Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Visit to the Old and New Hells of Europe

by Alan M. Dershowitz
May 17, 2016

For the full article go to:  http://tinyurl.com/jpa5q77

I just returned from a week-long journey through Hell! It began with a visit to the site of the Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps in Poland (built by Nazi Germany during its occupation of the country), as a participant of the March of the Living, following a conference commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Nuremberg Laws and the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials. My week was consumed with recurring evidence of the worst crime ever perpetrated by human beings on other human beings – the Holocaust.

I traveled from the death camps to several small Polish towns from which my grandparents emigrated well before the Holocaust, leaving behind relatives and friends. During the course of my travels, I discovered the fate of two of my relatives. Hanna Deresiewicz (an original spelling of my family name) was a 16-year-old girl living in the small town of Pilzno when the Nazis arrived; she was separated from her siblings and parents. "The soldiers took several of the most beautiful Jewish girls for sex, and then killed them. [Among those] taken [was] Hanna Deresiewicz, 16."

I also learned that another Deresiewics, named Benjamin, survived, though his wife and five children, along with his parents and siblings were all murdered. He may have been Hanna's father, although I can't document that. In the book Schindler's Ark, on which the movie Schindler's List was base, the following account is given: "[The Commandant of Auschwitz] suspended his 15 year old orderly, Poldek Dereshowitz, from the ringbolts in his office ..." Although the book is fictionalized account, it is based on the recollections of an eyewitness. I cannot, therefore, be sure of the veracity of that episode. But seeing the name Dereshowitz associated with Auschwitz had an impact on me.

This is not the first time I have visited Nazi death camps. I was fully familiar with the statistical evidence of how six million Jews were systematically murdered. I was also familiar with how the Nazi death machine searched out Jews in the furthest corners of Nazi occupied Europe, even as far as the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea, and transported them to Auschwitz to gas them. 

I also knew that this was the only time in human history when people were brought from far distances to camps designed for one purpose only – to kill every possible Jew they could, find no matter where they lived. And I knew that because this was part of a planned genocide of the Jewish People, it was most important to kill every child, woman and man capable of producing future Jews.

But this visit, during which I learned the fate of members of my own family, brought the horrors home to me in a manner more personal than any statistic could provide. I was traveling with my wife and daughter, and I repeatedly imagined what it must have felt like for the parents and spouses of the murdered Jews to realize that everything precious to them was being annihilated, and that there would be no one left to morn them or to carry their seed to future generations.

From the old Hell, Poland, I traveled to a new Hell, called Hungary. Budapest is a beautiful city, but it too, provided a hellish end to its Jewish residents in the final months of the Second World War, when Hungarian Nazis turned the Blue Danube into a red mass grave. They shot their Jewish neighbors and dumped their bodies into the Danube River, even as the Nazis were retreating. And now in modern-day Budapest, I was told of the resurgence of Nazism among many ordinary Hungarians. An increasingly popular fascist party, Jobbik, boasts of its anti-Semitism and of its desire to rid Hungary of its few remaining Jews. The Jobbik party in Hungary also hates Israel, and everything else that is a manifestation of Jewishness.

I ended my trip meeting with a Jewish man of Greek background who told me that his grandfather was murdered by the Nazis and that he was now being targeted by Greek fascists for his outspoken defense of Israel and the Jewish people. Athens, too, has become a hotbed of Jew-hatred, with is popular fascist Golden Dawn party.

There was not a moment during my visit to Europe that I was not reminded of that continent's sordid history with regard to the Jewish people. Now, many Europeans — the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who were complicit in the murder of six million Jews — have turned against the nation state of the Jewish People with a vengeance. This time the bigotry emanates mostly from the hard left, but has the support of many on the new fascist hard right. The British Labour Party is as rife with hatred of the Jewish People and Jewish Nation as is the Hungarian fascist Jobbik party.

 Once again, European Jews are caught between the extremes of the Black and the Red. Extremists on both sides seek the demise of Israel, arguing that there is no place in this world for one state that is overtly Jewish in its character, despite the universal acceptance of multiple Muslim and Christian nations. Other Europeans seek to boycott Israel's products, its professors, and its performers. While still others simply apply a double standard to its actions — a standard they apply to no other nation, including their own.

My visit to Europe made one thing unmistakably clear: if there is any group in the world that needs a safe homeland — a sanctuary from bigotry and hatred — it is the Jewish people. When Hitler was willing to expel them from Europe, before deciding to exterminate them, no country — not even the United States or Canada — would give them asylum. Britain closed the doors of what is now Israel to them. They had no place to go. So they were murdered by the Nazis and their willing executioners throughout Europe. There is no group whose history entitles it to a safe and secure homeland more than the Jewish people.

For reasons that are difficult to explain, the hatred of the Jewish people and its nation defies rationality, but it is as real as the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the emerging fascist parties of Greece and Hungary. Jews today continue to be scapegoated in many parts of the world, and their nation state is demonized at the United Nations, on university campuses, in the media and in legislative assemblies. Following the Holocaust, there seemed to be an understanding that Jews would no longer be victimized. Now, less than a century after the Nazis came to power, that moratorium on Jew-hatred seems to have expired, as the memory of the Holocaust grows dim in most parts of the world.

My week-long visit to Hell reaffirmed my commitment to defend Israel's right to exist, to speak out for Israel when it is unfairly attacked, and to defeat its enemies in the marketplace of ideas. We owe nothing less to the victims of the worst crime in the history of humanity — a crime that could not have occurred without the complicity of most of the world. And a crime that will not recur if there is a strong and secure Israel.

Video of the week - Lebanese Muslim converts to Judaism -  http://tinyurl.com/jt9aj49


Thursday, May 19, 2016

‘Sykes-Picot’ and Israel

By Zalman Shuval 18th May 2016
For the full article go to: http://tinyurl.com/z2ql2ge
November 2, 1917, the date of the Balfour Declaration, and November 29, 1947, the date of the UN resolution on the partitioning of Palestine, are generally recognized milestones on the path toward Israeli statehood – but arguably, another date could be added to the above, namely May 16, 1916, 100 years ago this week, the day on which two European diplomats, Britain’s Sir Mark Sykes and France’s Francois George-Picot, reached a “secret” agreement for carving up many of the lands then under the rule of the Ottoman Empire into British and French spheres of influence and domination once the war against Turkey was won.

Originally, Imperial Russia had also been part of the secret talks leading up to the agreement, and it and Britain had reached an agreement which would have handed to the former parts of Turkey itself, including its capital Constantinople and control of the strategically important Dardenelles – but after the Russian revolution and Russia leaving the war, nothing more was heard of this.

But what should interest us as Israelis is that the accord, entering history as the “Sykes-Picot Agreement,” also predetermined the general borders of Mandatory Palestine, and in consequence also, at least in part, those of the State of Israel – as well as politically and materially contributing to the realization of the Zionist vision.

The principal purpose of the agreement and the strategic considerations behind it were, of course, geopolitical, related to Middle Eastern oil and with regard to Britain also securing the passage to India, the crown jewel of the British Empire, while France intended to obtain for itself control of Syria including the predominantly Christian parts later to become modern-day Lebanon – but other factors, such as Arab nationalism and several particular interests, also came into play.

Arab leaders, such as the Hashemites, threw in their lot with the British in order to gain domination over most of the Arab lands to be taken after the war from the Turks, but as their contribution to the war effort was practically nil (and the Hashemites had in the meantime anyway been turned out of the Arabian peninsula by the Saudis), the promises made to them by the Allied powers were largely ignored after the war.

While France was to establish its rule, not always successfully in retrospect, over Syria – the parts which later became Iraq, Kuwait and Transjordan were assigned to Britain.

The status of Palestine was to be determined at a later stage, with the Zionist factor specifically to be taken into consideration.

And that’s where Mark Sykes’ role comes into play: Sykes was one of those committed British Christian Zionists who saw in the reestablishment of a national home for the Jewish people in its ancient homeland a moral and historical obligation – a sentiment shared at the time by another British Zionist, Winston Churchill, who in 1949, criticizing the anti-Semitic Ernest Bevin’s adamant refusal to recognize the new State of Israel (yes, there were anti-Semites in the British Labour Party then, too – though to countervail this there were also many friends of the Jewish people and Zionism like Richard Crossman and many others) declared in the house of Commons: 
Israel’s statehood marked “an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand or even three thousand years.”

Needless to say that Sykes, in addition to his moral and historical leanings, was also motivated by his belief that Jews, especially in America (which had not yet entered the war) could make an important political contribution to victory over Germany and its allies, as well as by the expectation that once the war was won, the Jewish presence in Palestine would act as a natural mainstay of British interests in the region. This indeed was also the position of the Zionist movement led by Chaim Weizmann – and Sykes’ attitude had a significant impact on the Balfour Declaration one year later (though Sykes, by then, had died).

The original Sykes-Picot agreement was reconfirmed at the 1920 San-Remo Conference, incorporating on Britain’s insistence the Balfour Declaration – without, however, drawing final borders, including those between the Galilee and the Golan. The Zionist movement had laid claim to all the land up to the Litani river, now in Lebanon, and to the sources of the river Jordan, but while the border of Palestine was eventually extended northward, mainly as a result of the Jewish settlements in what is now called the “Galilee salient,” the Litani river, most of the Golan, excluding the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and the Banias river, remained French and later Syrian or Lebanese – until the Six Day War in 1967.

On the downside, it must be admitted that in creating the artificial states of Iraq, Syria and to some extent, Jordan, the Sykes-Picot agreement can also be blamed for the present mayhem in the Middle East and in consequence, many of the dangers facing Europe and the rest of the world today.

Video of the week: 68 Facts About Israel - http://tinyurl.com/zn7u92a


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Israel’s widows and orphans on Remembrance Day

By Nava Shoham Solan: JPost -  http://tinyurl.com/harpsl3
Dear widows and orphans. Remembrance day is almost here again. This year, just as every year, many citizens will attend heart-rending ceremonies at the country’s cemeteries to honor their loved ones who departed too soon while defending the Zionist dream, the Jewish state.

The citizens of Israel unite on this day behind the screen of sadness, while in the background are the many stories, perhaps too many, of the fallen heroes who gave their lives for their homeland and endangered themselves for all our sakes.

This is a day that brings together all citizens and especially us, the families of the fallen. We don’t have a real need for such a day because we live the loss every day, every hour, at every important crossroads in our lives; when our children begin their military service, get married, and raise a family; when we are successful, progress in a career, or are sad and in need of support. The void becomes greater and takes on a relentless aspect. Yet nevertheless, Remembrance Day is important. We receive a warm hug from all the other citizens and from the state.
We feel that we are not alone in our pain. On this day we very clearly transmit our heritage to future generations in the kindergartens, in schools and everywhere else when everyone stands at attention during the memorial siren; in conversations about the fallen soldiers; in the songs about those who are no longer with us, and more.

For us, the families of the fallen, there are many days of mourning during the year. Even when we are happy, the emptiness in our lives remains with us. This elephant is always in the room, and the deep pit that opened up in a moment will never be filled again. We know that thanks to our loved ones this country exists, and thanks to them most of us can sleep well and without fear. We know that they sacrificed themselves exactly for these goals, in order to ensure our future in our small land, here in the stormy and turbulent Middle East.

During the past year we gladly did not know war, but we still hear almost every day about the terrorism that strikes everywhere, in Israel and abroad. Soldiers and policemen are still a target, and grief and death still impact us. We hear about how terrorism has spread to many places, even in countries that in the past did not experience such horrifying events in which human beings just murder other human beings, without any logical reason. We unfortunately have already been living with that fear for more than 100 years.

What are we asking for after all? We want to live quietly, to allow our children to live in the Promised Land and raise new generations who will continue in our path. We desire to live in a place in which fear is not connected to wars, death and bloodshed.

We ask to live in peace with our neighbors, and not less importantly – with ourselves. For better or for worse, this is our country. We don’t have another one. That was also the thought of our loved ones, who lost their lives to preserve the little that we have, to protect ourselves and our independence.

May we never know bloody wars anymore, may we live peaceful lives, and may the family of bereavement no longer continue to grow.

We will remember our dear ones. We will remember and will not forget.
The author is chairwoman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization.

Video of the week:  Incredible artwork at Jerusalem Market- http://tinyurl.com/h5heujt


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Palestinians: University Students Vote For Terror

by Khaled Abu Toameh
April 28, 2016
For the full article go to - http://tinyurl.com/zc9ej9c
Palestinian political analysts said that the Hamas victory at the university is an indication of what would happen if general elections were held these days in the West Bank.
  • Both Hamas and the PFLP are strongly opposed to any peace process with Israel. They continue to call for terror attacks against Israelis. The results of the election mean that most of the students at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, not Gaza, support groups that have chosen terrorism over peace. 
  • The Hamas victory at Bir Zeit University also shows that it does not matter how much money you pour on Fatah's campus supporters; a majority of students would still prefer to vote for terror groups that do not believe in Israel's right to exist. 
  • Hamas leaders also called for holding long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories. They said they had no doubt that their movement would easily defeat Fatah. 
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction suffered yet another humiliating defeat at the Bir Zeit University student council elections, held on April 27. Last year, for the first time since 2007, the Hamas-affiliated student list on campus also won the vote.

The results of this year's election at one of the Palestinians' most important universities reflects the growing discontent with Abbas's Fatah faction among Palestinians in the West Bank. Palestinian political analysts said that the Hamas victory is an indication of what would happen if general elections were held these days in the West Bank.

Both Hamas and the PFLP are strongly opposed to any peace process with Israel. They continue to call for terror attacks against Israelis. The results of the election mean that most of the students at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, not Gaza, support groups that have chosen terrorism over peace.

As such, the Hamas victory carries symbolic significance because it shows that even in Abbas's own backyard, he Islamist movement remains as strong and popular as ever.

The Hamas victory at Bir Zeit University also shows that it does not matter how much money you pour on Fatah supporters on campus; a majority of students would still prefer to vote for terror groups that do not believe in Israel's right to exist.

The results of the election should be seen more as a vote of no-confidence in Fatah and Abbas's policies than a Hamas win.
Palestinian analysts said that the results reflected Palestinians' distrust of Fatah, a faction that has long been suffering from internecine fighting and splits. The main charge against Fatah is that it has failed to reform and pave the way for the emergence of new and younger leaders.

In recent years, the Fatah leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been torn apart by internal strife. In the Gaza Strip, rival Fatah activists have been beating and shooting at each other. In the West Bank, Abbas has been busy getting rid of his critics in Fatah. The latest victim of Abbas's measures is Gen. Akram Rajoub, the Palestinian Authority Governor of the largest West Bank city, Nablus. Last week, Abbas surprisingly fired Rajoub, who is also a senior Fatah official.

Other Palestinians, however, surmised that Abbas's decision was related to criticism the governor had made against top Fatah officials.

It is precisely because of this internal bickering that many Palestinians have lost confidence in Abbas and Fatah.

The results of the Bir Zeit University elections are also an indication of the Palestinian students' rejection of Abbas's general policies, especially regarding Israel. This is a vote of no-confidence in the Oslo Accords with Israel, the "peace process" and ongoing security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

"How can Fatah win any election when it is divided and its leaders are openly saying that they listen to Zionist songs?" remarked Palestinian political analyst Hisham Sakallah. He pointed out that while Hamas supporters on campus ran in the election on a ticket that promoted "armed resistance" against Israel, Fatah leaders were continuing to conduct security coordination with the Israelis.

Hamas correctly sees its victory in the Bir Zeit University election as a sign of growing Palestinian support for its "armed resistance" and the "Al-Quds Intifada" against Israel.

The Hamas victory provides further evidence of the increased radicalization in Palestinian society. This is the direct result of the ongoing campaign of anti-Israel incitement that continues to be waged not only by Hamas, but the Palestinian Authority and Fatah too, and that is funded in large part by Europe.

Under such circumstances, it is not a good idea to promote the idea of free and democratic elections in the Palestinian territories. Worse, the talk about a renewed peace process and a two-state solution has become a distasteful joke.

Video of the week: Why Do People Still Deny The Holocaust?  http://tinyurl.com/hamgw4o