* French interior minister, in unusually forthright remarks for a European government minister: Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism
* Iranian Supreme Leader again questions truth of Holocaust, while Peres sends warm holiday greetings to Iranians
* Mossad: 8 missing Iranian Jews were murdered
* Latvia’s Environment Minister sacked after participating in Waffen-SS march last week; white powder mailed to Hungarian Jewish leader; more attacks on Jews in Kiev
This dispatch concerns anti-Semitism, Europe, Iran and Israel.
You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you "like" this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
1. Japanese PM visits Anne Frank House in gesture to Holocaust victims
2. Beyonce and Jay Z visit Anne Frank House; Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Rolling Stones and others set to defy boycotters
3. Jewish teacher in Paris has nose broken, swastika drawn on chest
4. French interior minister: Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism
5. Another orthodox Jew stabbed, in latest attack in Ukraine
6. Latvian government minister fired after attending Waffen-SS veterans’ march
7. White powder mailed to Hungarian Jewish leader
8. Iranian Supreme Leader again questions if Holocaust occurred
9. Mossad: 8 missing Iranian Jews were murdered
10. Peres sends holiday greetings to Iranians: Let’s live in peace
11. Italian Jewish leader denounces bakery’s ban on Roma
12. And on a happier note…
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
JAPANESE PM VISITS ANNE FRANK HOUSE IN GESTURE TO HOLOCAUST VICTIMS
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today visited the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam after he said he was ashamed that anti-Semites in Japan had damaged and defaced over 200 copies of Anne Frank’s diary at public libraries in Japan in recent months.
The Anne Frank House, where the German-born Jewish girl kept a diary of her life in hiding before her whereabouts were disclosed by Dutch Nazi sympathizers, and she was taken to be murdered in a Nazi concentration camp, is now one of Europe’s best-known Holocaust memorials. Over a million people visit it each year.
“On this visit (to the Anne Frank House), we would like to reiterate the lasting and profound friendship between Japan and the Jewish people,” a spokesman for the prime minister said in advance of the visit.
Abe is in the Netherlands for tomorrow’s G7 nuclear security summit with other world leaders.
He is one of the most prominent international politicians to visit the Anne Frank house.
BEYONCE AND JAY Z VISIT ANNE FRANK HOUSE; LADY GAGA, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ROLLING STONES AND OTHERS SET TO DEFY BOYCOTTERS
Last week, the morning after giving a concert in Amsterdam and prior to going to Antwerp for another concert, American pop star Beyonce and rapper and producer Jay Z visited the Anne Frank House, where according to museum staff they spent more than an hour.
Here are photos of Beyonce writing in the visitors’ book, and at the exhibit:
Beyonce is one a number of pop stars giving concerts in Israel this summer in defiance of intimidatory hate campaigns against them by anti-Israel boycotters in America and Britain.
Others scheduled to defy the boycotters and perform in Israel this summer include Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake (on May 28), Justin Bieber (May 14), Neil Young (July 17) and the Rolling Stones (June 10).
JEWISH TEACHER IN PARIS HAS NOSE BROKEN, SWASTIKA DRAWN ON CHEST
In the latest in a series of vicious anti-Semitic assaults in France, a Jewish teacher was attacked in Paris on Thursday evening by a gang screaming “Death to the Jews” and “Dirty Jew”.
The teacher, who was wearing a Jewish skullcap and was exiting a kosher restaurant on Manin Street in Paris’ 19th arrondissement, near the Gare du Nord train station, was pressed against the wall, and repeatedly punched in the face and chest.
His nose was broken in the assault. “One of the perpetrators opened the victim’s shirt and with a black marker drew a swastika on the man’s bare chest,” Jewish leader Sammy Ghozlan told the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) and other media. It would have been worse had some passersby not screamed at the perpetrators that they were calling the police. The perpetrators then ran off.
The full name of the traumatized victim is being withheld for his own protection.
There were hundreds of anti-Semitic attacks recorded in France last year, resulting in thousands of French Jews emigrating in fear to the relative safety of Israel.
FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER: ANTI-ZIONISM IS THE NEW ANTI-SEMITISM
Last Wednesday marked the second anniversary of the murder of four Jews (three of them young children – Arieh Sandler, 6, Gabriel Sandler, 3, and Miriam Monsenego, 8) in Toulouse.
At a memorial on Wednesday to mark the Toulouse attack, the French Interior Minister Manuel Valls called the extreme anti-Zionism appearing in French media and public discourse “an invitation to anti-Semitism.”
Using unusually strong language for a European government minister, Valls added: “Criticism of Israel that is based on anti-Zionism – that’s often anti-Semitism today, this is the refuge of those who do not accept the State of Israel”.
ANOTHER ORTHODOX JEW STABBED, IN LATEST ATTACK IN UKRAINE
The head of the Orthodox Jewish charity Hatzalah Ukraine was beaten and stabbed in Kiev a week ago in an unprovoked attack by youths shouting anti-Semitic slogans.
He managed to make his way to the local synagogue, where police and medics were called.
Ukrainian chief Rabbi Yaakov Bleich said two more Jews were roughed up later that evening. It is not known who carried out the attacks but far right Ukrainian ultranationalists are suspected, and their political leaders are represented by the Fascist Svoboda party, which now holds five senior positions in the new Western-backed Ukrainian government.
In January, there were several stabbings and other attacks on Ukrainian Jews. No one has been apprehended for those attacks.
Days earlier, thousands of Svoboda supporters held a torch-lit parade in downtown Kiev, praising the wartime Ukrainian Fascist leader Stefan Bandera.
In October last year, another Jewish man, Dmitry Flekman, 28, was tortured and beaten by police officers in the city of Lviv (Lvov) in western Ukraine.
LATVIAN GOVERNMENT MINISTER FIRED AFTER ATTENDING WAFFEN-SS VETERANS’ MARCH
Latvia’s Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma has sacked a member of her government after he defied her order for government ministers not to attend a pro-Nazi rally in the capital Riga last week.
Latvia’s Environment Minister Einars Cilinskis, of the (pro-Fascist) National Alliance Party, participated in the annual march of Latvian Waffen-SS veterans and their supporters last Sunday, at which swastikas were raised and Nazi salutes given.
The annual parade commemorating Nazi collaborators during World War II has not been banned, however. The Latvian SS, like the Ukrainian SS, fought alongside the Nazis and murdered hundreds of thousands of Latvian and Ukrainian Jews. The two biggest massacres of the second world war (Babi Yar and Rumbula) occurred in those countries.
Cilinskis said a “nation that does not respect its heroes has no future.”
Only a few dozen young Latvians held a counter rally, chanting anti-fascist slogans, as almost 2,000 Latvian Nazis paraded through downtown Riga.
Latvia is a member of the European Union and of NATO.
The history museum marking Fascism and Communism in Riga, which I have visited twice, is full of historical revisionism and downplaying of the Holocaust. Incidentally, the visitors book records an entry by Queen Elizabeth II of England – who (at the advice of successive British governments) has not visited Israel or Yad Vashem during her long reign – saying how glad she was to visit that museum in Riga.
WHITE POWDER MAILED TO HUNGARIAN JEWISH LEADER
An envelope containing white powder sent to a representative of Hungary’s Jewish communities in Budapest last week did not contain any dangerous materials, police have concluded.
Separately, police in Tatabanya, 30 miles west of Budapest, said that swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans were daubed on tombstones in the city’s Jewish cemetery.
This week (on March 24), hundreds of European rabbis are scheduled to convene in Budapest for the biannual conference of the Rabbinical Center of Europe.
They said the choice of Hungary as the host country for the event “is designed to demonstrate to the government there the common concerns of European Jewry regarding the situation of the Hungarian Jewish community.”
Jobbik, a far-right party with a history of anti-Semitism, is the third largest party in Hungary with 43 of the 386 seats in Parliament.
Like Latvia, Hungary is a member of the European Union and of NATO, and like Latvia, has an appalling record of local collaboration in helping to murder most of the country’s Jewish population in World War Two.
IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER AGAIN QUESTIONS IF HOLOCAUST OCCURRED
Just one day after Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a warm video greeting to the Iranian people to mark the occasion of the Persian New Year, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei responded in one of his major national addresses of the New Year by casting doubt on the reality of the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened,” Khamenei said during his address. Khamenei and other Iranian leaders have repeatedly called the Holocaust a “myth”.
For example, in December 2013, Khamenei issued a statement marking the anniversary of French Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy’s trial for his book that referred to the Holocaust as the “myth of the six million”. Khamenei called Garaudy a brilliant historian and a “French resistance fighter.”
But some senior politicians and media commentators in the West – desperate to convince themselves that the Iranian regime is somehow moderating – are doing their best to ignore these and other provocations. There has been an increase in the number of political prisoners executed in Iran since President Rouhani assumed power last year.
Meanwhile, Iran has once again stepped up its nuclear program and the Israeli defense minister said last week that Israel may now have no choice but to act alone to destroy Iran’s nuclear program since Western powers seemed determined to appease the regime in Teheran.
MOSSAD: 8 MISSING IRANIAN JEWS WERE MURDERED
On Thursday, after a long investigation lasting many years, the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad, said that they had now discovered beyond doubt that the eight Iranian Jews (five of whom were teenagers) who had attempted to flee Iran for Israel in 1994, had been murdered, most probably by the Iranian regime.
A statement released by the Mossad through the Israeli prime minister’s office said the eight Jews “were caught during the escape and murdered.”
Their families in Israel had been clinging to the hope that they had been kidnapped, or held in captivity by a foreign government.
The Mossad statement said that they had “reliable sources”, which they could not reveal for safety and operational reasons.
An inquiry into the fate of three other Iranian Jews, who disappeared in 1997, is ongoing.
The eight murdered Iranian Jews were: Babak Shaoulian-Tehrani, aged 17, of Tehran; Shahin Nik-Khoo, 19, of Tehran; Salari Behzad, 21, of Kermanshah; Farad Ezati-Mahmoudi, 22, of Kermanshah; Homayoun Bala-Zade, 41, of Shiraz; Omid Solouki, 17, of Tehran; Rubin Kohan-Mosleh, 17, of Shiraz; and Ibrahim Kohan-Mosleh, 16, of Shiraz.
The three whose fates remain unknown are: Syrous Ghahremani, 32 at time of disappearance, of Kermanshah; Ibrahim Ghahremani, 61, of Kermanshah; and Nourollah Rabi-Zade, 52, of Shiraz.
In advance of the Mossad announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a senior Sephardi rabbi to the victims’ families in Israel to break the news to them, and comfort them.
PERES SENDS HOLIDAY GREETINGS TO IRANIANS: LET’S LIVE IN PEACE
Israeli President Shimon Peres released a video with holiday greetings in honor of Nowruz, the Persian New Year which began on Thursday night, calling for a joint future of peace and cooperation between Persians and Jews.
Nowruz is a Persian, pre-Islamic holiday that marks the beginning of spring. It is celebrated across central Asia by Persians, Kurds, Azeris, Turkmen and others.
“The Jewish people and the Persian people, the Iranian people have a very long history and we’re going to have a long future,” Peres said. “We are both old cultures, we learn history, we make history and we respect history. We have a heritage of values; we are not just business peoples but two nations that respect culture, that respect human dignity. We call to live in peace and understanding. Let us have a year of science and of peace, without war and threats. Happy Nowruz.”
You can watch Peres’s full video here (in English, with a little Farsi):
In addition, Peres conducted interviews last week with Israel Radio’s Persian-language station, and with Radio Farda, the American government-backed Persian-language station.
In the past, I have acted as a consultant for Radio Farda, and also given interviews to it, which have been picked up by the Iranian regime, for example, here in 2011 by the official government Fars News Agency. (In English here.)
ITALIAN JEWISH LEADER DENOUNCES BAKERY’S BAN ON ROMA
The president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna, has issued a statement on behalf of the organization saying that it “shameful” and “unacceptable” that a Rome bakery last week posted a sign barring entry to Roma (Gypsies), and said the action was reminiscent of Holocaust-era anti-Jewish discrimination.
“Even if this is an isolated incident, we cannot, as Italian Jews, remain silent in face of these racist gestures,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
The sign, reading “Gypsies strictly prohibited from entry,” appeared in the window of a bakery in Rome’s Tuscolano district earlier last week.
AND ON A HAPPIER NOTE…
Many of the items in this dispatch are depressing.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]