Month: January 2022

Israel president pays historic visit to UAE

It was the first  visit by an Israeli president to the United Arab Emirates.  En route, Isaac Herzog ‘s plane overflew Saudi Arabia, which Israel hopes will be next to sign the Abraham Accords. Hamodia (via Reuters) reports:

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, making his first visit on Sunday to the United Arab Emirates, said his country supports the Gulf state’s security needs and wants more countries in the region to join its new detente with the Arab world.

Herzog discussed security and bilateral relations with the UAE’s de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The UAE has in the past two weeks been attacked twice with drones and missiles, claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group. Israel has responded by offering security and intelligence support to the UAE against further drone attacks.

“We completely support your security requirements … We are here together to find ways and means to bring full security to people who seek peace in our region,” Herzog said during the meeting.

Sheikh Mohammed said Israel and the UAE share a “common view of the threats to regional stability and peace, particularly those posed by militias and terrorist forces.”

En route to the UAE, Herzog’s plane flew over Saudi Arabia, which Herzog said was “a very moving moment.” Riyadh has not yet followed its Gulf neighbors in normalizing ties with Israel, but Israeli officials express hope this will happen.

“The Abraham Accords should be continued and more nations should join us,” Herzog said.

The heads of the Manufacturers Association of Israel and of the Israel Export Institute, traveling with Herzog, discussed a $10 billion fund set up under the Abraham Accords and how the UAE might help Israel find new Middle Eastern and Asian markets, the Association said.

Herzog was later invited for a follow-up personal meeting at the crown prince’s private palace.

“The previously unscheduled meeting was proposed by the Crown Prince at the end of his long and warm meeting with the president this morning,” according to Herzog’s office.

At the end of their meeting, Herzog surprised the crown prince with a special gift: the naming of a pediatric medicine conference at the Schneider Medical Center after the Abraham Accords.

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Sarah Halimi’s killer could walk free

The killer of Sarah Halimi, the French woman murdered in 2017, has been let out on day release several times in recent months and could soon be freed for good, the Jewish Chronicle reports. The revelation comes as a parliamentary report into the case, absolving the authorities of any wrongdoing, enrages French Jewish leaders:

Demonstrators in Paris demand justice for Sarah Halimi (Photo: AP/Daniel Cole)

Kobili Traore repeatedly bludgeoned the Jewish pensioner in her Paris flat before throwing her from the balcony in the brutal 2017 murder.

A French court deemed him to have been suffering from a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the attack and unfit to stand trial.

The unprecedented decision sparked outrage and protests by Jewish communities in France and around the world demanding justice for 65-year-old Mrs Halimi.

Traore has since been kept in a psychiatric hospital for treatment. However, the JC can now confirm that he has been let out on day release a number of times.

On more than one occasion he has visited his old apartment block in Paris — the site of the murder of his neighbour, Mrs Halimi.

In another extraordinary twist, it has also emerged that he is taking no psychiatric medication, only underlying the absurdity of the decision to spare him trial.

Mrs Halimi’s grief-stricken family now face the possibility of Traore walking the streets of Paris as a free man, should two independent psychiatrists decide he is sane and no longer presents a threat to society or himself.

The shocking revelations came from three French MPs heading up an investigation into the alleged mishandling of the case by the police and judicial system.

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More about the Sarah Halimi case

Let’s not forget that over 40 Iraqi Jews were murdered

Every 27  January, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day, but in the minds of Iraqi Jews,  the day is also indelibly associated with the public hangings of nine Jews in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on 27 January 1969.  Moreover, this year marks fifty years since the culmination of a murderous terror campaign against the 3,000 Jews still remaining in Iraq, resulting in the deaths of over 40 Jews. Most were randomly arrested and disappeared, never to be seen again.

Half a million Iraqis came to sing, dance and picnic under the gibbets in Baghdad’s Tahrir square on 27 January 1969

 

After a show trial on charges of trumped-up spying charges, nine Jews were among 14 innocent individuals executed. Several were under the age limit for execution. A tenth man and his sister were murdered in a Basra jail. Others narrowly averted death.

Jack Salman Hikmet, 16 at the time, lost his uncle Saul when the secret police came to take him away in 1972. A year later, five members of the Kashkoush family were brutally murdered in their home and their bodes put into the suitcases with which they were planning to leave Iraq just days later. He recalls:

“My Uncle Saul was the one who sat me down after the hangings in 1969 and told me about what befell our people, the Jews (my parents didn’t, nor was our school allowed to track anything about “Zionist” history.)
His words,  that I remember to this day, were: ”Salman, we  (the Jews) are only few in number but would have by now numbered  in the 40 million because of a man called Hitler.”
He turned around and pulled a book from his extensive library: the book was the diaries of Anne Frank, and proceeded to tell me about the Holocaust and the creation of Israel.
Imagine at a time when Jews were hiding their siddurim, this brave man had such a book in Baghdad!
Shaoul (Saul) Rijwan was giving lunch to my younger brother  (9 years old) and sister (5 years old) at his house when they came for him. He was brave enough to ask them to let the children go, and somehow  they found their way home, crying, traumatised told my parents what had happened.
We know they killed him the same day, as the next day they emptied his house, business, and took his car. My siblings were the last to see him alive.
I always go back to the pictures of my barmitzvah a year before that day where uncle Saul and also Suad Kashkoush (nee Haskell) were congratulating me after putting my tefillin on.”
Jack Hikmet being congratulated by his uncle Saul at his Barmitzvah

Ceremony held to remember Libyan Jews killed in WWII camps

For the first time,  a commemoration ceremony has been held in Rome on 27 January at the monument of the Jews of Libya at the Verano Cemetery, to remember the Libyan Jews deported to the extermination camps di Giado, Sidi, Azaz, Buerat El Hsum, Buq Buq, Auschwitz, Reichenau and Bergen Belsen.Report in Shalom:

David Gerbi standing beside a plaque recording the names of Jews who died during WWII and are buried in desecrated cemeteries in Libya

This is a little-known aspect of history, which deserves prominence in the light of the important role played by the Tripoli Jews within the Jewish community of Rome.

“There has never been a commemoration dedicated to the Shoah in Libya, neither in Italy nor in Europe,  in the history of the Memorial Day,” explains David Gerbi, President of the Association Safeguarding Transmission of the Jewish Heritage of Libya (ASTREL), which organised the event.  “It is important, because there is no place where they can come looking for us and apologize for what they did to us. These were Nazi-Fascist camps, so there was also the Italian responsibility. And it was better for Italy to forget Libya ”.

A page of history that has long been put aside nationally and internationally, but the time has come to bring it to light. At a conference dedicated to the Jews of Libya last November, David Gerbi presented his research project  into the names of those buried in desecrated cemeteries, in order to carve them on tombstones to be placed at the Verano Cemetery:

“I want us to be remembered too and for our victims of the Shoah to have a name. Not remembering them would mean killing them again and since we are the last Jews born in Libya we have the obligation to remember – explains David Gerbi – we had a giant from our Community, Sion Burbea who was deported to Bergen Belsen and managed to come back . He founded the Beth Yacov temple here in Rome, he was very loved by the people. We do all this to remember our dead, but it will be a memorial ceremony; the religious ceremony we will do on Saturday, in which we will read the names, exactly as the Jewish Community of Rome does on 16 October, and we will do the Kaddish, giving a voice to people who cannot speak ”.

The ceremony was attended by Jewish high school students, together with the President of the Jewish Community of Rome Ruth Dureghello, Rav Shalom Bahbut, Yoram Ortona, son of a victim of racial laws in Libya, Saul Meghnagi, UCEI Councilor, Ambassador Giulio Terzi , Luigi De Salvia, president of Religions for Peace, Roberta Ascarelli, president of the Jewish-Christian Friendship of Rome, Joseph Taché who read the testimony of Sion Burbea, Rocco Giansante of Yad Vashem and Friederike Wallbrecher, president of the Association Remember Together.

Read article in full (Italian)

The real extent of Palestinian-Nazi collaboration

This fascinating post from Adin Haykin’s blog casts light on the extent of Palestinian Arab collaboration with the Nazis. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini made overtures to the the Germans from 1933.  Nazism inspired nationalist parties and paramilitary youth groups. The Arabs who fought on the British side in Palestine were pushed to do so by the Jews, Haykin claims, and not many of them came from Palestine.

The Nazi-inspired Al-Futuwwa paramilitary youth group

One top secret document revealed that in 1940 an agreement on Palestine was formulated. In it Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements in Palestine and the other Arab countries in a manner that conforms to the national and ethnic interests of the Arabs, and to the solution of the Jewish question in the countries of Germany and Italy.

On August 6, 1940, Franz von Papen, German Ambassador in Turkey, cabled Berlin of his meeting with the Grand Mufti. The cable made known that the pro-Nazi Arab clique that included the present Saudi Arabian Secretary of State wished to cooperate with Hitler by organizing a revolt in Palestine.

Von Papen reported that an understanding was reached with Saudi Arabia on the removal of pro-British King Abdullah of Transjordan and the annexation of that territory to Palestine. The Grand Mufti wrote Hitler on June 21, 1940, that Arab Palestine which had been “fighting the democracies and international Jewry, is ready at any time to assume an active role.”

In Iraq, its rulers extended open aid to the Arabs of Israel [Palestine] by supporting the Germans.

In Jaffa, Nablus and Tulkarm there were many attending gatherings with Arab and Italian agents, who organized the young people to shout cheers: ‘Viva Italia! Viva Duce! And Heil Hitler!’

In a proclamation distributed, signed by Hitler, they called on their audience to fight the English.

In Acre, courses for instructors were organized in military cells. An Arab was apprehended by the Jordan Guard on May 19, 1940, with a letter and a considerable sum of money in his hand intended to act as the commander of the Arab Revolt in the Near East, who was required to begin terrorist acts. Hitler was called by the conspiratorial name — Abu Ali. In Baghdad, Arab leaders gathered and discussed the question of disturbances against the Jews of Israel [Palestine], according to the instructions of German agents. In return, Germany promised the Arabs, the deportation of the Jews … The Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who moved to Syria, demanded immediate terrorist attacks. Subhi Zivan and his brother Rostor Zivan from Tira were appointed to manage the Arab gang operations in the Haifa district. Abu Ali, head of the Arab al-Wahab tribe, located between Rosh Pina and Yesod HaMaala, was given the role of managing the fifth column in Israel [Palestine].

Said Shakid, one of the gang leaders, returned to Israel. In a proclamation distributed in Ramallah he warned the British that he would fight alongside Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini (he was caught after a shootout in Beitunia). Most of the gang members who fled to Iraq, after the events of 1936–1939, returned to Syria to prepare for riots in Israel. [8]

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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