Category Archive: Times of Israel

Court blocks sale of Holocaust letter by Yad Vashem board member

Ruling comes after prominent Haredi activist declined to give the letter by 16-year old victim Rachel Mintz to her family or to Yad Vashem archive

This letter, written by Rachel Mintz when she was 11, five years before she was murdered in the Holocaust, stands at the center of a court battle between a Haredi activist and the victim's relatives. (Courtesy of Adva Lotan)

This letter, written by Rachel Mintz when she was 11, five years before she was murdered in the Holocaust, stands at the center of a court battle between a Haredi activist and the victim’s relatives. (Courtesy of Adva Lotan)

The Tel Aviv District Court issued an injunction against the sale of a letter written by a young girl killed in the Holocaust after her surviving relatives sued to prevent a prominent Haredi activist from bringing it to auction.

The letter, one of several that was set to be auctioned off as a lot on Tuesday evening, was written by Rachel Mintz, a Jewish girl from Poland, when she was 11 years old. It described life in 1937 Poland and her desire to immigrate to Israel.

The letter was found along with other letters sent by Jewish children from Poland and were intended to be delivered to children at a school in Haifa. The school principal took the letters home, and after his death, they ended up into the hands of a merchant who sold them.

From there they came to Dudi Zilbershlag, a Haredi businessman, activist and journalist who is a member of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum council. He in turn offered them to the Dynasty auction house.

Dudi Zilbershlag, an ultra-Orthodox advertiser, journalist, publisher, activist public, on January 16, 2011. (Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

When Mintz’s remaining family found out about the sale, they say they asked it instead be placed in a public institution such as Yad Vashem, but the auction house denied their request. The family sued for custody of the letter but at an initial hearing, representatives of the auction house offered to sell it to them for $10,000. They declined the family and judge’s request to transfer the letter to Yad Vashem.

During an initial hearing, the judge, Erez Yakuel, asked Zilbershlag: “Is it because you are part of Yad Vashem that I should teach you to do a mitzvah and present Yad Vashem the letter instead of selling it?”

“I want you to understand that this letter is not just a collectible item. It’s a personal, family memory, maybe the last one ever of our family member who perished in the Holocaust,” Edva Lotan, Mintz’s niece, wrote on Facebook.

“I sincerely ask to stop the sale of this letter and help us ensure that it does not go into private hands, but will be kept in a place that honors my aunt’s memory.”

In response, Zilbershlag stated that stopping the sale would cause him “irreparable” financial damage. This, however, did not stop the judge from calling a halt to the sale and ruling that Zilbershlag must negotiate with the family to find a solution.

“It is morally unacceptable and highly distasteful that anyone should trade in personal items, artifacts or documents of Holocaust victims or from the Holocaust era,” Yad Vashem said in a statement.

“The appropriate place for these historical and delicate pieces is in reputable and professional institutions such as Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where they can be thoroughly researched, expertly preserved and ultimately utilized as historical testimony for the purposes of research, education and commemoration,” it said. “Yad Vashem has contacted the person holding the letters, and explained that their proper place is in the Yad Vashem Archives.”

Yad Vashem emphasized that Zilbershlag was not an employee of the institution.

“He serves in the directorate and council committees,” a spokesman said. “These positions are via political appointment and on a volunteer basis.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/court-blocks-sale-of-holocaust-letter-by-yad-vashem-board-member/

Board fires Florida principal who said couldn’t confirm Holocaust was ‘factual’

Official reason for William Latson’s termination is his failure to return messages from district officials in the days after his comments became public

Palm Beach County School principal William Latson, October 31, 2019 (WPTV Screen grab via CNN)

Palm Beach County School principal William Latson, October 31, 2019 (WPTV Screen grab via CNN)

(JTA) — The high school principal in Boca Raton, Florida, who told a parent that “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” was fired.

The Palm Beach County School Board voted 5-2 to terminate William Latson’s employment, according to minutes of the meeting posted online. His firing will take effect on November 21.

The official reason for Latson’s termination was not the comments that appeared to justify denying the Holocaust but his failure to return messages from district officials in the days after his comments became public, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The church at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, former site of Nazi SS headquarters during the Holocaust, May 2019 (Matt Lebovic/The Times of Israel)

The school, which has about 2,500 students, is said to have one of the largest Jewish student populations in the county, according to the Palm Beach Post, which first reported the incident in July 2018, three months after it occurred.

Latson, in an email, told the mother of a student that “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” in response to an inquiry about the Holocaust not being taught at the school.

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in the position to do so as a school district employee,” he wrote. “You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”

“The Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, which represents scores of individuals whose families were killed in the Holocaust, commends the move to fire” Latson, Matt Levin, Federation CEO told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We are grateful for Superintendent Donald Fennoy’s leadership and commitment to a thorough investigation resulting in this vote by the school board. Latson’s abhorrent denial of the Holocaust is unacceptable, and there is no place in our community, and certainly not in our education system, for such unethical ignorance.”

Latson’s attorney said he will appeal the firing in state administrative court, calling it arbitrary and driven by political expediency.

Latson has been with the school district for 26 years and had been principal of Spanish River since 2011.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/board-fires-florida-principal-who-said-couldnt-confirm-holocaust-was-factual/

Lipstadt: Take anti-Semitism seriously ‘not just when there are dead bodies’

Episode #9: Deborah Lipstadt explains Jew-hatred in 2019 * Dr. Matthew Levitt on what Israel can expect from Lebanon protests * Raoul Wootliff breaks down Israeli coalition efforts

This week “People of the Pod” speaks with Deborah Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, whose book, “Anti-Semitism: Here and Now,” proved to be tragically prescient when released earlier this year prior to a spate of lethal anti-Semitic attacks around the world.

In conversation with the podcast’s co-host, Manya Brachear Pashman, Lipstadt provides insight on the many directions from which anti-Semitism is emanating today, along with what can be done to fight it.

Lipstadt’s book was conceived of in the wake of a 2014 attack by a jihadist gunman on Belgium’s Jewish Museum that killed four visitors, and “a lot of the anti-Semitism that emerged around the war in Gaza,” the author says. “But it was clear to me that it wasn’t just related to the war in Gaza, that there had been enough other things happening that to just say, ‘This is all about Gaza,’ was a simplistic view.”

Lipstadt discusses “white genocide theory, or white replacement theory” on the far-right, whose conspiracy theorists accuse “the Jews” of being behind an insidious plan to displace America’s white majority.

On the far left, the author says, anti-Semitism finds a foothold in anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric – though in many cases those are just stand-ins for classic Jew-hatred.

“All you have to do is follow the comments made by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party and those around him, or Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, who is very much a man of the left, or some people in this country, our representatives and leaders in this country as well,” to see this in action, Lipstadt says.

A new United Nations human rights report focusing exclusively on anti-Semitism, rather than grouping it together with other forms of bigotry, is encouraging, Lipstadt says.

Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt during a BBC interview, 2017 (courtesy)

“What the existence and contents of the report are saying is that it’s time to take this seriously. We need to take the issue seriously not just when there are dead bodies lying on the ground,” she says.

This week, after sustained protests against widespread government corruption throughout Lebanon, the country’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, resigned.

The protests have not let up, and crowds chanting, “All of them means all of them,” call for not just Hariri, but all politicians across the spectrum, to step down.

Speaking to “People of the Pod” co-host Seffi Kogen, the Fromer-Wexler Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Matthew Levitt, breaks down what spurred the protests – as well as what they spell for Israel, Lebanon’s neighbor to the south.

Levitt says that a proposed tax on using the WhatsApp messaging platform was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, but underlying issues regarding Lebanon’s currency had already sparked a crisis over concerns with fuel, wheat imports, and the Lebanese lira’s strength against the dollar.

“The party most shocked by this is Hezbollah, because you even have supporters in Hezbollah strongholds protesting against the government, though Hezbollah didn’t want it,” Levitt says. “So Hezbollah sent its thugs into Marty’s Square in downtown Beirut to rip down tents in the peaceful protests that have been going on there. Those tents have since been rebuilt.”

Lebanese anti-government protesters celebrate the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut on October 29, 2019, on the 13th day of anti-government protests. (Patrick Baz/AFP)

Levitt says that the armed militia Hezbollah, which holds a large majority in Lebanon’s parliament, has long been benefiting from “strong-arm, mafia-like tactics.” Banks provide “large, unsecured loans to Hezbollah senior officials and others in the government, which are not being repaid or are going unreported,” Levitt says.

This “exposes the entire Lebanese financial system to a significant amount of risk,” he says.

“I don’t think that necessarily that what’s going to come out of [the protests] is a Jeffersonian democracy… but I do think this is going to have to lead to some type of change,” Levitt says.

“There is an undeniable opportunity here to try and help the people of Lebanon form a government that is representative of all of their needs,” he says, and “maybe the Lebanese armed forces to be able to actually exert control along the border between Israel and Lebanon. Right now, Hezbollah controls much of that territory.”

“How much of that is going to be translatable into actual policy?” Levitt says. “We just don’t know. Because at the end of the day, the reality is that Hezbollah is the largest and most powerful militia in Lebanon.

Supporters of the Hezbollah terror group drive in a convoy in support of its leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speech, in the area of Fatima’s Gate in Kfar Kila on the Lebanese border with Israel, October 25, 2019. (Ali Dia/AFP)

Kogen also speaks with The Times of Israel’s chief political correspondent, Raoul Wootliff.

Wootliff picks up from where he left off when he was last on the podcast over a month ago, as the results from Israel’s second election were rolling in.

In September, Wootlif described challenger Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party as the election’s biggest winner. They had become the largest party, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still had no clear path to form a government. Following that, President Reuven Rivlin asked Netanyahu to take the first stab at assembling a majority anyway.

“You didn’t really see the same effort that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put into previous coalition building efforts that he’s made,” Wootliff says. “He tried, but returned the mandate a few days early. He met with Benny Gantz once, but there was no significant breakthrough between any of the parties.”

From R to L: President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut, and Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, at a memorial ceremony for late president Shimon Peres, at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on September 19, 2019. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Wootliff says that Netanyahu persisted in representing not just his Likud party, but a bloc of 55 seats of the right-wing and religious parties. Blue and White was unwilling to begin negotiations with preconditions, while one of the conditions of [Netanyahu’s] group was that they would all enter the government together.

There remain three options for Gantz at the moment, says Wootliff: “Breaking away people from the right-wing bloc [to join a Blue and White coalition]; forming a minority government; or admitting that he also can’t form a government and passing the process on to the next stage.”

“Polling shows that a third election could yield very similar results to both this election and the previous one,” Wootliff says. “That would result in more gridlock, and who knows — fourth elections? It’s hard to imagine, but it’s possible.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/lipstadt-take-anti-semitism-seriously-not-just-when-there-are-dead-bodies/

How Holocaust survival of Michael Bennet’s family shaped his 2020 campaign

The Democratic hopeful won’t promise to cut aid to Israel, saying such a move might backfire by hardening Israeli right

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, speaks at the J Street National Conference, with the hosts of "Pod Save the World," October 28, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, speaks at the J Street National Conference, with the hosts of “Pod Save the World,” October 28, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — When Democrat Michael Bennet goes on the campaign trail, he often talks about his mother. That’s not unusual for a presidential candidate; they often invoke their family as an inspiration for getting into politics. But Bennet’s Jewish mother has a story that none of the other candidates’ mothers do.

A native of Poland, she was separated from her family as a young girl and survived the Holocaust. The experience, Bennet said, has made her acutely aware of the danger posed by US President Donald Trump.

In an interview Monday with The Times of Israel, the Colorado senator elaborated on how his mother views the parallels between her experience and that of immigrant children now in the United States.

“I think she’s mostly seen it at the separation of families at the border,” he said. “That’s a very personal thing for her. I wouldn’t want to overextend the analogy or the metaphor, but I think that’s where she really sees that. And I think she does see Trump as a tyrant.”

A boy from Honduras is shown being taken into custody by US Border Patrol agents near the US-Mexico Border near Mission, Texas, June 12, 2018. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Susanne Bennet, 80, was born in 1938 in Warsaw, Poland, where her family owned a small art gallery. After the Nazi invasion, they had to separate to survive. (In 2012, she offered an oral history to the United States Holocaust museum.)

“My grandfather didn’t want to leave his family,” candidate Bennet said, “so my mom and her parents were split up during the war. My mom went out to a suburb of Warsaw and lived there. My grandmother lived with a convent of nuns and my grandfather hid underneath a candy manufacturer in Warsaw.”

The family was reunited after the war, and went on to live in Sweden and Mexico before settling in the United States in the 1950s.

Rarely did they discuss what happened to them, Bennet recalled.

“They seldom talked about their experience,” he said. “You could tell something terrible had happened. But only until later in life would my grandmother talk about it.”

That family history, Bennet said, has profoundly shaped his political outlook.

“I’ve never met people who were greater patriots than my grandparents were, and I really mean that,” he said. “America gave them a lot, and they gave a lot to America. And I think that’s the way this place is supposed to work.”

In this photo taken on March 27, 2019, US Senator Michael Bennet listens during a news conference on climate change at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

As a candidate he regularly touts his immigration bona fides — he was part of the “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote and shepherded an immigration reform bill in 2013 that passed the Senate but died in the House — as he tries to climb from the bottom of the polls. (He’s currently under one percent in most surveys)

“I know — notwithstanding our imperfections — how much the world looks to us as an example of pluralistic, democratic leadership in a world beset by sectarian hatreds and violence,” he said.

“We really remain a singular example. That’s why I find Trump so offensive, because he rejects the tradition of responsibility for the rest of the world, for living up to those democratic ideals,” Bennet said.

On US policy toward Israel

On Monday, Bennet appeared at J Street’s National Conference along with four other 2020 Democratic hopefuls.

While his main policy position vis-a-vis the conflict is in line with the liberal Mideast advocacy group’s — supportive of a two-state outcome — he differs from some of his 2020 rivals on tactics.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has vowed to leverage US military aid to pressure Israel to roll back its settlement enterprise and enter peace talks with the Palestinians. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has floated the same possibility if Israel creeps closer toward annexing the West Bank settlements. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised to work to end the occupation.

Bennet, on the other hand, wouldn’t go quite that far.

“I think what we’ve got to do is reassert the importance of there being a two-state solution and having the United States play whatever role is constructive to achieve that,” he said. “We’re living in an era where I recognize that there is not a domestic constituency in Israel, or in the Palestinian territories, for that solution. I hope that’s not a permanent state of things.”

He went on, “But I don’t think this is really about whether you are willing to use this lever or that lever so much as it is, I believe, about trying to forge a relationship between the American people and the Israeli people in our mutual self-interest and democratic impulses.

“In a post-Trump, post-Netanyahu era, I believe those impulses are very important. I would do everything I could as president to rebuild those bridges.”

US President Donald Trump, right, and visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Bennet suggested that cutting aid to Israel could ultimately backfire on an American president’s attempts to move Jerusalem closer to a peace deal.

“I’m not saying it would, but I’m saying it could,” he said. “I would want to make sure that whatever we’re doing was weakening the resolve of the elements trying to push for settlements, rather than strengthening their resolve. And I think that’s just realistic. I mean, I don’t want to be seen as overly pessimistic, but I think it’s important to take those things into account when you’re deciding what your policies are.”

Another priority, he said, would be to repair the relationship between Washington and Ramallah, which has deteriorated under the Trump administration.

Since Trump ordered the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December 2017, the Palestinian Authority has refused to engage with the White House. In retaliation, Trump cut aid to the PA and the East Jerusalem hospital network, and shuttered the PLO’s compound in Washington.

Democratic presidential candidates Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York., left, former Colorado senator Michael Bennet and California Representative Eric Swalwell stand on stage before a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

 

“The United States is, I believe, in the end, the only one that’s going to be able to bring the parties together to forge a peace,” Bennet said. “It doesn’t when the Palestinians believe we’ve completely put the thumb on the scale for Israel, which is what they believe today.”

In the interview, Bennet also said he would seek to either reenter the Iran nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from, or bring Tehran and world powers back to the negotiating table to broker a new one.

“I think that it would be really important to put our allies in a room who helped negotiate that deal and see where it is they see the prospect for restarting it,” said Bennet, who voted for the landmark pact as a member of Congress in 2015. “And Iran would obviously want to weigh in as well.

“I think it’s unlikely that we could end up with an identical deal because times have changed, we’re further along in the calendar, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we would be better off having the parties sit down and negotiate and see if we can make progress,” he added. “There’s not a shred [of doubt] in my mind that the whole world would be better off if Donald Trump had never pulled the plug on the Iran deal.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/how-holocaust-survival-of-michael-bennets-familys-shaped-his-2020-campaign/

Historian: New evidence shows FDR’s bigotry derailed many Holocaust rescue plans

In his book about Franklin Roosevelt and the Holocaust, Rafael Medoff finds links between the US president’s anti-Japanese stances and his policies against Jews fleeing Hitler

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a 'fireside chat' from the White House. (public domain)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a ‘fireside chat’ from the White House. (public domain)

Not only was US president Franklin Roosevelt perfunctory about rescuing Jews from the Nazis, but he obstructed rescue opportunities that would have cost him little or nothing, according to Holocaust historian Rafael Medoff.

FDR’s role in preventing the rescue of European Jewry is detailed in a new book called, “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust.”

Wrote Medoff, “Franklin Roosevelt took advantage of Wise’s adoration of his policies and leadership to manipulate Wise through flattery and intermittent access to the White House.” In return for visits to the White House and Roosevelt calling him by his first name, Wise undermined Jewish activists who demanded the administration let more Jewish refugees into the US.

According to Medoff, Roosevelt’s policies toward European Jews were motivated by sentiments similar to those that spurred him to intern 120,000 Japanese Americans in detention camps as potential spies.

“Roosevelt used almost identical language in recommending that the Jews and the Japanese be forcibly ‘spread thin’ around the country,” Medoff told The Times of Israel. “I was struck by the similarity between the language FDR used regarding the Japanese, and that which he used in private concerning Jews — that they can’t be trusted, they won’t ever become fully loyal Americans, they’ll try to dominate wherever they go.”

‘The Jews Should Keep Quiet,’ by Rafael Medoff

During the 1920s, when Roosevelt was already a seasoned politician and a vice presidential candidate, he expressed racist views in editorials and interviews. Regarding new immigrants — and Asians in particular — he bemoaned the creation of ethnic “colonies” in major cities.

“Our main trouble in the past has been that we have permitted the foreign elements to segregate in colonies,” Roosevelt told the Brooklyn Eagle daily newspaper in a 1920 interview. “They have crowded into one district and they have brought congestion and racial prejudices to our large cities.”

During these key years before Roosevelt entered the White House, he also wrote and spoke about “the mingling of white with Oriental blood” and preserving other forms of “racial purity.” According to Medoff, all of this was part of a long-held worldview that later guided Roosevelt during his three terms in office.

“Roosevelt’s unflattering statements about Jews consistently reflected one of several interrelated notions: that is was undesirable to have too many Jews in any single profession, institution, or geographic locale; that America was by nature, and should remain, an overwhelmingly white, Protestant country; and that Jews on the whole possessed certain innate and distasteful characteristics,” wrote Medoff.

During the 1920s, members of the KKK march in Washington, DC (Public domain)

Even as late in the war as 1944, when a Gallup poll found that the American public overwhelmingly approved of letting in an unlimited number of Jewish refugees, Roosevelt worked to make sure nothing of the sort took place.

“It wasn’t the public mood that set Roosevelt’s immigration policy; he could have quietly allowed the quotas to be filled without anybody knowing it,” said Medoff. “His harsh policy was a choice that he made, which emanated from his vision of what he thought America should look like.”

‘They’ll try to dominate wherever they go’

Last year, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum opened an exhibition called “Americans and the Holocaust.” In many ways, Medoff’s book challenges the premises of that installation, although the exhibition is not mentioned by the author.

According to Medoff, the USHMM exhibition “distorts and minimizes Roosevelt’s abandonment of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.” The president is depicted as having been virtually powerless to enact rescue efforts, despite overwhelming evidence the administration worked to torpedo rescue plans at nearly every opportunity, explained the author.

USHMM exhibition distorts and minimizes Roosevelt’s abandonment of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust

Historian Rafael Medoff

“[Roosevelt] would not have had to incur substantial political risks had he permitted immigration up to the limits set by US law, admitted refugees temporarily to a US territory, utilized empty Liberty ships to carry refugees, or authorized dropping bombs on Auschwitz or the railways from planes that were already flying over the camp and its environs,” wrote Medoff.

The Holocaust museum’s portrait of Roosevelt is particularly problematic, believes Medoff, because the president’s torpedoing of Jewish rescue efforts has been well-documented for several decades. Specifically, Medoff pointed to David Wyman’s seminal 1984 book, “The Abandonment of the Jews,” as well as research conducted by historians Henry Feingold and Monty Penkower.

“I’m told that the museum’s bookstore ordered only three copies [of Medoff’s new book, ‘The Jews Should Keep Quiet’],” said the author, who directs the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. “It would be interesting to compare that to the number of copies they have ordered of books that defend Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust.”

Asked for a response to Medoff’s take on “Americans and the Holocaust,” USHMM communications director Andrew Hollinger said the exhibition “clearly” shows instance in which Roosevelt declined to save Jews from Hitler.

An image from the exhibition, ‘Americans and the Holocaust,’ running at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum through 2021 (courtesy)

“[Rescuing Jews] was not a priority for President Roosevelt or virtually anyone else in the government, which the exhibition lays out,” Hollinger told The Times of Israel. “The exhibition clearly shows President Roosevelt led the effort to prepare America to enter the war, but never made rescuing the victims of Nazism a priority.”

The installation, said Hollinger, asks a key question: “If Americans knew so much about Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, why didn’t rescue become a priority?” The installation poses that question not only with regard to Roosevelt but to various sectors of the American public, said Hollinger.

“[FDR] condemned Kristallnacht but did not loosen immigration quotas despite pleas to do so,” said Hollinger. “His State Department took steps to prevent Jews and other refugees from entering the country… All of this is examined in the exhibition. I would encourage people to visit the exhibition in person or online to see it for themselves.”

‘Not to repeat the failure of their parents’

During the 1930s, Roosevelt maintained trade with Nazi Germany, and his administration even helped the Germans evade the boycott against German goods that many Americans were practicing.

As detailed by Medoff in “The Jews Should Keep Quiet,” products from Germany were permitted to enter the US with misleading labels that disguised the country of origin. This helped FDR undercut the boycott movement supported by Jewish leaders and millions of other Americans.

Even after the Kristallnacht pogrom in November of 1938, Roosevelt refused to criticize the leaders of Nazi Germany. His statement about the slaughter merely called the night’s events “unbelievable,” and he declined to name the victims or perpetrators. Indeed, FDR did not issue a single statement critical of the Nazis during the first five years of Hitler’s rule.

Synagogue in Hanover, Germany, set ablaze during the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938 (public domain)

In 1939, as the world went to war, Hitler broadcast his intentions to annihilate European Jewry. Simultaneously, FDR refused to support a bill that would have let 20,000 Jewish German adolescents into the US. Anne Frank and her sister Margot could have qualified to be included, since they were German citizens and under age 16, said Medoff.

Roosevelt’s determination to keep Jews away from America knew few limits, as probed in several chapters of Medoff’s book. Although it is well-known that Roosevelt turned away the St. Louis ship packed with German Jewish refugees, the president took other steps that have been omitted by most of his biographers.

For example, when the Dominican Republic made a public offer to take in 100,000 Jews on visas, the administration undermined the plan. From Roosevelt’s point of view, explained Medoff, that country was too close to home, and Jews deposited there would inevitably come to America. Officials in the US Virgin Islands, too, were willing to rescue Jews by letting them into the country, but Roosevelt halted the plan, wrote Medoff.

US president Franklin D. Roosevelt meets with the National Jewish Welfare Board — (left to right) Walter Rothschild, Chaplain Aryeh Lev, Barnett Brickner and Louis Kraft — at the White House on November 8, 1943 (public domain)

When asked what Jewish leaders in the US learned from those dark years, Medoff pointed to the community’s later activism for the Jewish state and Jews endangered behind the Iron Curtain.

“Where we can really see the impact of remorse over the Holocaust is in the rise of the Soviet Jewry protest movement and pro-Israel activism by American Jews,” said Medoff. “Many of the key figures in those efforts have said they were driven by a determination not to repeat the failure of their parents’ generation to speak out during the Shoah.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/historian-new-evidence-shows-fdrs-bigotry-derailed-many-holocaust-rescue-plans/

Men dressed as Jews hand out Holocaust denial fliers at Colorado mall

Group wearing yarmulkes and fringed prayer shawls distribute leaflets proclaiming that ‘Marxist Jews’ dominate academia and Jewish people run the porn industry

Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, Colorado. (Google Street View)

Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, Colorado. (Google Street View)

A group of men wearing large white yarmulkes and fringed prayer shawls handed out fliers promoting Holocaust denial and hung up cards bearing anti-Semitic canards on a pedestrian mall in Boulder, Colorado.

The fliers handed out at Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall by the men who appeared to be posing as Jews claimed the Holocaust was “impossible.”

The men livestreamed their actions, according to the report.

As of Sunday morning, no reports were filed with police about the fliers, Boulder police told the newspaper.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/men-dressed-as-jews-hand-out-holocaust-denial-fliers-at-colorado-mall/

German teens probed for anti-Semitic songs after visit to Nazi camp

Three 14-year-olds from Grunberg, in western Germany, under police investigation for incitement to hatred after singing along on ride home from Buchenwald

A view of the former Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, Germany, January 26, 2018. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images/via JTA)

A view of the former Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, Germany, January 26, 2018. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images/via JTA)

JTA — Three German teenagers are under investigation for allegedly playing anti-Semitic songs and singing along after a visit to the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp in the center of the country.

German police are investigating the three 14-year-olds from Grunberg, in western Germany, for incitement to hatred, the German news agency Deutsche Welle reported.

The teens played the songs on a smartphone on the school bus returning from the visit to the Nazi camp. The incident reportedly took place on October 15.

They were reported to police by officials at their high school, the Theo Koch School, which has won several awards for its work against racism, according to the report. Each year, the school’s ninth-grade students spend four months on a project dealing with Nazism.

The students could be expelled over the incident.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/german-teens-probed-for-anti-semitic-songs-after-visit-to-nazi-camp/

Ex-Nazi concentration camp guard, 93, tells German court ‘sorry for what he did’

Bruno Dey, a former SS private charged with 5,230 counts of accessory to murder, says he knew Jews were being gassed at Stutthof, ‘did not see himself in a position to free them’

93-year-old former SS guard Bruno Dey in the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig in the regional court in Hamburg, Germany, October 17, 2019.  (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

93-year-old former SS guard Bruno Dey in the concentration camp Stutthof near Danzig in the regional court in Hamburg, Germany, October 17, 2019. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

HAMBURG, Germany (AFP) — A former SS guard, 93, said he was sorry for his actions as he went on trial in Germany on Thursday for complicity in the murder of more than 5,000 people at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

In what could be one of the last such cases of surviving Nazi guards, Bruno Dey stands accused of abetting the murder of 5,230 people when he worked at the Stutthof camp near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

While he insisted that he did not join the deadly operation voluntarily, he voiced regret for his actions.

“That’s what he said in his interrogation: He felt sorry for what he did,” said his lawyer Stefan Waterkamp.

“It was also clear to him that (the inmates) were not in there because they were criminals, but for anti-Semitic, racist and other reasons. He had compassion for them. But he did not see himself in a position to free them.”

Seated in a wheelchair, Dey wore a hat and sunglasses and hid his face behind a red folder as he entered the courtroom.

Waterkamp said his client was “ready to respond to all questions,” underlining that Dey “did not join the SS voluntarily. He did not seek to serve at the concentration camp.”

The main gate leading into the former Nazi German Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo, Poland, July 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Prosecutors said nevertheless that as an “SS guard at Stutthof concentration camp between August 1944 and April 1945, he is believed to have provided support to the gruesome killing of Jewish prisoners in particular.”

Although the trial comes late, Jewish groups underlined its importance in light of contemporary far-right anti-Semitic violence like last week’s deadly shooting in the eastern city of Halle.

“Why are you doing this trial today? Remember what happened in Halle last week,” said Efraim Zuroff of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center, in reference to the attack that included a synagogue among targets.

“Old age should not be a reason not to judge… He was part of the greatest tragedy in history, it was his will.”

‘Cog in the murder machine’

During Dey’s time at the camp, the “Final Solution” order to exterminate Jews was issued by the Nazi leadership, leading to the systematic killing of inmates in gas chambers, while others died of starvation or because they were denied medical care, prosecutors said.

Despite his advanced age, Dey is being tried by a juvenile court in Hamburg because he was 17 when he first worked at Stutthof.

According to German media, Dey, who now lives in Hamburg, became a baker after the war.

Gas chamber at Stutthof (Courtesy)

Married with two daughters, he supplemented his income by working as a truck driver, before later taking on a job in building maintenance.

The law finally caught up with him as a result of the legal precedent set when former guard John Demjanjuk was convicted in 2011 on the basis that he served as part of the Nazi killing machine at the Sobibor camp in occupied Poland.

Since then, Germany has been racing to put on trial surviving SS personnel on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

In the same vein, Dey is “accused of having contributed as a cog in the murder machine, in full knowledge of the circumstances, so that the order to kill could be carried out,” prosecutors said.

‘Speak up’

During pre-trial questioning, Dey said he ended up in the SS-Totenkopfsturmbahn (Death’s Head Battalion) that ran the camp only because of a heart condition that prevented him from being sent to the front, according to Tagesspiegel daily.

Dey also reportedly confirmed he knew of the camp’s gas chambers, where he saw SS prisoners being pushed inside.

He admitted seeing “emaciated figures, people who had suffered,” but insisted he was not guilty, according to the daily Die Welt.

Simon Wiesenthal Center's Efraim Zuroff. (Photo credit: JTA via Creative Commons)

Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff. (JTA via Creative Commons)

The Nazis set up the Stutthof camp in 1939, initially using it to detain Polish political prisoners.

But it ended up holding 110,000 detainees, including many Jews. Some 65,000 people perished in the camp.

Since the landmark Demjanjuk ruling, German courts have convicted Oskar Groening, an accountant at Auschwitz, and Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at the same camp, for complicity in mass murder.

Both men were found guilty at age 94 but died before they could be imprisoned.

In April, a German judge suspended the trial of a former Stutthof concentration camp guard after the 95-year-old defendant was hospitalized with heart and kidney problems.