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

January 22, 2021

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin 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.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page:
Diary 20 Jan. 2021
That such a figure should commemorate my family …….
It is now 23:15 on Wednesday. I just got home. Gave a lecture in Gorinchem. Of course without a visible audience, but in a professional studio and several hundred who were watching at home and many thousands of them are expected to watch the broadcast at a later date. I am used to it by now. If I can immediately speak to visible people again, it will take some getting used to giving a lecture to real listeners.
A lecture with a 15-minute break with tea in the middle. Audience that can just see me in real life and I can look at those present. Now you should know that I used to read from the faces whether I needed to dig deeper into the matter, whether it was time for a parable or a joke to keep people on their toes.
Since I am now starting to realize that we can hardly go outside at the end of this week (good for my health? Not so much.) Today I did my fast walk of one hour instead of the usual 25 minutes.
In the meantime, the condolences keep coming in by e-mail (Chief Rabbi Jacobs recently lost his son – Editor), on facebook (so I was told, because I don’t get on facebook myself) and the phone hardly stops ringing. So many warm and beautiful words.
Also an email advising me to repent. Well-intentioned, but I firmly rejected the proposal without any consideration. Should the author of that lengthy e-mail read this diary, she will hear that I was not charmed by her attempt at conversion, nor did I bother to respond to her e-mail.
Conversion is a loaded topic for us Jews that are still alive. “But”, I hear you think, “you are so good with the Christians for Israel, aren’t you?” Dear people, they do not seek to convert! I know their motives, I know their background, I am aware of their statutes and I am in almost daily contact with them. Together we fight for Israel and against anti-Zionism. To convert? They have many fellow believers who strongly disapprove of their pro-Israel action and point out their flaw that they do not serve as missionaries amongst Jews. But they do try and convert, but of a very different kind. They are trying to convert the churches to change their anti-Israel stance to a pro-Israel approach!
Why am I raising that now? Not because of that dorky letter from that lady, but because the Jewish Agency has stopped working with a Canadian Christian organization called Return Ministries because of a rumour that they are trying to convert people. The president of that organization is a Messianic Jew. And although every person is responsible for himself and is allowed to do what he cannot resist, this is disturbing.
A Messianic Jew who wants to bring Jews to Israel? Who himself has thrown his Judaism overboard? For me a contradiction interminis! And so, I fully understand the Jewish Agency.
And while that lady tries to swindle me away from Judaism, I read today in the authoritative British daily the Guardian that a recent survey shows that many British Jews are afraid to show signs of their religion, such as wearing a kippah or a Star of David in public. Rising anti-Semitism, which is increasingly becoming the “normal”! Let that converting lady spend her time on that and leave me alone. Linking this conversion attempt to the death of our son is unsavoury to say the least.
In the meantime, the sheer number of statements of support resulting from my diary shows that I have built up a wide readership. Apparently, I’m not the only one who knows that.
Because, and now it comes, today I have been approached from four different sides with the request to pay attention in my diary to the choice of the speaker at the annual National Remembrance Day on May 4. The Committee for 4 and 5 May actually chose a figure who has made anti-Semitic remarks on various occasions. The Jewish Telegraph Association (JTA), which is generally well-informed and meticulous, has devoted an entire article to it, and the statements the speaker is said to have made do not lie. I am sure that this week’s NAV will also pay substantial attention to it.
It is incomprehensible that this Abdelkader Benali, who has nothing to do with the 1940s and 45s, will speak at the same commemoration where last year our King Willem Alexander brilliantly expressed exactly what the especially Jewish Netherlands had been waiting for, for so long. What an encouragement that was! And now this figure comes…? I don’t get it, I feel like May 4 is being taken away from me, but I hope I misunderstood everything, that the JTA was misinformed and the various quotes emails that are far from Jew-friendly just on a misunderstanding and were never expressed.
But in the unlikely event that everything is right: That such a figure should commemorate my family … this I just don’t understand.

Additional Articles

Swedish Prime Minister assures EJA he will step up fight on Swedish anti-Semitism

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has personally written to EJA founder and Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin with an assurance that he has tasked his government to propose “additional measures” to those already in place to combat anti-Semitism in Sweden.
In his letter Prime Minister Lofven expressed that he would continue to “take every possible step to protect the Swedish Jewish communities and to ensure that they can live here in safety and without fear”
Rabbi Margolin had written to the Prime Minister outlining his alarm at the deteriorating situation in Sweden for Jews there, with Neo-Nazis wanting to march past synagogues, hate speech and threats at demonstrations in Malmo, and the fire-bombing of a synagogue in Gothenburg.
Rabbi Margolin welcomed the letter today’
‘It was heartening to receive a letter so full of conviction. We particularly welcome the Prime Minister’s clear and unambiguous words that ‘there is no place for anti-Semitism in Swedish society’ and that ‘The perpetrators will be held to account.’
The hope that the Swedish government will consult with the communities in Sweden to decide on the ‘additional measures’ to be taken. Many members complain of a lack of willingness to prosecute clear those who engage in anti-semitic remarks, paint graffiti, or hold up or publish anti-Semitic imagery to date.
Let us hope that the Prime Minister and his government follow up on his encouraging letter with real and tangible actions. The EJA stands ready to help and advise the Swedish government in this important task. Anti-Semites cannot be allowed to take heart from Sweden and seek to export their hate to other EU member states. That would be a disaster.
Therefore, Sweden must be strong on actions, as much as their words”

Hitler's Prewar Speeches Fetch Thousands at Contentious Auction

Handwritten notes for speeches given by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler have been sold at auction in Munich. Jewish groups had expressed concerns that they might serve as encouragement to neo-Nazis.
An auction house in Munich on Friday sold notes handwritten by Adolf Hitler for speeches he gave before World War II, despite criticism from representatives of the Jewish community.
The manuscripts were purchased by anonymous bidders, with all of them going for far more than their starting prices. The top price of €34,000 ($40,300) was reached by a nine-page document with notes for a speech to new military officers in Berlin in 1939, just eight months before World War II began.
The Hermann Historica auction house has defended the sale in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, saying that the notes were of historical significance and should be kept in a museum or given to researchers.
Vehement criticism
Ahead of the auction, representatives of the Jewish community criticized the sale of the documents, saying they could serve as welcome fodder to neo-Nazis at a time when anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic crimes are on the rise in Germany and Europe.
“I cannot get my head around the sheer irresponsibility and insensitivity, in such a febrile climate, of selling items such as the ramblings of the world’s biggest killer of Jews to the highest bidder,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, said in a statement. “What auctions like this do is help legitimize Hitler enthusiasts who thrive on this sort of stuff.”
The article was published on

Swedish PM to Malmö conference: ‘Concrete measures’ needed to combat antisemitism

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called for “concrete measures” to combat antisemitism and advance Holocaust remembrance, at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
Löfven noted that antisemitism is present in all parts of society, and that it had been boosted in Europe by the arrival of immigrants from where antisemitism is rife, an implicit reference to Muslim immigrants from the Middle East.
Malmö Mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, whose city has been a hotbed of antisemitic incidents and attacks for years emanating in particular from its large Muslim population, also addressed the conference, while President Isaac Herzog, French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent video messages.
 Read More:

הרב מנחם מרגולין: ״האיחוד האירופי מתעלם מפגיעה בחופש הדת של יהודים באירופה״

אנחנו מברכים כל יוזמה שמטרתה לעשות משהו חיובי למען המאבק באנטישמיות״, אמר הרב מרגולין בתחילת הכנס השנתי של מנהיגי הקהילות היהודיות באירופה, הנערך בבריסל. ״אבל, נראה שהנציבות בחרה לעסוק במשימות הקלות ביותר, ולהימנע מעימות עם מדינות שאינן מתאמצות להיאבק באנטישמיות.

“אנחנו מאשימים פוליטיקאים שמעדיפים להנציח את האנטישמיות לצרכים פוליטיים. אנחנו מאשימים מנהיגים, שמסתפקים בנאומים ובהשתתפות בטקסי זיכרון, אבל מתעלמים מהבעיות האמיתיות של יהודים כיום״. הרב מרגולין התייחס ליוזמות גוברות ברחבי האיחוד האירופי לאסור שחיטה כשרה ומילת ילדים.
איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה מפרסם היום מצידו תוכנית, עם הצעות מעשיות לאיחוד האירופי להגברת המאבק באנטישמיות ובאנטי-ציונות, בהתאם להגדרת האנטישמיות הבינלאומית. האיגוד פרסם במטהו בבריסל מסמך המכונה ״עשרת הדיברות למאבק באנטישמיות״, הכולל המלצות מפורטות לצעדים מעשיים שלא ננקטו עד כה למאבק באנטישמיות.
המסמך קורא לאיחוד האירופי להטיל עונשים וקנסות כספיים כבדים על חברות המפעילות רשתות חברתיות, שאינן מסירות במהירות תכנים אנטישמיים ברורים, כמוגדר בהגדרת האנטישמיות הבינלאומית. הגדרה זו כוללת גם כללים ברורים להתייחסויות אנטישמיות כלפי ישראל. המסמך קורא לאיחוד האירופי גם לסגור חשבונות ברשתות חברתיות של פרטים וגורמים שבאופן קבוע מקדמים תכנים אנטישמיים.
המסמך של איגוד הארגונים היהודיים קורא לאיחוד האירופי לעודד מדינות-חברות לאסור פעילות של ארגונים לא ממשלתיים, וקבוצות הפועלות משטחן, לקדם, לתמוך או לגלות סובלנות כלפי אנטישמיות – בכלל זה אנטישמיות אנטי-ישראלית. כמו כן, נקראות חברות האיחוד האירופי ללכת בעקבות הממשל האמריקני ומדינות נוספות, ולהעביר חקיקה שאוסרת איסוף תרומות או תמיכה בארגונים הפועלים לקידום חרמות על ישראל.
האיחוד האירופי נקרא מצידו לגבש הנחיות ברורות למדינות ושטחים שמקבלים מימון מהאיחוד כדי לייצר התניה שתחייב מאבק בגזענות, אנטישמיות והפליה.
ג׳ואל מרגי, נשיא הקונסיסטואר היהודי בצרפת, הדגיש בתחילת הכנס שבכמה ממדינות האיחוד האירופי יש עדיין בעיה גדולה לדבר על האנטישמיות של האסלאם הרדיקלי. ״זו האנטישמיות שרוצחת היום באירופה. הרציחות באות מהאסלאם הקיצוני. יש הסכמה במדינות שונות בין מוסלמים ויהודים, שחווים יחדיו הטלת מגבלות על המסורות הדתיות שלהם, ויש מוסלמים שנלחמים באסלאם הקיצוני.

“התחזקות הימין הקיצוני בגלל המאבק שלו באסלאם הקיצוני לא צריכה להוות פיתוי עבור הקהילות היהודיות״. מרגי תקף בהקשר זה את העיתונאי והסופר היהודי-צרפתי, אריק זמור, ששוקל להתמודד על נשיאות צרפת. זמור, בעל הדעות הביקורתיות ביותר כלפי האסלאם וההגירה המוסלמית לצרפת ואירופה, שהואשם ע״י כמה בתי משפט בצרפת בהסתה לגזענות, הוא לדברי מרגי ״איש ימין קיצוני, שאינו מייצג את ערכי היהדות.
״בתקופה שבה האסלאם הקיצוני מתחזק, לא צריך לנצל את הקהילה היהודית כדי לחזק את הימין הקיצוני. צריך להיאבק בכל סוגי האנטישמיות והשנאה״.

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