Tag Archives: holocaust

What a difference a President can make! Poland moves to strip Jewish Holocaust scholar of award

What a difference a President can make! The previous Polish presidential incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, was widely praised and acknowledged for recognising Polish complicity in the Holocaust. Less than a year after Poland elected Andrzej Duda, a previously little-known right-wing politician as president, Warsaw’s nationalist government has moved to strip a leading Jewish Holocaust scholar of a national honour for asserting simply what Komorowski acknowledged, that Poland was in part responsible for Nazi war crimes against its Jewish population during World War II.

The Guardian reported on Sunday that Jan Tomasz Gross, a Polish-born Princeton University history professor, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1996 for his extensive work documenting the fate of Polish Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. His notable 2001 book “Neighbors,” examined the massacre of some 1,500 Jews from the village of Jedwabne, as part of which Gross concluded it was the Poles, not the Nazis, who committed the atrocity.

The book inspired the 2012 film “Aftermath,” the first Polish movie to address the responsibility of local residents for the massacres of Jews during the Holocaust.

Jan Tomasz Gross
Jan Tomasz Gross

Gross’s work in recent years has triggered furious reactions by Polish nationalists, who claim there is insufficient evidence to support assertions which they say blacken the country’s reputation by falsely depicting Poland as a perpetrator rather than a victim of Nazi occupation.

In October, Polish prosecutors opened a libel probe against Gross after he sought to explain Poland’s wariness regarding accepting Syrian migrants streaming into Europe by referring to widespread anti-Semitism during the war in an op-ed published in the German newspaper Die Welt.

“The Poles, for example, were indeed rightfully proud of their society’s resistance against the Nazis, but in fact did kill more Jews than Germans during the war,” the 68-year-old historian wrote.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry at the time called Gross’s article “historically untrue, harmful and insulting to Poland.”

Reports that Gross was to be stripped of the honour were met with outrage by Holocaust scholars and academics worldwide, who submitted a number of letters in defense of the historian and slammed Warsaw for attempting to whitewash history.

“The government says Gross is unpatriotic. But he is a patriot who looks at both the darker and lighter periods in Polish history,” wrote one of the signatories, University of Ottawa history professor Jan Grabowski, according to The Guardian.

 

 

Historic levels of immigration to Israel, fueled by European anti-Semitism?

Jews in Europe feel as threatened now in Europe as they did during World War II and the Holocaust, experts have said.

An exodus of western European Jews have flocked to Israel after rising anti-Semitic attacks reached an all-time high.

Almost 10,000 Jews from West Europe immigrated to Israel in 2015, the highest annual number ever.

Nearly 80 per cent of the migrants are from France, where attacks have left the world’s third-largest Jewish population rattled.

While Jews have been targeted in Belgium, Denmark and other European countries, France has has been the most dangerous for Jewish people.

Just this week, a machete-wielding teen attacked a Jewish teacher in the French town of Marseille, prompting a local Jewish authority to ask fellow Jews to refrain from wearing their traditional skull caps to stay safe.

There are increasing reports of assaults and intimidation against Jews by mostly from Muslim extremists.

France is still recovering from a series of attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people and mourned the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the same day a kosher grocery store was attacked, leaving 17 people dead.

In each case, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

France’s Jewish community of 500,000 people is the largest in Europe.

Jewish schools and synagogues are often surrounded by soldiers in combat fatigues who patrol the streets with automatic rifle.

Though Jews make up less than 1 percent of the population, French officials say more than 50 percent of all reported racist attacks in 2014 were directed against them.

While some attacks have been linked to anger at Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, most have been anti-Semitic in nature.

Close to 800 Jews have have left Britain for Israel and Italy and Belgium follow next on the list.

‘That a record number of European Jews feel that Europe is no longer their home should alarm European leaders and serve as a wake-up call for all who are concerned about the future of Europe,’ said Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

‘At the same time, the fact that Israel has become the number one destination for European Jews seeking to build a better future elsewhere is a tribute to the appeal of life in Israel and the values the Jewish state represents,’ Sharansky added.

Follow the link to the original article here.

The Curious Case of the new Polish President

Is it the case that the Jewish people have lost a good friend in the out-going Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski? More importantly, how should they consider the election of the right-wing candidate Andrzej Duda?

Notably, Duda recently criticized Komorowski for apologizing over Poland’s complicit role in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, saying the apology was an “attempt to destroy Poland’s good name.”

While Polish Jews have generally enjoyed good conditions of late and the outgoing government being seen as largely favorable towards Israel, the Jewish issue did play a role in the presidential elections.

During a debate last week between Komorowski and Duda, the former defended his past apologies over Polish complicity in the Holocaust. He particularly noted the massacre in Jedwabne in 1941, where Polish farmers murdered their Jewish neighbors, burning dozens alive inside a barn.

The issue has proven sensitive to Poles, who claim that by revealing such incidents, including those in Jedwabne, Wasosz and various other locations, historians have sought to cast Poland as a nation of perpetrators instead of a nation of victims to the Nazis.

During the debate, Komorwski said, “the nation of victims was also the nation of perpetrators.”

But as noted, Duda, Poland’s new president, slammed the apology, saying the attempt to come to grips with Poland’s role in the Holocaust harmed the state’s reputation.

However, Duda’s victory was not just the outcome of issues revolving around the Jews and historical ramifications from the Holocaust.

Komorwski’s Civic Platform party has brought Poland great economic growth over the course of eight years in power, greater integrating the state in the European Union.

It has also seen numerous corruption scandals, however, with much of the economic growth not reaching the lower economic classes who still suffer from low wages and meager job opportunities.

Read more here.

AntiSemitismWatch global catch-up

coollogo_com-23172872AntiSemitismWatch.com brings you its latest global news update:

Austria: Bosnian football fans staged a pro-Palestinian protest that quickly turned Antisemitic while in Vienna, Austria for a soccer match.

The incident was captured in a video where the fans-turned-political-activists set up a protest in Vienna’s central Stephanplatz square.

At first they stood calmly shouting pro-Palestinian slogans. Then, a single voice among the protesters shouted “Kill the Jews.” The calls to violence swelled as the other protesters joined in. In a swarm of rage, they began to jump up and down shouting “Ubij, ubij Židove,” which means “Kill, kill the Jews.”

The enraged protesters were in town for an international friendly soccer match between Austria and Bosnia at the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna.

Neither Bosnian nor Austrian officials have responded to the incident so far.

Relations between Bosnia and Israel are generally friendly and the country even has a small Jewish community. In May 2014, Israel sent millions of tons of aid to the country when the region experienced record flooding that killed thousands.

Read the original article here.

Iran: Over 300 artists from Iran and countries such as France, China sent in entries for controversial competition

Hundreds of people from Iran and around the globe submitted entries for the Islamic Republic’s Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, a competition official announced Monday.

“839 artworks have also been sent to the secretariat, 686 of them have been sent to the cartoon section and 153 more are related to caricature section,” Secretary Masud Shojaei-Tabatabaii told the semi-official Fars News Agency, marking the second time since 2006 that the country has held the controversial contest, which makes light of the killing of 6 million Jews in Europe during WWII.

Organizers launched the cartoon contest centered on the theme of Holocaust denial in late January in response to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision to publish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor

In February, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, demanded that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN member countries condemn Iran’s planned international cartoon contest on Holocaust denial.

“This contest legitimizes Holocaust denial and encourages Holocaust deniers to continue their incitement,” Prosor said. “It ridicules one of the darkest events in human history, and it cheapens the death of millions of Jews who were murdered. The horrors of the Holocaust are still fresh in the collective memory.”

Read more here.

Netherlands: A Dutch soccer club is working to identify fans who chanted Antisemitic slogans about the Holocaust during a match with a rival team from Amsterdam.

The chants were documented at Galgenwaard Stadium in Utrecht, a city situated 40 miles southeast of the Dutch capital Amsterdam, during an honor division match between Amsterdam’s Ajax team and FC Utrecht, the De Telegraaf daily reported.

Utrecht supporters chanted the slogans to insult rival fans, whom they often call “Jews” because of the historical Jewish presence in Amsterdam, which is sometimes colloquially called “Mokum” after the Yiddish word for “place.”

During the match, dozens could be seen and heard chanting: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews cause Jews burn the best” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The chanting went on for several minutes.

Ronny Naftaniel, a prominent Dutch Jewish anti-discrimination activist, called on Ajax to stop future matches featuring anti-Semitic chants.

“When will Ajax players walk off the field? Take action against anti-Semitism,” wrote Naftaniel, who is the executive vice chairperson of CEJI, a Brussels-based Jewish organization promoting tolerance through education.

FC Utrecht said in a statement it is investigating suspected chanters and vowed to punish those identified.

Read more here.

Israel: Vandalizing graves and monuments with swastikas is a popular Antisemitic attack method, particularly in Europe, but the phenomenon has found its way into Israel as well.

Over Passover weekend, vandals graffitied a swastika and hateful slurs on a monument for fallen members of southern town Omer, who died fighting for Israel. The monument is located in the Omer Industrial Park.

Read more here.

The loyalty test

As ASW.com recently posted, in the US Antisemitism was up 21% in 2014. However, according to Anti-Defamation League’s chairman, Abe Foxman, the problem is much worse.

Speaking at a recent educational forum, Foxman told some 900 participants, “It’s even more worrying that one in very three Americans – over 30% – believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than America.”

As all Jews know, the issue of dual-loyalty is an essential ingredient of modern Antisemitism all over the world, said Foxman.

Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor, said that he believed he could speak for most Jews when he said that “just 70 years after the Holocaust, I don’t believe that any of us, especially survivors, would believe that anti-Semitism would sprout like this. For many people around the world, these statistics come as a surprise, as they thought anti-Semitism was a thing of the past. It’s not.”

Read more here.