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Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day of Commemoration to Honour the Victims of the Holocaust: Jan. 27, 2015— “Today, let us pause to remember one of the darkest moments in human history ,”

Auschwitz 70 Years Later: Universal Lessons For Our Time: Irwin Cotler, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2014 — I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action.

The Strains of War: Michael O’Donnell, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7, 2014— During the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad, which lasted from September 1941 to January 1944, the city’s radio station broadcast the sound of a metronome.

Should Netanyahu Address Congress?: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Jan. 27, 2015— Presumably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed his options carefully before accepting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address the joint session of Congress.

Can Israel Survive?: Victor Davis Hanson, Real Clear Politics, Jan. 29, 2015— Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.


On Topic Links


Councilman Greenfield Denounces Anti-Semitic Outburst in NYC Council Chamber:, Youtube, Jan. 22, 2014

Do We Really Mean ‘Never Again’?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2015

Westminster Abbey to Honour Music of the Nazi Camps: Patrick Sawer & Edward Malnick, Telegraph, Jan. 25, 2015

How My Great-Grandfather, Winston Churchill, Kept Democracy’s Flame Flickering: Randolph Churchill, National Post, Jan. 24, 2015                                                                            




                                                                        Jan. 27, 2015


Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement marking the International Day of Commemoration to Honour the Victims of the Holocaust: “Today, let us pause to remember one of the darkest moments in human history, when the Nazis reached a new nadir of inhumanity, intolerance and anti-Semitism, massacring nearly six million Jews and others during the Holocaust. This deliberate, systematic and industrial slaughter of innocent men, women, and children will forever be a stain on human history. Let us join with the families and friends in remembering and honouring those who perished during this senseless horror.

Last week I had the privilege of laying a wreath at Yad Vashem in Israel to honour the victims of the Holocaust. It was a deeply moving experience. On this day, we also remember those individuals of remarkable conviction and fortitude who stood up for what was right during those dark days, risking everything to protect those who were being victimized during the Holocaust. We have a duty to honour and continue their inspirational work. That is why our Government will remain steadfast in its commitment to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms, and will continue to stand up for the existence of a free and democratic Jewish State of Israel.”                                           





AUSCHWITZ 70 YEARS LATER: UNIVERSAL LESSONS FOR OUR TIME                                                     

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                         

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2015


I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action. Indeed, I write from Prague, where events commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 70 years ago are underway as the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I write on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century, and site of horrors too terrible to be believed, but not too terrible to have happened.

Of the 1.3 million people murdered at Auschwitz, 1.1 million were Jews. As Elie Wiesel put it, "The Holocaust was a war against the Jews in which not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims." I write also in the immediate aftermath of the 70th anniversary of the arrest and disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg on January 17, 1945. It is a tragedy that this hero of the Holocaust who saved so many was not saved by so many who could, and we owe a duty to Raoul Wallenberg to determine the truth of his fate. I write as well in the wake of anti-Semitic terror and killing in France, and in the midst of ongoing mass atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria, ethnic cleansing in Darfur and South Sudan, and killing fields in Syria and elsewhere. And so, at this important historical moment, we should ask ourselves: What have we learned in the last 70 years, and more importantly, what must we do?

The first lesson is the danger of forgetting, and the imperative of remembrance — le devoir de mémoire. As we remember the victims of the Shoah — defamed, demonized and dehumanized as prologue and justification for genocide — we must understand that the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of non-Jews is not a matter of abstract statistics. As we say at such moments of remembrance, "Unto each person there is a name, each person has an identity, each person is a universe." As the Talmud reminds us, "Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe." Thus, the abiding universal imperative: we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other's destiny. The second enduring lesson is that the genocide of European Jewry — like the genocides of Rwanda and Darfur — succeeded not only because of the machinery of death, but because of a state-sanctioned ideology of hate. For example, the Jew was seen as the personification of the devil, as the enemy of humankind and humanity could only be redeemed by the death of the Jew. As the Canadian Supreme Court has affirmed — and as echoed by the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda — "the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers — it began with words."

The third lesson is the danger of anti-Semitism — the oldest and most enduring of hatreds — and the most lethal. If the Holocaust is a metaphor for radical evil, anti-Semitism is a metaphor for radical hatred. Let there be no mistake about it: Jews died at Auschwitz because of anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism did not die. And as we have learned only too painfully, the killings in France being only one of the latest examples, while anti-Semitism begins with Jews, it doesn't end with Jews. The fourth painful and poignant lesson is that these genocidal crimes resulted not only from state-sanctioned incitement to hatred and genocide, but from crimes of indifference, from conspiracies of silence — from the international community as bystander. Indeed, what makes the Rwandan genocide so unspeakable is not only the horror of the genocide itself, but that this genocide was preventable. No one can say that we did not know; we knew, but we did not act. Similarly, today, we have yet to act to stop the slaughter of civilians in Syria or the killing fields in Sudan, ignoring the lessons of history and mocking the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

The fifth lesson is the danger of the culture of impunity that repeatedly emboldens those intent on committing mass atrocities and genocide. Indeed, if the last century — symbolized by the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda — was the age of atrocity, it was also the age of impunity, with few of the perpetrators brought to justice. Just as there must be no sanctuary for hate and no refuge for bigotry, so must there not be any base or sanctuary for the enemies of humankind. The sixth lesson is that the Holocaust was made possible not only because of the "bureaucratization of genocide," as Robert Lifton put it, and as the desk murderer Adolf Eichmann personified, but because of the trahison des clercs — the complicity of the elites — including physicians, church leaders, judges, lawyers, engineers, architects and educators. Holocaust crimes were also the crimes of the Nuremberg elites.

The seventh lesson concerns the vulnerability of the powerless and the powerlessness of the vulnerable, as dramatized at Auschwitz by the remnants of shoes, suitcases, crutches, and hair of the murdered, and as found expression in the triad of Nazi racial hygiene: the Sterilization Laws, the Nuremberg Race Laws, and the Euthanasia Program — all of which targeted those "whose lives were not worth living." It is revealing, as Prof. Henry Friedlander points out in his work titled "The Origins of Nazi Genocide," that the first group targeted for killing were the Jewish disabled. It is our responsibility, then, as citizens of the world, to give voice to the voiceless and to empower the powerless, be they the disabled, poor, elderly, women victimized by violence, or vulnerable children — the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. The eighth lesson is the cruelty of Holocaust or genocide denial — a criminal conspiracy to erase and whitewash the horror of mass atrocity. In its most obscene form, Holocaust or genocide denial actually accuses the victim of falsifying the crime, of perpetrating a hoax. Thus, we have a responsibility to remember and bear witness to victims of the Holocaust and genocide, thereby repudiating genocide denial. The ninth lesson is the importance — indeed the responsibility — of remembering the heroic rescuers. Those "righteous among the nations," like Raoul Wallenberg, remind us of the range of humanity that prevailed in the face of evil and transformed history.

Finally, we must remember — and celebrate — the survivors of the Holocaust, the true heroes of humanity. For they witnessed and endured the worst of inhumanity, but somehow found, in the depths of their own humanity, the courage to go on, to rebuild their lives as they helped build our communities. And so, together with them we must remember and pledge — not as an idle slogan but as an injunction to act — that never again will we be indifferent to incitement and hate, never again will we be silent in the face of evil, never again will we indulge racism and anti-Semitism, never again will we ignore the plight of the vulnerable, and never again will we be indifferent in the face of mass atrocity and impunity. We will speak up and act against racism, against hate, against anti-Semitism, against mass atrocity, against injustice, and against the crime of crimes whose name we should shudder to mention: genocide.




THE STRAINS OF WAR                                                                                            

Michael O’Donnell                                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7, 2015


During the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad, which lasted from September 1941 to January 1944, the city’s radio station broadcast the sound of a metronome. Its steady tick-tock between programs reassured listeners that the booth was not empty—or, worse yet, in German hands. The metronome served a practical as well as a psychological function. Faster ticks indicated an imminent air raid and meant that residents should find shelter. The sound was both heartening and terrible, for it called to mind not just the Russian people’s refusal to surrender but also the relentless German assault. One young diarist compared the incessant beating to “the pulse of a fatally ill patient in the silence of a ward.” Nearly 800,000 Russians died of cold and hunger before the siege ended. Corpses littered the city’s streets and disappeared under the snow; no one had the strength to move them. As rations dwindled, residents began eating tree bark. The British journalist Brian Moynahan describes the way arctic temperatures combined with fierce combat to produce a situation of bleak exigency. “The oil in [Germans’] trucks became first a paste and then a glue which seized up the engines,” he writes. “Infantry weapons froze. Only grenades and flamethrowers were reliable.”


Mr. Moynahan has written a passionate and moving book focusing on the role music played in this catastrophe. “Leningrad: Siege and Symphony” is filled with vivid details. German soldiers defiled Russia’s cultural heritage by occupying Tchaikovsky’s rural dacha, where they parked their motorcycles inside and burned a lovely gazebo for warmth. In the city, bombs and artillery shells—as many as 12,000 in a single day—destroyed not just homes and families but also priceless musical instruments. Although Leningrad residents continued to attend concerts, they shivered in winter attire rather than evening wear. Mittens and gloves muted their applause. No musical work embodied the siege of Leningrad—indeed, no piece of music embodies any war—like Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. Its Leningrad premiere, on Aug. 9, 1942, was performed by starving musicians and broadcast over loudspeakers at the front to defy the Nazis and hearten Russian troops. Abroad, it provided “a moral redemption for Stalin and the Soviet regime,” writes Mr. Moynahan—especially for the Western allies, who “wanted badly to believe in the Russians, in their survival, and in their decency.” Shostakovich’s private irony was that his music was not merely a cry against the Nazis but also against Stalinism. Mr. Moynahan calls the Seventh a “requiem for a noble city beset by the twin monsters of the century.”


As Shostakovich’s biographer Elizabeth Wilson has shown, Stalin terrorized the composer in a far more immediate way than Hitler. The purges of the 1930s eliminated artists as well as other bourgeois, and Shostakovich’s modern, inaccessible music made him an easy target. Recognizing his talent, the Communist Party commissioned his Second Symphony for the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution but harshly criticized his early forays into opera and ballet. Shostakovich received his first official denunciation in 1936, after Stalin walked out of a performance of his opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.” The next day’s review in Pravda attacked Shostakovich for “formalism” and warned that he was “playing a game” that “may end very badly.” The composer withdrew his Fourth Symphony as a result and curried favor by writing the patriotic Fifth, as well as the Sixth, which he dedicated to Lenin.


These episodes from Shostakovich’s life are mostly outside the scope of Mr. Moynahan’s book, which focuses on the siege years. So too is Shostakovich’s second denunciation in 1948 and his tense accommodation with the party after Stalin’s death in 1953. But his full life story reveals a weakness in “Leningrad: Siege and Symphony,” which portrays the nervous, sarcastic and deeply ambivalent composer in a light that is too unequivocal and that at times borders on the heroic. Dmitri Shostakovich—who twitched and fiddled so anxiously that he was painful to watch—knew only one thing for certain: his need to write music. Politics were an intrusion; so was state terror, which he would avoid in any way possible, including miserable cooperation. He once told a friend: “I’d sign anything even if they hand it to me upside-down. All I want is to be left alone.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—ED.]  




SHOULD NETANYAHU ADDRESS CONGRESS?                                                                              

Isi Leibler                                                                                                                                  

Candidly Speaking, Jan. 27, 2015


Presumably, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed his options carefully before accepting U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address the joint session of Congress. There is no doubt that the bulk of Congress, including many Democrats, are angered with President Barack Obama for ignoring their concerns in his obsession to reach a deal with the Iranians – at any cost. He has already demonstrated his willingness to enable Iran to become a threshold nuclear state. Thus, many members of Congress would be keen to hear Netanyahu’s views, which Boehner undoubtedly hopes will strengthen the resolve of Congress to ramp up sanctions if no deal is achieved by the June deadline. Netanyahu’s acceptance unleashed a firestorm, both at home and in the U.S. Infuriated unnamed White House officials told Haaretz, “We thought we’d seen everything but Bibi managed to surprise even us.” This was a breach of protocol in which “he spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency and that there will be a price.” Another official said it would be difficult to trust Netanyahu in the future and accused him of “preferring to advance his political interests” rather than “maintaining the correct working relationship between both countries.”


However, Boehner subsequently revealed on CBS’s “60 minutes” that the White House had in fact been notified before the announcement of the Netanyahu visit, suggesting that the White House rage was less about the breach of protocol and more its concern that Netanyahu would undermine Obama’s policies of appeasement toward Iran. The White House announced that ‘in accordance with standard tradition’, it was inappropriate for the president or the secretary of state to meet Netanyahu two weeks before Israeli national elections. This is inconsistent with the fact that that on April 30, 1996, one month before the elections (in which Netanyahu was victorious), then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres met with President Bill Clinton in the White House. Israeli opposition leaders were hysterical. Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog told Israel Army Radio that Netanyahu was “directly harming the president of the United States” and “what Netanyahu is doing with this thuggish behavior is to harm Israel’s security interests.” Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid expressed similar sentiments. There were even suggestions that the state comptroller should investigate the propriety of the Israeli embassy facilitating the broadcast of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress without the approval of the White House.


Despite the fact that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has been energetically lobbying Congress to intensify sanctions against Iran, the American Jewish establishment – which has failed to react to Obama’s frequent biased and offensive statements and initiatives – was clearly distressed that Netanyahu had become an issue between Congress and the White House, but largely remained silent. However, the Anti-Defamation League’s head, Abe Foxman, could not contain himself. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “this looks like a political challenge to the White House and/or a campaign effort in Israel.” He said, “The invitation and acceptance is ill advised” and had the chutzpah to tell Boehner to withdraw his invitation and urged Netanyahu to rescind his acceptance. Foxman’s outrageous and harmful remarks were met with deafening silence by other Jewish bodies and publicly condemned only by the hawkish Zionist Organization of America.


Our prime minister has certainly embarked on a risky enterprise. Many fear that a vindictive Obama could exact payback when it comes to employing the veto at the U.N. Security Council or at the International Criminal Court where the Palestinian Authority is seeking to charge Israel with war crimes. He may intensify the pressures on Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and increase pressure against construction in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs. It is feared that he could even reduce the crucial U.S. defense support to Israel. This is possible. But the reality is that Obama’s attitude toward Netanyahu is so toxic that it probably makes little difference how Netanyahu would act. Besides, whereas normally a U.S. president has considerable control of foreign affairs, Obama is today a lame duck president and for him to engage in vindictive initiatives against the foremost U.S. ally would further damage America’s standing and create a major revolt in Congress…                                                                                                                 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—ED.]                                                     




CAN ISRAEL SURVIVE?                                                                                           

Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                                                

Real Clear Politics, Jan. 29, 2015


Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. Eight million Israelis are surrounded by some 400 million Muslims in more than 20 states. Almost all of Israel's neighbors are anti-Israeli dictatorships, monarchies or theocracies– a number of them reduced to a state of terrorist chaos. Given the rise of radical Islam, the huge petrodollar wealth of the Middle East and lopsided demography, how has Israel so far survived?


The Jewish state has always depended on three unspoken assumptions for its tenuous existence. First, a democratic, nuclear Israel can deter larger enemies. In the Cold War, Soviet-backed Arab enemies understood that Israel's nuclear arsenal prevented them from destroying Tel Aviv. Second, the Western traditions of Israel — free-market capitalism, democracy, human rights — ensured a dynamic economy, high-tech weapons, innovative industry and stable government. In other words, 8 million Israelis could count on a greater gross domestic product, less internal violence and more innovation than, say, nearby Egypt, a mess with 10 times more people than Israel and nearly 50 times more land. Third, Israel counted on Western moral support from America and Europe, as well as military support from the United States. Israel's stronger allies have often come to the defense of its democratic principles and pointed out that the world applies an unfair standard to Israel, largely out of envy of its success, anti-Semitism, fear of terrorism and fondness of oil exporters. Why, for example, does the United Nations focus so much attention on Palestinians who fled Israel nearly 70 years ago but ignore Muslims who were forced out of India, or Jews who were ethnically cleansed from the cities of the Middle East? Why doesn't the world worry that Nicosia is a more divided city than Jerusalem, or that Turkey occupies northern Cyprus, or that China occupies Tibet?…


Symbolism counts, too. President Obama was about the only major world leader to skip the recent march in Paris to commemorate the victims of attacks by radical Islamic terrorists — among them Jews singled out and murdered for their faith. Likewise, he was odd world leader out by skipping this week's 70-year commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Obama is not expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will address Congress in March. An anonymous member of the Obama administration was quoted as calling Netanyahu, a combat veteran, a "coward" and describing him with a related expletive. Another nameless administration official recently said Netanyahu "spat in our face" by accepting the congressional invitation without Obama's approval and so will pay "a price" — personal animus that the administration has not directed even against the leaders of a hostile Iran. Obama won't meet with Netanyahu, and yet the president had plenty of time to hold an adolescent bull session with a would-be Internet comedian decked out in Day-Glo makeup who achieved her fame by filming herself eating breakfast cereal in a bathtub full of milk.


Jews have been attacked and bullied on the streets of some of the major cities of France and Sweden by radical Muslims whose anti-Semitism goes unchecked by their terrified hosts. Jewish leaders in France openly advise that Jews in that country immigrate to Israel. A prosecutor in Argentina who had investigated the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 — an attack widely believed to have been backed by Iran — was recently found dead under mysterious circumstances. Turkey, a country whose prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was praised by Obama as one of his closest friends among world leaders, has turned openly non-secular and is vehemently anti-Israel. Until there is a change of popular attitudes in Europe or a different president in the United States, Israel is on its own to deal with an Iran that has already hinted it would use a nuclear weapon to eliminate the "Zionist entity," with the radical Islamic madness raging on its borders, and with the global harassment of Jews. A tiny democratic beacon in the Middle East should inspire and rally Westerners. Instead, too often, Western nations shrug and assume that Israel is a headache — given that there is more oil and more terrorism on the other side. 


                                        CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic


Councilman Greenfield Denounces Anti-Semitic Outburst in NYC Council Chamber:, Youtube, Jan. 22, 2014

Do We Really Mean ‘Never Again’?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Jan. 29, 2015

Westminster Abbey to Honour Music of the Nazi Camps: Patrick Sawer & Edward Malnick, Telegraph, Jan. 25, 2015

How My Great-Grandfather, Winston Churchill, Kept Democracy’s Flame Flickering: Randolph Churchill, National Post, Jan. 24, 2015        



















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