News Digest — 1/20/22

Israel Calls On UN To Unanimously Condemn Holocaust Denial

Israel is hoping the UN General Assembly will unanimously adopt a resolution rejecting and condemning any denial of the Holocaust and is urging all nations and social media companies “to take active measures to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and distortion”

The 193-member world body is scheduled to vote Thursday (20th) on the resolution, which is strongly supported by Germany.

Holding the vote on January 20 has special significance: it is the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference at a villa on the shores of Berlin’s Wannsee Lake in 1942 during World War II, where the Nazi leaders coordinated plans for the “Final Solution.”

The result was the establishment of Nazi death camps and the murder of 6 million Jews, comprising one-third of the Jewish people.

“We hope it is going to be adopted in a consensus,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told reporters on Wednesday (19th).  “If we want this body, the UN, to succeed in preventing genocide, we must remember what happened in the past and this is the goal of Thursday’s (20th) decision.”

He said that with many Holocaust survivors passing away and the use of the internet now very prevalent, “this dangerous phenomenon of distorting and even denying the Holocaust became very common.”

The draft resolution commends countries that have preserved Nazi death camps and other sites from the Holocaust and urges the 193 UN member states “to develop educational programs that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help prevent future acts of genocide.

The General Assembly designated January 27 – the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviet army – as the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust, in 2005.

The draft resolution underlines that remembrance and “is a key component to the prevention of further acts of genocide.”

The draft says Holocaust denial “refers to discourse and propaganda that deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II” and “any attempt to claim the Holocaust did not take place” or calls into doubt that gas chambers, mass shooting, starvation, and intentional genocide were used against the Jewish people.

It says distorting or denying the Holocaust also refers to “international efforts to excuse or minimize” the role of Nazi collaborators and allies, “gross minimization” of the number of victims, “attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide,” statements casting the Holocaust as a positive event, and attempts to “blur the responsibility” for establishing concentration and death camps “by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.”



80 Years Ago, Nazi Command Met To Discuss ‘Final Solution’

Thursday, January 20, marks the 80th anniversary of the infamous Wannsee Conference in which senior Nazi officials gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to plan the systematic destruction of European Jewry, known as the Final Solution to the “Jewish question.”

The building known as the Am GroBen Wannsee Villa, was built in 1915 by pharmaceutical manufacturer Ernst Marlier and purchased by industrialist Friedrich Minoux in 1921.  In 1940, it was acquired by the Nazi regime to be used as a holiday destination for SS members.

The luxurious villa was inaugurated in the fall of 1941, with officials highlighting its spacious and heated rooms and halls, a music and billiard room, a balcony overlooking the GroBen Wannsee Lake, with food and drink available in plenty.

Within its walls, in 1942, 15 senior Nazi officials – among them notorious Holocaust perpetrators Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann – gathered to implement the Final Solution.

By then, the mass extermination of Jews was already underway in the territories of the Soviet Union and the Baltic states, which were occupied by Germany in Operation Barbarossa that began in June 1941.

One copy of the Wannsee Conference minutes, prepared by Eichman, survived World War II and was discovered accidentally in 1947.

Although the term “Final Solution” only appears in it once, it is clear the Nazis set out to destroy all those on their “elimination list,” which were 11million Jews in England, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Denmark, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, and France.

Eventually, of the 15 who participated in the conference, four were never prosecuted, five were tried and three were executed, including Eichmann.  Two others were released from prison shortly after.  The rest died during or soon after the war due to various reasons.

After the war, the Wannsee villa was used by Russian and American soldiers.  Later, it was turned into an education center of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and eventually a leisure site for high-schoolers.

The long struggle to turn the building into a Holocaust memorial site finally bore fruit in the early 1990s.

Then-German President Richard von Weizsacker, whose father was a senior official in the Nazi Foreign Ministry, did not attend the ceremony and neither did then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Today the villa is a memorial site and learning center, visited by thousands of attendees and students regularly.



Israeli Delegation Reportedly Visits Sudan, Meets Leader

The UAE-based Saudi television outlet Al-Arabiya claimed on Wednesday (19th) that a delegation of Israeli officials had arrived for a visit in Sudan, where it met the de facto leader of the country, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan.

Burhan, who is the president of the Sovereign Council running the country since dictator Omar al-Bashir was deposed in 2019, reportedly hosted the delegation, according to Al-Arabiya.  The report further said that the officials had flown into Sudan after taking off from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to avoid the appearance of a direct flight between the two countries.  The delegation returned to Israel late Wednesday (19th).

The Arab outlet said that the two parties may have talked about moving along the peace process between the two countries, launched through the Abraham Accords in 2020 under then-US president Donald Trump.  The accords saw Israel sign normalization deals with four Arab countries with the aim of establishing full-fledged diplomatic relations.

The African country has been beset by turmoil in recent weeks due to clashes between the civilian echelons who seek to assume permanent control and the military council led by Burhan, which has held on to power and even forced the prime minister to resign triggering widespread protests.



Israel, Germany Sign Submarine Deal

The Israel Ministry of Defense and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems have signed an agreement for the development and production of three advanced submarines for the Israeli Navy.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the deal saying, “The procurement of three advanced, operational submarines joins a series of measures that we have taken in the past year in the process to equip and strengthen the IDF.”

“I would like to thank the German government for its assistance in advancing the agreement and for its commitment to Israel’s security.  I am confident that the new submarines will upgrade the capabilities of the Israeli Navy, and will contribute to Israel’s security superiority in the region.”

“At the end of a seven-year planning and negotiation process, the Israel Ministry of Defense, and Thyssenkrupp agreed on the development and production of the future submarines for the Israeli Navy.”  The agreement was signed Thursday (20th) by the Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel and Chairman of the executive board of Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Dr. Rolf Wirtz, at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv.

The parties also signed an industrial strategic cooperation agreement that amounts to over 850 million Euros.

Signed with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, it details investment in Israeli industries, including defense companies.  This will result in the opening of new markets, professional training, technological development, employment opportunities, and a positive influx for both the Israeli economy and the defense establishment.  This is a detailed agreement, with investment components that were agreed upon in advance.

The agreement was led by various departments in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in cooperation with the Israeli Navy, Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Economy and Industry.



Justice Served For Victim Of Anti-Semitic Subway Attack

Israeli student Lihi Aharon was violently assaulted on a New York City subway in December 2020.

Hit in the face by Zarinah Ali, an anti-Semitic woman who heard her speaking Hebrew, she fought back and knocked the attacker down, but was left with a deep scar on her face.

During the attack, Ali shouted vulgar anti-Semitic insults at Aharon and a fellow passenger wearing a kippah.  She repeatedly yelled “allahu akbar” and praised the shooting attack carried out the previous week at a Jersey City Kosher market that left six people dead.

Ali was indicted on hate crime charges and pleaded not guilty.

“Initially and inexplicably, the Manhattan District Attorney decided not to pursue a hate crime charge at the time, “despite the assailant’s unquestionably anti-Semitic motivation,” The Lawfare Project explained.

“However, thanks to our efforts – which included liaising with the DA’s office and bringing widespread public attention to the case – the DA reversed course and presented the matter to the jury as a hate crime.”

The prosecution of the assailant was repeatedly delayed due to the impact of the Covid pandemic on the court system, TLP said.

“Now after two years of waiting, Lihi is finally seeing justice served,” the NGO continued.

“The District Attorney has offered the assailant a plea to the misdemeanor charge of Attempted Assault as a Hate Crime.  This means the assailant will have a criminal conviction on her record, and will be forced to complete 26 sessions of anger management, bias training and will waive her right to appeal.

Additionally, Lihi will be granted a five-year restraining order against her attacker – the longest legally allowed.

“We feel that this is a just outcome, as our client does not want her attacker to go to jail, but rather to face consequences for the obviously anti-Semitic attack,” said Ken Belkin, the attorney who agreed to represent Lihi pro bono in partnership with TLP.

“We believe this will result in the defendant getting the help she needs to reform her life.  We applaud the Manhattan DA’s Office for treating this case with the gravity it deserves, and for taking a firm stand against anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City,” Belkin said.