House of Fates hand-over to Jews should be celebrated not belittled says EJA Head

September 18, 2018

Responding to the news that the Hungarian government has made Hungary’s Emih, Hungarian Jewry’ principal Jewish community, the custodians of the Jewish Museum “House of Fates”, the Chairman and Founder of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin welcomed the move and rounded on critics as pretending to speak for Hungary’ Jews.

In a statement Rabbi Margolin said,

“The Emih community was founded in 1877 and re-constituted in 2004. Since then it has been leading from the front when it comes to the remarkable and inspiring revival of Hungary’s Jewish community.

It counts 16 Rabbis acting on behalf of its community in Hungary’s 3 main cities. It is the only community that provides Kosher certification and performs circumcisions. It is the only community to have published, in Hungarian, a Siddur, Machzor, Haggadah and Chumash. Additionally it runs 6 synagogues and leads spiritually another 3 in Hungary. It runs a kindergarten, school, high school and University and Rabbinical college.  It also founded the most important organisation in Hungary that monitors Anti-Semitism – Action and Protection – an organisation that enjoys widespread support among Hungarian Jewry. In the upcoming year, Emih will renew another 3 synagogues in Hungary. There is no doubt that Emih is responsible for the Jewish renaissance in Hungary.

Little wonder therefor that Emih is recognised by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and that the Hungarian government has chosen it to act as custodians for this important museum. This is the first time that a government has given up voluntarily, a museum or memorial and placed it in the hands of the Jewish community. This is to be celebrated not belittled.

Anyone that is critical of this move is showing how far they are removed the community and realities on the ground. Attempts to politicise such a positive step underlines the very real need for communities like Emih, particularly as the Hungarian government is one of the few in Europe that continues to provide support and is helping to create the conditions needed for a flourishing Jewish community through its unambiguous  support for Isreal and Freedom of religion.

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Far-right going mainstream in Europe

ZAGREB: Hungary’s prime minister declares that the “color” of Europeans should not mix with that of Africans and Arabs. His Polish counterpart claims Jews took part in their own destruction in the Holocaust. And the Croatian president has thanked Argentina for welcoming notorious pro-Nazi war criminals after World War II.Ever since World War II, such views were taboo in Europe, confined to the far-right fringes. Today they are openly expressed by mainstream political leaders in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, part of a global populist surge in the face of globalization and mass migration.
“There is something broader going on in the region which has produced a patriotic, nativist, conservative discourse through which far-right ideas managed to become mainstream,” said Tom Junes, a historian and a
researcher with the Human and Social Studies Foundation in Sofia, Bulgaria.
In many places, the shift to the right has included the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators, often fighters or groups celebrated as anti-communists or defenders of national liberation. In Hungary and Poland, governments are also eroding the independence of courts and media, leading human rights groups to warn that democracy is threatened in parts of a region that threw off Moscow-backed dictatorships in 1989.
Some analysts say Russia is covertly helping extremist groups in order to destabilize Western liberal democracies. While that claim is difficult to prove with concrete evidence, it is clear that the growth of radical groups has pushed moderate conservative parties to veer to the right to hold onto votes.
That’s the case in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party – the front-runner in the April 8 elections – have drawn voters with an increasingly strident anti-migrant campaign. Casting himself as the savior of a white Christian Europe being overrun by hordes of Muslims and Africans, Orban has insisted that Hungarians don’t want their “own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed by others.”
Orban, who is friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was also the first European leader to endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. In 2015, he erected razor wire at Hungary’s borders to stop migrants from crossing and has since been warning in apocalyptic terms that the West faces racial and civilizational suicide if the migration continues. Orban has also been obsessed with demonizing the financier and philanthropist George Soros, falsely portraying the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor as an advocate of uncontrolled immigration into Europe. In what critics denounce as a state-sponsored conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic overtones, the Hungarian government spent $48.5 million on anti-Soros ads in 2017, according to data compiled by investigative news site atlatszo.hu.
In a recent speech, Orban denounced Soros in language that echoed anti-Judaic cliches of the 20th century. He said Hungary’s foes “do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs.”
In nearby Poland, xenophobic language is also on the rise. When nationalists held a large Independence Day march in November, when some carried banners calling for a “White Europe” and “Clean Blood,” the interior minister called it a “beautiful sight.” Poland’s government has also been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Israel and Jewish organizations over a law that would criminalize blaming Poland for Germany’s Holocaust crimes.
With tensions running high in February, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki listed “Jewish perpetrators” as among those who were responsible for the Holocaust. He also visited the Munich grave of an underground Polish resistance group that had collaborated with the Nazis.
In the same vein, an official tapped to create a major new history museum has condemned the postwar tribunals in Nuremberg, Germany, where top Nazis were judged, as “the greatest judicial farce in the history of Europe.” Arkadiusz Karbowiak said the Nuremberg trials were only “possible because of the serious role of Jews” in their organization and called them “the place where the official religion of the Holocaust was created.”
Across the region, Muslims, Roma, Jews and other minorities have expressed anxiety about the future. But nationalists insist they aren’t promoting hate. They claim they’re defending their national sovereignty and Christian way of life against globalization and the large-scale influx of migrants who don’t assimilate.
The Balkans, bloodied by ethnic warfare in the 1990s, are also seeing a rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia and Croatia. Political analysts there believe Russian propaganda is spurring old ethnic resentments.
Croatia has steadily drifted to the right since joining the EU in 2013. Some officials there have denied the Holocaust or reappraised Croatia’s ultranationalist, pro-Nazi Ustasha regime, which killed tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and anti-fascist Croats in wartime prison camps. In a recent visit to Argentina, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic thanked the country for providing postwar refuge to Croats who had belonged to the Ustasha regime.
The world’s top Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff of the Wiesenthal center, called her statement “a horrific insult to victims.” Grabar-Kitarovic later said she had not meant to glorify a totalitarian regime.
In Bulgaria, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, the government includes a far-right alliance, the United Patriots, whose members have given Nazi salutes and slurred minorities. Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov has called Roma “ferocious humanoids” whose women “have the instincts of street dogs.”
Junes, the Sofia-based researcher, said that even though hate crimes are on the rise in Bulgaria, the problem has raised little concern in the West because the country keeps its public debt in check and is not challenging the fundamental Western consensus, unlike Poland and Hungary.
While populist and far-right groups are also growing in parts of Western Europe, countries like Poland and Hungary are proving more vulnerable
to the same challenges, said Peter Kreko, director of Political Capital Institute, a Budapest-based think tank.
“In younger, weaker, more fragile democracies,” he said, “right-wing populism is more dangerous because it can weaken and even demolish the democratic institutions.”
The article was published on The Daily Star

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

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: https://niw.nl
“Schoenmaker, houd je bij je leest”, is a Dutch expression, which means “cobbler stick to your trade” And so, as I'm not a medic, I don't get involved with medical technology. But if someone is dead, then I could and should get involved. And if something takes place between life and death, the dying process, then it seems to me that both the doctor and the rabbi may operate together (in the figurative sense of the word of course). What am I referring to? Organ donations. Not organ donations from a healthy person who donates a kidney to a fellow human being and thereby saves a life. Nor am I talking about donating organs after death, whether that should or should not be done. No, I'm referring to the case of a donor who would normally have been dead, kept alive artificially and now being used as an organ supplier. He is declared brain dead. In the past, a person was dead, alive or dying. We expect respect for life, for death, but also respect for that intermediate phase. I remember nurses in the gerontopsychiatric ward of the Sinai Center. “Mrs Cohen, how are you today? Your children have arrived to visit you.” They spoke fondly to Mrs. Cohen, who was on a ventilator, although perhaps she would have been legal declared brain dead if she had been a donor. But was Mrs. Cohen already dead? Her body still had temperature, her heart was beating, all organ functions were still intact and she was given medication. The donor is considered brain dead, which is a legal terminology. Without this legal assistance the donor would be considered alive! And ‘the operation’ would have bee an illegal and punishable act. Is the public aware that the donor will receive medication during the organ donation procedure? Medication for a dead body? He is given sleeping pills to control blood pressure. To counteract resistance, the donor was initially tied up to the bed, but nowadays muscle relaxants are administered by the anaesthetist. The impression that the donor is actively resisting is dismissed as reflexes! Enough written about organ donations. Another (less morbid?) topic: There is quite a bit of
opposition to kosher slaughter. I will spare you the details. But the cow would still be alive after the kosher slaughter, because there are visible reflexes. I just don't get it: cattle reflexes are signs of life; human donor reflexes are signs of death!? And therefore is my conclusion: when in doubt do without!

New Cooperation with the Jewish Community of Mönchengladbach, Germany

The European Jewish Association is very happy and proud to welcome another organisation to our growing roster of partners. We have just concluded and signed a Cooperation and Partnership Agreement with the Jewish community of mönchengladbach, Germany
We eagerly look forward to many positive exchanges and fruitful cooperation with our new partners from the Lithuanian Jewish community. Together, we hope to achieve a lot of beautiful and important things, all the while jointly working towards the betterment and wellbeing of both German and European Jewry.

Muslim journalist suspended from hosting German TV show over allegations of anti-Semitism

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said WDR bears “a great responsibility not to present anyone on the screen who could spread hatred of Israel.”

By JNS
A Muslim journalist was axed from her pending position as a TV host for a German science program after allegations came forward about her past anti-Semitic activity, including participation in the pro-Iran, anti-Israel Al-Quds march in Berlin in 2014.
As reported by the pro-Israel daily Bild and other German outlets, politicians, activists and Jewish community members called on WDR, a public broadcasting station, not to give a platform to Nemi El-Hassan, a journalist and doctor, in light of evidence of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel words and deeds.
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, stated that WDR bears “a great responsibility not to present anyone on the screen who could spread hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism.”
Following the uproar, WDR suspended the 28-year old from participating in “Quarks” and said that it would examine the matter carefully. “The allegations against her are grave,” the station stated. “But it is also grave to deny a young journalist of professional development.”
El-Hassan has since disavowed her participation in the Al-Quds march, where she was photographed wearing a headscarf and a kaffiyeh. Following inquiries to WDR from Bild, her tweets with alleged anti-Semitic content have been removed.
In an interview with Germany’s Spiegel, the Lebanese-born El-Hassan said she doesn’t hate Israel and that her participation in the march, of which she knew little, simply provided an outlet for her to express solidarity with Palestinians. “That demo was definitely the wrong way to do that. I say that today very clearly.”
She also said that she has since moderated her Islamist views and has distanced herself from the conservative Islamic crowd that brought her to such a rally; she stopped wearing a headscarf in 2019. “I have many Jewish friends, and my best friend is gay,” she said in the interview.
The annual Al-Quds march has been a hot-button issue in Berlin.
Despite the urgings of Jewish community leaders, German authorities did not ban it outright, citing freedom of assembly, although it was heavily regulated against anti-Semitic expressions. Last year, however, the organizers canceled the march under the cover of coronavirus guidelines. Some argued the cancellation came under fear of the ban on Hezbollah in Germany.
https://ejpress.org/muslim-journalist-suspended-from-hosting-german-tv-show-over-allegations-of-anti-semitism/

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