UNRWA proposes teaching Holocaust in Gaza after all (& Anne Frank online)

October 12, 2009

* China has more Muslims than Syria
* Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon
* Four countries have a Shia majority: Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain
* Many Israelis outraged as Tel Aviv suburb twins with Dachau
* Video of Iranian missile launch (below)
* Hamas: teaching the Holocaust in schools would be “marketing a lie”



1. Erdogan: Learn from Jews how to make money
2. Turkey freezes Israel out of air force drill
3. Joint U.S.-Israel military drill simulates fight against Iran
4. U.S. may leave Patriot 3 systems in Israel
5. 1.67 billion Muslims worldwide; growing numbers in Europe
6. Muslim group calls for burka ban in Canada
7. UNRWA proposes teaching Holocaust in Gaza schools after all
8. But it will be twinned with teaching of the Nakba
9. Israelis divided over Dachau as sister city
10. The only existing film of Anne Frank is made public
11. Warsaw ghetto resistance leader Marek Edelman dies
12. Columbia Univ. professor misuses Edelman’s death to equate Israelis with Nazis

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Turkey is a member of NATO and aspires to EU membership. But its popularly-elected Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continues to make statements many would regard as anti-Semitic.

In his latest comments, he told Turkish students at the Yildiz Technical University that they should learn from Jews how to make money.

Erdogan said that during his term as Istanbul’s mayor, he “closely examined” the Jewish people. And these are the conclusions of the anthropological research he conducted: “Most Jews don’t buy property, but rent apartments in the best places in the city. This is because they believe the money disappears if you buy the property. We, on the other hand, waste every penny we have on buying a house.”

Erdogan is a harsh critic of Israel, and during the Israeli operation in Gaza he even suggested expelling the Jewish state from the United Nations. (At the same time that Israel was fighting Hamas in Gaza in January, Turkey was bombing Kurdish areas of Iraq, killing far more civilians than Israel did.)

Erdogan has stressed repeatedly that he is not an anti-Semite and that many of his friends are Jews.

(Among past dispatches reporting Erdogan’s harsh attacks on Israel, please see several items in this dispatch: “We didn’t run away. It was an orderly walk backwards”, Feb. 2, 2009)



In another sign of continuing tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem, Israel has been disinvited from this week’s sixth annual joint air force exercise, which this year would have included American, Turkish, Italian and NATO forces. Israel radio reports that the United States pulled out when it learned Turkey was refusing to participate with Israel. Turkish media has been campaigning against the joint drill. Following the American withdrawal, the entire joint exercise has been shelved.

“The exercise was postponed due to a Turkish decision to change the composition of the participants and not allow the Israel Air Force to participate, a decision we were informed of only several days ago,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said in a statement yesterday.

Anatolian Eagle was first held in 2001, with Turkish, Israeli and American participation. The drill lasted almost two weeks and included Israeli F-16s, helicopters and refueling tankers. Israel last participated in the exercise in September 2008, but has not been allowed to fly in Turkish air space since.

Israeli officials were reportedly stunned by Turkey’s decision to oust it from this year’s exercise. Turkey is an Islamic state, but a secular one, which in the past had enjoyed a good relationship with Israel. There is also concern about increasing rapprochement between Turkey and Iran.

As a result of the new Turkish policy, Israel is reportedly rethinking sales of advanced arms to Turkey.


An editorial in today’s Yediot Ahronot, Israel biggest-selling paper, suggests that the Turkish Islamist government’s “increasingly hostile line against Israel is a deliberate policy of disengagement that is also designed to hurt the status of the Turkish military, the Erdogan government’s main rival… Is Erdogan seeking to exploit the increasingly anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic tone of the Turkish street, stoked by the incitement of extremist religious officials close to his government, in order to deter the nationalist and secular forces that are loyal to Ataturk, and which fear that a religious ideology is taking over their country? This would not be the first time that a Middle Eastern government has rode a wave of Israel hatred in order to bolster its position at home and promote other interests.”



Although the joint exercise with Turkey and NATO forces has been abandoned, Israel and the U.S. are to spend five days conducting joint drills in Operation Juniper Cobra: a biennial exercise that prepares the two countries to work together in the event of any confrontation with Iran. A spokesman for the American Embassy in Tel Aviv called the exercise “routine” but Israeli media say the exercise is anything but routine and intended to “send a message” following Iran’s recent test firing of long range missiles. Media note that the drills were due to be held next spring but were moved up six months. American troops and warships will coordinate with Israeli forces to counter simulated missile attacks from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Here is a video, from the Iranian government Press TV website, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards test-firing missiles last week. Note the cries of “Allah Akbar” as they are launched. The message is clear that this is a divinely sanctioned missile to destroy the infidel, as Iranian Islamist ideology dictates.



Israel and the U.S. are discussing the possibility that America will leave several Patriot 3 missile defense systems behind in Israel following the joint Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise that will begin shortly. (See item above.)

Ahead of the exercise, some 15 U.S. Navy ships have arrived in Israel, in addition to about a dozen transport planes that brought equipment to air force bases in the Negev. This year’s drill is being described as the largest joint exercise ever held by the countries. In the course of it they will test four ballistic missile defense systems – the Israeli Arrow 2, the ship-based Aegis, the high-altitude THAAD and the Patriot (PAC) 3 systems. This is the first time that all of these systems have been deployed in Israel.

The exercise spans several days and involves hundreds of Israeli and American soldiers and air force personnel.



A three-year effort by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life to compile census information from 232 countries shows a total global Muslim population of 1.67 billion, 20 percent of whom live in the Middle East and North Africa.

The report reveals that 300 million Muslims live in non-Muslim nations and that five percent of Europe’s total population is Muslim. In Germany, the Muslim population of over 4 million exceeds that of Lebanon; and Russia’s Muslim population is greater than the combined Muslim populations of Jordan and Libya.

India, a majority-Hindu country, has more Muslims than any country except for Indonesia and Pakistan, and more than twice as many as Egypt.

Between 87 and 90 percent of Muslims are Sunnis, and around 10 to 13 percent are Shia. One in three of the world’s Shia Muslims lives in Iran, which is one of only four countries with a Shia majority. The others are Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain.

The survey finds just under 2.5 million Muslims in America (0.8 percent of the population).

There are about 2.25 billion Christians, based on projections from the 2005 World Religions Database.



1. Indonesia: 202,867,000 (country is 88.2 percent Muslim)
2. Pakistan: 174,082,000 (country is 96.3 percent Muslim)
3. India: 160,945,000 (country is 13.4 percent Muslim)
4. Bangladesh: 145,312,000 (country is 89.6 percent Muslim)
5. Egypt: 78,513,000 (country is 94.6 percent Muslim)
6. Nigeria: 78,056,000 (country is 50.4 percent Muslim)
7. Iran: 73,777,000 (country is 99.4 percent Muslim)
8. Turkey: 73,619,000 (country is about 98 percent Muslim)
9. Algeria: 34,199,000 (country is 98 percent Muslim)
10. Morocco: 31,993,000 (country is about 99 percent Muslim)



A Canadian Muslim group is calling on the government in Ottawa to ban the wearing of the burka in public, saying the argument that the right to wear it is protected by the Canadian Charter’s guarantee of freedom of religion is false.

“The burka has absolutely no place in Canada,” said Farzana Hassan, of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “In Canada we recognize the equality of men and women. We want to recognize gender equality as an absolute. The burka marginalizes women.”

She said many women who cover their face in public are being forced to do so by their husbands and family. As a result, she argued, these women are denied opportunities and cannot live freely as other women in society.

“The Koran exhorts Muslims toward modesty, which can be expressed in a number of different ways and it doesn’t have to be that you have to cover your face or you have to wear a virtual tent wherever you go. This is not a requirement of Islam or the Koran. We are saying this practice has become a political issue promoted by extremists and to counter this trend we are asking for a ban on the burka.”

Canadian Professor Amir Hussain added: “In Turkey, a secular society, it is illegal to wear the burka. In Iran you’ll be punished if you don’t wear it. Either way is imposing a belief on women.”

In France, religious headgear of any faith has already been banned in public schools.

But Wahida Valiante, chair of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said the right to wear a burka is “absolutely covered by the Canadian Charter and no one can dictate what constitutes proper religious practice.”



The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will try and include education about the Holocaust in its new Gaza school curriculum after all, despite protests by Hamas. UNRWA says it is proposing a curriculum for secondary school students which will include basic information about the fate of the Jews in World War Two. However, it says it will first discuss the curriculum with local community leaders in Gaza, so the plan could yet be shelved.

Hamas, like its Iranian backers, regularly denies the Holocaust ever happened. Yunis al Astal, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said last week that teaching in schools about the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis would be “marketing a lie”. Those responsible for teaching the Holocaust would be committing a “war crime”, he added. (Judge Goldstone, take note!)

UNRWA, which provides aid to Palestinians in Gaza, says that teaching the Holocaust to local children will help them to understand that “anti-Semitism is not a good thing”.

Rumors about the proposed curriculum change resulted in controversy last month, as Palestinians protested when plans to teach students about the Holocaust were first aired. At the time, UN officials said the curriculum would not be introduced this year. (For background, please see the seventh item in the dispatch titled: Iran: “Einstein secretly converted to Shi’a Islam” (& Reuters “terrorist” journalist) , Sept. 6, 2009)

Currently, the Holocaust is not taught in UN-run schools in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, or in Palestinian schools in the West Bank and Gaza.



John Ging, UNRWA’s director of operations in Gaza, who has a track record of making anti-Israeli remarks (as outlined in previous dispatches on this list), said: “No human-rights curriculum is complete without the inclusion of the facts of the Holocaust, and its lessons, and that should apply for Palestinian pupils too.”

But he added (playing into the hands of Holocaust revisionists) that it will only be a part of the lessons which touch on the apartheid regime in South Africa, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the “Nakba,” or Palestinian “day of catastrophe.”

“This is also part of the frustration here. There are so many global tragedies and travesties that are learned worldwide. Who learns about the Nakba?” Ging told The Independent newspaper of London.

Earlier this year, New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman, a Democrat, introduced a resolution calling on UNRWA to improve its transparency by publishing educational materials and publicizing a list of its employees. “I’m encouraged that UNRWA is taking this step and is incorporating the Holocaust into its school curriculum, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see what the actual textbooks say,” Rothman said last week.



The German city of Dachau and the central Israeli town of Rosh Hayiin (near Tel Aviv) are to become twin cities. The mayors of the towns have signed an accord calling for cultural and economic cooperation.

Located near Munich, Dachau was the site of the first concentration camp created by the Nazis in 1933. It served as a prototype for death camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka. When U.S. forces liberated Dachau in 1945, they made local residents come to see the emaciated prisoners and the gas chambers that had been operating downwind from them.

The Rosh Hayiin accord has prompted angry reactions in Israel, especially from Holocaust survivors. “I don’t understand how they could do something like this, because of the symbolism,” said Moshe Zanbar, an Israeli politician who was a teenage Dachau inmate. “A special agreement between Dachau and an Israeli town is too much for me.”

Noah Kliger, a historian and Holocaust survivor, said reaching out to receptive Germans is fine, but embracing Dachau is an “act of disturbing stupidity.”

Yet Rosh Hayiin’s mayor, Moshe Sinai is himself the son of a Dachau concentration camp survivor. Sinai says the German town shouldn’t be shunned for its past. “The majority of people in Dachau weren’t born when the Holocaust happened,” he said. “Besides the Nazis beat Jews and murdered Jews everywhere.”

Mayor Sinai said Dachau Mayor Peter Burgel suggested twinning their cities in an effort to bring young people from around the world to Dachau to study the Holocaust.

In New York, the director of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman (who is a subscriber to this email list) supported the decision. “I applaud the mayor,” he said. “I think it’s a positive sign of moving forward. I want the new generation of kids in Dachau to know there is a special relationship with Israel. That doesn’t mean you forget the past.”

Rosh Hayiin already has a twin cities accord with Birmingham, Alabama.



The Anne Frank House museum in the Netherlands has launched an official Anne Frank Channel on YouTube.

The channel has made public the only existing film footage of Anne Frank, taken during the wedding of her neighbor on 22 July, 1941. The girl next door is getting married and Anne is leaning out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom.

Anne and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam, where they lived after fleeing their native Germany. They were denounced and deported to Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Only her father, Otto, survived.

The YouTube channel will also feature a series of new interviews with people who knew Anne Frank personally. In another clip, Nelson Mandela talks about the strength he derived from Anne Frank’s diary during his imprisonment.

Among previous dispatches on this list mentioning Anne Frank please see:
* Does Oxford think it ok to honor a man who calls Anne Frank a “Holo-porn” star? (Jan. 21, 2008)
* Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank house in Amsterdam (Jan. 29, 2004)
* “My mother remembers the day she saw through the camp wire that her school friend from Amsterdam, Anne Frank, had arrived” (April 20, 2009)



Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, has died at the age of 90. Edelman was a commander of the Jewish resistance who fought against the Nazis in 1943 during their final attempt to liquidate the ghetto.

More than 450,000 Jews, about 30 percent of Warsaw’s population, were forced to live in an area less than eight square kilometers in size. By April 1943, just 50,000 Jews remained. Most of the others had been sent to the Treblinka, Majdanek and Sobibor death camps. When 2,000 German troops marched into the ghetto on April 19, 1943 (during Passover) to liquidate the survivors, they encountered heavy resistance from a group of starving but determined Jewish civilians with virtually no arms.

“We knew perfectly well that we would never win. We were 220 poorly armed boys against a powerful army,” Edelman said in 2007. The uprising took the Nazis by surprise and lasted an unlikely three weeks. Edelman took over command of the revolt when its leader, Mordechai Anielewicz, was killed. He later escaped through a sewer barely two feet high.

Despite the anti-Semitic policies of Poland’s Communist authorities after World War II, Edelman never left Poland. In contrast with many Jewish Poles who survived the war, Edelman decided to stay and settled in the central Polish city of Lodz, where he became a cardiologist. In an interview, he said his work as a doctor enabled him to save lives, which he had been unable to do in the ghetto.

Lech Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and Polish president, called Edelman “an upright, unequalled human being. There are no words to express the loss.”



The death of Marek Edelman has provided Joseph Massad, an associate professor of modern Arab politics at Columbia University in New York, with yet another opportunity to equate Israelis with Nazis.

In an article posted today on the website of the magazine Socialist Worker, Massad is quoted belittling the Holocaust, delegitimizing the state of Israel, and claiming that Israelis are to Palestinians what the Nazis were to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.