Annual meeting will be overshadowed by the recent exposure of a massive misappropriation of funds.On Tuesday, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) will be holding its annual meeting in New York. Proceedings will be overshadowed by the recent exposure of a massive misappropriation of funds, which will be regarded as one of the ugliest Jewish organizational financial scandals in our time. The New York-based Jewish Week recently made the shattering disclosure that the FBI was investigating fraudulent misappropriation of at least $7 million, possibly substantially more, over the past decade from the Article 2 Fund created in 1995 by the German government to provide quarterly pensions to eligible Holocaust survivors. The task of administering the payments had been delegated to the Claims Conference. It had already been disclosed earlier in February that the Claims Conference had dismissed three employees, one of whom was the supervisor of the Hardship Fund. It appeared that $350,000 was involved and investigations into that fraud apparently led to the discovery of the far greater misappropriation from the pension fund. Had The Jewish Week not exposed the story, there is every likelihood that the public would not be aware of what had transpired. One would have assumed that a scandal of this order involving restitution funds would have caused a major stir throughout the Jewish world. Yet there seems to have been little follow up or outrage. To make matters worse, Claims Conference executive vice president Gregory Schneider had the gall to inform The Jewish Week that “no Holocaust survivors” lost any money and that there had not been a failure in standard operating procedures. THREE YEARS ago, in a Jerusalem Post column, I suggested that it was time for a major and comprehensive review of the outdated structure of the Claims Conference. I pointed out that the membership of that body was completely out of sync with the current realities of Jewish life, which still includes extinct organizations such as the Anglo Jewish Association and the Jewish Labor Committee which retain equal representative status to the Jewish Agency. I also noted that there was a lack of transparency, that the organization functions more like an old boys club than a representative body and that the board is largely a rubber stamp to endorse the decisions of a few machers. Members of the board are disinclined to rock the boat by challenging the administration or seeking to reform the structure – confirmed by the fact that the board never meaningfully evaluates allocations submitted by the selection committee. This view was reinforced subsequently when the shady deals involving the New York/New Jersey branch of the Global March of the Living Program were exposed. The March of the Living was founded by Avraham Herschson, the disgraced former Israeli finance minister who is currently serving a jail sentence for fraud. Herschson had arranged for Curtis Hoxter to receive consultancy fees in excess of $700,000 allegedly for fund-raising activities on behalf of the March of the Living, despite the fact that the bulk of contributions were being provided by the Claims Conference. When Hoxter was asked why the March of the Living paid him $700,000 he could not recall. The Claims Conference then undertook to do a thorough investigation to ascertain what had happened to these funds, but since then there has been a deafening silence. IF THE Claims Conference, which apparently failed to oversee the utilization of funds in other areas, is now facing yet another scandal, it would surely be appropriate to launch an independent forensic audit to cover its broad operations to allay concerns and instill confidence in the Jewish world that adequate oversight is being applied. There is no suggestion that malfeasance on the part of the directors was involved, but there surely should be accountability for what appears to have been gross incompetence. The problem is that there is little likelihood of the leaders being brought to task because of the conflicts of interest of board members to retain the benefits for their respective organizations. This latest scandal highlights the urgent need to infuse the Claims Conference with new leadership and restructuring of its board to satisfy the Jewish public that restitution funds are managed in an exemplary manner. A discourse throughout the Jewish world to review the criteria for granting assistance to survivors and the ground rules of eligibility for providing grants to worthy organizations or projects is also highly overdue. Most importantly, the Jewish public has difficulty in comprehending why there are so many Holocaust survivors living in abject poverty while considerable sums continue to be expended by the Claims Conference on causes which lack a genuine relationship with the Holocaust, ranging from the Tel Aviv Yiddish Theater, Hatzola Volunteer Ambulance Services in Brooklyn, Birthright and Bnei Brak women’s organizations. Perhaps this extraordinary scandal will impel some of the more responsible directors to set aside their organizational interests, introduce greater accountability and initiate genuine reform to the Claims Conference. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten years ago this past month my book The Holocaust Industry was published. It evoked outrage from the Jewish-Holocaust-Israel establishment and marked the beginning of the end of my academic career. I lost my job at Hunter College right after its publication and Depaul University cited it as grounds for denying me tenure in 2007. Much of the outrage was directed at the chapter entitled The Double Shakedown, in which I documented the Holocaust industry’s blackmail of European governments in the name of “needy Holocaust victims” and then the shakedown of Holocaust victims by the Jewish organizations that pocketed the “Holocaust compensation” monies. Although controversial then, it has now become a commonplace how corrupt this racket was. Nearly all the principals in the Holocaust shakedown racket — Rabbi Israel Singer, Alan Hevesi, Burt Neuborne, Neal Sher, Melyvn Weiss, Edward Fagan, Avraham Herschson — have been exposed as crooks. A central role in this racket has been played by the Claims’ Conference. I post below a recent chapter in the sordid saga. I would enter one caveat however: the biggest crooks are not those who embezzled money from the Crooks’ Conference but those who run it, in particular the filthy Greg Schneider. Out of deference to the memory of my late parents, I categorically oppose the death penalty (both my parents vehemently opposed it), but out of respect for their memory I also certainly wouldn’t mind if all these characters were hoisted on the nearest lamppost by ropes around their necks.
Page Six of the New York Post reports that Mark wrote this article while getting serviced in his Upper Eastside jacuzzi. He then went out for pizza with the “high-priced” call girl. (She paid for her slice.)
The beauty of the almost unanimous international condemnation of Israel for attempting to stop the terrorist flotilla like gentlemen — using paint guns? — instead of using serious military force, should send a message to Jews: You can’t win by being polite to terrorists who have a schoolyard bully mentality. Weakness brings out even more outrageous behavior in bullies.
Next flotilla that violently resists a search — just sink it. Torpedo it. See how many more flotillas follow. The condemnation won’t be any different. Better that than even one more Jew being injured while boarding these floating Jenins.
Few events in recent decades have illuminated the complete hypocrisy of the world. There is nothing that Israel can do or could have done that would stop the next diplomatic ambush. So start acting tough. Call off all peace talks and "proximilty" talks, just like the Palestinians do or threaten to do for "provocations" far less grievous than the Arab-orchestrated gang-up of the past week. If the Palestinians demand a freeze on settlements and construction in Jerusalem before any talks, Israel should demand an end to incitement and nonsense like these fake humanitarian stunts. Throw Obama’s go-between, George Mitchell, out of the country. Start building again in the settlements and Jerusalem. Obama treats enemies better than friends, so don’t be afraid of him, especially with midterm elections coming. And sink the next flotilla — and the one after that.
If the peace process is so important to the United States, Obama will have to start figuring out a way to make Israel feel less isolated and demonized.
By Israel fighting as if their lives actually depended on it — which it does — Israel will, in fact, be taken more seriously by the international scholyard bullies. Bring back the "fear factor." It is the reason why in 1980 Iran released the hostages when Reagan became president, and not during Carter’s presidency, because Carter was rightly seen by the Iranians as a wimp and Reagan was feared as a trigger-happy cowboy.
We are no longer in the general Euopean anti-Semitism mode but deeper into the new run-up (in the Arab mind) to the Final Solution — the extermination of Israel. In old Germany, a Jew sitting on an Aryan park bench was as much of a criminal as a Jew who robs a bank. So we might as well rob the bank. We might as well take out Iran as take out the flotilla.
The Other Side is fearless now. If someone is going to fear anyone, make the bad guys fear Israel. Right now, too many Jews fear the world. Turn the tables. Make the bad guys think that Israel is craziest S.O.B. in the room. Make everyone wonder what the Jews will do. The world will be furious? Imagine that. Imagine winning.
All that Jews have done lately far is imagine losing. That has to end.
This is a war. Either win it or surrender now, before any one else gets hurt.
Flotilla activists had ample opportunity to defuse the situation before the IDF arrived – instead they decided on violence
The tragic events of Monday morning are, rightly, sending shockwaves around the world – but blaming the IDF alone for the carnage flies in the face of the facts. Video footage from an on-board news agency clearly shows a premeditated attack on Israeli soldiers, with activists using iron bars and other weapons to assault the troops and giving the IDF carte blanche to respond with force against them.
That there was a Nobel peace prize laureate on board is irrelevant. That there were electric-powered wheelchairs among the cargo is irrelevant. That Gazans are suffering immensely from the years’-old siege of their land is unpalatable and unfortunate – but also irrelevant in the context of this particular incident. Israel had given countless warnings to the activists not to proceed with their trip without first allowing the freight on their ships to be checked; Israel had repeatedly offered to allow the aid in as long as the activists handed it over to the army to be inspected.
At the same time, those supposedly bringing “aid” to the people of Gaza have form for using alleged acts of humanitarianism as cover for weapons smuggling – and Israel has every right to defend its own citizens from the consequences of such illicit transfer of arms. There is not a country on earth that would not take similar steps to protect its people; there is not an army on earth that would not allow its soldiers to respond with force to neutralise a life-threatening attack on their fellow troops.
The activists who launched the vicious assault on the boarding soldiers knew full well what they were doing. They had issued threat after threat against the IDF in the days building up to this morning’s clash, with convoy organiser Huwaida Arraf brashly declaring his group’s unwavering dedication to reaching Gaza: “They are going to have to forcefully stop us.” Club-wielding assailants might not fit the cute and cuddly image of stereotypical aid workers, but there can be no doubt from the evidence that those attacking the Israeli forces were not the archetype of calm and measured peace activists.
One of the first diplomatic reactions to the deadly affair came from Murat Mercan, a lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling party: “I was expecting an intervention. I was not expecting bloodshed, the use of arms and bullets.” The official Turkish line is that Israel has behaved in an “unacceptable” fashion, yet – unsurprisingly – not one Turkish politician has had the honesty or courage to lay an iota of blame at the feet of the ultra-violent activists. Without such a sustained attack on the troops, Mercan’s predictions of a blood-free intervention would have come to pass: but he, like many others in his position, prefers not to dwell on such minor details if it means having to concede even an inch of ground to the Israelis.
Reports have surfaced claiming that an activist tore a soldier’s machine gun from his grasp and used it to shoot him with: what might have seemed a far-fetched story spun to improve the IDF’s standing over the attack is given far more credence when considered in the context of quite how savagely numerous activists greeted the arrival of the troops on to the ship. Those on board the ship had ample opportunity to defuse the situation in the days and hours leading up to the commandos’ arrival: instead, they decided that violence was the best way to play their hand, and given their intransigence, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
In the wider political context, Israel’s government and army are clearly at fault over a myriad of issues, as are the leaders and politicians of Hamas – but what took place aboard the Freedom flotilla must be viewed in isolation in terms of the violence from both sides, rather than used as yet another rod with which to beat Israel simply because it suits certain parties to do so.
The immediate response of hundreds of civilians in Turkey – attacking consulates, fighting with local police – is another example of the resorting-to-violence mob’s myopic behaviour that so impedes efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine imbroglio using peaceful and diplomatic means. Violence is the stock in trade of extremists on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian war: settlers and soldiers on one side, militants and terror leaders on the other; pretending that the violence emanates from the Israeli side only is a spurious and senseless way to paint the picture.
When Israel’s wrongs are brought to light, they deserve condemnation as much as those of the Palestinians, but that does not mean automatically that in any situation the default position ought to be Israel is guilty until proven innocent. In the case of the Freedom flotilla, Israel made repeated efforts during recent weeks to assist the activists in their mission and avoid bloodshed.
Even during the raid, troops did not fire on those on board at first, instead simply trying to go about their business of inspecting the cargo. When they were attacked with venomous force by the activists, they were left with no choice but to respond in kind. Those are the only facts that matter here, and all the kneejerk Israel-hating in the world won’t absolve the activist aggressors from their share of guilt for the horrific events that unfolded today.
• Comments on this article will remain open until 5pm today
Written by –Wednesday, 03 February 2010 TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada has called for everyone to re-dedicate themselves to fighting antisemitism on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which takes place annually on Jan. 27, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz. This year, marks the 65th anniversary of that liberation. “As we mark 65 years since Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, the death camp where over one million people were mercilessly slaughtered, we must make sure that the history and lessons of the Holocaust are remembered and that the memory of the victims is honoured,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “This cannot just be a matter of words – there must be action too. “This year, as we witness antisemitism reaching levels not seen in decades, it is especially important that we ensure that the lessons and memory of the Holocaust are not forgotten. What started as a campaign of marginalization and discrimination ended, a few short years later, in an unprecedented blood-fest: the attempted annihilation of the Jewish people. But Hitler’s rise to power and the Holocaust did not happen in an instant. The world could have acted when the warning bells started going off, or subsequently as they became louder and louder, but instead chose to dismiss them as the ‘ravings’ of a mad man. “As frightening as it is to admit, in 2010, we must again ensure that society does not sit by complacently as we witness the ugly face of antisemitism rising again, with Der Sturmer-type propaganda appearing even here in Canada, and a new madman overseas promising the destruction of the Jewish state.” “On the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we witness antisemitism at disturbing levels across the globe, while the forces of Islamist terrorism – which currently espouses the most radical antisemitism – holds the world hostage in its grip. In light of this, let this be a day when we re-dedicate ourselves to the fight against hatred, and demand from our leaders a commitment to stand up against bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms.” • • • The letter below is a response to a press release issued by B’nai Brith Canada (see above) that quoted CEO?Frank Dimant on International Holocaust Remembrance Day Duel loyalty charged In 1994 I travelled to Poland with your wife, your sister-in-law and your mother-in-law Eva Kupfert, Z”L. We visited Auschwitz together where Eva lit a yahrzeit candle for her murdered sister in the ruined crematorium. Now I have the distinct displeasure of reading your January 26th press release on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Your hateful words prove that you have learned absolutely nothing from Eva’s experiences. You, sir, have learned no lessons from the Second World War Nazi Holocaust. You, sir, are a hate-monger yourself. What rise in anti-Semitism are you detecting? I see none. For years, I have increased my religious observance without hindrance. As Jews, my family members and I are denied access to absolutely no avenue, interest, service or industry in our society. Quite the contrary: we have every opportunity and advantage available to us easily, such as our parents and grandparents could not imagine in Canada, in the USA, in Europe. Your reference to Islamic terrorism is despicable. That you tar people of one of the world’s major faith systems – and our Biblical cousins – as terrorists, well, you, sir, are a hate-monger. Terrorism – whether perpetrated by persons born to Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist parentage – is mere criminality, like all other criminality. Yet you – the leader of a ‘human rights’ group – would brand that with a religious mark. I am sickened by your statement. You fail to acknowledge (and how could you?) that there are seeds of hatred implanted deeply in your blind support of a foreign power, the State of Israel. Israel’s attack on Gaza last year was an act of militaristic race-based hatred that your organization – were you honest – would condemn just as you would condemn genuine anti-Semitism and functioning racism. Yet you won’t because you, sir, and your organization are not really interested in participating as citizens in Canadian democracy. You are, as you well know, an agent of the Zionist state and a traitor to the lessons of the Holocaust that dear Eva Kupfert knew so well. Get off your phony moral high horse. Because you, sir, have bet you tuches on the wrong horse. Emanuel Paltiel Lowi Montreal, QB • • • Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, responds to the letter on the left Lessons of history Your email sent to me on the day that we mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz leves me incredulous. You evoke the memory of my mother-in-law and her lighting the candle in memory of her murdered sister. Would my father-in-law have been alive, he too could have walked through Auschwitz, recalling the horrors as he had served as an inmate there. Similarly, my father could equally have pointed out all of the horrors of Auschwitz and would gladly have shown you the number tattooed on his arm. My mother, of blessed memory, would have been prepared to tell you about her experiences in Gestapo headquarters in her city, and her experiences in Dachau and labour camps. I write this to you to tell you that I need no lesson from you regarding the Holocaust. Sadly, you have missed the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust. Neither my in-laws, or parents, or others like them would have been in such hellholes as Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, or Buchenwald – if there had been a Jewish state. Your poisonous feelings about the modern state of Israel are horrendous to comprehend when one thinks of the precious jewel and gift that the Jewish people have once again inherited as their rightful possession. Imagine if there had been an Israel that would have welcomed the Jews that Hitler wanted out of Europe. Imagine if there had been an Israel that welcomed those who were travelling on the St. Louis. Imagine a world today where those six million Jews would have survived and the contributions that they could have made to the entire world. Imagine what one and a half million children who were tortured and murdered could have given to this world. The contributions that the tiny state of Israel makes today in technology, medicine, philosophy and the arts is astronomical. What great things could have come had we not lost a third of our population. Sir, do not preach to me about Israel defending its citizens. Do not give me your left-wing rhetoric on disproportionate force used against the terrorists. Do not for one second lecture me on the values of Radical Islam that wants to destroy the remnant of the Jewish people who are living in Israel. You speak of being a Jew who is a practising Jew. Quite frankly, I think you are being less than honest. For no practising Jew, no Jew who cares, no Jew who understands the intrinsic message of the Holocaust, could possibly write the horrific damnation of Israel that you have done. Your hideous remarks challenging my loyalty to Canada and questioning my concern for this country are such a reminder of the canard of the charges of dual loyalty used against the Jews by antisemites throughout history. Sadly I know you are not alone, that there are thousands of other Jews who subscribe to your views. I can only hope and pray that the state of Israel becomes stronger, that the commitment of the Zionists becomes greater, and that your poison does not continue to spread to your children and grandchildren. And I trust and pray that B’nai Brith will continue to ensure that the fight against antisemitism is victorious and that we are not misdirected by individuals like you.
If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.
By Gidi Weitz
Nadav Haetzni’s law firm, which provides legal advice to the state-owned Company for Restitution of Holocaust Victims Assets, has earned millions of shekels in fees over the last three years.Information obtained by Haaretz shows that the firm, Puris Haetzni Rosenberg & Co., took in NIS 1.2 million in fees in 2008 and over NIS 1 million in 2009; the figure for 2007 was similar. That sum is on top of the hundreds of thousands of shekels the company paid to other law firms during those years. The government established the restitution company in summer 2006 pursuant to law passed by the Knesset. Its charged with locating the heirs of Holocaust victims who had assets of any kind – land, money, stocks, etc. – in prestate Israel, and to compensate the heirs for these assets according to their real value today. If the heirs cannot be located, the company is supposed to use the assets to help Holocaust survivors and fund Holocaust education. Last summer, Brig. Gen. (res.) Zvi Kanor, a former senior air force officer, was appointed the company’s CEO. He sought to reduce Haetzni’s fees, which other senior company officials thought were excessive. In November 2009, the company’s board of directors met to discuss the issue. At that meeting, Miriam Rubinstein, a board member who formerly served as a deputy attorney general, said that in light of the growing criticism of the huge legal fees the company was paying, as well as the problems it was having getting prompt legal advice when needed, the CEO had proposed hiring an in-house lawyer who would be administratively subject to Kanor and professionally subject to the external legal advisor. That would enable the company to reduce the retainer it was paying to Haetzni. From now on, Rubinstein said, the company would limit its outlays on litigation and prelitigation to a maximum of NIS 55,000 a month. Haetzni’s retainer would be cut from NIS 28,000 to NIS 20,000 a month, Kanor added. Haetzni told the board that he agreed to Kanor’s proposal, on the understanding that any work that was neither litigation nor prelitigation and was not covered by the retainer would be billed separately. Relations between Kanor and Haetzni have reportedly been tense, both because of the high fees Haetzni charged and because Kanor was unhappy with the lawyer’s work from a professional standpoint. These tensions flared after Kanor himself became the focus of another controversy: As Haaretz reported a few weeks ago, an audit report submitted by the company’s in-house auditor, accountant Gali Gana, accused Kanor of a conflict of interests in the company’s relocation from Ramat Gan to Petah Tikva three months ago. The contract for planning and designing the new offices was awarded to Toolbox Design, which counts Kanor’s son Yaron as a partner. During discussions on the move, Kanor had lashed out at Haetzni over the contract he drew up with the owner of the original office in Ramat Gan, even calling him a “lousy lawyer.” After Gana’s report was published, Haetzni responded with a harsh letter to the company’s audit committee. “In light of the two critical reports that have been placed on your desks, it is hard not to conclude that Mr. Kanor’s unsystematic and unjustified criticism of me is meant to serve an ulterior purpose,” Haetzni wrote. “Its purpose is to justify the fact that the issue of the move, and many other legal issues affecting the company, have not been given to the legal advisor to handle, as they should have been, since Mr. Kanor took office. In light of the facts presented in the above reports, it is also hard not to reach the conclusion that I was kept out of these issues so that it would be possible to do things that could not have been done had I been involved – things that I could not have approved in my role as legal advisor.” Haetzni also noted that at Kanor’s insistence, he did not draw up the contract with the owner of the new offices. On Friday, the board of directors discussed Gana’s report and issued a statement saying it viewed Kanor’s behavior in this case very gravely, and would take steps against him should such an incident ever recur. The directors also decided to tighten their own supervision over the company and the CEO. “Effectively, this is a CEO whose wings have been clipped,” one senior company official said on Sunday. Lawyers, incidentally, are not the company’s only outside consultants. For instance, it also pays Eyal Arad’s public relations firm thousands of dollars a month for PR services. One senior company official said Arad’s retainer used to be $6,000 a month, but was recently reduced to $1,000. That is on top of the hundreds of thousands of shekels Arad was paid to run a campaign to locate the victims’ heirs in Israel, and the approximately NIS 1 million the company plans to spend to have him run a similar campaign abroad. In response to this report, company chairman Menachem Ariav and Haetzni issued a joint statement saying, “The company deals with a wide variety of legal issues and has to deal with many parties who try to prevent it from restituting the assets of Holocaust victims or even from receiving information about them.” Haetzni’s office, they added, contains several lawyers “who work full-time for the company and essentially serve as its legal department.” Haetzni also stressed that his fees are within the limits specified by the Government Companies Authority. Regarding fees paid to other lawyers, the statement noted that Jacob Weinroth’s firm was paid for the essential job of trying to extract some NIS 400 million in victims’ assets from Bank Leumi.
Please post under: In landmark revision of Rome Statute, International Criminal Court Lists Elie Wiesel alongside Apartheid as a Crime Against Humanity
NEW YORK – More than 40 Nobel Prize winners from various countries have added their signatures to a full-page ad denouncing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that is due to be published in The New York Times and International Herald Tribune in the next few days.The ad, initiated by 1986 Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, condemns Iran’s severe human rights violations and warns that Iran’s nuclear program is a danger to humanity. The ad is part of Wiesel’s worldwide campaign to raise awareness of the threat he says Ahmadinejad poses to world peace. Wiesel told Haaretz on Wednesday that he is using his ties with world leaders and heads of state and appearing at international conferences to warn of Ahmadinejad’s intentions. “Governments must stop Ahmadinejad and put him on trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on charges of open incitement for genocide,” he said. Wiesel blasted Judge Richard Goldstone, saying his report on the Israeli offensive in Gaza was “a crime against the Jewish people.” Wiesel, who was deported from his hometown of Sighet in Transylvania to Auschwitz, is demanding Hungary open its Nazi-occupation era archives. This would expose the extent of the Hungarian police and army’s persecution of the Jews, he said.
“we are frankly at a loss to understand why Jew-hatred and anti-Israelism continue to thrive” — Let me help you: If I dropped white phosphorus on my neighbors’ home in the name of the Jewish people, I suspect they wouldn’t love me or Jews either.
By THE JERUSALEM POST: EDITORIAL
The bookseller Barnes & Nobel lists 8,194 Holocaust titles. Amazon stocks 2,049 Holocaust memoirs. Type in the word “Holocaust” on Google and you’ll get about 17 million hits. Not counting Jewish museums with permanent Holocaust-related exhibits, there are 30 museums and memorials devoted exclusively to the Shoah – in the US alone. Many European and American cities maintain monuments to the victims of the Holocaust. Schoolchildren throughout the Western world learn about the Holocaust. Hundreds of movies have the Holocaust as their main theme.Following Israel’s lead, the US commemorates the Shoah on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan (April 11/12 this year). Since 2001, Britain has been marking Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 to coincide with the day Auschwitz was liberated. And in 2005, the UN General Assembly (without a formal vote) also selected January 27 as the day the world remembers the Holocaust. In short, the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored industrial-scale annihilation of European Jewry by Hitler-led Germany is adequately memorialized. YET THE ignorant are a hardy lot. A 2008 survey found that 13 percent of Canadians between 18 and 24 did not know what the Holocaust was. A similar percentage of British youngsters thought Hitler was the chap who discovered gravity. A survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee in 2005 revealed that most Americans did not know that Auschwitz, Dachau and Treblinka were concentration camps. Yet only 41% (and 35% of British respondents) strongly disagreed with the statement: “Jews are exploiting the memory of the Nazi extermination of the Jews for their own purposes.” In Poland, only 13% disagreed strongly. We can hazard to guess what the louts who this week desecrated Jewish gravestones at the main cemetery in Strasbourg, France believe. BUT perhaps more troubling than ignorance, insensitivity or enduring prejudice is how some of the enlightened have redefined the Holocaust to give it a more universal – less parochial – meaning. On the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day, a leading British clergyman scripted a few perfunctory words about Elie Wiesel before moving on to the “many hundreds of thousands of … survivors of the many other genocidal events of the 20th and 21st centuries.” He also used the occasion to call for greater sensitivity toward asylum seekers. Our London correspondent, Jonny Paul, reported that the national Holocaust commemoration at the landmark Guildhall focused on remembering the Holocaust – as well as subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and the ongoing atrocities in Darfur. On the matter of genocide, one-upmanship is both futile and morally repugnant. What matters to Zionists is that the Shoah be understood not as a universalistic metaphor, but as the culmination of long-centuries of murderous persecution under both Christian and Muslim civilizations. We do not want this manifest truth obscured by a whirlwind of sentiment – no matter how valid – that has nothing to do with the murder of our six million brethren. AYATOLLAH Ali Khamenei’s message for Holocaust Memorial Day was to forecast that the day would definitely come when the national home of the Jewish people would be destroyed. Iran is the driving engine behind 21st century Holocaust-denial. Of course, Israel’s legitimacy is not rooted in the Holocaust, but in the Jews’ ancient connection to the land of Israel. Still, such a chilling genocidal “forecast” reprises the January 30, 1939 “prophecy” Hitler made: that “a world war” would result in “the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!” Regrettably, the many Holocaust memorials, museums, books and movies have failed to ensure that the Shoah is correctly understood as the outcome of Jewish weakness and statelessness. Six million Jews would not have been lost had our people regained sovereignty in this land before Hitler came to power. Yet having shed our powerlessness for sovereignty, this country nevertheless became “the Jew among nations.” Outside the realm of theology and metaphysics, we are frankly at a loss to understand why Jew-hatred and anti-Israelism continue to thrive. This much we do know: Not even a superpower can guarantee, absolutely, the security of its citizenry. But when our prime minister declares that “Never Again” will we allow the hand of evil to sever the life of our people, he is warning: Doomed are those who try
Israel’s bigwigs attacked at dawn on a wide front. The president in Germany, the prime minister with a giant entourage in Poland, the foreign minister in Hungary, his deputy in Slovakia, the culture minister in France, the information minister at the United Nations, and even the Likud party’s Druze Knesset member, Ayoob Kara, in Italy. They were all out there to make florid speeches about the Holocaust.Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and an Israeli public relations drive like this hasn’t been seen for ages. The timing of the unusual effort – never have so many ministers deployed across the globe – is not coincidental: When the world is talking Goldstone, we talk Holocaust, as if out to blur the impression. When the world talks occupation, we’ll talk Iran as if we wanted them to forget. It won’t help much. International Holocaust Remembrance Day has passed, the speeches will soon be forgotten, and the depressing everyday reality will remain. Israel will not come out looking good, even after the PR campaign. On the eve of his departure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at Yad Vashem. “There is evil in the world,” he said. “Evil must be stamped out at the beginning.” Some people are “trying to deny the truth.” Lofty words, said by the same person who only the day before, not quite in the same breath, uttered very different words, words of true evil, evil that should be extinguished at the start, evil that Israel is trying to hide. Netanyahu spoke of a new “migration policy,” one that is evil through and through. He malevolently lumped together migrant workers and wretched refugees – warning that they all endanger Israel, lower our wages, harm our security, make us into a third-world country and bring in drugs. He zealously supported our racist interior minister, Eli Yishai, who has spoken of the migrants as the spreaders of diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, AIDS and God knows what else. No Holocaust speech will erase these words of incitement and slander against migrants. No remembrance speech will obliterate the xenophobia that has reared its head in Israel, not only on the extreme right, as in Europe, but throughout government. We have a prime minister who speaks about evil but is building a fence to prevent war refugees from knocking at Israel’s door. A prime minister who speaks about evil but shares the crime of the Gaza blockade, now in its fourth year, leaving 1.5 million people in disgraceful conditions. A prime minister in whose country settlers perpetrate pogroms against innocent Palestinians under the slogan “price tag,” which also has horrific historical connotations, but against whom the state does virtually nothing. This is the prime minister of a state that arrests hundreds of left-wing protesters against the injustices of the occupation and the war in Gaza, while time grants mass pardons to the right-wingers who demonstrated against the disengagement. In his speech yesterday, Netanyahu’s equating Nazi Germany with fundamentalist Iran was no more than cheap propaganda. Talk about “degrading the Holocaust.” Iran isn’t Germany, Ahmedinejad isn’t Hitler and equating them is no less spurious than equating Israeli soldiers with Nazis. The Holocaust must not be forgotten, and there is no need to compare it with anything. Israel must take part in the efforts to keep its memory alive, but in doing so it must show up with clean hands, clean of evil of their own doing. And it must not arouse suspicion that it is cynically using the memory of the Holocaust to obliterate and blur other things. Regrettably, this is not the case. How beautiful it would have been if on this international day of remembrance Israel had taken the time to examine itself, look inward and ask, for example, how it is that anti-Semitism has reared its head in the world precisely in the past year, the year after we dropped white-phosphorous bombs on Gaza. How beautiful it would have been if on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu had declared a new policy for integrating refugees instead of expulsion, or lifted the Gaza blockade. A thousand speeches against anti-Semitism will not extinguish the flames ignited by Operation Cast Lead, flames that threaten not only Israel but the entire Jewish world. As long as Gaza is under blockade and Israel sinks into its institutionalized xenophobia, Holocaust speeches will remain hollow. As long as evil is rampant here at home, neither the world nor we will be able to accept our preaching to others, even if they deserve it.