COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

December 11, 2020
Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
Here, the Rabbi offers his unique and refreshing take on the portion. For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl and then: scroll down.
On Freedom of Speech
 
Freedom of opinion and speech is a great asset and therefore everything must be said.
 
And if I am allowed to say everything, I also have to accept everything and not moan when I myself become the target of taunts. Agree!
 
But why then get upset about anti-Israel resolutions in the UN, the anti-Semitic floats in Aalst or the umpteenth anti-Semitic cartoon in the Volkskrant?
 
Everything can be said, right? A cartoon that insults the heart of Islam must be possible, right? And what's wrong with black Pete? Do dark skinned people feel offended? Don't complain, freedom of speech!
 
But that opinion should of course not be every opinion, because if parents want to teach their children that the family with a mom and dad is the cornerstone of society, it could be seen as discriminating towards people who have a different orientation…
 
A befriended non-Jewish, non-Christian, non-Muslim and unmarried journalist (thus of impeccable behaviour!) Has warned me not to write that I am in favour of freedom of expression, but that that freedom must have restrictions.
 
That nuancing "but" would bring a torrent of criticism on myself. "But" I don't get that, because if freedom of speech is to be cherished, then I am allowed to express my opinion, even if that opinion differs?
 
And so with this my opinion, straight from ancient Judaism (Proverbs of the Fathers 2: 1): “What is the right way that man must choose? Any way that gives honour to him who follows him and by which he is honoured by men. ”
 
In other words: Black Pete really had nothing to do with discrimination for me. But if normal thinking people with a black skin colour now experience this as discriminating, then we have to stop.
 
Fanaticism is no good, neither from the right nor from the left, not from religion, but also not from secularization. Because secularization can also be fanatic, compulsive and intolerant.
 
But just before writing this, I got a call from a secular mayor friend: "Binyomin, if you ever need to, you can count on me." This again shows: friendship and solidarity, between secular and religious, standing up for each other, that is not only possible but eminently desirable.

Additional Articles

Why Do Jews Have To Be Murdered For You To Admit Anti-Semitism Is Real?

For the second time this year, a white supremacist marched into a synagogue and shot it up. On the six-month anniversary of the deadly shooting in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, a copycat inspired by that attack marched into the Chabad of Poway and opened fire.
In the wake of the horrific attack, many were the forceful condemnations of hate. I’ve read meaningful, painful expressions of solidarity.
But one disturbing phrase kept popping up. Everyone from Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris, Republican Senator Tim Scott, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu, and even Jewish writers and activists felt the need to announce: “anti-Semitism is real.”
Hearing this didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel worse.
Of course, anti-Semitism is real. That should go without saying. According to the Anti-Defamation League, over one billion people in the world harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. These hateful thoughts are leading to real atrocities; 2017 was plagued by 1,986 anti-Semitic hate crimes, plus a march where hundreds of white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis came together to chant that “Jews will not replace us.”

This problem isn’t confined to South Carolina. I went to high school in New York and college in Los Angeles; both of the buildings where I went to school have been branded with spray-paint swastikas.
When the Chabad of Poway was attacked, American Jews hadn’t gone six months since a white supremacist last stormed into a synagogue and killed the Jews inside. We hadn’t gone a full day since The New York Times had to apologize for publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon.
I shouldn’t be able to roll out these statistics and offenses off the top of my head. But I, like most Jews I know, am constantly forced to “prove” that my community is under siege.
Every time I speak up about anti-Semitism, I’m gaslit by people who deny it exists. They even go so far as to accuse me of fabricating false allegations of hate in bad faith.
In other words, not only is there a furious spike in hatred against Jews in this world; there is also a ferocious movement to deny that it is happening.
Jews no longer just face a fringe squad of maniacs who pretend the Holocaust was a hoax; anti-Semitism denial is a widespread epidemic.
This morning, my mother told me that she’s too afraid to step into a temple again. She has good reason to panic. Lori Gilbert Kaye, the woman who was shot dead in Poway, is right around her age. She left behind a daughter who’s mine. They could have been us; in some ways, they were.
Instead of crying with my mother, I spent tonight regurgitating statistics, pointing to today’s tragedy as evidence that our panic isn’t paranoia, that it shouldn’t take Jews getting murdered for people to recognize anti-Semitism.
But it does. So every time an anti-Semitic tragedy strikes, I feel compelled to broadcast it as evidence of the atrocities Jews face. I’m not the only one who so feels that way. Even Audrey Jacobs, a close friend of Kaye who expressed her loss in a Facebook post, took the time to repeat “anti-Semitism is real” in its final lines.
We wouldn’t be compelled to state that “anti-Semitism is real” if people weren’t actively declaring that it wasn’t.
Like Jacobs, I mourn for Kaye, who was executed for the crime of being a Jew. I mourn for my entire community, who don’t feel safe in our own houses of faith or supported, neither by our President nor by the social justice organizations that oppose him. But I also mourn for our ability to process our pain privately and on a personal level.
Anti-Semitism has become so normalized that we have to paint the picture of Jew-hatred with fresh Jewish blood. There’s no time to grieve. We’re forced to immediately turn every act of anti-Semitism into a teaching moment. When the world offers their condolences, Jews utilize the brief attention from being murdered to shout out “See? We weren’t making it up!”
Hatred of Jews is palpable, widespread, and increasingly lethal.
The people who need to see Jewish corpses on the ground to believe “anti-Semitism is real” are part of the problem.
Ariel Sobel is a nationally-recognized writer-director, activist, and TED speaker. Follow her on Twitter @arielsobelle.
This story "Why Do Jews Have To Be Murdered For You To Admit Anti-Semitism Is Real?" was written by Ariel Sobel. and was publish on Forward

EJA asks President Duda to defer final decision on Holocaust law until meeting takes place, explores legal challenge at Polish Constitutional court

European Jewish Association asks President Duda to defer final decision on Holocaust law until meeting takes place, explores legal challenge at Polish Constitutional court

European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin has written to Polish President Duda asking him to defer any final decision on new laws passed at the weekend in the House and approved last night by the Senate with regards to the Holocaust and designation of concentration camps until a meeting with Jewish leaders takes place.

Rabbi Margolin also said that if all attempts at reasoning failed, the European Jewish Association would mount a legal challenge to the legislation in Poland’s Constitutional court, as it did when it won a ruling against Polish legislation affecting Kosher slaughter.  In a statement Rabbi Margolin said,

“It is with deep regret that I must write to the President of Poland and record the insult caused to the memory of those who died though this clumsy, ill thought out legislation. I have urged President Duda to defer any final decision on ratifying the legislation until at least having met with me and a delegation of Jewish leaders.

“I also note that despite being a member of the IHRA, Poland has yet to adopt formally the definition of Anti-Semitism Lithuania, Germany, Austria, Romania and the United Kingdom have formally adopted the definition. Given the damage being done to Polish-Jewish relations because of the bill, we believe that Polish adoption of the IHRA definition would assuage some of the concerns being expressed by European Jewry when it comes to Poland. 

“However, if reasoning and dialogue fails, the EJA will, as we successfully did in the past on efforts to ban Kosher slaughter, challenge this matter to Poland’s Constitutional court.”

Rabbi Margolin has also written to the heads of all the EU Institutions: Council President Tusk, Commission President Juncker, Justice Commissioner Jourova and European Parliament President Tajani, asking them to reprimand the Polish government.  “It seems inconceivable that an EU Member State can be permitted to, in such a crass way, wash its hands of what happened by slapping draconian legislation that threatens to imprison people for holding an alternative view, in this case, a majority of European Jews”, said Margolin. 

EJA Zoom Conference with Jewish Communities Across Europe

It was our pleasure today to host a zoom conference with Jewish communities from all across Europe to share with each other the difficulties and how we are coping under #COVID19 just before the Pesach holidays.
we would like to thank:
Rabbi Arie Goldberg, Director General of the Rabbinical Center of Europe -RCE
Daniel Kapp (Austria), Member of the Advisory Board
Ellen van Praagh (The Netherlands), Member of the Advisory Board
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (Netherlands), Chief Rabbi of the Intern-Provincial Chief Rabbinate of the Netherlands
Dr. Emil Kalo (Bulgaria), Member of the Advisory Board
Dr. Ferenc Olti (Hungary), Member of the Advisory Board
Pascal Markowicz (France), Member of the Advisory Board
Fernando Rosenberg (Spain), Jewish Community of Barcelona
Konstantinos Karagounis MP (Greece), Member of the Advisory Board
Regina Suchowolski-Sluszny (Belgium), Member of the Advisory Board
Rabbi Zevi Ives (Belgium), ECJS (European Center for Jewish Students)
Maximillian Marco Katz (Romania), Member of the Advisory Board
Joël Rubinfeld (Belgium), Member of the Advisory Board
Saskia Pantell(Sweden), President of the Zionist Federation of Sweden
Leon Bendahan (Spain)
Hanna Luden (The Netherlands), Director at CIDI – Centrum Informatie Documentatie Israel
Diana Sandler (Germany), President of the Jewish Community of Barnim
Szalai Kálmán (Hungary), Secretary of the Action and Protection League - APL
Edward Odoner (Poland), Vice-President of the Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland
Rabbi Köves Slomó, Executive Rabbi of EMIH – Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation

a note about our next zoom conference will be published on our Facebook page

Addressing anti-Semitism in schools: UNESCO and OSCE launch framework curricula for teacher trainers

UNESCO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) are publishing new resources for teacher trainers, titled Addressing Anti-Semitism in Schools: Training Curricula. Launched online on 24 November (5pm CET), the publication responds to an alarming rise in anti-Semitism, which is threatening the security of Jewish communities and individuals around the world.
The publication reflects the view that education plays a crucial role in raising young people’s awareness of anti-Semitism and helps them resist the harmful messages of hate speech. In 2019 alone, anti-Semitic hate crimes increased by 13% in Germany and 14% in the United States, for example. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a new wave of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, while studies in the United States and Europe show a marked increase in Holocaust denial and distortion, both on- and off-line.
Supporting educators in particular, UNESCO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are publishing new resources for teacher trainers, titled ‘Addressing Anti-Semitism in Schools: Training Curricula’. The publication will be launched online on 24 November at 17.00 CET.
Recognizing that schools are not immune to messages and acts of hate, UNESCO and ODIHR’s new publication prepares teachers and school directors to resist anti-Semitism through education and to address it when it arises in an educational environment. Divided into four distinct volumes, the publication includes targeted curricula for trainers of teachers in primary, secondary and vocational education, as well as school directors. The resources were developed with the support of the University College London Centre for Holocaust Education, as part of ODIHR’s Turning Words into Action to Address anti-Semitism project and within the framework of UNESCO’s programme on Global Citizenship Education.
The curricula follow a human rights-based approach and provide pedagogical knowledge and concrete activities, designed to strengthening learners’ critical thinking, understanding, and rejection, of anti-Semitism, prejudice and discrimination. Each volume includes a comprehensive list of good practices as well as examples of scenarios and methodological suggestions. Adding to the publication, the USC Shoah Foundation UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education is developing a website that will link the curricula to existing online teaching resources.
The new publication is based on UNESCO and ODIHR’s 2018 guidelines for policymakers on Addressing anti-Semitism through Education. In 2019, the guidelines informed a series of capacity-building workshops, which reached policymakers from more than 60 countries.
The online launch on 24 November will feature statements by Katarzyna Gardapkhadze, Officer-in-Charge of ODIHR, Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education, and German Ambassador Michaela Küchler, who holds the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Chair. A panel discussion will focus on The role of education in addressing antisemitism with the participation of Maram Stern, Executive Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, Sharon Nazarian, Senior Vice President of International Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Stuart Foster, Executive Director of the University College London Centre for Holocaust Education. It will be moderated by Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation and UNESCO Chair for Genocide Education. The framework curricula will be introduced by Ruth-Anne Lenga, Programme Director, and Arthur Chapman, Associate Professor in History Education of the University College London Centre for Holocaust Education.
The article was published in MirageNews

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