

Makis Voridis Photo by Makis Voridis’s Facebook page

Haaretz, By Danna Harman | June 9, 2014

A lawyer by training, the 49-year-old Makis Voridis went into politics in 1994, founding the far-right Hellenic Front party – its motto was ‘Red Card to the Illegal Immigrants.’

Ignoring the pleas of Greece’s 5,000 strong Jewish community, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras promoted far-right politician Makis Voridis to his cabinet Monday as part of a re-shuffle intended to shore up support for his precarious government. Voridis, who is said to consider France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen a mentor and friend, is known for promoting anti-Semitic views. He has publicly questioned the authenticity of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and suggested “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” should be studied by historians. He will be sworn in Tuesday as the country’s new health minister. (more…)

Did Auschwitz trip lead to Palestinian professor’s resignation?

Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani at Al-Quds University. Photo by Matthew Kalman

Haaretz, By Matthew Kalman | June 8, 2014

Mohammed Dajani, the Al-Quds University professor who led the first organized group of Palestinian university students to Auschwitz, tenders resignation.

Mohammed Dajani, the Al-Quds University professor who received plaudits and threats earlier this year after leading the first organized group of Palestinian university students to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, has resigned from the university after weeks of mounting pressure.

He heads the Department of American Studies and is the director of the Al-Quds University Library, which has just moved into an impressive new building.

Professor Dajani told Haaretz he felt he had no choice after the university authorities refused to back up their private assurances with a display of public support after what he described as a campaign of “incitement” against him from some members of the university faculty. (more…)

President Obama quotes Pinchas Gutter, Holocaust survivor who participated in the March of the Living, at USC Shoah Foundation Dinner

Remarks by the President at USC Shoah Foundation Dinner

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel
Los Angeles, California – May 7, 2014

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Please, please, everybody have a seat.

Well, thank you, Steven, for your incredibly generous words, for this great honor, for your friendship, and most importantly, for the extraordinary work which brings us here all tonight. To Robert Katz and all the members of the board and staff of the Shoah Foundation; to President Max Nikias and everybody at USC; to all the distinguished guests and to all the friends that I see in this audience — it is an incredible honor to be with you as we pay tribute to a remarkable institution and one that makes claim on our moral imagination. (more…)

When Auschwitz Was a Jewish Town

Shopping in Auschwitz: Many homes and shops near Oswiecim’s market square were owned by Jews. During the German occupation, Rynek (ring square) was renamed Adolf Hitler Platz. (Collection of Lukasz Szymanski)

The Forward, By Anna Goldenberg, May 21, 2014

Town Was a Polish Center of Orthodox Life Until Nazis Came

Of all the things and places to give an endearing Jewish name, Auschwitz would seem the most unlikely. Oshpitzin — which comes from the Aramaic word for guest, ushpizin, and is the name of a traditional Sukkot prayer that welcomes guests — was how Jews once referred to Oswiecim, the Polish town that would become the location of the Nazis’ deadliest camp.

Oswiecim, as we learn in a small, new exhibition of photographs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, was home to a thriving Jewish community from the mid-16th century until the Holocaust. Jewish life in the Polish town flourished from 1867, when Jews in the Habsburg Empire were awarded full religious rights and Galicia became a de facto autonomous region, up until the outbreak of World War II. Estimates show that the Jewish population reached an all-time high in 1939, when the majority of the town’s 14,000 residents, was Jewish. (more…)

Anti-Semitism No Longer Taboo in Hungary as Jobbik-Led Culture War Rages

Stones of Memory: An elderly man lights a candle on the Szabadsag square, where Hungarian government’s plans to build up a memorial site which critics say symbolises a whitewashing of the state’s role in the Holocaust. (Getty Images)

The Forward, By Marton Dunai, May 21, 2014

Community Vibrant But Old Hatreds Bubble Below Surface

(Reuters) — Budapest’s Jewish community is vibrant, visible and patriotic; and yet seven decades after the Holocaust, the taboo about expressing anti-Semitic views is breaking down among many fellow Hungarians.

Some Jews and academics blame this on the far-right Jobbik party, which has come from nowhere to become the second most popular party as one recession after another has held Hungarians’ living standards far below the European average.

Jobbik, which is expected to perform strongly in European Parliament elections this weekend, denies accusations that its rhetoric is allowing open anti-Semitism to become accepted in modern day, democratic Hungary. (more…)

26 Percent of World’s Adults Are Anti-Semitic, Survey Finds

The New York Times, By Rick Gladstone, May 13, 2014

Twenty-six percent of all adults worldwide harbor anti-Semitic attitudes and nearly half have never heard of the Holocaust, the Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday in what it described as an unprecedented and sobering global survey that assessed the level and intensity of hostility toward Jews.

“For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said about the survey. It was conducted against a backdrop of recurring anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric that had never been systematically quantified in such a broad way. (more…)

Design of Nazi occupation statue etched in stone, Hungary’s Orban tells Jews

JTA, May 1, 2014

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told Jewish community leaders that he would build a controversial Nazi occupation monument despite their opposition.

Orban presented his firm position on Wednesday during a meeting with leaders of the the Mazsihisz Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, the news site www.nol.hu reported.

Mazsihisz believes the monument of an eagle attacking an angel whitewashes the prominent role that pro-Nazi Hungarian governments had in the murder of more than half a million Jews during the Holocaust by presenting Hungary as a mere victim. (more…)

March of the Living Budapest

March of the Living Budapest 30,000+ marching to train station where 600 participants will board train (of the living) to Auschwitz commemorating the 70th anniversary of deportations to the death camps (and the Shoah of Hungarian Jewry), with Irwin Cotler MP.

Earlier, MP Cotler chaired an international parliamentary panel on antisemitism at a special conference of the March of the Living Hungary.

Making Amends

Mosaic, By Robert Eli Rubinstein, April 27, 2014

A mysterious request leads the Canadian-born son of a Holocaust survivor back to the old country.

“There’s someone here to see you.”

“Who is it?”

“Her name is Magda Zelenka,” replied my receptionist. “She says she has something important to discuss with you, but she doesn’t have an appointment.”

It took me a moment to recall Magda. Decades earlier, my late father Bill had hired her and her husband Ferenc as superintendents of an apartment building in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. Despite his own shattered life back in Hungary, my father was remarkably free of vindictiveness, hiring Germans, Austrians, Ukrainians, Croats—even Hungarians—as long as they were the best qualified candidates for a job.

The Zelenkas proved excellent employees: hard-working, courteous, beloved by tenants. After long years of service, Ferenc suffered a series of heart attacks followed by a fatal stroke. Although Magda hoped to continue managing the building on her own, the challenge had proved overwhelming. She was no youngster, and hardly in the best of health herself. Nor, in spite of her lengthy residence in Canada, had she ever really mastered the English language, which made it difficult for her to communicate. With deep regret, she submitted her resignation, asking only that she be allowed to rent an apartment in one of our buildings. (more…)

‘Train of the Living’ to memorialize 70th anniversary of deportation of Hungarian Jews

HUNDREDS OF high school students from across the globe march from Auschwitz to Birkenau last year in an annual event sponsored by International March of the Living.

The Jerusalem Post, by Daniel K. Eisenbud, April 23, 2014

Hundreds of high school students to ride train from Budapest to Auschwitz to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation and murder of over 585,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II, hundreds of highschool students from across the globe will travel by train from Budapest to Auschwitz, where they will join 10,000 other students to march to the Birkenau extermination camp.

The four-day event, organized by International March of the Living to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, will begin on Friday in Hungary, which is ranked among the most anti-Semitic nations in Europe. (more…)