Red Lines Follow-Up, The Netherlands

May 17, 2019

EJA board member chief rabbi Jacobs, Shoah survivor Rabbi Vorst and EJA Director of public affairs Alex Benjamin met with fractie head of Dutch political party Christen Unie MP Segers and MP Bruins to discuss our Jewish red lines and to commend the party’s initiative to create a dedicated Dutch Parliament special envoy to combat antisemitism. We agreed to work together and lobby others to help get the proposal through the chamber. The MPs also heard moving testimony from Rabbi Vorst. As we explained to them: when a Holocaust survivor says they are worried about antisemitism in Holland, you know there’s something deeply wrong.

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У Києві до Дня пам’яті жертв Голокосту почався міжнародний симпозіум, присвячений трагедії Бабиного Яру.

Як передає кореспондент Укрінформу, захід організовує Європейська єврейська асоціація (EJA) спільно з Меморіальним центром Голокосту «Бабин Яр» та Федерацією єврейських громад України.
В рамках симпозіуму відбудуться панельні дискусії, присвячені історії Голокосту та боротьбі з антисемітизмом, обговорюватимуться просвітницькі ініціативи за визначеною тематикою. Засновник і президент організації «Яхад-Ін Унум» отець Патрік Дебуа виступить з доповіддю про історію трагедії Бабиного Яру, раніше не відомі факти про катастрофу й політику замовчування в СРСР.
«Ми не можемо полишити це уроком історії. Це не лише історія, але і те, що актуально сьогодні, як і раніше. Ця ненависть, на жаль, не лише існує, але і продовжує зростати», - звернувся до учасників симпозіуму глава EJA Рабин Менахем Марголін.
Читайте також: Будинок контори єврейського кладовища передали для створення Музею жертв Бабиного Яру
Захід проходить за участю членів українського уряду, Голови Верховної Ради, представників Європарламенту, Сейму Польщі та парламентів інших європейських країн, посольства Ізраїлю в Україні та членів єврейських організацій.
«Єдиною запорукою порятунку від попередження і повторення таких жахіть є памʼять. І українці відчувають себе солідарними з мільйонами людей доброї волі у всьому світі, обʼєднані рішучістю убезпечити людство від руйнівних наслідків людиноненависництва, расизму та ксенофобії», - зазначив у виступі спікер Верховної Ради Руслан Стефанчук.
Під час Другої світової війни нацисти, які зайняли Київ, використовували урочище Бабин Яр як місце масових розстрілів цивільного населення, головним чином євреїв. 29 вересня 1941 року за наказом окупаційної адміністрації все єврейське населення було зобов'язане з'явитися до Бабиного Яру. Людей групами проводили через пропускний пункт, після чого заганяли на край яру і розстрілювали. Цього та наступного дня жертвами розправи стало 33 771 особа.
Читайте також: «Бабин Яр. Контекст» Лозниці номінували на премію Європейської кіноакадемії
Загалом масові вбивства в урочищі тривали до самого відходу нацистів із міста. У Бабиному Яру розстріляли більш як 100 тисяч людей.
 
https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-society/3390705-u-kievi-prohodit-miznarodnij-simpozium-prisvacenij-tragedii-babinogo-aru.html

80 YEARS AFTER BABYN YAR MASSACRE: TOOLS TO KEEP THE MEMORY ALIVE, LEARN THE LESSONS

For two days, September 29 and 30, 1941, 33,771 people were exterminated. More than thirty thousand of them were Jews.

A zoom press conference was dedicated on Tuesday to the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre ahead of an event “Lessons from Babyn Yar: History, Memory and Legacy” which is jointly organised by the House of European History in Brussels and the Kiev-based Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC).

The conference, organized in cooperation with the European Jewish Asociation, discussed lessons 80 years later, as well as unveiling new and unique tools to keep the lessons, history and memory alive, including actually putting faces and names to those murdered for the first time.

Among the speakers, French Father Patrick Desbois, founder of Yahad-In Unum and head of the scholarly council of BYHMC, stressed that Babi Yar was a criminal site where the genocide of the Jewish people took place in the center of a large city in a large country (Kiev, today Ukraine).

‘’The locals willingly aided the young fascists. The gunmen were given sandwiches and tea with little vodka in it as the mass executions lasted many hours,’’ he noted.

Father Patrick asked a practical question: where did the tons of items and valuables taken from the Jews before their execution go? ‘’It would seem that everything should be documented, but it is easier to find detailed evidence and statistics of the shootings than information about the confiscated property of those killed. It was as if the Germans were embarrassed to write about such facts.’’

He added, ‘’For me, this is another terrible evidence of the Babi Yar tragedy: human life is reduced to zero. It is only the result of statistics, nothing more. Even more terrible is that the USSR, on whose territory the tragedy took place, tried to hide the truth about Babyn Yar for a long time. Nevertheless, our generation has a goal: to find the hidden facts and restore the history of this bloody genocide.’’

“I visited Raka in Syria where there was a mass grave. Journalists came, journalists went. Perhaps in 80 years there can be a debate about what is a ‘fitting’ memorial. What is important is keeping the memory and lessons alive,’’ stressed Father Desbois.

One of the panelists, Marek Siwiec, Director of European Affairs at BYHMC, provided information about many ongoing projects, each of which can contribute to the restoration of the truth about Babyn Yar.

Colossal work has been done: out of more than 33,000 dead, 28,428 names have been identified, and essential family and personal facts have been restored. All these invaluable findings became the basis of a vast program titled “Project Names.”

‘’It brought us closer to the real life of those who were shot at Babi Yar. They say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but the death of tens of thousands is a statistic,’’ said Siwiec, who is a former member of the European Parliament.

‘’Project Names’’ allows us to turn dry statistics into pain for everyone who was left in that terrible place, who did not live, who did not love, who did not leave their continuation on earth,’’ he added.

Another project mentioned by Siwiec, “Red Dot” (Red Dot Remembrance), is unique: more than 3,000 people provided information about the WWII war crimes. This app has so far registered 2,850 sites across of Europe of the ‘Holocaust by bullets’ which enables users to see and learn what took place wherever they are.

‘’These are mass extermination sites, eyewitness accounts, evidence supported by documents, which were kept with German punctuality and pedantry throughout the war,’’ explained Siwiec.

On the Babyn Yar massacre anniversary date of 29th September, 15,000 schools in Ukraine will participate in a “lessons of the Holocaust Day”.

‘’The key word underpinning all of our activities is education. It is only through education that the tragic disasters of the past can never be repeated,” said Siwiec.

Marek Rutka, a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, and chairman of the parliamentary group for the commemoration of the crimes at Babyn Yar and for a Europe free from genocide and hatred, explained that members of his political party regularly visit the sites of the Shoah executions. ‘’They see heartfelt tragedies lead to politically literate conclusions about the need to talk about the Shoah on a European scale. There is no genocide without the tolerance of neighboring countries. These words can be taken as a motto for the whole debate.’’

Anton Schneerson, who contributed this article for European Jewish Press, is a Ukrainian Jew living in Germany. The Jewish community of his hometown, Dnipro, managed to build one of the world’s most prominent Holocaust museum that deeply covers the Babyn Yar tragedy.

Bulgarian Synagogue and Halle Memorial Targeted in Anti-Semitic Attacks in Europe

Vandals struck a synagogue gate in Bulgaria and a monument to the victims of the shooting attack last Yom Kippur near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, in a spate of unrelated incidents last week in Europe, the JTA reported.
In Bulgaria, the words “Free Palestine Israel=Nazis Antifa Bulgaria” were spray-painted Wednesday on the gate to the synagogue of Plovdiv, a city situated about 100 miles southeast of the capital Sofia.
While in Germany, in Halle, a plexiglas panel on the monument of the shooting was smashed. The vandals also tried to set fire to a flag of Israel under the Plexiglas, the Jewish Community of Halle wrote Tuesday on their social media page.
Also in Germany, in a third incident, a structure inside the Jewish cemetery of the town of Krumbach, in southern Germany, was damaged. Police are treating the vandalism as an anti-Semitic case because earlier this year, a nearby picnic table was dismantled and the wooden polls comprising it rearranged on the floor in the shape of a swastika, the website AllgaeuRechtsaussen reported Monday.
Also Monday, metal thieves removed dozens of fences and railings from around tombstones at the Jewish cemetery of Babruysk in Belarus, the news Bobruisk.ru reported.
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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

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