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VOLUME XIII, NUMBER 6
MARCH 12, 2015
Win for families is Round 2 in the Israeli-Palestinian judicial wars By Ron Kampeas and Uriel Heilman NEW YORK (JTA) – Round 2 in the judicial wars between Israel and the PLO went to Israel, and Israel isn’t about to let the Palestinians forget it. A New York jury on February 23 ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority to pay more than $218 million in damages to American victims of six terrorist attacks in Israel. That’s likely to be tripled to $655 million, as prescribed under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. The verdict followed a six-week civil trial in Manhattan federal court that included testimony from survivors of suicide bombings in Jerusalem. Israel was not a party to the lawsuit, which was brought by 10 American families suing over Jerusalem-area attacks that took place from 2002-04. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear in his statement after the jury award that he sees the decision as a new phase in the legal maneuvering launched by the Palestinian Authority at the end of last year when it allowed the International Criminal Court jurisdiction to assess whether Israel has committed war crimes. “Instead of drawing the requisite lesson, the Palestinian Authority is advancing steps that endanger regional stability, such as the hypocritical application to the International Criminal Court even as it is
Israeli rescue workers tended to victims’ bodies at the scene of a Palestinian suicide bombing on a passenger bus in Jerusalem on June 18, 2002. (Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash 90) allied with the Hamas terrorist organization,” Netanyahu said. “We expect the responsible elements in the international community to continue to punish those who support terrorism just as the U.S. federal court has done and to back the countries that are fighting terrorism.” The attacks have been attributed to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas. “This historic verdict against the defendants will not bring back these
families’ loved ones nor heal the physical and psychological wounds inflicted upon them, but it truly is an important measure of justice and closure for them after their long years of tragic suffering and pain,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in a statement following the verdict. The PLO and the Palestinian Authority pledged to appeal, and they accused Israel’s supporters of manipulating the
The 2015 Israeli election video wars By Orit Arfa JNS.org Forget pollsters. These days, to get a sense of an Israeli politician’s popularity among the electorate, the place to go is his or her Facebook and YouTube video portals. Granted, the number of views for a candidate’s video may be slightly less reliable than the latest polling data. But more and more politicians and political parties are realizing that to promote their respective brands ahead of Israel’s March 17 election, they must utilize a new political weapon: the “viral video.” If a video’s views are the chosen metric, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party are leading the polls with the highly popular “Bibi-sitter” ad, which has been featured in The New York Times and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” The ad has Netanyahu posing as the only competent “babysitter” to watch over an Israeli couple’s children and property. Exact numbers are difficult to gauge, given that videos are uploaded and re-uploaded on both YouTube and now Facebook, under various accounts and subtitles. But the “Bibi-sitter” video has far exceeded one
million total views. “I think you see a huge jump in resources being invested in the development of online videos in this election versus the last election,” said Avi Abelow, CEO of 12Tribe Films, an organization specializing in pro-Israel video and social media marketing, in addition to running the israelvideonetwork.com video portal. The Meretz faction has come out with a cheerful music video that has its members, quite literally, partying. Shas came out with a serious “Shkufim (Invisible)” video highlighting the plight of Israel’s “invisible” lowest classes. The Zionist Union – an alliance between Labor head Isaac “Buji” Herzog and Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni – has tried its hand at an animated video about its socialist economic platform, supplementing the dry, broadcast-style soundbites of its other campaign ads. Likud and Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) have emerged as the fiercest fighters in the video war over seats in the 20th Knesset. At times, Netanyahu and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett seem to be competing more for an Academy Award than for the premiership of Israel, with
scriptwriters and actors becoming as crucial to their message and image as political strategists. A pioneer in the field, Bennett had already used creative videos for advocacy when he served as head of the Yesha Council, which represents Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Bennett launched his recent election campaign with a vignette that casts him in the role of a Tel Aviv hippie apologizing for merely walking down the street, the first video of his “Stop Apologizing” series that opposes perceived left-wing appeasement. But video views don’t always translate into votes. As Bennett’s videos received buzz, his party lost several mandates, according to the polls. Jewish Home’s more religiously observant candidates expressed disappointment in Bennett’s appointment of a secular soccer player to the party’s list of Knesset candidates. “You can have a fabulous online video strategy that is succeeding, bringing in more potential voters – and the campaign offline can go wrong, for whatever reason, and erase the gains of the video campaign,” 12Tribe Films’s Abelow told JNS.org. See “Video” on page 8
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Hippos in Israel?
From tragedy, unity
A new museum in Israel re- The families of three murdered animates forgotten biblic al teenagers have helped establish wildlife, including hippos. the Jerusalem Unity Prize. Story on page 8 Story on page 11
News in brief...
judicial system to political ends – the same way Netanyahu and others have characterized Palestinian moves at the ICC. Mahmoud Khalifa, the Palestinian Authority’s deputy information minister, told the Financial Times that the verdict was “just the latest attempt by hard-line anti-peace factions in Israel to use and abuse the U.S. legal system to advance their narrow political and ideological agenda.” In an interview before the decision, Darshan-Leitner said the focus, should her clients win, would be on garnering payment in the United States and Israel. She noted that the PLO settled in earlier instances once plaintiffs put liens on its assets. “We put liens on their assets and started enforcing the judgments against bank accounts and other portfolios they had in the U.S., tax money Israel collected on behalf of the P.A.,” she said. “The main goal is to compensate the terror victims, to make the Palestinian Authority pay for what they did and get money to the people whose lives they devastated.” See “Win” on page 10
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Candle lighting March 13....................................... 6:49 pm March 20...................................... 6:56 pm March 27...................................... 7:04 pm
A new Budapest Holoc aust PLUS museum is under fire for omitting Hungarian culpability; and more. Opinion........................................................2 Stories on pages 13 and 15 D’var Torah..............................................10
THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
a matter of opinion The tyranny of deceit - a response to “Israel Apartheid Week” on U.S. campuses By Mark Silverberg Originally published by Arutz Sheva – Israel National News, February 20, 2012. The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope for justice. Instead, these frameworks are used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel. Read how. In the aftermath of World War II, with the hideous revelation that two-thirds of European Jews had been systematically exterminated by the Nazis, antisemitism became unfashionable, but that is no longer the case. As the memory of the Holocaust fades into history, as we continue to transfer petro-wealth to our enemies; as Europe morphs into Eurabia; as Islamists take control of the U.N. and an increasing number of Middle Eastern and North African countries; and as our universities become hotbeds for virulent anti-Israel teachings and rhetoric; logic fades, facts become confused with fictions, distinctions between democracies and tyrannies become irrelevant, history becomes unimportant and antisemitism and anti-Zionism become indistinguishable. Natan Sharansky uses what he terms “the 3D test” to distinguish legitimate
not only justified, but desirable. The lies perpetrated by otherwise respectable international religious, educational and political bodies against the only democracy in the Middle East are most notable in the double standards that are applied to Israel, as opposed to states that have slaughtered their own peoples for decades with absolute immunity from international censure. It is true, of course, that criticizing Israel does not make one an antisemite any more than criticizing the government of France makes one anti-French. But it’s one thing to criticize France, and something else to declare the French Mark silverberG nation illegitimate and to advocate its destruction. Martin Luther King Jr. once (as Norway has done), boycotts of Israeli referred to Israel as “one of great outposts academics by European universities, hold- of democracy in the world,” with an “ining Israel to standards no other nations in contestable right to exist,” but that is no the world are required to meet – not nearly, longer the case. Funny how these campus activists and through “Israel Apartheid Week” on Canadian and American college campuses never seem to mention the Syrian de jure each March where Israel is assigned the occupation of Lebanon, or Saudi funding role of “Jew” among the nations of the of global jihad, or the treatment of Saudi world to be singled-out, cursed, harassed women, or the crushing of all democratic dissent in Iran. They have no difficulty and defamed. As Richard Cohen wrote in The Wash- bemoaning capital punishment in the ington Post, “Google ‘Israel and Apart- United States, but say nothing when the heid,’ you will see that the two are linked Palestinians routinely execute suspected in cyberspace despite the fact that Israeli Israeli collaborators, including the mothArabs, about one-fifth of Israel’s popu- ers of young children, or when Hamas lation, have the same civil and political throws Fatah supporters to their deaths rights as do Israeli Jews, and even sit in the off 15-story buildings. It is shameful that pro-Palestinian proKnesset.” Israel’s ambassador to Greece is an Israeli Arab. In May 2004, Salim fessors and students in America and Europe Jubran, an Israeli Arab, was appointed to pretend that the only reason for the probthe Supreme Court of Israel. Miss Israel lems in the Middle East is because of Israeli was a former Ethiopian Jewess, Arabic obstinacy, as if it is the fault of the Israelis is an official language in Israel and is and not the rejectionist Arab world. Not only has every Israeli concession posted on all road signs. In 1948, there was only one Arab high school in Israel. and every act of goodwill and compassion Today there are hundreds. The fact that not changed the way Israel is portrayed, but these anti-Israeli boycott campaigners on each concession, each accommodation, our campuses attack Israel as an apartheid each withdrawal – first from Lebanon, state not only demonstrates their ignorance then from Gaza – has only fed the furious of what apartheid was in South Africa1, hatred that Islam and the international but raises the issue of why they do not community feels for it. Even as Israel absorbed missiles fired propose boycotts of states that truly merit indiscriminately at its civilian population international disgust. These protests aren’t just against Israel. by terrorists, one continues to hear the They are also against the Jewish people. howls and hatred voiced about “The Wall,” Israel’s Operation Cast Lead at the close particularly those “innocent” suicide of 2008 – a legitimate act of self-defense bombers who are being kept from their by any and all international standards religious duty of self-detonating amid – evoked universal resentment and hatred. crowds of Jews. Borders have nothing to do with peace Around the world, synagogues and Jewish graves were desecrated and antisemitic in the Middle East. It is the existence of chants were shouted at protests. In April Israel as a Jewish state that offends the 2009, a swastika was found painted on a Arabs and their supporters. It is the history Jewish fraternity house at the University of Jews in that land stretching back more of Florida and on American campuses, and than 4,000 years that offends them, which comparisons continue to be made between accounts for their threats against Israel Israelis and Nazis, and between Palestin- when it declares its intention to make the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s ian refugee camps and Auschwitz. In France, according to French Ministry Tomb national historic sites with the aim of Home Affairs data, 832 antisemitic inci- of restoring them and opening them to dents were recorded in 2009, as compared the world. The fact that all religions will have with 474 such incidents in 2008 – a 75 percent increase, most of which was attributed freedom of access to such sites is irrelto the country’s rising Islamic population evant to the Palestinians who have spent and fallout from Israel’s counter-terrorism millions of U.S. and European dollars operation (Operation Cast Lead) in Gaza. teaching their children that Jews came to This parallels a similar finding in Canada the land as usurpers less than a century where a B’nai B’rith study confirmed an ago, and that Abraham was a Muslim, 11.4 percent jump in antisemitic incidents albeit the fact that he lived almost 3,000 in 2009 over 2008, including 32 violent years before Islam was born! Israel could grant its enemies every attacks, 348 cases of vandalism and 884 reports of harassment, mostly in the prov- possible concession (and has), but that would not bring peace. Nothing short of inces of Ontario and Quebec. In all this, it is quite clear that dis- Israel’s destruction will suffice. Truth is, anti-Zionism becomes antitinctions between anti-Zionism and antisemitism are increasingly blurred. semitism when it reaches a certain pitch, Taken in its totality, Israel not only has and singling out Israel for condemnation no right to defend itself in response to and international sanction – out of all proterrorist attacks, but it has no right to portion to any other parties in the Middle exist – which suggests that missile at- East – is antisemitic, and not saying so is tacks on Israel’s civilian population are intellectually dishonest. criticism of Israel from antisemitism, and he identifies the three categories as de-legitimization, demonization and the double standard. Taking these three factors into account, one can discern that the new antisemitism manifests itself in many different forms and in many different forums – through divestment campaigns, international boycotts of Israeli products and entertainers
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“ The Reporter” (USPS #482) is published bi-weekly by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania, 601 Jefferson Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.
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In May 2010, a Turkish Islamist charity with close ties to Turkey’s ruling party sponsored a flotilla that it claimed was designed to “relieve suffering” in Gaza, but whose real intention was to support and supply Hamas and demonize Israel. Yet, these same “human rights” organizations are silent in the face of atrocities being committed in Syria today, and have offered nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. So, why is all this passion, all this anger and rage, directed at this one country? Why not at Hezbollah, which orchestrated the coup in Lebanon? Or at Saddam Hussein, when he ruled as the “butcher of Baghdad”? Or at those who continue to persecute Christians across the Middle East? Let’s call it what it is for those who arrogantly hold Israel to a standard of conduct to which no other nation in this world is held. Half a million men, women and children are slaughtered in Rwanda, and there is silence. The Chinese annihilate Tibetan culture, and there is silence. Tens of thousands of civilians are slaughtered in Chechnya, and there is silence. Syria occupies Lebanon for a quarter century, chokes the life out of its democracy, assassinates its political leaders, effects a coup d’etat through its Hezbollah proxy, sends Islamic terrorists over its borders to kill Americans and Iraqis, and crushes whatever hope that country may have for a secure future, and not one single student organization on our campuses calls for divestiture from Syria. Iran uses its paramilitary basij thugs to beat up student demonstrators in the streets of Tehran and squeezes the life out of that county’s embryonic democratic movement, and there is silence. Saudi Arabia denies its women the most basic human rights, and bans any other religion from being practiced publicly on its soil, yet no student group in America calls for divestiture from Saudi Arabia. These human rights violations and tragedies dwarf anything done by the Israelis, yet they fail to elicit the same degree of moral outrage that Israel evokes among its campus critics. Years ago, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Michael Oren, was shouted down by Hamas supporters and radical Leftists and forced to leave the podium at the University of California Irvine, but when the university pressed charges against the students, they argued that their right to free speech was being infringed. Apparently, Ambassador Oren is not entitled to that right as well. In Jenin, in April 2002, Israel was painted as the world’s pariah: “Nazis,” “butchers,” “conducting war crimes,” “surrounding the infant Jesus with Israeli tanks,” claims of 3,000 Palestinians being massacred, claims that Israelis poisoned the Palestinian water supply and claims that Israel dumped Palestinian corpses into secret mass graves. A bishop in Copenhagen compared former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to King Herod. News outlets across Europe, especially the BBC, “substantiated” these lies with reports of grisly deeds by Israeli soldiers. Palestinians went on international media networks with the active complicity of those networks in accusing Israel of murdering Palestinians for their body parts – lies later reinforced by respectable European newspapers, and even by a member of the British House of Lords in February 2010. The problem with all this is that no massacre occurred in Jenin! Less than a hundred armed terrorists were killed in See “Deceit 1” on page 4
MArch 12, 2015 ■
community news Congregation B’nai Harim holiday programs By Lee Emerson Congregation B’nai Harim has been very active despite the winter weather. The Song of Psalms service, with Dr. Dan Schidlow serving as cantor, was held to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, or the new year of the trees, on February 4. A Purim celebration was held on February 28, which included a Purim shpiel with a Beatles theme.
The B’nai Harim Players participated and the program was directed by Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum. The congregation is now preparing for spring and the coming of Passover. A model seder has been planned for Sunday, March 22, at 3 pm, at Lake Naomi Clubhouse. The model seder will be lead by Kershenbaum and Schidlow. The event will celebrate freedom and
include traditional foods. Reservations will be required by Tuesday, March 17. The cost will be $35 per person, $15 for children ages 3-11 or free for children younger than 3. Checks should be mailed to Congregation B’nai Harim, P.O. Box 757, Pocono Pines, PA 18350. For more information, visit www.bnaiharimpoconos. org or call the message center at 570-646-0100.
JFS draws holiday raffle winners, raises more than $4,000 Jewish Family Service of Northeastern Pennsylvania has announced the winners of its 2014 holiday raffle. Donated to JFS by Gary Smertz, owner of Kelly Smertz Tires, and Alan Smertz, owner of Alan’s Menswear, the prizes included an Apple iPad Air, a 32” HD/LCD TV and a Fitbit Activity Band. The winners of the prizes were Roselyn Rutta, Barry Weiss and Esther Adelman. The raffle raised more than $4,000, of which all proceeds go toward supporting
JFS programs and services. Established in 1915, Jewish Family Service is a human service organization that reflects the Jewish tradition of caring and compassion for all people in need. Through professional counseling, advocacy and educational programming, its services seek to: enhance and strengthen the quality of individual, family and community life. This mission is said to drive all of the services and activities of Jewish Family Service.
NYC: The “Holy Rollers” stay true to their name – carrying themselves in the holiest of ways Reprinted with permission of Yeshiva World News As documented on the front page of a recent edition of The New York Post, a kosher meat cart vendor by the name of Yisroel Mordowitz and his employees were the subject of misconduct by four particular halal vendors. Mordowitz and the Holy Rollers Kosher food cart were first located in Queens, where their meats resulted in a growth in popularity. The week of February 9, Mordowitz and his partners moved to 48th and 6th Avenue in the Rockefeller Center area of Manhattan, which is considered a prime location for food cart vendors. After being subject to intimidation-like tactics against him, Mordowitz decided to “stay true to the name” of his company. Knowing his conduct would be under the microscope of the press, he conducted himself in a “holy” way instead of engaging in a fight. He has since moved his cart to 35th Street and 9th Avenue, right outside of B&H Photo Video. On his first day there, well more than 100 people stood in the cold waiting for their hot meat sandwiches. There were dozens
talking about the Post story, saying they intend to support Mordowitz and his establishment together with the entire community. It was called “a beautiful show of achdus,” and many pedestrians recognized the cart’s name and watched for themselves. Some even came from as far as New Jersey and Connecticut to show their support and lend their encouragement to Mordowitz and his team. “We are living in turbulent times presently, where there are real religious wars going on in the world,” said a Yeshiva World News representative. “The incredible ‘kiddush Hashem’ (sanctification of God’s name) Mordowitz made by not further inflaming tensions with this select group of halal vendors, but instead pulling himself up by his bootstraps and relocating to his new location, was amazing. With God’s help, yesterday the Holy Rollers Kosher food cart had its best day in the history since opening years ago.” The Yeshiva World News representative added, “If you’re hungry and anywhere near Manhattan, make sure to show your support by stopping by the first and only glatt kosher meat cart vendor in all of midtown Manhattan.”
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THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
Operation Defensive Shield, and almost as many Israeli soldiers were killed because they were ordered to go from house-tohouse to avoid civilian casualties wherever possible. But that was of little consequence to those in the media and on our college campuses who condemned Israel for “unspeakable war crimes.” In Lebanon in 2006, Israel was condemned for violating Lebanese sovereignty with scant mention made of the hundreds of Hezbollah missiles falling onto Israel’s civilian population centers, and its use of Lebanese civilians as human shields. The same hypocrisy held true in the conclusions reached by the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead, which accepted the lies of Hamas as fact, disregarded Israeli commission findings, denied Israel’s right to defend itself and condemned Israel for having conducted war crimes in Gaza. The report made little mention of the 8,000 missiles fired at southern Israel, and minimized reports that Hamas had used civilians as human shields, and mosques, schools and houses in residential areas to conceal its weapons – not to mention the millions of leaflets dropped and cell phone calls made in Arabic by the Israeli military to provide warnings to Palestinians in targeted areas. When the U.N. hosted the Third World Conference Against Racism in Durban, the nations of the world had an opportunity to address the hatred that afflicts hundreds of millions of people, but they only found time to dwell on Israel, accusing it of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid while the genocides in Bosnia and the Sudan were barely mentioned. In the name of “human rights” and “justice,” these advocates and self-proclaimed “protectors of the Free World” decry any and every Israeli action and seek to punish it by conducting academic and cultural boycotts of Israel, while Palestinian clerics call for the murder of Jews without eliciting any protest whatsoever. The Saudi media reports on
Jewish conspiracies causing 9/11, and runs TV programs on Ramadan alleging blood libels, but there is no outcry against them for an international boycott. The bitter reality is that, for Israel, international legal frameworks provide no protection and no hope for justice. Instead, these frameworks are used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel. In that regard, I was asked in a recent lecture to explain why Israel was “ghettoizing” the Palestinians by constructing a security fence in areas that served as transit points for terrorists entering the country. The questioner noted that, as a Jew, I should be more sensitive to the concept of a ghetto, and its dehumanizing effects on human beings. I responded that the security fence was neither built for reasons of discrimination nor motivated by racism, but as a deterrent to protect the lives of Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers and, in fact, it continues to accomplish its purpose. But the suggestion that Israel may have had racist motivations in constructing the fence disturbed me because it is a recurring theme among major international bodies and on college campuses, so I asked the questioner why she had decided to sort Israel out for “special treatment.” After all, the security fence that Israel has constructed to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out of its country is not unlike the security fence constructed by the Saudis to keep the Yemeni jihadists out of their country; or the one that India has constructed along its borders with Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh for the same reason; or the one that the Thais have constructed to keep the Malaysian jihadists out of their country, or the one that the U.S. is constructing to keep Mexican illegals out of our country, although I couldn’t recall the last time a Mexican self-detonated in Albuquerque, or fired missiles into Dallas or Houston. Antisemitism has evolved from an ir-
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rational hatred or jealousy of Jews to an irrational hatred or jealousy of the Jewish state – Israel. Why is it that we don’t see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris or Madrid? Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection? Why aren’t there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs by jihadists? Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of the Islamic dictatorship in Sudan? Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel? Why is there no outcry by the Europeans against jihadism? Why don’t they defend Israel’s right to exist? And finally, why are the Europeans so obsessed with the two most stable democracies on earth, the United States and Israel, rather than with the world’s worst dictatorships? So many stupid and irresponsible comments have been written about Israel, that there aren’t any accusations left to level against it. At the same time, the press never discusses Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel; the indoctrination of children or the corruption of the Palestinian leadership, and the millions of dollars in international foreign aid that have been transferred into their private bank accounts, as was exposed by a former Palestinian leader in February 2010. And when reporting about victims, why is every Palestinian casualty reported as a tragedy while every Israeli victim is reported with disdain, if at all? This obsession with Israel represents a callous disregard for fundamental justice, and antisemitism cloaked as righteous indignation. For example, with the start of Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting) in early September, Israeli forces manning West Bank check-points were instructed to avoid eating or smoking in front of Palestinians as a sign of respect, even as the Palestinians continue to use the Tomb of Joseph as a garbage dump and have urinated next to the Torah scrolls in the Cave of the Patriarchs. Further, on any given day, Israeli prisons are hosting Red Cross representatives, journalists, lawyers and prisoners’ advocates, as well as family members of convicted Palestinian prisoners, while Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas on Israeli soil, was held in
Continued from page 2 isolation for years until his release and denied any and all visitation rights from lawyers, family and even the International Red Cross, in violation of his human rights and international law. So, where was the international outcry for Shalit? And there’s more. Israel is constantly confronted with the demand that it must return Gaza (which it did in 2005) and the West Bank to the Palestinians and the Golan Heights to Syria – areas seized during the 1967 Six-Day War waged against it by the Arab world. Why, then, do we never hear that same argument being raised against other nations? After World War II, Poland annexed 10 percent of historic Germany (East Prussia); Morocco controls the Western Sahara; Armenia has controlled 15 percent of neighboring Azerbaijan since 1994; Turkey has controlled half of Cyprus since its 1974 invasion; Russia has controlled the Kurile Islands off northern Japan since the end of World War II, and China has occupied Tibet since 1950. So, where is the international outcry demanding that these countries return lands they seized in war? Why is it that only Israel’s control over the West Bank merits international censure? And what of the demand that the Palestinians be allowed a “right of return” to Israel proper, or at least fair compensation for having been displaced as a result of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948? Some 750,000 Jews left behind $300 billion in assets when they were forced to flee for their lives from Arab and Persian countries after the birth of the state of Israel. So why are similar demands not being made of the Syrians, the Iranians, the Libyans, the Iraqis, the Yemenis, and the Egyptians who displaced (or more specifically expelled) their Jewish citizens? In fact, I don’t recall any demands being made of any nation for compensation or allowing a right of return to any refugees displaced after any wars in modern times – except of course for those being made of Israel. Czechoslovakia expelled its Sudetenland Germans from their homes after World War II; the Poles expelled millions of Germans from East Prussia and absorbed that territory into Poland in 1945; thousands of Turkish Cypriots were displaced by Greek military forces in the 1960s and early ‘70s while TurkSee “Deceit 2” on page 6
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Two thousand ancient gold coins salvaged from Caesarea seabed By Viva Sarah Press Reprinted with permission from ISRAEL21c The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel has been made public. The nearly 2,000 gold coins from the Fatimid period, 11th century C.E., were discovered by a group of divers on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park. The divers first thought the coins were remnants of a children’s game, but upon closer inspection realized they
had found “the real thing” and swam up to the surface to inform the director of the dive club about their find. The message was passed on to the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Divers of the Israel Antiquities Authority went together with the original group of divers out to where the coins were found and, using a metal detector, discovered almost 2,000 gold coins in different denominations: a dinar, half dinar and quarter dinar, of various dimensions and weight.
Why hundreds of strangers paid a shiva call
By Viva Sarah Press Reprinted with permission from ISRAEL21c When 75-year-old Roza Yerushalmi succumbed to cancer, her widower, Alex, was worried that not enough people would come to her funeral to make a quorum for the mourner’s prayers. He voiced his concerns to the Shorashim Shel Netina (Roots of Giving) non-profit organization for the benefit of Holocaust survivors, which had sent volunteers to visit him throughout the last year and a half. It took one Facebook post, just 30 minutes before the funeral was scheduled to be held, to make sure Roza had a respectable burial. Israelis are said to be known for caring for one another and being the first to respond in times of emergency. During the past summer’s war, world media was astounded by the tens of thousands of Israelis who came from across the country to funerals of lone soldiers killed in action. Some 200 people congregated at the Mazkeret Batya cemetery to bid farewell to Roza, a woman they had never met, and enable her husband of nearly 50 years to say Kaddish (the mourner’s prayer). But the story does not end there. It turns out that
the social-media post went viral, and Israelis who could not make the funeral were not about to let Alex sit shiva alone. “People came from Haifa and from the South,” Segev Afriat, the volunteer who posted on the Shorashim Shel Netina Facebook page, told the Yediot Achronot newspaper. “The answer to this call didn’t surprise me. When you tell the public that a Holocaust survivor will be sitting shiva pretty much by himself, the public won’t be apathetic. What has surprised me is the number of people.” Indeed, hundreds of people have come to pay their respects to Alex. He, in turn, has taken the opportunity to tell his guests about his true love, how they met in Ukraine in 1962 and immigrated to Israel 12 years later. He shows photos of their life together and tells about how they worked together as shoemakers. The strangers – families, students and lone soldiers who say they identify with Alex’s feeling of aloneness – brought with them warm food, drinks and snacks. “I’ve lived in Mazkeret Batya for 40 years, and my home has never been this full,” Alex told the newspaper. “It’s very good that there are so many people because it helps me feel not so alone. Everyone wants to help. I’ve never met so many good souls.”
“The discovery of such a large hoard of coins that had such tremendous economic power in antiquity raises several possibilities regarding its presence on the seabed. There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected. Perhaps the treasure of coins was meant to pay the salaries of the Fatimid military garrison which was stationed in Caesarea and protected the city. Another theory is that the treasure was money belonging to a large merchant ship that traded with the coastal cities and the port on the Mediterranean Sea and sank there,” said Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Sharvit said this rare historical evidence of life in the past was exposed during winter storms. “In the Marine Archaeological Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority they are hoping that with the salvage excavations that will be conducted there, it will be possible to supplement our understanding of the entire archaeological context, and thus answer the many questions that still remain unanswered about the treasure,” he said. The coins, despite being at the bottom of the sea for some thousand years, are in excellent condition. “They did not require any cleaning or conservation intervention from the metallurgical laboratory. This is because gold is a noble metal and is not affected by air or water. The coins that were exposed also remained in the monetary circulation after the Crusader conquest, particularly in the port cities through which international commerce was conducted. Several of the coins that were found in the assemblage were bent and exhibit teeth and bite marks, evidence they were ‘physically’ inspected by their owners or the merchants. Other coins bear signs of wear and abrasion from use, while others seem as though they were just minted,” said Robert Cole, an expert numismaticist with the Israel Antiquities Authority. See “Coins” on page 10
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THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
ish forces displaced thousands of Greek Cypriots from Northern Cyprus after their 1974-76 war; 450,000 ethnic Chinese were expelled from Vietnam between 197879; the Bangladeshis expelled more than three million Hindus in 1974; 250,000 Georgians were displaced from Abkhazia between 1993-98, not to mention more than 500,000 ethnic Russians in Chechnya who were displaced during the First Chechen War in 1994-96, and more than 800,000 Kosovar Albanians were expelled from Kosovo during the Kosovo War in 1998-99. Somehow, I must have missed offers of a right of return or any compensation package being offered to these millions upon millions of persons displaced by wars – except in the case of Israel. Then there’s the issue relating to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza. Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British premier Tony Blair, entered Gaza aboard a protest boat and told Ynet News in Israel that Gaza was “the largest concentration camp in the world today” and a “humanitarian crisis on the scale of Darfur.” She was later photographed at a seemingly well-stocked grocery store in the so-called “concentration camp.” So, let’s consider how these Israeli “monsters” have behaved. Hamas has declared its intention to destroy Israel and murder every Jew residing there, and has fired more than 8,000 missiles at southern Israel. In return, Israel is providing 70 percent of Gaza’s electrical power and, each week sends tons of food, fuel and humanitarian aid to an enemy whose entire rationale for existence is the extermination or subjugation of every Jew in Israel. During World War II, the Allies firebombed Dresden, obliterated German cities, and dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Talk about “proportional response!” Israel feeds its enemies! Finally, Israel has been condemned for retaliating against Hamas and Hezbollah for their missile attacks on Israel’s southern and northern civilian populations because, it is said, Israel is (and this is a direct quote from Human Rights Watch) “endangering non-combatants, using disproportionate force and committing crimes against humanity.” If Israel fired missiles into Gaza City, Sidon or Tyre, the world would be enraged, the U.N. Security Council would be called into special session, the U.S. and EU would be threatening Jerusalem and the media would be having a field-day. So why is it that when the Palestinians and the
Lebanese fire missiles at Israeli civilians as their primary target, it is barely mentioned in the media, but when Israel retaliates against those missile sites in targeted bombings, it’s considered “disproportionate force” – all which leads to the real issue lurking behind the scenes here – our enemies’ tactical use of human shields. Why is criticism never leveled at Hamas or Hezbollah, who regularly use children as human shields to protect their leaders, and schools, private homes and mosques to protect their weapons? In all the condemnation being heaped on Israel by the media and the Goldstone Report for Israel’s retaliatory strikes in Gaza, and before that in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War (and indeed any future conflict should a regional war erupt over Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons), no one ever asks how any democracy can expect to win a war without “endangering civilians” especially when the enemy uses human shields as a tactical weapon to insulate itself from military strikes? Are we not handing our enemies an enormous tactical advantage? How can any free nation ever hope to win a future war against enemies who use human shields if it is condemned for “endangering civilians”? It is this absence of balance, this flagrant unforgivable deceit, not the criticisms of Israel, that are most troubling. For those who argue that their right to “fair criticism” is being infringed, let them understand what “fair criticism” is not. It is not “fair criticism” to portray Israel’s presence on the West Bank as an illegal occupation – which it is not, according to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 – yet never utter a word of objection about Chinese, Serbian, Syrian, Turkish or Russian ethnic cleansing. It is not “fair criticism” to place the blame for Middle East violence at Israel’s doorstep while ignoring 14 centuries of Sunni-Shi’ite hatred, the damage done to Arab society through decades of misrule by dictators and despots, the Koranic-inspired hatred of a Jewish state existing in the midst of the Islamic umma and the immense risks that Israel took in withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005, not to mention the sacrifices that it continues to make in its quest for peace with the Palestinians. It is not “fair criticism” to accuse Israel of apartheid when it is the Arab world that preaches “death to the Jews,” spreads antisemitic hatred from its mosques,
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Continued from page 4 teaches “martyrdom” in its schools and summer camps, demands that any Palestinian state established on the West Bank be Judenrein (Jew-free), and dances in the streets when jihadists succeed in murdering Israelis in their homes (as in the case of the Fogel family), pizza parlors, marketplaces, during their Passover seders and, most notably, in celebration of the 9/11 attacks. Demanding that good German Aryans boycott Jewish shops in Nazi Germany in 1935 is no different in its essence from demanding that good Western universities boycott the Jewish state today. Injustice in any language is still injustice. It’s all part of the same poison that feeds on the fabric of human decency. If a 5-year-old child can understand that slaughtering innocent people is wrong, then why can’t these campus student organizations, religious establishments like the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, the U.N., the international media, the Europeans, and the academics on American and British college campuses see it and voice their dissent? If we cannot tell the difference between a democratic Israel and an apartheid South Africa, or a jihadist from a peacemaker, then we are all parties to the greatest moral failure of our time – the inability to distinguish between those who defend basic moral values and respect the sanctity of a single human life, and those who are the enemies of such values by justifying the murder of the innocent in the name of some religious or ideological cause. We have every right to expect more from those who teach our children on the campuses of America or who preach to the faithful from their pews. Their positions of authority do not entitle them to foster antisemitism in the name of “justice” and “moral decency.” Until there is universal condemnation of the discriminatory double-standards applied to Israel, claims by self-righteous international organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the U.N. General Assembly, UNRWA, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the European Union and the International Court of Justice are more than meaningless. They are offensive and deceitful. Israel’s willingness to make peace has made it into a target by an international community that blames Israel for Muslim violence around the world. As their thinking goes, if Israel would just do whatever it takes to make peace, then Muslim violence would stop not just in Israel, but in Paris, London, Malmo, Toulouse, Brussels, Copenhagen, Mumbai, Bangkok, Manchester, Basra, Marseilles, Lyons and Kabul. Anyone with any understanding of world events knows that this is pure, unadulterated garbage. All of this can be summarized as follows: The most dangerous threat posed to the Western world is its inability or unwillingness to stand together against those who seek to destroy our way of life. If we do not, as a collective, take a firm stand against these defamations; if we do not stand behind Israeli democracy in its just and moral struggle against expanding jihadism; if we do not prevent this widening witch hunt, the international arrest warrants for Israeli diplomats, the indictments against Israelis for war crimes in the Hague, the erosion in the U.N., and the incitement against Israel; if we sit quietly and allow this insidious evil to flourish in our midst, then the legitimacy of the free world’s own struggle against jihadism will most assuredly be undermined.
Footnote 1. Mitchell Bard notes that under apartheid in South Africa, whites and nonwhites lived in separate regions of the country. Nonwhites were prohibited from running businesses or professional practices in the white areas without permits. Nonwhites had separate amenities, such as beaches, buses, schools, benches, drinking fountains, restrooms. Nonwhites received inferior education, medical care and other public services. Though they were the overwhelming majority of the population, nonwhites could not vote or become citizens.
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MArch 12, 2015 ■
THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
New museum re-animates forgotten biblical wildlife
By Orit Arfa JNS.org At the recent official opening of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, Israel, Rabbi Natan Slifkin – also known as the “Zoo Rabbi” – unveiled a huge skull, asking Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul and leading local rabbis to guess which animal the skull belongs to. Slifkin gave some clues. It was mentioned in the Book of Job as a “behema.” It lives in swamps and eats grass. “For a long time, nobody knew how to identify it, so instead of translating it, it was just translated as ‘behemoth,’” explained Slifkin, the museum’s founder, on February 23. “That is how the word ‘behemoth’ entered
At right: Rabbi Natan Slifkin unveiled a hippo skull at the February 23 opening of the Biblical Museum of Natural History in Beit Shemesh, Israel. (Photo by Orit Arfa)
See “Museum” on page 10
Shlomo Blass – CEO of Rogatka, an Israeli mediaproduction company specializing in content-driven online campaigns (among its credits is the viral “We Con the World” music parody) – believes Likud’s video campaign has been the most successful one so far on the branding front. “[Netanyahu] is perceived as someone detached, almost not human, living in his bubble, and here you see him as very personable,” Blass told JNS.org. Bennett’s campaign needed to have a much different effect, according to Blass. “Even though [Bennett’s] clips were pleasant and fun, he came across as a ‘dude,’” Blass said. “You want him to be your best friend, but I think when it comes to how you see him as minister of defense, branding-wise, it wasn’t productive.” While there is no exact formula for a viral video, Blass identifies three major elements: humor, relevance to current trends and dissemination. Abelow identifies two additional elements that create that “share factor.” “One, it’s unexpected,” Abelow said. “It’s something different. It catches you off-guard. The second component is entertainment value.” The videos have had little effect on undecided Israeli
The “Bibi-sitter” video ad featuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the March 17 Israeli election.(YouTube screenshot via Benjamin Netanyahu)
voter Liami Lawrence. A public relations consultant and aspiring stand-up comedian who recently made aliyah from Los Angeles, Lawrence is leaning toward voting for the new centrist party, Kulanu, which thus far has not produced any notable videos. Lawrence called the “Bibi-sitter” video “brilliant,” but is no closer to voting for Likud because of it. At the same time, the video deterred Lawrence from supporting Netanyahu’s most formidable opponents. “I think [‘Bibi-sitter’] was the most amazing political commercial I’ve ever seen,” Lawrence said. “Me personally, I hesitate to vote for Herzog or Livni because I’m afraid of them, and this commercial brought it home.” On the other hand, Bracha Benaim, an Israeli American who recently returned to Israel from New York, was “mortified” by Netanyahu’s ad. “I was hoping it was fake,” she said. “What does ‘Bibi-sitter’ have to do with anything? How does that promote Bibi in any way?” Benaim, however, is still voting for Netanyahu. “Who else am I going to vote for?” she said. The video strategy, meanwhile, has advantages other than attracting voters. “New media is a conversation with your audience,” said Blass, adding that online me-
The Zionist Union alliance’s animated video about its socialist economic platform. (YouTube screenshot via Zionist Union)
Continued from page 5 dia enables candidates to target specific audiences and measure their level of engagement. Online media campaigning is far less regulated than traditional print, radio and television advertising, although Likud was required to remove its “Knesset kindergarten” ad featuring children acting as Knesset leaders. The use of children is forbidden in political campaigns. Speaking to members of the foreign press as part of a Knesset tour held ahead of the elections, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein referred to the emerging online video campaign industry as a “balagan,” Hebrew slang for “mess.” “It’s totally open space as far as new media is concerned,” Edelstein said, acknowledging that what may be forbidden on radio is unrestricted on social media. “[It’s] very difficult to do anything about it because the moment we start legislating too much about Internet, I guess we’ll lose Internet.” That means Israeli voters can continue to take out their popcorn, just like the “Bibi-sitter” at the end of his ad, and enjoy the video-slinging until March 17.
The vignette casting Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett in the role of a Tel Aviv hippie apologizing for merely walking down the street, the first video of his “Stop Apologizing” series that opposes perceived left-wing appeasement. (YouTube screenshot via Naftali Bennett)
MArch 12, 2015 ■
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THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
Giving with our hearts
By RABBI TZIONA SZAJMAN, TEMPLE ISRAEL, Vestal, ny Vayakel-Pekudai (Shabbat HaChodesh), Exodus 35:1-40:38 “All the artisans who were engaged in the tasks of the sanctuary came, each from the task upon which he was engaged, and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that the Lord has commanded to be done.’ Moses thereupon had this proclamation made throughout the camp: ‘Let no man or woman make further effort toward gifts for the sanctuary!’ So the people stopped bringing: their efforts had been more than enough for all the tasks to be done.” (Exodus 36:4-7 – Vayakel) In our parasha, the people brought more gold and wealth to the sanctuary than was needed. Rashi comments that this glorified both the people for their generosity of heart, and the artisans for their honesty. Our rabbis pursued the spirit of this story in declaring that there was a limit to how much charity each person was permitted to give. It is well known that Jews are commanded to give 10 percent of their income to tzedakah. Authorities disagree as to whether this calculation is to be made based on one’s net or gross income. Even the poor who live off of tzedakah are not exempt from giving 10 percent. Just as Moses announced “enough” and limited how much the Israelites gave to the Temple, so did our halachic antecessors. In our Talmud, Ketubot 50A, the rabbis established the principle that we should not give more than 20 percent of our income to tzedakah, lest we impoverish ourselves and impede our ability to provide for our own family’s needs. We are commanded to care for our families first, then to give to others. The Chofetz Chayim (Ahavat Chesed 2:20:1-3) of 19th century Poland taught that this limit does not apply to those whose considerable wealth makes greater tzedakah expenditures possible without compromising their own and their family’s financial well-being. This teaching harmonizes with America’s great generosity in philanthropy. Per capita, Americans give more to charity than any other nation in the world. In 2010, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates announced their Giving Pledge Project, asking America’s wealthiest people to pledge half of their income to philanthropy. As of November 2012, 91 billionaires had signed the pledge. Some would say that it is America’s system of tax deductions that encourages charitable giving. More relative is America’s history, one of small pioneering communities dependent on the spirit of giving to build schools and churches, and later hospitals and arts. The story is similar to that of Israel in the desert: The entire community of Israel
Continued from page 1
While the plaintiffs argued that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat had arranged for attackers and their survivors to be compensated, lawyers for the PLO and Palestinian Authority said the groups had condemned terror attacks and that any payments made to terrorists were done by low-level employees acting independently. “Money is oxygen for terrorism,” Kent Yalowitz, a lawyer for the families, said in a closing argument, according to The New York Times. Yalowitz added that the U.S. anti-terrorism law “hits those who send terrorists where it hurts them most: in the wallet.” The U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act was also used last September by a Brooklyn jury that found the Arab Bank liable for supporting Hamas terrorism. Damages in that case will be decided at a second trial.
Continued from page 5 The Law of Antiquities in Israel states that “all antiquities belong to the state and that not reporting or removing antiquities from their location, or selling or trading them is an offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment,” according to Sharvit. He added that the divers who found the treasure and reported it are model citizens. The Caesarea Development Company and Nature and Parks Authority also welcomed the discovery of the treasure. “There is no doubt that the discovery of the impressive treasure highlights the uniqueness of Caesarea as an ancient port city with rich history and cultural heritage,” a Parks Authority statement read. “After 2,000 years it is still capable of captivating its many visitors, of continuing to innovate and surprise again when other parts of its mysterious past are revealed in the ground and in the sea.”
came forward to provide the materials for the building of the Mishkan. They built a place of community and spirit, and gave with all their hearts. This Shabbat is Shabbat HaChodesh, when we announce the new month of Nissan, which brings the holiday of Passover. It is traditional to ensure that all have a place for the Passover seder and that all have matzah to sanctify the holiday. This Passover, let us build a place of community and spirit and give with all our hearts.
Continued from page 8
the English language, to refer to a monstrous animal. But we can identify it.” The answer: a hippopotamus, an animal indigenous to the land of Israel. “They were on the coast as far north as Zichron Yaakov, and one of our guides here has a hippo tusk that he found in the Kinneret,” Slifkin said. The hippopotamus is just one example of an animal people associate more with African safaris than the land of Israel. During biblical times, the land was covered in dense forests, providing cover to a slew of creatures that these days Jews see only in zoos, the National Geographic channel and Disney movies. One of the goals of the new museum is to bring Jews back in touch with biblical wildlife, a subject ignored by the people of Israel as they were exiled from the land, evolving into the so-called “people of the book” – only to return to the land as “people of the start-up.” But the land of Israel, located at the nexus of Europe, Asia and Africa, actually occupies a very special place from a zoogeographic perspective, according to Slifkin. “It’s our connection to historical Israel,” Slifkin told JNS.org in his British accent, wearing one of his signature animal-themed ties. The rabbi made aliyah with his family 20 years ago from Manchester, England, to emerge as one of the foremost experts on biblical zoology. His other lifelong “pet project” – “The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom” – will be launched in time for Passover. “Every nation, every culture, has animals that are part of that culture – animals that appear in its cultural texts and traditions,” said Slifkin. “For the Native Americans, it’s the buffalo and wolf. For the Aboriginals of Australia, it’s the kangaroo and emu… The people of Israel have lions, leopards, bears, vultures, crocodiles and hippos. These are not animals from the shtetls of Europe.” But the animals that figure prominently in the Torah have largely been exiled or killed off, mostly due to deforestation and Roman-era hunting. The last bear in Israel was seen in Nahal Ammud, in the Galilee region, in 1917. Crocodiles lived in a place called “Nahal Taninim” (Crocodile Creek) until the early 20th century. Today, exactly four leopards walk the Negev desert. Slifkin plans to put as many biblical animals as possible on interactive display at the museum, whether as live creatures in cages or taxidermy mounts. The taxidermied lion named “Simba” serves as the centerpiece, since the lion figures most prominently in biblical tales and allegories, with “Ethics of the Fathers” (Pirkei Avot) teaching, “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven.” Samson is recorded to have encountered lions a few miles from the new museum. The bird section makes for an interactive discussion on kosher fowl. Animal skulls are used to demonstrate how kosher animals chew their cud. The reptile section seeks to identify which reptiles make up the eight sheratzim (crawling animals) that the Book of Leviticus mentions as imparting impurity upon their death. When guiding a tour, Slifkin lets children pet and hold the friendly reptiles, including the pythons. Slifkin, a religious Zionist, has been a controversial figure within the haredi community, which banned his books reconciling modern science – such as the theory of evolution – with Torah. But he intends that the museum serve as a form of “animal therapy” for Jewish unity, as well as the first real tourist attraction in the largely religious city that the museum calls home. “Beit Shemesh is a rapidly growing city with already 100,000 people, and we’re going to double in the next few years,” Slifkin said. “So, it’s short on cultural attractions. But this is a unique institution. It’s biblical national history. It’s something that has tremendous appeal, but is little understood. And we see how people appreciate it when they come here and absolutely love it. No matter which stream they come from, whether it’s Chasidic, dati (religious), secular, Jewish, or non-Jewish. Everyone just loves it.”
MArch 12, 2015 ■
From tragedy, families of slain Israeli teens create the gift of unity
spectrum, from haredi to secular. By Jeffrey F. Barken Frenkel originally envisioned the prize as JNS.org a purely Jewish venture, but says she now “In the Diaspora, people say they can’t believes “anyone can be nominated,” noting remember a time when [Jews] came tothat many non-Jews provided support after gether across denominations,” Racheli the teens were killed. Politically, the comFrenkel, the mother of one of the three mittee in charge of selecting the winners is Jewish teenagers who were kidnapped varied “from the left and the right,” with the and killed by Hamas in Gush Etzion last goal of assessing the nominees in the spirit summer, tells JNS.org regarding her recent of unity and without bias, Frenkel says. visit to the United States. “I’m convinced Both Shaar and Frenkel are aware that the that it wasn’t an illusion. Chasidic Jews, upcoming March 17 Israeli election prompts Orthodox, [and] seculars all came together, divisive talk that distracts from their mesand we were one family.” sage of unity. “The media emphasizes the Frenkel refers to last June, when world Jewry displayed what many considered to L-r: The Forward newspaper Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner, Jerusalem Mayor Nir differences and disputes,” Frenkel tells JNS. be uncommon unity during Israel’s search Barkat, Racheli Frenkel (mother of murdered Israeli teenager Naftali Frenkel) org. “[But] 80 percent of the time, we agree, for abducted teenagers Naftali Frenkel, and Ofir Shaar (father of murdered Israeli teenager Gilad Shaar) at a recent event and we should focus on this in Israel. We Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. Though the hosted by the UJA-Federation of New York. The event celebrated the launching of try to take the sweet out of the bitter.” At the same time, Shaar says, “We don’t teens’ dead bodies were found on June 30, the Jerusalem Unity Prize. (Photo courtesy of UJA-Federation of New York) want everyone to think the same.” Frenkel an audio recording revealed that they were murdered shortly after being kidnapped on June 12. packages in three separate categories: individuals and orga- agrees, calling disagreements “an essential part” of soFrom the perspective that they had already been killed, nizations, social initiatives, and Israel and the Diaspora. The ciety. “Those dividing lines are all discussions that need the nearly three-week search for the boys was for naught. three recipients of the prize will be recognized for enhancing to take place, and if they are true, honest debates, they should go on in a caring way,” she says. But that doesn’t take into account the search’s impact on Jewish bonds and communal understanding. In that respect, the Jerusalem Unity Prize aims to the Jewish people. “The story of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, During their first trip abroad since last summer, Frenkel zichronam livracha (may their memories be blessed), and Ofir Shaar, the father of the late Gilad, spoke at an facilitate compassionate discussions that transcend tragripped our people like few others and brought out the event hosted by the UJA-Federation of New York that ditional barriers to solidarity among Israelis. The June best of us in the face of tragedy,” says Yoni Sherizen, celebrated the establishment of the Jerusalem Unity Prize. 3 Jewish Unity Day, meanwhile, encourages Diaspora program and development director at Gesher, an orga- The new prize “reminds us to find common ground and Jewish communities to have a voice in Israel’s future. The kidnapping and murder of three boys triggered nization dedicated to bridging rifts in Israeli society. raise each other up, not just in crisis, but always,” said a turbulent summer in Israel. After Palestinian teenager “Today, we are challenged to take hold of that unique Eric. S. Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation. solidarity and make it [the boys’] legacy – to strengthen Shaar notes the cynical saying that there are often Mohammed Abu Khdeir was murdered in an apparent the bonds between our people and break down barriers “two Jews, three opinions,” but says that “at the end revenge killing, a slew of Palestinian rocket attacks on that are created by our differences.” of the sentence we are one heart.” He tells JNS.org Israel prompted the Jewish state to launch Operation The Frenkel, Shaar and Yifrach families have teamed that the Jerusalem Unity Prize initiative is “trying to Protective Edge, which started as an air campaign but with Gesher as well as the city of Jerusalem to establish make a uniformity, a new language. If we understand transitioned to a ground operation with the goal of the recently launched Jerusalem Unity Prize, which will that there is a basic common entity, then we can build destroying Hamas’s network of terror tunnels running under the Gaza-Israel border. In all, the war would be presented for the first time on “Jewish Unity Day,” to a new platform.” be marked with special events on June 3 in Jerusalem. The Since they were launched on January 1, the three unity last 50 days. See “Unity” on page 14 unity initiative offers 100,000 shekel (about $25,000) prize prizes have garnered 180 nominees – spanning the Jewish
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THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
In Lithuania, Yiddish teacher becomes unlikely bulwark against far right
By Cnaan Liphshiz KAUNAS, Lithuania (JTA) – Dovid Katz isn’t typically a hard man to miss. With his bushy charcoal beard, heavy physique and trademark all-black outfits, Katz, a New York-born scholar of Yiddish, resembles a character from a Harry Potter film. But at one of Europe’s more unusual neo-Nazi marches, complete with ultranationalists clad in medieval armor and smoke blowing in the colors of the Lithuanian flag, even he could blend in temporarily with the crowd. But halfway through the February 16 procession traversing Lithuania’s second largest city, Katz was spotted. One marcher walked up to him and blew a horn in his direction as others began chanting “Out with Katz.” Undeterred, he continued to flank the procession. For Katz, 58, who moved to Lithuania in 1999 to take a professorship at Vilnius University, the incident was just the latest expression of hate he has endured since 2008, when he began to speak out against the country’s creeping legitimization of fascism. “I came here in the euphoric post-independence years, when world peace was around the corner,” Katz said. “My own euphoria diminished with every neo-Nazi march after 2008 and attempt to justify and explain away the Holocaust, events that are becoming even more common and acceptable responses to Russian aggression.” Lithuania has a long history of conflict with its Russian neighbor. The Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, which until 2011 did not even mention the more than 2o0,000 Lithuanian Jews who died in the Nazi Holocaust, was established in 1992
to memorialize Lithuanians killed by the Nazi, but mostly Soviet, occupiers. Lithuania is also one of the few countries where neo-Nazis are free to brandish swastikas on the street. Its northern neighbor, Latvia, is the only European country where veterans of the Waffen SS are allowed each year to march on main streets and commemorate their comrades, who are venerated as freedom fighters against Russia. Since 2008, Latvia and Lithuania have played host to three neo-Nazi marches annually. A fourth event began last year in the third Baltic nation, Estonia. The Baltic nations, which have clashed frequently with Slavic peoples, share bitter memories from Soviet domination that have made them natural allies of Germany, according to Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office. The historic conflict led thousands of Lithuanians and Latvians to volunteer for armed Nazi groups. “Now, Russian expansionism under Vladimir Putin is serving as the perfect pretext to push forward a false historical account that accuses the Russians of genocide, and at the same time conveniently portrays the local Baltic populations as victims instead of perpetrators,” said Zuroff, who shadowed the Kaunas march with Katz. Those tendencies were in plain sight at the Kaunas march, where dozens carried banners of Ukrainian nationalists alongside Nazi symbols. Tomas Skorupskis, a march organizer from the Lithuanian Nationalist Youth Union, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year has helped swell the ranks of Lithuanian nationalists. “Many Lithuanians find it hard to forgive Jews who, during communism, killed na-
Engel prove that he intionalist freedom fighters,” formed Russian authorities Skorupsis said. “But I think of his Israeli citizenship. we should leave it in the “Since when does Latvia past and look ahead.” enforce Russia’s laws on Since he began denationality?” asked Joseph nouncing these phenomKoren, a Latvia-born Jew ena, Katz, the author of who with Engel runs the numerous books in the field Latvian branch of the of Yiddish, lost his position World Without Nazism at the Yiddish institute he group. “It’s an attempt to founded at Vilnius Univerharass and to silence our sity. He says it was political opposition to the far right retribution, but his former Dovid Katz has become a and the government’s supbosses deny the claim. Far-right activists often target of scorn for speaking port of it.” Both Koren and Engel denounce Katz as a Rus- out against ultranationalist sian agent. Some have pub- groups in Lithuania. (Photo are mentioned several times in a 2013 report by lished insulting caricatures by Cnaan Liphshiz) the Latvia Security Police of him and posted photographs of Katz at a café with a woman to as having “played a great role in the the Facebook page of a far-right activist. discrediting campaign against Latvia” Katz understands the latter move to be a through actions “carried out in accordance with Russian foreign policy.” To Koren, reminder that he is being watched. “I found out that anyone who will speak a businessmen who says he is routinely out against the legitimization of Nazism detained at Riga’s airport and lives under will be marginalized or threatened, or constant surveillance, this shows that both,” said Katz, who now makes a liv- Baltic nations “may have ended Soviet ing by lecturing internationally and from rule, but the Soviet techniques and mindseminars in Vilnius for visiting groups set remain.” Katz’s case, Koren says, “is from around the world. “Especially if they classic silencing in academia, just like in are single, a bit eccentric and of a certain Soviet times.” The Latvian Foreign Ministry did not reweight and appearance.” Katz is not the only anti-fascist activ- spond to questions about Engel and Koren. For his first nine years in Lithuania, ist complaining about persecution in the Baltics. In Latvia, authorities last year Katz largely avoided speaking out about refused to renew the residency permit of politics. That changed in 2008, when Valery Engel, a Russian Jew with dual Lithuanian prosecutors began probing Israeli citizenship who lives in Riga with three Jews who were declared suspects his Latvian wife and child. Earlier this of war crimes allegedly committed durmonth, Latvian officials considering his ing World War II. The investigation was appeal to remain in the country demanded See “Lithuania” on page 13
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MArch 12, 2015 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JNS.org
Seven injured in Palestinian vehicular terror attack in Jerusalem
Six Israeli policewomen and a female cyclist were moderately wounded on March 6 when a Palestinian terrorist driver ran them over near a light rail station in northern Jerusalem. The station, located on Shimon Hatzadik Street, is adjacent to a Border Police facility. The vehicular attack took place at around 10:20 am. According to eyewitnesses, the terrorist, driving through the street, sped up as he was approaching the station and hit the policewomen and a cyclist. He then stopped the car, got out wielding a large cleaver and attempted to attack pedestrians in the area. He was shot by a policeman before he was able to harm anyone else. “The rapid response by security forces prevented this event from escalating and prevented any harm from coming to more innocent people,” said Jerusalem District Police Commander Maj. Gen. Moshe Edri, Israel Hayom reported. The terrorist was later identified as Uday Salaymeh, a resident of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. Magen David Adom paramedics who arrived at the scene treated the wounded on site before evacuating them to local hospitals for further treatment. Four policewomen were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and the two others as well as the terrorist were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. The cyclist was taken to Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital.
Syrian boy who lost leg in war fitted with prosthesis in Israel
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) – A 13-year-old Syrian boy who was seriously injured by a mortar in the Quneitra region three months ago as a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria was brought to Israel for surgery and fitted with a prosthetic leg that will allow him to walk again. The boy is set to return to Syria on March 8. The boy, who dreams of playing soccer and basketball as well as finishing high school, lost his left leg below the knee and was gravely injured by shrapnel in his right thigh. He was brought to Rambam Hospital in Haifa due to limited treatment options in Quneitra. At first, doctors fought for his life as he suffered from serious infections. His mother was permitted to stay by his side as he underwent a series of surgeries. The young boy also had the support of the hospital’s pediatric surgery staff, as well as many Israeli Arab families. As he began to heal, his supporters decided they would help pay for a prosthesis that would help him walk. A local Israeli Arab nonprofit organization, Haifa Zar’at al-Carmel, also contributed to the cost of the prosthetic leg, as did the father of another child hospitalized at Rambam. “We try to do everything for these children who don’t really have a home to return to,” said Issa Mahaja, who heads Haifa Zar’at al-Carmel. “I am in touch with everyone who was hospitalized here and went back to Syria. Some have recovered and are doing fine, others are dealing with tremendous hardship and constantly running from battle areas.”
Israel to partially resume produce imports from Gaza
coastal enclave in 2007. Israeli officials said the resumption will help rehabilitate the Gazan economy, which was heavily damaged during last summer’s Operation Protection Edge. It will also make up for a current shortage in domestic produce coming from Israeli farms. Jamal Abu al-Naja, director of the Gaza Vegetable Production and Export Association, expressed support for the decision and said it “will help farmers make up for their losses, increase the number of workers and encourage investment in the agricultural sector,”Reuters reported. COGAT, the Israeli military agency that manages Israeli civilian relations with Gaza, but does not engage with Hamas, also welcomed the decision. “The steps taken are meant to support the Palestinian population while segregating the Hamas organization, which is a terror entity that prevents the reconstruction of Gaza and uses its resources,” COGAT head Major-General Yoav Mordechai said.
Continued from page 12
abandoned amid an international outcry that Katz helped generate by lobbying Western embassies and founding his website DefendingHistory.com. But it came at a price. “I was thrust into the spotlight of political activism at the expense of my reputation as a scholar,” Katz said in an interview in his Vilnius apartment, which he shares with thousands of 19thcentury Yiddish books that he rescued from across Eastern Europe. “I could no longer remain silent.” Katz says he was warned by his bosses at the Yiddish institute to cease lobbying
in defense of the three Jews – Yitzhak Arad, Fania Brantsovsky and Rachel Margolis – who had fought as partisans against the Nazis. But the institute’s director, Sarunas Liekis, a member of the state’s commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes, denies Katz’s politics factored into the decision not to renew his contract. “Mr. Katz is prone to conspiracy theories,” Liekis said. “The truth is he hardly showed up for work from 2007 to 2010.” Katz says he never missed a class during his time at the institute.
At right: Lithuanian ultranationalists marched in Kaunas on February 16. (Photo by Cnaan Liphshiz)
Israel will partially resume purchasing fruit and vegetables from the Gaza Strip the week of March 9 after a long halt on imports since Hamas took over the Palestinian
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THE REPORTER ■ march 12, 2015
Hebrew Cultural Festival
March 2015 • Non-Feature Films • *NEW* American Masters: Mel Brooks: Make A Noise - After more than 60 years in show business, Mel Brooks has earned more major awards than any other living entertainer. A comedy force of nature, Brooks is very private and has never authorized a biography, making his participation in this film a genuine first. Showcasing the Brooklyn native’s brilliant, skewed originality, American Masters: Mel Brooks: Make A Noise features never-before-heard stories and new interviews with Brooks, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Cloris Leachman, Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers, Tracey Ullman and others. This career-spanning documentary of the man behind Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Spaceballs and of course the 2000 Year Old Man journeys through Brooks’ professional and personal ups and downs, providing a rare look at a living legend, beloved by millions. *NEW* Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy - Engaging, humorous, and provocative... examining the unique role of Jewish composers and lyricists in the creation of the modern American musical. The film showcases the work of legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. Interviews with songwriters and luminaries including Sheldon Harnick, Stephen Schwartz, Harold Prince, Arthur Laurents, Charles Strouse, and Mel Brooks provide insight, alongside standout performances and archival footage. Everything is a Present: The Wonder and Grace of Alice Sommer Hertz - This is the uplifting true story of the gifted pianist Alice Sommer Hertz who survived the Theresienstat concentration camp by playing classical piano concerts for Nazi dignitaries. Alice Sommer Hertz lived to the age of 106. Her story is an inspiration. Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story - Yoni Netanyahu was a complex, passionate individual thrust into defending his country in a time of war and violence. The older brother of Benjamin Natanyahu, the current Israel Prime Minister, Yoni led the miraculous raid on Entebbe in 1976. Although almost all of the Entebbe hostages were saved, Yoni was the lone military fatality. Featuring three Israeli Prime Ministers and recently released audio from the Entebbe raid itself. Hava Nagila (The Movie) - A documentary romp through the history, mystery and meaning of the great Jewish standard. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Leonard Nimoy and more, the film follows the ubiquitous party song on its fascinating journey from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America. Inside Hana’s Suitcase - The delivery of a battered suitcase to Fumiko Ishioka at the Tokyo Holocaust Museum begins the true-life mystery that became the subject of Karen Levine’s best-selling book Hana’s Suitcase. The film follows Fumiko’s search to discover the details of Hana’s life, which leads to the discovery of her brother George in Toronto. Israel: The Royal Tour - Travel editor Peter Greenberg (CBS News) takes us on magnificent tour of the Jewish homeland, Israel. The tour guide is none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The viewer gets a chance to visit the land of Israel from his own home! Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (narrated by Dustin Hoffman) - This documentary portrays the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and the special meaning that baseball has had in the lives of American Jews. More than a film about sports, this is a story of immigration, assimilation, bigotry, heroism, the passing on of traditions, the shattering of stereotypes and, most of all, the greatest American pastime. Nicky’s Family - An enthralling documentary that artfully tells the story of how Sir Nicholas Winton, now 104, a British stockbroker, gave up a 1938 skiing holiday to answer a friend’s request for help in Prague and didn’t stop helping until the war’s beginning stopped him. He had saved the lives of 669 children in his own personal Kindertransport. Shanghai Ghetto - One of the most amazing and captivating survival tales of WWII, this documentary recalls the strange-but-true story of thousands of European Jews who were shut out of country after country while trying to escape Nazi persecution. Left without options or entrance visa, a beacon of hope materialized for them on the other side of the world, and in the unlikeliest of places, Japanese-controlled Shanghai. The Case for Israel - Democracy’s Outpost - This documentary presents a vigorous case for Israel- for its basic right to exist, to protect its citizens from terrorism, and to defend its borders from hostile enemies. The Jewish Cardinal - This is the amazing true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism at a young age, & later joining the priesthood. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg - As baseball’s first Jewish star, Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg’s career contains all the makings of a true American success story. Unmasked: Judaophobia - The Threat to Civilization – This documentary exposes the current political assault against the State of Israel fundamentally as a war against the Jewish people and their right to self-determination. *NEW* When Jews Were Funny is insightful and often hilarious, surveying the history of Jewish comedy from the early days of Borsht Belt to the present. • Feature Films • Fill the Void - This is the story of an eighteen-year-old, Shira, who is the youngest daughter of her family. Her dreams are about to come true as she is set to be married. Unexpectedly, her sister dies while giving birth to her first child. The drama of the story reaches its peak when the girls’ mother proposes a match between Shira and the young widower. Shira will have to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty. Footnote - The winner of the Cannes Film Festival (Best Screenplay) is the tale of a great rivalry between a father and son, two eccentric professors, who have both dedicated their lives to work in Talmudic Studies. Each has a need for recognition in his chosen field and the day comes when father and son must look deeply inside themselves for the truth- advancement of his own career or of the others. Hidden in Silence - Przemysl, Poland, WWII. Germany emerges victorious over the Russians and the city comes under Nazi control. The Jews are sent to the ghettos. While some stand silent, Catholic teenager, Stefania Podgorska, chose the role of a savior and sneaks 13 Jews into her attic. Noodle (compatible only on PAL – DVD players - Hebrew with English subtitles) This film was a beloved entry in the Jewish Federation of NEPA’s Jewish Film Festival. It tells the heartwarming story of an Israeli stewardess, Miri, whose personal life as a war widow leaves her without much joy. Everything changes for Miri when her Oriental housemaid disappears one day leaving her with her young Oriental child! The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Based on the best- selling novel, this movie is unforgettable. Set during WWII, the movie introduces us to Bruno, an innocent eight-year-old, ignores his mother and sets of on an adventure in the woods. Soon he meets a young boy and a surprising friendship develops. The Concert - Andrei Filipov was prodigy- at 20 he was the celebrated conductior for Russia’s renowned Bolshoi Orchestra. Thirty years later, still at the Bolshoi, he works as a janitor. Ousted during the communist era when he refused to fire the Jewish members of the orchestra, a broken Andrei now cleans the auditorium where he once performed in front of thousands. The Debt - In 1966, three Mossad agents were assigned to track down a feared Nazi war criminal hiding in East Berlin, a mission accomplished at great risk and personal cost- or was it? The Other Son - As he is preparing to join the Israeli army for his national service, Joseph discovers he is not his parents’ biological son and that he was inadvertently switched at birth with Yacine, the son of a Palestinian family from the West Bank. This revelation turns the lives of these two families upside-down, forcing them to reassess their respective identities, their values and beliefs. *Just added to the Jewish Federation’s Film Lending Library!
The Israeli-American Council, in partnership with the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and the Council for Hebrew Language and Culture, will host a series of events in New York City in March to celebrate Hebrew culture with New York’s Jewish and Israeli-American communities. Among the events will be: “Music Talks: Peter and the Wolf” at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St., on March 15, with Israeli actress Shira Averbuch narrating in Hebrew. Following the show, guests will get behind-the-scenes access, to meet the instruments up close at a “musical instrument petting zoo.” “A Journey through Books,” as children meet actors playing real-life versions of some of their favorite characters. An Israeli story-time experience will feature author Yael Ichilo, who will read some of this year’s selections of the IAC Hebrew version of the free children’s Jewish book service PJ Library, called Sifriyat Pijama B’America. The singer and an artist will teach children about illustration while guests donate, swap and purchase used books in a Hebrew book fair. Best-selling Israeli author Assaf Gavron will also discuss his new book “The Hilltop,” a fictional look at the settlement movement, and a musical production will feature Israeli children’s characters Yuval Hamevulbal, Roy Noy, and the Power Girls Tuti and Na’ama. “Good Deeds Day” on March 15 at the Stephen Wise synagogue will encourage Israeli-Americans to volunteer in a social setting while giving back to the community. Good Deeds Day is a worldwide event first launched in Israel, which will bring together 700,000 participants from 50 nations as they seek to help others. IAC will offer a “Giving Tree” card-making station for Passover, birthdays, Israeli soldiers and for the elderly. The Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) will assemble hygiene packages for homeless shelters as well. On March 22, the Council for Hebrew Language and Culture in North America will host a Hebrew concert featuring Tri-State area school choirs. IAC Dor Chadash, the group for next-generation Israeli-Americans, will host Beer Ve’Nashir (beer and song), with a live band performing top Israeli hits, starting at 7:30 pm (location to be determined). Israeli Americans and the Jewish community will create shared experiences around the Shabbat dinner table, during the IAC “Shishi Israeli” (Israeli Friday Night), with folk songs, lively discussion and celebration. The event will take place at B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue, 270 W. 89th St., on March 27 from 6-9 pm. A showing of the award-winning film “The Farewell Party” at the Israel Film Center, 334 Amsterdam Ave., on March 30 at 7 pm. Participants can also stream one free film on IsraelFilmCenterStream.org. For more information, visit www.israeliamerican. org.
Continued from page 11
Despite the persistent hostility and distrust created by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Frenkel has not shrugged off efforts to bring about peace. “I am making a great effort not to raise my children on hate,” she says, adding, “When Mohammed [Abu Khdeir] was murdered, the first thing we did was speak out against this.” Moving forward, the unity prize’s organizers hope that last summer’s scars, which brought disparate Israeli and Jewish communities closer together, engender a lasting new dialogue. “We lived a very quiet life,” Frenkel says, recalling her late son’s childhood. “I think Naftali wasn’t naïve. He knew there are no easy answers, yet he grew up very confident of our future in Israel.”
MArch 12, 2015 ■
NEWS IN bRIEF From JTA
Nisman’s ex-wife: Late AMIA prosecutor was murdered
Citing independent forensic tests, Alberto Nisman’s ex-wife said the late AMIA case prosecutor was murdered. “Nisman didn’t have an accident. He didn’t commit suicide. They murdered him,” Sandra Arroyo Salgado said at a press conference on March 5, without elaborating on who killed the 51-year-old prosecutor who was found dead at his Buenos Aires home on Jan. 18. Salgado, herself a federal judge, said that experts came to this conclusion by analyzing an autopsy and other forensic evidence. Nisman, who was Jewish, was found dead hours before he was to present evidence to Argentine lawmakers that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner covered up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Argentine authorities initially released forensic findings that suggested that Nisman may have committed suicide. On Jan. 30, the prosecutor in charge of investigating Nisman’s death said that no one else’s DNA was found at the scene of the crime. Salgado’s announcement comes one day after Fernandez de Kirchner published a full-page advertisement in eight Argentine newspapers arguing that Nisman’s 350-page complaint about the government’s handling of the AMIA investigation is “filled with contradictions, illogical, with no legal basis.” Fernandez de Kirchner had originally called Nisman’s death a suicide, but now refers to it as a deliberate “operation against the government.” Salgado has called for an international investigation into Nisman’s death. The AMIA bombing, which was the worst terror attack on a diaspora Jewish institution since World War II and came two years after an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, killed 85 people. Since his death in January, many people in Argentina have described, Nisman, who was appointed prosecutor for the investigation in 2004, as AMIA’s 86th victim.
Ruderman Family Foundation launches fourth annual Jewish inclusion competition
The Ruderman Family Foundation has launched its fourth annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion competition, an international contest that awards multiple Jewish organizations for contributions to the field of inclusion. As in previous years, the foundation will award five different organizations $50,000 each for innovative methods of integrating people with disabilities into the Jewish community. Winners of the contest will be announced in June.
of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, adding, “We urge all holders of such [historic objects] to forward them to our foundation or the nearest Jewish community. They should not be traded or export abroad.”
In first, NYC schools to close for Muslim holidays
New York will become the first major city to close its public schools for Muslim holidays. Schools will be shuttered for the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays, which rotate around the secular calendar because they are pegged to the Muslim non-leap lunar calendar. Several other smaller municipalities already close their schools for those holy days, including Cambridge, MA; Dearborn, MI; and Paterson, NJ, but no major metropolis does, according to The New York Times. A 2008 study by Columbia University found that about 10 percent of students in New York City’s schools are Muslim, the newspaper reported. The announcement fulfills a campaign pledge by New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, who called it a “matter of simple fairness.” The announcement came on March 4. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Eid al-Adha mark’s Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God. For decades, New York City’s public schools have been closed on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.
PLO votes to cut security cooperation with Israel
The central council of the Palestine Liberation Organization has decided to end all of its security cooperation with Israel. In a statement issued on March 5, the PLO explained that the decision was made in response to “Israel’s systematic and ongoing non-compliance with its obligations under signed agreements, including its daily military raids throughout the state of Palestine, attacks against our civilians and properties.” It is not clear whether PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas will confirm the move, which is the latest in a series of escalatory actions by Israel and the Palestinians. Sources told the Guardian that Abbas supports the decision. Since the Oslo Accord in 1993, the Palestinian Authority and Israel have shared intelligence information in order to prevent violence. Israeli troops coordinate with Abbas’ forces in the West Bank.
Budapest Holocaust museum omits culpability of Hungarians
Hungarian Jewish leaders are criticizing a new Holocaust museum under construction in Budapest for omitting the culpability of Hungarians in the attempted genocide of the Jews. The museum in Budapest, called House of Fates, is nearly complete, but the planned exhibition focuses only on the last period of the Holocaust in Hungary, starting in 1944, when the ghettoization and deportation of more than 500,000 Hungarian Jews was already complete. It fails to deal with the earlier persecution against Hungarian Jews, starting with the passage of anti-Jewish laws in the 1920s, local Jewish community leaders and historians complained. Community leaders said they were not consulted about the planned exhibition. Judit Molnar, a well-known Hungarian Holocaust historian, slammed the museum for not explicitly mentioning the responsibility of Hungarian authorities in the killing of Hungarian Jews during World War II. “The responsibility for what happened here during the Holocaust, according to the new Holocaust exhibition concept, were only the German Nazis and the members of the Hungarian Nazi party, the Arrow Cross Party – excluding the responsibility of the then-Hungarian Horthy regime,” Molnar said. In response, a minister for the Hungarian government, Janos Lazar, said the exhibition will not be completed without approval of the Jewish community. Budapest already has a Holocaust museum built inside an old, abandoned synagogue building. The new museum project, which originally was meant to be finished ahead of last year’s 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust, is dedicated to remembering the Jewish child victims of the Holocaust in Hungary. About 150,000 of the estimated 600,000 Hungarian Jews murdered during the Holocaust were children. About 180,000 Hungarian Jews survived the Holocaust.
Two pre-WWII Polish Torah scrolls to be restored
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland will save two pre-World War II Torah scrolls using a grant received from the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland. The Torah scrolls are originally from Zamosc and Zwierzyniec. After restoration, the Zamosc scroll will be exhibited in a display case in the Zamosc Synagogue. The Zwierzyniec scroll will be displayed in the synagogue building in Leczna, where the foundation plans to establish a Jewish museum. The Zamosc scroll is unique because it contains a distinctive way of writing the Hebrew letter “peh,” which probably can quite accurately determine the location of origin and date of creation. The renovation will be carried out at the National Library in Warsaw and the Department of Paper and Leather Restoration of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun at a cost of approximately $6,600. “We are very grateful for the support of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland. We believe that such items should be carefully preserved and made available to a wider audience, because of their educational value,” said Monika Krawczyk, director
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THE REPORTER â– MArch 12, 2015
Mark & Joan Davis, General Campaign Co-Chairs
Total to date:
$789,433 THE TIME IS NOW!
Of the 62 â€œSmall Federationsâ€? in North America (as defined by the Jewish Federations of North America), the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvaniaâ€™s UJA Campaign last year ($895,029) ranked as theâ€Ś 7th highest UJA Campaign in North America.
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March 12, 2015 Edition of The Reporter