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Missionaries of the Holocaust

by Oui Tue Apr 17th, 2018 at 05:12:11 PM EST

Anne Frank's American pen pal - Danville, Iowa

Danville, a city in south-eastern Iowa just over 10 miles from the Mississippi River, is where the story of this brief correspondence began. Now, it is being retold inside the Danville Station, a museum and cultural centre, through a permanent exhibit that will open on 16 April 2018.

The exhibit's design will involve a convergence of two worlds: one being Anne Frank and her family, and the other Juanita and Betty Ann Wagner, two girls from Danville who received letters from Anne and her sister, Margot. It will feature a timeline starting from the 1920s up through 1945, comparing events in Europe to those within the United States. There will also be a replica of the top floor of the Secret Annex that housed the Franks and four other Jewish people for two years.

"We've known about the letters for many, many years," said Janet Hesler, a high school secretary with the Danville Community School District who is involved with the exhibit. "It's very historical for Danville; the letters originated here."  

Anne Frank`s Pre-diary Iowa Pen Pal Releases Historic Letters for Auction - 1988
Letters connect Anne Frank to Eastern Iowa town - 2013

More below the fold ...

Pieces of matza wrapped in copies of Pravda | JPost - |

My first trip to the Soviet Union was full of unexpected surprises. It was March 1965. I was a student at Brandeis University spending my junior year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, majoring in Russian studies - the only American in the department.

As I looked at a map of the area, the Soviet Union seemed only a hop and a skip away from Israel, so I booked passage through the official Soviet travel agency Intourist, took the Turkish Maritime Line ship from Haifa to Istanbul and just a few days later arrived by boat in Odessa.

In those days the plight and fate of Soviet Jewry were barely on the radar screen - certainly not in Israel, which wished to keep relations with the Soviets as "correct" as possible, nor in America.

I was really going as an ordinary tourist with no other agenda - or so I thought.

On my first evening I took a walk to the most famous landmark of the city, the Potemkin Stairs. While finding my way in the evening darkness I came upon two students and I introduced myself: I was an American, and I was studying in... Jerusalem.

"And you?" I asked of the young men.

They laughed and said: "Mi - iz Tel Aviv! We come from Tel Aviv!" Now these fellows had never left Odessa, and they had certainly never been and would not in their wildest dreams be in Israel - but these proud Soviet Jews chose to introduce themselves with a touch of chutzpah and class, as proud Israelis; that is where they were really from! With that first contact still ringing in my ears, I proceeded to Leningrad, the former Imperial capital of the Russian Empire, and now the second largest city in the Soviet Union.

I made my way to the only synagogue in town, on Lermontovski Prospect, passing through the large gates with the Hebrew verse: "For My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All Peoples" and into the fairly dilapidated but very imposing Moorish structure. [Website: Jewish community in St. Petersburg - הקהילה היהודית בסנט פטרבור]

Inside, I noticed a crowd of locals going to and fro with large shopping bags, and spotted some workers in long white smocks and what seemed to be tall white bakers' hats. Behind the bakers were large ovens and a conveyor belt carrying what looked like a strange, twisted cardboard substance.

Suddenly it dawned on me that I was witnessing the baking of Soviet matza. Jews had come from all over the city and beyond to purchase matza for Passover. I was to learn that few of them had a Seder, knew about the four cups of wine, or had any access to a Haggada - except for those who still had books from before the Revolution. Moreover, as I was to realize on my future visits to Russia, even the story of the Exodus from Egypt was largely lost, certainly with its holiday and ritual accoutrements - yet the matza itself still held a deeply symbolic, if not necessarily religious, place in the lives and identity of Soviet Jews.

Years later, during the early 1990s, when masses of Soviet Jews came to Israel, our Jerusalem Ramot neighborhood created an absorption committee to welcome the newly arrived immigrants.

One of our projects was to set up the Russian Jews with local families for Seder night. The following day a professor from Moscow told me that not only was that the first Seder he had ever attended, but that until last evening he had never even heard the story that the Jews were slaves in Egypt! Back in 1965, as I departed the Leningrad synagogue that day, I noted local Jews who had wrapped their matzot in copies of the ruling Communist Party daily Pravda, which means "truth." I pondered on the stark contrast between what the Soviets claimed to be "true" and what we knew to be true - symbolized by the matzot.

Where missionaries meet ...

Anne Frank's Iowa Pen Pal - Holocaust Museum Phase II

    "Each book in the series is a gem! The individual and personal participation and investment of the youthful authors and illustrators is quite outstanding. May you have continued success in your Holy Work."
    Rabbi Jonathan Porath - Jerusalem

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by Oui Tue Apr 10th, 2018 at 04:00:10 AM PDT

Setting the standard of intolerance. Some religions keep biblical times and culture in a contemporary suspension. Cutting off heads and ethnic purity. How the US operating in the Middle East has led to populist right-wing extremists in Europe, the Trump presidency and the so-called Clash of Civilisations. How the West has joined to become slaves of more wars serving what purpose?  

Dutch Reformed: Erik Prince and Right-wing Extremism

Israel latches onto the War on Terror to hide its own terrorism

Ever since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, Israel has been able to convince the West, America and Europe in particular, that its brutal "self-defence" is part of the global "War on Terror". An active lobby promising votes and electoral finance has played its part well.

In November 2001 the then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon praised the leadership of George W Bush and Tony Blair "in the struggle against global terrorism". This, said Sharon, "is a fight for basic values, freedom, liberty, security and democracy. It is a fight that every peace loving nation supports for the sake of the security of future generations." Israel, naturally, feels that it is at the forefront of that struggle, as long as "freedom, liberty, security and democracy" are for Israeli Jews only and not Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv in April 2008, said that the 11 September, 2001 terror attacks had been beneficial for Israel. "We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq," Ma'ariv quoted the then opposition leader as saying. What happened in the US had "swung American public opinion in [Israel's] favour."

This "mantra", wrote David Rosenberg in Haaretz last week, was repeated when Netanyahu went to Paris in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket killings: "Israel and the West are fighting the same fight against Islamic extremism." Netanyahu, added Rosenberg, has been articulating that line for some time, "but perhaps this time, Europe will be more inclined to listen."

How Israel relies on Islamophobia | Mondoweiss - 2014 |
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders Are Islamophobes   by Oui @BooMan on March 19, 2017
Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism: Different Religions, Same Hate | Tikun Olam - May 2018 |

by Oui on Mon Apr 30th, 2018 at 12:56:51 PM EST
The Holocaust and the Exceptionalism of Jewish Suffering

Witness the Holocaust: while there can be no argument about the enormity of the suffering inflicted on the Jewish people, there's a certain conceptualization of the tragedy that can be especially harmful.  Primary among these is that this genocide was not only unique, but that it confers on Jews certain rights or privileges: "boasting rights," if you will. Jewish suffering in the Holocaust has been used to justify all manner of horrible Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. Whenever the Israel Lobby and its apologists meet anyone viewed as hostile to Israel, invocation of the Holocaust silences the conversation and seals the "fate" of the interlocutor. Associate someone with Hitler or his brand of Jew hatred, and you need not say more. You've neutralized whatever credibility or viability their arguments might have.

Further, by "exceptionalizing" the Holocaust this serves to cut Jews off from the rest of humanity. If the six-million are "ours" and ours alone, then there can be no other genocide that compares to it. In truth, humans have committed genocide going very far back in our history as a species. Even we Jews exterminated tribes which lived in the land of Israel at the time of Israelite settlement. There were even civil wars between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, in which tens of thousands were slaughtered as recounted in the Biblical narrative.

Nor should the rest of humanity and its religions let themselves off the hook. The Catholic Church slaughtered Albigensians in the Middle Ages. It slaughtered Jews during the Crusades.  Burmese Buddhists have killed tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya Muslims and ethnically cleansed a half-million people. The Buddhist Sinhalese of Sri Lanka slaughtered the Tamils to end Sri Lanka's civil war.  We are a race that kills its own.  And the murderers often get away with it.

But such an impulse to mass murder is not unique to Jew haters (of which there have been far too many, alas). Genocide may be built into our human genetic code.

[About the author Richard Silverstein: As I write this, I'm on a plane returning from Berkeley to Seattle, after attending an Islamophobia conference, "The Road Traveled," at which I delivered my first academic paper: "Global Islamophobia: the Israel Connection."  There were presenters from Japan, Canada, Sweden the UK, France, and Austria.]

Confronting Islamophobia: Major Seattle Conference Promotes Religious Tolerance
Israel targeting civilians an overview from 1947 'till today

by Oui on Mon Apr 30th, 2018 at 01:16:24 PM EST
Palestinian leader Abbas offers apology for remarks on Jews | Arab News |

Ramallah - Palestinian Territory: President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday offered an apology after he was criticized for anti-Semitism for suggesting that historic persecution of European Jews had been caused by their conduct, not by their religion.

Abbas condemned anti-Semitism and called the Holocaust the "most heinous crime in history" in a statement issued by his office in Ramallah after a four-day meeting of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), at which he had made the remarks.

"If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them," Abbas said in the statement.

"I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths."

Abbas, 82, was excoriated by Israeli and Jewish leaders and diplomats who accused him of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial for his remarks on Monday during his opening speech to the PNC, the de facto parliament of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

In a lengthy section about history, he said that Jews living in Europe had suffered massacres "every 10 to 15 years in some country since the 11th century and until the Holocaust."

Abbas apologizes to Jews 'if they were offended' by anti-Semitic remarks | Ynet News |

The Khazar Kingdom, Abbas said, eventually collapsed and its subjects spread throughout Europe. Those subjects, Abbas asserted, are the Ashkenazi Jews.

"They have no relationship to Semitic culture, Abraham, Jacob and others," Abbas claimed.

He also compared the treatment of European Jews to that of Jews who lived in Arab nations, saying the latter never suffered from persecution in the 1,400 years they lived there.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov called Abbas' comments "deeply disturbing".

President Reuven Rivlin questioned how Abbas could be considered a legitimate peace partner in light of his speech.

"How can a leader who expresses such dark anti-Semitic ideas present himself as a partner in peace?" Rivlin asked during a state visit to Ethiopia.

The European Union's foreign service also condemned Abbas's "unacceptable" remarks, echoing criticism by PM Benjamin Netanyahu. US officials also condemned on Tuesday night Abbas's speech.

by Oui on Fri May 4th, 2018 at 01:22:31 PM EST

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