Friday, February 23, 2018

Belgium/Iceland physicians back outlawing circumcision


Via JTA:
Hundreds of physicians in Iceland and some of Belgium’s top doctors came out in support of a bill proposing to criminalize nonmedical circumcision of boys in the Scandinavian island nation.

The approximately 500 Icelandic physicians who backed the bill that was submitted last month to the parliament cited the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki on ethical principles.

“Potential complications should offset the benefits” of male circumcision, “which are few,” the Icelandic physicians wrote in a joint statement published Wednesday.

Advocates of male circumcision include many physicians who believe it reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and genital infections.

In Belgium, several prominent physicians, including Guy T’Sjoen of Ghent University Hospital, told the De Morgen daily they also support a ban.
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Poland: Senator suspended for klezmer-themed video of Nazi violence to Jews


Via JTA:
Poland’s ruling party suspended a senator who posted online footage from a Nazi propaganda movie depicting violence against Jews to the sounds of klezmer music.

On Thursday, the Law and Justice party suspended Waldemar Bonkowski for posting the video on Facebook earlier in the week amid an acrimonious argument between many Poles and Jews over the Polish government’s passing this month of a law criminalizing blaming Poland for Nazi crimes.
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Germany: Pro-BDS pastor and Green Party figure speaks at Nazi event


Via The Jerusalem Post (Benjamin Weinthal):
Friedrich Bode, a Protestant pastor and co-founder of the Green Party branch in Bremen, delivered a talk at a neo-Nazi party event in Karlshöfe, Lower Saxony, on Saturday.

Bode supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting the Jewish state.

The church in the city-state of Bremen where Bode worked as a pastor for 18 years, subsequently barred him from appearing at future events organized by Germany’s main neo-Nazi organization – the National Democratic Party (NPD), the Christian website Domradio reported on Tuesday. The church has not imposed any other disciplinary measures.

Pastor Renke Brahms, the executive cleric of the church, told Radio Bremen that Bode’s activity is “open antisemitism.”

Brahms said a “racist, antisemitic and neo-Nazi view of people and the world is not compatible with the preaching of Jesus Christ.”

The 77-year-old Bode can be seen on the YouTube channel of the right-wing extremist group Nordland TV, terming Adolf Hitler a “brilliant, self-taught person.”
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France: Acid placed in stroller burns rabbi’s baby


Via JTA:
The baby daughter of a French rabbi was burned after being exposed to acid placed in her carriage.

The 14-month-old girl suffered burns on her back and thighs Monday in the city of Bron, near Lyon, Le Parisien daily reported Wednesday. The baby is not in danger, according to the report.

The acid had been placed inside a carriage that the baby’s grandmother had parked in a communal space inside her apartment building overnight from Sunday to Monday. The grandmother rushed the baby to the hospital after noticing a severe irritation on the baby’s skin after taking her for a walk in the stroller and then bringing her inside.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Poland: "The Polish underground state and the London exile government never collaborated with the Nazis"


Via Der Spiegel - Interview with new Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki:
DER SPIEGEL: Your government introduced a law that makes it a crime to use the term "Polish concentration camp" or statements that attribute any complicity by the Polish nation or government in the Nazi crimes. Is the penal code really the right way to fight historical misrepresentation and cluelessness?

Morawiecki: Yes. Germany and Israel also do this. You can be punished there for denying the Holocaust or incitement. Last year alone, Polish embassies intervened 250 times around the world because someone used the formulation "Polish death camp." Our Supreme Court is currently giving the law another review to determine if it contains any misleading wording.

DER SPIEGEL: But the plan has been strongly criticized by the Israeli side.

Morawiecki: We are explaining our position and I believe that the Israeli side is growing more understanding toward us. We are noticing that in diplomatic discussions and we are seeing increasingly friendly editorials in the press. Yes, we did have thousands of "Szmalcownicy," Poles who murdered Jews or betrayed them to the Nazis. At the same time, however, even in occupied Warsaw, hell on earth, 90,000 Catholic Poles helped their Jewish neighbors. The Polish underground state and the London exile government never collaborated with the Nazis. We support precise research into our history.
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UK: Labour expels controversial Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein


Via Jewish News:
One of the most notorious Jewish anti-Zionists, Tony Greenstein, has finally been expelled from the Labour Party for three breaches of the party’s regulations. These were “offensive comments online; offensive posts and comments on his blog; and an email in which he mocked the phrase ‘final solution’”.  
The ruling from Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) came after an all-day hearing in Greenstein’s home city of Brighton. The news was welcomed by the lobby group Labour Against Antisemitism, which issued a statement saying that he had “over many years made his abhorrent views widely known via public speeches, social media and on his personal blog. Anyone who has witnessed them will know that these views have often been antisemitic, highly offensive and entirely incompatible with Labour’s anti-racist ethos. Mr Greenstein has also personally targeted some Labour Party members for bullying. None of this is acceptable within a party that prides itself on diversity and whose catchphrase is “a kinder, gentler politics”. (...)  
Nevertheless, Greenstein was charged with “repeated use of the antisemitic and abusive term “Zio”, including in relation to Louise Ellman MP, Jeremy Newmark, and the Jewish Labour Movement”. Comments such as “Gay Zionists make me want to puke” or his description of Owen Jones as a “Janus-faced whore” were also cited in evidence against him.
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More about Tony Greenstein @ Harry's Place.  Israelly Cool looks at Greenstein's predictable reaction following his expulsion from the Labour Party: How NOT To Argue You Aren’t An Antisemite by Tony Greenstein

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Europe: Oxfam’s sex abuse scandal — and its anti-Israel bigotry


Via The Algemeiner (Manfred Gerstenfeld):
The misbehavior of employees of the major British charity, Oxfam — part of Oxfam International — has recently made international headlines. The initial information concerned the cover-up of the use of prostitutes by members of Oxfam’s humanitarian mission to Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake there. Oxfam carried out an internal investigation in 2011, which led to the resignation of three staff members — and the dismissal of four employees.

As NGO Monitor has detailed, Oxfam International and its branches in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium have frequently incited against Israel. The way that they politicize their aid activities makes them part-time enemies, not just political opponents.

As such, the misbehavior of part-time enemies should be publicized like that of full-time perpetrators. The flood of misconduct by Oxfam includes withholding from the public the detailed report on the Haiti scandal for seven years. This was a widespread conspiracy. The head of the Dutch sister charity, Oxfam Novib, has admitted to having had access to the report in 2012, and has stated that she shared it with the Dutch Foreign Ministry and the country’s National Accounting Office.

Because it is unlikely that the Oxfam group of charities — even after this scandal — will refrain from maligning Israel, it is important to publicize the essence of what is known so far. A Haitian woman has come forward and said that the Oxfam mission director had sex with her twice a week for money, when she was only 16-years-old. There are also accusations of sexual abuse by members of Oxfam missions in Chad and Southern Sudan. And one of the executives dismissed in 2011 for sex abuse in Haiti was rehired for another mission in Ethiopia by Oxfam. (...)

When Oxfam has sorted out this disgraceful situation, one should hope that other governments make future funds available only if Oxfam reforms itself — and stops publicly inciting against Israel. In past years, several European governments and the EU have — indirectly, through Oxfam — funded hatemongering against Israel.
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France: The French won’t see antisemitism for what it is

Via The Algemeiner (Ben Cohen):
Flush from his victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the French elections last July, President Emmanuel Macron decided to address head-on the horrific murder of a Jewish pensioner in Paris three months earlier.

“Despite the denials of the murderer, our judiciary must bring total clarity around the death of Sarah Halimi,” Macron declared at a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews of Paris by the Nazis. “We were silent because we did not want to see.” This remark can be taken on one level as an observation concerning recent French history, and on another, concerning the appalling silence on the part of the French media and political class, who feared that public discussion of Halimi’s ordeal at the hands of a rabidly antisemitic, Muslim immigrant drug-fiend would boost Le Pen’s election campaign.

With that speech, Macron left little doubt that he regarded Halimi’s murder as a hate crime — a determination that was emphatically not shared by the local police or by the judicial authorities examining the murder. Sure enough, by September, the Paris public prosecutor’s office announced that it was now treating the murder as a hate crime, a decision based on interviews that a court-appointed psychiatrist conducted with the accused murderer, 27-year-old Kobili Traore.

Pitifully, that is no longer the case. The examining magistrate in the trial of Traore, Anne Ihuellou, whose job is to prepare the indictments, announced at the end of January that based on the same interviews, the assailant would no longer face a hate crime charge. Her decision is now, in turn, being appealed by the public prosecutor’s office. The entire French judiciary is aware that a final decision that leaves the hate-crime element out of Traore’s trial will have profoundly negative implications for the declared intention of the French government to combat antisemitism.
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Monday, February 19, 2018

French-Jewish group that accused Israel of causing anti-Semitism loses state funding

Via JTA:
French officials asked a Jewish group that supports a blanket boycott of Israel to pay back state subsidies that it received to combat racism but had used to accuse the Jewish state of causing anti-Semitism.

The Jewish French Union for Peace, UJFP, received in 2016 more than $22,000 from the General Commissariat for Equality in France, an inter-ministerial body set up by the government in 2014 to combat racism, the conservative news website Causeur reported Wednesday, based on data collected by the NGO Monitor watchdog group in Israel.

UJFP used the money to make a series of 10 videos comprising interviews with activists affiliated with the group. The introduction to each video contains a picture of a banner advertising the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, a separate banner accusing Israel of stealing Palestinian land, and images of Palestinian flags. The videos had text slides stating they are sponsored by the commissariat.

Calling for a boycott of Israel is illegal in France, where doing so is a form of incitement to discrimination or hate. Corinne Gonthier, director of communications for the commissariat, said UJFP neither showed the videos to the commissariat nor ask permission to use its name.

“Alerted in December as to the contents of the clips, the commissariat concluded they neither correspond whatsoever with the agreed-upon subjects nor are they admissible because they deal with an alleged ‘state racism’,” she told Causeur.
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France: Israel festival at University of Lille canceled because of anti-Israel protests

Via Elder of Ziyon:


AFP (French) reports that a festival called "Stopover in Israel", in Lille, was canceled by the students who organized it as part of a university project.
It was meant to be a four day festival of Israeli culture, but anti-Israel activists came to demonstrate at the first cultural workshop on Wednesday evening, which was a photography exhibition and Hebrew lessons.

A few dozen people disrupted the first workshop.

Organized by an association composed of fifteen students from the Institute of Business Administration (IAE) of Lille, attached to the University of Lille 1, the festival was to offer, for four days, workshops to discover the Israeli culture, including cooking and music.

"The protesters told us that they were coming to demonstrate at all our activities. So we decided to stop. We do not want to create more controversy on this, " Gaëlle Robin, student in charge of press relations within the association, told AFP. "We were neutral, we said that there was nothing political or religious [...] Our project has been approved" by the institution, she added.

On Wednesday, a letter signed by two professors was sent to the president of the university asking for the cancellation of the festival. "Mr. President, to authorize a demonstration which, under cover of cultural openness, is an apology for this State [ Israel ] shocked us deeply," write Moussa Nait Abdelaziz and Abdellatif Imad. "Would we have agreed to hold a watered-down demonstration on South Africa during the days of Apartheid and Mandela in prison? "
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

UK: Jewish student says she does not feel safe at City University

Via The Jewish Chronicle:
Jewish students said they felt threatened and intimidated by a “hostile mob” as students at a London university passed a motion supporting the Israel boycott movement, BDS.

The vote at City, University of London, resolving to ban any links between the institution and companies linked with “Israeli war crimes”, was passed by a large majority on Thursday evening during a student union meeting.

Jewish students were jeered and sworn at by BDS supporters who took photographs of opposing speakers and those voting against the motion.

Gabriella Soffer, a student at City, described the BDS supporters as “a hostile mob”.

She wrote in a Facebook post: “Having experienced what I did tonight – people taking pictures of me and various other Jews individually, having someone behind me whispering obscenities in my ear to intimidate me and telling me to ‘shut the f**k up’ every time I spoke - I can safely say that no longer do I feel safe as a Jew at City.”

Student Union officials said they refused to eject the students taking photos because they were “afraid of the reaction of the opposing side”.

The Jewish students were a minority among the 150 people in attendance and seven said they chose to abstain from voting, for fear of being targeted afterwards.

One non-Jewish student described how “there was an extremely hostile environment in the room that even I felt highly uncomfortable in, despite not being on any particular side.”
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Iceland: Circumcision ban will prevent Jewish life, leaders warn

Via Times of Israel:
The leaders of the Jewish communities of four Nordic countries said that a bill proposing to ban nonmedical circumcision in Iceland “will guarantee” that no Jewish community is established there.

The presidents of the umbrella groups of Jewish communities in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland issued the unusual warning Tuesday in an open letter to all Icelandic lawmakers in reaction to the submission last month of a bill proposing to ban all nonmedical circumcision of boys younger than 18 in Iceland, a Scandinavian island nation of some 300,000 people with a few hundred Jews and Muslims.

Lawmakers from four parties with 46 percent of the seats in parliament, including the ruling party, co-authored the bill.

If passed, “Iceland would be the only country to ban one of the most central, if not the most central rite in the Jewish tradition in modern times,” wrote Aron Verständig, Dan Rosenberg-Asmussen, Ervin Kohn and Yaron Nadbornik in the letter.

Referencing the Nazi prohibition on brit milah, Jewish ritual circumcision, they noted: “It would not be the first time in the long tradition of the Jewish people. Throughout history, more than one oppressive regime has tried to suppress our people and eradicate Judaism by prohibiting our religious practices.”

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Polish Jews stunned, scared by eruption of anti-Semitism

Via ABC News:
Matylda Jonas-Kowalik has spent most of her 22 years secure in the belief that she would never know the discrimination, persecution or violence that killed or traumatized generations of Polish Jews before her. She once thought the biggest problem that young Jewish Poles like herself faced was finding a Jewish boyfriend or girlfriend in a country dominated by Catholics.
But an eruption of anti-Semitic comments in public debates amid a diplomatic dispute with Israel over a new Holocaust speech law has caused to her to rethink that certainty. Now she and others fear the hostile rhetoric could eventually trigger anti-Semitic violence, and she finds herself thinking constantly about whether she should leave Poland.

"This is my home. I have never lived anywhere else and wanted this to keep being my home," said Jonas-Kowalik, a Jewish studies major at Warsaw University. "But this makes me very anxious. I don't know what to expect."

(...)
Anna Chipczynska, the head of Warsaw's Jewish community, said members feel psychologically shaken or even depressed, and that the hostile rhetoric has triggered hateful phone calls and emails and other harassment.

In recent events, two men tried to urinate in front of Warsaw's historic Nozyk Synagogue, and then shouted obscenities when security guards intervened. One Jewish community member found a Star of David hanging from gallows spray-painted outside a window of his apartment. A woman found the word "Zyd" — Polish for "Jew" — written in the snow outside her home.

Agnieszka Ziatek of the Jewish Agency for Israel said she has seen a spike in the number of Polish Jews inquiring about immigrating to Israel.

(...)
Mikolaj Grynberg, a writer and photographer, said while young Polish Jews feel shocked and "lost," he, at 52, has long been aware of Poland's anti-Semitic undercurrent. While on book tours, Grynberg said people would sometimes ask him "why did you choose to write in our language?" as if he weren't as Polish as they.
As the descendant of Warsaw Ghetto survivors, he has faced years of hateful emails and online messages and says he has been prepared psychologically for a return of bad times.

"Each time you have an anti-Semitic wave, there are Jewish people who leave," Grynberg said. "It's not just a whim: It's about their fear. Jewish people know what can come after."
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German gets jail time for running neo-Nazi website 'Altermedia'


Via DW:
A court in Stuttgart has sentenced the 29-year-old creator of a banned neo-Nazi website to two and a half years in prison. The site published content that denied the Holocaust and targeted Jews, refugees and foreigners.

A 29-year-old IT specialist and driving force behind the neo-Nazi "Altermedia Deutschland" website was given a prison sentence by a court in Stuttgart on Thursday, two years after authorities shut the site down.

The man, identified as Ralph Thomas K. in accordance with German privacy laws, was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and being the ringleader of a criminal organization. He was sentenced to two years and six months behind bars.

Three women were also on trial for their roles in maintaining the right-wing extremist internet platform. One of them, a 48-year-old woman who worked in a call center, was identified as a key player in the website and she was given a two year suspended sentence.
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Poland's Premier: There Were Polish Perpetrators in the Holocaust Just as There Were Jewish Ones


Via Haaretz:
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday that the Holocaust had Polish perpetrators, just as it had Jewish ones.

Moraweicki made the statement at the Munich Security Conference in response to a question by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman regarding the controversial law that criminalizes mentioning the Polish nation's complicity in the Holocaust. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply rebuked the 'outrageous' remarks.

Bergman told of his mother's past as a Holocaust survivor and concluded by asking, "If I told her story in Poland, I would be considered a criminal. What are you trying to do? You're drawing more fire to the matter." The crowd applauded following the question.

The Polish prime minister said that according to the amended law, those who claim that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust would not be punished, since there were Polish perpetrators, "just as there were Jewish and Russian perpetrators, as well." 

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