President’s Peace Plan

A Time To Discuss And Negotiate Rather Than Reject

By Allan Wolman

Claiming that the world rejects the Trump peace plan is indeed misleading but in line with the type of biased journalism of those determined to contribute to the vilification of the Jewish State; lying seems to come naturally to some journo’s and commentators given what they claim about the support or rather lack thereof for this latest peace plan.

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Pursuing Peace. President Trump unveils his Mideast peace plan with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, but regrettably with no Palestinian representative in attendance at the White House on Jan. 28, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger / Getty Image)

Apart from Israel, the following countries have so far demonstrated support for the US Administration’s plan are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, I.K., India, Oman, Italy, Brazil, Poland, Australia, Austria, Egypt, Columbia, Morocco, Denmark, Japan and Czech Republic.

Publicly playing support were the ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates who attended the unveiling of the President’s plan frequently referred to as the “Deal of the Century.” Their attendance was seen as a warming of ties between the Arab world and Israel.

However, no surprise that Palestine, Turkey, Venezuela and Iran are openly against it.

Whilst I am no supporter of the US president and in fact thought that the press conference at the unveiling of the peace initiative was contrived and somewhat embarrassing – not withstanding my personal view – this “deal” is certainly a refreshing beginning to negotiations that could result in a real and lasting peace settlement. Of course, that would depend on the Palestinian leadership agreeing to sit down to discuss and negotiate, as many of her brethren across the Middle East have urged.

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Game-Changer Not Playing Games. Kushner tells Egyptian TV Peace Plan aims to block settlements expansion.

As US envoy Jared Kushner told the Egyptian MBC Masr network in an interview, “If the Palestinians don’t like where the line is drawn, they should come and tell us where they want to draw it.” Further expressing to the Egyptian anchor Amr Adib, Kushner continued that “If the leaders of the Palestinians want to do what is best for their people, I think they will read the plan. They should come to the table, sit with the Israelis and say: ‘Look, We appreciate the gesture you have made. There are some major compromises [in the plan] you have never made before. These are the four or five or six things that we would like you to consider changing. And if you do this, you have a deal.’ That is how people who are ready to have a state make deals,” Kushner said.

However, in line with Palestinian intractability, the plan was rejected even before unveiled!

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OutRAGEious. Palestinians protest as smoke rises from burning tires before the announcement by US President Donald Trump of his Middle East peace plan [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

The knee jerk reaction from that leadership optimizes the stubborn and corrupt leadership of the Palestinians where the masses have certainly not reacted as violently as expected and in fact the ‘silent majority’ have indeed shown a certain willingness to see where the proposals could lead to. Of course organizations like the BDS, Media Review Network, UNHRC and the Arab League vented their rejection without considering the people most affected by this plan, especially the future wellbeing of the Palestinian people, who too frequently are a political tool of the political agendas of others.

A Time To Discuss And Negotiate Rather Than Reject2
Antisemitism as a counter action to a Peace plan BDS South Africa posts antisemitic cartoon in response to peace plan

All their efforts are channeled at the destruction of Israel and the Palestinians are simply a convenient platform to achieve this aim. In an ideal world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have been resolved, peace secured and the Jew haters – disguised as anti-Zionists – would have had to dig even more deep to come up with other initiatives to further their cause.

American law professor and civil libertarian, Alan Dershowitz, recently asked an audience to consider where were the concerned liberals during the Cambodian, Rwandan, Darfur and Congolese genocides and where are they today with the unfolding genocides in Myanmar, Yemeni and Syria in full view of the world? The simple answer: These liberal folks including the UNHCR, ICC, BDS and others are all too busy castigating Israel than being bothered with the genocide of millions of people. Indeed, many millions of people mercilessly slaughtered and not one single country or human rights bodies not only did / do nothing about such vile acts but hardly voiced any objections in world forums to such carnage. No, the most important item on their agendas was malicious defamation of the only democracy in the Middle East.

Isn’t that more important than a few million people including women and children being slaughtered?

This must raise questions as to the morality of such people who would level their focus at denigrating a country whose human rights record, democratic institution’s, an independent judiciary, a free press and gender equality is not only without equal in the region but can stand head and shoulders with any free country in world. Yet all these attributes fade into oblivion in the face of rubbishing Israel at every and any opportunity.

Where is the ANC so quick to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel but at the same time have visions of being a peacemaker? Rich indeed given the ongoing hostility that they perpetuate against Israel and digest the fake news and lies being bandied about by those driven by hate. Not surprising given the ANC degeneration into racial ideology having abandoned the vision of racial equality and unity of Nelson Mandela.

The real tragedy is the timing of the “peace deal” debate coming hard on the heels of the two international gatherings one in Jerusalem on World Holocaust Remembrance Day and the other at the site of the infamous Auschwitz death camp commemorating the liberation of that camp. At both events the rise of anti-Semitism took centre stage with world leaders together with Holocaust survivors highlighting this scourge and warning just how today’s hatred could so easily become a repetition of past genocides.

Will world leaders sit up and listen and more importantly will they do anything to counteract this plague?

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Parading Hatred. Despicable display of modern antisemitism when a parade float at the Aalst Carnaval in Belgium featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews atop money bags in March 3, 2019. (Courtesy of FJO, via JTA)

Events in Belgium last year where caricatures of Jews formed part of a carnival float procession through the main streets elicited hardly any censure form officialdom in that country, with some mielie-mouthed explanation of freedom of speech and expression.

Is that the way countries are going to combat ant-Semitic expression?

 

 

About the author:

Birds of a feather4Allan Wolman is a recent immigrant to Israel from South Africa. Matriculating from Parktown Boys high School in Johannesburg, in 1967, he joined 1200 young South Africans to volunteer to work on agricultural settlements in Israel during the Six Day War. After spending year in Israel, he returned to South Africa where he met and married Jocelyn Lipschitz. The couple have three sons. Allan ran one of the oldest travel agencies in Johannesburg – Rosebank Travel which he still runs together with his son in Johannesburg.

 

*Feature Picture: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Mixed Messages From HRH

By LA, California correspondent Regina Raphael

Charles, The Prince of Wales, addressed world leaders on the 75thanniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Israel on January 23rd 2019. I was most moved by the words of HRH that we must be fearless in confronting falsehoods and resolute in resisting words and acts of violence.”

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PRINCE VISITS ISRAEL AND THIS TIME IT’S “OFFICIAL. HRH Prince Charles speaks during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, 2020. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Given this strong and powerful message, I was surprised and disappointed with his words spoken and message conveyed during visit with Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, the very next day in Bethlehem.

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Improving Ties. Prince Charles (L) shakes hands with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, ahead of a meeting of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020. (AFP)

The “falsehoods” that he called out the day prior are the ones that emanate from the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas is currently in the 15th year of a 4-year elected term. He serves unchecked as a dictator without any accountability. He terrorizes his own people with limited freedom of speech and arrests those that associate with Jews or sells property to them.

Under his leadership, Christians now make up less than 2 percent of the population in Bethlehem once a dominant Christian community. The Christians are subjected to discrimination and suffer great difficulty living in Bethlehem.

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Prince And The PA President. The Prince of Wales meets President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. (Photo: Julian Simmonds/The Daily Telegraph/PA Wire)

Mr. Abbas has operated unfettered with mismanagement of monies provided. Billions of dollars in aid from the US, EU and several other donor countries has flowed to Mr. Abbas. A lack of accountability and transparency from the Palestinian Authority has deprived Palestinians of a significant part of the funds.

Only after a public outcry of money wasted has the recently built  $13mn Presidential Palace – that included helipads, guest quarters and administrative offices  4,700 square metres (50590.38 sq./feet) – been decided to be used “a national library” instead, according to the Palestinian Minister of Culture,  Ihab Bseiso.

A $13mn library with helipads?

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The House That Abbas Built. Following criticism of the newly constructed opulent $13 million President Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential palace near Ramallah, it was declared in August 2017 it would house a national library. This decision was understood in light of mounting public anger on the Palestinian street in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip following revelations of corruption and substantial salary increases of public officials to buy loyalty. (Ameen Rammal/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Beyond corruption, Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have used these funds to encourage violence. It is estimated in 2019 that $149.7 MM went for annual payments to security prisoners, terrorist “martyrs” and their families, encouraging people to kill Jews.

Instead of visiting with Mr. Abbas, I wished he had visited the sights of those killed by Mr. Abbas’ pay for slay program. I was in the region while he was there and made my commitment to bear witness where Ari Fuld (father of four), Dvir Sorek (an 18-year-old Yeshiva student) and teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gilad  Shaar and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped at a bus stop and then brutally murdered. I saw young lives taken away simply because they were Jews. Those who murdered them, solely because they were Jews, were paid approximately three times the amount they would have made working a regular job. The ramifications of this ‘Pay to Slay’ program are monumental. I can only imagine what his HRH might do if this program were to take hold in Britain.

When he visited Bethlehem, he spoke there that “It breaks my heart… that we should continue to see so much suffering and division. No one arriving in Bethlehem today could miss the signs of continued hardship and the situation you face.” The suffering is due to the choices made by the Palestinian Authority but does not accurately describe the vibrancy that does exist in many areas.

I also saw those who have made great success in their lives.  I visited towns with Muslims that had thriving industry, large homes and luxury cars.  I saw people that have chosen to focus on success not terror.

I had the honor to hear from Daniel Birnbaum whose company, SodaStream, embodies cooperation across Arabs, Jews & Bedouins to great success. While driven out of this area by those who choose to Boycott, Divest & Sanction Israel, SodaSteam relocated to Rahat and provides a model of coexistence between Jews, Arabs & Bedouins. This is only one example of co-existence.

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SodaStream’s Assembly Line In The Bedouin City Of  Rahat. Forced to close down by the Palestinian Authority that was providing jobs to Palestinians on the West Bank, the $1.5 billion maker of home carbonation devices moved the bulk of its manufacturing to Israel’s largest Bedouin city – Rahat. (RACHEL PAPO FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK)

At a time when anti-Semitic activity is at an all-time high, HRH’s failure to call out Mr. Abbas on his dishonesty and incitement of violence, ignites the flame that encourages hatred. His words do not bring peace but dehumanize and minimize the lives of those brutally murdered.

At every opportunity, including the most recent by President Trump, Mr. Abbas has turned down plans to aid his people and create his own “Start Up Nation.” Mr. Abbas does not seek peace; he acts as a despot and seeks the destruction of the State of Israel.

We praise the Royal family and your Princess Alice’s commitment to Jewish people at a most difficult time. However, at this juncture we must stand strong against hatred and stand firm on values of inherent democracy and decency.

 

 

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The author & Mr. Goldstein in Hebron.

Regina Raphael is a business owner in Los Angeles, CA and committed Zionist. Ms. Raphael works closely with Ben Goldstein, a reserve IDF officer and advocate for the State of Israel. The article shares moments from their visit together in late January 2020. Mr. Goldstein lives in the Region.

 

Who’s Calling Who a “Nasty Little Country”

By Stephen Schulman

A recent OP-ED entitled “South Africa’s emerging Department of Homeland Security” in the Daily Maverick by the Head of the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Jane Duncan, opened with the following:

Every sensible person should be horrified at the racist, ethno-nationalist developments over citizenship around the world, notably in the US, Europe, Brazil, India and Israel. We need to ask ourselves – do we really want to join the growing list of nasty little countries that have defined themselves recently according to who they can exclude, repress and marginalise?”

(By Jane Duncan January 2020)

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Jane Duncan is a professor and Head of Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg. She is author of ‘Stopping the Spies: Constructing and Resisting the Surveillance State in South Africa’ (Wits University Press, 2018).

Who is acallinf who a nasty little country2

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-01-20-south-africas-emerging-department-of-homeland-security/

 

Lay Of The Land publishes hereunder an Open Letter response to the Op-Ed by a former South African  – Stephen Schulman (M.A. in Education), who is today a citizen of Israel.

 

Dear Jane,

You don’t know me, and actually there is no reason why you should or would want to, since I am living in Israel that in your opinion is one of those “nasty little countries” that “defined themselves recently according to who they can exclude, repress and marginalize”.

Now, dear Jane, while I am not as learned as you (being a professor and all that!), I would, with your kind permission, like to draw your attention to a few pertinent facts.

My “nasty little country” is a true functioning democracy according civil rights to all its citizens irrespective of race or religion. In fact, it is acknowledged as the only one of its kind in the Middle East.

My “nasty little country” has a parliament (called the Knesset) that has representation that even includes parties calling for its very dissolution.

My “nasty little country” has an independent functioning judiciary.

My “nasty little country” allows and guarantees freedom of worship. Jews, Moslems and Christians have their safeguarded places of worship and holy sites. The Baha’i faith, long persecuted in Iran, has a splendid home here. Druze and Circasians as well.

In my “nasty little country” the LGBT community openly lives and functions – as opposed to the rest of the Middle East.

In my “nasty little country” – unlike in yours – you can walk around at all hours without fear of robbery, assault, murder or rape.

In my “nasty little country“, children do walk around freely on the streets – we do not have your reported twice daily kidnappings for ransom, slavery or muti.

In my “nasty little country“, there is freedom of the press and toleration of differing points of view. You are free to express your opinions without looking over your shoulder.

In my “nasty little country” it is possible to take public transport without fear of assault, robbery and hijacking.

In my “nasty little country“, the trains run on time. There is no arson, wholesale burning of coaches, stealing of cables and equipment. The busses run on time as well. You do not fear for your life. On our intercity lines there is no need to worry about being held up by assault rifle armed bandits.

In my “nasty little country“, the electricity supply is stable. The electricity company is not riddled with nepotism, cronyism and corruption, resulting in bankruptcy and inefficiency. We do not have the euphemistically labeled daily “load shedding” that you every day enjoy.

My “nasty little country“, as many others, has its own political/economic refugee problems. However, it does not have the asylum seekers in terror for their own lives from the local population huddling and clustering around church doors for sanctuary.

My “nasty little country” while having its own imperfections – as all counties do – is not ruled by an institutionalized kleptocracy intent on plundering the state coffers with such impunity that a large percentage of the GNP goes into personal pockets at the expense of the impoverished general public.

Dear Jane, there are some nasty little minds with attendant nasty little vision problems clouded with bias, bigotry that find it politically correct to exclude certain countries from their field of view. Consequently, I humbly take it upon myself to enlighten you, a self proclaimed “public intellectual” about some of those that you have chosen to exempt.

China has a horrific human rights record dating from its invasion of and massive resettling of Tibet. It has hounded the Falon Gong sect, incarcerating, torturing, murdering and harvesting the organs of its members. It is currently also incarcerating and relocating Uighur Moslems causing them great suffering. Why is it absent from your list? Is it because that country has huge investments in South Africa, and you do not want to bite the hand that holds the chopsticks that feed you?

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People hold a banner during a protest against China’s human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, calling on U.S. government to take action against Beijing, on April 06, 2019 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Turkey under Erdogan has an abysmal record of suppression of the press, persecution of journalists, trampling of freedom of expression and human rights. It has arbitrarily dismissed tens of thousands of teachers and civil servants. You, a proclaimed crusader for freedom of the media, have failed to include it on your list.

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A newsstand in Istanbul in 2018. The Turkish government’s ban on Wikipedia was part of a larger suppression of free expression. (Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images)

Iran is a theocracy, intolerant of dissent that has lately had its peaceful protesters murdered by live fire from its law enforcers. Many of its citizens are imprisoned and have been tortured. This country along with Saudi Arabia holds the world record for the highest number of executions. It exports world terrorism, denies the Holocaust and preaches genocide against Israel – a member of the community of nations.

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Iran executes the most people in the world per capita for crimes which include being gay and drinking alcohol. Not uncommon for the ‘condemned’ to be executed by being hoisted on cranes with nooses around their necks.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza blatantly flaunt human rights and religious freedom. Christians live in fear in Gaza. The once Christian majority in Bethlehem has shrunk to ten percent as many have fled overseas. Journalists are terrorized into toeing the official line.

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Hamas arrests and beats seven journalists covering economic protests in Gaza on February 24, 2019. ( Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

And lest we forget: Saudi Arabia is a member of the same club – a medieval kingdom that with an iron hand suppresses dissent, human rights, religious freedom and practices public floggings and limb amputations. It has chosen to exclude all Moslem refugees, not admitting a single one.

Why your silence on these countries?

Is it because you do not wish your Moslem fellow citizens howling at your door that you are a white racist?

Dear Jane, amongst others, you further failed to include North Korea, Pakistan and Russia. I note that your myopia exempts them too. I find it ironic that you condemn Europe that has taken in millions of refugees, paying a high price in the increase of crime and the burden of social welfare whilst you blithely ignore their brethren in the Gulf States who have closed their doors to them.

In conclusion, I find your words deeply disturbing. Your silence regarding a host of countries that practice “racism and ethno-nationalism” that “exclude, suppress and marginalize” is ominous. Your ethical double standards reek of a flawed morality dictated by a  possibly self-serving current political correctness. For an academic, the “public intellectual”, your bigotry and bias is both blatant and shameful.

Stephen Schulman

Ramat Hasharon

Israel

 

 

 

About the writer:

Stephen Schulman, is a graduate of the South African Jewish socialist Youth Movement Habonim, who immigrated to Israel in 1969 and retired in 2012 after over 40 years of English teaching. Stephen, who has a master’s degree in Education, was for many years a senior examiner for the English matriculation and co-authored two English textbooks for the upper grades in high school. Now happily retired, he spends his time between his family, his hobbies and reading to try to catch up on his ignorance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unto Every Person There Is A Name

The Stolpersteine Project

By  Rolene Marks

Unto every person there is a name. If you think about it, our names are the only possessions that we retain throughout our lives and many of us worry if they will be remembered long after we pass. In Jewish tradition, names are symbolic of divine energy.

Memory can be also regarded as the lifeblood of Jewish tradition. We remember our dead every year with special dates in the Hebrew calendar that mark the anniversary of their death and by lighting a yahrtzheit (memorial) candle. But what of the millions who perished in the Holocaust? Whole families and communities who were murdered? How do we remember them?

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 Illuminating Loved ones – A traditional “Yahrtzheit” (memorial) candle.

One poignant way is through a project called Stolpersteine (stumbling stones).

If you walk through the streets of Prague or Berlin or any number of European cities, you will come across brass plates, no bigger than 10cm x 10cm, dotted all over the cities. These are Stolpersteine.

Stolpersteine or “stumbling stones’ was founded by artist, Gunter Demnig.  The project was started as a way to commemorate the victims of the Nazis. These plates are painstakingly and respectfully placed into the pavement in front of the last voluntarily chosen places of residence of the victims of the Nazis. Their names and fate are engraved into a brass plate on the top of each Stolpersteine.

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Art of remembrance – The German artist Gunter Demnig best known for his “Stolpersteine” memorials to the victims of Nazi persecution and oppression.

These modest memorials keep memory alive; they bear testament to the tenet that here too, lived a person. This person had a life, a family and a future. The person that lived at this address ceased to exist because of hatred and intolerance.

It is not just Jews that are honoured by the Stolpersteine project. Famed Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, once commented that not all the victims were Jewish, but all the Jews were victims. The Nazis with their racist ideology, also deemed the Sinti and Roma, people from the political or religious resistance, people who had physical or mental disability and were “euthanized”, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and anyone who they felt was “sub-human” and not a perfect Aryan.

For some families, participating in the Stolpersteine project, it is not just a way to eternally memorialise their lost loved ones, but a way to learn family history. It is also important for the descendants of those who perished, to have the opportunity to restore dignity to the victims that were so cruelly robbed and to give their loved ones the funerals they never had.

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Solemn Ceremony – Participating in the Stolpersteine ceremony of Dr. Max & Therese Oppenheimer in Pankow, Berlin are their grandchildren (R) Prof. Amnon Carmi,  Mrs Yachida Chelouche and on (L) Chairman of the Stolpersteine Volunteers Committee in Berlin – Pankow, retired pastor Gerhard Hochhuth.

Yair Chelouche has a Stolpersteine dedicated to his family members in Berlin and Halle, Germany shared some thoughts:

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Berlin Family – Dr. Max & Therese Oppenheimer (née Karfunkel) with grandchildren, Amnon Carmi sitting on Max’s lap and his sister Yachida Chelouche (née Carmi) standing (1932).

“When I visited Berlin a couple of years ago and participated in a guided tour, I became curious where these Stolpersteine came from. I wrote to the project founders; and was told that my application was referred to the relevant region where my family came from and that it could take a few years to process. One day, I was contacted by one of the volunteers who dealt with the Stolpersteine in Pankow, where my family lived. Finding information on my grandmother was easy because all the documentation was there, where she lived and where she died later in Theresienstadt. My grandfather was more of an enigma; but after a lot of intense research, we found out that he was a PhD from Heidelberg University and one of the founders of one of the first Jewish student fraternities of that university.  He was a great Zionist who knew Herzl, Bodenheimer and others who were giants of the Jewish world,” continues Yair, a great-grandchild who searched for his family roots and history.

 

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Home of the Oppenheimers – Outside the home they lived, Stolpersteine for the great grandparents of Yair Chelouche, Dr. Max & Therese Oppenheimer in 31 Breitestrasse. Pankow – Pankow.

“Finally, we were able to tie up all the loose ends and close the painful chapters of our family history that we did not know. Through learning about our family during this process, we were able to give them their name, their dignity, make sense of the places they lived in. We were able to follow in their footsteps until the cruel end of their lives”, he says.

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The Artist And The Family – At the ceremony for Dr. Max & Therese Oppenheimer, (l-r) grandson Prof. Amnon Carmi, the artist Mr Gunter Demnig and granddaughter Mrs. Yachida Chelouche.

Stolpersteine exist in many countries across Europe but not everyone embraced the memorials. The German city council of Munich rejected the Stolpersteine following objections from Munich’s Jewish community (and particularly its chairwoman, Charlotte Knobloch, then also President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and herself a former victim of Nazi persecution). Knobloch objected to the idea that the names of murdered Jews be inserted in the pavement, where people might accidentally step on them. It would be seen as “walking on the graves of dead Jews”.

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Ernst and Nelly Grünberger  from Halle, Germany (Uncle & Aunt of Prof. Amnon Carmi and Mrs Yachida Chelouche)

Founder of the Stolpersteine project, Demnig, participated in the discussions, stating that “he intends to create a memorial at the very place where the deportation started: at the homes where people had lived last”. A compromise was reached where plaques were put up on the walls of homes of individuals and not the pavement.

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Hate Prevails. A Stolpersteine outside the home of Ernst & Nelly Grünberger, in 32 Kleine Ulrichstrasse, Halle, Germany. A few minutes walk from a synagogue where a heavily armed assailant ranting about Jews, tried to force his way in on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, then shot two innocent people to death nearby ( 09 October 2019).

In other cities, permission for the project was preceded by long, sometimes emotional discussions. In Krefeld, the vice-chairman of the Jewish community, Michael Gilad, said that Demnig’s memorials reminded him of how the Nazis had used Jewish gravestones as slabs for sidewalks.  A compromise was reached that a stolpersteine could be installed if a prospective site was approved by both the house’s owner and (if applicable) the victim’s relatives. Since 2009, 23 Stolpersteine for the Belgian city of  Antwerp have been produced but have not be placed due to local resistance against the project. They have been stored in Brussels where they are regularly exhibited.

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Laying Flowers – Lena Sonneberg at the Stolpersteine outside the building where her grandparents lived in Berlin.

Most cities across Europe welcome this initiative. They recognize that as time passes and the numbers of survivors dwindle, projects like Stolpersteine play an important part in saying, I too existed. I too lived and loved.

I too had a name.  

 

 

 

 

 

*Feature picture: A view of some “stolpersteine” in Berlin, August 2012. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images via JTA)

“If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem”

World leaders spoke but will they act?

From the 2020 World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem to the protest against Lithuania in Tel Aviv 24 hours later

By David E. Kaplan

They came but who saw2

As world leaders from some 50 countries descended on the capital of the Jewish people for the  World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, on the 23rd January 2020, marking 75 years since the “gates of Hell” were opened at Auschwitz, one commentator on i24NEWS remarked:

 “This conference is about education,” to which another in the panel skeptically responded:

 “Yes, but young people in Europe today not only know nothing about the Holocaust; they also don’t want to believe it. They deny it!”

And this is Europe where the largest mass murder in history  occurred? Where the majority of its Jews today lie beneath its surface while above the horrific truth is obscured, denied, ignored, equated or “they had it coming”?

And with a world increasingly directing the “new antisemitism” on the ‘collective Jew’ – Israel – it was only fitting that the World Holocaust Forum was held in the centre of the Jewish people – Jerusalem – Israel’s eternal capital since King David over 3000 years ago.

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World leaders gather at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the 5th World Holocaust Forum.

If a world – and in particular one where its young generations – need to hear the truth, who better to hear it from than the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier who addressed the memorial forum with:

Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, I stand before you all as President of Germany – I stand here laden with the heavy, historical burden of guilt.”

He confessed his country’s guilt to the world with:

Germans deported them. Germans burned numbers on their forearms. Germans tried to dehumanize them; to reduce them to numbers; to erase all memory of them in the extermination camps.”

No less important for the world to hear was Steinmeier’s admission that Germans had not learned the lesson of the Holocaust as Jew-hatred was not disappearing but growing and that despite different times, the “same evil” prevails today. And while the German State President wished he could say that Germans had learned from history, he felt compelled to admit that “I cannot say that when Jewish children are spat on in the schoolyard; I cannot say that when crude antisemitism is cloaked in supposed criticism of Israeli policy,” and “I cannot say that when only a thick wooden door prevents a right-wing terrorist from causing a bloodbath in a synagogue in the city of Halle on Yom Kippur.”

 

ISRAEL-HISTORY-HOLOCAUST-DIPLOMACY-GERMANY
‘Laden With Guilt’. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivers a speech during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020.

Beginning and ending by reciting in Hebrew the Jewish blessing of “Shehehiyanu”, Steinmeier  told the world there remains only one answer:

To ensure – “Never again! Nie wieder!

But who was hearing in order to remember?

Even with Prince Charles representing the United Kingdom, President Emmanuel Macron representing France, Vice President Mike Pence representing the USA and President Vladimir Putin representing Russia, I switched TV channels to notice there was hardly a mention on CNN , Sky, BBC or RT of the event. The exceptions were France 24, i24NEWS and Israel’s Hebrew channels that gave live coverage.

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Right Royal. 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, “hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, tell new lies, and seek new victims,” says Prince Charles at the 5th World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum on January 23, 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Far more important than for Israelis to hear –  Jews know what happened –  it was for the billions across the world, in particular, the Europeans to listen, and to hear from their national leaders.

Did these international news networks not believe there was any interest despite the gathering of world leaders in Jerusalem? When these very same leaders were in Davos only a few HOURS before for the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, there was continuous news coverage.

Even over news content, global economics trumps Jewish existential anxiety so are we surprised that antisemitism is here to stay?

For this writer, it was poignantly ironic and telling that only one day after the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem titled ‘Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism” initiated by the President of the European Jewish Congress Dr. Moshe Kantor, that there was a demonstration of Jews of Lithuanian descent outside Lithuania’s embassy in Ramat Gan in the district of Tel Aviv.

While I was there covering the event for Lay Of The Land it was also personal, and I  had helped draft the invitation notice in English:

No One Saved Their Lives, Lets Save The Truth

Come protest Friday 24th January 2020 outside Lithuanian Embassy, Ramat Gan.

We won’t forget and we won’t forgive!

And why did over 200 people brave the freezing cold and rain  to protest? They came to register their opposition to Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s Commission on the Fight for Freedom and Historical Memory, who intends to propose a parliamentary resolution declaring that:

Lithuania has no responsibility for the murders and extermination of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War because it was occupied by Soviets and then by Nazi Germany.”

The proposed resolution is to absolve Lithuania and Lithuanians of involvement in the Holocaust for the murder of 95% of Lithuanian citizens because it was occupied successively by Russia and Germany!

The protestors knew the truth and could relate stories of members of their families who were killed. Etched in the memory of this writer,  was my visit to Lithuania in 1992 when I met for the fist time a cousin who had survived the war by escaping into the forest and joining with the partisans. Alexander Judelis related the only reason he had not perished in his Shtetl of Riteva with his family was, “that my father had sent me to a Yeshiva in the north only a few weeks before the Nazi invasion. In fact, I did not want to go because I was not religious, but he saved my life.”  Judelis further related that , “the day before the Nazis entered Riteva,  local Lithuanians in our village, people who we knew all our lives, wanted to impress the Nazis before they came and went on a rampage of murdering most of the Jews,” which included members of his family.

There are few Jews in Lithuania today.  The Holocaust in German occupied Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian Jews (Litvaks) and as all who stood shivering in the cold outside the Lithuanian embassy knew, their forebears who died in peacetime were the lucky ones lying beneath simple gravestones. Those that came after them have no gravestones –   they were dragged out of town, marched into the woods and shot to death in front of mass pits.

Many watching them dig their own graves before pulling the triggers of the submachine guns were their fellow Lithuanians. To the rat-a-tat soundtrack of gunfire, they gloated while murdering their neighbours, impressing their smiling German invaders.

This is the horrendous visual truth that Gumuliaskas wants to conceal by parliamentary legislation!

And this is what the shivering protestors outside the Lithuanian Embassy were determined not to permit – not without a fight.

Law is designed to reveal the truth not to hide it!

As chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Immigrants in Israel, Arie Ben-Ari expressed at the protest that “In the first months of the Nazi occupation, most of Lithuanian Jewry was annihilated by Lithuanians, and that from published information, over 22,000 Lithuanians participated in and carried out the murders in 214 places in Lithuania. Many of them advanced and subsequently served the Nazis as guards and murderers of Jews in concentration and extermination camps, including in Auschwitz.”

Yes, the very Auschwitz which in Jerusalem the day before, the world leaders assembled not only to commemorate its  liberation 75 years earlier but to impress upon the world the words:

Never Again”.

Conspicuous by his absence at the World Holocaust Forum was the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, who declined to attend. He  joined the Polish President Andrzej Duda who also did not come. Setting aside their issues with Putin, Duda  too is introducing a law in Poland imposing fines and jail time on anyone who refers to Polish complicity in the Holocaust.

Instead of trying to conceal their nefarious past by introducing laws, had both presidents attended the World Holocaust Forum, they would have heard the wise words of former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yisrael Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor who 75 years earlier, was liberated as a 7-year-old from the Buchenwald concentration camp.

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You Have The Power To Lead For good, So Lead. Holocaust survivor and former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, sends strong message to world leaders at World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.

Drawing a parallel of the world leaders before him together in one tent in Jerusalem with Noah’s ark where all the animals of the world  – many of them too natural enemies –  proved no threat to each other. With arms outstretched and looking at the world leaders in front of him he posed the question:

How did the snake and the lion share the confined space with the lamb and the dove?  The answer was they feared a common enemy – “the flood”.

The “flood” today is poverty, disease, war, and antisemitism.  “You as world leaders have the power to work together against these threats to mankind”.

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Call To Arms Against Antisemitism. A view of the audience at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, 2020.

But the presidents of Poland and Lithuania were not present to hear these words. While world leaders were all expressing “Never Again”, Lithuania had another use of the word “never” – that Lithuanians were “never” involved in the mass murder of its fellow Jewish citizens and that future generations must “never” hear again of Lithuanians mass murdering Jews.

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We remember. Protestors holding placards outside Lithuanian Embassy in Ramat Gan (Photo: LotL – D.E Kaplan).

The banners at the protest outside the Lithuanian embassy  included  with the wording “Lithuania – take responsibility for the Holocaust”, “Zero Tolerance For Antisemitism” and “Gumuliaskas – no law can wash away Jewish blood’.

And when the rain poured, the umbrellas went up and the protestors stayed at their posts.

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Come Hell Or High Water. Downpour of rain did not deter the protestors outside Lithuanian Embassy countering attempts to deny past evils (Photo: LotL – D.E Kaplan).

Moderated by Zohar Cheskov,  other speakers included Chairman of the Vilnius Association Mickey Cantor, the CEO of the Wiesenthal Center Dr. Ephraim Zuroff, Holocaust historian and researcher Remi Neiderfer  and 91-year-old Holocaust survivor from Kovna (Kaunas) Rosa Bloch,  who said Lithuanians “started to kill the Jews even before the Germans arrived.”

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Truth Be Told. Chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of its Israel Office Efraim Zuroff (left) with former South Africans living in Israel and of Lithuanian decent (l-r)Abel Levitt, Marcelle Kornel, the writer, David Kaplan and Barry Kornel holding a banner in Hebrew “Gumuliaskas – no law can wash away Jewish blood”.(Photo: LotL – D.E Kaplan).

Since I was in Lithuania in 1992, the country has come a long way in confronting her wartime past.

However, maybe again, and possibly emboldened by the recent path of Poland’s leadership, does Lithuania too want to rewrite history and erase its ugly history of Nazi collaboration?

The message from the protestors outside the Lithuanian Embassy on the 24th January 2020 in Tel Aviv is a call for protest  not only by Jews of Lithuanian descent; but all decent people around the world  to join together against the rising “flood” in Lithuania and oppose the despicable resolution of Arūnas Gumuliauskas.

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Resolute Against Resolution. Protesting opposition to Arūnas Gumuliauskas resolution declaring Lithuania not responsible for the murders and extermination of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War (Photo: LotL – D.E Kaplan).

To the murdered Jews of Lithuanians:

No One Saved Their Lives, Lets Save The Truth

When Healers Became Killers

75 years after Auschwitz – The importance  today of educating medical professionals on the Holocaust

By Dr. Tessa Chelouche

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The Legacy Of Nazi Medicine. A shameful past of a proud profession, the dark side of medicine under the Nazis.

On the 27th of January the world commemorates the 75th liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the past few years, the world has witnessed violent and disturbing antisemitic attacks in many countries. One of the ways to combat antisemitism is to educate on the Holocaust. The medical profession has a major responsible role to play in perpetuating this education because unlike other instances of genocide that the world has witnessed, the Holocaust was a medically sanctioned genocide. The greatest stain on the record of medicine in the 20th century was the role played by German physicians during the Nazi period.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, medicine there was among the most sophisticated in the world. German medicine had contributed to, and shaped, academic and clinical medical practice worldwide. Despite its preeminence, however, German medicine became enmeshed in the Nazi ideology and broadly complicit in the conceptualization and promulgation of the Nazi racial and social programs. The engagement of the medical profession was extensive and was led by the active involvement and support of the academic establishment. Medicine was not alone in its support of National Socialist policies, but the medical profession differed from the other professions in its explicit commitment to an ethical basis, to a humanitarian stance and to a 2000-year-old Hippocratic Oath that placed the sufferer first.

German physicians began to elevate service to the state above medical ethics well before the Holocaust – the term used for the genocide of the Jews – occurred. In the early years of the 20th century, German physicians promoted policies of racial hygiene and eugenics in their eagerness to limit the reproduction of people believed to have hereditary disorders: the disabled and the chronically ill who were considered as a burden to society. Between 1939 and 1945 they sterilized an estimated 400,000 Germans with mental and physical disorders. Following this, German physicians designed and implemented the notorious T-4 “Euthanasia” program, where they performed medical murder on their mentally, physically and socially handicapped patients with the goal of producing a pure Aryan race. This policy was ethically sanctioned by the Nazi medical profession in Germany. Traditional medical ethics was adapted and altered to suit the policies of National Socialism. Nazi physicians did not abandon medical ethics as is usually perceived, but rather replaced traditional fundamental universal medical ethics with selective medical ethics. The disabled and the chronically ill, the feebleminded and the “unproductive” members of society were perceived as living “lives unworthy of living” and as such did not deserve to be treated according to the regular medical code. This new ethical code was taught at every medical school in Nazi Germany and a special textbook was required reading for this compulsory course. More physicians were members of the Nazi party than any other free profession. They were not forced but joined of their own free will and they joined early on. In this manner, German medicine became an arm of Nazi state policy. Nazi physicians failed to see themselves as physicians first, with a calling and an ethic dedicated to healing and caring for the well-being of human beings. Instead they believed that the welfare of the state was to take precedence over their individual loyalty to their patients.

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Doctors Determining Death. This poster (from around 1938) reads: “60,000 Reichsmark is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too.”

The above-mentioned medical programs of sterilization and “Euthanasia” became enmeshed with the policy of virulent antisemitism, and as such were the forerunners for the Holocaust – the genocide of the Jews at concentration camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau and many others. The ‘medical murders’ that began in the hospitals in Germany and Austria, culminated in the murder of the Jews and other minorities in the camps, as the extermination of millions of people was considered as “treatment” for the state. The same professionals who were involved in the T4-“Euthanasia” program, among them many physicians, were consulted when the camps were built and were the medical experts who were consulted in the design and activation of the gas chambers.

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Death By Design. View of the cemetery at the Hadamar Institute, where victims of the Nazi euthanasia program were buried in mass graves.

Although the subject of ‘Medicine and the Holocaust’ usually brings to mind the cruel and barbaric experiments, medicine was involved long before the infamous experiments were performed at the various camps, hospitals and clinics. In 1946 one of the first post war trials to be held was the “Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial.” For the first time in history, physicians were tried for crimes against humanity for their participation in murderous and tortuous experiments conducted in the Nazi concentration camps. In the final judgment, the court articulated what is known as the “Nuremberg Code”, the first international code for human experimentation. In fact, it was in the ashes of the Holocaust, through the formulation of the Nuremberg Code that modern medical ethics, known as bioethics, was born. All contemporary bioethical codes are based on what transpired in the profession in the years preceding and during the Holocaust. Every ethical issue under consideration today – among others: the value of human life, disability care, equity in medical care, genetics, public health, research ethics, health system economics, reproductive medicine, abortion, military medicine, refugee care, death and dying – includes inquiry influenced by the Nazi medical crimes.

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Doctors In The Dock. Medical practitioners on trial in Nuremberg for intentional unethical malpractice on behalf of the German state.

Medicine is a powerful profession and was especially so under the National Socialist regime. The questions that need to be asked are:

  • How did a professional group that was internationally respected, scientifically innovative and ethically advanced, evolve an understanding of their social, ethical and scientific obligations only to lead them to use their advanced medical knowledge and professional ethics to justify committing cruel and heinous medical crimes against humanity?
  • How did healers become killers?

It was precisely the success and power of the profession in Nazi Germany that led to its hubris and collusion with a racist political regime. These physicians were not peripheral actors in the attempt at collective regeneration. Rather, they were central and crucial to the running of Auschwitz and the other camps as well as to the evolution and fulfillment of broader extermination policies.

Medicine was abused then and is constantly in danger of being abused today. It is not enough just to say, “Never Again.” As medical professionals, we have a responsibility to act so that this does not happen again, certainly within our profession. Education on ‘Medicine and the Holocaust’ can contribute significantly to professional identity formation of healthcare students. This history can help to instill a moral compass in future generations of healthcare professionals. Learning from the past can provide them with a way of reflecting and discussing inherent medical challenges in the present. Using this lens, we can encourage the aversion to racism and overt prejudice. But in addition to the value that this discourse can have on the next generation of medical professionals, the inclusion of education on the Holocaust in today’s world can also do much to vanquish the evil that is antisemitism.

75 years after Auschwitz the time has come to teach!

When Healers became killers5
Shedding Light On A Dark Subject. This important casebook on the phenomenon of medical treatment and physicians’ behavior during the holocaust was edited by the article’s author,  Dr. Tessa Chelouche.

 

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Dr Tessa Chelouche, born in South-Africa, is a Family Physician in Israel. She is the Co-chair of the Unesco Deaprtment for Bioethics and the Holocaust, Unesco Chair of Bioethics, Haifa and the Co-director of the Maimonedes Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust.

 

 

*Feature Picture: Nazi Medicine: In the Shadow of the Reich & The Cross and the Star (1997) – studies the step by step process that led the German medical profession down an unethical road to genocide. It graphically documents the racial theories and eugenics principles that set the stage for the doctors’ participation in sterilization and euthanasia, the selection at the death camps, as well as inhuman and unethical human experimentation. Director John J. Michalczyk

 

 

 

 

 

What “Woke” Women Want?

By  Rolene Marks

In 2017 a movement was born. The Women’s March sprung to global consciousness with a host of well-coordinated marches in cities across the United State. Decked out with signs, banners and some highly questionable head gear (pussy hats anyone?), it looked like a movement that was poised to take on the important issues facing women today like gender parity, equality and sexual harassment.

You could bet your knitted pussy hat that every “woke” woman wanted to be a part of this. At last there seemed to be a collective voice and the leaders seemed so articulate, the issues were important, and all women could identify and there were celebrities! Lots of them – in questionable headgear.

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March On Washington. Decked out with banners, posters and pink ‘Pussy Hats’, women march to support rights for equality. In 2017 they marched for their first time in Washington, D.C

But then it changed.

It seemed that this noble feminist movement met hatred at the intersection of consciousness and antisemitism. ‘Intersectionality’, which is the latest buzzword in understanding how all aspects of social and political identities discrimination overlap, made its way to the March. It is not necessarily a bad thing because it is important that we examine and look for solutions where issues such as race and gender meet but in an age of rising antisemitism, it seemed that not all hatred were deemed equal.

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Not All Are Equal. Who is “her” and what does “her” support or not support particularly when it comes to Jews and Israel?

At a number of these marches and their offshoots which included the Chicago Dyke March, it became evident that Jewish women who identified as Zionist were effectively not welcome. On this occasion, rainbow flags with a Star of David on them were banned. The reason given was that it the Star of David “looked too much like the Israeli flag” and it was a symbol of “violent nationalism”.

But it was the leadership of the movement that caused the greatest controversy – and concern.

It is important to have allies that support your cause but what happens when your allies are people like Louis Farrakhan?

Three of the original leaders, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez used antisemitic language and blamed Jewish people for exploiting people of colour. They denied this charge but refused to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a blatantly antisemitic and anti-gay conspiracy theorist with whom Mallory and Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour have considerable ties.

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Quite A TIME. Women’s Match organizers Carmen Perez, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, and Linda Sarsour attend the TIME 100 Gala on April 25, 2017, in New York. CHARLES SYKES / INVISION / AP

Mallory referred to Farrakhan as the GOAT – Greatest Of All Time.

Accusations of in-fighting, antisemitism and mismanagement of funds, eventually led to all three stepping down as leaders of the Women’s March. However, their replacement was hardly an improvement.

Zahra Billoo – famous for statements like blaming Hamas for firing rockets at (Apartheid) Israel which was like “blaming a woman for punching her rapist”  – was their replacement. Billoo was appointed on a Monday and then quicker than you can say let’s knit a pussy hat, was booted out on the Wednesday.

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March Of Folly. This cartoon captures Zahra Billoo throwing an antisemitic fit. No sooner had Billoo, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) been appointed to replace Linda Sarsour as a board member of the Women’s March, her appointment was cancelled. The Women’s March realized there was no sense replacing an anti-Semite with an even bigger anti-Semite.

Billoo hit out after her firing claiming to have been targeted by an “Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists” as a retaliation for her “support of Palestinian human rights.” She declared that her heart was broken upon seeing the leaders of the Women’s March “casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman.” She defiantly affirmed that she stood by her words, as she had “told the truth.”

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Not all hatreds are equal? Zahra Billoo was fired for antisemitic tweets.  (CAIR).

Just when you thought that their course had been corrected, more shocking news was released early 2020.

It has now come to light that notorious anti-Israel organization, Code Pink, is listed as co-founders of the Women’s March. Code Pink are known for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) which is anti-Israel as well as  supporting a nuclear Iran and Hamas. Oh the irony! If they only knew how women were treated by Iran or Hamas……

What “Woke” Women Want2
True Colours. The Dark Side Of Code Pinker Ariel Gold

Why is this all important?  As movements like the Women’s March, #MeToo and many others that are fighting justifiably so for gender equality are gaining momentum, so too, is global antisemitism.

There is hardly a day that goes by without appalling incidents occurring all over the world, and in the USA alone, antisemitism has risen dramatically – and violently.

Having notorious antisemites on the roster does not bode well for a movement that prides itself on being “woke”.

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Code Pink support a nuclear Iran which has called for the distruction of Israel. (photo credit: YURI GRIPAS / REUTERS)

If the Women’s March wants to regain a sense of credibility when it comes to advocating not just for gender equality for social justice across the board, they need to lead by example and take a stand against antisemitism. Failure to do so is a great injustice to the women’s movement and all who claim to fight for social equality.

Perhaps it is time the “woke” wake up!

 

*Feature Picture: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

Healing Bodies to Healing Relations

Nurses From Gaza Train In Israel

By David E. Kaplan

In the first week of January 2020, five nurses from the Gaza Strip, joined eleven fellow Palestinians from the West Bank who arrived in Israel for four days of intense but innovative medical training.

It was conducted by Israeli physicians through a collaboration between Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR) and the Medical Simulation Center (MSR) at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

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Top Training. Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, the hospital training the Palestinian nurses is one of the finest hospitals in the Middle East, treating over 1,500,000 patients annually from around the world.

The training programme proved a revelation to all sixteen participants, particularly to those from Gaza.  “It’s different than I thought,”  Akram Abu Salah, a nurse from the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post. “The people are very nice. You have Jews and Palestinians working together. It minimizes the gaps between us.”

Clearly, there is no substitute for direct contact as Salah reveals.  “I could not imagine how this country would be or how it works.”

While there has been collaboration between MSR and PHR for a number of years training Palestinian physicians and ambulance drivers, this was the first time that training was extended to nurses.

The sixteen participating nurses learned new practices in the field of primary medicine, focusing on skills they might require in emergency situations such as how to  stop bleeding, intubation  – the placement of a flexible plastic tube into the trachea to maintain an open airway – and chest drains. A special session was held on advanced cardiovascular life support.

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Training To Save Lives. Palestinians, Farid Mustafa from Nablus (left) and Akram Abu Salah from Gaza train on a high-tech mannequin at Sheba Medical Center in central Israel. (photo credit: Marc Sellem)

This ‘life-saving’ training would end each day at 5.00pm whereafter in the evenings, the Palestinians engaged in social activities with their Israeli counterparts.

Four out of five of the Gazan participants had never been outside of the Gaza Strip, so the trip had been quite an experience.

All were amazed by the size of Sheba and the sophisticated training available through MSR.

The 2,400-square-meter Medical Simulation Center was founded in 2001  to lead a nationwide effort to introduce new standards and innovative approaches in health care training and patient-safety education for the benefit of the people of Israel. A press release on the center describes the facility “as a virtual hospital” that “encompasses the whole spectrum of medical simulation modalities – from role-playing actors for communication and clinical-skills training to cutting-edge, computer-driven, full-body mannequins that enable team training for challenging and high risk clinical conditions.”

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Medical Simulation Center (MSR) at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

 

It was “action stations” – close to real live situations. Teamwork is essential. One of the participants carefully placed an oxygen mask on the $100,000 blonde-haired dummy while another started to perform CPR as a third set a pulse oximeter around the dummy’s finger.

Communicating in English to each other, the Palestinian nurses continued to attempt to resuscitate the mannequin, as their Israeli instructor observed them. Minutes later, the “patient” woke up from ‘its’ cardiac arrest – ‘its’ condition stabilized.

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MSR – Simulation of Emergency Department Sheba.

Exposure to this kind of intense and innovative simulated training is invaluable.

Amitai Ziv, the founder and director of the Center for Medical Simulation, said that the courses at the facility aim to allow the health professionals to learn in a safe atmosphere.

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Visionary. Amitai Ziv, the founder and head of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation.

With a third most common cause of death worldwide being medical errors – estimates show 250,000-400,000 people die annually in American hospitals because of them – Ziv, a former pilot in the Israeli Air Force, explains:

The message embedded in the programs here is let us err and reflect on our errors in a safe environment.”

Working Together

“I am very happy for the chance to attend this advanced trauma course. In Gaza, we have plenty of problems, and there is so much we can learn from Israel,” said Abu Salah.

He was clear that the  Gazan Ministry of Healthwants to me to absorb this experience in Israel and bring it back to Gaza.”

Salah reveals that hospitals in Gaza are often understaffed and lack basic necessities and medications, including chemotherapy drugs.

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No Fuel, No Services. An employee of the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza at the Beit Hanun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018, when it ran out of fuel. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

However, because of the fluid security situation, it is quite a complicated mission bringing the participants from Gaza into Israel. It takes persistence and perseverance.

Despite advanced application and pre-approval, the Gazan nurses were nevertheless delayed entry for a day for reasons of security.

Abu Salah only received the call at 11 p.m. from the Gazan Ministry of Health the night before he was granted entry and told, “tomorrow, you will travel to Israel.”

He was sleeping when he received the call, “but I packed my bag and prepared to go,” he told local media. “My wife knows I am here, but my extended family does not know. I can only tell them when I get back.”

While Salah said in Israel his visit was supported by the Hamas-run health ministry, he admitted to being unsure how he would be received upon his return and uncertain of the  questions he might be asked by Hamas officials.

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Heartwarming. Together with Israeli instructors, a group of Palestinian nurses from the West Bank and Gaza Strip huddle around a high-tech mannequin that for the sake of the exercise has gone into a cardiac arrest

Going To Gaza

However, its not only Palestinian medical professionals coming to Israel but Israelis professionals traveling to Gaza.

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Professor Raphael Walden. Deputy Director of the Sheba Medical Center, in charge of Risk Management, Quality Assurance and Medical Education and recipient of France’s  “Officier de la legion d’Honneur”.

Israeli president for Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Prof. Rafi Walden, reveals how nearly every month he helps arrange missions of Israeli doctors to Gaza to perform advanced surgery and provide training to Gaza physicians by Israeli experts in the realms of gastroenterology, oncology and more.

It’s appalling,” Walden said of the situation in Gaza. “Just terrible conditions. The main hospital in Gaza has empty shelves; they are missing critical medications. There was a time they did not have the liquid needed to clean the skin before surgery. Everything is missing. It is a real humanitarian disaster there.”

Walden believes that despite the challenges, PHR is creating “a microcosm of goodwill and understanding in this crazy situation of conflict. Beside the medical aspect of the work, another aspect no less important is the opportunity to meet with people and establish common ground. It’s a peace building activity – and a little light and the end of the tunnel.” 

Physicians for Human Rights Israel covered the costs of the programme as well as the attendees’ expenses including hotel rooms, transportation and meals. Ran Goldstein, the executive director of the organization, said the total cost was approximately NIS 90,000 ($26,000).

Ziv explains that while the courses for the Palestinian health participants aims to substantially upgrade their standards of professionalism, there is also the invaluable benefit of building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians.

Since Israelis and Palestinians often meet on the killing and battle front, we strongly believe it is important that they meet on the health and education front,” he said, adding that he holds that “professional relationships among human beings can bring about trust and friendliness.”

One 42-year-old nurse from Nablus, Farid Mustafa, said that medicine is a field that transcends political and national divides.

It does not matter who you are — an Israeli or Palestinian, Jew or Muslim, local or foreigner,” he said. “In health, we see and treat everyone as a human being. We take this approach in our interactions with sick persons and our colleagues here and elsewhere.”

Supporting his sentiment, Farid recounted an incident when he had personally provided first aid to Israelis involved in a car crash near Ramallah in the West Bank two years earlier.

I saw that two vehicles had collided. I pulled over to the side of the road and helped them,” he said. “When I did that, the identity of the injured persons made no difference to me. All I saw were people in need of aid.”

So too for Ayman Ibrahaim Amaya, a 43-year-old nurse from Qalqilya , who said he hoped he would be able to return to the Center for Medical Simulation in the future.

This is my first time doing a training in Israel and it has been very beneficial,” he said. “So I wish that it will not be the last.”

Future lives depend that “it will not be the last.”

With the goodwill of people on either side of the divide, it will not be.

לבריאות  and  صحة جيدة (“To health!” in Hebrew and Arabic)

 

A Burning Issue, Doused

Israel ingenuity proves  ‘Light’ Years” ahead with its ‘Light Blade’ laser, ready to counter Gaza’s burning kites and fire balloons

By David E. Kaplan

Having repeatedly tried to devise life-saving responses to counter existential threats from Gaza – most notably the ‘Iron Dome’ that intercepts missiles and sophisticated technology to thwart terror tunnels – next up for Israel inventiveness was a solution to deal with the threat of kites and balloons.

Kites and balloons?

While kites and balloons would conjure up in most parts of the world images of ‘kid’s stuff’, not so in Israel’s Western Negev where for local residents, they are associated with death, devastation and destruction.

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Play With Fire. A battery of young Gazans directing their lethal kites to Israel.

These balloons and kites have caused over eight thousand acres of Israel farmland, forests and nature reserves being reduced to burnt-black swaths across a once verdant landscape.

However, what a difference a year makes in the “Start-up Nation”!

In October 2018, a writer in Ynetnews penned an article titled ‘Kite, Balloon Terrorism Continues Scorching Israel’s Land’.  Lamenting that despite the IDF’s efforts following 100 days of kites and balloons terrorism, which caused massive damage to agricultural produce and destroying Israeli land, the writer noted that “the threat was only increasing.”

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Field Of Fire. An IDF soldier runs in a field near Kibbutz Mefalsim, which was set on fire by balloons from in Gaza. In 2018, the Mefalsim was the first location set ablaze by a fire balloon. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The article further noted that while the IDF was operating a system able to detect and track the balloons and kites, they were however, still “not being intercepted while in the air.”

Rising to the challenge, Israel has come up with an answer.

It was revealed in The Jerusalem Post this past 2019 Christmas Day that  “Israeli security forces have unveiled a new laser-beam system designed to take down incendiary aerial devices which have burned countless acres of land over the past two years as well as drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace.”

Dubbed the ‘Light Blade’, the system was developed by engineers in the private sector along with researchers from Ben Gurion University  of the Negev (BGU) and technological departments within the Israel Police and IDF.

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Blade Runner. Eagle eye ‘Light Blade’ ready to laser any income incendiary balloons or kites.

Trial ‘Balloon’

Successfully tested by the police, it is believed the Light Blade system is the world’s first system to destroy deadly “fire kites and arson balloons”. Not only is this a game-changer to counter the balloon and kite threat from Gaza, trials optimistically further  indicate that the Light Blade would also neutralize armed drones – a threat mostly emanating from Iranian-sponsored terrorists in the north.

The Light Blade is a laser system that looks much like a miniature Iron Dome – the more familiar anti-missile defense system that protects Israel from short-range rocket attack. The Light Blade tracks the suspicious airborne object, locks onto it, and blasts it with a unique laser beam. If the incoming projectile is a balloon loaded with flammable material, it will explode in the air. If it is a drone, its motor will be ZAPPED forcing it to crash.

The result – another major threat to Israel neutralized.

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Taking On Terror. Israel’s new Light Blade laser-defense system set to neutralize the balloon and kite threat from Gaza. (Credit: Israel Police)

The Charge Of The Light Blade

The Light Blade can work night and day and has a two-kilometer (1.2 miles) range. It is also relatively inexpensive to produce which will enable the security forces to equip themselves quickly with a large supply.

The system was developed over the past year by three experts in electro-optics and lasers: Prof. Ami Yeshaya, Dr. Rami Aharoni and Dr. Udi Ben Ami. They established a company called OptiDefense to create the technology, signing a cooperative agreement with the police led by Border Police chief, Yaakov Shabtai.

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Leading Light. Leading the ‘Light Blade’ project, Border Police chief, Yaakov Shabtai.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 News that witnessed a string of tests, the Light Blade passed with flying colors.

The system provides an almost complete response to the threat of balloons and kites and provides an effective and safe solution to the drone threat,” a beaming Shabtai proudly told the network.

Hopefully this will  mean the end of the arson balloon and kite threat that have caused millions of dollars of ecological damage in the south, burning thousands of acres of cropland and forests.

Who knows what new threats may emerge that will forever require Israeli ingenuity to neutralize!

C’est la vie

 

Standing Strong

By Gina Raphael

Almost daily, we receive news of anti-Semitic activity in the United States; whether it is Jews attacked, houses of worship damaged or other forms of hatred. Last week, I came across a company called Offensive Crayons, with a colour they market called Auschwitz Ash. To add further insult, the Company also manufactures an adult colouring book, Little Dictators, featuring Adolf Hitler in a comedic form.

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Being Offensive Has No Bounds. A grey crayon called Auschwitz Ash.

At a time when anti-Semitic activity is at an all-time high, these types of products ignite the flame that encourages hatred by dehumanizing and minimizing the lives of those brutally murdered. This product is not alone. There have been Christmas ornaments and beach towels featuring Auschwitz on them as well. There have been campaigns to have these items removed from Amazon and other retailers.

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Trivializing The Holocaust. A page in in colouring book of Hitler’s mountaintop retreat – Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.

We must be committed to “Standing Strong” against hatred. In a letter to the Company, I explained to them that during the Holocaust, 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. At, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Jews were sent to gas chambers and their bodies cremated in ovens to ASH. More than one million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz alone.

I explained that “Hitler compared Jews to germs. He stated that diseases cannot be controlled unless you destroy their causes.”  Hitler set out to exterminate the Jews across the world and eliminated 2/3 of the Jews in Europe. Featuring Adolph Hitler in a coloring book trivializes the horrors he committed.”

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Sick Society. Draw Hitler using a crayon named ‘Auschwitz Ash’.

 

I was moved by a quote that had relevancy on the topic from Rabbi David Saperstein. “the Holocaust is used as the ultimate benchmark for our generation of the worst atrocity ever committed against one group of people.”

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The book that contains the word JEW 6,000,000 times.

When my husband and I were honored by the Anti-Defamation League several years ago as Humanitarians of the Year, Abe Foxman, the former National Director of the ADL,  gave me a book that I keep in my office to remind me every day of the atrocities committed by the Nazis. It is powerful and incredibly moving.  The book has the word JEW written on each page with 40 columns per page and 120 lines per page. The word JEW is written 4800 times per page and there are 1250 pages in the book. The book contains the word JEW 6,000,000 times, conveying the magnitude of the tragedy. I used this book to explain to the creators of the Company the magnitude of the horrors at hand.

We must stand strong against these types of products. Holocaust distortion is a form of antisemitism, prejudice against or hatred of Jews. Holocaust distorters generally perpetuate long-standing anti-Semitic stereotypes, hateful beliefs that helped lay the groundwork for the Holocaust. Holocaust distortion & misuse undermine the truth and our understanding of history.

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Shaming The Shoah. The damaging impact of these commercial ‘fun’ products have on kids.

 

 

 

About the writer:

Gina RaphaelGina Raphael is as an entrepreneur and business owner in Beverly Hills, CA. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Gina is Chair of  WIZO Los Angeles (Women’s International Zionist Organization), and  Chair Israel Bonds Western Region. She is the mother of three daughters – Danielle Gross (21), Sydney Gross (19) and Mia Gross (10).