News Digest — 10/20/20

March Of The Living Launches Global Initiative To Mark “Kristallnacht”

On November 9, 2020, March of the Living will mark the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht (night of broken glass, a pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany) with a message of unity and hope through a unique international campaign.  Entitled “Let There Be Light,” March of the Living will invite individuals, institutions, and houses of worship around the world to keep their lights on during the night of November 9 as a symbol of solidarity and mutual commitment in the shared battle against anti-Semitism, racism, hatred, and intolerance.

As part of this virtual initiative, people from all over the world will be able to add their voices to the campaign.  Individuals of all religions and backgrounds are invited to write personal messages of hope in their own words at the campaign website: 

The main synagogue in Frankfurt (one of the few synagogues not destroyed on Kristallnacht) will be illuminated as well, as will other places of religious and spiritual significance across the world.  Personal messages and prayers from the virtual campaign will be projected on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.  Against the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism, racism and the shadow of Covid-19, these individual expressions of optimism and unity will help illuminate the world against darkness and hatred.

March of Living President Phyllis Greenberg Heideman & March of the Living World Chair Dr. Samuel Rosenman, said: “We must use our voices to tell the world that attacks on Jews and non-Jews alike, whether on the basis of religion, race, color, or creed are inexcusable.  In the days when synagogues and holy places are attacked on a regular basis all over the world, it is our duty to speak out loudly and clearly.”

Kristallnacht marked a fundamental turning point in the historical movement from culturally based anti-Semitism to state-sanctioned genocide.  On November 9, 1938, the anti-Semitic propaganda to which the Jewish population had been subjected for years was transformed to open violence, sanctioned by the state.  Commemorating that dark day in human history is particularly significant today, as the hatred that has been rising on social media has begun erupting into violence against the Jewish people and other faiths.  It is imperative that such darkness be refuted by light: the light that will shine on houses of worship throughout the world, and the light of truth that shames all forms of hatred.



US To Remove Sudan From Terror List, First Step To Normalization With Israel

US President Donald Trump announced on Monday (19th) that the United States will remove Sudan from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, paving the way for the African nation to normalize ties with Israel.

“Great news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 million to US terror victims and families.  Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.  At long last, JUSTICE for the American people, and a BIG step for Sudan!” tweeted Trump.

The push by the Trump administration for official diplomatic ties between Israel and Sudan comes in the wake of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalizing ties with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords.  The Sudanese interim government reportedly has been divided over possibly following those lines.

Sudan cannot receive foreign aid until it is removed from the US List of State Sponsors of Terrorism, which it has been on since 1993 for allegedly granting assistance and refuge to the US-designated terrorist group Hezbollah.

The Sudanese military overthrew the 10-year dictatorship of former leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.  A mixed military-civilian government currently rules the country until possible elections in 2022.

Sudan, an Arab-Muslim majority country that borders Egypt to the south, has long been viewed as a hostile nation towards the Jewish state.  However, the new government, keen on reforming the economy and expanding international investment, sees friendlier ties with Israel as a step in improving relations with the United States.  Sudan’s western neighbor, Chad, established ties with Israel in 2019, and South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, also has diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

American courts have ruled that Sudan aided and abetted Al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and on the destroyer USS Cole in 2000.  The $335 million would provide compensation to the victims of the attacks.



Instead Of Making Peace, Abbas Is Talking To Hamas, Turkey And Qatar – Khaled Abu Toameh

PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have, in the past few weeks, strongly come out against the peace deals signed between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.  Instead of talking to the Americans, the Israelis and Arabs who support the idea of making peace with Israel, Abbas is now talking to terrorist-promoting Hamas, Turkey and Qatar.

A report in a Palestinian media outlet belonging to Abbas’ arch-rival, Mohammed Dahlan, revealed that a Fatah delegation in Istanbul this month met with officials from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as Turkish and Qatari intelligence officers.  According to the report, Abbas discussed ways of “coordinating positions and applying direct blows to the interests of the Arab countries, especially the Arab Gulf States and Egypt.”  The report also revealed that Qatar recently gave Abbas and some of his aides “more than $50 million for their personal bank accounts inside banks in Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas.”

A Sudanese journalist based in the UAE, who calls herself Shukran, tweeted on Sept. 17: “My dear Palestinians: Your real enemy is in front of you; it is the corrupt Palestinian Authority leadership….Where did the sons of the Palestinian Authority leaders study?…They live in peace, stability, prosperity and luxury.  Take a look at their own children.  Their children are instilled with hatred….We want to live and raise our children in peace and security.  We tried wars, now we want to try peace.”



A New American Ideology Has Dangerous Implications For Jews – Bari Weiss

A new American ideology has attained cultural dominance, capturing America’s elites and our most powerful institutions.  For Jews, an ideology that contends that there are no meaningful differences between cultures is not simply ridiculous – we have an obviously distinct history, tradition and religion that has been the source of both enormous tragedy as well as boundless gifts – but is also, as history has shown, lethal.

In this new ideology, the things about us that make us different must be demonized, so that they can be erased or destroyed: Zionism is refashioned as colonialism; Jewish businesses can be looted because Jews “are the face of capital.”  Jews are flattened into “white people,” our history obliterated, so that someone can suggest that the Holocaust was merely “white on white crime.”  This ideology has taken over universities, publishing houses, the media, museums, and is now making quick work of corporate America.

It does not matter how progressive you are.  To believe in the justness of the existence of the Jewish state – to believe in Jewish particularism at all – is to make yourself an enemy of this movement.  Jews who refuse to erase what makes us different will increasingly be defined as racists.

(The writer is a former opinion editor and writer at the New York Times)



Jewish Cemeteries, Holocaust Memorial Desecrated In Greece

Several Jewish cemeteries and a Holocaust memorial have been desecrated in Greece, the country’s Jewish council said Monday (19th), just days after neo-Nazi leaders were jailed in a landmark trial.

A graffiti phrase, “With Jews You Lose” was sprayed Friday (16th) on a monument dedicated to the 50,000 Jews that Thessaloniki in northern Greece exterminated during the Holocaust, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) said in a statement.

The words “Death to Israel” were also discovered at the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, while four tombs were vandalized in the Jewish cemetery on Rhodes Island in the southeast.

The acts of vandalism come after the leader of Greece’s neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, and his inner circle were handed 13-year prison sentences on Wednesday (14th).

The sentences represented a major downfall for a party that had been the country’s third most popular in 2015 when the trial began.

In total, more than 50 defendants were convicted of crimes ranging from running a criminal organization, murder, assault, and the illegal possession of weapons.

KIS, which represents the Jewish community in Greece, said it “condemns this new wave of vandal attacks, launched by the followers of bigotry and fanaticism.”

Greece’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, denounced the desecration of the monument in Thessaloniki as “an unacceptable act which damages the memory of our fellow citizens and all victims of Nazism.”

On October 5, a Jewish cemetery was also desecrated near Athens just two days before the verdict of the Golden Dawn trial.  “Juden Raus,” a phrase once used by the Nazis that means “Jews Out” in German, had been painted in black on the outside fence of the cemetery in the town of Nikaia, along with a symbol similar to the swastika used by Golden Dawn.