EU leaders welcome EU strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life

October 25, 2021

EU leaders, who ended Friday a two-day meeting in Brussels to discuss a series of topics, welcomed the  EU Strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life presented by the European Commission.
In their meeting conclusions, they said that last week’s Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism ‘’is a reminder that no effort must be spared in fighting all forms of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia.’’
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At Israel’s prodding, record 31 nations to boycott Durban conference anniversary

Envoy says dozens of countries will shun this year’s anti-racism conference at UN after past antisemitism; Bennett to make debut address at General Assembly next week

By TOI STAFF
Thirty-one nations will boycott a UN meeting marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban World Conference on Racism — also known as Durban IV — on Wednesday, over concerns that it will veer into open antisemitism as it has in the past.
The first Durban conference — held from August 31 to September 8, 2001, just days before the terror attacks of September 11 — was marked by deep divisions on the issues of antisemitism, colonialism and slavery. The US and Israel walked out of the conference in protest at the tone of the meeting, including over plans to include condemnations of Zionism in the final text.
At the 2009 conference, a speech by Iran’s then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacking Israel sparked a temporary walkout by many European delegates.
Thirty-one nations will boycott a UN meeting marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban World Conference on Racism — also known as Durban IV — on Wednesday, over concerns that it will veer into open antisemitism as it has in the past.
The first Durban conference — held from August 31 to September 8, 2001, just days before the terror attacks of September 11 — was marked by deep divisions on the issues of antisemitism, colonialism and slavery. The US and Israel walked out of the conference in protest at the tone of the meeting, including over plans to include condemnations of Zionism in the final text.
At the 2009 conference, a speech by Iran’s then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacking Israel sparked a temporary walkout by many European delegates.
This year, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Friday, a record 31 countries will be skipping the event, over double the amount that have done so in the past.
“In recent months I have worked for the world to understand that the Durban Conference was fundamentally rotten,” he said in a Monday tweet. “I’m glad many more understand this today.”
The United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and France are among some of the key nations set to boycott this year’s meeting.

Vaccines, climate, nuclear deal on General Assembly agenda

The highlight of the UN General Assembly, during which world leaders and other top officials deliver addresses from the marble-backed podium, begins on Tuesday in New York and will see a mixture of in-person speeches and pre-recorded video messages sent from around the world.
This year’s event and is markedly different from last year’s, which was conducted mostly online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the speeches by world leaders, the General Assembly usually also has hundreds of side events, but only a limited number are being held this year, mainly virtually or outside UN headquarters.
These include events on vaccines, on children as invisible victims of the coronavirus and conflict, on multilateralism and democracy, and on global hotspots including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Additionally, the UN Security Council will hold a high-level meeting Wednesday on climate and security.
Afghanistan and other major global challenges are expected to be on the agenda, including the lack of progress on the United States rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossain Amir Abdollahian, will be in New York and there is speculation that he may meet with the five countries that remain part of the deal — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
There are also high-level meetings on energy and the nuclear test ban treaty, and a summit on the connected system of producing, processing, distributing and consuming food, which according to the UN contributes an estimated one-third of greenhouse gas emissions.
Thirty-one nations will boycott a UN meeting marking the 20th anniversary of the Durban World Conference on Racism — also known as Durban IV — on Wednesday, over concerns that it will veer into open antisemitism as it has in the past.
The first Durban conference — held from August 31 to September 8, 2001, just days before the terror attacks of September 11 — was marked by deep divisions on the issues of antisemitism, colonialism and slavery. The US and Israel walked out of the conference in protest at the tone of the meeting, including over plans to include condemnations of Zionism in the final text.
At the 2009 conference, a speech by Iran’s then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacking Israel sparked a temporary walkout by many European delegates.
This year, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Friday, a record 31 countries will be skipping the event, over double the amount that have done so in the past.
“In recent months I have worked for the world to understand that the Durban Conference was fundamentally rotten,” he said in a Monday tweet. “I’m glad many more understand this today.”
France are among some of the key nations set to boycott this year’s meeting.

Bennett’s debut

According to a provisional list of speakers for the General Debate, US president Joe Biden will speak on Tuesday morning, in America’s traditional slot as the second speaker of the General Debate.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will be another one of at least 83 world leaders who plan on attending in person, according to Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir, president of last year’s gathering. Twenty-six leaders applied to speak remotely, Bozkir said earlier this month. Bennett will address the gathering on Monday, September 27.
In his address, Bennett will speak about Israel’s national security and regional issues, according to his office. His remarks will likely focus on Iran’s nuclear program and its support for armed proxy groups.
Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, was known for making headlines with his speeches on the Iranian nuclear threat at the UN General Assembly, often using cardboard graphics and other props to get his point across.
Israel’s regional partners will also be represented, according to the provisional list. Egypt and Jordan will send their heads of state, while the foreign ministers of Israel’s new Gulf allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, will speak.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi are both sending prerecorded addresses to be broadcast at the event.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/at-israels-prodding-record-31-nations-to-boycott-durban-conference-anniversary/

Words by our board member, Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands

Dear people,
The fact that we are all experiencing a difficult period needs no elucidation. We are all in the same distressing boat.
But the way in which we deal with this quarantine, with the loneliness, with just sitting and filling our time, is something in which we differ.
I mostly fill my time with my phone and behind my computer. Just to call to ask the common question: how are you?
Is such an expression of interest worthwhile?
I think so. I also have been called several times and have received various WhatsApp messages with the question: how are you? Believe me when I say that it really did me good that someone takes the time to also ask how I am doing. I am a human being, too, and nothing that is human is strange to me. The interest did me good. And thus I am convinced that when I call somebody, he or she will also get a nice feeling from my phone call.
But I want to share with you a phone call that I made with an old lady. I don’t know how she experienced my call, but I certainly know how I experienced it.
It concerned an elderly lady, who lives in a town on the Veluwe. This lady has not had an easy life, to express it euphemistically. A multiplicity of complex problems, kilometres away from all that is Jewish. A difficult childhood and a marriage that tragically fell apart. Very poor and consequently living in a small apartment. And now at home all day, with no one to talk to, because she has no family left at all. And then I call her up with the question how are you?
So I don’t know what the phone call meant to her, but to me it was very impressive and educational. How are you? was my somewhat automatic question. Her reply, however, was far from ordinary:
I am doing great. Just came back from the supermarket. It was wonderfully quiet and the few customers that were there radiated friendliness. And on the street it was so impressively quiet. I heard the birds sing. No roar of planes flying overhead, magnificent crocuses in full bloom, a serene feel of quietness and peace… how beautiful, actually.
I immediately had to think about this teacher that gave his students a test. All the students received a piece of paper in front of them with the blank side facing up. They were only allowed to flip over the sheet when the teacher gave them permission. When all the students were properly seated, the teacher told them that they all had to flip over the sheet and write down what they saw on the other side. But they didn’t see anything on that other side. The piece of paper was completely blank with only in the middle a small black dot. So all the students wrote down that they saw a black dot.
After handing in the pieces of paper they were told that they had answered the question incorrectly, because, as the teacher pointed out, the right answer would have been that they saw a blank sheet of paper. That tiny dot in the middle was completely negligible relative to the piece of paper.
The same applies to when we see what the other does wrong; too often, we simply don’t pay attention to the good that he does.
And what about the neighbour’s beautiful car? That is what we see, but we don’t know what takes place at his home.
But also when I look at myself. Am I suffering from my shortcomings and am I perhaps not paying attention to what I am able to do?
That is also the way it is in quarantine at the moment. Am I fixating exclusively on…
I think of that elderly lady, all alone, nobody around her, a less than enviable childhood. And when I ask her how she is doing under the current difficult circumstances, her reply is inspiring. The black dot on the blank sheet of paper did not attract her attention!
Please stay strong and healthy. May G’d bless you for years to come with prosperity and health.
And don’t forget to call someone and ask them How are you?
Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands

Tourists take selfies in front of Holocaust war memorial

What are they thinking? Tasteless tourists take sick selfies and BREAKDANCE at site where 10,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered in one day by Nazis in WWII Kaunas massacre

Tasteless tourists who post pictures of themselves breakdancing, doing handstands and even performing ballet at a holocaust memorial site where 10,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered by the Nazis in one day are being shamed online.

The shocking images were taken in front of the mass murder memorial at Ninth Fort in Kaunas, where 9,200 children and their parents were slaughtered on October 29, 1941.

They show tourists grinning happily alongside hashtags such as #happy – apparently oblivious to the gravity of the massacre that took place behind them.

Now activist Richard Schofield has collected the photos, posted under the hashtag #Ninth Fort, to shame the tourists involved and to show that young people are not being educated on the horrors of the Second World War.

Holocaust memorial campaigner Simonas Dovidavicius, former leader of the Jewish community in Kaunas, told MailOnline he was sickened by the holocaust selfie trend: ‘This is terrible. It shows how society is not in with what‘s happened.

‘This place cannot be a place of enjoyment and relaxation. I‘ve seen people sitting in the killing fields and having picnics or listening to music. People who were killed there deserve respect and some honour.‘

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association, told MailOnline: ‘It is one thing to take simple pictures of the memorial for the sake of remembrance, yet completely another to joyously pose in front of the camera with the place of mass slaughter in the background.‘

The killings at Kaunus were the biggest single massacre of Lithuanian Jews during World War II.

The condemned were lined up at death site and shot dead before being buried in freshly dug trenches. In total 50,000 Jews were murdered at the site, as Ninth Forth became a Nazi killing station.

But to the horror of 52-year-old campaigner Mr Schofield that brutal history has been has been erased and ignored by tourists to the site posing for light-hearted selfies.

Smiling for the camera, visitors pose in front of the memorial where the victims‘ bodies lay, seemingly unaware of the mass murders that took place there 75 years ago. Some tourists have been pictured doing handstands, jumping on victims‘ graves and even performing ballet.

Mr Schofield was prompted to take action by pictures like one of two teenage girls gazing into their camera for a selfie with the hashtag #Winterwonderland.

In another on the website two male friends grinned in front of the monument with the hashtags #happy and #day.

Another shows a man clinging onto one of the monument stones alongside the hashtag #hangingout.

Perhaps most disturbingly, despite museum bosses trying to discourage it, most of those MailOnline spoke to, knew what happened there – and didn‘t feel they were being contemptuous of its past.

Julija struck a model pose in front of the monument. She said: ‘I knew we were taking pictures in a place where thousands of people were killed.

‘But I don‘t think it‘s bad to make memories of visiting this place by taking pictures.

She added: ‘It‘s more bad mannered to take wedding or birthday pictures there.

Sarune posted a photo of her laughing in front of the monument – and said: ‘Taking selfies and photos isn‘t disrespectful. The place itself is full of monuments that are really beautiful so I think that it is normal to take photos.‘

Their views were shared by Gabriele, who posted a photo of her doing ballet at Ninth Fort on Instagram. She said: ‘It‘s not ill-considered to take selfies there. it‘s more important that nobody vandalises the monument and keeps it clean.‘

Rytis, the tourist pictured hanging from the memorial, admitted: ‘It lacks respect, I think, but I don‘t care about it too much, because it‘s a monument.‘

The museum‘s director Jurate Zakaite told MailOnline: ‘We try to stop selfies being taken because we think it‘s disrespectful to those who died here.

‘It‘s very strange that they know the history but still do it. If we catch them we ask them to stop. It‘s forbidden to climb on the monument.‘

Mrs Zakaite gave permission for Lithuanian rapper Vaiper Despotin to record a music video at the site because the song was about the number of people who had died there.

But the museum boss immediately regretted it when the video featured a Yeti and a woman in tight black leather trousers.

Julia Mozer, spokeswoman for the CEJI A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe which is based in Belgium, slammed the visitors‘ activities, telling MailOnline: ‘Taking happy selfies in front of Holocaust memorial sites is disrespectful and hurtful. Education that develops an appreciation for the impact of the Holocaust is absolutely essential. Memorial sites should also be monitored to prevent such exploitation.‘

Mr Schofield said his campaign to raise awareness, which includes going into schools to educate children about the holocaust to raise awareness has been positive.

The project is ‘designed to begin breaking Lithuania‘s dominant Holocaust taboo and to encourage the next generation of the country‘s leaders and decision makers to start dealing with this difficult subject,‘ he said.

‘We‘re not here to shame these young people. We know they‘re mostly good kids like most kids are. The problem lies with the Lithuanian State, which continues to let its young people down by not teaching them the full story of the Holocaust. ‘

Mr Schofield, from Newhaven, East Sussex, has been living in Lithuania 16 years. He is the former editor of a travel guide for Central and Eastern Europe and stayed in Lithuania because he liked it there.

As a photographer with a keen interest in history he began documenting Jewish life and became aware of how little was being taught about the Holocaust in schools and how little people knew about it.

He set up the NGO International Centre for Litvak Photography in 2015, one of the projects of which is Fifty Schools, which according to his website aims at working with ‘50 secondary schools around the country as part of an ambitious educational project to publish a unique e-book about Lithuania‘s sadly forgotten Litvak history, heritage and culture.‘

 
The article was published on the Stock Daily Dish

Nazi keepsakes auctioned in Munich belonging to Göring

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