During the week covered by this review, we received 19 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust
Christians in Israel
Maariv, May 1, 2016
On April 30, a violent demonstration took place protesting a conference of the “Alternative for Germany” held on that day in Stuttgart, Germany. “Alternative,” a far-right political party, wished to approve a new position for itself at the conference, expressing its “lack of trust toward the Muslim population in the country.” Accordingly, the protestors chanted slogans such as “The refugees can stay, the Nazis must go”; they also burned tires and attempted to block the entrance to the conference hall. The police summoned to the scene used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protestors, and some 400 people were arrested.
Maariv, May 1, 3; HaPeles, May 2, 2016
Several high-ranking officials of the British Labour Party have been suspended for anti-Semitic statements such as “Israel is behind ISIS”; “Israeli Jews should be moved to the US in order to solve the conflict”; and “Zionist Jews are a shame to humanity.” Those close to Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party head since 2015, insist that there is no anti-Semitism in Labour and that Corbyn is being slandered. The London Times, quoting other senior Labour officials, has said that senior Parliament members may protest Corbyn’s treatment of the episode by resigning, especially if Labour suffers in the local elections shortly to take place. In addition, some donors to the Labour Party have already threatened to cease donations. Other Labour Party members have expressed disgust at the anti-Semitic statements made by their colleagues.
The first Maariv article analyzes various displays of anti-Semitism in British foreign policy since the time of the British mandate over Israel after World War I. One example is Ernest Bevin, the British foreign minister from the Labour Party, who refused thousands of Jewish refugees entry to Israel after World War II.
Haaretz, May 5, 2016
This article is the story of singer, songwriter, and actor Charles Aznavour, whose family, as survivors of the Armenian genocide, decided to conceal Jews, Armenian deserters, and resistance fighters during the Nazi conquest in France. In an interview, Aznavour describes how the Jewish Holocaust could not have taken place without the Armenian genocide, as the Germans learned from the techniques used in Armenia. “Receiving and hiding Jews during the war was natural for us,” continues Aznavour. “They were our neighbors and our friends.” Although eventually Aznavour and his family were obliged to hide in different locations, they were reunited after the war.
Maariv, May 5, 2016
This article recounts this year’s “Witnesses in Uniform” journey, recently taken by IDF mid- and high-ranking officers to Holocaust sites in Poland. One such site was the “death holes” in the Lofokhova forest, where the Jews of Tiktin were marched into the forest, shot, and buried in mass graves they themselves had dug. This was cited by many participants as “the most devastating moment” they had on the trip. “It catches you, shakes you, and turns you into a different, more proportional, less radical person,” stated one participant.
The purpose of the journey was not only to teach the tragic facts of the Holocaust, “but also to underscore the courage that came from this time and led to the founding of the state.” Another participant said, “As a commander it is different—I understood the meaning of courage, the ability to go on fighting since we have no other country.”
The delegation was accompanied by a Holocaust survivor who had been imprisoned in Majdanek. When the delegation visited there she laid a wreath on the train tracks. One of the participants, seeing this, stated, “You only understand the power of this moment if you understand the meaning of a girl who is returning to the place where she last saw her father.”
Maariv; Israel Hayom, May 5, 2016
A conference of jurists recently took place at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, marking the 80th anniversary of the Nürnberg laws and the 70th anniversary of the Nürnberg trials. The conference looked at two specific questions: “whether or not the lesson has been learned from the racism and incitement of the Nürnberg laws,” and “what steps must be taken to prevent genocide.” Speaking to the conference plenum, Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked stated, “We are witnessing a wave of new anti-Semitism—contemptible voices of Holocaust deniers and those who wish to distort reality, to blacken Israel’s face and present a false picture according to which Israel is the source of all the world’s evils.” Citing the recent examples of Ken Livingston of Britain and an EU Parliament member who accused Israel of “inventing the knife intifada,” Shaked further stated that “we feel anti-Semitic hate particularly in the continent that should have learned the most important lesson.” Prof. Irwin Cotler stated as well that “anti-Semitism was not exterminated at Auschwitz. If it starts with Jews, it won’t end with Jews.”
During the conference a group of leading jurists from all over the world, led by Cotler and Prof. Alan Dershowitz, signed a declaration entitled “Never Again.” The declaration condemns genocide and incitement and calls on the international community “to use a firm hand to stop the horrors taking place all over the world.”
Maariv, May 5, 2016
Asking what the connection is between Holocaust Memorial Day and the new examples of anti-Semitism in Britain, this articles states that people must “wake up and take the gloves off” and recognize that the British Labour Party and others in fact “are against us.” It is “in countries where the leaders are silent that the BDS movement thrives.” The article suggests “utter rejection of the legitimacy of the international community’s opposition to the annexation of Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights,” since “the world doesn’t hate us because of Judea, Samaria, or the Golan Heights, but because we rose from the dead in a Jewish country and resurrected our ancient language—in spite of Pharaoh, pogroms, the Arab rebellion, or UNESCO.” People must recognize “that there are people, parties, and even high officials that are not anti-Israel, not boycotters, not diplomats, but rather anti-Semitic.”
The Jerusalem Post, May 5, 2016
Although there has been a decrease in attacks on Diaspora Jews, institutional anti-Semitism is rising, according to a study by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University. The report “attributes the drop in Diaspora attacks to the greatly increased security around Jewish institutions,” and notes that “where there was little increase in security the number of incidents did not markedly decrease.” Citing the recent controversy in the British Labour Party, Dr. Moshe Kantor, the report’s sponsor, said that “the political spectrum is far more cyclical than we think,” and that “far Left elements have much in common with the far Right, fascism and intolerance, especially regarding the Jews.” Kantor stated as well that in order to fight anti-Semitism the term must be defined in a way that can be used by law enforcement agencies, instead of “the absurd situation we have today where what constitutes anti-Semitism is defined by the anti-Semites.”
Christians and the Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post, May 2, 2016
Polish clergy and Holocaust researchers are to attend an upcoming seminar on the 1946 pogrom in Kielce, during which locals killed 42 Holocaust survivors. The seminar aims “to promote the spiritual concept of forgiveness.”
The seminar will be taking place on the backdrop of the recent reluctance of the Polish government “to open discussions about the complicity of some Poles in the killing of Jews.” Jan Gross, a Polish-American professor at Princeton University, has even faced prosecution on suspicion of “insulting the Polish nation” by saying that “more Jews than Germans died at the hands of the Poles during World War II.”
Yediot Ahronot, May 4, 2016
This article reviews the current attitude of much of the Polish population toward Jews, citing statistics such as a World Zionist Organization survey saying that 63% of the population believe in various conspiracy theories regarding the Jews; 22% believe that the Jews, even those of today, are responsible for Jesus’ death; 44% believe that Jews rule the world; 44% of young people do not want a Jewish neighbor; and 40% of students do not want a Jewish classmate. The author takes care to mention that teenagers in Kraków display embarrassment rather than anti-Semitism when asked about World War II, saying things such as “we ourselves were victims of the Nazis,” but states as well that “this does not decrease the degree of collaboration with the Nazis,” and that “the survey results show an increase in traditional anti-Semitism,” since in Poland “there is less of a Muslim presence and less anti-Israel propaganda.”
Maariv, May 5, 2016
This article by MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) describes a visit she and MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) made to a March of the Living in Leipzig, Germany, at the invitation of an Israel-loving Christian group. They were hosted by Jobst Bittener, whose father, Wolfgang Bittener, was a Wehrmacht soldier under Rommel in North Africa. This was particularly moving for Ben-Ari, as her grandfather had been kidnapped from his home and sent to a forced labor camp near Benghazi. Early in 1943, when the Nazis were withdrawing from the area, the prisoners were supposed to be executed, but although the command did in fact come by telephone, the guards inexplicably chose not to carry it out and Ben-Ari’s grandfather was saved.
When asked by Bittener, Ben-Ari shared her grandfather’s story with participants before the march began, and they—the son and the granddaughter—marched together.
The Jerusalem Post, May 5, 2016
Yossi Peled is the Israeli chairman of the board of trustees for Jerusalem’s Friends of Zion Museum, “which commemorates and immortalizes the work of the Righteous Among the Nations.” Peled counts this responsibility a privilege, as he was saved during World War II by a Catholic family “who did everything in their power to protect him, provide for him, and give him as much of a decent life as possible during wartime.” “Heading the museum feels as if I am saluting my adoptive family,” said Peled.
HaModia, May 6, 2016
Two photographs of Jewish workers at the Bialystok ghetto have been donated to the Yad VaShem photo archive by Bernhard Hermann, who found them in an album of photos taken by his father, Karl Hermann, who served in a German artillery brigade on the eastern front from 1941 to 1943.
These photographs are particularly rare as there are few photos from Bialystok, and they show the less known aspect of Jews being forced to work in military production for the German army. In talking about the photographs, Dr. Dani Uziel, head of the Yad VaShem photo archive, stated that Bernhard Hermann must have decided to donate them “since he felt uncomfortable with them in his home.”
Christians in Israel
Israel Hayom, May 1, 2016
Thousands of Christians visited Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday, April 30, for the Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony, many lighting candles from the torch held by Greek Orthodox patriarch Theophilos III in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After the ceremony in the church the fire, symbolizing Jesus’ resurrection, is even taken to other countries.
Israel Hayom, May 6, 2016
This four-page article is an in-depth survey and interview with Father Gabriel Naddaf, who was asked to light a memorial torch at this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony “as a sign of thanks for his work in encouraging Israeli Christian youth to join the IDF.”
Naddaf formed the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum with two other priests in August 2012. He compares his support for the State of Israel to taking hold of a pillar in the face of the storm of persecution Christians all over the Middle East are suffering. “Enough is enough,” says Naddaf. “Only a few hours’ drive from here there are rivers of blood and children crying to us to save them.” Since 2012 he and his family have suffered significant persecution from the Arab community in which they live, and his two partners abandoned the project. His life has been threatened and he is always armed, but he insists on maintaining a normal routine as much as possible. “I’m afraid of heights because it’s a human thing. I’m startled by a mouse jumping out. I’m not afraid of my striving for truth. I don’t fear an organized action, but rather a lone person acting in response to all the incitement and mudslinging,” says Naddaf.
Aside from his Forum activities, Naddaf leads a congregation of 680 at the medieval Greek Orthodox church in Yafi’a. Although various political elements have started lobbying the Greek Orthodox patriarch both for and against defrocking Naddaf, he continues with all his activities and hasn’t taken a vacation in four years. “There’s no time for vacations,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned this is a time of war. . . . I am acting only out of my faith, and it does me good to belong. I have no other country.”
Shavshevet, April 13; Koreh BaKinneret, April 22, 2016
A bronze pitcher and fire pan have been found in excavations at Migdal. The fire pan is of particular note, as it is a “service vessel” mentioned in the book of Exodus that would have been used by priests, and only ten others have been found dating to the Second Temple period. However, others have been found with no ritual significance, and archaeologists surmise this to be the case for this one, as it was found in a warehouse near the port.
The pitcher and fire pan join other significant artifacts already recovered from the 2,000-year-old Jewish town discovered at Migdal, such as houses, ritual baths, streets, a market, and particularly the ancient synagogue with a square stone embellished with a menorah on one of its sides.