Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Germany: DİTİB claims hate speech among members against Jews, Christians not known by administration

Via TurkishMinute:
The German-based Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) has claimed that its central administration was not aware of anti-Semitic and anti-Christian messages posted by its members on Facebook, vowing to investigate them.

Deutsche Welle reported on the statement of DİTİB, an organization that has nearly 800,000 members and 900 associations connected to mosques of the Turkish congregation in Germany. The country hosts at least 3 million people of Turkish origin.

DİTİB Executive Director Nevzat Yaşar Aşıkoğlu issued a statement in Cologne describing the hate messages as provocative and said that such actions would have consequences.

Hessen radio announced on Sunday that DİTİB’s Facebook account spread hate speech against Jews and Christians in Turkish.

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Germany: Suspect arrested in bombing that hit Jewish migrants in 2000

Via Times of Israel:
A 50-year-old German far-right extremist suspected of carrying out a bloody bomb attack that injured 10 immigrants — six of them Jewish — in 2000 was arrested after bragging to fellow inmates about the crime, officials said Wednesday.

Dusseldorf prosecutors said the suspect, identified only as Ralf S. in line with Germany privacy laws, was arrested Tuesday in the nearby town of Ratingen, ending an almost 17-year hunt for the perpetrator.

The suspect had been a questioned by police soon after the bombing at Dusseldorf-Wehrhahn train station on July 27, 2000, but wasn’t arrested at the time due to a lack of evidence.

Prosecutors said they received a tip from a prisoner in 2014 that the man had bragged about the crime, prompting them to re-open the case and follow up 330 leads.

The victims were on their way home from a German-language class when the pipe bomb exploded. Among the wounded was a 26-year-old woman from Ukraine who suffered a miscarriage.

A few months after the attack, a Dusseldorf synagogue was firebombed, prompting fears of a wave of far-right violence. German news site Spiegel Online reported that the suspect was known for having extremist views and operated a store selling military gear near the site of the bombing.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Germany: AfD politician under investigation for sharing picture ‘asking Hitler to come back’

Via Independent:
A German politician is under investigation for allegedly circulating a photo of Adolf Hitler and pleading for the Nazi leader’s return.

Elena Roon, the Alternative for Germany’s (AfD) regional chair and parliamentary candidate in Nuremberg, is accused of sharing the image with fellow members of the populist party in a WhatsApp chat.

“Missed since 1945”, the caption reportedly read. “Adolf please get in touch! Germany needs you! The German people!”

Party officials said they were treating the allegations very seriously, forming a panel to investigate Ms Roon, although it was unclear whether she would be removed as an election candidate.

In a statement, she said she didn’t want Hitler to return “under any circumstances”, admitting she posted the images but insisting she did not condone them.

“I distance myself from right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism,” Ms Roon added.

The controversy comes as the AfD moves to expel its leader in the region of Thuringia, after he provoked outrage in Germany for calling the Berlin Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame”.

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UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus

Via Guardian:
Universities are being urged to act swiftly to tackle antisemitism on campuses after a series of incidents in recent weeks – including Holocaust denial leaflets, fascist stickers and swastikas etched on and around campuses – which have fuelled anxiety among Jewish students.

Leading academics, student representatives and experts on antisemitism expressed concern at the widespread nature of the incidents, which have affected a number of higher education institutions across the country.

Earlier this week it emerged that a swastika and a “Rights for Whites” sign had been found at halls of residence at Exeter, which the university described after an initial investigation as “an ill-judged, deeply offensive joke”.

There have also been incidents reported at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex and University College London recently, which the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said indicated some level of coordination. It is thought to be part of a wider spike in hate crime targeting Jews and other minority communities.

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Israeli envoy raps Russia for blocking anti-Semitism definition

Via Times of Israel:
Israel’s ambassador in Moscow criticized Russia for blocking the international adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism, which he linked to a recent string of allegedly racist statements about Jews by Russian politicians.

Gary Koren made his unusual statement on anti-Semitism in Russia in an interview with Interfax, the news agency reported Wednesday. Koren singled out Russia for blocking the definition’s adoption by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an intergovernmental group of 57 member states.

“The OSCE has attempted to determine a text, which ought to define what can be classified as anti-Semitism and what its working definition is,” the envoy said. “We are discussing this issue with the Russian Foreign Ministry and hope that Russia will adopt this definition in the future.”
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Europe: Top European rabbi says synagogues no longer safe haven

Via The Jerusalem Post:
“Synagogues are no longer a safe haven,” a top European rabbi said Sunday at a panel discussion about the situation of Jews across the continent, held in the framework of the Munich Security Conference.

“At the back of almost every Jew’s mind is the possibility of what could happen. Sadly, in Copenhagen, Brussels and in Paris, that has become a reality,” Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said at a breakfast event he was hosting titled “Securing Jewish Communities across Europe.” 
“The Jewish community finds itself targeted from a number of directions; from the extreme Right, the extreme Left and Islamic terrorism,” he said, referring to terrorist attacks that have targeted Jews in European countries in recent years. 
The event took the form of a panel discussion featuring MK Tzipi Livni, Deputy CEO for Diplomacy of the World Jewish Congress Maram Stern, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization Dr. Peter R. Neumann and former director of Europol Jürgen Storbeck. German journalist Richard Schneider moderated the discussion. 
Stern expressed a similar sentiment to Goldschmidt, noting that while he feels comfortable walking the streets in general, when the synagogue is his destination he begins to feel uneasy. (...)
Neumann described Jews as a “priority target.” 
“They are the first ones to be targeted.
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German party condemns BDS, compares movement to pre-WWII antisemitism

Via The Jerusalem Post (by Benjamin Weinthal):
German politicians from the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU) in Hamburg submitted a resolution in early February calling on the state senate to take decisive action against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, deeming it as antisemitic.

The CDU is the opposition party in the government, while the Social Democrats and the Green Party make up the governing coalition in Hamburg.

The CDU politicians condemned “BDS initiatives and activities as antisemitic,” adding that the senate, as well as government agencies, should assess all activities as hostile to Israel and take actions against BDS.

The resolution appears to the be first state government legislative act seeking to blunt BDS. The CDU sponsors of the resolution are Carsten Ovens, Karin Prien, André Trepoll, Dennis Thering, Birgit Stöver, Dennis Gladiator, and Jörg Hamann.

The resolution urged Hamburg to support further initiatives to strengthen German-Israel bilateral relations. According to the resolution, “In previous months, many different countries have shown a clear resistance against the BDS movement. National and local parliaments and administrations – for example, in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Paris – decided to reject these boycott activities.”

The northern port city of Hamburg is both a city and a federal German state.

The resolution stated: “Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse antisemitism.
The CDU compared BDS to the National Socialists who boycotted Jews in the 1930s. BDS dresses up antisemitism in the “new clothes of the 21st century” as anti-Zionism, the party said.

The anti-BDS resolution was in response to the University of Hamburg’s appointment of Farid Esack, a pro-BDS Islamic theologian from South Africa. The advisory board of the Academy of World Religions at Hamburg University, where Esack served as a guest professor from October to mid-February, distanced itself from Esack.

In a statement to Die Welt reporter Jakob Koch, the academy said it is “totally unacceptable from the view of the advisory council when a comprehensive boycott of Israel is called for and thereby a break in every form of cooperation with Israeli universities, cultural institutions and other institutions.” 
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Europe: ‘Holocaust tourism’ laid bare in eye-opening documentary by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa

Via JTA:
How do people behave when they visit a concentration camp or a Holocaust memorial?
Do they act as if there are in place of reverence or mourning? Or do they behave as crowds do at any tourist attraction — taking selfies, goofing around, snacking and drinking as they amble along?
Just what constitutes appropriate behavior at a Holocaust memorial site has been a hot topic recently. Last month, the Israeli-German writer and satirist Shahak Shapira reignited the public debate about “Holocaust tourism” with a website “shaming” tourists who appear in flippant selfies taken at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Shapira’s site, titled Yolocaust, superimposed smiling tourists with gruesome images from the Holocaust, such as piles of corpses.
“I find it dangerous that this is becoming normal,” Shapira told a German news program shortly before shutting down the project, saying it had served its purpose. “It kind of suggests that people are not dealing with the real purpose of this memorial.” (...)
And now the behavior of tourists at Holocaust memorial sites — and the tough questions surrounding it — is explored in a probing documentary film, “Austerlitz,” by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa. The film will have its U.S. premiere at the Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight festival on Sunday and Monday in New York City, but it has already garnered praise after showings last year at major international film festivals in Toronto and Venice.
Presented without commentary, the 90-minute black-and-white film is a series of long, lingering shots of tourists walking around Dachau and Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp near Berlin. Loznitsa placed stationary cameras around the camps, capturing thousands of visitors sauntering in and out of the frame. It is unclear whether Loznitsa hid his cameras, although the tourists seem oblivious to them.
Most of the visitors seem as if they are walking in a shopping mall or perhaps an art museum. They mostly look aimless, restless, tired and bored. Some laugh and smile as they file into a room, like they are headed to a party. Some stand out due to their unfortunate sartorial choices — one wears a T-shirt with an image of a skull, another with the phrase “Cool story, bro.” Some take smiling selfies or lighthearted group photos in front of Sachsenhausen’s “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate. 
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The Israelization of antisemitism

Monika Schwarz-Friesel & Jehuda Reinharz @ Jerusalem Post:
Between 2002 and 2012, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany received over 14,000 emails, letters, postcards and faxes from all regions of Germany. Figuring that this material could provide us a window into the contemporary German mind vis-à-vis Israel, we conducted a study of these messages and found that the vast majority began with criticisms of Israel’s policies but immediately deteriorated into antisemitic assaults. We call this phenomenon the “Israelization of antisemitism.”

We found a similar pattern in a smaller study of over 2,000 emails sent by citizens of eight European countries to the Israeli embassies in those countries. We believe that the results are representative of similar antisemitic discourse worldwide, including in the United States, as a recent ADL investigation showed that 2.6 million antisemitic messages were posted on Twitter between August 2015 and July 2016.

To be certain that we did not conflate anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments, we defined in advance the definitions of criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Jewish hatred.

Another startling conclusion of our study was that, contrary to popular assumptions, it is not exclusively alt-right, neo-Nazis and/or extreme left-wingers who think this way. On the contrary, the language of contemporary antisemitism, as in the past, is anchored in and spread by the educated mainstream as much as by fringe groups. Rather than physical attacks on Jews – with some exceptions – today’s assaults are verbal, ideological and cloaked in the guise of a critique of policies of the State of Israel.

Antisemitic attacks throughout the centuries have been grounded in demonizing Jews as the ultimate evil. This concept was found repeatedly in the messages we studied. For example, in one 2007 letter to an Israeli embassy, the writer states: “The Israelis are and remain, no matter what a show they put on, the greatest racists, war criminals, warmongers, murderers, child-murderers, violators of international law, torturers, robbers and thieves, Nazis, liars, [and] terrorists....” Another message sent to the embassy in 2008 announces plainly: “Here’s one in the kisser for you, you filthy Jew. You’re to blame for the misery in the world!”

In addition to demonization, a second millennia-long antisemitic idea delegitimizes the very existence of Jews, paving the way first for segregation and then elimination or genocide. Just as Jews have no right to exist, it is claimed, a state so abysmally evil and destructive has no right to exist. In the minds of these antisemites, Israel has become the collective Jew and should be destroyed.

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Greece: Footage shows Golden Dawn leadership at Nazi concert

Via Against Antisemitism:
A video footage from 2005 has emerged showing nearly the entire Golden Dawn leadership (Michaloliakos, Kassidiaris, Panagiotaros, Germenis, Matthaiopoulos and others) participating in a concert featuring Nazi salutes, the Nazi German war flag & the singing of the first verse of “Deutschland über alles.”

The slogans chanted from the crowd are the classic hate cries of the Hitler movement and are shouted in German: “Sieg Heil!” and “Juden raus!” (Jews out). They are raised in honour of two German Nazi performers, Michael Müller and Annett Müller. As the crowd shouts “Juden raus” Michael Müller interrupts them to say, in English: “Not only out. But exterminated.”
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UK: Student union clears president despite confirming she made anti-Semitic remarks

Via Jewish News:
The National Union of Students president will not be punished by the organisation, despite being found to have made comments capable of being seen as anti-Semitic.

A two-month NUS inquiry launched to ascertain whether Bouattia is an anti-Semite found that Bouattia made comments that “could be reasonably capable of being interpreted as anti-Semitic”.

Yet the report, leaked to The Daily Telegraph, recommended that no disciplinary action be taken.

Instead, Professor Carol Baxter, the NHS’s former equality chief who authored the report, proposed that Bouattia should apologise to escape any further action.

Baxter wrote that Bouattia had been “genuine in expressing her regret”, had “considered the impact of what she says” and had denounced anti-Semitism.

She ruled: “in light of the above mitigating circumstances no further action should be taken within the NUS disciplinary process.”

Bouattia called Birmingham University a “Zionist outpost in higher education” because it has “the largest Jsoc [Jewish student society] in the country and railed against “Zionist-led media outlets”.

She defended Palestinian terrorism as “resistance” and voted against condemning ISIS.

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Russia: Moscow’s Chief Rabbi Saddened by "Total Silence" From MPs in Anti-Semitism Row

Via Newsweek:
Moscow’s top rabbi has condemned the “total silence” from Russia’s parliament after its deputy speaker made comments which appeared to blame Jews for destroying cathedrals.

Pinchas Goldschmidt was referring to remarks made by Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy speaker of Russia’s lower house from the ruling United Russia party and the great-grandson of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.

Tolstoy had been asked to comment on protests against the planned transfer of state ownership of Russia’s St Isaac’s Cathedral to the Orthodox Church.

The demonstrations were featured in many liberal media outlets. The protesters, Tolstoy argued, were "working in various very respectable places—on radio stations, in legislative assemblies [and] continuing the work" of their ancestors, who had “destroyed our cathedrals after jumping over from the Pale of Settlement with revolvers in 1917."


Speaking to state news agency RIA Novosti, Goldschmidt said he was disappointed that lawmakers had not distanced themselves from Tolstoy’s words.

The rabbi stated that the deputy speaker’s words were not simply ignorance. “Germany has the highest level of culture in Europe but it spawned Nazism,” he said.

“What bothers me is something else—the reaction to this statement,” Goldschmidt said. “Instead of having Pyotr Tolstoy meet with the head of the Jewish Communities Federations of Russia, Alexandr Boroda, it would have been much more effective and pleasing if the head of [his] party in the lower house, speakers and other politicians distanced themselves from the aforementioned statement and made it known that they do not agree with this opinion. But from them, all that came was total silence.”

If there had been a similar situation in another country, the rabbi said, “we would have immediately seen how other non-Jewish politicians would distance themselves from such a statement. I am very saddened this did not occur here.”

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Netherlands: Muslim who preached ‘harmony’ unmasked as ‘rabid anti-Semite’

Via JTA:
A Muslim baker who moved many viewers in the Netherlands with his televised plea for coexistence and acceptance had called in the past for a genocide against Jews, Dutch papers revealed.

Rachid el Hajoui, an immigrant from Morocco who works at a pizza eatery in Tilburg, made his emotional appearance during an expose on the growing feeling of insecurity and estrangement in the Netherlands aired on the Feb. 14 evening news edition of the NOS public broadcaster, the country’s best-viewed station.

In the interview, el Hajoui confessed he feared going to mosque “because some crazy person might attack” there.

“Intelligent people incite to the most stupid actions. And stupid people do it,” he said.

El Hajoui complained about “the hateful voices” on Twitter and in the political establishment, ostensibly against Muslims.

“I stand for democracy, and I want my family and everyone to live in harmony,” he said.

But on Wednesday, the de Dagelijkse Standard conservative blog found some hateful statements by el Hajoui, whom they also discovered was once an activist for the Socialist Party and later with the progressive D66 party.

An English-language message posted on el Hajoui’s Twitter account in 2014 read: “Hitler was nothing compared to the Israelis. Someone would had to finish his work 60jr ago.” He also wrote in Dutch: “Only answer to Israel is total extermination, annihilate the cockroaches #1945 #wehateisrael.”

He also praised Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s authoritarian and Islamist leader, as “the only real man among Muslim leaders.”

The revelation exposed NOS to scathing criticism in other media for affording el Hajoui the opportunity to preach tolerance without addressing his past statements, which were revealed by Twitter users and bloggers who took an interest in him following the news broadcast.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

France: Antisemitism is “part of the air that we breathe” and its promoters are coalescing to form a toxic threat to the Jews

Via The Jewish Chronicle:
Antisemitism has become “part of the air that we breathe” in France and its various promoters — on the right and left — are coalescing to form a toxic threat to the country’s Jews.
So says Professor Andrew Hussey, director of the Centre for Post-Colonial Studies act London University’s School of Advanced Studies and the author of a groundbreaking study, The French Intifada, published in 2014.
He revealed that his French publisher would not accept the title, instead re-naming it Insurrections En France (“Uprisings In France”), because, Mr Hussey said, “He thought people would talk too much about the Jews.”
Prof Hussey said that currently “there is what is called the ‘new antisemitism’ in France,” which is mainly manifested in the banlieues, the poverty-stricken immigrant neighbourhoods in and around big cities. “There has always been the ‘antisemitism du salon’, or the old antisemitism [as expressed in Vichy] — that will never go away. But then there is the more populist antisemitism as expressed in the banlieues.”
He came across this when he began researching the murder of Ilan Halimi, the young French Jew who was killed in Paris in 2006 after weeks of torture. “I began talking to people in the banlieues in 2008, and it was very contentious politically, because the only person who described it as an antisemitic crime was [former president Nicholas] Sarkozy. The government wanted to put it down to social delinquency and were in complete denial about the antisemitism. I wanted to find out if it was true or not.”
He discovered, after talking to young people and gang members, “antisemitism as a form of youth revolt, despite the fact that they admitted they had never met anyone Jewish”. In the banlieues, he said, “you have a kind of civil war between Jews and Arabs which was exported from Algeria, where they all came from”.
Though there is denial in some echelons of Jewish society, Prof Hussey said “Jews on the ground know it’s real”. (...) 
The “casual antisemitism of youth revolt” found a darker expression in the 2012 killings in Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, who murdered seven people, including three children, at a Jewish school. During a 30-hour siege after which he was shot dead by police, Merah said he had attacked the school because, “the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine”. (...)
In every country, Prof Hussey said, the Israel-Palestine situation had an effect on the local debate. “But when it is downloaded into France, where the stew of antisemitism is so particular, it takes on this poisoned energy. It’s to do with atmosphere. And now, I’m starting to feel that this stuff has long since left the library [and academic research] and become part of the air that we breathe.”
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Austria: Student groups reject BDS movement targeting Israel

It is important that Austrian students publicly stated that there is a problem with the BDS movement and that it's a new form of antisemitism.  We will see if student groups in other European countries will do the same.

Via The Jerusalem Post (Benjamin Weinthal):
Student associations at the University of Vienna issued a statement on Wednesday, declaring their opposition to every form of anti-Semitism, including the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement targeting Israel. 
“As student representatives it is important for us to criticize the academic boycott against Israel, which entirely excludes Israeli academics,” the student council of the University of Vienna said. (...) 
Camila Garfias, a member of the association of socialist students (VSStÖ), said “Anti-Semitic violence is part of daily life in Europe.” The association of socialist students is affiliated with the Social Democratic Party in Austria. (SPÖ). Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann is from the SPÖ. 
The student group noted that Jews in France no longer feel safe and are immigrating to Israel. An anti-Semitic riot  took place against the Israeli soccer Maccabi Haifa in Salzburg; businesses in Paris were vandalized with anti-Semitic slogans, as well as Synagogues in Germany. The students said their examples of the manifestations of anti-Semitism are just a few and anti-Semitism remains part and parcel of everyday life in Europe. 
The Green Party students (GRAS), the Socialist students, and Communist students-Left List, which are part of the Austrian Students Union, blasted BDS in their joint statement.
The groups form the governing coalition in the Austrian student parliament at the University of Vienna.
"As a student organization on the University of Vienna, we condemn every form of anti-Semitism, as well as from German nationalist fraternities, and anti-Semitism in the new form of BDS," Karin Stanger from the Green Party student group said. 
The Left List student Jana Reischl  slammed the extremist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)  for spreading "anti-Semitic cartoons and minimizing the crimes of National Socialism.“
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