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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Logan Theatre
2646 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
 
Receptions for $500 Sponsorships and Above Begin at 5:30pm
Film Screening at 7:00pm
 
*please note: Sponsorships of $500 and above are invited to a pre-screening reception. 
Sponsorships of $1,800 and above are invited to a special reception with the Director of The Prime Ministers, Richard Trank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Delegation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center headed by Rabbi Hier
Thursday, 24 October 2013

Dear Friends,

I welcome this Delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish organization for the defense of human rights. I am aware that this meeting had been planned a while ago by my predecessor Benedict XVI, you asked to visit and who remains in our affectionate thoughts and prayers.

These meetings are a concrete sign of the respect and esteem which you have for the Bishops of Rome, for which I am grateful. They are likewise an expression of the appreciation of the Pope for the task to which you have dedicated yourselves; to combat every form of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism, to keep alive the memory of the Shoa, and to promote mutual understanding through education and commitment to the good of society.


In these last few weeks, I have reaffirmed on more than one occasion the Church's condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism. Today I wish to emphasize that the problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms wherever any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnic identity, the wellbeing of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected. With particular sadness I think of the sufferings, the marginalization and very real persecutions which not a few Christians are undergoing in various countries.


Let us combine our efforts in promoting a culture of encounter, respect, understanding and mutual forgiveness.

For the building of such a culture, I would like to highlight especially the importance of education, not only as the transmission of facts, but as the handing on of a living witness.
This presupposes the establishment of a communion of life, a covenant with the coming generations, which is always open to truth. To the young, we must be able to convey not only a knowledge of the history of Jewish–Catholic dialogue about past difficulties, but also an awareness of the progress made in recent decades. Above all we must be able to transmit a passion for meeting and coming to know others, promoting an active and responsible involvement of our young people. It is here that commitment to the service of society and to those most in need acquires a special value. I encourage you to continue to pass on to the young the importance of working together to reject the walls of separation and to build bridges between our cultures and our faith traditions. May we go forward with trust, courage and hope!

Shalom!


Mainichi Shimbun

Mainichi Shimbun
October 3, 2013

In remembrance of painful past lies the roots of redemption for the future.

As a believer in the strong US-Japan relationship, I was impressed and assured by Ms. Caroline Kennedy’s firm commitment to representing “the powerful bonds that unite our two democratic societies” during her confirmation hearing as the next Ambassador to Japan.

And as a believer in the Jewish saying, “In remembrance lies the roots of redemption,” I was also touched by Ms. Kennedy’s reference to her father’s participation in the Pacific War and her own visit to Hiroshima. Her willingness to carry on the legacy of the painful chapter of our two countries in order to deepen our friendship gives us hope while encouraging all of us to do the same.

With such an Ambassador representing the US in Tokyo, President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima or Nagasaki now seems more likely. The symbolism of such a visit is as compelling as it is obvious. Mr. Obama has consistently pursued the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons. A visit to an atomic-bombed city would certainly provide a powerful historic and humanizing backdrop to such a sentiment, one shared by millions of people in Japan and the US and beyond. It can also send a dual message to Pyongyang that the United States stands firmly with its ally Japan even as Mr. Obama seeks to de-nuclearize this region.

However, before making any final decision, President Obama should signal that such a powerful gesture of a historic first visit of any US president to Hiroshima or Nagasaki should be accompanied by significant gestures by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

First, a clear commitment to Japan’s past apologies to the victims of the aggressive war that Imperial Japan waged. Given Prime Minister Abe’s reluctance to embrace his predecessors’ apologies offered to Asian victims, including former Comfort Women, and more recently Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso’s remarks that Japan should learn from the Nazi, reaffirming Japan’s clean break from the wartime past is a prerequisite for President Obama’s visit to pay homage to the civilian victims of Hiroshima.

Secondly, an opening of all WWII Japanese archives so that younger generations can begin the process of learning the full story of that era. Only through such learning will the foundation for true reconciliation between Japan and her former victims be established.

Thirdly, Prime Minister Abe should also encourage his country’s population to learn about the suffering of Americans at the hands of the Japanese military. In the early months of the Pacific War, approximately 27,000 US soldiers became POWs of the Japanese. They endured the infamous Bataan Death March and years of slave labor. Forty percent of them perished due to abuse and inhumane treatment. In 2010, Japanese Foreign Ministry started a program of inviting former American POWs of the Japanese. These former POWs said sharing their painful POW experience with today’s Japanese people helped them finally feel that their old wounds were healed. But many of the Japanese companies that actually abused them while forcing them to perform slave labor have not acknowledged it nor apologized. Prime Minster Abe can certainly encourage these companies to join the government’s effort for reconciliation.

For a quarter of century, Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center has been involved in Japan and I am particularly proud of the fact that our Japanese language exhibition, "Courage to Remember: Anne Frank and the Holocaust," has been viewed by over a million Japanese.

The Center has also been supporting former American POWs of the Japanese in their effort to educate people on their history. Its Museum of Tolerance recently screened a documentary on their POW experiences.

A visit by president Obama represents a unique opportunity for two former foes and long time democratic allies to open a chapter to the future based on mutual trust and truth. I wish Ambassador Kennedy all the best in paving the way for President Obama’s visit to Japan’s atomic ground zero. Her father would be proud and his fellow Pacific War veterans will appreciate her effort to help younger generations on both sides of the Pacific better understand the road that ran between Pearl Harbor and Nagasaki.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper,
Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
(Translated and edited by Kinue Tokudome.)



SWC Protests Abuse of Argentine National Library as a Platform for Hate
Buenos Aires, October 24, 2012
 
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Director of the Argentine National Library, Horacio Gonzalez, to cancel an event entitled “Ethical Trial Of the Israeli Occupation and Colonization of Palestine”, organized by the Argentine – Palestinian Solidarity Committee scheduled for October 30.
In a letter to González, Dr. Shimon Samuels (Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center) and Sergio Widder (Director for Latin America), stated that “we are outraged at the abuse of a public venue for an activity targetting a country friendly to Argentina and its trading partner with associate status in the South American Common Market – MERCOSUR”.
“The Library’s website (www.bn.gov.ar/actualidad/eventos.php?page=&safe=1491-tribunal-etico-a-la-ocupacion-y-colonizacion-por-israel-de-palestina&CurrentMonth=10/14/2012&fecha=10/09/2012&categoria=18&texto=&fechaposteriores), and the Internet website (www.ipdhal.org/?p=1786), already indicate that this is to be a show trial by a so-called ‘ethics tribunal’, where the verdict is predetermined… Just one more new exercise in Israel-bashing. Quite a betrayal of the Library’s onetime intellectual integrity and glory, when it was led by Borges”, lamented Samuels.
“Among the members of the spurious jury of this kangaroo court are Tehran’s agents in Argentina, Luis D’Elia and Fernando Esteche. What more evidence that this ‘court’ is a set up and a farce”, added Widder.
“A prestigious publicly funded institution cannot be tainted as platform for hate propaganda. The Library’s Director must announce forthwith the cancellation of this mockery”, concluded Samuels and Widder.
For further information, please contact Dr. Shimon Samuels at +336 09770158 or Sergio Widder at +54911 4425-1306.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.

-----
Centro Simon Wiesenthal
Cabello 3872, PB "C" (C1425APR) - Buenos Aires - Argentina
Teléfono: (5411) 4802-1744 * Fax: (5411) 4802-1774
 
El Centro Wiesenthal protesta contra la utilización abusiva de la Biblioteca Nacional argentina como una plataforma para la incitación al odio
 
Buenos Aires, 24 de octubre de 2012
El Centro Simon Wiesenthal formuló un llamamiento al Director de la Biblioteca Nacional Argentina, Horacio González, para que cancele una actividad titulada “Tribunal Ético a la Ocupación y Colonización por Israel de Palestina”, organizada por el Comité Argentino de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino, convocada para el 30 de octubre.
En una carta a González, el Dr. Shimon Samuels (Director de Relaciones Internacionales del Centro Wiesenthal) y Sergio Widder (Director para América Latina) señalaron que “nos indigna la utilización abusiva de un espacio público para una actividad dirigida contra un país amigo de la República Argentina, que es, además, un socio comercial del MERCOSUR”.
“Tanto el sitio web de la Biblioteca (www.bn.gov.ar/actualidad/eventos.php?page=&safe=1491-tribunal-etico-a-la-ocupacion-y-colonizacion-por-israel-de-palestina&CurrentMonth=10/14/2012&fecha=10/09/2012&categoria=18&texto=&fechaposteriores) como otros materiales que publicitan la actividad a través de Internet (www.ipdhal.org/?p=1786) indican que lo que se realizará es una puesta en escena de un proceso judicial por parte de un autodenominado ‘tribunal ético’ que ha predeterminado su veredicto. Será un nuevo ejercicio de flagelación de Israel. Toda una traición a la historia de gloria e integridad intelectual de la Biblioteca en épocas en que era liderada por Borges”, lamentó Samuels.
Entre los integrantes del jurado espurio de este tribunal que emitirá el ‘dictamen ético’ se encuentran, entre otros, los dirigentes Luis D’Elía y Fernando Esteche, ambos defensores del régimen teocrático iraní que pretende ‘borrar del mapa a Israel’. Qué otra evidencia se necesita para asegurar que nos encontramos frente a una ‘corte’ deshonesta y fraudulenta”, agregó Widder.
“Una institución prestigiosa sostenida con recursos públicos no debe ser contaminada al convertirla en una plataforma para propagandistas del odio. El Director de la Biblioteca Nacional debe anunciar de manera inmediata la cancelación de esta pantomima”, concluyeron Samuels y Widder.
Para mayor información, comunicarse con Shimon Samuels al +336 09770158 o Sergio Widder al 4802-1744 o 15 4425-1306. Si llama desde fuera de Argentina, +54911 4425-1306.
Los invitamos a acompañarnos en Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/CSWLA
El Centro Simon Wiesenthal es una organización judía internacional de derechos humanos con más de 400.000 miembros en todo el mundo. Tiene status de ONG ante la ONU, la UNESCO, la OEA, la OSCE, el Consejo de Europa y el Parlamento Latinoamericano.
 
 


Wiesenthal Center Rejects State Department Letter on the Exclusion of Israel from US-Sponsored Global Counterterrorism Forum
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has rejected a letter from the State Department, which failed to explain why the United States chose to exclude Israel from the 29-nation ongoing Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). A July 19, 2012 letter from Ambassador Daniel B. Benjamin, the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism said that 10 months after the convening of the forum the US was "working to involve Israel in some seminal GCTC activities in the near future." (click here to read July 19 State Department letter and the Center’s original protest)

"Frankly, the Ambassador's response begs the central question. Why would the U.S State Department exclude Israel in the first place?” Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, the dean and founder and associate dean of the leading Jewish NGO asked. "As the brutal attack in Bulgaria proved yet again, Israelis are a key target of terrorism and her citizens and Jews the world over are often victimized where they work, pray, and study. In addition, Israel's expertise at counter terrorism and developing strategies to protect civilians and airports is recognized police and intelligence agencies, the world over." Failure to bring Israel's expertise to the table means America is not doing all it can to protect our citizens and other innocent civilians around the world."

"It is no secret that leaders in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan are committed it isolate Israel in International Forums and to apply a deadly double standard when it comes to the Jewish state and her supporters. That the United States would cater to such a mindset is outrageous and unacceptable. We have just seen that worldview at work as the International Olympic Committee rejected President Obama's request for a minute of silence at the 2012 Olympic Games this weekend in memory of 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games."

"The Simon Wiesenthal Center reiterates its call to Secretary of State Clinton to take the necessary steps to include Israel as a full member, along with all other countries targeted by the scourge of terror into the Global Counterterrorism Forum", Center officials concluded.


The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.


Simon Wiesenthal Center PCUSA Boycott Vote Helps No One in Middle East; Spate of Anti-Israel Initiatives Harm Interfaith Relations


SWC Mourns Death of Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir
July 1, 2012

Simon Wiesenthal Center Mourns the Death of Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir


The Simon Wiesenthal Center joins the whole house of israel in mourning
the passing of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir who served Israel
with courage and great distinction in the struggle for the creation of
Israel and every day since the Jewish state's founding. We remember
fondly his numerous visits to the Wiesenthal center in Los Angeles. He
will be remembered as a great patriot who woke up everyday asking; " what
more can I do today to defend the State Of Israel and the Jewish people.

For more information, contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center joins the whole house of israel in mourning


Egypt says annual Israeli pilgrimage to Jewish tomb in Nile Delta ‘impossible’ this year


Egypt says annual Israeli pilgrimage to Jewish tomb in Nile Delta ‘impossible’ this year

By Associated Press, Published: January 10 | Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 4:06 AM

CAIRO — Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta, as activists mobilized to block the pilgrimage route.

Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatzira have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade, with Islamists, nationalists, and others claiming that the government by allowing the pilgrimage is pursuing an unpopular policy of normalization with the country’s former enemy.

Egypt notified Israel two months ago that it would be “impossible to hold the annual ceremony because of the political and security situation in the country,” the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

An Islamist politician involved in organizing protests against the march meanwhile said that visiting Abu Hatzira’s gravesite in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis, because of popular opposition to their presence in Egypt.

“Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection,” said Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s best organized political group.

Heshmat said that activists planned to stage sit-ins and other protests to block the route as soon as they hear the pilgrims are on their way. Egypt’s daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported Tuesday that 31 parties and groups had joined this year’s campaign.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization based in Los Angeles, denounced the attempts to block the pilgrimage. In a Tuesday statement, the center’s Abraham Cooper accused the Brotherhood of trying to “curb religious freedom of Jews.”

“In their worldview, there is no respect for the traditions for Jews, dead or alive,” he said.

A son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, Abu Hatzira was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879 when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria.

According to tradition, his followers tried to move his tomb three times, and three times heavy storms prevented them.

After Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, Jewish devotees — mostly of Moroccan origin — have traveled annually to the site. But Egypt has limited the numbers of pilgrims.

In 2001 and 2004, two court orders banned the ceremony after opponents filed legal challenges.

Since then, both Delta residents and activist groups have denounced the ceremony. The residents complain of harassment by security forces deployed to protect the pilgrims. Activists oppose the normalization of relations with a country that Egypt fought in four wars between 1948 and 1973, and also see the defiance of the court order as part of the Mubarak regime’s general trampling of the rule of law.

In 2009, Egypt officially denied the pilgrims entry because the anniversary fell while Israel was conducing an offensive in Gaza.

A year later, the Israeli press reported that Mubarak accepted a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift the limits on the number of pilgrims.

The tomb is a vestige of Egypt’s once-prosperous Jewish community, which at the time of the first war with Israel in 1948 numbered about 80,000 people.

But the Arab-Israeli wars, and the resentment and expulsions that they engendered, have reduced the number of Egypt’s Jews to about 60 individuals, according to the Israeli embassy.


Liston to the SWC's Interfaith Director Discuss Wagner's Ring of Anti-Semitism on NY's WXQR Radio

Listen to an interview with SWC's Interfaith Affairs Director Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein on New York's WQXR on:

Wagner's Ring of Anti-Semitism: Can the Artist Be Separated From His Art?Friday, November 04, 2011

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When the Los Angeles Opera staged its first production of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 2009, there were protests outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and local politicians called on the company to cancel the production. Here in New York, the Metropolitan Opera is more than half-way through its multi-season Ring Cycle, and there’s been hardly a dissenting voice – locally at least.

Last month, a movie theater chain in Jerusalem said it won’t screen two Wagner operas from the Met's HD broadcasts, out of sensitivity to its patrons. Wagner, of course, was a fervent anti-Semite whose work later inspired Nazi leaders. So can the man be separated from his music? How should Wagner be treated in Israel, which maintains an unwritten Wagner ban?

Naomi Lewin is joined by three experts:

• Roberto Paternostro is music director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra. In July, he led the ensemble in Wagner's Siegfried Idyll – along with works by Jewish composers – at the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is director of Interfaith Affairs at The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He spoke out about the Los Angeles Opera's Wagner festival in 2009.

Michael Beckerman is a Professor and Chair of Music at New York University and a specialist in 19th-century European music.

Weigh in: How do you think Wagner should be addressed today? Should the Met and other companies do more to acknowledge his anti-Semitism? Can one separate the art from the artist? Leave your comments below:

Podcast producer: Brian Wise; Engineer: Bill O'Neil



The “Occupy Movement” Must Repudiate the Anti-Semites in Their Ranks By Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman
With a big and sustained boost from the Media, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has gone global. Beyond Los Angeles’ sustained presence outside of City Hall, the anger and angst is being heard in over a hundred cities, with protesters as far away as Italy and Japan adding their disaffected voices.

Unfortunately, the hateful fringe of the Movement is now also coast-to-coast, though you might not know it from the mainstream media. Today’s hate propaganda from the New York protests has gone viral. This includes placards identifying “Wall Street Jews” as “Hitler’s Bankers,” and angry shouts of “Kill/Screw Google Jews.” According to anecdotal evidence, the conspiracy banter that the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. government and/or Israeli plot is also popular among some protestors.

From Wall Street to LA’s City Hall now comes a copycat wave of street posters including one with the headline “End the Fed Spigot” under which are pictures of missiles and Stars of David bombarding innocent victims. Another pseudo-learned poster tells us: “Humanity has been colonized by a Satanic cult called the ILLUMINATI . . . Masonic and Jewish bankers who . . . control the purse strings [and] are conspiring against us. They have orchestrated TWO WORLD WARS and are planning a THIRD.” We are told that it’s “Humanity VS. The Rothschilds”. Protester Patricia McAllister, who says she works for LA Unified Schools exercised her First Amendment Right thus: “I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, . . . need to be run out of this country.”

For almost 200 years, blaming the world’s economic woes on the Rothschilds or Wall Street or Jewish bankers has been “the socialism of fools”—and mother’s milk of every demagogue from Hitler to Henry Ford to the Internet bloggers who still insist that Goldman Sachs’s secret Zionist high-command cunningly engineered the 2008 global financial collapse. Of course, toxic hate is not the motivator of most protestors, many of whom are suffering from orsincerely concerned about real economic hardship. Yet history shows the danger of lunatic fringe ideas spreading from the periphery to the center of a tumultuous movement. And it’s not just anti-Semitism. Americans on all sides of the economic/political divide should be concerned about a New York Magazine poll showing that 34 percent of protestors already consider the U.S. government as bad as Al Qaeda.

The Tea Party, when it emerged in 2009, also attracted its own extremist fringe, as a hyper-vigilant national media was correct to quickly expose. Some of the Tea Party fringe equated Obama with Hitler and claimed that the first African American president was a Manchurian candidate with a phony birth certificate. Yet the Tea Party Movement eventually produced grassroots leaders who denounced such nonsense and repeatedly disavowed racism and racists. Though not everyone was convinced by the Tea Party’s disavowals of prejudice, millions of decent Americans who weren’t bigots voted in the 2010 elections to support the complaints and goals of the movement.

The Occupy Wall Streeters and LA’s City Hall crowd have won accolades for marrying new social network technology to bohemian garb. Its pungent invocation of 1960s hippiedom—”God Forbid We Have Sex ‘N Smoke Pot. They Want Us to Grab Guns ‘N Go to War!”—also strikes a nostalgic chord among some grey-haired pinstripers. But street theater is no substitute for the serious work of building a mass movement that can really change society for the good. America’s “Occupy Crowd” crowd likes to compare itself to Tahrir Square and the Arab Spring Movement that toppled a geriatric dictator. Alas, that Movement has largely collapsed—as Egypt slides toward political chaos or Islamic dictatorship—in part because young Egyptian protesters never learned how to move beyond demonstrating and tweeting to become a constructive social force.

If the Occupy Wall Streeters really want their movement to achieve mainstream credibility and clout, they should begin by policing their own ranks. Organizing the public sanitation in their own encampments is a start, but social and political civility must also prevail. The Occupy Movement’s leaders in LA as well as New York need to disown the purveyors of hate within their ranks. They must pull the plug on the bigots amongst them who view the slogan of fighting the detested “1 percent of fat cats” as their opportunity to mainstream the hatred of Jews.


*Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

*Dr. Harold Brackman is a historian and consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center



Wiesenthal Center: On Seventieth Anniversary of Nazi Invasion, “Lithuanian Activist Front” Should Be Denounced, Not Glorified
June 22, 2011

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today called upon the Lithuanian authorities to refrain from honoring the “Lithuanian Activist Front” which sought to reestablish Lithuanian independence following the Nazi invasion of the country launched seventy years ago on June 22, 1941. In a statement issued here today by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted the vicious incitement against the Jews of Lithuania by the Lithuanian Activist Front prior to the invasion and their appeal for Lithuanians to take measures on their own against Jews considered suspect of betraying the country. These calls, it should be noted, led to widespread physical violence which claimed the lives of at least hundreds of Jews by local vigilantes, before the arrival of the Nazis in at least forty different locations.

According to Zuroff:

“Any attempt to glorify the Lithuanian Activist Front is not a tribute to Lithuanian patriotism, but rather a ringing endorsement of the mass murder of Lithuanian Jewry and a horrific insult to the numerous victims of the Holocaust murdered by Lithuanians. The seventieth anniversary of the Nazi invasion should be an occasion for repentance and reflection on the role of Lithuanians in Holocaust crimes, and a day to honor those brave Lithuanians who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. They were the true Lithuanian patriots, not the anti-Semites of the Lithuanian Activist Front .”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).


For more information call 00-972-50-7214156, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.



Right of Reply: A threat to Holocaust memory

 

 

August 26, 110 Thursday 24 Elul 3870 16:33 IST

Right of Reply: A threat to Holocaust memory
By EFRAIM ZUROFF

27/08/2010
As a proud member of the group accused of waging ‘a relentless campaign’ against the Prague Declaration, I welcome the opportunity to explain the significant dangers posed by the steps called for by the signees.

There is no small degree of irony in Barry Rubin’s choice of the quote from the Prague Declaration that “those who neglect their past have no future” (Magazine, August 13) to promote his case for Jewish and Israeli support for that document which seeks to obtain official recognition that the crimes of communism were equivalent to those of Nazism and that both constitute a European “common legacy,” which must be recognized as such for the continent to ever achieve unity.

For it is precisely my concern to preserve the accurate narrative and memory of our Jewish past which motivates me to do whatever I can to inform the Israeli and Jewish public about the dangers of the Prague Declaration and its potentially dire consequences for the future of Holocaust memory and education.

As a proud member of the group which Rubin accuses of waging “a relentless campaign” against the June 3, 2008 document, I welcome the opportunity to explain the flaws in his arguments and the significant dangers posed by the practical steps called for by the signees.

The heart and core of Rubin’s case is his assertion that by rejecting the Prague Declaration, which promotes a historically false parity or equivalency between crimes by communists and those of the Nazis, we become accomplices in the decades-long efforts to hide the ravages of communist totalitarianism and repression, and even the crimes committed against Jews by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

THE OPPOSITION to the Prague Declaration has never been based on a desire to hide communist crimes, nor do we oppose any initiative to honor and commemorate their victims or punish those guilty of committing those crimes. On the contrary, any such steps are in fact long overdue and would help mitigate the “Holocaust envy” so prevalent in Eastern Europe, where there is widespread jealousy of the recognition and restitution accorded to the Nazis’ Jewish victims, in contrast to the general failure to sufficiently acknowledge the suffering of those victimized by the communists, compensate those wronged and prosecute those responsible.

Such steps are extremely important, but they do not turn communist crimes into a historical phenomenon equivalent to the devastation of the Holocaust. As the doyen of Holocaust historians, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, of Yad Vashem, pointed out so convincingly in his seminal essay on this subject (“Remembering accurately on International Holocaust Day,” The Jerusalem Post, January 25), “There is ground for deep concern about repeated attempts to equate the Nazi regime’s genocidal policies, with the Holocaust at their center, with other murderous or oppressive actions, an equation that not only trivializes and relativizes the genocide of the Jews... but is a mendacious revision of recent world history.”

In addition, it is important to emphasize that the practical steps called for in the Prague Declaration pose an immediate and long-term threat to Holocaust memory and commemoration, as well as the accuracy of the currently-accepted Holocaust historical narrative. Thus, for example, the initiative to designate August 23 as a joint memorial day for all victims of totalitarian regimes undermines the current status of the Holocaust as a unique tragedy and will ultimately bring into question the validity of a special memorial day for its victims.

A pluralistic, globalized world will undoubtedly prefer a more inclusive day of commemoration, and two days a year for the same tragedy will no doubt be considered excessive. In the same vein, the Institute of European Memory and Conscience which is planned would make institutions like Yad Vashem superfluous.

WHAT RUBIN fails to take into account are the hidden motives behind the Prague Declaration and its insidious agenda. If the real goal was to merely gain official recognition for communist crimes and international empathy for its victims, both important and legitimate goals, we could support the Prague Declaration without any reservations. By seeking equivalency with Holocaust crimes, however, it becomes clear that among its primary motivations is to help the countries of Eastern Europe deny, relativize and/or minimize their sins of collaboration with the Nazis in Holocaust crimes and change their status and image from that of perpetratornations to nations of victims.

Such a transformation would not only neutralize the justified criticism of their wartime crimes and failure since independence to bring to justice their unprosecuted Holocaust perpetrators, but would put them on the same pedestal as Holocaust survivors and earn them not only approbation and sympathy but financial compensation as well. And it is precisely this unthinkable scenario that we find so objectionable, and what we are trying to prevent when we criticize the Prague Declaration and fight against its acceptance and implementation.

Perhaps the best proof of its dangers can be found in one of Rubin’s assertions about the rationale behind the document. Thus according to him, “If the USSR had not backed Hitler during the 1939-1941 period, there would have very possibly not been a Second World War or Holocaust at all.”

Indeed an ostensibly powerful argument and one that underscores the choice of August 23, the day of the Soviet-Nazi Molotov-Ribbentrop Nonaggression Pact as a joint memorial day for all the victims of totalitarian regimes.

The only problem is that, as Bauer clearly demonstrates, the argument is baseless. In his words, “The greater threat to all of humanity was Nazi Germany, and it was the Soviet army that liberated Eastern Europe, was the central force that defeated Nazi Germany and thus saved Europe and the world from the Nazi nightmare... World War II was started by Nazi Germany, not the Soviet Union, and the responsibility of the 35 million dead in Europe, 29 million of them non-Jews, is that of Nazi Germany, not Stalin. To commemorate their victims equally is a distortion.”

So if a well-intentioned Jewish scholar has to resort to historical distortion to justify the Prague Declaration, it should be obvious why those who aspire to a better future based on a concern for the past totally reject this dangerous document.

The writer is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of its Israel office.
His most recent book is Operation Last Chance: One Man’s Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice.



One-year later: Religious Leaders Convene in Mumbai in solidarity and Remembrance of Terrorist Attack Victims
 

 

One-year later: Religious Leaders Convene in Mumbai  in solidarity and  Remembrance of terrorist attack victims

Simon Wiesenthal Center, leading Jewish NGO and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Co-sponsor anti-Terror Solidarity Meeting with faith leaders from overseas and across India

 Mumbai, India – In a gathering of solidarity with the victims of November 26-29, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, the U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center and India's Art of Living are convening a multi-faith event on Tuesday November 17th with Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and other faith leaders, as well as survivors of terrorism, local leaders and foreign dignitaries.  Co-sponsored by two leading NGOs: the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Art of Living Foundation, the vigil will be held on 17 November at 4:00 pm at a Mumbai venue to be disclosed later.
           

Among the religious dignitaries scheduled to attend include: Swami Gnana Tej of the Art of Living Foundation; Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance; Dr. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, leading Islamic scholar in India; Mr. Ashok Arora, Chief of Education Division, Bharat Soka Gakkai; Sri Raman Tikka of the Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram; Mr. Karambir Kang, the manager of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel at the time of the November ’08 terror attacks; and Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, Director of the Chabad Mumbai Relief Fund. Also in attendance will be survivors of last year’s attacks, The Hon. D.R. Kaarthikeyan, former Director of the CBI, and The Hon. Orna Sagiv, Israeli Consul General in Mumbai and an array of local leaders and foreign dignitaries.  
           

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder Art of Living Foundation declared that: “26/11 in Mumbai was the ultimate test of patience and forgiveness. Terrorists were striking every month before that. By now a strong message has gone out that we do not react, but we will respond to these acts resolutely.”

“Religious leaders have a special obligation to publicly condemn terrorist attacks that are inspired and sanctioned by those who call themselves servants of God. We are gathering at the site of last years attacks in solidarity with the people of India as they remember all the victims of 26/11, including the first-ever attack on Jews in India” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  “This is a time for people of faith to openly repudiate the culture of death nurtured in the name of religion while standing beside our Indian friends to promote the sanctity of life, tolerance and freedom.”

“We are buoyed by the resilience of the world’s largest democracy, her noble history of protecting minority peoples (Jews among them) and her commitment to our shared values,” Rabbi Cooper added.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

The Art of Living Foundation is an international non-profit educational and humanitarian organization that works in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Its educational and self-development programs offer powerful tools to eliminate stress and foster a sense of well-being. 

The Wiesenthal Center and the Art Of Living Foundation have collaborated on a multi-faith anti-terrorism conference in Bali, Indonesia and in the presentation of an exhibition on the Nazi Holocaust, Courage To Remember, in New Delhi and in Bangalore.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 1-310-553-9036 or mlavina@wiesenthal.net; in Mumbai, Ms. Ami Patel ,91-98-2013-5195.

Join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.




 

 

 



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Generations Against Genocide 2009 Fall Cocktail Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generations Against Genocide Fall Cocktail Party

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
7:00 - 11:00 pm

The King Kong Room at The Edison Ballroom
228 West 47th Street
(between Broadway & 8th Avenue)

Cocktail reception
Dietary laws observed

Please contact Carly Sorscher with any questions
csorscher@swcny.com

212-370-0320 x18 



Who would you vote for in Iran's Presidential election?
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