Holocaust education ‘not enough’ to tackle antisemitism, Unesco warns – The Jewish Chronicle

Valid points and a reminder that UN organizations are not blind to antisemitism:

Openly antisemitic attitudes are no longer limited to extremist circles and are increasingly voiced in the mainstream, the United Nations’ cultural agency has warned.

Unesco said that Jews in Europe were feeling under “renewed danger” and that while teaching people about the Holocaust is important, it is not an adequate substitute for education that aims to prevent antisemitism.

“If anti-Semitism is exclusively addressed through Holocaust education, students might conclude that anti-Semitism is not an issue today or misconceive its contemporary forms,” the agency said in a report, which was published on Monday.

“It is appropriate and necessary to incorporate lessons about anti-Semitism into teaching about the Holocaust because it is fundamental to understanding the context in which discrimination, exclusion and, ultimately, the destruction of Jews in Europe took place.”

The study – jointly produced with the OSCE, a security and democracy watchdog – calls on European governments to uses education to make young people more resilient to antisemitic ideas and ideologies.

Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay (Photo: Getty Images)
“It is alarming that, as survivors of the Holocaust pass on, Jewish communities in Europe feel in renewed danger from the threat of anti-Semitic attacks,” Unesco’s director-general Audrey Azoulay said.

“Anti-Semitism is not the problem of Jewish communities alone, nor does it require the presence of a Jewish community to proliferate. It exists in religious, social and political forms and guises, on all sides of the political spectrum.”

She added: “This is both an immediate security imperative and a long-term educational obligation.”

The document contains a list of tropes that students should be taught to identify as antisemitic.

They include blood libel claims, the perception that Jewish people are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries, and conspiracies that Jews are plotting to take over the world for their own gain.

“It is appropriate and necessary to incorporate lessons about anti-Semitism into teaching about the Holocaust because it is fundamental to understanding the context in which discrimination, exclusion and, ultimately, the destruction of Jews in Europe took place,” the report says.

“Similarly, the study of anti-Semitism should include some attention to the Holocaust, as a nadir of anti-Semitism in history, through the state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and their collaborators.”

via Holocaust education ‘not enough’ to tackle antisemitism, Unesco warns – The Jewish Chronicle

EU Agency Rolls Out Survey of European Jewish Reactions to Antisemitism in 13 Countries

Will be interesting to see the results. Would be also nice to have an equivalent survey with respect to Muslim citizens and residents and their experiences with racism and discrimination (FRA may have already done this):

Jewish citizens and residents of 13 European Union member states are being urged to fill out on an online survey detailing their personal experiences with antisemitism, as part of a new EU initiative to combat hatred and prejudice toward Jews.

The survey, launched earlier this month, has been organized by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in association with two UK-based institutions — the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), a think tank located in London, and the polling organization Ipsos.

A statement from the FRA said that the goal of the survey was to compile “comparable data on the experiences, perceptions and views of discrimination and hate crime victimization of persons who self-identify as Jewish on the basis of their religion, ethnicity or any other reason.”

The survey is being conducted in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. As well as completing the survey in their national languages, respondents also have the option to submit their answers in Hebrew — a reflection, perhaps, of the growing presence of Israeli émigré communities in cities like Berlin and Paris.

Judith Russell — development director of the JPR — told the French Jewish newspaper Actualité Juive that her institute had carried out a similar survey in 9 European countries in 2012, with positive results.

“The results of the 2012 study prompted the European Commission to appoint a coordinator in the fight against antisemitism, and to agree on the definition of the word ‘antisemitism’ on a European level,” Russell remarked.  “This new survey can still drive new solutions at European level.”

The survey asks respondents for their opinions about general trends in antisemitism — for example, whether they feel that there has been an increase in antisemitic statements by elected politicians — as well personal experiences of antisemitism at work or at school, or in public places. Initial results are scheduled for release in November.

Source: EU Agency Rolls Out Survey of European Jewish Reactions to Antisemitism in 13 Countries

ICYMI: Sweden funds Holocaust memorial trips to tackle anti-Semitism – The Local

Useful initiative:

Sweden wants as many young people as possible to visit Holocaust memorial sites in an effort to tackle anti-Semitism in the Nordic nation, where neo-Nazi activities have been intensifying in recent years.

The government said it would invest 15 million kronor (1.4 million euros, $1.7 million) on projects over three years to raise awareness about Nazi crimes against Jews, Roma communities and other groups.

“Nazism and racism are growing and spreading. We are therefore launching this investment so that more youth can be equipped with the knowledge to tackle the anti-democratic forces that are growing in Sweden,” Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke said in a statement.

The Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism will receive 12.8 million kronor to organise trips to Holocaust remembrance sites, and the Living History Forum, a public authority, is to offer educational tools and resources.

Sweden, which boasts a long tradition of welcoming refugees and persecuted groups, is experiencing a creeping rise in neo-Nazi activities in the public and on social media.

At the centre of this is the Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), described as the most violent neo-Nazi organisation in Sweden by the anti-racism magazine Expo.

Openly promoting a racist and anti-Semitic doctrine, the group organised demonstrations on the sidelines of an annual book fair in Sweden’s second-largest city of Gothenburg in September and held an authorised protest at a political forum on the island of Gotland last year.

Expo estimates that the organisation’s core consists of barely 80 members, but says it was more active last year than ever before.

A Swedish court in July last year sentenced three neo-Nazi activists for up to eight and a half years in prison over bomb attacks against refugee shelters that left one person seriously injured.

A 1997 study found that 66 percent of Swedish secondary school students were unsure whether the Holocaust actually happened.

The Living History Forum, which was established in 2003 to provide accurate information in schools about the Holocaust, recently launched a similar study, the results of which will be released later this year.

via Sweden funds Holocaust memorial trips to tackle anti-Semitism – The Local

How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism – The Washington Post

A narrower and more focussed definition than the one adopted by IHRA (Working Definition of Antisemitism) and a number of governments:

So how can you tell the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? Here are five useful markers.

Seeing Jews as insidious influencers behind the scenes of world events

On the left and the right, anti-Semitism often manifests in a nefarious belief in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy that wields outsize power. On the right, it’s “globalists” and “elites” who manipulate events. On the left, it’s “Zionists.” The terms may differ, but the fundamental conspiracy theory is the same. For example, after news broke that a private investigative firm made up of former Mossad officers had been digging up dirt on Obama administration officials who helped broker the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, Columbia University professor Hamid Dabashi tweeted, “Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait for a few days and the ugly name of ‘Israel’ will [pop up].” This language parallels the last ad of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, which flashed pictures of George Soros, Lloyd Blankfein and Janet Yellen while warning of a “global power structure” that had damaged the U.S. economy. In another case, when professor Steven Salaita was denied a tenured position at the University of Illinois after a series of anti-Israel tweets, he wrote: “Support for Israel . . . exists in sites of authority, often an omnipresent but invisible accoutrement to swivel chairs, mineral water, and mahogany tables.”

Also in this category is the theory, popular on the left, that Israeli trainers are to blame for racism and violence against people of color by U.S. police. (Durham, N.C., for instance, recently barred its police department from partnering with the Israeli police or military for training, citing this notion.) This includes insinuationsthat American Jewish organizations that help send U.S. police officers to Israel for counterterrorism training should be held responsible for the shootings of unarmed people of color. American police have used violence against marginalized people since long before Israel existed. White people have never needed Jews to teach them how to brutalize people of color on American soil. There are reasonable questions to ask about the content of training programs in Israel, but the suggestion — absent supporting evidence — that Jews bear guilt for U.S. police killings merely updates the old anti-Semitic trope that falsely accused Jews of managing the global slave trade .

Using the word “Zionist” as code for “Jew” or “Israeli”

“Zionism” denotes a movement, forged in the late 19th century and evolving ever since, for the existence of a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel. A Zionist, as I define myself, supports one or more of the many variations on this vision, which differ wildly in their political, religious and cultural emphases.

Critics of Israel sometimes use “Zionist” to assert a global power structure without specifically calling out Jews as its masterminds. After Salaita, the Illinois professor, also lost a position at the American University of Beirut, he wrote, “I was shocked that Zionist pressure could succeed in the Arab World.” The Nation of Islam’s Final Call newspaper asserts that “Zionist pressure ” will not stop Louis Farrakhan from continuing his anti-Semitic pronouncements, which have included calling Jews the “synagogue of Satan.”

The “Zionist” label attempts to reduce a state full of living, breathing humans to a simplistic political notion. It’s common for Palestinians and their supporters to refer to “Zionist occupation forces” instead of the “Israeli army,” or to the “Zionist entity” instead of “Israel.” At a demonstration I walked by this past week, protesters held signs mourning 70 years of “Israel,” in quotes.

One may disagree with the decision of the United Nations to recognize Israel decades ago, wish that the state had never come to be or aspire to the establishment of a binational state in its place without necessarily stepping into anti-Semitism. But refusing to call Israel or Israelis by their internationally accepted names denies the very existence of the state and its people’s identities. These coy linguistic tricks are as unacceptable as the right-wing penchant for denying the existence of Palestinians and Palestinian identity.

Denying Jewish history

As a means of rejecting the legitimacy of Israel, some stoop to asserting that Jews have no national history there — that they are, in other words, nothing more than European colonizers. For instance, the website Middle East Monitor referred recently to the “alleged Temple” in ancient Jerusalem (the ruins are still there). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, likewise, resurrected the old canard that today’s Jews descend from Khazar converts in arecent and much-criticized speech.

The Jewish connection to Israel goes back millennia. After their expulsion by the Romans in 70 A.D., Jews continued to pray for a return to the land and to observe four fast days each year to mourn the exile. Zionism’s revolution came not in creating a new connection between Jews and the land of Israel, but in suggesting that a return to the land could be achieved through modern political means, rather than by waiting for the messiah.

Some critics also reduce Judaism to religion, in the mold of Western Christianity, rather than acknowledging our more complex sense of ourselves as a people with a history and an ancestral land, as well as religious and cultural practices. This includes dismissing Zionism as “white supremacy,” as the Chicago Dyke March did last year when its organizers argued that Zionism had no place in an anti-racist movement and that it “represents an ideology that uses legacies of Jewish struggle to justify violence.” Statements like these ignore the fact that, unlike most white people here and elsewhere, Jews have been subject to racially based discrimination — and that more than half of Israeli Jews are not Ashkenazi, meaning their families did not come from Europe.

Finally, disregard for Jewish history may take the form of using Nazi imagery to depict Israel or its army. This tactic cynically manipulates the greatest modern trauma of Jewish history to attack us, while minimizing the genocide of 6 million Jews. Israel may be violating its human rights obligations, but is not carrying out a Nazi-style extermination operation.

Dismissing the humanity of Israelis

In a conversation about terrorist attacks by Palestinians, one young activist told me, “I can’t judge how other people carry out their liberation movements.” Such lack of concern for Israeli lives is evident in failures to condemn rocket attacks against civilians, in the rejection of the term “terrorist” for anyone who acts against Israelis and in statements blaming Israelis for their own deaths. A movement motivated by concern for human rights requires caring about the dignity, well-being, concerns and self-determination of all people.

This means opposing the military occupation of the Palestinians, with its attending violence, as well as rejecting terrorism or rocket fire against Israelis. Human Rights Watch, which right-leaning groups often accuse of being anti-Israel, has modeled such an approach by regularly condemning Hamas for launching rockets at Israeli civilians. This approach also means standing with Israeli human rights leaders, who increasingly find themselves the targets of dangerous incitement by the country’s political leaders.

Assuming that the Israeli government speaks for all Jews

Rabbis who speak at rallies on domestic issues (the Trump travel ban, police killings, etc.) regularly tell me that audience members shout at them, “What about Palestine?” An explicit disavowal of a connection to Israel shouldn’t be a prerequisite for Jewish involvement in broader social justice issues, as has become the norm on college campuses and in many progressive spaces.

Imagine assuming that all Americans support President Trump’s policies, or asking Americans to expressly disown their own country before engaging in any international human rights campaigns. Reasonable people may disagree about Israeli policy, about nationalism or about whether the solution to the conflict should involve one state or two. But Jews who care about Israel — many of whom revile Netanyahu and his politics — should not be excluded from progressive spaces based on their answers to such questions.

Jews, along with other groups, must fight for human rights, in the United States and abroad. This work means insisting that Israel, like other countries, live up to its human rights commitments. The case can be made without bigotry and hate speech.

via How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism – The Washington Post

Canadian government comes to the defence of Nazi SS and Nazi collaborators but why?

Good question:

In late April more than 50 members of the U.S. Congress condemned the government of Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to glorify “Nazi collaborators.”

The letter, signed by both Republicans and Democrats, outlined concerns about ongoing ceremonies to glorify leaders of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as well as 14th SS Galizien Division (aka 1stGalician/Galizien or the 1st Ukrainian Division). “It’s particularly troubling that much of the Nazi glorification in Ukraine is government-supported,” noted the letter to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. The letter was initiated by Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Contrast that to how the Canadian government handled a related issue last year when the Russian Embassy in Ottawa tweeted out that, “There are monumets (sic) to Nazi collaborators in Canada and nobody is doing anything about it.”

A monument in Oakville commemorates those who served with the 14th SS Galizien Division. Another monument in Edmonton honors Roman Shukhevych, the leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

As my Postmedia colleague Marie-Danielle Smith discovered, the Russian tweet sent bureaucrats at Global Affairs Canada into overdrive as they tried to defend the SS unit and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. Documents she received through the Access to Information law show government officials were under a lot of pressure from the “Centre” (the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office) to counter the news about the monuments to Nazi collaborators. The bureaucrats came up with a strategy. The would label the tweet as “disinformation” and they came up with a plan to spread the word to the news media as part of their efforts to defend Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators.

Now as I have written before, the Russians are more than happy to try to embarrass the Canadian government, which has steadfastly stood behind the Ukrainian government in the ongoing conflict in the region. Suggesting that Canada allows monuments to Nazi collaborators seems to fit that bill.

But in this case the Russian tweets aren’t “fake news” or “disinformation.” They are accurate.

As those members of the U.S. Congress have pointed out, the Ukrainians who served in the SS Galizien Division were indeed Nazi collaborators.

So too was Roman Shukhevych.

Before going to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Shukhevych was commander of the Ukrainian battalion called Nachtigall. The men of Nachtigall rounded up Jews in Lviv in June 1941, massacring men, women and children. The Simon Wiesenthal Center estimates that the Nachtigall Battalion, along with their German military counterparts, managed to murder around 4,000 Jews in Lviv. Other historians put the estimate at around 6,000.

Shukhevych was later assigned to a new unit whose role in Germany’s war, according to one Holocaust expert, was “fighting partisans and killing Jews.” Shukhevych later turned against the Nazis.

Then there is the SS Galizien Division. They were eager Nazi collaborators. Some 80,000 Ukrainians volunteered to join the SS but only those who could meet the strict requirements were selected.

The SS used some of its most seasoned killers to oversee the development of its new division. SS Gen. Jurgen Stroop, who would later be executed as a war criminal for his brutal destruction of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, was brought on as an advisor.

Other commanders of the division were all versed in the murder of Jews throughout occupied territories in eastern Europe. “Many of the Ukrainian officers, like SS- Haupsturmfuhrer Michael Brygidryr, had previously served in SS Schuma battalions, routinely used to kill partisans, burn down villages and, when the opportunity arose, murder Jews,” wrote award-winning author Christopher Hale in his 2011 ground-breaking book, Hitler’s Foreign Executioners.

SS Galizien Division was used by the Nazis in a variety of operations, one of the most controversial being the 1944 destruction of the village of Huta Pieniacka. Huta Pieniacka was considered a “Polish” village that just months before had been the shelter for several hundred Jews, Hale noted. The SS units surrounded the village. Men, women and children, who had taken refuge in the village church, were taken outside in groups and murdered. Kids were executed in front of their parents, their heads smashed against tree trunks, one witness testified. Others were burned alive in houses. Around 850 people were murdered.

Some Ukrainians dispute that the SS Galizien Division took part in the killings or they argue that only small elements from the unit – and under Nazi command – were involved.

A Ukrainian military board heard testimony in 1944 that members of the Galizien Division did take part in the attack. But that action was justified, the board was told since the inhabitants of Huta Pieniacka had been killing Ukrainian peasants. “By the way, the Jews were hiding in the village,” a Ukrainian officer added in his testimony describing the destruction of the village inhabitants.

Some Ukrainians see Shukhevych and SS Galizien Division members as heroes. They argue that those individuals served the Nazis because they saw them as liberators from the Russians. Their ultimate goal was an independent Ukraine.

But to claim that these individuals were not Nazi collaborators is something else. They served Hitler.

In May 1944, SS leader Heinrich Himmler addressed the Ukrainian SS recruits in a speech.  “Your homeland has become more beautiful since you have lost – on our initiative, I must say – the residents who were so often a dirty blemish on Galicia’s good name – namely the Jews,” said Himmler. “I know that if I ordered you to liquidate the Poles, I would be giving you permission to do what you are eager to do anyway.”

Himmler speech was greeted with cheers from the Ukrainian recruits.

Equally disturbing are the details contained in the book, The Holocaust Chronicle, published in 2003 and written by 7 top scholars in the field of Holocaust studies. They noted that Ukrainian SS were also sent to help kill Jews during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The Chronicle published a photo of two of Ukrainian SS members standing over the bodies of Jews murdered during that uprising. See the photo below:

But this issue of Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis is not new. Since 1986 the Nazi-hunters with The Simon Wiesenthal Center have warned about efforts from those in Ukraine and in the Ukrainian community in Canada who want to deny involvement of the SS Galizien Division with the Nazis.

The Latvian government is also trying to use the “fake news” label to whitewash the reality of Latvian collaboration with the Nazis.

My colleague Scott Taylor has recently written several articles about the Latvian Legion (15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) et al) and Latvian killers like war criminal Herberts Cukurs as well as the members of the Arajs Kommando, who murdered an estimated 26,000 Jews.

According to Karlis Eihenbaums, Latvia’s Ambassador to Canada, Taylor is spreading “fake news” and “disinformation.” Eihenbaums has also tried to smear Taylor by suggesting that he is under the “influence” of the Russian government.

Taylor’s research into the Latvian SS Legion and the Latvian murderers of Jewish men, women and children is solid.  It is a well-documented historical fact that many of the killers from the Arajs Kommando went to the Latvian Legion. These Latvians served Hitler. No number of claims of “fake news” can change that fact.

Photo below shows Latvian SS:

The controversy over the Latvian Legion and the annual parade held in Riga to celebrate these Nazi collaborators is well known and has been going on for two decades, long before the term “fake news” was even coined. In 1998 the parade caused a storm of protests around the world, particularly in Israel, where Holocaust survivors couldn’t understand Latvia’s desire to celebrate such ruthless killers. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac were among those that year to protest the Latvian parade. The Times of Israel reported on this year’s Latvian SS parade in Riga, which took place mid-March.

So much for “fake news.” Did Helmut Kohl and Jacques Chirac spread “disinformation” when they denounced the SS parade in Latvia? Of course not.

This whole issue isn’t about “fake news” or Russian “disinformation.” It is about nations trying to whitewash their Nazi collaboration and rewrite history, while attacking journalists who don’t want to let that happen.

It is a positive development that members of the U.S. Congress could see through these efforts to glorify members of the SS. They are speaking out.

But in Canada, the federal government is more than happy to play along with defending Himmler’s SS divisions and Nazi collaborators.

What would our soldiers who fought during the Second World War to help rid the world of this scourge think about that?

Source: Canadian government comes to the defence of Nazi SS and Nazi collaborators but why?

Hungarian PM Accused George Soros of Fueling Anti-Semitism, MTI Reports – Bloomberg

Might be time for former PM Harper to reconsider his congratulatory message in his capacity as head of the International Democrat Union (IDU):

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused George Soros, the Jewish billionaire philanthropist who survived Nazi persecution, of fomenting anti-Semitism by helping immigrants come to Europe, MTI state news service reported.

Soros and his Open Society Foundations, which funds dozens of NGOs in Hungary, “bear responsibility for the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe,” Orban said in a letter to Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, MTI reported Friday. Soros, 87, who eventually emigrated to the U.S. after World War II, said last year that Orban used Nazi-era propaganda methods to try to discredit him in a national billboard campaign.

Orban has built a border fence to keep immigrants out in a vow to protect Hungary from people he’s called “Muslim invaders.” In the letter, he said immigrants to Europe included those whose “political and religious views markedly increased the sense of insecurity in Jewish communities.”

Orban won a fourth term as prime minister last month and has become a ringleader for anti-immigrant populist forces in Europe. Open Society Foundations said this week that it was moving its staff from Budapest to Berlin, citing a government crackdown on NGOs.

via Hungarian PM Accused George Soros of Fueling Anti-Semitism, MTI Reports – Bloomberg

Nazi Salutes and Fascist Chic Put Ukraine’s Jews on Edge

Worth noting:

At the Bingo nightclub, a few hundred Ukrainian music fans were celebrating the anniversary of their favorite very white ultra-nationalist metal band, Sokyra Peruna. Some were teens, some looked like they were in their 40s. They were dressed up and tatted up with Nazi symbols, pagan spirit designs and emblems from the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.

Some fans brought their children along. Smoke wafted over the stage, guitars rocked, and dozens of right hands straitened up in Hitler salutes as the band’s leader, Arseny Klimachev, roared out neo-Nazi lines he’s made famous in Ukraine’s capital: “Heroes of my race! Heroes of your race!”

The fans will tell you these rants and symbols, banned in Ukraine by law, are really just fashion statements, a part of their sub-culture. But the Jewish population of Ukraine, estimated to be more than 200,000, is more than uneasy about such demonstrations. To them, Hitler’s fans are not just lovers of heavy metal music, but one more manifestation of a hostile, increasingly powerful movement.

For decades both Russians and Ukrainians referred to their enemies as “fascists,” and caricatured enemies as Hitler. During Moscow’s conflict with Tbilisi in 2007 and 2008 Russian propagandists painted Hitler-style mustaches on the face of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Today millions of Ukrainians refer to Russian President Vladimir Putin as to “Putler”–you can even buy souvenir toilet paper that says that. But if Putin is as bad as Hitler, what are Ukrainian Hitler fans thinking?

Meanwhile, Kremlin officials insist that the pro-European Maidan movement was “fascist,” and that Ukraine is now ruled by neo-Nazi government. And, as if to confirm the Moscow line, dozens of far-right movements, groups, bands use Nazi symbols and praise Hitler’s violence against Bolsheviks, “the occupants of Ukraine.”

Just a few days before the 73d anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazism in World War II, Ukraine saw a march of ultra-nationalists who proclaimed that Odessa should be cleansed of Jews. At the rally, the head of the Right Sector in Odessa, Tatiana Soikina, said: “We are sure that we can put things in order, so Ukraine will belong to Ukrainians and not to Yids, not to oligarchs, glory to Ukraine!”

The march took place several days after the U.S. Congress sent a letter to the State Department describing the  “unacceptable” situation with anti-Semitism in here (PDF). It noted that Ukraine was “glorifying Nazi collaborators and made it a criminal offense to deny their ‘heroism.’” Among those Nazi collaborators the American members of congress cited Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych, and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) for killing Jews and Poles in the years from 1941 to 1945.

In fact, all those historical figures mentioned in the letter are seen by many in Ukraine as heroes, even though today Ukraine gets more support from Washington than ever.
Washington is selling Javelin anti-tank systems to Kiev to reenforce the Ukrainian army in the war against Russia-backed rebels in Donbas. The four-year-long conflict has taken more than 10,000 Ukrainian lives.

Far-right activists insist that every single anti-Semitic action has the Kremlin’s agents behind it, while representatives of the Jewish community want to see the conspicuous fans of Hitler put in jail.

“Anti-Semitism is rapidly growing all over Ukraine: Holocaust memorials are vandalized every week, while the opposition say President Petro Poroshenkois ‘a Jew,’ when they want to say that the president is bad,” says Eduard Dolinsky, the head of Ukraine’s Jewish Committee.

Dolinsky, a prominent public figure in Ukraine, monitors incidents of anti-Semitism. The Jewish Committee has demanded that the government and law enforcement agencies push for punishment of those professing Nazi ideology, but so far there has been none.

Dolinsky says he is upset that both Russian propaganda and some Ukrainian media outlets use his name and voice for political agendas as each tries to put the fascist brand on the other. “Our main intention at the Jewish Committee is not to allow history to repeat itself. Today in public opinion Jews seem to be to blame for political failures, just as it happened in Germany in 1930s,” Dolinsky told The Daily Beast.

Earlier this month, the deputy director of Lviv school Number 100, Mariana Batyuk, was fired after posting photographs of herself and her school students lined up and saluting, “Heil Hitler.” The teacher also posted Hitler’s portrait on her Facebook page with a caption: “He was a great man, whatever you say.”

A Ukrainian nationalist, Sergei Parkhomenko from the “Anti-Putin Information Front” insists that real Ukrainian patriots could not attack Jews. “Both Odessa activists and the Lviv teacher and those who vandalized Holocaust memorials must have been paid by either the Kremlin’s agents or those who want to discredit Ukraine,” Parkhomenko told The Daily Beast.

Far-right militia units recently marching across Kiev and promising to bring “order” to Ukraine sounded threatening, and not many people wanted to get in the way of muscled-up guys with black masks covering their faces.

“The other day I was invited to a round table at a TV show to debate with far-right politicians, I had the opportunity to bring two people with me, but all my friends were too scared to go,” Dolinsky told The Daily Beast.

Reporters of the Zaborona media (translates as “banned” media) group of Ukrainian journalists covering forbidden, censored and sensitive news, took photographs of young men slamming during the concert, pushing each other, showing off Nazi and Ku Klux Klan symbols tattooed on their naked torsos.

One of the fans went from one corner of the club to another unfurling his big Nazi flag. Anna Belous, a Zaborona reporter, told The Daily Beast.

“It is stupid to blame everything on the Kremlin. Officials should admit that we do actually have guys using Nazi symbols in Ukraine,” Yekaterina Sergatskova, the founder of the Zaborona project, told us. “Every year  thousands of people with far-right views participate in Povstanets festival, this is not a news.”

Last week President Petro Poroshenko condemned the increasing anti-Semitism as “unacceptable” in a post on his Facebook page. But the dance goes on.

Source: Nazi Salutes and Fascist Chic Put Ukraine’s Jews on Edge

ICYMI: After a massive refugee influx, Germany is confronting an imported anti-Semitism

Good balanced overview:

Bullied students. Crude rap lyrics. An ugly confrontation on an upmarket city street.

In another country – one less attuned to the horrors wrought by anti-Semitism – evidence that the scourge is once again growing might have been ignored.

But this is Germany, a nation that nearly annihilated an entire continent’s Jewish population. And after a series of high-profile incidents, the country isn’t waiting to sound the alarm on a pattern of rising hatred toward Jews.

In recent days, demonstrators have filled the streets, a first-ever national coordinator to combat anti-Semitism has taken up his post, and officials from Chancellor Angela Merkel on down have spoken out.

Germany is also doing something difficult for a country that sees itself as the open and tolerant antidote to the prejudice-driven murder machine it once was: acknowledging that the problem’s resurgence has been fueled not only by the far right, whose views have increasingly infiltrated the mainstream, but also in significant part by Muslims, including refugees.

“The nature of anti-Semitism in Germany is definitely changing,” said Sergey Lagodinsky, a member of the assembly of the Jewish community in Berlin. “We’re having a lot more violent, everyday confrontations that come through incidents with immigrants.”

That’s not an easy admission in Germany, where Merkel led the push three years ago to open the country to more than a million asylum seekers – many of them Muslims fleeing conflict. At the time, the move was widely seen, at least in part, as a grand gesture of atonement for the worst crimes of German history.

Since then, Merkel has rallied the nation around the slogan “We can do it,” brushing away suggestions that Germany will suffer for its generosity.

But she’s also been forced to concede the link between the new arrivals and creeping anti-Semitism. This month, she told an Israeli broadcaster that Germany was confronting “a new phenomenon” as refugees “bring another form of anti-Semitism into the country.”

That’s something critics have warned of for years, given that many of those who arrived in Germany came from nations where anti-Semitism is widespread, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But officials, analysts and Jewish and Muslim leaders all say Germany has been slow to recognize the risks.

“The cultural dimension that is linked with the influx was always underestimated,” said Felix Klein, who started work this month as the federal government’s point person for combating anti-Semitism. “Now we have to deal with it.”

The first step, Klein said, is to understand the scale. But the data is surprisingly limited, and what is available has been called into question.

Police statistics, for instance, show that about 90 percent of the anti-Semitic cases nationwide are believed to have been carried out by followers of the far right – traditionally the bastion of prejudice toward Jews in Germany.

But government officials and Jewish leaders doubt that figure, citing a default designation of “far right” when the perpetrator isn’t known. The government also has no reliable means of tracking anti-Semitism that falls below the level of the criminal – something Klein said he’s determined to change.

A survey of victims of anti-Semitism commissioned last year by the German Parliament concluded that Muslims were most often identified as the perpetrators. A separate study found comparatively high levels of anti-Semitic thinking among refugees with a Middle Eastern or North African background.

The number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in Germany has remained fairly steady over the past decade, at around 1,500 every year, although researchers think the actual numbers are much higher, said Uffa Jensen, a professor at the Technical University of Berlin. One recent survey found that 70 percent of Jews said they would not report an anti-Semitic incident because they feared the consequences.

Even if the overall numbers are relatively stable, the behavior behind the data has changed, said Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“The incidents are more aggressive, more pronounced, and directly affect Jewish people with insults or attacks,” Schuster said.

German schoolchildren have reported the word “Jew” being thrown around as a taunt on the playground. Some have said they have been threatened with death.

“There are incidents that go so far that kids have to leave their schools because it’s no longer possible to stay. I can’t remember that happening in the past,” Schuster said.

Beyond the bullying, two high-profile instances of anti-Semitism have spawned outrage in recent weeks.

A German rap duo won the top honor at the country’s most prestigious music awards this month for an album that included lyrics boasting of bodies “more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates” and threatening to “make another Holocaust.” Amid a backlash, the awards program was terminated.

Meanwhile, cellphone video footage emerged of an assailant shouting anti-Semitic slurs and whipping a belt against a man wearing a kippa, or Jewish prayer cap. Police arrested a 19-year-old Syrian refugee in connection with the assault, which took place in the trendy Berlin neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg.

“When I watched the video, I looked into his eyes. I don’t understand how a young man can be so filled with hate,” said Sigmount Königsberg, anti-Semitism commissioner for the Jewish community of Berlin.

Königsberg deals with hundreds of incidents each year and said a substantial majority of the cases involve an alleged Muslim perpetrator.

Far-right assailants are less common, he said. But that makes sense, if only for geographic reasons: Germany’s Muslim and Jewish communities are both concentrated in big cities, such as Berlin. Far-right supporters are more likely to live in the countryside.

The German far right has been emboldened lately, winning seats in Parliament last fall – the first time that’s happened since the 1950s. Authorities say elements of the far right have grown more vocal in their anti-Semitism. But they have been even louder in denouncing Muslims, capitalizing on resentment toward Merkel’s decision to let in the refugees.

Ironically, far-right politicians have used concerns about anti-Semitism to make their case against the refugees – a logic that many Jewish leaders reject.

“The world doesn’t revolve around Jews. If people are dying in Syria, you can’t let them die because you may face more anti-Semitism in a couple years,” said Lagodinsky, the member of the Berlin Jewish assembly.

Rather than bar refugees, Lagodinsky said, the solution starts with being more honest in talking about the problem – something he said mainstream German society is often afraid to do for fear of targeting a Muslim minority population that already feels under siege.

Aiman Mazyek, for one, welcomes the conversation. The president of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany emphasized that it’s only a small minority of Muslims who are taking part in anti-Semitic acts. But he said there is no doubt that some newcomers – and some who have been here far longer – have failed to integrate into a society that has put “Never Again” at its core.

“If people come here and want to integrate, they need to understand the DNA of the country. And part of that DNA is the legacy of the Holocaust,” he said.

Mazyek said it will take effort to educate people who may have grown up in countries where anti-Semitic rhetoric is rampant and others who may have been raised in Germany but who nonetheless feel drawn into “the unresolved conflicts of the Middle East.”

But he said there is also reason for optimism.

“Many of them came from countries where there was dictatorship, where they weren’t free. There’s the potential there for much more empathy when they visit a concentration camp,” he said.

Josh Spinner, an American-born, Berlin-based rabbi, said Germany also needs to keep its problems with anti-Semitism in perspective.

“There’s nowhere in Europe where there isn’t a sense of unease” among Jews, said Spinner, who is also chief executive of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, an education-focused philanthropic group.

German unease was reflected vividly this past week in a Berlin protest that drew about 2,000 people, who came wearing prayer caps. They listened as speakers warned of a rising threat and insisted that the country would not tolerate a return to its anti-Semitic past.

But Spinner said Germany still has it better than most places on the continent – in part because its past has taught it to be vigilant and aggressive in responding to signs of hatred.

Spinner said that he has walked Berlin’s streets wearing a kippa for years without any serious problems and that he will continue to do so. Warnings that Germany would become inhospitable for Jews after taking in so many refugees have, for the most part, not come to pass.

“Relative to the perceived threat, not much has happened,” Spinner said. “And that’s a relief.”

Source: After a massive refugee influx, Germany is confronting an imported anti-Semitism

Holocaust row: Abbas accused of anti-Semitism – BBC News

Not helpful:

Remarks by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas about the Holocaust have been condemned as anti-Semitic by Israeli politicians and rights activists.

Mr Abbas told a meeting in the West Bank the Nazi mass murder of European Jews was the result of their financial activities, not anti-Semitism.

He described their “social function” as “usury and banking and such”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said the remarks were “anti-Semitic and pathetic”.

Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy, remarked in a tweet: “Mahmoud Abbas says money-lending Jews provoked Holocaust… Now there’s a peace partner.”

In New York, the Anti-Defamation League condemned Mr Abbas’s “anti-Semitic assertions”.

In its attempt to annihilate the Jews of Europe during World War Two, Nazi Germany murdered some six million of them, building death camps to expedite the mass slaughter.

Driven by fanatical nationalism, the Nazis regarded Jews as a threat to Germany’s “racial purity”.

What did Abbas say exactly?
He was addressing a rare meeting of the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Monday.

It was a rare meeting of the PLO’s legislative body

Carried live on Palestinian TV, the 90-minute speech in Arabic included a section on the Palestinian leader’s view of the history of European Jewry, based on what he said were books by “Jewish Zionist authors”.

Jews in eastern and western Europe, he said, had been periodically subjected to massacres over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust.

“But why did this used to happen?” he asked. “They say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function.

“This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [unscrupulous money-lending] and banking and such.”

Mr Abbas also denied that Ashkenazi Jews – Jews from Germany and north-eastern Europe – were actually Semitic, saying, “They have no relation to Semitic people.” Ashkenazi Jews make up one of Israel’s biggest communities, giving the state a long line of prime ministers, including Mr Netanyahu.

It is not the first time the Palestinian leader’s views on the Holocaust have caused offence.

A student dissertation he wrote in the early 1980s argued there had been a “secret relationship between Nazism and Zionism” before the war, and appeared to question the death toll of six million.

He later played down allegations of Holocaust denial, saying in 2003: “The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind.”

How did the Anti-Defamation League respond?

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the ADL, which campaigns to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people”, dismissed the Palestinian leader’s “ahistorical and pseudo-academic assertions”.

“The Palestinian President’s latest diatribe reflects once again the depth and persistency of the anti-Semitic attitudes he harbors,” he said in a statement.

“With public speeches like these, it is not surprising that under Abbas’ leadership, the Palestinian Authority has failed to renounce and combat Palestinian anti-Semitic incitement, including narratives that Jews are to blame for the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic persecution, and which deny or diminish the millennial Jewish presence in and connection to the Land of Israel.”

via Holocaust row: Abbas accused of anti-Semitism – BBC News

My friend and Mid-East expert Arun recently posted on the Arte film, Israel-Palestine: one land, twice promised, link here, noting the balance and comprehensiveness of this two hour doc.

Articles on racism and discrimination that caught my eye

In terms of articles focussing on racism and discrimination, there was a mix of anecdote-based reports on the presence and impact of visible minorities (Immigration minister says he was target of racial profiling, calls on Liberals to fight racism, ‘We’re not immune’ on the Hill: Sen. Bernard launches Senate debate on anti-Black racism) and evidence (Indigenous, Black children over-represented in foster care and group homes, inquiry says, Experiences of violent victimization and discrimination reported by minority populations in Canada, 2014 – General Social Survey which I look forward to reviewing the data in more detail).

Commentary in favour of the anti-racism consults included Brittany Andrew-Amofah: Keep expectations high for antiracism consultations on the need to ensure meaningful results (some of which Budget 2018 addressed):

The plan to undertake these consultations deserves and requires scrutiny, but not because it may be designed to search for a racism that doesn’t exist (a possibility suggested by Globe and Mail Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife during a CPAC interview). We should be scrutinizing the consultations to make sure that meaningful outcomes are actually achieved. We should expect to see, just to name a few examples, a ban on police carding on the federal level; targeted funding to fight Islamophobia and other forms of hate; tougher sentences for hate crimes; increased investments in housing, health and social programs; an accelerated plan for safe drinking water on all reserves; and stronger independent police oversight bodies for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The timing of these consultations is also significant. With a federal election coming in 2019, a tour to study systemic racism could be used as a ploy to engage and garner support from racialized and Indigenous communities, with no intention on acting on the information shared. The Liberals are lucky that much of the research has already been done, but that means we must set high expectations for policy changes following the consultations. If real change does not result, the time spent in consultations will be wasted and another opportunity will be missed.

The contrary argument that greater political power of African Americans is ineffective in improving outcomes is made here (Williams: Black political power means zilch), essentially ignoring the impact that political power had in reducing some institutional barriers and systemic racism:

Jason Riley, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, tells how this surge in political power has had little beneficial impact on the black community.

In a PragerU video, “Blacks in Power Don’t Empower Blacks“, Riley says the conventional wisdom was based on the notion that only black politicians could understand and address the challenges facing blacks. Therefore, electing more black city councilors, mayors, representatives and senators was deemed critical.

…Riley says that the black experience in the U.S. has been very different from that of other racial groups. Blacks were enslaved. After emancipation, they faced legal and extralegal discrimination and oppression. But none of those difficulties undermines the proposition that human capital, in the forms of skills and education, is far more important than political capital.

Riley adds that the formula for prosperity is the same across the human spectrum. Traditional values — such as marriage, stable families, education and hard work — are immeasurably more important than the color of your mayor, police chief, representatives, senators and president.

As Riley argues in his new book — “False Black Power?” — the major barrier to black progress today is not racial discrimination. The challenge for blacks is to better position themselves to take advantage of existing opportunities, and that involves addressing the anti-social, self-defeating behaviors and habits and attitudes endemic to the black underclass.

As always, lots of antisemitism-related news, most notably France (‘Ethnic purging’: French stars and dignitaries condemn antisemitism), and the subsequent response by French Muslims (Accused of new anti-Semitism, French Muslims speak out) and Germany, where Rappers defend lyrics deemed anti-Semitic amid award backlash prompting Daniel Barenboim [to] return German music award in anti-Semitism row with the inevitable (?) result that Germany scraps music prize over antisemitism before ‘kippa march’).  As a show of public support, Germans of all faiths [participate] in ‘wear a kippa march’ against anti-Semitism. 

Some refreshing honesty from the former Anti Defamation League Director Abe Foxman (Former ADL Director: Trump has opened the ‘sewers’ of antisemitism.

John Ibbitson provides a thoughtful examination of the Canadian situation:

“The numbers stayed very high and are even up,” he said in an interview. “They’re not up as dramatically as they were last year, but they are higher than they were last year.”

An even bigger worry: While the lesser offence of harassment was the cause of the increase in 2016, in 2017 “the numbers of both violence and vandalism are up. The vandalism number is up quite significantly. It’s a serious proportional increase.”

But Ira Robinson, director of the Concordia University Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, isn’t so sure. His book A History of Antisemitism in Canada, which was published in 2015, concluded that anti-Semitic activity in this country had greatly declined in recent decades. He continues to monitor the situation, and believes there has been no significant increase, despite what B’nai Brith says.

“In terms of the type of stuff that I see, it’s very much the same,” he reports. “There is very little new under the sun.”

Twenty-first-century anti-Semitism is in part a by-product of both right-wing and left-wing populism. Both groups detest globalization, which they blame for lost jobs at home. From there, it is only a small, noxious step to conjure a globalist Jewish conspiracy.

“The negative impacts of globalization are often laid at the feet of Jews and this global Zionist conspiracy,” said Barbara Perry, a sociologist at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who specializes in hate crimes. “… It’s scarily similar from the left and the right, in that respect.”

Unfortunately, some Muslims harbour anti-Jewish thoughts, an import from their home countries. More often, though, Muslims and Jewish people are equally victims of racial hatred.

There is even an anti-Semitic variant that claims “Jewish privilege” contributes to systemic racism − though there is evidence that anonymous propaganda to that effect comes from the right, disguised as being from the left.

Anti-Semitism sometimes wears the mantle of anti-Zionism. But while criticism of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians is entirely legitimate, the hate-filled rants that often accompany the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) movement, which depicts Israel as an apartheid state, are anti-Semitism cloaked in righteousness.

Too often, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East produce anti-Zionist screeds in Canada that can result in attacks on Jewish people. “Local, national and global effects come into play,” Prof. Perry observed.

If the rise of populism coincides with, and might contribute to, rising anti-Semitism, then the absence of a populist wave in Canada is encouraging. But this country is not immune from such waves. Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto begat Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, his brother, who could well become a populist premier − although I am not suggesting in any way that Mr. Ford harbours racist sentiments of any kind.

But anti-Semitism can just as easily be found on university campuses as at right-wing rallies. It is present on the fringes of social democracy as well as conservatism. Elizabeth May has struggled to expunge it from the Green Party.

These are not harmonious times. Hatred of Jewish people is on the rise. It may be on the rise in Canada as well.


Source: John Ibbitson: Could anti-Semitism be on the rise in Canada

Lastly,  J.K. Rowling Gave A Master Class In Identifying Anti-Semitism And It Was Magical:

“Most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of crap, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden,” she said. “Antisemites think this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #antisemitism.”

Rowling’s head-smacking was almost audible as she sorted through responses to that tweet, including one that said arguing against anti-Semitism was “culturally insensitive” to Muslims.

“When you only understand bigotry in terms of ‘pick a team’ and get a mind-boggling response,” she said.

She also reacted with impatience — attaching a GIF of an exasperated Hugh Laurie — when someone argued that Arabs can’t be anti-Semitic because they are Semites. “The ‘Arabs are semitic too’ hot takes have arrived,” she said.

Split hairs. Debate etymology,” she said in a tweet attached to a definition of anti-Semitism as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” “Gloss over the abuse of your fellow citizens by attacking the actions of another country’s government. Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?”