Message by Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah

September 5, 2018
It is my great pleasure to wish you, your families and friends and Jewish communities all over the world a joyful and blessed Erev Rosh Hashanah and a happy new year 5779, full of health, prosperity and success.
Rosh Hashanah is always a good time to look back at the year before, to review our deeds, an opportunity to reflect but also to revive our engagement for causes we believe in and adjust our path accordingly.
It was a challenging year for Europe and its Jewish communities as our societies were put to the test, again. We witnessed demonstrations of Jewish communities in several countries standing up against antisemitism and claiming their rights as citizens. Europe is built upon the richness of our diversity and the unity of our fundamental values. That is why I have great confidence in our collective future.
The European Commission’s relationship with Jewish communities, organisations and representatives has never been closer. This alliance makes us stronger in the battle against hatred, extremism and antisemitism. I was very honoured to receive the Lord Jakobovits Prize of European Jewry this year. I see it as a sign of trust in the bond that exists between the European Union and the Jewish communities.
With shock and sadness I recall the horrific murder of Mireille Knoll who survived the roundup at Vel d’Hiv in 1942, but not antisemitism in Europe in 2018. The European Commission was very clear that there can be no justification and we stand in full solidarity with the European Jewish communities in condemning these vile attacks in the strongest possible way.
Jews should never have to wonder whether it is safe to display their identity in their own neighbourhood, city or country. Europe must remain a place where Jewish life can flourish and Jews can freely practice their faith without fear or restrictions. It doesn’t matter where the hatred comes from, whether it is right-wing, le -wing, Islamist extremists or whether it comes masked as antizionism, we all have the obligation to stand up and speak out.
Against resurging threats, the rebirth of Jewish life in many parts of Europe is a precious gi . It filled me with pride to take part in the inauguration of the new rabbi in my own home region last year and to see the continuation of thousands of years of Jewish communities in Europe. Every new synagogue, community centre and school is a step to strengthen Jewish life, but also a step to strengthen Europe and to strengthen our societies.
We will ensure that Jewish voices continue to be heard in Europe and let me thank all of you who participated in the broadest consultation ever on challenges to Jewish life in Europe, conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. The results will be presented this December and will guide our policy response with the ultimate aim of ensuring the rights of Jews in Europe.
This year is also special as we celebrate two crucial moments in history: the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrining the lessons for humanity from the Shoah, and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, materialising the Jewish people’s dream of a Jewish homeland.
The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We have the obligation to protect and strengthen the richness of Jewish culture and diversity and its contribution to our Europe.

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Message of Rabbi Margolin on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019

“The ‘Group of the Elders of Zion’ and Mayer AmschelRothschild, the skilful founder of the famous dynasty that still today controls the International Banking System, led to the creation of a manifesto: ‘The Protocols…’”

Looking at the above quote, you would think that it was written by a Nazi in the 1930’s, right? 

Wrong. This was posted this week by Senator Elio Lannutti, of the Italian Five Star Movement on Twitter. 

On the 27th January we will have marked International Holocaust day.

Senator Lannutti reminded us why we must continue to mark international holocaust day, and why we can never assume such a horrendous calamity could never be inflicted on us again. 

Antisemitism is as stubbornly rooted as ever. Try and rip it up and its seeds will travel somewhere else. From France to Spain, or Belgium to Belorussia, the political winds that carry it can be strong, or a barely perceptible breeze, but still they blow. 

Deborah Lipstadt knows this. She describes where we are right now as a “perfect storm”.  

Lipstadt is best know for the libel suit filed against her, by the Holocaust denier David Irving. In her latest book “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” she examines the recent rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe. 

In an interview with the New Yorker this week, she summed the situation up as follows:

“On some level, it is the same old, same old. The construct is the same, the stereotypes are the same. But I think what is different today is that we’re seeing a perfect storm, in that usually it comes from either the right or the left politically. Today we’re seeing it from the political right and the political left, and we are seeing it particularly—not only, but particularly—in Europe from Islamist extremists, or jihadists, or whatever term you’d like to use.”

Why is anti-Semitism still with us? I believe that it is so deeply embedded, that it operates almost at a subconscious level in most people. After all, when things go bad, economically, politically or otherwise, we are to blame. But if any other random group had these accusations laid at their door, such as pizza delivery people or cyclists, everyone would say it was nuts. 

Yes, it can sometimes feel like a heavy burden, but Ann Frank, displaying a wisdom far beyond her tender years,summed it up neatly: 

“Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is G-d that has made us as we are, but it will be G-d, too, who will raise us up again. If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example. Who knows, it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason alone do we have to suffer now. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any country for that matter; we will always remain Jews, but we want to, too.”

I want you to take this message to heart. 

Empires come and go, War turns to Peace, and back again, yet still we are here, giving the world the shared totality of our many talents, expertise and wisdom. Not for ourselves but for everyone. 

We want to remain Jews. Because we are. Because we can be no other. Because not being so is like asking us not to breathe. Yes, we are leaders in science, the arts, and yes, Senator, in Banking too. 

It is not arrogance or self-serving interest that drives us on, as the antisemites would have it. 

In fact, it is the exact opposite. Our task was and remains to this day, the same task that each of us were given at Sinai by the Almighty: To make the world a better place. This responsibility rests on every Jew, from Rothschild the banker to Rosenbaum the street cleaner. It is not for our benefit that we do our best, but to honour the task that G-d gave us, for the benefit of all humanity.

We must never lose sight of this. And we must never relent in our task. I will leave the last word to Winston Churchill.  Let it be your call to action, and a reminder to us all on dark days such as Holocaust Memorial Day: 

“Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.” 

May G-d continue to bless us all. 

Labour councillor under investigation over pictures of him in an Adolf Hitler costume for children's hospice fancy dress fundraiser

Labour has launched an inquiry into a councillor pictured at a fundraiser dressed as Adolf Hitler.

Photographs of Seve Gomez-Aspron show him wearing a German Army uniform, complete with swastika, and a fake moustache.

They were taken at a fancy dress dinner in aid of Claire House Hospice, which supports seriously and terminally ill children, in 2009 – around three years before he was elected to St Helens Council in Merseyside.

Mr Gomez-Aspron, 33, who represents the Newton-le-Willows ward, said the outfit was inspired by Mel Brooks' satirical comedy The Producers. He described the decision to wear it as 'clumsy'.

The councillor told the Liverpool Echothe photos were taken in his early twenties, before he was a Labour Party member, adding: 'I have matured and learnt a lot since then, and it goes without saying that I would not do this now.

'I know how this could be seen as insensitive and how it could cause hurt and offence.

'That was not at all my intention and I sincerely apologise.

'I have part-Jewish ancestry and I recently visited Israel to commemorate those killed in the Holocaust and the war.'

Labour confirmed it had launched an inquiry but said it was unable to comment on individual cases due to data protection issues.

The scandal is not Mr Gomez-Aspron's first.

Earlier this month, Merseyside Police confirmed they had received a complaint about a tweet he posted referring to the 'Aryan race'.

Officers concluded no offence had been committed.

In December 2017, he was censured by the council's standards committee after insinuating residents were 'halfwits' on Facebook.


The article was published on mail online

Israel skips Poland antisemitism meet, but some still see thaw in ties ahead

KRAKOW, Poland — A Polish opposition politician expressed regret at the passage of a law this summer that limited Holocaust restitution efforts, and said he hopes ties between Poland and Israel — put in deep freeze by the legislation — will be repaired soon.
“I personally, from the very beginning, was opposed to both legislations that made so much damage to Polish-Israeli relations,” Michał Kaminski, a Polish senator and a deputy marshal of the Senate with the opposition Union of European Democrats, told The Times of Israel during an interview earlier this week. “Those legislations I opposed in both chambers, they are very unfortunate.”
Kaminski was referring to not just the legislation from July regarding Holocaust restitution, but also a 2018 law that criminalized statements implying the Polish nation played a role in victimizing Jews in the Holocaust. The law was later amended to remove the possibility of criminal charges, but the legislation caused major diplomatic tension between Warsaw and both Israel and the United States.
Three years later, a law that effectively prevents future restitution to the heirs of property seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust led to a downturn in ties between Israel and Poland that has remained in effect since the summer. Each nation recalled its ambassadors, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the law “antisemitic and immoral.”
Poland “turned into an anti-democratic, illiberal country that doesn’t respect the greatest tragedy in human history,” Lapid charged. Poland responded by accusing Israel of “baseless and irresponsible” behavior.

Kaminski — a former minister and former member of the European Parliament — suggested that ties between Israel and Poland would not be irreparably harmed, and claimed that support for Israel was a bipartisan issue in Warsaw.
“In terms of supporting Israel on the international stage, Polish opposition is absolutely on the same side as the Polish government,” he said. “We are supporting Israel as a state, we are supporting Israel’s fight against terrorism, and we are supporting Israel as a stable democracy in the Middle East.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (left) speaks at a ceremony in Rabat, on August 11, 2021. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (right) arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO; Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via AP)

Kaminski noted that Poland was still among the strongest supporters of Israel within the European Union, and suggested that the rift was motivated by domestic political needs on both sides, which he called “very unfortunate.”

Three months after the freeze in ties between Jerusalem and Warsaw, there were few signs of thaw at the confab in Poland, yet cautious optimism that it was on the horizon.
A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told The Times of Israel that any improvement in ties “is basically up to Poland,” adding: “The crisis is because of the law. In order to fix the problem, they should address it.”
While politicians, ministers and parliamentarians from a wide range of countries attended the conference, including the UK, Germany, France, Hungary, Slovenia, the Netherlands and even the Congo, not a single representative of Israel’s government or parliament was present. The only Israeli on the conference agenda was Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi and current chairman of Yad Vashem.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent a video message that was played at the conference’s gala dinner, where he stressed that “Jews should not be fighting antisemitism alone,” and declared that anti-Zionism is the “modern manifestation” of antisemitism.
A representative for Poland’s government — Wojciech Kolarski, secretary of state in the chancellery of the president — was originally slated to attend the conference but canceled for unspecified reasons. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
Instead, an adviser to President Andrzej Duda read a letter from the president at the conference, which emphasized the need to remember “all Poles” alongside Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and stressed that “contemporary Poland is a safe and friendly country” to Jews.
EJA officials said they invited Israeli Culture Minister Chili Tropper to attend, but he declined. Tropper’s office said he was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.
Conference organizers suggested that Israeli government representatives were unwilling to commit to attending the conference due to the uncertainty over the timing of critical budget votes, which wrapped up late last week.
Alex Benjamin, the director of the EJA, told The Times of Israel that the crisis in ties between Israel and Poland likely “would have been [part of the] equation” for Israeli officials choosing not to attend.
But, he said, “there are some things that transcend political disagreements,” and asserted that for Israel, “such consideration and such diplomatic rows fade into insignificance when it comes to honoring the dead in Auschwitz. There are some things that transcend political disagreements,” he added. “And visits to Auschwitz and talking about antisemitism is one of those.”
Kaminski spoke to The Times of Israel immediately after he addressed a gala dinner at the EJA gathering in Krakow on Monday. Feted as a close friend of Israel and of Europe’s Jewish community, Kaminski’s public remarks echoed Bennett’s equation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism: “Fighting antisemitism and standing with Israel and with its people — we are fighting the same fight.”
The Polish senator told The Times of Israel that while he understands Jewish and Israeli outrage over the restitution legislation, he does not believe it was aimed specifically at cases of Holocaust survivors and victims.
“The legislation about the property rights is directed in 85-90% of the cases, not against Jews, it’s directed against the Polish citizens,” he said. “I understand the anger of Jewish people, of Israeli politicians, on one side, I voted against the law. But to be honest, this law is not directed against the Jews as such.”

Artur Hofman, the head of the Polish Jewish cultural organization TSKZ, lays a wreath at Auschwitz on November 9, 2021. (Yossi Zeliger/EJA)

Warsaw says the law will bolster legal certainty in the property market, but opponents say that it is unjust to those with legitimate claims, including Holocaust survivors and their families.
The legislation places a 10-to-30-year cutoff date on contesting past administrative decisions on restituting property lost during World War II. Critics of the law argue that it will effectively cut off the ability of Jews to reclaim property that was seized before and during the Holocaust.
Poland is the only country in the European Union that has not passed comprehensive national legislation to return, or provide compensation for, private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the communist regime.
Artur Hofman, president of the cultural group TSKZ, the largest Polish Jewish organization, told The Times of Israel that while the law is problematic, the outrage ignores more local issues.
“I know that everybody in the world, in Israel, in the USA, is asking about money from property in Poland,” Hofman said. “But Polish Jews are like toys in this game. Nobody asks us.”
Hofman said that cultural buildings that once belonged to the Jewish community in Warsaw were seized by the government and never returned.
He claimed that restitution funds sought by organizations in the US and Israel are rarely distributed to Holocaust survivors, and that the money should instead remain in the Polish Jewish community and go toward remembrance and education projects.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-skips-poland-antisemitism-meet-but-some-still-see-thaw-in-ties-ahead/

#DefineItToFightIT

Facebook should have a clear policy to fight antisemitism!
We at EJA are calling Facebook to adopt the IHRA definition for antisemitism!
Define it to fight it!!!
join us and many other organizations around the world in our call for Facebook- lets make a change.

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