Category Archive: News

‘German research institute trivializes Holocaust to attack Israel’

Max Planck Institute urged to cancel talk by academic Norman Finkelstein.

ShowImage (1)Israel’s embassy and leading deputies in the German parliament slammed a Max Planck Institute branch for stoking hatred of Israel and Jews with a series of lectures from a pro-Hezbollah US academic who trivialized the Holocaust and is popular among neo-Nazis.

“It is outrageous that a distinguished German institution [Max Planck Institute branch in Halle] gives a stage to someone who spreads, in the best case, science fiction, and in the worst, pure incitement against Israel. Supporting [Norman] Finkelstein to maintain his academic facade is highly dangerous and an abuse of the scientific standards,” the Israeli Embassy in Berlin told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Michaela Engelmeier, a Social Democratic deputy in the Bundestag, told the Post she was astonished that “with our history it is possible to welcome academics who play down the Nazi regime’s murder of six million Jews and present it as trivial.”

She added that the fact that the anti-Israel academic is delivering talks close to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 is “especially insensitive.”

She urged the Max Planck Institute to cancel next week’s Finkelstein lecture titled “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom.”

Engelmeier cited Finkelstein’s support of the US and EU-classified terrorist organization Hezbollah. “In the past, Finkelstein compared the antisemitic terrorist organization Hezbollah with the resistance against the National Socialists. He compared Israel’s approach with that of the Nazis. He termed, in his most important work, the remembrance of Auschwitz as the ‘Holocaust Industry.’” Finkelstein’s remarks place him in the “center of right-wing radical deniers of the Holocaust and make him criminally liable in Germany,” Engelmeier said.

Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy who is the chairman of the German-Israel Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, told the Post that the Max Planck Institute’s invitation to Finkelstein has nothing to do with “qualified academic expertise.” Finkelstein leveled “false contentions against the Jewish Claims Conference… he explained his solidarity with Hezbollah and considers Hamas a ‘peace offensive’ against Israel,” Beck said.

Beck said Finkelstein’s views are welcomed by “conspiracy theoreticians and neo-Nazis because Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors.”

He questioned what motivated the Max Planck Institute to invite the American to speak. “One cannot comprehend the invitation,” Beck said, adding that he could not understand why the institute would have anything to do with fomenting “antisemitic prejudices.”

The group Alliance against Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism along with an anti-fascist student organization from the University of Halle protested on Monday against Finkelstein’s first talk. There were 30-50 protesters.

The regional paper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, where the Max Planck Institute Halle is located, wrote that the institute’s media department was “surprised by the intense reactions.” The Max Planck Institute told the paper that Finkelstein is “a smart academic.”

Marie-Claire Foblets, the managing director of the department of law and anthropology at the Max Planck Institute, played a key role in organizing Finkelstein’s talks and has vigorously defended him. She told the Post it is absurd to call Finkelstein an antisemite.

Post emails to Dr. Martin Stratmann, the president of the Max Planck Institute, were not immediately returned.

The indifference to antisemitism at the Halle branch has raised eyebrows among monitors of modern antisemitism in Germany such as Dr. Efraim Zuroff from the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, because the Max Planck Institute played a role in advancing the Hitler movement’s lethal antisemitism.

Christina Beck, a spokeswoman for the Max Planck Institute, told the Post the institute “comprehensively rejects any accusations of antisemitism. In our research organization, there is no place for any form of hatred or agitation. The Max Planck Society maintains excellent relations with Israel and has been involved in German-Israeli research collaborative projects for several decades, in particular through the Minerva Foundation. As an independent research organization we also support diversity of opinion and freedom of science.”

The Halle Jewish community called the lectures a “disgrace” and refused to meet with Finkelstein. Foblets advocated a meeting between Halle’s Jewish community and the anti-Israel activists.

Engelmeier reminded the Max Planck Institute that many “artists, academics, social democrats, communists, journalist, and Sinti and Roma were victims of National Socialism. These Nazis’ murder of these victims was not disputed by Finkelstein, rather only the Jews, she said.

“Finkelstein blames Israel alone for the terrorism in the Middle East. With this position, he illustrates his passion to deny facts and to deny the terrorist attacks of the antisemitic organization Hamas, and equates Israel’s defensive measures with the annihilation of the Nazis,” she said.

Sebastian Striegel, a Green party deputy in the state government in Saxony-Anhalt, told the Post that “a public institution should not invite Finkelstein, because he relativizes the Holocaust.”

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Neo-Nazi blogger resigns over revelation his wife is Jewish

Mike Enoch was considered one of the three most influential figures in the “alt-right” movement.

ShowImageThe founder of the popular right-wing blog The Right Stuff resigned over the revelation that his wife is Jewish.

Mike Enoch, who also co-hosts “The Daily Shoah” weekly podcast, was outed over the weekend as Mike Peinovich, a website developer from New York. On the podcast, which has about 100,000 regular listeners, Peinovich as Enoch talked about killing Jews and spouted neo-Nazi invective.

The release of Peinovich’s personal details came after the identities of the other podcast panelists were made public earlier in the week by a rival website called 8chan. The invented surname reportedly is a reference to Enoch Powell, a far-right British politician.

Enoch was considered one of the three most influential figures in the “alt-right” movement along with Daily Stormer creator Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank. Spencer is a co-creator of the alt-right label, which describes a far-right movement whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

Peinovich came clean with readers of The Right Stuff, posting a message in a password-protected forum that was reprinted in part by Salon.

“As I am sure you all know, I was doxxed and an ill advised attempt to fool the media about my identity led me to not talk to you people and to try to simply ride it out by being silent,” he said. “This was irresponsible and a disservice to all of you. Yes my wife is who they say she is, I won’t even bother denying it, I won’t bother making excuses. If this makes you want to leave the movement, or to have nothing to do with TRS, then I understand.

“Don’t lie for me. Don’t try to defend me to those attacking me. Don’t jeopardize your own reputation by defending things that you don’t think you can. I could try to explain my whole life for the last ten years to you but what difference at this point would it make. Life isn’t perfect.”

The Right Stuff has popularized many right-wing memes, as well as the triple parentheses known as the echo symbol used by white supremacists and anti-Semites on Twitter to identify Jews.

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‘British Schindler’ Honored by Royal Mail Commemorative Stamp

Sir Nicholas Winton rescued 669 Jewish children from Europe in 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Holocaust.

ShowImage (2)The British Royal Mail postal service has issued a stamp honoring Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 Jewish children from Europe in 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Winton arranged for eight trains carrying the children to travel from Prague to the UK, utilizing Britain’s Kindertransport program allowing for refugees under 17 from the continent to gain asylum if they had a hosting family.

Winton bribed Nazi officials, arranged for forged travel documents and found families to take the children in and pay a £50 deposit for their eventual return travel fees.

The families of most of the children rescued were murdered during the Holocaust Winton, who died last year aged 106, is one of six humanitarians honored in the Royal Mail’s presentation pack issued on Tuesday, including Sue Ryder, John Boyd Orr, Eglantyne Jebb, Joseph Rowntree, and Josephine Butler.

“Sir Nicholas Winton was a true hero of our time and it is fantastic that Royal Mail is recognizing this remarkable man in such a special way,” said Karen Pollock MBE, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust in the UK.

“The Holocaust Educational Trust is thrilled that this commemorative stamp is now available for everyone to purchase and spread the story of Sir Nicholas’s extraordinary selflessness far and wide.”

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IDF Arrests, Releases Former Palestinian Governor and Fatah Leader

Israeli forces reportedly arrest former Tulkarem and Jenin governor, Talal Dweikat, early Wednesday.

ShowImageThe IDF released Talal Dweikat, a former PA governor of Tulkarm and Jenin, on Wednesday afternoon, after arresting him several hours earlier.

He also served as a general in the Palestinian Authority intelligence services.

Dweikat was arrested “for his involvement in weapons trade,” a spokesman for the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said in an email, without elaborating.

Hours later, however, the spokesman sent another email, saying that Dweikat “was released because his detainment was determined to be unnecessary following his interrogation.”

In addition to Dweikat, the IDF on Wednesday arrested two others in Nablus and raided the home of Dweikat’s brother Sarhan, who also has the rank of general, Wafa, the official PA news site reported.

Dweikat, who was elected to the Fatah Revolutionary Council in December, was a head of the PA intelligence services in Nablus in the early 2000s and was appointed as Tulkarm governor in 2006, where he oversaw the rehabilitation of the PA security forces in the aftermath of the second intifada.

In 2012, Dweikat was appointed governor of Jenin, serving until 2014 when he accepted a position as an adviser in the PA presidency.

Fatah spokesman Munir Jaghoub responded to Wednesday’s arrests, saying that they confirm Israel’s hostile mentality.

“The Israeli arrests and attacks against Fatah’s leadership and cadres are intensifying day after day all over the homeland, sending a clear message to the Palestinian people and its leadership that the current situation is incredibly difficult and complicated… and that the occupation’s mentality is only that of killing, destruction, arrest and denying Palestinian rights, requiring all of us to take a serious stand and confront its arrogance,” Jaghoub told Wafa.

The IDF says that it carries out arrests of suspects who pose a security threat.

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Auschwitz Memorial Sees Record Number of Visitors in 2016

World Youth Day was a large boost to attendance. But how about Pokémon Go?

The memorial and museum and Auschwitz-Birkenau announced on Monday that a record 2,053,000 people visited the former Nazi concentration camp in 2016. Tops among attendees are from Poland, the UK, the U.S., and Italy; 97,000 visitors came from Israel, a 59 percent increase from the year prior. Also boosting yearly attendance were the 155,000 people who visited for World Youth Day, including Pope Francis. Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, the museum’s director, said eloquently, “In today’s world—torn by conflicts, increased feeling of insecurity and strengthening of populist tones in public discourse—it is necessary to re-listen to the darkest warnings from the past.”

A few weeks before the Pope visited Poland, there was hubbub about the fact that kids had begun playing Pokémon Go—a newly-released, augmented reality GPS-enabled videogame in which players try to catch, say, a Jigglypuff—at Auschwitz. The museum’s spokesman called it “disrespectful.” Tablet senior writer made the case otherwise, arguing that the forced emotion, the requisite sadness, that is struck upon young visitors is oppressive. “When urged to bow before death, life finds a way.”

Let these kids play their game, then, not even in Auschwitz, but especially there. Let them feel again that mad methectic magic Huizinga spoke about. They can’t make sense of Auschwitz, anyway; they can’t fathom what led to such brutality, can’t make sense of such hate. But they can catch a Jigglypuff and feel a burst of life whistling through the airless chambers of the factory of death. And that’s no small thing, no minor testament to the same resilience the Nazis eagerly and futilely tried to extinguish. Where better than Auschwitz to admit we’ll never have real knowledge, and where better to declare we’ll always have great games?

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French candidate under fire for Holocaust comparison

Vincent Peillon, running in Socialist Party primaries ahead of elections, said Nazi persecution of Jews similar to situation of French Muslims today

Vincent_Peillon_Mutualité_11102-e1483584907819-635x357French Jews accused a left-wing presidential candidate of encouraging Holocaust denial following his comparison of the Nazi persecution of Jews to the situation of French Muslims today.

Vincent Peillon, who is running in the Socialist Party primaries ahead of the elections this year, made the analogy Tuesday during an interview aired by the France 2 television channel.

Peillon, a former education minister who has Jewish origins, was commenting on a question about France’s strict separation between state and religion, referred to in France as “laicite.”

“If some want to use laicite, as has been done in the past, against certain populations … Forty years ago it was the Jews who put on yellow stars. Today, some of our Muslim countrymen are often portrayed as radical Islamists. It is intolerable.”

In a statement Wednesday, CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, accused Peillon of making “statements that only serve those trying to rewrite history.”

Peillon neither retracted his remark nor apologized in a statement published Wednesday on his website, but said he would wanted to elaborate on what he meant in light of the controversy it provoked and to “refine my view, which may have been misrepresented because of brevity.”

Peillon wrote that he “clearly did not want to say that laicite was the origin of anti-Semitism of Vichy France,” which was the part of the country run by a pro-Nazi collaborationist government. He also wrote that “what the Jews experienced under Vichy should not be banalized in any way” and that he was committed to fighting racism and anti-Semitism.

“I wanted to denounce the strategy of the far right, which always used the words of the French Republic or social issues to turn them against the population. It is doing so today with laicite against the Muslims,” Peillon wrote.

But in its statement condemning Peillon’s remark, CRIF wrote that the history concerning the deportation of more than 75,000 Jews from France to concentration camps and death and the looting of their property, “as well as discriminatory laws such as the one about wearing yellow stars, should not be instrumentalized to create a false equivalence of suffering.”

CRIF “demands a clarification and immediate correction on the part of Vincent Peillon,” it said.

Peillon, a lawmaker in the European Parliament, announced his candidacy in December to succeed President Francois Hollande as party leader and run as its candidate in April. He was appointed education minister in 2012 and served for two years.

In the Socialist primaries, Peillon will face Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has strong support in the Jewish community. Peillon’s mother, Françoise Blum, is Jewish.

Peillon, who rarely talks about his Jewish roots publicly, signed a petition by the left-wing Jcall group, the European counterpart to J Street, supporting Palestinian statehood.

In 2009, he celebrated the bar mitzvah of his son Elie at a Paris synagogue. He has another son, Isaac. Peillon is married to Nathalie Bensahel, a journalist who has written about France’s anti-Semitism problem.

Peillon opposed the ban last summer on women wearing the burkini, the full-body swimsuit favored by some Muslims, on public beaches. Valls supported the ban, citing what he said was its use by radical Muslims to oppress women.

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Norwegian TV sorry for spoofing Holocaust

In satirical video, college students seen touring concentration camp, asking if ovens were for making pizza

norwegian-holocaust-e1483035375779Norway’s public broadcaster apologized for referencing Nazi death camps and the Jewish genocide in a satirical cartoon about the financial situation of university students.

“This cartoon should not have spoofed the Nazi genocide, and we’re sorry this reference obstructed what the sketch is really about,” a spokesperson for the NRK broadcaster wrote on Facebook last week following complaints about the video, which on Thursday remained accessible on NRK’s online satirical section.

It features three young characters who are taken by an older character on a tour of what appears to be a Nazi concentration camp similar to Auschwitz-Birkenau in southern Poland. When the group reaches an oven full of ashes and the remains of a human rib cage, one of the students enthusiastically inquires whether the oven is for making pizzas.

The video, which opened the annual best-of compilation for 2016 of NRK’s Satiriks online satirical video platform, ends with the same students triumphantly holding up a rental contract while the other two students unload boxes at the concentration camp.

“The animated video is about the student economy, which often has students in desperate situations,” NRK wrote. “To make this point, we used visual references to a concentration camp.”

Norway, where the Nazis installed the collaborator Vidkun Quisling as a puppet ruler, was home to 1,700 Jews before the Holocaust, according to Yad Vashem. Despite some protests by Christian faith leaders and the help of resistance fighters to Jews, a total of 763 Jews were deported from Norway by the Nazis and local police to death camps. Only 24 survived to return to Norway after the war.

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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is German bestseller, again

First reprint of Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto since WWII sells 85,000 copies in year, topping nonfiction list

000_jk1ti-635x357BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — The first reprint of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Germany since World War II has proved a surprise bestseller, heading for its sixth print run, its publisher said Tuesday.

The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IfZ) said around 85,000 copies of the new annotated version of the Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic manifesto had flown off the shelves since its release last January.

The respected institute said that far from promoting far-right ideology, the publication had enriched a debate on the renewed rise of “authoritarian political views” in contemporary Western society.

It had initially planned to print only 4,000 copies but boosted production immediately based on intense demand. The sixth print run will hit bookstores in late January.

The two-volume work had figured on the non-fiction bestseller list in weekly magazine Der Spiegel over much of the last year, and even topped the list for two weeks in April.

The institute also organized a series of presentations and debates around “Mein Kampf” across Germany and in other European cities, which it said allowed it to measure the impact of the new edition.

“It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded,” IfZ director Andreas Wirsching said in a statement.

“To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and rightwing slogans are gaining ground.”

‘Not reactionaries or radicals’

The institute said the data collected about buyers by regional bookstores showed that they tended to be “customers interested in politics and history as well as educators” and not “reactionaries or rightwing radicals.”

Nevertheless, the IfZ said it would maintain a restrictive policy on international rights. For now, only English and French editions are planned despite strong interest from many countries.

The institute released the annotated version of “Mein Kampf” last January, just days after the copyright of the manifesto expired.

Bavaria was handed the rights to the book in 1945 when the Allies gave it control of the main Nazi publishing house following Hitler’s defeat.

For 70 years, it refused to allow the inflammatory tract to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But “Mein Kampf” — which means “My Struggle” — fell into the public domain on January 1 and the institute said it feared a version without critical commentary could hit the market.

Partly autobiographical, “Mein Kampf” outlines Hitler’s ideology that formed the basis for Nazism. He wrote it in 1924 while he was imprisoned in Bavaria for treason after his failed Beer Hall Putsch.

The book set out two ideas that he put into practice as Germany’s leader going into World War II: annexing neighboring countries to gain Lebensraum, or “living space,” for Germans, and his hatred of Jews, which led to the Holocaust.

Some 12.4 million copies were published in Germany and from 1936, the Nazi state gave a copy to all newlyweds as a wedding gift.

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