POLAND REVELS IN POKING AT THE DYING EMBERS OF JEW HATRED

February 15, 2018

We shudder to think what could possibly come out of Poland next, a country that is well and truly positioning itself outside of the pale.

Poland is now beyond the pale. This expression was deliberately chosen. The Pale of Settlement was a historical region of Imperial Russia, including a large chunk of modern-day Poland, where Jews were permitted to live.
First, we had the Holocaust Law, making it illegal to critique Poland for what happened during the Holocaust, under pain of imprisonment. So I’m going to take a risk and spell out a few facts for you about Poland. As many have noted, “the few who survived Auschwitz went back and found their homes vandalized. Their jobs were taken. Their shops were confiscated. They were further welcomed by their former neighbors with slurs, curses, fists, knives, riots, broken glass, and often murder.” Just like pop singer Katie Melua’s “Nine Million Bicycles” says, “that’s a fact, that’s a thing you can’t deny.” If that appears trite, it’s because it’s meant to. The Holocaust Bill is an affront to decency, honesty and good grace. It deserves resentment, but also ridicule, for the sheer unparalleled scale of its stupidity.
And then what modicum of common sense was left in Poland’s armory of credibility also packed its bags and decided to move beyond the pale: Poland is about to make it illegal to export kosher meat and perform kosher slaughter. Oh, and for good measure, slap a four-year prison sentence on the offense.
The text of this was uncovered by us at the European Jewish Association, hidden in a 48-page general bill on animal welfare, which the lower house of the Polish Parliament is expected to vote on this week.
Back in 2013 the EJA – when a kosher ban reared its ugly head – challenged the law in Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal and won. Rabbi Menachem Margolin, our chairman and founder, has said the EJA will do so again, and also challenge the Holocaust Law.
But Poland is today a very different political beast than it was five years ago. The Law and Justice Party has brought in its own brand of ultra-conservative, good old-fashioned xenophobia and parochial politics front and center, appealing to the worst instincts of a disenfranchised demographic, a trend that is increasing in popularity across the European Union to the detriment of immigrants, Muslims, Jews and anyone else who doesn’t fit the nationalistic bill.
“Panem et circenses” is now the leitmotif in Poland. So very apt. In a political context, this old Roman phrase, meaning “bread and circuses,” means to generate public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy but by diversion, distraction or by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace.
Mission accomplished, with both these laws.
What is most alarming though is what little recourse is left to challenge it. You see, Law and Justice quickly realized that the Constitutional Tribunal was blocking their carts laden with bread and so removed the judges, replacing them with appointed party acolytes, using the smear of former communist sympathies to oust the incumbents. That means simply that gross and demeaning legislation such as this can be steamrolled through (it won’t prevent us from trying to stop them though.) Little wonder that Israel is considering withdrawing its ambassador to Poland, and little wonder that the EU is considering Article 7 as a punishment for Poland. We shudder to think what could possibly come out of Poland next, a country that is well and truly positioning itself outside of the pale.
But we shudder more that in 2018, in a supposedly modern and enlightened Europe, we even have to write opinion pieces such as this one, on subjects that stir up the hot coals of what we all thought and hoped were dying embers: Jew hatred.
This Op-Ed was written by the director of public affairs for European Jewish Association, Alex Benjamin. It was publish on The Jerusalem Post .

Additional Articles

Over 25,000 people view European Jewish Association Online Holocaust Memorial Day Event

Heads of state, parliamentarians, Jewish leaders, and hundreds of participants from all over Europe and from far away as Mexico and the United States took part in our special online commemoration service marking International Holocaust Day, in one of the largest online events for the day. The commemoration was livestreamed on our social Media and to an audience across the world via the Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva in Israel.
The event coincided with our annual ‘Not on my watch’ candle campaign, where European Leaders light our candle and post a message on social media with the hashtag not on my watch. As always the campaign was a success with heads of state and politicians from across the continent taking part. You can find all the relevant posts here
For the actual commemoration event high profile speakers included the President of the European Council Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevich, European commissioners and ministers of education from across Europe, senators, parliamentarians, and ambassadors. A number of prominent Jewish leaders addressed the virtual gathering, including Joel Mergui, President of the Israelite Central Consistory of France; Milo Hasbani, President of the Jewish Community of Milan; Raymond Forado, President of the Jewish Community of Madrid; and Holocaust survivor and President of the Jewish Forum of Antwerp and Flanders, Mrs. Regina Suchowolski-Sluzny.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, our chairman, sounded a warning to European Leaders, “The evil that existed then still exists today. All it needs is to land in the right hands and to find the right voice. We must always keep watch. We must always be alert. We must always be ready to act. And yet, here in Europe, where a few survivors still live, we see antisemitism on the rise. We are in a situation today where more Jews in Europe feel that they won’t be here in 10 years than those who think they will be. This cannot be.”
President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said that “Remembering the Holocaust is a moral duty. Not only to pay tribute to victims, but also to renew our allegiance to our deepest human values. We, Europeans, have a special responsibility to fulfill this duty. Antisemitism has no place in our societies.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in his message,“To the survivors and families of the victims, we promise to continue to fight against all forms of negationism and attempts to minimise the magnitude of the Shoah. We will do so with all political and legal means at our disposal.”
The Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Mr Isaac Herzog said, “ European governments have a special responsibility, not only to preserve the memory of the past, but to ensure that today’s European Jewish communities can live safe, full and open Jewish lives, and practice their traditions freely. Jewish communities feel that Jewish traditions and observance are being increasingly challenged by parts of European publics and legislators.
“I ask these leaders to reject all such legislation, which would be tantamount to outlawing Judaism as a whole, and to oppose any attempts to restrict the religious freedoms of European Jewish communities.”
Director General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay in her message said,
“Fighting oblivion is UNESCO’s mission. This mission is all the more important today to educators, teachers and pupils. We are working on new content for teachers and trainers against antisemitism in schools. We are also strongly supporting governments to fight all attempts to excuse the inexcusable.”
Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Mrs Omer Yankelevich spoke about about the rise in online hate speech saying,
“Our Ministry has responded with our own online strategy. Alongside our monitoring center, which provides comprehensive top-down reports on current antisemitic activity on social media, the Ministry is working with major social media networks including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Amazon to ensure accountability.
“Just as countries are responsible for the antisemitic activity within their borders, tech-giants are responsible for stamping out antisemitism from their platforms.”
Jewish Leaders from across Europe shared with those present their concerns, the challenges faced by their communities and their hopes for the future.
Mr Joel Mergui, the President of the French Consistoire said, “Antisemitism, anti-Zionism and attacks on Freedom of Religion make this a diificult time to be Jewish in Europe. As a result many Jews are asking themselves about their future in Europe. Which makes it incumbent on Europe to ask itself what it wants its own future to be.”
EJA advisory board member Regina Suchowolski-Sluzny, a holocaust survivor and the President of the Jewish Forum of Antwerp and Flanders put the onus on education. She said, “Our role as educators is to constantly underline the danger that intolerance and racism can lead to genocide. This battle of education must continue to be fought because a single person that suffers from racism or antisemitism is one person too much.”
Echoing this sentiment, Mr Milo Hasbani the President of the Milan Community said, “Our most important task is to continue working with the younger generation. Sadly as time goes by survivors and the older generation are less able to visit schools and education centres. That is why we are engaged in training the younger members of our community to take over this role and share the Jewish experience of the Shoah, an experience indelibly marked on our very being.”
The marathon event, which lasted over 4 hours of back to back interventions and speeches, finished with a powerful memorial prayer by Cantor and Rabbi Simcha Steinberg, Rabbi of the Jewish community of Endhoven.
You can watch the recording of the event here

Swiss Government Neglects Security of Country’s Jews

After the recent terrorist murders of Jews in France, Belgium and Denmark, other Western European governments are beginning to understand that it is their legal and moral duty to protect the institutions of their Jewish minority.
Yet on this issue, Switzerland lags far behind other countries. This is particularly worrying in light of the deadly shooting in 2001 in a Zurich street, where an Israeli rabbi (recognizable as a Jew by his clothing) was murdered. The case has never been solved.
Switzerland has a population of 8.4 million; less than 18,000 are Jews.
The largest Jewish organization is the nominally orthodox Federation of Jewish communities (SIG). It has, at most, 12,000 members. Assessments by Swiss intelligence agencies and police over the past two years have shown that there are substantial threats against Jewish institutions there.
Because Switzerland is a federal state, it is sometimes unclear when security is the responsibility of the national government, the canton (province), or the municipality in which an institution is located. Overall, Jewish community security costs are estimated to be from $5 -7 million dollars a year, a large amount for such a small group.
The discussion on who is responsible for security (and paying for it) has been going on for several years. Only in October 2017 did the Swiss government admit for the first time that it has a duty to protect the Jewish minority –without saying how it would provide or pay for this security.
At the end of 2016, for example, it was scandalously suggested that Jews should create a fund with their own money in order to take care of their security. Some funds have been made available for one Jewish community in Zurich by the cantonthough these are not destined for security. For the other communities and synagogues in the town, no funds are provided.
The situation is particularly problematic in the third largest — and 212 year old — Jewish community of Basel, which faces a huge deficit and ultimately perhaps bankruptcy. It currently has the choice between reducing activities or having less security. First the government of the canton — and then the parliament (Grosser Rat) — voted down subsidizing security measures. The parliament has also refused to increase financing of the police force, despite the general terror threat in Europe and Switzerland.
But after the lethal Christmas market attack by a Muslim terrorist in Berlin in December 2016, measures were taken in Switzerland last year to protect Christmas markets. A heavily armed police presence was introduced, and several Christmas markets were fortified. Funding for these security measures was provided by the state.
One might recall some other elements of the unfriendly past attitudes of Switzerland to its Jews.
Switzerland only reluctantly granted its Jews full emancipation under US and French economic pressure. Switzerland was also the first European country to outlaw Jewish ritual slaughter in 1894; this was part of a desire to stop Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe.
During the Second World War, some of the Jews who fled from the Nazis were allowed in, but many others were returned to Nazi-occupied countries, where they faced lethal risks. After the war, a concentrated effort was made to force almost all of the 22,500 refugee Jews in the country to leave.
In the 1990s, it became known that Swiss banks had been systematically stalling efforts of Holocaust survivors to obtain money that their murdered relatives had placed there. In 1997, a case where a leading Swiss bank was caught destroying documents on dormant Jewish accounts shook the country to the core.
Ultimately the World Jewish Congress brought two American political adversaries together — US President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and New York Republican Senator Al D’Amato. They took an interest in the dormant bank accounts issue, which led to pressure on Switzerland.
A commission led by the former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, investigated the dormant bank accounts issue. One scandal it discovered was that the deposits in many such accounts had been eaten away by annual bank fees and service charges — or had simply been transferred to the banks’ profits.
The then-president of Switzerland, Jean-Pascal Delamuraz, claimed that Jewish organizations were trying to “blackmail Switzerland into paying them large sums of money to destabilize Switzerland and destroy its banking industry.” This made the scandal even bigger. His apology was considered insufficient.
In recent months, several American Jewish organizations and even US politicians have started to take an interest in Switzerland’s discriminatory attitude toward the security of Jewish institutions. If the Swiss authorities do not act in the near future in a substantial way on this issue, they may risk yet another scandal abroad.
But it would be far worse if a terrorist attack on a Jewish institution would happen before then.
The article was published in The Algemeiner

EU Jewish heads warn European Leaders to wake up to San Diego synagogue warning

“For goodness sake, open your eyes, this could just as easily have happened here”say Rabbi Margolin and Chief Rabbi Jacobs in joint statement.

EU Jewish Association (EJA) and Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin and Head of Governmental relations at the RCE, Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (Netherlands) today expressed their support and deep sadness at the synagogue attack in San Diego, that left one lady dead and others injured, including the community Rabbi.

The heads, representing hundreds of communities and thousands of Jews across Europe, also called on EU Leaders to wake up to the festering threat of antisemitism in Europe, adding that an attack such as San Diego’s could just as easily have happened in Leeuwarden, Luxembourg, Łódź, Lille or London.

In a Joint Statement the Rabbis said,

“It is with deep sadness that we learn of the latest attack against Jews in the United States, a despicable and senseless act that has left one dead, and others injured. We extend, on behalf of the EJA, our love and support to the Rabbi there, himself injured, and to his community who will be left  reeling from the attack.

 “We also take the opportunity, in the strongest terms to tell European Leaders: For goodness sake, open your eyes. Europe is close to a tipping point. There is a festering threat, not seen since the run up to Kristallnacht, that Leaders here must wake up to. Unlike then, leaders have the opportunity to do something now, this very day, to ensure that we avoid attacks in Europe.

 “Make no mistake, this latest spate on antisemitism in America isn’t just happening “over there”, its here too in Europe. And sadly, those who believe in such attacks in Europe will be inspired by events in San Diego. Let us be clear, this attack could just have easily taken place in any European City.

 “Jewish Communities in Europe no longer need platitudes. They need to know in concrete terms, that governments are prepared to do whatever it takes to root out this vile disease that has risen, once again, from the ashes.”

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Auktion mit Hitlers Uhr sorgt für Entrüstung

In den USA sollen einige Relikte aus der NS-Zeit versteigert werden. Darunter Absurditäten wie Wehrmacht-Toilettenpapier, aber auch eine goldene Uhr, die angeblich aus dem Besitz Adolf Hitlers stammt. Jüdische Organisationen verurteilen die geplante Auktion.

Der jüdische Dachverband European Jewish Association hat die Absage einer Versteigerung mit Hinterlassenschaften aus dem Umfeld des NS-Diktators Adolf Hitler gefordert. “Der Verkauf dieser Gegenstände ist abscheulich”, erklärte der EJC-Vorsitzende Rabbi Menachem Margolin in einem offenen Brief an die Veranstalter der Auktion im US-Bundesstaat Maryland.

Seinen Angaben zufolge sollte unter anderem eine Golduhr versteigert werden, die Hitler gehört haben soll. Teile der Auktion sind demnach auch eine Bonbonschale des Diktators, ein Terrier-Halsband seiner Partnerin Eva Braun und Toilettenpapier der Wehrmacht. Nazi-Hinterlassenschaften gehörten gegebenenfalls in Museen, aber sicher nicht unter den Hammer, betonte Margolin.

Die nun zur Versteigerung stehenden Gegenstände aus dem Besitz des “Völkermörders” Hitler trügen in keiner Weise dazu bei, aus den Gräueln der Nazizeit zu lernen, unterstrich er unter Verweis auf die geschätzten sechs Millionen jüdischen Todesopfer der Nazizeit. Der Brief wurde von mehr als 30 jüdischen Vertretern aus Europa und Israel unterzeichnet, unter anderem von der Deutsch-Israelischen Gesellschaft in Berlin.

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