Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Belgium: Professor claims Jews were main slave-traders in early Middle Ages

Via Joods Actueel:
The Ghent University has been running a training course for about ten years, mainly intended for alumni and the elderly. This year, the programme featured lectures by Professor em. John Everaert on the theme of "Human trafficking: Europe and the thread of shame". The first lecture titled "Medieval Europe reorients its slave trade" was held on November 7. Dr. Rudi Roth was dismayed when he read in the first slide of the presentation: "slave traders / slave-brokers: rather Jews (polyglot)" and by Prof Everaert's oral assertion that the trade was conducted "mostly by Jews".

Which sources? When asked about the sources he drew on to make his claim, Professor Everaert referred to the work of his predecessor, Professor Charles Verlinden (1907-1996), a Belgian historian and professor at Ghent University. In 1935, Verlinden developped this hypothesis in a first publication that has been passed on uncritically ever since. Belgian historian Henri Pirenne also underlined the important role played by Jews in trade and in the slave trade during the early Middle-Ages (7th to 11th century). So did the acclaimed French historian, Maurice Lombard.

Dr. Roth examined their works and compared them with newer academic publications. They invalidate the theory of Verlinden because it is not based on hard facts but on erroneous assumptions. Historians such as Verlinden were not rigorous when dealing with sources and mixed information from various sources. Very simply put, saying that "Jews had slaves" and that "Jews were merchants" became "Jews were slave traders". Historical truth was distorted, and historians such as Pirenne and others, adopted this view.

Everaert misses the point The proof that Everaert's explanation is not based on facts is apparent from research by the Austian-Israeli historian Eliyahu Ashtor, but especially from the articles by Professor Michaël Toch of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the leading authority in the field of the Middle-Ages and Judaism in Europe. We asked for his opinion on the expressions "rather Jews" and "mostly by Jews" used by Everaert. Professor Toch responded there is no doubt that both are wrong: "This is as wrong as it can be, and that is not an exaggeration because it is simple: these allegations are wrong for a lot of reasons The sources and arguments against this thesis are clearly explained in my book (1), but also in other studies, for example in Atti della XXXI Settimana di Studi(2).

The specific and erroneous argument, that the slave trade was carried out "mostly by Jews" can be primarily be explained by underlying and passive antisemitic prejudices. The fact that the slave trade was mainly a non-Jewish practice was deliberately brushed aside or even concealed. This anti-Jewish claim was later adopted by a number of historians.

Professor Jean-Pierre Devroey (ULB) also rejects Charles Verlinden's approach for similar reasons. Professor Everaert was contacted by J.A. and maintained obstinately that his theory is right even though it is not based on facts and disputed by other historians.

1. The Economic History of European Jews. Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages, 2013, pp. 178-190.
2. Michael Toch, Jews and Commerce: Modern Fancies and Medieval Realities, in: S. Cavaciocchi (ed.), Il ruolo economico delle minoranze in Europe. Secc. XIII-XVIII, Attidella XXXI Settimana di Studi, Istituto Francesco Datini, Prato, Firenze 2000, 43-58.

Belgium: "Jews avoid conflicts. That’s the difference with Muslims", says mayor of Antwerp

Via European Jewish Press:
The leader of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA), a governing Flemish nationalist party in Belgium, said that "Jews avoid conflict, that’s the difference with Muslims." 
In an interview with the Flemish weekly De Zondag, Bart De Wever, who is also Mayor of Antwerp, a city with large Jewish [not really large, around 12,000 Jews live in Antwerp] and Muslim communities, was responding a question on whether his views on migration have become tougher in recent years. 
"Analyze my discourse of the past thirty years. You will mainly see continuity. But because of the false humanitarianism of the left, every other discourse seems hard," he said. 
"The Left now embraces the headscarf as a symbol of equality. I find that very strange. People wanted to destroy Christianity, but they accept everything from Islam. I call that soumission," he said. De Wever said that he is just as critical for the Jewish as for the Islamic community.
"Orthodox Jews also attach great importance to external signs of their faith. But they do accept the consequences. I have not yet seen an Orthodox Jew at a counter. They avoid conflicts. That’s the difference. Muslims do require a place in the public space, in education, with their external beliefs. That creates tensions."

Spain: Pro-Israel entity taken to court in Spain

Via JTA (Cnaan Liphshiz):
The Committee for Solidarity with the Arab Cause, which receives funding from several municipalities in Spain, filed the criminal lawsuit against Angel Mas of the ACOM group last month, he told JTA. A judge examined the 70-page lawsuit against Mas and ACOM and concluded it merited further judicial review, Mas said.

It marks the first time that pro-Israel entities are being taken to court in Spain for their activities and a departure from the strategy of the local Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS.

Mas added he was “surprised and disappointed” by the judge’s decision to review what Mas called “a frivolous attempt to abuse the Spanish judiciary with propaganda.” But he added that he was confident that he would be found not guilty in any trial.

At least seven municipalities in Spain have scrapped their endorsements of BDS under threat from ACOM alone, the group said. Another 14 have seen tribunals cancel their pro-BDS resolutions and another two had those resolutions suspended by an injunction pending a final court ruling.

“Having suffered crippling losses in court, the BDS movement in Spain is switching methods,” Mas said. “They are targeting individuals in a smear campaign in an attempt to render Spanish Jews and Israel defenseless. This will not succeed.”
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Belgium: Antisemitic Latuff cartoon published in textbook

Via Elder of Ziyon:
A Flemish geography book published a cartoon by noted anti-semite Carlos Latuff

It shows a stereotypical, fat religious Jew enjoying Palestinian water while their own pipes run dry. 

The geography textbook, Polaris GO!, attributes the cartoon to Amnesty International, although Amnesty has nothing to do with the cartoon. The textbook authors decided to attribute the cartoon to Amnesty in an apparent attempt to make it look like it was an official protest cartoon from that organization.

The book reaches many thousands of Flemish children.

Amnesty, when reached by a Jewish newspaper, denied anything to do with the cartoon.

The good news is that the publisher Plantyn agreed to remove the cartoon from future editions of the textbook, although it will keep the misleading Amnesty quote that ."In the ...Israeli settlement of Sussia, whose very existence is unlawful under international law, the Israeli settlers have ample water supplies. They have a swimming pool and their lush irrigated vineyards, herb farms and lawns – verdant even at the height of the dry season – stand in stark contrast to the parched and arid Palestinian villages on their doorstep. "

Keeping the quote while eliminating the picture is still an example of bias in the textbook.

Here is a photo of the Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah. Note the lawn. Note the pool.

Of course, the "parched" Palestinians have lots of swimming pools too. But Amnesty would never mention that.
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Greece is looking to be a stronger security partner for Israel

Via the Hudson Institute:

Full Transcript: Dialogues on American Foreign Policy and World Affairs: Senator Chris Coons and Walter Russell Mead
(...) MEAD: Yeah. So how are they thinking in Greece about Erdogan’s Turkey and the U.S. relationship?

COONS: Well, first, thank you for the question. One of the challenges is, these are NATO allies. And at a strategic level, one of the most pressing discussions was about an F-16 upgrade package for Greece, which is expensive and complicated because we are selling F-35s to Turkey. And the idea that you’ve got one NATO ally and another NATO ally worried about each other’s jet-fighter sophistication and air superiority should be troubling. Erdogan has, as you all know, taken a quite different direction. Turkey was Israel’s first, closest, strongest Muslim ally. Turkey, under Ataturk and for a long time afterwards, was a key bastion of a sort of more moderate or liberalizing influence in the Muslim world. Erdogan, after an attempt at joining the EU and after strengthening, consolidating his power in early years, has really turned fairly hard to the east and become more of an Islamist leader. And after both the conflict with Israel over the blockade of Gaza and then the allegedly Gulenist attempt at a coup last year, it has enraged Erdogan. And he is quite agitated against the United States and against Greece.

And what we heard was reports of very regular interactions – encounters between naval and air forces between the Greeks and the Turks. The flood of refugees and how they’ve been handled and the navigation around that has created further tension. And just a lack of clarity about the relationship has put some severe pressure on it. Erdogan, though, to be clear, has visited Greece – the first head of Turkey to do so in decades. And the prime minister of Greece indicated an openness to trying to negotiate a way through this. Both parties see, I think, the United States as essential to helping pull them closer together rather than allowing, what may be unintended, accidents between naval forces or conflicts between – between aerial forces to create a flashpoint and drive them apart.

The broader reality is that Greece is looking to be a stronger security partner for Israel, a stronger security partner for the United States, and made clear to us, they know they’re in a tough neighborhood. To the north, to the west, to the east, to the south, they’ve got potentially combative forces. And we shared some pointed conversations about Libya, the consequences of the Libyan adventure and the fall of Gaddafi and then the really destabilizing influence that’s having on the whole region
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Macedonia adopts definition of antisemitism that mentions Israel hatred

Via Jerusalem Post:
The Balkan nation of Macedonia joined the United Kingdom, Romania and Bulgaria in adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that includes the demonization of Israel.

Macedonia, where the 75th anniversary of the deportation of the country’s Jews during the Holocaust is being commemorated this week, adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition last week, the World Jewish Congress said on its website.
Next month, the country will see the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia. Designed by Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, the new museum tells the story of the Macedonian Jewry beginning two millennia ago to the growth of the community as a haven from the Spanish Inquisition all the way to post-Holocaust Jewish Macedonia.

Nearly all of Macedonia’s more than 10,000 Jews were murdered in Treblinka, a former German death camp in occupied Poland, after their deportation by Bulgarian forces that had ruled the country with the approval of Nazi Germany.

Over the past two years, several European countries, as well as the European Parliament, adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. The alliance adopted it in 2016 after the European Union’s body for fighting antisemitism removed from its website its working definition of antisemitism, which also included examples of some hateful speech on Israel.

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Hungary: PM accused of ‘anti-Semitic’ undertones in election rally speech

Via Jewish News:
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban used language which some critics have said has anti-Semitic undertones.

Speaking at a rally, three weeks before he seeks re-election for a third term, in Budapest, Orban harshly criticised proponents of immigration. He also called out George Soros, the Hungary-born Jewish financier and philanthropist, and those who support his “open society” ideals.

“We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world,” Orban said, according to the Guardian’s Shaun Walker.

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French consulate worker accused of smuggling arms to Palestine

Via Guardian:
A French citizen working for France’s consulate in Jerusalem has appeared in court in Israel on suspicion of smuggling dozens of weapons to Palestinians, officials have said.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, identified the suspect as 23-year-old Romain Franck. He is accused of using a consular vehicle to elude tight security checks and transfer 70 pistols and two assault rifles from Gaza to the occupied West Bank during five trips.

Franck was allegedly part of a Palestinian gun-running ring, moving the weapons for financial gain while his employer was unaware, the agency said.
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Turkey: Uber a Jewish conspiracy - Istanbul taxi drivers’ head

Via Ahval News:
The president of the Chamber of Istanbul Taxi Businesses has accused Uber of being a targeted attack on his industry carried out by what he called “the Jewish lobby”, Turkish Jewish newspaper Şalom said .

“The global thieving Jewish lobby is carrying out commercial taxi piracy in Turkey,” Eyüp Aksu told a crowd of anti-Uber protesters outside an Istanbul courthouse.

He said the Turkish media were joining in, attacking taxi drivers with biased articles.

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Latvia: Man holding poster of soldiers killing Jews arrested at Nazi SS march

Via Jerusalem Post:
Police arrested a man for displaying a poster of soldiers killing Jews at the annual march by local veterans of two SS divisions that made up the Latvian Legion during World War II.

The man was arrested Friday morning on the margins of the annual march of the Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaires — soldiers from the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS and the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (the 1st and 2nd Latvian, respectively). A handful of veterans, flanked by hundreds of supporters waving Latvian flags, gathered around Freedom Monument for the march under heavy police guard.
The march in Latvia, a member of the NATO alliance and the European Union, is currently the only public event in Europe and beyond honoring those who fought under the banner of SS, Nazi Germany’s elite security force. Occurring amid rising tensions with Russia, it is part of numerous expressions across Eastern Europe of admiration for those, including Holocaust perpetrators, who collaborated with Germany against the Soviet Union.

Several protesters from the Latvia Without Fascism group demonstrated against the event by carrying signs reading “They fought for Hitler” and “If they looked like Nazis, and acted like Nazis – they were Nazi.” None of those protesters was arrested.
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Switzerland: Neo-Nazi convicted of antisemitic assault on Orthodox Jew

Via Jerusalem Post:
A 30-year-old Swiss neo-Nazi who in 2015 assaulted an Orthodox Jew in Zurich was on Tuesday sentenced to 24 months in prison.

In July 2015, the unnamed man performed a Nazi salute, spat on and verbally assaulted a Jewish man. The assault took place during in the middle of the day during Shabbat in Wiedikon, the Jewish quarter of Zurich.

In addition to his sentence, the court also fined the man 1000 francs, roughly $1058, and ordered him to pay 3000 francs ($3175) to the victim.

He had been previously sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2013 for a different assault. He served only 12 months of the original sentence. An amendment in the canton's penal code revoked the prior sentence because of the latest court proceeding. 

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UK: Soccer executive apologizes for equating Star of David with swastika

Via USA Today:
The CEO of English soccer's governing body apologized Monday for equating the Star of David with the swastika while listing political and religious symbols that the organization would like to keep out of the game.

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn mentioned the two symbols as part of a conversation over the weekend related to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who was reprimanded last month for wearing a yellow ribbon to support imprisoned politicians in Catalonia.

Glenn said Guardiola's yellow ribbon is a political symbol, unlike the English poppy, which British players and managers have worn to commemorate fallen soldiers.

"We have re-written Law 4 of the game so that things like a poppy are OK," Glenn told reporters. "But things that are going to be highly divisive, and that could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could be the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like (former Zimbabwe president) Robert Mugabe on your shirt, these are the things we don’t want."
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

German aid to UN Palestinian refugee agency soars under Merkel

Via Israel Hayom (Eldad Beck):
A day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel's fourth government was sworn in Wednesday, it emerged that over the past 12 years under Merkel, Germany has significantly increased its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees and to the Palestinian Authority.

The information surfaced in the government's reply to a query from the deputy leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, Beatrix von Storch, who in a recent interview with Israel Hayom promised to look into German government aid to the Palestinians and raise the matter for debate.

According to the government, German aid to UNRWA increased from €3 million ($4 million) in 2005 to €56 million ($69 million) in 2017, when the U.S. announced it would be cutting Palestinian aid.

In certain years, increased German financial support for the Palestinians came at the request of Israel, in an attempt to create more comfortable conditions for peace negotiations.

The governmental response to Von Storch's query defended UNRWA, which has been accused of using materials that incite against Israel in its schools.
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Germany: Arab German security guards besiege Israeli tourist stand in Berlin

English historian David Cesarini (1956-2015) noted: "Two million Muslims live in the UK and one thing that unites this diverse population is hostility towards Israel and its diaspora champions" (quoted by Christopher Caldwell in Reflections on the Revolution in Europe).  This observation applies to Germany, and other European countries, too.
Via The Jerusalem Post (Benjamin Weinthal):

Security guards who were assigned to protect the world’s largest tourism trade fair in Berlin harassed an Israeli booth on Thursday, screaming pro-Palestinian slogans.

The three guards were of Arab origin, according to witness accounts reported in the daily Der Tagesspiegel. The men yelled “Free Palestine” and “Freedom for Palestine.”

Police intervened and the security guards were suspended. It is unclear, according to the Taggesspiegel article, if the police are investigating the men for disturbing the peace.

Der Tagesspiegel wrote that Berlin officials have repeatedly drawn attention to the presence of young men who work for security companies who have contact with criminal gangs and radical mosques. The Israeli stand at the tourism fair sported the logo “Israel, the Land of Creation.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday: “What happened to Germany’s commitment to ‘never again’ to antisemitism? This ugly incident at an international event in Berlin – by security guards no less – threatens to become in the new normal in Germany. Unless authorities actually crack down on virulent Jew-hatred, there could be, God forbid, further escalation of antisemitism in word and deed.” 
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Holland: Anti-Semitic vandalism rises 40% to highest level since 2007

Via JTA:
The number of incidents involving anti-Semitic vandalism recorded in the Netherlands last year increased by 40 percent, to a 10-year high of 28 cases. The increase in vandalism was part of a small overall

rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 over 2016, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, wrote in its annual incidents report, which the group published Saturday. CIDI recorded 113 incidents in 2017 compared to 109 in 2016.

The data was published amid unprecedented developments in public debate on anti-Semitism in the Netherlands. This month, almost all of the political parties contending in the municipal elections in Amsterdam signed a document vowing tougher action against anti-Semitism.

The move followed a Palestinian man’s smashing of windows in December of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam. Holding a Palestinian flag, he then broke in and stole an Israeli one before being arrested.

Last week, the rightist leader of the Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, visited the restaurant. The Forum for Democracy party produced for the first time in the history of Dutch politics an ad campaign focused exclusively on anti-Semitism ahead of the March 21 municipal elections.
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