It’s sad that Holocaust denial needs to be criminalized.

October 19, 2021

Chief Rabbi Jacobs:
Last Thursday was a special day. I was in Leeuwarden, a city in the north of The Netherlands, for the unveiling of a monument with 544 names of Jews who were murdered, 80% of what used to be a flourishing Jewish Community. It was not only an impressive ceremony, but a full day filling program. First a reception in the former Jewish School, then a tour of the former Jewish quarter where in front of the various houses and shops large photos of the former Jewish residents were placed: all murdered! And then: the unveiling wasn’t supposed to start till 4pm and it was only 2pm? After the tour of the Jewish neighbourhood, we were directed to a nearby hall. Just before the occupation, in 1939, the wedding reception of Barend Boers and Mimi Dwinger, had taken place in this hall. More than a hundred guests were present. And in that same hall, we set now, awaiting the unveiling of the monument. And then, quite unexpectedly, it started. We were in the middle of a play. The chuppah took place around us, we were the guests, and the lives of the bride and groom were acted. But it was not all festive. The Nazis occupied The Netherlands. Jews were arrested. The young couple decided to escape. Their flight from the Netherlands, their trek across the Pyrenees, we saw it all happen. The various people whose houses we had just passed by, performed and talked about their lives and their deaths in Sobibor, Auschwitz or elsewhere. I actually would have preferred not to experience this performance because it hit me hard. It was a tough confrontation.
And then, after the confrontational play, we left the hall in silence and walked to the unveiling of the monument. And there, at that ceremony, 6 students pretended to be former residents of the Jewish Community of Leeuwarden: my name is x and in 1943 I was murdered in Sobibor. The mayor of Leeuwarden talked about his Jewish grandmother and the secret surrounding her Jewishness. When the mayor’s aunt passed away, of natural causes, not so long ago, a briefcase was found and her Jewishness, her carefully hidden identity, was revealed. Because my ancestors originated from Leeuwarden, I had this personal feeling: how nice that my ancestors finally, after more then 75 years, got a gravestone, a matsewa! But a gravestone without a grave. A memorial prayer was recited followed by an intensive silence.
How could a large Jewish Congregation be massacred, gassed, exterminated? It was not just the fault of the small percentage of collaborators. The problem lay with the large silent mob that showed herd behaviour and chose the path that yielded them the most at the time: Fl.7.50 money per head for every betrayed Jew. And in better times even Fl. 40 pp!
Because of that herd mentality, which drove society in the completely wrong direction during the occupation, there was something like a collective guilt among the average Dutchman after the war. A few months ago, when 18 Orthodox Jewish girls were expelled from a KLM flight, I spoke to a former Minister and told him that thanks to my network I was able to arrange for them not to have to stay at Amsterdam Airport on Shabbat. And, I went on, whether it was right or wrong for the girls to be kicked off the plane, I don’t know, because they might have misbehaved themselves. But I was corrected fairly brutally by the former statesman with the words: As a Dutch society we must always stand up for the Jew, because during the Holocaust we, the Dutch, failed miserably. I fully agree with that failure, but to go so far that it is no longer allowed to check whether straight is crooked and crooked straight is a bit too far for me.
I agree that it is justified that also in the Netherlands it is being considered nowadays to criminalize denial of the Holocaust. But the fact that this needs consideration, is sad, because apparently it is no longer felt how radically, inhumane and criminally the Nazi regime acted, supported by the majority of the Dutch population. Result: 544 names of murdered Jews. The monument is impressive, but the history unacceptable.

Additional Articles

Germany puts 100-year-old on trial for Nazi crimes

Suspect accused of assisting in murder of 3,518 prisoners at Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945

A 100-year-old former concentration camp guard will on Thursday become the oldest person yet to be tried for Nazi-era crimes in Germany when he goes before court charged with complicity in mass murder.

The suspect, identified only as Josef S., stands accused of “knowingly and willingly” assisting in the murder of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

Allegations against him include aiding and abetting the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B.”

Read More :

https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/europe/1633590174-germany-puts-100-year-old-on-trial-for-nazi-crimes

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
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.

Coronavirus heavily impacts French Jewish community, ZAKA buries victims

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that “we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures.”

As of Wednesday night, France reported that 11,539 people were hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus and 1,331 people  died from the virus, including some Jewish people.On social media, including many Facebook groups, a list of French Jews infected with the coronavirus was published and is being updated almost daily, people urging the community to pray and read tehillim for them.

In a recent statement, ZAKA claimed that many victims from the coronavirus in France are Jewish and that the organization’s volunteers are burring Jewish victims every day. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Peretz, head of ZAKA France, alerted the Jewish community, saying that “we are counting bodies, and you are still debating the quarantine measures.”

“We are in difficult times, we have a very hard job as we take care every day of the Jews who died as a result of the virus,” he added. “It is very difficult to describe the situation with what we face here every day.”
Rabbi Peretz said that important Rabbis from the community are among the victims.”Last Saturday, Rabbi Touboul, head of the Beit Hanna and Chaya Mushka schools in Paris, some of the largest Chabad schools for girls in Europe, died suddenly,” he said.
“We worked to fulfill Rabbi Touboul’s will to be buried in Israel. We were able to reach an agreement with the Israeli Ministry of Health, we received very strict instructions on how to treat the deceased according to Jewish law and the Health Ministry guidelines in order to bury him in Israel.”

Rabbi Touboul was buried on Tuesday at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem.
ZAKA’s French head also added that tonight, a French aircraft will land at Ben Gurion Airport, carrying three coffins with the bodies of Jews who died in France from the coronavirus to be buried in Israel.
Among them will be Rabbi Hamou, a major rabbi and community leader of the Mekor Chaim community in Paris, who fought for his life for about a week in the hospital.
In the statement ZAKA begs the Jewish community in France, in Israel, and around the world, to stay home.
“Please, for your own benefit and for your families, apply the Ministry of Health guidelines to stay home, to stay alive,”  ZAKA said.
Actualité Juive, a major Jewish newspaper in France, asked in a recent report if the Jewish community is over-represented among those infected with the coronavirus in the country.
“There was, without any doubt, a certain skepticism in the community,” recognized the Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia. “At first, people may have thought that the risk could not exist in their immediate family,” he added.
But today, the Jewish community has realized the emergency of the situation and the importance of staying at home, according to Actualité Juive.

The article was published on the JPost

Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs spoke at a solemn and important event, marking the ascendancy of the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Utrecht Johannes de Jong

On 19th September in Utrecht, Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Senior EJA Board Member and Chairman of the EJA Committee for combating antisemitism, spoke at a solemn and important event, marking the ascendancy of the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Utrecht Johannes de Jong as a Righteous amongst the Nations by Yad Vashem for resisting the Nazis and saving hundreds of Jewish families and children.

Present at the event were all Dutch Bishops, the Israeli Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, two representatives of the King.

In his speech to those assembled, Chief Rabbi Jacobs recalled one particularly brave and visible moment of Cardinal de Jong’s resistance, linking it to a recent Torah Portion urging the Israelites, before entering the Land of Israel to “walk in his (G-d’s) ways”

In his powerful remarks Chief Rabbi Jacobs said:

“Last Shabbat we read in all synagogues in the world the Parshah כי תבוא in which we read, among other things, in chapter 28 sentence 9: והלכת בדרכיו -and you shall walk in His Ways.

The great philosopher, lawyer and physician Maimonides counts these words as one of the 613 do’s and don’ts known to Judaism and he explains that man should try as much as possible to resemble Gd. As the Midrash, the narrative literature, explains: “As the Lord is called gracious, so also shalt thou be merciful. As the Eternal is called merciful, so also shalt thou be merciful. And as the Eternal is called loving, so also shalt thou be loving.”

It is known that Maimonides never counts general commandments, such as “Thou shalt keep My commandments” or “Thou shalt sanctify thyself” in the number of the 613 commandments and prohibitions that the Torah prescribes. Only specific commandments count. And so the question arises, why is “and ye shall walk in His ways” an exception made here and an apparently general and overarching commission elevated to a specific individual commandment?

It is quite conceivable that a man lives exactly and meticulously as He, the Eternal, desires of him. He never commits a violation. And yet he does not, as it were, rise higher on the spiritual ladder. He remains on the spiritual plane where he stood. Teach us the Torah here: והלכת בדרכיו – there must be movement. How does a person get his spiritual level moving? By not merely fulfilling His commandments, but by being constantly aware that His ways must be walked. Every commandment has its specific assignment, its own way of carrying out, but growing, rising higher and higher, being in motion is an assignment in itself.

I can imagine that in the 1940s-1945s situation, many dutifully obeyed G-d’s laws, kept all commandments, and committed no transgression. But was there any movement? Were they willing to move the moment movement was required? “Thou shalt walk in His ways.” It is not enough to keep His commandments. His ways must be walked, there must be progress, spiritual ascent, movement.

During the horrible war period, according to the historian Prof. Presser, five percent of the Dutch were on the move, but it was a movement in the wrong direction because that five percent of our Dutch population was collaborating with the enemy, the Nazis. Ninety percent sat motionless and so let it happen. And only five percent moved in the right direction, walking in G-d’s Ways, at the risk of their own lives. The bishops, led by Archbishop de Jong, were part of that five percent, because on Sunday, August 3, 1941, it was pronounced from all the pulpits that membership of National Socialist umbrella organizations was not only prohibited, but would also entail exclusion from the sacraments.

The following happened prior to that Sunday:

In the night from Saturday to Sunday, August 3, 1940, the telephone rang in the Archbishop’s Palace. The Gestapo wanted to speak to the Archbishop immediately. Archbishop de Jong has Dr. Geerdinck announce that the men can come in half an hour. De Jong dresses in his official attire and the chandeliers are burning in the large room for guests.

When the bell rings at exactly four o’clock, Dr. Geerdinck opens, asks Himmler’s men to remove their coats and climbs the state staircase in front of them. Arriving at the door, he asks their names, knocks and leads the men inside. The Archbishop stands behind the table in his official garb and is silent. dr. Geerdinck announces: “Excellence. Obersturmführer Matzker and his adjutant”. De Jong bends down and remains silent. Geerdinck says: “setzen Sie sich”. Everyone sits down and everyone is silent.

Finally, the Obersturmführer takes out a narrow roll of paper and begins to read that the proclamation to ban membership of National Socialist umbrella organizations must not take place tomorrow morning. The Archbishop indicates that he has understood the message, whereupon his visitor says: “It is now four o’clock. All presbyteries can be reached by telephone. The proclamation in the church can be cancelled without difficulty.” The Archbishop mumbles that it is clear to him.

Then there is silence again, for a long time. Finally, Geerdinck says, “Gentlemen, have you fulfilled your assignment with this?”. They mumble yes, whereupon Geerdinck stands up and the visitors follow his example. A farewell is said, silently and without greeting.

The next Sunday morning, of course, the announcement went through everywhere. The words non possumus non loqui sound – “We cannot be silent”.

De Jong refused to simply continue to serve the Eternal as a faithful Catholic and to remain silent. He knew that especially as a church leader, movement, action was expected of him.

I regret that he could not be awarded the Yad Vashem award during his lifetime, but I am grateful that, thanks in part to the efforts of my good friend Dr. Hans Themans, we are finally gathered here today to show the world who and what de Jong used to be.

His Eminence Dr. Johannes Cardinal de Jong no longer needs the award, because he is rewarded daily for his willingness to risk his own life and to keep moving in the dark 1940s-45s, when 90% of our Dutch society motionless saw it and let it happen.

But this special meeting is of great importance to us, because alertness was, is and remains required. What happened then can happen again today and tomorrow. The war ended in our country on May 5, 1945, but anti-Semitism, today under the pseudonym anti-Zionism, has remained.”

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