Newsletter : 18fx0413.txt
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Israeli Air Force Gives Tel Aviv a Scare as Syria Tensions Flare
By Reuters & VOA News
Israelis stood still on Thursday for a nationwide moment of silence in remembrance of
the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, as a two-minute siren wailed across the
country and the nation paid respects to those systematically killed by Nazi Germany and
its collaborators in World War II.
As every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, buses and cars halted on streets and highways
and Israelis stepped out of their vehicles, standing with heads bowed in solemn
remembrance. The somber day is also marked by ceremonies and memorials at schools and
community centers. Restaurants and cafes in the ordinarily bustling streets of Tel Aviv
shutter, and TV and radio stations play Holocaust-themed programs. Dignitaries laid
wreaths at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Israeli police emergency lines lit up on Thursday after warplanes roared over the Tel Aviv
coast, dropping anti-missile flares and performing aerobatics at a time of tension along
the border with Syria. It was just a rehearsal - practice flights are held every year -
for the Israeli Air Force's annual Independence Day national fly past on April 19, but no
prior announcement was made.
"Many calls were received from worried citizens about noise from a squadron of planes in
the Tel Aviv area," police said in statement. "We would like to make clear they were
training for the Independence Day aerial display. There's no emergency."
Under clear skies over Tel Aviv's Mediterranean beach, two F-15 jets maneuvered through a
series of sharp turns, climbs and dives in what appeared to be a mock dogfight as the
sound of their engines crackled through the streets.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria
over a suspected poison gas attack, and Israel held top-level security consultations over
concerns it might be a target for Syrian or Iranian retaliation. Trump said on Thursday
that a possible strike against Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all."
Despite the tensions, the commander of Israel's armed forces, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, flew
to Poland on Thursday morning to take part in Holocaust Remembrance Day events. The
Israeli military tweeted a video of him boarding a plane but did not immediately say when
he was scheduled to return. A source in the delegation told Reuters, however, that
Eizenkot would be back by nightfall.
A third of the world's Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Israel was established
afterward in 1948, and hundreds of thousands of survivors fled to the Jewish state. On
Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a Holocaust memorial
ceremony at Yad Vashem and warned that archenemy Iran should not test Israel amid rising
tensions in Syria.
"Events of recent days teach that standing up to evil and aggression is a mission imposed
on every generation," Netanyahu said. "Today as well, a murderous regime threatens us,
threatens entire world peace, this regime explicitly declares that it intends to
annihilate us, the Jewish state," he said, alluding to Iran.
Netanyahu compared the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran to the appeasement
of Adolf Hitler in the run-up to World War II. He said the agreement "released the Iranian
regime from its chains and since has devoured country after country, similar to what
happened in Europe in the 1930s."
Israel regards Iran as an existential threat because of its nuclear and ballistic missile
programs and support for anti-Israel organizations such as the Shiite militant group
Hizbullah in Lebanon and Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Tehran
insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Iranian General Threatens to 'Raze Tel Aviv to the Ground'
A senior Iranian military official threatened to destroy Israel as part of an
escalating war of words between the Jewish State and the Islamic Republic. According to
Ali Shirazi, who serves as the liaison between Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian
military's Quds Force, "Iran has the capability to destroy Israel and given the excuse,
Tel Aviv and Haifa will be razed to the ground. Iran is not Syria," added Shirazi. "If
Israel wants to survive a few more days, it has to stop this childish game."
Shirazi's threats come as tensions rise between Israel and Iran following an alleged
Israeli attack on the Syrian military's T-4 airbase earlier this week. The Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country's conflict, said 14 fighters were
killed, including Syrian army officers and Iranian forces.
Iran has long been a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has been
providing him with both financial aid and military advisors against a range of opposing
forces. The airstrike came just days after a sarin nerve gas attack in the city of Douma,
east of Damascus that killed dozens of civilians.
On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Netanyahu used his official address at the Holocaust
Martyrs and Heroes' Remembrance Day ceremony to warn Iran "not to test Israel's
determination to protect itself. Even today, an extreme regime threatens us, threatens the
peace of the entire world - this regime explicitly declares that it intends to destroy us,
the Jewish state," said Netanyahu. "There are those who delude themselves, as in Munich in
1938, that the agreement with the Iranian regime will stop its aggression."
Rivlin: Many Poles Helped Carry Out Holocaust
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, that many Poles
helped the Nazis exterminate the Jewish population of Poland before the annual March of
the Living. "This land was a forge of the Jewish nation's soul, and to our deep sorrow,
also its largest Jewish graveyard. You can't erase such a rich history, full, painful
history," Rivlin told Duda during their meeting in Krakow shortly before the start of the
Rivlin addressed a controversial bill passed by the Polish Parliament and signed into law
by Duda which declares it illegal to suggest Poland bore any responsibility for crimes
against humanity committed by Nazi Germany on its soil during World War II. Violators
could face up to three years in prison.
The Israeli president said that while there were Poles who helped rescue many Jews, there
were also many Poles who collaborated with the Nazis in the murder of Jews and who
murdered Jews themselves during World War II.
"People murdered and then inherited [the property of the dead]. Here there was a
foundation [of anti-Semitic sentiment] that allowed the Nazis to do as they wished, not
only in Poland but throughout Europe," Rivlin said. "The country of Poland allowed the
implementation of the horrific genocidal ideology of Hitler, and witnessed the wave of
anti-Semitism sparked by the law you passed now," he added. "There is no doubt that many
Poles fought the Nazi regime, but we can't deny the fact that Poland and Poles helped in
Rivlin said that Poland must ensure that the memory of the Holocaust "You have to
understand the feeling of the Jewish people in Israel, and we see the Holocaust as the
result of anti-Semitism that led to the slaughter of the Jewish people out of a Nazi
ideology that flourished on Polish soil. But we also have a deep disagreement about which
we have spoken, and we demand that Poland continue to be committed to a comprehensive and
unlimited study of the events and processes of the Holocaust. "
"This is the agreement between the two countries, and it is fitting that it be the
responsibility of the statesmen to shape the future ... Historians have the duty to
describe the past and explore history. Education and research is the way to pass the torch
of remembrance and responsibility to future generations.
The president added: "It is important for Jews and Israelis to know the diverse Jewish
history of Poland, and it is important that young people and adults in Poland know and
learn about what happened here during the Second World War, and I greatly appreciate the
cooperation of the Polish government and the National Museum in Auschwitz with the March
of the Living. I hope we will find the right path to continue to combine remembrance,
research and education for the benefit of future generations."
Polish President Duda said: "Our meeting here is a great honor, but also a testimony to
the great tragedy that took place here, and we are meeting here at the March of the Living
as evidence of the memory of the Jewish Holocaust. We call on the entire world to see
where xenophobia and anti-Semitism can lead to a cry to the entire world to remember that
people must respect one another and never again. "
He defended Poland's attempt's protect its reputation regarding the Holocaust. "So many
Jews have sacrificed their lives over the years for the sake of Poland and its
independence and their graves are scattered all over Poland, not because they were
murdered, but because they fought so that Poland could live in its independence. Mr.
President, I want to emphasize once more - But I want to make it clear again that at no
stage did we want to block testimony [of the Holocaust]. On the contrary, we wanted to
defend the historical truth, and I, as a leader, want to do it at any cost even when it is
difficult for us."
The Polish president also said: "I am not afraid to say that there were people whose
behavior should be condemned, but there were also people who should be proud of them ...
The authorities tried to protect the Jews, but they condemned them to death ... We are not
going to block that testimony. Mr. President, I think that our joint march here will make
it clear to the entire world that we will never again."
The Evils of the Holocaust Demand that Each One of Us be a Lifesaver
By David M. Schizer (Commentary)
Remembering the Holocaust is a solemn duty that all of humanity shares. On Yom Hashoah,
which started on Wednesday evening, we should remember the heroes as well as the villains.
There was pure evil, to be sure, but also courage, principle and sacrifice.
The inspiring aspects of the Shoah like stars glittering in the darkest sky
have become clearer to me after a year leading the American Jewish Joint Distribution
Committee, which rescued Jews and supported resistance during World War II. When the war
ended, JDC cared for survivors in displaced persons camps. Today, JDC provides lifesaving
care to over 50,000 survivors in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
I cannot say this work has changed my view of the Holocaust. The murder of millions still
horrifies me beyond words, and I will never understand it. But I have learned three
lessons from the Holocaust that I find motivating and even uplifting. These lessons should
resonate with every Jew, even at a time when the global Jewish community is divided about
First, when lives are at stake, we should never give up. Even in the darkest times
indeed, especially in those times we should do what we can to create a bit of
light. This point is especially resonant this year, as we commemorate the 75th anniversary
of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on April 19, 1943.
Residents of the ghetto worried that Nazi atrocities there would be hidden from the rest
of the world. So they wrote testimonials and buried them in aluminum crates. The creator
of this secret archive was Emanuel Ringelblum, a historian who was working in Warsaw for
JDC when the Germans invaded. Although the Nazis murdered Ringelblum in 1944, others
unearthed the crates after the war, preserving an eternal record of suffering and heroism
in the ghetto.
The ghetto's residents wanted not only to be remembered, but also to resist. They needed
money to buy weapons. The main source of these funds was Ringelblum's friend and mentor,
Isaac Giterman, who was JDC's director in Poland when the war broke out. When Giterman
could no longer tap funds from the United States, he persuaded Polish Jews to spend hidden
wealth on the uprising.
In addition to weapons, the ghetto fighters also needed a military plan. But it was hard
to develop one, since the Nazis did not allow meetings in the ghetto. To circumvent this
restriction, Giterman opened a soup kitchen. The military planners served the soup,
allowing them to spend time together every day planning the uprising. The Nazis murdered
Giterman three months before the uprising, but his courage and resourcefulness show what
can be achieved even against impossible odds.
The same bravery and ingenuity animated the work of two Christian diplomats in Budapest,
Carl Lutz of Switzerland and Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden. They saved over 100,000 Hungarian
Jews by arranging hiding places and issuing "protective passports." Much of their work was
financed by the War Refugee Board, a U.S. government institution that received nearly all
of its funding from JDC and other philanthropic sources.
Just as the Holocaust shows that evil can be resisted, even when the prospects of success
seem remote, there is a second lesson as well: Jewish life can blossom again, even where
indescribable atrocities once were committed. For example, nearly three decades ago my
organization established the JDC-Lauder International Jewish Summer Camp in Szarvas,
Hungary. Since then, Camp Szarvas has helped thousands of young Jews from across Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union to forge strong Jewish identities and become leaders of
their local Jewish communities.
The third lesson of the Holocaust is more sobering, but perhaps even more motivating:
Tragically, more could have been done to rescue Jews from the Nazis, as emphasized by
David Wyman, a distinguished Holocaust historian who passed away last month. For example,
the United States admitted only a fraction of the refugees that our (restrictive)
immigration laws would have allowed. The British barred Jews from Palestine, relenting to
Arab pressure. The Allies did not bomb the tracks to concentration camps or adequately
fund the War Refugee board. Some Jewish communal organizations failed to treat these
issues as their highest priority.
Today, the main issue is not whether we are able to help vulnerable Jews across the globe;
it's whether we are willing. If we fail to act on their behalf, it is because we are
making a choice not to help. This is a choice we must never make. Regardless of our
political leanings or our religious denominations, we should commit together to help the
vulnerable among us. This is the best way to honor the memory of those we lost during the
(David M. Schizer is CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.)
Study: 22% of US Millennials Never Heard of the Holocaust
Over a fifth of millennials in the United States have not heard of or are unsure if
they have heard of the Holocaust, a study found. The survey, which was commissioned by the
Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (also known as the Claims
Conference), found that many Americans were unaware of basic facts about the Holocaust.
The results were released Thursday, which marks Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The study included 1,350 interviews with Americans aged 18 and over.
While 6 million Jews are estimated killed in the Holocaust, 31% of all respondents and 41%
of millennials, aged 18 to 34, believe that number is 2 million or less, according to the
survey. Forty-five percent of all respondents could not name a concentration camp or
ghetto from World War II, and 41% could not identify Auschwitz, a network of Nazi
concentration and extermination camps.
The study found that the vast majority of respondents support Holocaust education.
Ninety-three percent of the respondents said that all students should learn about the
Holocaust in school and 80% said it was important to educate about the Holocaust to
prevent it from happening again. Still, 58% of respondents believe that "something like
the Holocaust could happen again." The study was conducted Feb. 23-27 by Schoen
Consulting. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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