Category Archive: Together

HAJRTP 2018

                     HAJRTP 2018

HAJRTP 2018

                     HAJRTP 2018

Germany says video games can now include Nazi symbols

Lifting ban, industry body says games that ‘critically look at current affairs’ may display swastikas and Hitler with a mustache

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is seen in front of a Nazi flag in the video game “Wolfenstein II.” (Screen capture: YouTube)

BERLIN — Computer and video games can include swastikas and other Nazi symbols, a German industry body said Thursday, after a heated debate over the “Wolfenstein” franchise in which gamers battle Third Reich forces.

The game was previously deemed to have fallen foul of the German criminal code, which bars any depiction of so-called “anti-constitutional” symbols, including Nazi swastikas.

Accordingly in “Wolfenstein II,” images of Adolf Hitler were doctored to remove his mustache and the swastika in the Nazi flag was replaced with a triangular symbol.

This sparked an uproar in the gaming community, prompting calls for games to be treated like films.

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is seen without a mustache in the German version of the video game “Wolfenstein II.” (Screen capture: YouTube)

Because movies are deemed works of art, they are exempt from the ban, similar to material used in research, historical or scientific purposes.

Films set in the World War II-era, for instance, are allowed to be screened in Germany with Nazi symbols.

The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said video games will in future be examined as to whether they constitute such exceptions.

The industry body, which is responsible for providing age ratings on video games, made the decision after it was tasked to determine what is socially permissible in video games by Germany’s youth protection services.

“Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can for the first time be given a USK age rating,” said Elisabeth Secker, USK managing director.

“This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and video games,” she said.

USK will perform its new task responsibly, she added.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/germany-lifts-ban-on-nazi-symbols-in-video-games/

After complaints, Amazon removes swastika pendants, onesies with burning crosses

Advocacy groups say retail giant’s ‘weak and inadequately enforced’ policies allow racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic groups to generate money and spread ideas

A Pewter Swastika Pendant Necklace marked "currently unavailable" at amazon.com on August 5, 2018

Amazon says it has removed items with Nazi or white supremacist symbols from its website after criticism from advocacy groups.

An Amazon executive said the company blocked the accounts of some retailers and might suspend them. Such items were still listed and displayed on Amazon.com as of August 5, 2018, though some were marked unavailable.

Democratic US Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota complained to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last month. The company’s vice president of public policy, Brian Huseman, responded to Ellison, telling him that Amazon prohibits listing products that promote or glorify hatred, violence or intolerance.

A spokeswoman for Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. declined to comment further on Sunday.

In early July, the Partnership for Working Families and the Action Center on Race and the Economy highlighted Amazon listings including swastika pendants, baby onesies with burning cross logos and a costume that makes the wearer look like he has been lynched — the model appears to be a black man.

The groups said that Amazon’s “weak and inadequately enforced” policies allowed racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic groups to generate money and spread their ideas.

Ellison, who is deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, asked Bezos how much money Amazon made from selling material including books published by hate groups since 2015, and whether it would destroy such merchandise at its warehouses.

Huseman said Amazon “makes a significant investment” in enforcing seller policies, including automated tools to scan listings and automatically removing those that violate its policies.

The executive said Amazon was preventing the sale of the items in question and was in the process of removing them from fulfillment centers.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/amazon-removes-nazi-themed-items-after-complaints/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=8521077fc9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_06_10_45&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-8521077fc9-55812549

Remembering My Father in Auschwitz

Nothing about the Shoah was logical or made sense. Our task, our mission, today and always, is not to try to understand, but to remember.

On the 75th anniversary of the liquidation of the ghettos of the region of southern German-occupied Poland known as Zaglembie, the World Zaglembie Organization and the World Jewish Congress are organizing a week-long pilgrimage of survivors and descendants of survivors from the area to Krakow, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Będzin, Sosnowiec, Zawiercie, and other once heavily Jewish towns. The following article is expanded from remarks delivered at Auschwitz on July 29, 2018, by Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, to the participants in the trip.

One of the first things my father taught me to do was to swim. Not just to swim, but also to dive. And it was directly related to the place where we are today.

Seventy-five years ago, on July 29, 1943, my father was in the ghetto of his hometown of Będzin in southern Poland, less than 15 minutes’ drive from the city of Katowice, and some 45 kilometers–around 28 miles–from the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Or, more accurately, he was back in the Będzin ghetto. Five weeks earlier, on June 22nd, he had been deported to Auschwitz together with his wife and her daughter. Usually, Jews were transported in windowless cattle cars, but this time the Germans used a passenger car. As the train crossed the Vistula River not far from the camp, my father’s wife and daughter prevailed on him to try to escape. He was an excellent swimmer, and dove out of the train’s window. German soldiers shot at him, and he was hit by three bullets: One grazed his forehead just near his eye, leaving a visible scar; a second entered his arm; and a third was never removed from his leg.

My father recalled losing consciousness, and that the ice-cold water resuscitated him. Somehow, he managed to drag himself out of the river. In the darkness, he saw a dim light emanating from a cottage, a hut really. He knew that knocking on its door was extremely dangerous–the people who lived there might well turn him over to the Gestapo. But he was lucky again. A peasant woman and her son took him in, gave him coffee, bandaged his wound, allowed him to dry his sopping wet clothes, and gave him a cap to hide his wounded head. After the war, my father unsuccessfully tried to find them. He walked through the night back to the ghetto–there was nowhere else for him to go–where he was reunited with his 80-year-old father. Subsequently, he learned that virtually the entire transport, including his wife and her daughter, had been taken directly to the gas chambers upon their arrival at Birkenau. In an oral testimony taken by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Będzin survivor Sigmund Strochlitz recalled my father warning the Jews of the ghetto after his return “that we will all be brought there [to Auschwitz, that is] and to expect the worst.”

Less than six weeks later, during the liquidation of the Będzin ghetto and after his father had died of natural causes in his arms, my father avoided deportation to Auschwitz once more by first hiding in a bunker for several days, and then escaping to the nearby town of Zawiercie. In late August 1943, however, he arrived at Birkenau as part of a transport from Zawiercie.

I knew that shortly thereafter, he spent several days in the notorious Block 11, the so-called Death Block, in Auschwitz 1. On my first visit there in 1995, I saw the page of the Block 11 registry according to which my father, Josef Rosensaft, number 140594, arrived there on Sept. 30, 1943 and left, evidently alive, on Oct. 4. But I never knew the details of how it was that he was not sent from Block 11 to be killed. My father died unexpectedly in 1975 at the age of 64, and this was one aspect of his survival that he never got around to telling me about.

But then, in December of 2013–more than 38 years after my father’s death–a friend of mine in Israel sent me the newly published biography of her cousin, Auschwitz survivor Zeev “Yumek” Londner–the father of our friend Daphna Londner Eldar–who, after Hebraizing his name, had risen to become Colonel (Aluf Mishne) Zeev Liron, one of the highest ranking officers in the Israel Air Force in its formative years. Liron’s father had been one of my father’s close friends in Będzin. I had also known that Liron–Londner–and his brother Moshe (Maniek) had been imprisoned in Block 11 together with my father, both because my father spoke about it and because their names were listed on the registry page alongside his.

As Liron told the story to journalist Moshe Ronen (Reinish) in From the Depths to the Skies (in Hebrew, Tehomot u-shehakim), “Rosensaft did not stop thinking about escaping.” My father told the Londner brothers that he had developed a friendship with a German SS doctor stationed in Katowice who had offered to hide my father and members of his family. Now my father plotted for the three of them to escape from their work detail, hide in a deserted tunnel until the Germans stopped looking for them, and then make their way to the SS doctor’s house in Katowice where they would be able to stay at least for a while.

When their scheme was betrayed to the Germans by a German unterkapo, an assistant to one of the inmates assigned by the camp’s administration to supervise his fellow prisoners, my father and the Londner brothers were taken from Birkenau to Auschwitz where a young German SS officer named Otto Klaus interrogated them.

The punishment for even plotting to escape, Klaus told the three Jews, is death. We are now going to take you to Block 11 and decide whether you will be shot or hanged, he continued. But prisoners are only shot on Mondays, and as today is Thursday, you will spend the next several days in Block 11. The three were put into a small standing cell in the block’s cellar with two other prisoners. Liron recalled that my father quipped with “black humor” that it was a shame they didn’t have a deck of cards to pass the time.

On Monday morning, they heard prisoners being taken from other cells, followed by gunshots. Liron remembered that “Yossele”–my father–bid his friends goodbye, telling them that they might meet again in the next world.  But no one came for them.  After an hour, Yakov (or Jakub) Kozalczyk, the kapo in charge of Block 11, came to their cell and hugged them. “You’re heroes,” he told them. “Nothing will happen to you, not today.” Later the same day, they walked back to Birkenau, quite probably along the same path we will take later this afternoon.

When Liron met my father again two years later in the displaced-persons camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany, my father told him that following the liberation, he had looked for and found his SS doctor friend from Katowice who cleared up what had been the mystery of the three young Jews’ survival.

The unterkapo who had betrayed my father and the Londner brothers did not know the name of the man who was going to hide them but he gave Otto Klaus, the young SS officer, an address in Katowice that he had apparently overheard. Intent on exposing and arresting the still anonymous traitor, Klaus rode his motorcycle to the address in question and rang the house bell.  When the doctor opened the door, the two stared at one another in disbelief.

More than 25 years earlier, during World War I, the doctor had saved Otto Klaus’ father’s life. The two families had remained friends. Now Klaus had a decision to make, and he made it.  Instead of taking the doctor into custody, Klaus returned to Auschwitz and reported that his investigation had not uncovered any scheme to escape, that the unterkapo had lied, that my father and the Londner brothers were therefore innocent of any crime, and that there was no legal basis for executing them.

And so it is that I can tell my grandchildren that their great-grandfather survived Block 11, which made it possible for their grandfather to be born, because a young German SS officer named Otto Klaus had at least one spark of decency, of humaneness, left within him at Auschwitz in the first days of October 1943.

Back in Birkenau, in mid-October 1943, during Sukkot, my father smuggled a tiny apple into the barrack so that the highly respected rabbi of Zawiercie, the Zawiercier Rov, could recite the Kiddush blessing at the end of a clandestine prayer service. Throughout the prayers, my father recalled, the aged Rov stared at the apple, obviously conflicted. At the end of the clandestine service, he picked up the apple and said, in Yiddish, almost to himself, “Un iber dem zol ikh itzt zogn, ve-akhalta ve-savata u-verakhta et Hashem Elohekha …’” And over this, I should now say, “And you will eat, and you will be satisfied, and you will bless your God …”  “Kh’vel nisht essen,” I will not eat, he said, “veil ikh vel nisht zat sein,” because I will not be satisfied, “un ikh vill nisht bentchn” and I refuse to bentch, to sanctify God. And with that, the Zawiercier Rov put down the apple and turned away.

The Zawiercier Rov never lost his faith in God. Like the Hasidic master, Levi Itzhak of Berditchev, however, he was profoundly, desperately angry with Him, and this anger caused him to confront God from the innermost depths of his being.

One evening around the same time, my father and a group of Jews from Zawiercie were sitting in their barrack when the Zawiercier Rov suddenly said, again in Yiddish, “Ihr veist—you know—der Rebboine shel-oilem ken zein a ligner,” the Master of the Universe can be a liar. Asked how this could possibly be, the rabbi explained, “If God were to open His window now and look down and see us here, He would immediately look away and say, “Ikh hob dos nisht geton,” I did not do this—and that, the Zawiercier Rov said, would be the lie.

Later that year, my father was transferred from Birkenau to a sub-camp of Auschwitz, Łagisza, near Będzin. Sometime in the winter of 1944, he managed to escape from there and was hidden by a Polish friend. His freedom was short-lived. On his way to try to get forged papers to enable him to get to Hungary, he was recaptured by German soldiers looking for someone else. He was first taken back to Łagisza, where he was severely beaten, and then returned to Auschwitz where he spent months in Block 11 being tortured repeatedly–the Germans wanted to know the name of the Pole who had hidden him, something my father stubbornly refused to do, a stubbornness that I am certain saved his life. For the remainder of the war, through several other camps, my father was forced to wear a uniform with a special red circle—the so-called Fluchtpunktidentifying him as an escapee.

The same kapo, Jakub Kozalczyk, who had hugged my father and the Londner brothers the previous October, once publicly gave my father 250 vicious lashes at the direction and under the supervision of an SS doctor.

One of the inmates of Block 11 in the late spring of 1944 was Jacob Edelstein, who had been the Judenaeltester, the Elder of the Jews, at the Theresienstadt—or Terezin—concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Accused by the Nazis of corrupting lists of inmates for deportation, Edelstein had been dismissed from his position early in 1943, and deported to Auschwitz in December of that year. On June 20, 1944, SS men came to Block 11 and told Edelstein he had been sentenced to death. Edelstein proceeded to shake hands with each of the inmates in his cell, including my father. Told by one of the SS men to hurry up, Edelstein replied, “I am the master of my last moments.” Edelstein’s demonstration of pride and defiance left an indelible impression on my father. “This was the expression of our spirit in those days,” he wrote more than a decade later, “a spirit which no power on earth could break.”

In late September 1944–Sept. 26th, to be exact–Kozalczyk wanted my father to conduct the Yom Kippur service. Emaciated, starved, my father chanted Kol Nidre from memory in the Death Block of Auschwitz, and then led the prayers there that evening and the following day for his fellow prisoners. As a reward, Kozalczyk gave my father and the other inmates of Block 11 an extra bowl of soup to break the fast.

It is surreal to imagine Block 11, where we were earlier today, transformed if only for 24 hours into a sanctuary where Jews condemned to die prayed while the gas chambers of nearby Birkenau functioned in full force. I have always wondered whether God Himself was praying alongside my father throughout that Yom Kippur in 1944.

Let us bear in mind that nothing about Auschwitz, nothing about Birkenau, nothing about the Shoah for that matter, was logical or made sense. Our task, our mission, today and always, is not to try to understand, but to remember.

Menachem Z. Rosensaft is General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress, and teaches about the law of genocide at the law schools of Columbia and Cornell Universities. He is the editor of the recently published The World Jewish Congress, 1936-2016.

Source: https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/267403/remembering-my-father-in-auschwitz?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=3d3ebe95b0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_07_30_07_29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-3d3ebe95b0-207774633

Anti-Semitism has resurfaced in Poland because of Holocaust law, Catholic leader says

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Anti-Semitism has again become a problem in Poland because of the Holocaust law passed earlier this year and the subsequent controversy surrounding it, the former Roman Catholic primate there said.

“Old demons began to wake up: the trust of many thousands of people has been strained and the work of many decades has been tarnished,” Henryk Muszynski, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Gniezno, told the Polish-language Catholic Guide magazine.

The law passed in February made it illegal to blame the Polish nation of crimes that were committed by the Nazis. In June, the parliament made it a civil offense rather than a criminal one.

Muszynski said that Poles are attached to history, but they have “their own, one-sided vision.” He said there were “glorious moments” in the history of Poland, but also “mean and un-Christian” behavior.

The archbishop said Poles are closing themselves off to others and do not have a sufficiently deep identity, hence the fear of those who are “different and foreign.”

“It seems to us that they can threaten us, that they can change and destroy us. That is why we still want to defend ourselves against anyone — so much so that we are ready to create a fictional enemy, who is everyone who thinks differently, who believes differently, who is different from us,” the archbishop said.

“Those who reject today Jews and Muslims, who judge these people, probably never met any Jew or Muslim. The blame for their aggression and fear is usually borne by their environment, in which radical opinions and propaganda dominate, served by some media.”

Source: https://www.jta.org/2018/07/16/news-opinion/anti-semitism-resurfaced-due-polish-holocaust-law-catholic-leader-says?utm_source=JTA%20Maropost&utm_campaign=JTA&utm_medium=email&mpweb=1161-5198-185509

Watchdog group: United Nations ignores antisemitism, de-Judaizes Holocaust

The United Nations has failed to seriously combat antisemitism and in some cases has de-Judaized the Holocaust, a Geneva watchdog group said on Monday.

UN Watch made the accusation in a report it presented at a special event at the Knesset.

Israel has long argued that the UN’s treatment of it is tantamount to antisemitism because of the body’s long record of excessively condemning Israeli actions above and beyond those of other nations.

Haley says UN could benefit from fresh set of eyes, calls out anti-Israeli bias at UN, January 19, 2017 (Reuters)

“When it comes to Jews, when it comes to Israelis, the UN has become a hostile and biased body,” said Yesh Atid head MK Yair Lapid, who chaired the Knesset event. “The organization that is meant to fight antisemitism, which is sworn to fight antisemitism, is guilty of antisemitism itself.”

The UN Watch report, presented by the group’s executive director, Hillel Neuer, said that in addition the UN has done little to tackle antisemitism even though it is tasked with combating worldwide racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

The report lauded some UN actions on antisemitism, including UNESCO’s Holocaust education program and the statements of some UN officials, including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

But the bulk of the report protested the failure of UN officials and relevant bodies, including outgoing High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, to properly address the problem of antisemitism.

Zeid did not make a “single standalone statement” in reaction to an antisemitic event during his four years in office, UN Watch said.

He also “trivialized and de-Judaized the Holocaust,” the group said.

Among the examples it gave was Zeid’s opening speech to the UNHRC in June 2017, in which he “juxtaposed Hitler’s concentration camps to Palestinian refugee camps.”

The watchdog group added that Zeid “cynically instrumentalized the Holocaust to defend Muslims and criticize Israel, but “has never used the Holocaust to defend Jews against modern antisemitism.”

The General Assembly, the report stated, has passed only two resolutions in the last decade that addressed antisemitism as part of a larger text that also included Christianophobia and Islamophobia.

The report noted that the General Assembly had, however, held its first ever informal meeting on antisemitism in January 2015. Since 2014 it has also condemned Holocaust denial.

The UNHRC and the UNGA should receive annual reports on antisemitism, UN Watch said.

“We call on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to acknowledge the demonstrable failure of the world body when it comes to antisemitism, and to set forth an action plan that will mobilize key UN stakeholders, and in particular those within its human rights machinery, to exercise their responsibilities to condemn and confront bigotry, hatred or violence targeting Jews worldwide,” UN Watch said.

Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting, “the real issue is what might be called the laundering of the delegitimization of Israel in general and of antisemitism, in particular under universal human values and those human values find expression in the UN and all its institutions.”

Source: https://m.jpost.com/Israel-News/Watchdog-group-United-Nations-ignores-antisemitism-de-Judaizes-Holocaust-562076?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=10-7-2018&utm_content=Watchdog-group-United-Nations-ignores-antisemitism-de-Judaizes-Holocaust-562076