Thursday, December 24, 2015

IDF Christian recruits on rise as soldiers gather for Christmas party

Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth recently gathered some of these Israeli Christian soldiers for a Christmas party at an IDF base in northern Israel, delivering treats and thanking them for their service to Israel.  Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth recently gathered some of these Israeli Christian soldiers for a Christmas party at an IDF base in northern Israel, delivering treats and thanking them for their service to Israel.  Naddaf's Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, with support from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, seeks to increase the number of Christian Arabs enlisting in the IDF.According to figures provided by the IFCJ, the number of Christians drafted into the IDF has steadily increased from just 40 in 2012 to more than 100 in 2014 and in March of 2015 alone, 102 Christian Arabs were inducted into the army, through the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum.  “I believe Israel's Christian community should integrate more into mainstream Israeli society,” Naddaf recently said. “Why do the Druse serve? Why do the Beduin serve? But not the Christians? It's because they're scared. This has to change. It's time to say in a loud and clear voice: Enough," he added.  At a recent Jerusalem ceremony, Naddaf, who prefers to call Arab Christians Israeli Christians, thanked “Christian donors around the world” for supporting him through IFCJ.  IFCJ's founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, told Naddaf at the ceremony: “You're at the forefront of a just cause. Trust, equality and mutual assistance between citizens is crucial for the continued existence of a just and strong Israeli society.”IFCJ estimates that there are an estimated 165,000 Arab Christians in Israel. 

In historic first, Israel to award academic prizes to 40 IDF Christian veterans

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Study shows Arab caregivers lead in compassion, humanity

The difference is so significant, the researchers said, that it would be worthwhile for the Arab caregivers to train others to make their own care more humane.

Arab caregivers treat elderly people with dementia in the most humane and compassionate way – more than native Israelis and Russian- born Jewish immigrants, according to a study by researchers at Bar-Ilan University’s Galilee Medical Faculty and Poriya Hospital near Tiberias.The difference is so significant, the researchers said, that it would be worthwhile for the Arab caregivers to train others to make their own care more humane.Poriya’s Dr. Amitai Oberman and Bar-Ilan’s Dr. Miri Bentwich and Dr. Naomi Dickman, interviewed 20 caregivers with the three different backgrounds and analyzed questionnaires on autonomy of patients and human dignity that were answered by 200 people who give care to those with dementia in geriatric institutions belonging to each sector.All of them live and work in the Galilee.The difference is so significant, the researchers said, that it would be worthwhile for the Arab caregivers to train others to make their own care more humane.Poriya’s Dr. Amitai Oberman and Bar-Ilan’s Dr. Miri Bentwich and Dr. Naomi Dickman, interviewed 20 caregivers with the three different backgrounds and analyzed questionnaires on autonomy of patients and human dignity that were answered by 200 people who give care to those with dementia in geriatric institutions belonging to each sector.All of them live and work in the Galilee.The caregivers from the groups were presented with theoretical cases much like those they encounter at their workplaces. They were asked how they would react in routine situations. The Arab caregivers – whether female or male – were found to give better treatment to those who have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia than the other group. This is apparently due to different cultural concepts, including respect for the elderly. This was followed by questionnaires about honoring privacy, religious beliefs and ceremonies and giving explanations, encouraging independence of patients, consideration for families, effective communication and giving time to the individual.Treatment by Arabs was most humane, followed quite closely by native Israelis and, far behind, by Russian immigrants.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Yad Vashem honors American GI who told Nazis 'We are all Jews'

Captured by the Germans during the battle of the bulge, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds instructed all of the soldiers in the camp to show up alongside their Jewish comrades.

An American non-commissioned officer who defied the Nazis while in captivity by refusing to identify Jewish POWs was posthumously honored with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem on Wednesday. (02.nov.2015)
The title, granted after extensive research and corroboration, is intended to honor those who risked their own lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
Captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds of the US 422nd Infantry Regiment was the senior officer in the American section of the Stalag IXA prisoner of war camp.
When Nazi guards demanded all Jewish prisoners report the following morning, in a move reminiscent of the movie Spartacus, Edmonds instructed all soldier inmates in the camp to show up alongside their Jewish comrades.
When camp commandant Major Siegmann saw the entire American contingent standing and identifying as Jews he exclaimed, “they cannot all be Jews,” and Edmonds replied, “we are all Jews.”
Siegmann then drew his pistol on Edmonds, who coolly responded that “according to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.”
Outfaced by Edmonds, the commandant turned and walked away.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Jew in the SS

Scherwitz: Der jüdische SS-Offizier, Anita Kugler - A Jew in the SS

His name was Eleke Scherwitz and although much about him remains unknown (like his date and place of birth or family tree) he was, indeed, both Jewish and a Nazi SS officer charged with overseeing a concentration camp in Riga, Latvia. His is the only such story in history and his life -- documented in a new book by German historian-journalist Anita Kugler -- offers a startling mirror on the human complexities of World War II, a fight often portrayed as black and white, good vs. evil.
As head of the Riga concentration camp known as Lent, Scherwitz lived high and acted as a Nazi elite. Yet he also used his SS status to save hundreds, perhaps up to a thousand, Jewish lives.
In 1948 he was indicted as a war criminal for killing three Jews who tried to flee the camp and sentenced to six years in prison. During his trial, he pleaded that he was Jewish and had joined the Nazi party to save himself and to help his fellow Jews. The alternative, he said, would have been death. Is he a hero or a criminal? Like Oscar Schindler, the German entrepreneur made famous by Steven Spielberg in the film "Schindler's List," he was a case of both -- a man caught up in events too big for him to navigate cleanly and who instead chose to operate in grey zones of non-commitment.
"He was an immoral moralist," Kugler said. "Mainly he wanted to save himself. But like Schindler, he is a rare example of a man who built an island of humanity in the middle of a murderous regime."
Like Schindler, Scherwitz was a womanizer and a supremely egotistical bon vivant with a soft spot for underdogs. He kept his Latvian workers alive by making them pivotal to the SS -- that is he had them create luxury items like furs, leather goods and silk negligees and stockings for SS wives and lovers.
Scherwitz's situation was even dicier than Schindler's, Kugler argues, because while Schindler was a businessman with a company from which he personally profited, Scherwitz headed a Nazi camp run by the SS. His every move was watched and he was constantly shadowed by SS officers, many of whom he had to bribe so they wouldn't reveal that his workers were well fed and humanely treated.
"The only thing his workers didn't have was freedom" said Kugler, who spent years interviewing witnesses and tracing lost documents. Among camp residents and survivors, Scherwitz was known as the "King of the Jews."
After the war, Scherwitz' s ambiguous behavior continued. When American occupiers arrived, he announced himself as a Jew. But he just as quickly lied about his life during the war, saying he had been a concentration camp victim -- not an elite SS overseer. The Americans embraced him and he began a new life helping Nazi victims. He did so until 1948, when his past became known and he was arrested for war crimes.
Kugler's book, "Sherwitz, the Jewish SS Officer" came out in late September and has yet to make the literary or intellectual splash she had hoped it would. It has also not yet found an English publisher. That may be because of the book's 700-page heft and Kugler's scholarly style and drive to record every detail about the period. It may also be because she leaves the reader with more questions than answers. At one point, she even questions whether Scherwitz was Jewish at all -- suggesting he made up his Jewishness in order to save himself from the Americans.
One step she does make, however, is to insist that her research brought her close enough inside the mind and psyche of Scherwitz to say with certainty that he did not murder the three Jews. He couldn't have, she said. He didn't have it in him. Instead, she believes he was framed, a victim of the anti-Semitism and bitterness that characterized Germany during and after the war.
"One of the most fascinating and disturbing parts of the story is that he was indicted on the grounds that he was a Jew who acted particularly immorally because he persecuted fellow Jews," Kugler said. "Does that mean it is not as bad if a Catholic persecutes a Jew?"
The question invites a second book.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Yosef Kuzkovski

Yosef Kuzkovski, Painter. b. 1902, Russia. Immigrated 1969. Studies: Painting Academy, Kiev.  Died 1970, four months after immigration.

Self Portrait at Home

His painting, "The Last Road - Babi Yar", hangs in the Knesset.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kurdish-Iraqi Writer: The Palestinians Should Extend A Friendly Hand To Israel

Kurdish-Iraqi writer Mehdi Majid 'Abdallah 

"According to a UN report, in 2008 Israel, which the Palestinians claim murders innocent children, took in 144,838 Palestinians for purposes of medical treatment. In 2009 this figure grew by 20%, reaching 172, 863, in 2010 it reached 175,151, in 2011 it grew by 13%, reaching 197,713, and in 2012 it reached 210,469. I wonder if any Arab country would do the same for Israelis?"

Monday, April 20, 2015

winter war finnish antisemitic leaflet regarding general Grigori Stern
Grigori Mihailovich Shtern (RussianГригорий Михайлович Штерн, 24 July (6 August) 1900 – 28 October 1941) was a Soviet officer in theRed Army.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can the ICC go after settlements as war crimes?

Expert says ICC could go after some settlements retroactively, on the basis that maintaining existing settlements was an ongoing crime.

One of the most speculative ideas going around as the PA’s accession to the International Criminal Court Rome Statute is due to go into effect on Wednesday is whether the ICC can go after the settlements as war crimes and how? Legal considerations aside, the PA reportedly will delay pushing forward with the ICC as part of an informal deal with Israel to receive its custom tax revenue which Israel was withholding and general diplomatic pressure may prevent the Palestinians or the ICC from moving any real cases forward. But what if shortly after June 29, when the UN Commission of Inquiry into Gaza releases its report on the summer Gaza war, the PA and the ICC move forward against Israelis on the settlement issue? The Jerusalem Post consulted with a wide range of top experts on the issue who speculated about what might follow.
Some, like former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker were confident that the ICC will ultimately choose not to get involved beyond reviewing a variety of jurisdictional issues, but agreed to some speculating anyway.
 The first question is: who would be the defendants? All of the experts agreed that individual house-owners would not be defendants, but at most potentially political, financial and military officials involved on a broader level on promoting the settlement enterprise.
They all also agreed that the ICC Prosecutor has said her starting point would be settlements started or built after November 29, 2012 when the UN General Assembly declared a State of Palestine.
This excludes most of the roughly 350,000 West Bank settlers’ settlements, though some experts theorized ways the ICC might decide to go after earlier built settlements on the basis of being “continuing” war crimes. Most of the experts also said that there was no ICC or other international court precedent for actually prosecuting issues of population transfer and none of them could name a precedent.
Hebrew University Professor and former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Robbie Sabel said he had “no idea who” specifically the PA or ICC might try to target specifically (the ICC makes the final decision, but much of its information comes from whoever files complaints), but that theoretically local planning officials could have some risk. What would evidence look like and what would happen if Israel refused to cooperate as with the UN inquiry into the summer Gaza war? Sabel said that most documents for approving different stages of building settlements were publicly available and that there was no block to the ICC from obtaining them.
But Sabel did not believe the ICC was likely to get that far because of both its backlog of more conventional cases and the many jurisdictional issues stopping Palestinians complaint at the door to the court.
 Sabel said that the issue was ultimately more political than legal and would be highly cumbersome for the court to handle using standard legal analyses.
He pointed out that the court would have to accept the ICC Prosecutor’s recognition of Palestine as a state, a conclusion they may disagree with as they are an even less political body than the prosecutor’s office.
 Sabel said they would need to go far beyond their normal mandate by having to define the borders of a State of Palestine which on the ground has no borders and define messy issues like east Jerusalem’s status and “effective control,” while the West Bank and Gaza are essentially ruled by two different Palestinian regimes.
 Further, he and Baker noted that the court’s history was focused on crimes of the utmost gravity like genocide, mass murder, mass rape and mutilation, not on population transfer questions and defining borders. Rather, Baker said, at most population transfers had been declared to be illegal, but with little follow-up beyond encouraging them to cease and for persons transferred to return to their homes. Sabel quoted the Rome Statute’s preamble which talks about crimes which “deeply shock the conscience of humanity,” as opposed to the settlements, which he said were inextricably intertwined with resolving border disputes.
Baker added that the entire addition of the “war crime” of direct or indirect population transfer was a last minute political exercise add-on. He said he was there at the negotiations when the issue was raised and that many realized “the absurdity” of the issue, but that the Western powers played ball with the Arab states to insert the item in order for the Arab states to agree to leave the death penalty out of the Rome Statute.
Baker argued that the issue of complimentarity, that the ICC cannot get involved on an issue unless the national courts are unable or unwilling to investigate the issue, could be raised.
He stated that Israel as a general matter holds to the settlements legality and does not build on private Palestinian land.
Moreover, in those cases where Israel does build on private Palestinian land, the Attorney-General and the High Court of Justice review cases and return the land to the Palestinians if they prove their case. Despite that, Baker said he thought that Israel still had a strong chance of triumphing on the legal arguments that there is no State of Palestine and that even with the Rome Statute including indirect transfers as being a war crime, an expanded standard from the Geneva Conventions which refer to forcible or direct population transfers, the crime could not be applied to voluntary settlers like the Jewish settlers.
He said he expected the ICC Pretrial Chamber would overrule Bensouda and ignore the “political” non- binding UN General Assembly vote on the question of Palestinian statehood if they were true to the law, including the Oslo Accords, though he noted that judges are appointed by their countries, which injects some politics into the issue.
ICC expert and post-doctoral fellow at Haifa University Dr. Sigall Horovitz and international law expert Shlomi Zacharyah took a different approach.
Also emphasizing that all discussions were theoretical and speculative, they said that local planning council and mid-level IDF commanders could be on the defendants list if a case went forward.
Horovitz said that if the ICC through a wider net, it could try to include leaders who indirectly contributed to moving Jews into the settlements, including even leaders of propaganda for furthering that cause.
Zacharyah said that a range of ministers, including Israel’s housing minister, defense minister and others substantially involved in facilitating the settlement enterprise could be on a theoretical ICC list.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Karl Marx about Jews in Palestine & Jerusalem in 1854

Karl Marx Confirms Jews Were A Majority In Jerusalem in 1854

Shlomo Avineri writes about Karl Marx and his days as a journalist.

While working for Horace Greeley's New York Daily Tribune back in 1854, Karl Marx wrote about the Ottoman Empire which at the time stretched deep into Eastern Europe. Marx wrote not only about the demographics, but also about the minorities who lived under Muslim rule.

Among the topics Marx wrote about was the situation in Jerusalem--and notes that in 1854 Jews were the majority population in Jerusalem:

He begins by stating that its "sedentary population numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [Muslims] and 8,000 Jews." He goes on to say that "the Mussulmans, forming about a quarter of the whole, consisting of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect." After this dry recitation of facts, what follows is somewhat surprising. Marx goes on:

Nothing equals the misery and the suffering of the Jews of Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud . . . between the Zion and the Moriah . . . [They are] the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance, insulted by the Greeks, persecuted by the Latins [Catholics], and living only on the scanty alms transmitted by their European brethren.
Emet m'Tsiyon writes that Karl Marx apparently used the French diplomat and historian Cesar Famin as his source for the Jewish majority in Jerusalem:
Marx brought much of Famin's information into his article, sometimes quoting directly at length, sometimes paraphrasing. Famin wrote several books, mainly on history...

Here are Famin's numbers for Jerusalem's population in 1853. They are the same as those Marx reported in his article of April 1854. First I will give the English translation of Famin's words, and then his words in the original French:

The sedentary population of Jerusalem is about 15,500 souls
"La population sedentaire de Jerusalem est d'environ 15,500 ames:"
Jews . . . . 8,000 . . . Juifs
Muslims . .4,000 . . . Musulmans
Christians 3,490 . . . Chretiens
- - - - - - -------
. . . . . . . 15,490

This is the place for the name and other data about Famin's book:
L'Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des Eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris: Firmin Didot freres, 1853). The breakdown of Jerusalem's population is on page 49.
Karl Marx and Cesar Famin have lots of company, confirming those numbers.

In The Jerusalem Population in the 19th Century -- Part 3, Emet m'Tsiyon quotes "Political History of Ottoman Jerusalem" by Abdul-Karim Rafeq in Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City, 1517-1917:
The book contains a number of articles on various aspects of life in the city during the Ottoman period, and includes a survey of Jerusalem's political history in the period under survey, written by an Arab, Abdul-Karim Rafeq.

Here are population counts and estimates from the 19th century that he cites:

1) F Bovet was a French Protestant minister. He was in the Holy City in 1858 and was given demographic figures by the Prussian consul:

_7,000 _ Jews
_5,000 _ Muslims
_3,400 _ Christians
15,400 total

2) Baron M de Vogüé, an inquisitive French traveler who spent considerable time in Jerusalem, gave these estimates/counts for the Holy City's population as of 1872:

_14,000 _ Jews
4-5,000 _ Muslims
7-8,000 _ Christians
26,000 total

3) Nu`aman al-Qasatli was an Arab from Damascus ("a Damascene traveller and member of the Palestine Exploration Fund's expedition" to Israel). He gave estimates for Jerusalem's population as of 1874:

22,000 __ Jews
_6,000 __ Muslims
12,000 __ Christians
40,000 total
In another post, Emet m'Tsiyon gives further sourcing for the Jewish majority in Jerusalem in 1854.

He quotes Yehoshua Ben Arieh, Jerusalem in the 19th Century: The Old City
This entry will present Ben-Arieh's estimates based on counts, censuses, and estimates made in the 19th century. The advantage in Ben-Arieh's work is that he presents estimates for various times throughout the century.

The Population of Jerusalem by Communities (1800-1870) (approximate figures)

Year __ Jews __ Muslims ___ Christians __ All Non-Jews __ Total
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1800 __ 2,250 __ 4,000 ____ 2,750 ______ 6,750 _____ 9,000

1836 __ 3,250 __ 4,500 ____ 3,250 ______ 7,750 _____ 11,000

1840 __ 5,000 __ 4,650 ____ 3,350 ______ 8,000 _____ 13,000

1850 __ 6,000 __ 5,400 ____ 3,600 ______ 9,000 _____ 15,000

1860 __ 8,000 __ 6,000 ____ 4,000 ______ 10,000 _____ 18,000

1870 __ 11,000 __ 6,500 ____ 4,500 ______ 11,000 _____ 22,000
The Jewish connection to Jerusalem, historically, religiously, politically--and geographically--is clear.

Palestinian Arabs may sit down with Israel and negotiate about Jerusalem, but in no way are they entitled to any part of Jerusalem on a silver platter.

Friday, January 9, 2015