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Italian newspaper derided for giving away free copies of ‘Mein Kampf’

When “Mein Kampf” fell into the public domain on January 1 this year, enabling it to be freely printed, often those that choose to do so justified it as the publication of a historical document. The merits of that argument were undoubtedly dubious although the German edition, published for the first time since World War II, included critical annotations by historians.

However, on Saturday, a right-wing Italian newspaper was giving away free copies of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic manifesto in a move which, unsurprisingly, has sparked both shock and condemnation.

“Know it in order to reject it” was the weak justification given by conservative tabloid Il Giornale. Known for its right-wing position, notably over the question of immigration, Il Giornale has a circulation of around 200,000.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quickly denounced the initiative on Twitter, writing: “I find it sordid that an Italian daily is giving away Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. I embrace the Jewish community with affection. #neveragain”

Il Giornale

It was also denounced by Italy’s 30,000-strong Jewish community,  “It is a vile act, light years away from any in-depth learning or study about the Holocaust,” said Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, describing the initiative as “indecent.”

The paper said the text was being freely distributed alongside the first of a series of eight history books on the Nazi Third Reich.

For 70 years, the German state of Bavaria which was handed copyright of the book in 1945, refused to allow it to be republished out of respect for the victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

Musician drops surname over fear of anti-Semitism

In something reminiscent of the actions of many Jewish families faced with sweeping anti-Semitism in Western Europe in the late 19th / early 20th centuries, one of the hottest current music artists has explained his unusual name choice.

His real surname is Scheller but you will only find him on the internet or in music magazines by his ‘stage name’ Oscar – and he is hugely rated according to BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac.

Photo from Oscar's website: OscarOscar.co.uk
Photo from Oscar’s website:

“It was for a few reasons, visually, and for cultural reasons: my surname is German-Jewish and there’s a lot of anti-Semitism in the world. I didn’t want to have any abuse thrown in my face. You just have to be careful, even in this day and age.”

In that earlier era, many Jewish refugee families fleeing persecution Westernised their surnames upon arrival in their new host countries as a means of attempting to deflect some of the consequences of anti-Semitism by demonstrating their integration or simply as a means of trying to hide their heritage.

Going without a surname is also particularly poignant in a week when UK newspaper headlines have been dominated by the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism row.

Read more about Oscar, his British childhood and musical background here.

UK police commissioner candidate labelled ‘unfit for office’ over social media posts

ONE of the candidates bidding to become West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has been labelled “unfit for office” after sharing conspiracy theories about Israel, terrorism and police corruption.

Independent candidate Andy Flynn, is one of four men battling to become the region’s police commissioner in the May 5 elections.

His rivals say they have been stunned by his posts on Israel and Muslims, and his view that the police force is riddled with corruption and packed with “self-serving freemasons”.

On his Facebook page, he has also shared images from others of German chancellor Angela Merkel dressed in a Nazi-style uniform.

In one post, he claims the Islamic terrorist attacks, such those in Paris and Brussels, are in fact organised by Israel.

He states: “Israel is the sworn enemy of Islam, yet there are no ISIS attacks on Israel, and Israel has a history of staging terrorist attacks to incite hatred between Christians and Muslims.”

He also asks: “Was Marxism invented by a Jew to destroy Western society?”

Another post he shared stated: “Boycott Moslem (sic) take aways. You don’t know what they are doing to your food.”

Many of the controversial posts were deleted after being highlighted by rivals, but have been seen and reported on by the Birmingham Mail.

Controversial Facebook posts of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Andy Flynn

Labour candidate David Jamieson, a former Government minister, said: “Flynn’s views are revolting. In more than 45 years of public life I can’t recall ever seeing such hateful things written by a candidate standing for election.”

Mr Flynn has paid the £5,000 deposit to secure the nomination. In a field of just four candidates, he could secure the five per cent vote needed to get his money back.

Flynn told the Birmingham Mail, “Posts on my Facebook page are for my friends and family, and are therefore personal and not part of my election campaign.

“I have not made any comments about Muslim food, In fact, I often enjoy Asian food. My views on Marxism are not relevant to my standing for election. However, I do believe that Marxism and what it represents are a danger to our freedoms.”

Controversial Facebook posts of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Andy Flynn

British PC who likened Israeli leader to Hitler allowed to keep job

A British police officer who posted a “grossly offensive” image on Facebook of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu alongside Adolf Hitler has been allowed to keep his job.

GMPGreater Manchester Police constable, Shahid Shah, 39, apologised for the picture, which showed Mr Netanyahu superimposed on a photo of the German dictator pointing at a map with Nazi colleagues.

A day-long disciplinary hearing – held in public – at GMP’s headquarters was told PC Shah ‘only apologised when he was interviewed’ about the post.

His posting appeared in the course of an online debate between officers about the conflict in Gaza and was spotted by two Jewish police officers who reported the Rochdale-based PC to GMP bosses.

The Professional Standards Branch of Greater Manchester Police initially had recommended the officer should face ‘misconduct’ rather rather ‘gross misconduct’ proceedings, meaning he could not have been sacked, as the privacy settings were at maximum, no members of the public were likely to view the image and that it his Facebook profile did not make clear Shah was a police officer.

ACC Garry Shewan
ACC Garry Shewan

This was over-ruled nine months later by Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who instigated the more serious proceedings which could have resulted in dismissal.

Shah, who served with the Royal Logistics Corps in Bosnia before joining the police and is married with children, had not been taking part in the debate on a “private” Facebook page until he posted the picture.

The officer had previously been in trouble for his Facebook postings having been given “words of advice” after including a picture of the bereaved family beside murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby’s grave.

ACC Shewan said of the Netanyahu incident: “He caused offence to members of the Jewish community, failed to show initially that he accepted what he had done was wrong and showed he had failed to learn lessons from a previous warning about what he had posted on Facebook.”

Shah will receive a formal written warning and was ordered to do diversity and social media training.

Shah, whose parents came to the UK from Pakistan in the 1950s, removed the image, the hearing was told.

Barrister Julian King, representing Shah, said his client had intended to “add some balance” to the debate but had “wholly failed”.

He added: “It’s quite clear this officer has considered quite clearly the mistakes he has made and accepted them and he is determined not to repeat them.”

Panel chairman Clare Hockney said Shah had made an “early admission, apologised in his interview and accepted it was an error of judgment”, adding that he had shown remorse.

Jonny Wineberg, vice-president of the Greater Manchester Jewish Representative Council, said: “It is disappointing to hear that a serving police officer has behaved in this way. What he did was anti-Semitic and racist.

“I think he should now make an effort to get involved and embrace all the diverse communities in the area.”




Auckland University: Professor to leave post after “anti-Semitic” letter

A University of Auckland professor is to leave his job after an anti-Semitism row sparked by a letter he submitted to the Waikato Times.

ScottPoynting-150x150Professor Scott Poynting​ compared an Israeli company employing Palestinians to a German company employing Jews. His letter read, “Thank you for explaining in your article how SodaStream generously provided work for Palestinians. I understand that IG Farben provided work for large number of Jews. Not that I have anything against Germans, mind you.”

The Farben factory referred to in the letter is notorious for making the gas used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews.

The commentary drew accusations of anti-Semitism from various groups and commentators, including the New Zealand Jewish Council and a fellow academic.  One online group, Shalom.Kiwi wrote:

“Prof Scott Poynting is a scholar of hate crime at the University of Auckland. Sadly ironically, he is also the author of a sickening anti-Semitic letter to the Waikato Times on Nov 28th.

The letter is anti-Semitic primarily because it seeks to draw false parallels between Nazi Germany and Israel and is sickening as the Farben factory referred to in the letter is notorious for making the gas used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews. Such demonisation and delegitimization of Israel not only fails Sharansky’s ‘3-D’ test, the comparison is also explicitly part of the European working definition of anti-Semitism and the definition used by the US State department.”

University Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon sought to address complainants via a letter in which he detailed investigations had been undertaken.

The institution had found Poynting not guilty of professional misconduct though it had been suggested to Poynting he should write a second letter to the editor of the Waikato Times clarifying he was not intending to make anti-Semitic remarks, McCutcheon said.

Poynting had refused to write a clarification, so McCutcheon apologised on behalf of the educational institution.

“… I do acknowledge that the way in which Scott Poynting expressed himself caused considerable distress to many members of the community. On behalf of the University of Auckland, I offer my own sincere apologies for that distress,” McCutcheon wrote.

However, the final line of McCutcheon’s letter saw the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union (TEU) wade into the debate.

“Professor Poynting’s employment with the University of Auckland concludes on 30 June 2016.”

TEU organiser Enzo Giodani clarified that Poynting was, in fact, retiring in June, as had always been the case.

The university, however, would not confirm the manner of his departure.

The union suggested the final line made it seem as though Poynting had been pressured to leave the university as a result of the fracas, he said. “The letter is misleadingly written. No action was taken against Scott Poynting”.

When questioned whether Poynting was retiring, the university said it had no further comment on this matter, other than what was in the letter was accurate.

The New Zealand Jewish Council was not satisfied with McCutcheon’s letter, either.

​In a joint statement, New Zealand Jewish Council chairman Geoff Levy and president Stephen Goodman said they were still seeking an apology from Poynting, and wanted the University of Auckland to publicly distance itself from the remarks.

“The hateful views expressed by Professor Poynting in his letter to the Waikato Times have no place in New Zealand, let alone within our academic institutions. While it is reassuring to know that Poynting will not be working at the University of Auckland much longer, the private nature of the apology from Professor McCutcheon does not promote transparency or proper accountability.

“The New Zealand Jewish Council would have expected the University of Auckland to publicly distance itself from the views of Professor Poynting, as other universities have done in similar situations, rather than privately apologise for any distress caused.”




Male gets 12 month prison for anti-Semitic postings

A 23 year-old Afghan man who posted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments on his Facebook page has been sentenced by a court in Upper Austria to a year’s conditional sentence and ordered to pay a €720 fine.

He was also found guilty of possessing an illegal pepper spray.

The 23-year-old man, who speaks German well, said he hadn’t intended to incite hatred against Jews but had hoped to get attention and lots of ‘likes’ on his Facebook page.

He posted a picture of Adolf Hitler with the words “I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some alive so you would know why I was killing them,” and another image of a skull and crossbones and the words “Keep calm and f*** Israel”.

He told the prosecution that he had only uploaded the images to see how many ‘likes’ he could get.

His lawyer told the jury that his client came to Austria as an unaccompanied minor when he was 16 and was granted asylum. His mother has since fled from Afghanistan and the defence said that the man’s “education has been neglected”.

The jury found him guilty of breaking Austria’s Prohibition Act, which aims to suppress any potential revival of Nazism and bans the deliberate belittlement of Nazi atrocities.

Follow this link to the original article here.

Le Pen at it again

Jean-Marie Le Pen has been at it again as the 86-year-old founder of the far-right National Front party defended having described Nazi gas chambers as a ‘detail of history’.

In words which will revive accusations that the far-right party remains an anti-Semitic one, Jean-Marie Le Pen said he had ‘never regretted’ making similar statements in the past.

His daughter and current leader of the party Marine Le Pen immediately distanced herself from the comments saying she ‘deeply disagrees’ with her ‘deliberately provocative’ father.

Mr Le Pen, who is still an MEP, said: ‘What I said corresponds to what I think. ‘The gas chambers were a detail of the war, unless we admit that the war was a detail of the gas chambers!’

While other National Front officials have been stripped of their party membership for racism, there has been no move to bar Jean-Marie Le Pen from a party of which he still holds the title of honorary president.

He is popular with many FN members and will stand as a candidate in December’s regional elections, despite having been convicted on numerous occasions of being anti-Jewish and for ‘inciting racial hatred’.

He has regularly made the comment about the Holocaust, telling the European Parliament in 2009: ‘I just said that the gas chambers were a detail of Second World War history, which is clear.’

Mr Le Pen was first convicted by a Munich court in 1999 for ‘minimising the Holocaust’ after telling a German far-right meeting that Nazi concentration camps and the gas chambers are ‘what one calls a detail’.

He has had a string of other convictions, including ones for violence and was briefly banned from being an MEP in 2003 following a physical attack on a French Socialist MEP.

Read more here.