The Jerusalem Post quoted B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of the European Parliament members' letter to its High Representative Federica Mogherini demanding the denouncement of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Members of the European Union parliament sent a letter on Thursday to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, urging her to classify all of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.
MEP Anders Vistisen, one of the three co-initiators of the letter, said:
"It’s outrageous that the European Union still has not denounced Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah's growing arsenal and entanglement in regional conflicts severely destabilizes certain countries and the wider Middle East. It is high time to acknowledge that Islamist inspired terrorism is not only a threat to the Middle East, but is also the top threat to Europe's security."
The letter was signed by a cross-section of 60 members of the European Parliament. The other two co-initiators were Lars Adaktusson and Péter Niedermüller.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid was in Brussels at the time of the MEP letter submission and said: “As part of an ongoing effort led by myself and my friend congressman Ted Deutch [Democrat-Florida], I raised this issue today with the Ambassadors to the EU and with Foreign Minister Mogherini. Hezbollah is one entity and that entity is a terror organization. It is time for the European Union to ban the entirety of Hezbollah and stop the money, recruitment of terrorists and shows of public support which are taking place on European soil. This letter is a welcome initiative and sooner or later the European Union will have to do the right thing.”
MEP Adaktusson said, “In order to stop Hezbollah's extensive terrorist activities, the EU approach has to change. Hezbollah is one united organization, and the EU policy cannot be based on a pretend division of this terrorist organization into a civilian and a military wing.”
The European Union only designated Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist entity in 2012. The proscription of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization came in response to an attack by the organization on an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria in 2012, which resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver. An additional 32 Israelis were injured.
A specialized court in Sofia, Bulgaria is currently conducting a trial in absentia against two Hezbollah operatives involved in the attack. A third Hezbollah operative died during the bomb blast.
"It is a widely known fact that Hezbollah, just like Hamas, is a typical terror organization. Their goal is not peace in the Middle East, but prolonging the crisis and promoting hate. Both of them should have been officially designated as terror organizations a long time ago. Those who support these organizations endanger peace, and the EU's moral obligation is to stand with Israel on this issue," said MEP Niedermüller.
Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) EU office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute, said “The broad, cross-party support this letter has received underscores the fact that there, is luckily, a growing realization in Europe that Hezbollah is a monumental threat not only to Syrians, Israelis and of course Lebanese, but ultimately also to European security."
“One can only hope that the EU will act upon this letter and change its policy on Hezbollah," he added.
"The false distinction between so-called military and political wings is just that — a false distinction. By banning the group in its entirety, the EU would give itself the tools to track Hezbollah’s money flows and stop it from raising funds and recruits in Europe,” Schwammenthal said.
The letter outlines Hezbollah's destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond the region. Hezbollah has amassed 150,000 rockets in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701, and supported the Syrian regime in its war crimes. The letter states “In light of the above and Europe’s strong commitment against intolerance and terrorism, we firmly urge the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety. Only by recognizing the organization’s true nature may we be successful in protecting Europe and our common values."
Benjamin Nägele, Director EU Affairs B’nai B’rith International, said that "Any distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wings is an artificial one. Even the organization’s leaders view the two branches as part of the same entity, with money passing freely between them. Omitting the political wing from the EU’s terrorist list allows Hezbollah to openly organize and fundraise in Europe for its murderous agenda." He added that "designating Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist entity would be the long overdue catch up to the reality of the Iranian proxy’s role and its murderous agenda in the region."
The Times of Israel published an article about the Jewish communal opposition to the European Parliament's invitation of BDS founder Omar Barghouti to speak there. B'nai B'rith International was a co-signer of the public Jewish communal statement.
The Jewish communities of Lisbon and Belgium protested a Portuguese lawmaker’s invitation to a founder of the boycott movement against Israel to speak at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Yohan Benizri, president of the CCOJB umbrella group of French-speaking Jewish communities in Belgium, and Gabriel Steinhardt, president of the Jewish Community of Lisbon, wrote of their disapproval of the invitation of Omar Barghouti to speak later this month in a letter they penned Wednesday to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.
Barghouti’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement addresses “not only the disputed territories but opposes the very existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state in its entirety and in any kind of borders,” the communal leaders wrote.
By offering a podium to Barghouti, “the house directly undermines its own policy stance on anti-Semitism,” they added, citing how some BDS activists “consistently engage in practices which are considered anti-Semitic according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition on anti-Semitism.”
The co-authors asked Tajani to cancel the invitation that Barghouti, a Qatari-born Palestinian who lives in northern Israel with his Israeli-Arab wife, received from the Lisbon-born lawmaker Ana Gomes of the European Parliament’s Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the house’s second largest bloc. Barghouti is slated to speak on Feb. 28 at an event titled “The Israeli settlement in Palestine and the European Union.”
Many BDS activists say the movement is not anti-Semitic, though promoting a boycott of Israel is considered incitement to discrimination in France and Spain.
The communal leaders’ call was co-signed by representatives of the European Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith International, the American Jewish Committee’s Transtlantic Institute, ELNET and the European Union of Jewish Students.
The Jerusalem Post names B'nai B'rith International as a signatory among the Jewish organizations that collaborated to write an open letter opposing the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Poland.
Polish Jewish organizations published an open statement on Monday, expressing outrage over the “growing wave of intolerance, xenophobia and antisemitism in Poland," since the subject of the “death camps law” came to the foreground of domestic and international politics.
In a statement posted to the website of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, a letter signed by dozens of Polish Jewish representatives said that hate speech had spread from the confines of the Internet to the public sphere.
“We are no longer surprised when members of local councils, parliament and other state officials contribute antisemitic speech to public discourse,” the letter reads. “The number of threats and insults directed toward Poland’s Jewish community is rising.”
While expressing appreciation to President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczynski, for condemning antisemitism, the groups said that the “words ring empty” and will have no impact without strong supporting actions.
"On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the antisemitic events of March 1968 and 75 years after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Polish Jews do not feel safe in Poland," the letter said.
While highlighting that today, Polish Jews -- unlike other European Jews -- do not face physical threats, "our situation is far from normal."
The groups are calling on their country's leaders publicly recognize that there is a dangerous and growing problem and for the authorities, public institutions and members of the public to cooperate with the Jewish community to combat antisemitism.
"We know that Jews are not the only victims of Poland’s current hateful climate," said the group's note, emphasizing that the Jews stand in solidarity with all people in Poland who experience hostility and discrimination.
"The current wave of antisemitism arose in response to an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance. We believe this law to be poorly constructed and detrimental to open discussion of history. If Poland’s government believes that even sporadic mentions of “Polish Death Camps” must be criminalized, certainly the rising intolerance and antisemitic hatred in our country should be subject to similarly serious measures," the statement concludes. "Our government possesses the legal instruments to combat hatred but lacks political will. We call upon our politicians to change course."
Among the signatories of the statement are branches of major Jewish organizations including Hillel, B'nai Brith and JCCs.
JNS interviewed B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin after his participation in a Conference of Presidents two-day delegation to the United Arab Emirates.
Mariaschin says that the UAE can help resolve some of the concerns in the Middle East: “through its realistic worldview on the threats to stability posed by both state and non-state actors in the Middle East and the [Persian] Gulf, and with its proactive participation with the U.S. and others in countering those threats, the UAE seems very much a part of the solution—and not part of the problem—in the region.”
A large delegation of American Jewish leaders spent two days in United Arab Emirates this week in search of moderate Arab counterparts working to fight against the forces of radical Islamic extremism, and who are also willing to improve private and public relations with Israel.
“The United Arab Emirates are a country that can have an expanding role with the State of Israel. They are a country that is trying to counter the forces of extremism,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the group that organized the delegation.
Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top storiesAccording to B’nai B’rith CEO and executive vice President Dan Mariaschin, “through its realistic worldview on the threats to stability posed by both state and non-state actors in the Middle East and the [Persian] Gulf, and with its proactive participation with the U.S. and others in countering those threats, the UAE seems very much a part of the solution—and not part of the problem—in the region.”
The group visited with businessmen, government ministers and influential sheikhs, including the Minister of State for Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. Participants also learned about some of the Emirates’ Western infrastructure, such as a U.S. military base, in addition to private infrastructure, including a campus of New York University and a branch of the renowned Cleveland Clinic academic medical hospital.
“We engaged in serious dialogue, with long conversations, some that lasted an hour-and-a-half each. We asked tough questions. Our interlocutors saw that we are an informed and influential community,” said Hoenlein, who noted that the government ministers they met with each stressed the potential of the relationship between the Emirates and Israel.
Conversations focused on major threats faced in the region, including Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power and a regional hegemon. “We dealt with issues that affect Israeli security and regional stability,” reported Hoenlein. Topics discussed include growing extremism in Yemen, Qatar and the Gaza Strip, as well as the ongoing inability of Israelis and Palestinians to reach a formal peace agreement with Palestinians—an issue of concern to the Emirati leaders.
The delegation also raised their own ideological concerns with their hosts, including combatting extremism embedded in the education system, Holocaust denial and preserving Jewish culture in Arab lands. The Emirates houses a nascent Jewish community of several hundred Jews.
“The Emirates’ openness to other cultures, and their priority to bringing tolerance throughout their society, was truly a welcome eye-opener,” said Cheryl Fishbein, chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and a member of the Conference of Presidents executive council. “The people were warm to us as Americans and as Jews. I am optimistic about increasing our friendship with them.”
“We are working on building a relationship that can be sustained,” Hoenlein told JNS, while cautiously noting that “only in time will we see whether the inroads we made on this trip will pay dividends.”
One such measuring stick will be whether or not the Emirates will accept an Israeli delegation to the upcoming World Expo 2020 in Dubai, something the hosts said they were open to considering.
The group also met with the U.S. Ambassador to the Emirates Barbara Leaf. The Emirates have strong military ties with the United States, including the joint operation of the Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi. Additionally, the Emirates maintain strong fiscal ties with the United States, and according to Hoenlein, “have a $19 billion trade surplus” with America.
“They want to see the United States fully engaged in the region, and they see us as an influential channel that will push for that involvement” when the delegation returns to the United States, stated Hoenlein.
Participants in the delegation were generally encouraged by openness expressed by their hosts, which is uncommon among Middle Eastern countries.
“I’m always skeptical of what I hear in English from Arab leaders and spokesmen,” said Julio Messer, past president of the American Friends of Likud (Israel’s ruling political party) nonprofit organization. “But I leave the UAE convinced of their sincerity in combatting intolerance, extremism and terrorism in the region, as well as actively supporting the U.S. globally.”
“The visit offered an important opportunity to engage with the leaders of a country that is playing such a transformational role in the region,” added Mariaschin.
“Hosting us was important gesture,” said Hoenlein, demonstrating the Arab country’s willingness to engage with the Jewish community. “This trip is not invisible, and this year we had a larger delegation than usual.”
According to Hoenlein, the Emirates went out of their way to accommodate the delegation, noting that “one of the main restaurants in Dubai koshered their entire kitchen to provide meals,” so that everyone in the group could dine together, including observant Jews who only eat strictly kosher food.
The Conference of Presidents travels to a Middle Eastern country each year before arriving in Israel for a three-day convention, where they meet with senior-level Israeli officials, often including the president, prime minister and high-ranking ministers, as well as journalists and security experts.
Meeting with the leaders of countries in the region, affirmed Hoenlein, “has paid off in almost each .”
The Jerusalem Post published this op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about the threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and the need for European governments to address this growing problem.
The dramatic rise in antisemitism across the length and breadth of Europe is more than unsettling for the Jewish community. But it should also be of deep concern to European governments, which have watched as extremist parties and organizations have seized the public stage to vent their rage over the past several years.
Much of this is taking place in Eastern Europe, but it is not only there that these practitioners of hate are mobilizing. From Ireland in the west to the eastern reaches of the continent, and from both the Left and the Right, rallies, posts on Facebook and other social media, and acts of violence are targeting Jewish communities, their institutions and individuals in a way not seen since the end of World War II.
The beating of an eight-year-old boy wearing a kippa in Paris last week was only the latest example of this alarming trend. Two months ago, tens of thousands of people rallied in Warsaw, chanting the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” and “Ku Klux Klan.” Banners touting racist slogans such as “Pure Blood” and “White Europe” revealed the grassroots animus that has long served as the foundation for antisemitism in Poland and elsewhere in Europe. Such street demonstrations and similar language were staples in the cities of Central and Eastern Europe in the 1930s, and are now returning.
Political parties, such as Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria and the National Front in France traffic in the same xenophobic rhetoric. That in some countries the Jewish population is relatively small has nothing to do with the vehemence of those who engage in such behavior. Indeed, the expression “antisemitism without Jews” emerged from state-sponsored antisemitism in Eastern Europe 50 years ago.
While growing antisemitism and bigotry of the far Right is deeply troubling, the role that being anti-Israel plays in the political Left also cannot be overstated. Antisemitic motifs underline much of the extreme Left’s likening Israel to the Nazis, to apartheid South Africa, and its charges that the Jewish state is “racist” and committing genocide against the Palestinians.
Editorial cartoons, posters at demonstrations and social media messages often cast Israelis in images that could have appeared in Der Sturmer.
Adding fuel to this fire are attacks against the Jewish religion. Already four countries in Europe have banned shechita, or kosher slaughter. During a debate over the issue in Norway, one legislator said that if the Jews were disturbed by the ban, “Let them go somewhere else.” Similar efforts to ban circumcision are also occurring in a number of countries.
In the midst of all this, on January 29, the Italian government hosted the Rome Conference on the Responsibility of States, Institutions and Individuals in the Fight Against Antisemitism in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Italy is the new chair of the OSCE, an organization composed of 57 member countries and 11 partner countries, dedicated to common security and human rights issues. Co-sponsoring the meeting were the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – which is the OSCE’s human rights arm, the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.
The conference also coincided with the 80th anniversary of Italy’s racial laws, promulgated by its Fascist government on the eve of World War II.
There has been a series of such conferences aimed at combating antisemitism, sponsored by the organization over the past 15 years. The key word in the conference’s concept paper is “responsibility.” The gathering in Rome – of more than 400 diplomats, human rights NGOs, Jewish leaders and others – heard presentations on the role and responsibility of lawmakers and civil servants, the challenge of hatred on digital platforms, and the role of educators, sports and religion in addressing the growing virus of hate directed against Jews in Europe.
The statements each country represented at the meeting, delivered at the plenary session, were also important. Having to go on the record to report what individual governments are doing to assess antisemitism within their borders and how they are acting to respond, is not just an exercise in blowing diplomatic hot air. Granted, some presentations were perfunctory, but others demonstrated an appreciation that the world is watching, and that left unchecked, the 1930s will return in the 21st century, aided by the Internet and social media platforms.
This year, Italy will also chair the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a consortium of countries that offer primarily Holocaust education programs in schools and related remembrance activities. Membership in this group is not automatic; a country has to be elected based on fulfilling certain standards.
In 2016, the IHRA adopted a working definition of antisemitism. It is important that the OSCE adopt similar language to educate public officials, journalists, teachers and others about contemporary manifestations of antisemitism.
Conferences of this type often set high expectations – for the moment – many of which we find go unfulfilled. One objective has been met by the convening of the meeting itself. Certainly one cannot conceive of a gathering like this taking place in the 1930s.
Had it, a spotlight would have shone on the evil and barbarity about to grip the Jews of Europe in its clutches. Even 40 or 50 years ago, such a meeting would be unlikely, since the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe would never own up to their own brand of antisemitism, which targeted Jewish religious observance and any kind of activity or connection to Zionism and to Israel.
So the fact that more than 50 countries met to deliberate on the subject is, as we say, a “dayenu moment” – meaning, if we only have this, it is sufficiently important.
But, of course, that isn’t enough. Once again, the shadows of hatred loom over Jewish communities, some of whose elderly members still wear tattoos on their arms to attest to what happens when societal “responsibility” – by governments, the media and individuals – fails to materialize when it is needed most.
The Rome Conference has laid down the challenge and the imperative to act.
Will the countries of Europe see the need to seize the imperative? Or will the easier path of looking the other way cause Europe to fail its Jews twice within memory?
Below is a collection of articles publicizing the awarding of B'nai B'rith International's Jewish Rescuers' Citation to Enzo Cavaglion.
Times of Israel: Holocaust hero honored 75 years after dramatic rescue of fellow Jews from Nazis
Seventy-five years after he helped a group of over 1,000 Jews fleeing Italian-occupied France, 98-year-old Jewish-Italian Enzo Cavaglion was honored in his hometown of Cuneo on Sunday.
Cavaglion was presented with the Jewish Rescuers Citation by B’nai Brith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust at his residence, surrounded by family and friends.
He still lives in the same village from which he helped organize the 1943 rescue effort.
“Enzo was really moved by the award,” said Alan Schneider, director of B’nai Brith World Center-Jerusalem, who attended the presentation.
“He’s 98 years old — frail in body, but his mind is sharp, and it was an opportunity for him to remember those awful days when he assisted these 1,000 Jews who escaped over the Maritime Alps from France into Italy,” Schneider said.
The Jewish Rescuers Citation was established in 2011 to help correct the common misconception that Jews didn’t significantly help rescue other Jews during the Holocaust.
To date, nearly 200 heroes who operated in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia and Austria have been awarded the citation.
“For decades there’s been a focus on non-Jewish rescuers, such as the recognition as Righteous Among the Nations — an outstanding program spearheaded by Yad Vashem,” said Schneider.
“But there is also a huge focus on it by European countries who want to showcase their rescuers, and they often have a much broader expression of this than Yad Vashem,” he said. “All of this has helped to create a brand of righteous among the nations, and now all these decades later, we’re trying to play catch up and recognize Jews who went beyond the call of duty and put themselves in even greater danger in Germany and allied countries.”
Schneider says that thousands of Jews in France joined resistance groups that saved fellow Jews – particularly Jewish children, and that these groups were highly successful in helping preserve the future of French Jewry in the face of genocide.
Perhaps most famous among partisans dedicated to rescuing Jews are the group led by the four Bielski brothers, Tuvia, Zus, Asael, and Aron, who safeguarded 1,236 Jews in the forest inside present-day Belarus. The group is the subject of the 2008 Hollywood film “Defiance,” starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber.
Like the Bielski brothers, Cavaglion and his own brother Riccardo simultaneously fought the Nazis and worked to save Jewish lives, something Schneider says was unusual.
“In many cases you couldn’t do both — saving Jews and fighting Nazis, so a lot of resistance movements had to choose between fighting and rescue,” he said.
The Cavaglion brothers were founding members of the Italia Libera partisan group, which they established on September 12, 1943, the day that Cuneo was occupied by the German First SS Panzer division.
At the same time, more than 1,000 Jews living in the remote Italian-occupied French Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie fled to Cuneo across the Maritime Alps in the face of German invasion – only to find Nazis combing the area. About 300 of the group were captured and sent to Auschwitz.
The brothers helped the remaining 700 find shelter among a sympathetic peasant population in the surrounding mountain villages, and raided local municipal offices, stealing documents with which they forged paperwork for the fugitive Jews.
Cavaglion was awarded the Jewish Rescuers Citation for putting aside his own well-being as he and his family were also hunted by the Nazis, and helping the hundreds of fleeing Jews find asylum.
The Holocaust survivor was moved to tears when he was presented with the honor.
“This is the first recognition that he had from a Jewish organization for endangering himself,” said Schneider. “Beyond that he was already in danger for being a Jew in an area where the Nazis were roaming, he put himself in the line of fire and put himself in danger to rescue these Jews.”
Jerusalem Post: Grapevine: Morocco in Holocaust History
Different strokes for different folks. Not everyone marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the same way. Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, head of the European Union Delegation and his wife, Min-Ja Masson, invited friends and colleagues to their residence to watch the screening of selected scenes from the films Casablanca (USA, 1942) and Allied (USA, 2016), which illustrated some of the observations of Prof. Haim Sadoun, who delivered a talk on cinematic portrayals of the Holocaust and their influence on Holocaust denial.
Casablanca, best known for its star players Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, is beyond the plot itself a reminder that Morocco, in the early days of the Second World War, was a place of refugee where people fleeing from the Nazis could obtain false papers. Allied, starring Brad Pitt as a Canadian intelligence officer and Marion Cotillard as a French Resistance fighter and Nazi collaborator, also starts out in Casablanca, but although the time frame is the same as in the Bogart-Bergman movie, the plot is vastly different.
Needless to say, Sadoun is of North African background and an expert on North African Jewry before, during and after the war. He is the director of the Documentation Center of North African Jewry during World War II and has authored a book on the subject, on which he lectures and engages in research at the Ben-Zvi Institute and at the Open University.
For many years the Holocaust was regarded as the tragedy solely of European Jews. Few people were aware that North African Jews were among the victims, and when North African survivors told their stories, few in Israel or anywhere else in the Jewish world believed them, and they missed out on compensation payments that were allocated to European Jews. It is only in recent years that the record has been set straight.
For some years now, B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem has paid tribute to Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust years. In Italy this week, together with the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust, BBWCJ conferred the Jewish Rescuers Citation on 98-year-old Enzo Cavaglion, who saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish refugees in northern Italy during the German occupation.
Cavaglion was one of the 14 founding members of the partisan group Italia Libera (Free Italy), which was established on September 12, 1943 – the date on which the city of Cuneo, in Northern Italy, was occupied by the German First SS Panzer Division. The partisans ensconced themselves in the sanctuary of the Madonna del Colletto, some 18 kilometers to the west of Cuneo. Cavaglion and his younger brother, Riccardo Cavaglion, stayed with the group until October 1943, but left in order to help their own families escape arrest.
In addition to the resistance they waged against the Nazis and the Italian Fascists, the two brothers also helped Jews who sought refuge in villages around Cuneo. More than 1,000 Jews living in the remote Italian- occupied French Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie fled in the face of the German Army which invaded the area following the September 8, 1943, announcement of the armistice signed between Italy and the Allies.
A thousand men, women, children, the elderly and the disabled scaled the Maritime Alps and crossed the international border into Italy in a harrowing ordeal, only to find the Germans already taking charge in the area. Approximately 300 of these Jews were captured and sent to Auschwitz. The rest found refuge among the welcoming local peasant population. The Cavaglion brothers found hiding places for them, furnished them with false documents and hid them in the mountains in order to evade the Nazis. Survivor Harry Burger credited Enzo and Riccardo with saving his life and his mother’s life by warning them that the Nazis were hunting for them.
Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented in an effort to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue fellow Jews during the Holocaust. To date, nearly 200 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland and now Italy. Even at this late stage in his life, Enzo Cavaglion, surrounded by two generations of his family, was thrilled to have his wartime efforts recognized.
In New York this week, the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which works toward the restitution of private property and Jewish communal property seized during the Holocaust in Europe (with the exception of Austria and Germany), announced that the critically acclaimed film 1945 and its director, Ferenc Török, will receive the first annual WJRO Justice Award for raising awareness about Jewish property confiscated during the Holocaust and for ensuring that this dark chapter in the history of humanity is not forgotten.
The disquieting black-and-white film grapples with the issue of Jewish property stolen during and after World War II, in this case, in a village in postwar Hungary. The return of two Jewish men to the rural town creates turmoil, as members of the community try to come to terms with the recent horrors they have experienced, perpetrated or just tolerated for personal gain.
The film was adapted from a short story by Gábor T. Szántó. The fictional drama focuses on a “period in Hungarian history that is not overly represented either in literature or in film,” Török said. “It was important for us to share this message about the crimes of those who stole property from Jews both during and after the Holocaust, particularly with Hungarian viewers who are confronting the past for the first time,” the director said, adding that he was honored to receive the inaugural WJRO award.
Although the narrative depicted in the film is fictional, the challenges of European property restitution are quite real, said Gideon Taylor, chairman of operations for WJRO, which actively pursues property restitution in Central and Eastern Europe. “Even at this late date, former Jewish property across Europe has not been fully restored to rightful owners and their families,” Taylor said. “The film 1945 brings a powerful story before the public.”
Jehuda Evron, a Holocaust survivor from Romania, said of 1945: “Many people do not know about the injustices that Jews faced after the Holocaust. Millions of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; now their families are [still] trying to recover what belongs to them.”
The WJRO Justice Award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the fight for justice for Holocaust survivors and their families.
Honorees also must have demonstrated compassion, perseverance and courage in promoting the dignity and well-being of Holocaust survivors worldwide and in preserving the memory of the Shoah.
The film, partially funded by the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a member- organization of WJRO, received the Audience Award at the Berlin Jewish Film Festival and the Best Film Award at the Der Neu Heimatfilm Festival in Austria, and also captured both the Audience Award and the Critics Prize at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest and largest such festival in North America.
Publishers of two of the Hebrew-language newspapers are frequently in the news themselves. One is Noni Mozes, the publisher of Yediot Aharonot, most particularly in relation to his conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the other is Amos Schocken, the publisher of Haaretz, which, due to financial constraints, has shrunk both in size and quality, even though the price of the paper keeps going up. Schocken is occasionally interviewed on this subject on radio, but more often about the controversial antiestablishment writers and their views that he allows to be published in the paper.
Schocken will be in Jerusalem on Wednesday, February 7, at a Beit Avi Chai event in which he will discuss Israel’s communications market, state institutions, relations between the media and its advertisers and content sponsors, as well as what’s happening with the Israeli Left. All this and more is intended to come out in conversation with Yoav Sorek, the editorin- chief of the Shiloach Journal for Policy and Thought.
Conversations rather than speeches have become the in thing over the past couple of years, but as interesting as they may be, they often frustrate audiences, whose members would like to ask a few questions themselves. When there is question time at such an event, the audience rarely gets a chance to ask more than three questions, and sometimes not even so few.
Time marches on. Yoram Taharlev, poet, lyricist and author, celebrated his 80th birthday this week. Literally scores of his songs have been set to music by Israeli composers, and he has made a significant imprint on Israeli culture. Over the past few years he has turned his attention to interpreting texts that are holy to Judaism, saying that he is reading holy texts with secular eyes. At the same time, he has been a somewhat different kind of stand-up comedian, drawing attention to the Bible and other sacred writings through humor.
One of his books, Simhat Torah (The Joy of Torah), is a humorous commentary on the Torah portions of the week. Relating to this book on his own Facebook page, Taharlev writes: “If religious and traditional books were conveyed to us in such way as to make us smile, we could find out much more about our roots, and we wouldn’t be so detached from them.”
Arutz Sheva: This Jewish Man Saved Hundreds of Jews from the Nazis
B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust conferred this week in Cuneo (Italy) a Jewish Rescuers Citation upon Enzo Cavaglion, 98, for saving the lives of hundreds Jewish refugees in northern Italy during the German occupation.
Enzo, who was moved to tears, said he is proud and excited to receive the Jewish Rescuers Citation.
Enzo Cavaglion was one of the 14 founding members of the partisan group “Italia Libera” (Free Italy), established on Sept. 12, 1943 — the same day that Cuneo was occupied by the German First SS Panzer Division. They ensconced themselves in the sanctuary of the Madonna del Colletto, 18 kilometers to the west of Cuneo. Enzo and his younger brother, Riccardo Cavaglion, stayed with the group until October 1943, when they had to leave to help their own families escape arrest in Cuneo.
In addition to the combat they waged against the Germans and Italian Fascists, Enzo and Riccardo also helped Jews who sought refuge in villages around Cuneo. More than 1,000 Jews living in the remote Italian-occupied French Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie fled in the face of the German army that invaded the area following the announcement on Sept. 8 1943 of the armistice signed between Italy and the Allies.
Men, women, children, the elderly and disabled scaled the Maritime Alps over the international border into Italy in a harrowing ordeal, only to find the Germans already roaming the area. About 300 people were captured and sent to Auschwitz. The remaining 700 found refuge among the welcoming local peasant population. Enzo and Riccardo found hiding places for them, furnished them with the necessary documents and hid them in the mountains in order to evade the Nazis. Survivor Harry Burger credited Enzo and Riccardo with saving his life and his mother’s life by warning them that the Nazis were hunting for them. Enzo performed all of these activities despite the additional danger he faced as a result.
Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented in an effort to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue fellow Jews during the Holocaust. To date nearly 200 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland and now Italy.
Moked: Cavaglion, partigiano coraggioso
Mettendo più volte in pericolo la propria vita, insieme al fratello Riccardo, si era prodigato affinché agli ebrei perseguitati che cercavano la fuga di passaggio nelle valli del Cuneese fossero forniti un rifugio, abiti e documenti falsi. Oltre alle informazioni più dettagliate sui rastrellamenti nazifascisti in corso, così da evitare la cattura.
Questa la motivazione che ha portato l’organizzazione ebraica B’nai Berith, nella figura del suo direttore mondiale Alan Schneider e in quella del presidente della sezione milanese Paolo Eliezer Foà, a conferire all’ex partigiano Enzo Cavaglion, 98 anni, la “Jewish Rescuers Citation”. E cioè il riconoscimento attribuito a quei cittadini ebrei che, al tempo delle persecuzioni, aiutarono con grave rischio personale dei correligionari braccati.
A ritirare l’onorificenza a nome del padre e dello zio, mancato cinque anni fa, lo studioso Alberto Cavaglion. Una cerimonia privata e dal forte significato simbolico, cui sono intervenuti tra gli altri anche il sindaco di Cuneo Federico Borgna e il presidente della Comunità ebraica torinese Dario Disegni.
YNet News: The Jew Who Saved Hundreds of Jews from the Nazis
At the age of 98, about 75 years after saving the lives of hundreds Jewish refugees in northern Italy during the German occupation, Enzo Cavaglion has been officially honored with the Jewish Rescuers Citation. The citation was presented to him last week in the country where he was born, lived all his life, fought the Nazis and saved fellow Jews.
Cavaglion helped more than 1,000 Jewish refugees who had sought refuge after fleeing the remote Italian-occupied French Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie in the face of the German army that invaded the area following the announcement of the armistice signed between Italy and the Allies.
The Jewish Rescuers Citation, which he received on January 21 from B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust, has been presented in an effort to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
Cavaglion, who was in his 20s at the time, was one of the 14 founding members of partisan group “Italia Libera” (Free Italy), led by anti-Fascist lawyer Duccio Galimberti, which was established on September 12, 1943—the same day that Cuneo, Italy was occupied by the German First SS Panzer Division.
They group members ensconced themselves in the sanctuary of the Madonna del Colletto, 18 kilometers to the west of Cuneo. Enzo and his younger brother, Riccardo Cavaglion, stayed with the group until October 1943, when they had to leave to help their own families escape arrest in Cuneo.
In addition to the combat they waged against the Germans and Italian fascists, Enzo and Riccardo also helped Jews who sought refuge in villages around Cuneo, putting their own lives at risk.
Men, women, children, the elderly and disabled scaled the Maritime Alps over the international border into Italy in a harrowing ordeal, only to find the Germans already roaming the area. About 300 people were captured and sent to Auschwitz. The remaining 700 found refuge among the welcoming local peasant population. Enzo and Riccardo found hiding places for them, furnished them with the necessary documents and hid them in the mountains in order to evade the Nazis.
Holocaust Survivor Harry Burger credited Enzo and Riccardo with saving his life and his mother’s life by warning them that the Nazis were hunting for them.
Survivor Alfred Feldman wrote in his memoir, “One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler’s Europe,” that he witnessed a daring theft of identity cards by Enzo and Riccardo from the mayor’s office in Vignolo, Italy, that were then falsified and distributed to some of the refugees. Enzo performed all of these activities despite the additional danger he faced as a result.
Nearly 200 Jews Have Been Honored
The citation was presented to Cavaglion in his home, and the event was followed by a ceremony at the Cuneo synagogue. Speakers included Enzo’s son, Dr. Alberto Cavaglion, and B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider.
“It’s a privilege to award you with the Jewish Rescuers Citation, continuing our 20-year effort to correct the historical narrative that Jews did not work to rescue other Jews during the Holocaust,” Schneider told Cavaglion.
Enzo said he was proud and excited to receive the citation. He had tears in his eyes as he remembered the Jews he had met and helped on the Italian side. After the war, Cavaglion remained in Italy, where he and his brother Riccardo owned a carpet store for many years.
Since its establishment in 2011, nearly 200 heroes have been honored with the Jewish Rescuers Citation for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland and now Italy.
JBS (the Jewish Broadcasting Service) included B'nai B'rith International's response to the bill being proposed in Poland that would severely restrict free speech in regards to Poland's national role in the Holocaust. The segment begins at 1:24 of the video.
Jewish groups in the US and abroad lambasted the Polish Senate’s passage of the Holocaust complicity bill Thursday, calling on President Andrzej Duda to veto the legislation in various statements.
The bill, which would criminalize those accusing the Polish nation or state of complicity in the Holocaust, has been pilloried by Israel as a form of historical distortion.
The upper house of parliament voted 57-23, with two abstentions, to approve the bill, bringing the controversial proposal a step closer to becoming law. It must still be signed into law by Duda, who has expressed support for it.
The Anti-Defamation League expressed “profound disappointment” in the vote, with CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt calling it a “misguided attempt to silence certain forms of speech about the Holocaust.”
“Much work remains to be done in terms of Poland’s coming to grips with its history,” he added.
Supporters argue the legislation is fighting against phrases like “Polish death camps” to refer to concentration camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II.
“We understand and sympathize with Poland’s frustration at the use of the term ‘Polish Death Camps,’ but this law goes well beyond that issue,” Greenblatt argued, saying it “could silence the voices of survivors and their families.”
B’nai B’rith International had similar objections to the bill, asserting that “it is vital that every country confront the most painful and vexing episodes in its past in an open and honest way.”
“For Poland, this means acknowledging a history of anti-Semitism that preceded the Holocaust and has persisted to this day,” the group said.
The world’s oldest Jewish service organization called on the Polish authorities to “reverse this ill-conceived law,” adding that “openness and education are the keys to establishing a historical record based on truth rather than painful inaccuracies.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it acknowledged the suffering of Poles under Nazi occupation along with the efforts of locals who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
“We fully acknowledge the suffering of the Polish under a brutal Nazi occupation and the incredibly courageous efforts of Polish Righteous Among the Nations,” the anti-Semitism watchdog said. But “the Polish nation must not ignore the widespread complicity of other Poles in the annihilation of Polish Jewry.”
The group called on Duda to “take whatever steps are necessary to bury this ill-conceived bill and ensure the accuracy of the historical narrative of World War II and the Holocaust.”
Orthodox Union President Mark Bane said the legislation “is the wrong way to go about educating future generations about Poland’s role in the Holocaust.”
“Even though Nazi Germany obviously bears primary responsibility for the Shoah, the proposed law grossly minimizes the fact that Polish citizens did indeed commit heinous acts, on Polish soil, against the Jewish people and other victims during World War II,” he added.
Though the law specifically forbids blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes, it also leaves the door open to prosecute anyone who “grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes,” according to the text of the bill. Duda has 21 days to sign it into law.
Poland’s conservative ruling Law and Justice party authored the bill, which states: “Whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich… or other crimes against peace and humanity, or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminishes the actual perpetrators thereof, shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.”
Israel, along with several international Holocaust organizations and many critics in Poland, argues that the law could have a chilling effect on debating history, harming freedom of expression and leading to a whitewashing of Poland’s wartime history.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the law as “distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust.”
On Wednesday, a US Congressional task force on combating anti-Semitism said it was “alarmed” by the legislation and called on Duda to veto it.
The lower house of the Polish parliament approved the bill on Friday, a day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, timing that has also been criticized as insensitive.
Duda on Sunday sought to defuse the crisis by promising “a careful analysis of the final shape of the act” focused on provisions that have alarmed Israel.
However, the next day Duda told public broadcaster TVP that he was “flabbergasted” by Israel’s “violent and very unfavorable reaction” to the bill.
“We absolutely can’t back down, we have the right to defend the historical truth,” he said.
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