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Netanyahu Expresses `Deep Shock,' Offers Help in the wake of Sri Lanka Massacre that has Risen to 215

By DEBKAfile & United with Israel

The death toll from the seven explosions that ripped through Sri Lanka's churches and hotels on Easter Sunday has shot up again to 215 with 500 injured. Among the dead are scores of tourists, believed to be American, British, Dutch, Danish, Chinese, Japanese, Pakistani, Moroccan and Indian. They have not been identified. No organization has taken responsibility for the atrocity.

After an emergency cabinet meeting in Colombo, investigators were still groping in the dark, although Indian sources say the multiple attacks on Christian worship, including at least two suicide attacks, bears all the hallmarks of the Islamic State,

The cabinet in emergency session initially responded by imposing a night curfew on all parts of Sri Lanka and shutting down access to the social media, in an attempt to restore a semblance of control. By afternoon, the government ordered all universities closed until further notice, and the mail rail service suspended, apparently in expectation of more attacks.

The defense ministry reported a raid on a home and the arrest of 7 people suspected of planning and executing the terrorist attacks. This report was greeted with general skepticism as an attempt to prove the authorities were in control.

Sri Lanka is an Indian Ocean island-state and a popular tourist destination, with a population of 22 million, 70% of whom are Buddhists, 13% Hindus,!0% Muslims and just over 7% Christian.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reacted with shock to the massive, horrific attacks at churches and hotels. "On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I express my deep shock over the murderous attacks against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka," said the prime minister, also expressing Israel's desire to help in whichever way it can.

"Israel stands ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this difficult time," Netanyahu said in his message. "The entire world must unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism," he added. Israel often extends its assistance to other countries fighting terror, including intelligence resources, rescue efforts, and identification of the dead.

Coincidentally, this past January, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and United Hatzalah teamed up to train first responders in Colombo, Sri Lanka in mass casualty incidents and disaster management. The mission, funded by the AJC, brought experts from United Hatzalah of Israel to train members of local response organizations in how to provide quick and effective emergency response to large scale emergencies ranging from natural disasters to terror attacks.

The team from Israel provided training to members of the military, police force, search and rescue units and the fire department in Sri Lanka and provided them with tools and techniques developed in Israel in dealing with large-scale attacks such as the kind that occurred Sunday.

Warsaw Synagogue Destroyed by Nazis `Reappears' on Anniversary of Ghetto Revolt

By Israel Hayom

The Great Synagogue of Warsaw, which was destroyed by Nazi German forces during World War II, has made a brief reappearance as part of anniversary commemorations for the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The light was projected last Thursday night onto the modern glass building situated where the synagogue used to stand. For two hours, a grand building fronted by classical Greek-style columns was returned virtually to a city where most traces of a large pre-war Jewish community have vanished. Archival recordings of the synagogue's cantor, Gerszon Sirota, revived the sounds of Jewish Warsaw. Sirota died in the ghetto.

The light-and-sound show was the work of Polish multimedia artist Gabi von Seltmann, who wants Polish society to remember the large Jewish community that was once an integral part of a multicultural country. It was organized by the Open Republic, a group that fights anti-Semitism.

"Awaking memory in Poland to me also means to teach empathy, because when there is empathy, there is no fear anymore," von Seltmann said.

The synagogue "re-creation" happened for the second year as part of commemorations for the anniversary of the uprising, which was Friday, with many other observances taking place. This year it took place the night before so as not to interfere with Shabbat and the Passover holiday, which began Friday evening.

Von Seltmann's grandfather was a Polish school director killed at Auschwitz along with many other members of the Polish intelligentsia. Her husband, whose last name she has taken, is the grandson of one of the SS officers who inflicted atrocities on occupied Poland. The couple has written and spoken publicly about their own love story, framing it as a story of generational reconciliation. "If we don't work on memory, we will put it on the shoulders of the next generations. They will have problems. Their children will have problems," von Seltmann said.

The Great Synagogue was opened in 1878 as a place of worship for followers of Reform Judaism, with Polish — not Hebrew — the language of services. The use of choral and organ music marked another break from Orthodox tradition. It was the largest synagogue in a city where a third of the population was Jewish.

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising broke out April 19, 1943, when about 750 young Jewish fighters armed with just pistols and fuel bottles attacked a much larger and heavily armed German force that was "liquidating" the ghetto, meaning deporting its inhabitants to the Treblinka death camp. In their last testaments, the fighters said they knew they were doomed but wanted to die at a time and place of their choosing. They held out nearly a month, longer than some German-invaded countries did.

The Germans razed the Warsaw Ghetto and killed most of the fighters, except for a few dozen who managed to escape through sewage canals to the "Aryan" side of the city. They blew up the Great Synagogue in a symbolic victory gesture. To this day, the Jewish revolt endures as a powerful symbol of resistance central to Israeli national identity.

2/3 of Americans Now Believe Jews Face Discrimination in the US


Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe Jews face discrimination in the US, a new survey revealed recently, marking a significant increase over the past few years. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who believe Jews in the US face discrimination shot up by 20 points between 2016 and 2019.

The survey was conducted between March 20th and 25th and polled 1,503 American adults. Five months earlier, a lone gunman had opened fire on worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 and wounding 6. The incident was the deadliest attack targeting Jews in US history.

Sixty-four percent of American adults in March 2019 said they believe that Jews face discrimination in the US, compared to just 44% who believed so in 2016. The portion of Americans who believe Jews face significant discrimination also went up sharply, rising from 13% of Americans in 2016 to 24% in 2019 – a nearly 85% increase.

Fifty-five percent of Republicans believe Jews face discrimination in the US, including 20% who say US Jews face "a lot" of discrimination. By comparison, 28% of Democrats say Jews face "a lot" of discrimination in the US, with a total of 70% who believe Jews face some degree of discrimination.

By contrast, only 32% of Democrats say Evangelicals face discrimination, compared to 70% of Republicans. However, the number of respondents who believe Jews face discrimination went up significantly between 2016 and 2019 among both Republicans and Democrats. In 2016, just 9% of Republicans and 15% of Democrats said Jews were discriminated against, rising to 20% of Republicans and 28% of Democrats in 2019.

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