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Category : In the News

Australia’s Jews Fume After PM Says ISIS Worse Than Nazis

Haaretz, by AP, September 3, 2015

Australia’s prime minister angered some Jewish leaders on Thursday by suggesting that the Islamic State movement was worse than Nazis during World War II.

It is the third time this year that gaffe-prone Prime Minister Tony Abbott has riled Jewish Australians with Nazi analogies.
Abbott used an interview with Sydney Radio 2GB on Thursday to credit Nazis with a sense of shame for atrocities they committed.

“The Nazis did terrible evil, but they had a sufficient sense of shame to try to hide it,” Abbott said. “These people boast about their evil, this is the extraordinary thing,” Abbot said of Islamic State fighters.

“They act in the way that medieval barbarians acted, only they broadcast it to the world with an effrontery which is hard to credit,” he added.

Poland’s mixed feelings over memorial to rescuers of Jews

AP, by Venessa Gera, August 30, 2015

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — As a Catholic Pole, Elka shouldn’t even have been in the ghetto of Czestochowa, in southern Poland. But the nanny was so devoted to the 12-year-old Jewish boy she had raised since infancy that she refused to leave. She ended up being sent to the Treblinka death camp — where she was murdered with the Jews.

Today the boy, Sigmund Rolat, is an 85-year-old Polish-American businessman and philanthropist on a mission. He aims to build a memorial in heart of Warsaw’s former ghetto to his beloved Elka and the thousands of other Polish Christians who risked their lives for Jews during World War II.

While the project has the blessing of Poland’s chief rabbi, it has also sparked strong opposition. Many scholars and some Jews fear that a monument to Polish rescuers at Warsaw’s key site of Jewish tragedy will bolster a false historical narrative that Poles largely acted as rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. In reality, many Poles were indifferent to the plight of Jews during the war and some participated in their persecution.

Official Polish narratives about the Holocaust already typically highlight the Poles who risked their lives to save Jews. Poland has been actively promoting the memory of Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who brought proof to the West of the destruction of Poland’s Jews.

Op-ed: New German film ‘Look Who’s Back,’ which satirizes Hitler, should not have been made for same reasons Charlie Chaplin regretted making ‘The Great Dictator.’

YNet News, by Noah Klieger

In October, “Look Who’s Back”, a satire based on the bestselling novel by Timur Vermes, which describes Adolph Hitler’s return after decades of deep sleep, will be screened in Germany. Our reporter in Berlin, Eldad Beck, has noted that the promotion machine has already begun on the Internet in order to inform the public about the upcoming event.

Cinematic satire about Hitler? I have difficulty accepting this. In any event I do not see films or plays about the Holocaust, because I think that the destruction of six million Jews should not be material for the screen or the stage, whatever the intentions of the artist.

I also don’t buy any one of the so-called explanations that accompany such films: Directors talk about the importance of the story, in part because it raises the question of whether the Germans would receive the teachings of the Führer today and follow him as they did in the past.

This Day in Jewish History, 1903 Herzl Proposes Kenya (Not Uganda) as a Safe Haven for the Jews

Uganda: This could have been a Jewish homeland, for a while, if the idea touted by the British and promoted by Herzl had caught on. Credit: Ed Wright, Wikimedia Commons

Haaretz, By Alona Ferber, August 26, 2015

On August 26, 1903, the founding father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, proposed British East Africa as a safe haven for Jews, speaking at the Sixth Zionist Congress. The “Uganda scheme,” as it is usually called – even though the territory proposed was in part of today’s Kenya – caused bitter controversy within the Zionist movement. 

In 1896, Herzl published his book “Der Judenstaat” – “The Jewish State”, and convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland the next year. That congress adopted what became known as the Basel Program, which aimed to establish “a legally assured home in Palestine” for the Jewish people.

The secrets of Ukraine’s shameful ‘Holocaust of Bullets’ killing centre where 1.6million Jews were executed

Please note, this is a text only version. To read the article with archival photographs (many of which contain graphic content), click here.

The Daily Mail, By Will Stewart, August 24, 2015

Seventy years on from the end of the Second World War the full, shocking scale of the Nazi-inspired Holocaust in Ukraine is finally being revealed – thanks to pioneering work by a French Catholic priest to research the truth of the industrial-scale killing.

Around 2,000 mass graves of Jewish victims have been located where men, women and children were shot and buried by the Germans and their collaborators.

But there maybe up to 6,000 more sites to uncover, with victims of this ‘Holocaust of bullets’ – so called because unlike in Poland and Germany where gas chambers were used as the means of slaughter – here most were summarily shot and buried nearby.

In many cases, the Jews were ordered to dig pits and then to strip naked before they were mown down by their murderers.

Some were buried in the unmarked plots while still alive.

Was anti-Semitism behind the mass food poisoning of Israeli youth soccer team in Bulgaria?

By JPOST.COM STAFF, August 23, 2015

According to Sport 5 television, members of the team who were staying at their hotel in Sofia began complaining of stomach aches and diarrhea, while some began vomiting and even fainting.

Israeli soccer officials hinted that anti-Semitism may have been the reason that the entire Maccabi Petah Tikva youth soccer team fell victim to food poisoning so severe that each of the players ended up in a hospital in Bulgaria over the weekend.

According to Sport 5 television, members of the team who were staying at their hotel in Sofia began complaining of stomach aches and diarrhea, while some began vomiting and even fainting.

A number of players were released from hospital, while others are still in need of treatment.

This Day in Jewish History, 1924 Germany’s Favorite Israeli Writer Was Born

Ephraim Kishon at his 80th birthday party on August 25, 2004. Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

Haaretz, By Alona Ferber Aug 23, 2015

Hungarian-born Ephraim Kishon would have an ambivalent relationship with Israel but become one of its most beloved satirists.

On August 23, 1924, Ephraim Kishon, the man who would become Germany’s favorite Israeli writer,  was born in Budapest. A satirist, novelist, playwright and filmmaker, Kishon went on to sell 43 million copies of his books worldwide – of which 32 million were in German.

Kishon was born by the name Ferenc Hoffmann to a middle-class Hungarian Jewish family. His father was a bank manager, his mother a secretary. He also had one sister, Agnes.

His talent began to show at a young age: Hoffmann won his first writing prize at age 16. But Hungary’s racial laws, enacted between 1938 and 1941, meant that the young Jew could not pursue university studies. And so, in 1942, Hoffmann began training as a goldsmith.
In 1944, five years after World War Two began, the satirist-to-be was sent to a number of labor and concentration camps, where, by virtue of extraordinary luck, he narrowly escaped death several times. A talented chess player, in one camp his skills saved him when the commander wanted an opponent. In another, Kishon was spared when officers lined up prisoners and shot every tenth inmate. En route to the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland, he escaped, surviving the rest of the war by pretending to be a Slovakian laborer. “They made a mistake—they left one satirist alive,” he would write in his 1998 novel, “The Scapegoat.”

The Uneasy Death of Holocaust Survivors

Illustration: Holocaust survivors in Israel. Credit: Alex Levac

Washington Jewish Week via JTA, August 11, 2015

Holocaust survivors present special challenges to rabbis in Jewish hospices, who try to help them deal with survivor guilt and mixed feelings at ‘meeting relatives on the other side.’

Jewish hospice chaplains confront the emotional and medical complexities of death and dying every day, but Holocaust survivors present special challenges.

Rabbi E.B. “Bunny” Freedman, director of the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network, said that chaplains are increasingly being called on to provide spiritual support to survivors and their families.

“There are a lot of complex issues,” said Freedman, who has worked in end of life chaplaincy for 23 years. “One of them is making the decision of unhooking hydration – much more complex for a Holocaust family. The idea of not providing nutrition is crossing a sacred or not understood emotional line.”

Survivor guilt and mixed feelings at the prospect that they may “meet their relatives on the other side” commonly surface, he said.
Rabbi Charles Rudansky, director of Jewish clinical services at Metropolitan Jewish Health System’s hospice in New York, reported similar experiences with Holocaust survivors he had counseled.

Former Bond Girl Jane Seymour Explores Family’s Holocaust Past

She was born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. But you probably know her as Jane Seymour.

Forward, by Anne Cohen, August 10, 2015

Turns out the actress and former Bond Girl is a proud member of the Tribe — with a storied family past. According to The Mirror, Seymour’s paternal grandfather, Lewin ­Frankenberg, left Poland for the United Kingdom in the late 1930s, leaving his two sisters, Jadwiga and Michaela behind.

Soon after, the Nazis invaded the country and they lost touch.

With the help of BBC1’s “Who Do You Think You Are,” the 64-year-old traveled to Warsaw to find out what happened to her great-aunts. “In my family there are people who know bits and pieces but nobody knows the whole story,” she says in the upcoming episode , which will air in the UK on August 13th.

Unlike so many, she actually found answers.

Europe’s Deepest Debt

New York Times, by Roger Cohen, August 10, 2015

From time to time I am reminded of all that Europe lost. It can happen in the most unlikely places, like in San Diego for example.

I was sitting the other day with a friend named Bonnie Richins. She told me that, as children, she and her sister were not allowed to wear striped clothes. They reminded her father, Kurt Lorig, of the pajama-like attire the Nazis forced him to wear in Auschwitz.

Kurt was born a German Jew. Unlike most of his family, he survived the Holocaust, became an American, settled in California and built a business in outdoor furniture. He always drove an American car. In the 1950s he would sometimes amuse himself by trying to force German-made Volkswagen Beetles off the road — or almost.

Shortly after he arrived in the United States, Kurt and his girlfriend eloped to Tijuana. The marriage lasted over 50 years. It was punctuated by a separation. During that time Bonnie’s sister, who was bipolar, died on an L.A. freeway. She had pulled over. Her car was still running. She had wandered into the road.

Like many survivors, Kurt did not speak of what had happened in Europe. What had happened was unspeakable. Auschwitz left no words. It overwhelmed the lexicon of the hitherto.