Month: May 2016

Dr Cohen: Israel ‘denied Nazi roots of Farhud ‘

Hard-hitting piece in Israel Hayom by Bar Ilan research fellow Dr Edy Cohen about the Nazi roots of the Farhud, whose 75th anniversary falls this week. Dr Cohen suggests a cover-up, where Israel ‘paid senior academics’ to determine that the Farhud was an ‘Arab ‘ incident. My view is that, whether Arab or Nazi, Israel ignored the Farhud pogrom due to its Eurocentric establishment and education system – just as it ignored the fact that Libyan Jews died in concentration camps during WW2. (with thanks: Imre)

Mass grave of the Farhud victims in the old Jewish cemetery, Baghdad

June 1, 1941, on the holiday of Shavuot, the Farhud took place in Iraq
— a pogrom against the Jews carried out be an incited, raging Muslim
majority that was the result of the Third Reich’s Nazi propaganda.
Hundreds of Jews were murdered in Baghdad and elsewhere, and thousands
more were injured. Jewish property was looted, and many homes were
burned down.

 The Iraqi government established an investigation committee
to look into the riots, and the findings revealed that Jerusalem Grand
Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and the Nazi Arabic-language propaganda
broadcast on the radio from Berlin were the main causes behind the
massacre.

The mufti’s followers were the ones who carried out the pogrom due to the
failure of the coup he helped to orchestrate after fleeing Palestine.

That is why the frustrated mufti decided to settle the score with Iraq’s
Jews. In his memoirs, he even justified the Farhud, writing, “The Fifth
Column had a great influence on the failure of the Iraqi movement, and
was comprised of many elements, most importantly, the Jews of Iraq.
During the fighting, [Lebanese diplomat] George Antonius told me that
Jews employed in the telephone department were recording important and
official telephone conversations and passing them to the British embassy
in Baghdad.

Jewish workers in the post and telegram departments acted
in a similar fashion, forwarding the messages and letters they received
to the embassy.”

Later,when the survivors of the Farhud immigrated to Israel, Israeli
authorities flatly refused to recognize them as victims of Nazism. Even
today, anyone who tries to expose the injustice done to Jews from Arab
lands is blamed for attempting to provoke ethnic clashes. And so, for
many years, they managed to silence anyone who attempted to bring the
issue to light, and the culture, leaders, authors, poets and spiritual
life of Jews from Arab countries were not integrated into the school
curriculum (in contrast to the history of European Jews). In this
context, one must also recall the Yemenite Children Affair (in which
hundreds of Yemenite babies were kidnapped upon their families’ arrival
in Israel and given to Ashkenazi families), which is a part of history
that is still mainly untold and unknown.

 The Farhud is inseparable from the Nazi atrocities. It was carried out by
Arabs who were directly incited by Joseph Goebbels’ Nazi propaganda —
according to Iraq’s own investigation. Despite this, Israel “cleansed”
the Nazis of these crimes over a period of several years. A lot of money
was invested and paid to senior academics to determine that the Farhud
was an “Arab” incident.

Throughout history, there is no incident similar
to the Farhud, which was carried out to harm Jews in an Arab state.
There is no doubt that the Nazi propaganda is what incited and caused
the murder of Jews.

Today, 75 years later, the situation is beginning to change — justice has
finally won, if a bit late. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon made the
administrative decision to end the injustice, stating that anyone born
in Iraq up until the Farhud would be eligible to receive an annual
grant, among other benefits.

Additionally, thousands of Jews of Iraqi
heritage have been fighting for compensation for years, with the help of
attorney David Yadid, in a suit that is awaiting a ruling shortly.

The benefits and efforts to correct the injustice done to Jews from Arab
countries will not be determined solely by the court’s ruling. Education
Minister Naftali Bennett has established a committee led by poet and
Israel Prize laureate Erez Biton, to review efforts for the further
integration of content about the Jewish communities from Arab countries
into the curriculum, out of a desire to expose Israeli students of all
ages to the cultural, social and historical wealth of these
communities.

We must remember that Jews from Arab countries and their descendants are
not a minority, rather, they now make up more than 50% of Israel’s
Jewish population.

Read article in full

Algerian-born Kalifat elected to lead French Jews

France’s Jewish community, the largest in
Europe, chose a Sephardi Jew as its leader Sunday for the first time in
half a century. 

Francis Kalifat, 63, (pictured) said his priority as president of the CRIF umbrella
grouping of Jewish organizations was to “fight against anti-Semitism in
all its forms.”

He succeeds 79-year-old Roger Cukierman for a
three-year term, breaking the dominance of Ashkenazi Jews in the
organization which groups together 70 associations. The Algerian-born
Kalifat was the only candidate running this election.

 Born in Oran in 1952, his family was forced to make a sudden exit from Algeria, as civil war raged. His arrival in Paris with his mother and brothers was turbulent. His father, a police functionary waiting to be transferred, joined them a few months later. He spent his teenage years in Trappes, moving to Versailles. He trained as a lawyer.

The Charlie Hebdo, Hyper Kasher and Bataclan terrorist attacks have traumatised a community already rattled by the murders of Ilan Halimi and Sebastien Selam.  Antisemitism in France has resulted in 8, 000 French Jews moving to Israel. There has also been a ‘mini-aliya’, from the Paris suburbs to the city.

Aleppo Jews prayed: ‘Next year in Manchester’

This article from Middle East Eye takes an interesting look at the Syrian-Jewish community of Manchester established by 19th century traders like Abraham Batis. But the antisemitic riots which devastated the Aleppan community in 1947 are passed over in silence, and the Baathist regime’s more recent oppression of the remaining Aleppan Jews attributed to a ‘multi-ethnic diversity lost to war’. (And there are odd mistakes: the industrialist Joe Dwek is called Dewek). 

More than 150
years on from Batis’s voyage, this town also served as the final escape route
for Aleppo’s last Jewish family, who were reportedly smuggled
out of Syria and into Turkey with the help of an Israeli-American businessman
and moderate rebels from the Free Syrian Army late last year.

That crossing
effectively ended 3,000 years of Aleppan Jewish history – another element of
Syria’s uniquely multi-ethnic, diverse history lost to war. 

But the UK –
and Manchester, specifically – retains its own place in the history of the
Syrian Jewish diaspora, one with parallels to the modern-day migration flows
arriving on Europe’s shores.

Jewish family in Damascus (Photo: Wikicommons)

Down leafy
streets and Georgian terraces with bourgeois English gardens and driveways,
it’s not immediately clear that Didsbury in south Manchester was, until last
century, a hub for immigrants from around the Middle East.

In the
so-called “millet of Manchester,” historian Fred Halliday wrote
in the 1990s, food was one way multiple cultures mixed: “Kibbe and mujadarra on
Saturday, English roast and apple pie and milk pudding on Sunday.” Even up
until after the Second World War, it was common to hear Arabic spoken in the
streets of Didsbury.

Tucked down a
residential side street is the Shaare Hayim Synagogue, a solemn-looking,
900-capacity temple that first opened in 1927 and later became a hub for
descendants of the many “oriental Jews” who moved to the UK’s industrial
heartland between the mid-19th and early 20th century.

South
Manchester was already home to Sephardic Jews, descendants of Jewish families
originally expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 1400s. But they were later
joined by Mizrahi (Arab) ( actually oriental – ed) Jews from the Middle East.

The Great Synagogue in Aleppo as it looked in 2011. The article makes no mention that rioters damaged it badly in 1947

Many of them,
like Batis, came from Syria in the hope of establishing themselves in the heart
of the UK’s industrial revolution.

Today at Shaare
Hayim, Jews with origins in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and – since the late
20th century – Iran sing and pray alongside the descendants of Syrian migrants.
During the 1990s, the community amalgamated a series of mostly Syrian breakaway
synagogues, whose congregations hadn’t thought much of the austere ceremonies
presided over by Spanish and Portuguese Jewish immigrants.

Read article in full

Abraham
Batis is said to be the first Syrian Jewish trader to make it from
Syria to Manchester, arriving in the northern British town in 1843.
Batis was originally from Kilis, now on the Turkish side of the frontier
with Syria. In recent months, the border town has treated war wounded, hosted thousands of refugees and suffered cross-border fighting.

More
than 150 years on from Batis’s voyage, this town also served as the
final escape route for Aleppo’s last Jewish family, who were reportedly smuggled
out of Syria and into Turkey with the help of an Israeli-American
businessman and moderate rebels from the Free Syrian Army late last
year.

That crossing effectively ended 3,000 years of Aleppan
Jewish history – another element of Syria’s uniquely multi-ethnic,
diverse history lost to war.

But the UK – and Manchester,
specifically – retains its own place in the history of the Syrian Jewish
diaspora, one with parallels to the modern-day migration flows arriving
on Europe’s shores.

Down leafy streets and Georgian terraces with
bourgeois English gardens and driveways, it’s not immediately clear
that Didsbury in south Manchester was, until last century, a hub for
immigrants from around the Middle East.

In the so-called “millet of Manchester,” historian Fred Halliday wrote in the 1990s, food was one way multiple cultures mixed: “Kibbe and mujadarra on
Saturday, English roast and apple pie and milk pudding on Sunday.” Even
up until after the Second World War, it was common to hear Arabic
spoken in the streets of Didsbury.

Tucked down a residential side
street is the Shaare Hayim Synagogue, a solemn-looking, 900-capacity
temple that first opened in 1927 and later became a hub for descendants
of the many “oriental Jews” who moved to the UK’s industrial heartland
between the mid-19th and early 20th century.

South Manchester was
already home to Sephardic Jews, descendants of Jewish families
originally expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 1400s. But they were
later joined by Mizrahi (Arab) Jews from the Middle East.

Many of them, like Batis, came from Syria in the hope of establishing themselves in the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution.

Today
at Shaare Hayim, Jews with origins in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and –
since the late 20th century – Iran sing and pray alongside the
descendants of Syrian migrants. During the 1990s, the community
amalgamated a series of mostly Syrian breakaway synagogues, whose
congregations hadn’t thought much of the austere ceremonies presided
over by Spanish and Portuguese Jewish immigrants.

– See more at:
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/disappearing-migration-routes-brought-aleppos-jews-manchester-1199438840#sthash.1iv07yc1.dpuf

The ‘sad day’ Morocco refused to play Israel

 A Moroccan paraplegic team forfeited a match rather than face Israel in a wheelchair tennis contest in Tokyo, according to the Jerusalem Post. The episode leads one to the inevitable conclusion that Morocco’s much-hyped ‘coexistence’ narrative is largely for external consumption.

The Israeli wheelchair tennis team at an earlier match with a Malaysian team. (Photo: Israel Tennis Association)

Politics reared its ugly head in sports once
more on Thursday, this time at the World Team Cup wheelchair tennis
event at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.

Israel was scheduled to face Morocco in a Men’s World Group 2 tie for positions 5-8, but the Moroccans never showed up, being ordered to forfeit by their local paralympic committee.

“This
is a sad day for sports, and an even sadder day for paralympic
sports,” said Israel coach Nimrod Bichler. “Politics have mixed with
sports in the past, but paralympic sports were always different.”
Israel’s team, which includes Amir Levi, Adam Berdichevsky and Asi
Stokol, was awarded a default 3-0 victory.

Read article in full

x

Al-Ghriba pilgrimage passes without incident

An annual Jewish pilgrimage to
Africa’s oldest synagogue got underway in Tunisia amid heavy security deployed to ward off potential jihadist attacks. The pilgrimage on Lag BaOmer passed off without incident. The Daily Mail reports:

 A pilgrim at the Al-Ghriba synagogue (Photo: Fethi Belaid AFP)

Small
groups of pilgrims including families with children began arriving in
the searing heat at the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba in
southern Tunisia for the Lag BaOmer festival.

Organisers
expect up to 2,000 people to visit over two days, despite heightened
worries about security following a string of jihadist attacks in the
North African country.

Police and soldiers were out in
force while a helicopter flew overhead. The island’s Jewish district
Hara Kbira was cordoned off and visitors were required to undergo
searches.

The number of
pilgrims visiting the synagogue has fallen sharply since a suicide
bombing claimed by Al-Qaeda struck Ghriba just before the 2002
pilgrimage, killing 21 people.

Before then the event attracted as many as 8, 000 people.

Believed
to have been founded in 586 BC by Jews fleeing the destruction of the
Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the Ghriba synagogue has long been a
destination for pilgrims, especially for Jews of Tunisian descent.

Around
1, 500 Jews live in Tunisia, down sharply from an estimated 100, 000
before the country won independence from France in 1956.

Pilgrims visit the tombs of famous rabbis, pray, light candles and write wishes on eggs.
As usual, many pilgrims prayed for the health or careers of their relatives.

wife was seriously ill and, with the grace of God, the year after
visiting Ghriba there was a great improvement,” said French pilgrim
David Slama.

 Perez Trabelsi, Djerba Jewish community leader and businessman prays in the synagogue (Fethi Belaid AFP)

 

Faced
with extremism, it is “our duty to tell everyone that we have to pass
on a message of love, peace and respect for others,” said religious
affairs minister Mohamed Khalil in Djerba.

His tourism counterpart Selma Elloumi Rekik said it was important for Tunisia to hold the pilgrimage.

“You
came here for this festive occasion and you confirm that Tunisia will
remain a land of friendship and joy despite the challenges of violence
and hatred,” she said.

Traditionally
participants have come from Europe, the United States and Israel, but
the number of foreigners attending has diminished considerably since the
2002 bombing.

Tunisia’s
tourism industry is also reeling from attacks last year claimed by the
Islamic State group on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis and a beach
resort that killed a total of 60 people, all but one of them foreigners.

Israel this month advised its citizens to avoid visiting the country because of a “high threat level against Jewish targets”.

Last year’s Lag BaOmer passed without incident, despite a similar warning from Israel.

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