British and French shops occupied; Israel mourns a friend in President Kaczynski

April 11, 2010

For those with limited time, I suggest you watch at least the first (and possibly the second and third) short video below.

* “War on Want” takes over British supermarkets to protest “61 years of Israeli occupation”
* Vile language and accusations by protestors at H&M in Paris
* Canadian pro-Israel students narrowly escape death after machete attack by anti-Semitic gang
* 61-year-old German charged with anti-Semitic abuse on 10-year-old girls at train station

* Israel mourns Polish President Lech Kaczynski and army chief General Franciszek Gagor, who helped advance Holocaust commemoration and strategic ties with Israel
* Yad Vashem mourns Polish culture minister Tomasz Merta, Deputy Culture Minister Andrzej Przewoznik, and Janusz Kurtyka, president of the National Remembrance Institute, who helped advance Holocaust education among Poles

This dispatch concerns recent anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incidents in Europe and in north and south America. (Anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism are increasingly becoming indistinguishable in many cases.)



1. Military fashion show at H&M
2. London supermarket occupied in Israel boycott
3. French supermarket Intifada
4. Machete attack against pro-Israel students in Canada
5. Study: Anti-Semitism in Europe hit recent high in 2009
6. Hungarian Jews demonstrate after Budapest Passover Seder attacked
7. Berlin Jews express fear after anti-Semitic attacks on subway train
8. Polish Holocaust memorial where “Schindler’s List” filmed, desecrated
9. Israel expresses grief over deaths of Lech Kaczynski, Franciszek Gagor
10. London lunchtime concert by Israeli musicians for BBC disrupted
11. “Canadian school books wanted to make me kill Israelis”
12. Video: Venezuelan anti-Semitism
13. Finally… U.S. State Department condemns Palestinian incitement…
14. But does it care about those who defile Christian sites and hold monks at gunpoint?

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Prominent anti-Israel demonstrations are continuing on a regular basis in France. The one in the video below, from two weeks ago, is against the fashion chain H&M, because they opened stores last month in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli mall and in the Malcha mall in west Jerusalem. But the boycotters wrongly claim they have opened a store “in East Jerusalem on land stolen from the Palestinians.”

If you listen to the ugly chants, this is one of the more disturbing “boycott” videos I have posted over the years, and the lies contained in it amount to a virtual incitement on the streets of Paris to murder Israelis.

(The H&M stores in Israel are doing exceptionally good business, by the way, with enormous lines of shoppers, both Jews and Arabs, being served at both the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem branches. H&M say additional stores will open in Haifa, Petah Tikva, Rehovot and Netanya.)


Nidra Poller, the Paris-based writer and commentator, tells me that these kinds of demonstrations, although they are becoming increasingly common, are in fact illegal in France.

French law considers calls for organized boycotts of this kind “a discrimination against a person or company or group” and deems them illegal. The mayor of the northern French town of Seclin has already been convicted of boycotting Israeli orange juice in school canteens, Nidra Poller points out.



This act of aggression against the British supermarket Waitrose was organized during last week’s Passover holiday by “War on Want,” a British “charity” that has long poured much of its resources into demonizing the state of Israel, even though this wasn’t among the original aims of the charity when it was established. Contrary to what is claimed in the video, the destroyed goods are from Israel, not from the West Bank.

War on Want’s accompanying press release also refers to “61 years of Israeli occupation”. In other words, they consider all of Israel as occupied territory.

As I have pointed out in previous dispatches, War on Want receives funding from a number of governmental sources, including the European Union, the UK Department for International Development, Irish Aid and others.



Last year, I posted a similar video on my website of a French supermarket being attacked. It is worth viewing again here:



Anti-Israel demonstrations (complete with slogans containing various lies they may have heard in the British and French media) are happening on a regular basis in London and Paris.

For example, this one (against Veolia) took place outside London’s Natural History Museum, yesterday (Saturday).



A report by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, released today to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), which begins this evening, said 2009 was the worst year for anti-Semitic attacks in Europe in recent decades, with the U.K. suffering the most anti-Semitic attacks, followed by France.

There were 374 violent attacks against Jews in the U.K. in 2009 compared to 112 in 2008. France was second, with 195 violent attacks in 2009, with 33 in Germany, 22 in Austria and 28 in Belgium.



B’nai Brith Canada, one of Canada’s oldest Jewish human rights groups, active since 1875, has called on Canadian universities to ban anti-Israel agitation on campus in light of the machete attack on pro-Israel students last Sunday. Two Ottawa students, both well-known for their pro-Israel views, were assaulted when they left a local lounge bar in the early hours of the morning, by a large group of anti-Israel agitators, one of whom was wielding a machete.

One of the assaulted pro-Israel students, who is not Jewish, was first struck in the back of the head, and then chased with a machete swinging within inches of his neck. The Jewish student, who along with his friend was subjected to an onslaught of derogatory and anti-Semitic slurs about being “f----ng Jews” during the attack, was the organizer of a recent local pro-Israel campus initiative. Police are considering filing attempted murder charges.

Canada is the country where the hate-filled student “Israeli Apartheid Weeks” began and are most active.



More than 1,000 Jews marched through Budapest’s Old Ghetto district on Wednesday in response to a series of anti-Semitic incidents and the polarized political climate in the run-up to Hungary’s elections to be held today. The marchers defied a police recommendation to keep a low profile and marched through the neighborhood of the Great Dohány Street Synagogue wearing yarmulkes. The police recommendation was issued, after rocks were thrown through the windows of a Chabad rabbi’s home last week as he was conducting a Passover Seder for guests inside.

Over the last week, anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in various places in Budapest, a Holocaust memorial was damaged in the western Hungarian city of Zalaegerszeg and neo-Nazis held an anti-Semitic rally in the eastern city of Tiszaeszlár, where a notorious blood libel against the local Jewish community led to pogroms in 1882-83.

Jews in Hungary have repeatedly expressed concern about anti-Semitic overtones in the election campaign. The poll is set for today, with a possible run-off two weeks later (on April 25), and the extreme-right Jobbik party is expected to make significant electoral gains. Jobbik is campaigning on a platform that blames most of Hungary’s problems on Roma (Gypsies) and Jews. In 2007 it also founded the now banned paramilitary Hungarian Guard.



Jewish leaders have expressed alarm over a rise in anti-Semitism in the German capital Berlin, following two violent incidents on the city’s public transport system. Last Saturday night, two 23-year-old women and a 25-year-old man were beaten and struck on the head with beer bottles by Arab and Turkish immigrants screaming anti-Semitic slurs on a subway train.

German media reports said the three were first asked if they were Jewish. The attack started after they said they were. Police said they are still searching for the attackers.

In a separate incident, a 61-year-old German was detained after shouting anti-Semitic slogans at two 10-year-old girls at a train station. He threatened to beat a 28-year-old man who tried to protect the girls. He was detained and faces charges of inciting racial hatred and attempted bodily harm.



Anti-Semitic graffiti has been sprayed on monuments at the site of the former Nazi concentration camp of Plaszow, near the Polish city of Krakow. Slogans including “Hitler Good!” were found in red paint on a large monument at the former Nazi camp. A smaller memorial plaque was also painted with swastikas and “Jude Raus.” The desecration happened on the eve of a march commemorating the 67th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow Jewish ghetto in World War II. The Polish press agency PAP reported that police have launched an investigation.

The Plaszow camp featured in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Oscar-winning film “Schindler’s List”, which chronicled efforts by German businessman Oskar Schindler to save Jews by having them work in his Krakow factory.


The Swedish former neo-Nazi leader Anders Högström suspected of being behind the theft of the ‘Arbeit macht frei’ sign from the former Auschwitz death camp, was extradited to Poland on Friday, where he will stand trial.


Today the “March of the Living” will be held in Krakow and this evening Holocaust Day (Yom HaShoah) will be marked in Israel and by Jewish communities and others around the world.

Among those participating this year will be Israel’s top-ranked tennis player Shahar Peer, who will be accompanied her grandmother – who is a survivor of Auschwitz.

In Israel, these are the six Holocaust survivors who will this evening light six candles at Yad Vashem, each representing a million murdered Jews.


With Holocaust revisionism, denial, indifference, distortion and perhaps worst of all Holocaust inversion – in which anti-Semites try to invert the victims (Jews) and turn them into perpetrators (“new Nazis”) – running at record levels, the widespread failure to properly address the Holocaust complicates efforts to achieve Middle East peace. Among other things, it makes Israelis very wary of relying on international security guarantees.

Among previous dispatches concerning the Holocaust, some with articles by subscribers to this list whose parents survived Nazi death camps, please see:
* “By the time the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz, my father was no longer there”
* “Witnesses for the witnesses”
* Auschwitz, 60 years on: “Evil Too Great to Grasp – or Remember”



Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed along with senior members of the Polish government and army in a plane crash yesterday, worked to bring the Polish and the Jewish peoples closer together, especially in relation to Holocaust commemoration (he helped advanced the building of a Holocaust museum in Warsaw, which will be opened soon), and to develop close ties between Poland and Israel.

In 2008, Kaczynski became the first Polish head of state to attend a service at a synagogue.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the Polish president’s role in formulating strong strategic relations between Israel and Poland will be remembered for many years to come.


The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi expressed his deepest condolences to the Polish military, to its General Staff and to the family of the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, General Franciszek Gagor who was also killed in the plane crash.

Gen. Gagor initiated with Gen. Ashkenazi a special program called Witnesses in Uniform in which young IDF officers met young officers in the Polish Armed Forces and together they were educated about the Nazi Holocaust, much of which occurred on Polish soil.


Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev noted that “in addition to the President of Poland, other senior Poles killed in the tragedy included Tomasz Merta, Deputy Culture Minister, Andrzej Przewoznik, secretary-general of the Council for National Memory, and Janusz Kurtyka, president of the National Remembrance Institute, all of whom had maintained close and ongoing professional relationships with Yad Vashem.”



Anti-Israel protestors stood up and began chanting during a lunchtime concert in central London by the Jerusalem Quartet, a string ensemble. The ruckus was well-planned with a number of participants scattered throughout the hall. The concert, which was being broadcast live on BBC radio, was taken off air by the BBC once the disruptions began, but the musicians played on and completed works by Mozart and Ravel.

The Jerusalem Quartet called the disruption of their performance at London’s Wigmore Hall “irrational” and “ignorant.” They said that only one of its musicians is actually living in Israel and that two of the four play with the West-East Divan Orchestra created by the renowned conductor and pro-Palestinian activist Daniel Barenboim and comprised of Arabs and Jews.

In a statement, the musicians added “It is destructive of our attempts to foster Israel-Arab relations for us to be the subject of demonstrations of the kind we suffered yesterday.”

In September 2008 members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign broke up a performance by the Jerusalem Quartet in Edinburgh, but were last month acquitted by a Scottish court of charges over the attack.



Jewish groups in Canada are calling for the removal of The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, a vehemently anti-Israel book targeting students in grades seven and eight, from the recommended reading list of Ontario public schools.

“This one-sided work of fiction, which demonizes Israel and has left many parents distraught, is currently being recommended by teachers and librarians in the Toronto District School Board and being promoted by the Ontario Library Association for middle school children,” one Jewish leader said.

“This is not just a matter of political differences with Israeli policy. One young girl said after reading The Shepherd’s Granddaughter that it made her want to ‘go out and kill Israelis.’ Clearly, this propaganda has no place in our classrooms and is against Canadian values.”



The second half of the video below shows the rising tide of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic graffiti spreading (often with government encouragement) in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

Chavez, who has a blossoming friendship with Iran’s Holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has instigated a number of attacks on Venezuelan Jewish community, one third of whom have reportedly fled the country since Chavez came to power.

Among previous dispatches on Venezuelan government-promoted anti-Semitism, please see the third item here.


Extra notes:


This is a follow-up to points made in several dispatches last month, including “Palestinian Authority honors top terrorist the moment Biden leaves the West Bank” (March 14, 2010), which can be read here, and also the first note after the contents in this dispatch.


U.S. Department of State
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 8, 2010
1:29 p.m. EDT

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. A few things to open up the briefing.

[Several minutes later…] Regarding the Middle East, we are disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Remarks by the Palestinian ministry of information denying Jewish heritage in and links to Jerusalem undermine the trust and confidence needed for substantive and productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists; honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians either by official statements or by the dedication of public places hurts peace efforts and must end. We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement.



Crowley might also have called for a stop to Palestinian Authority incitement in support of those who defame Christian shrines. For example, last week Palestinian President Abbas honored terrorist Abdullah Daoud, the former head of Palestinian intelligence in Bethlehem. Daoud was a leader of the group which in 2002 seized the Church of the Nativity – regarded by many as Christianity’s holiest site – and turned it into a fortress from which to fire at Israeli soldiers and others, and hold monks at gunpoint, denying them access to food and water. He died recently of natural causes in Mauritania.

Daoud was provided with a hero’s funeral by the Palestinian Authority, and Abbas personally visited his family and told al-Quds, the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper, that “We must maintain the way of the Shahid (Martyr) Daoud, who always believed in the struggle, in love.”

Are President Obama, and the European heads of government who are sending hundreds of millions of dollars of their taxpayers’ money annually to Abbas, listening?

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

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