There Should Be No Age Limit on Prosecution of “Most Wanted” War Criminals

When the Simon Wiesenthal Center was founded in 1977, Dean Rabbi Marvin Hier promised Simon Wiesenthal that bringing Holocaust perpetrators to justice would be the number one priority. The famed Nazi hunter died in 2005, but there was no expiration date on that promise to him—nor should that be except for the death or incapacity of the last criminal.

Juxtapose these recent international stories, from the U.S. and Europe, involving war crimes and crimes against humanity ranging up to genocide committed from Auschwitz to Africa:

• Rwanda native Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43 years old, who lived in New Hampshire for fifteen years, is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe to 10 years in prison for securing U.S. citizenship by lying about her role as commander of one of the notorious roadblocks where Tutsis were murdered by Hutu militia in the early 1990s.

• Ukrainian immigrant Michael Karkoc, 94 years old, a Nazi collaborator enjoyed his retirement until the Associated Press revealed him living in Minneapolis.

• Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir remains the target of 2009-2010 arrest warrants, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague indicting him for multiple counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Darfur.

• Hungarian Laszlo Csatary, 98 years old, previously stripped of his Canadian citizenship and deported, finally is facing trial in his native country for helping to deport 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz from a ghetto in occupied Slovakia in 1944, while in Germany Hans Lipschis, 93 years old, a suspected guard at the Auschwitz, has been arrested.

Anti-Semitism Returns to the House of Commons

Less than six months after the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, was accused of anti-Semitism for the equating the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews with “the Jews” treatment of the Palestinians, yet another Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Bob Russell, has equated the victims of the Holocaust with the ‘plight of the Palestinians’ since the birth of the state of Israel.

This happened last week during a debate in the House of Commons on the national school curriculum. Given that English law requires the Holocaust to be taught to all school children as part of the History syllabus, Russell asked the Education Minister, Michael Gove, the following question: “On the assumption that [coverage of] the 20th Century will include the Holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?”

Bob Russell’s statement, just as David Ward’s, has caused offence to the UK Jewish community and embarrassment to the Liberal-Democrat Friends of Israel, but as yet there has been no apology from Russell and no indication of any censure by the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.  There has even been little, if any, media attention given to Russell’s comments. It’s as if the ‘Nazification of Israel’, the idea that ‘the Jews are to the Palestinians what the Nazis were to the Jews’, has become so commonplace that it is no longer news worthy.

Yet the idea that the plight of the Palestinians should be given the same prominence in the school curriculum as the Holocaust is not only extremely offensive, but is also absurd. Russell’s equivalence, just like David Ward’s before him, relies on the re-writing of Jewish history and the misreading of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It represents a misjudgement which, like that of the anti-Dreyfusards whose faith in Dreyfus’s guilt contradicted all evidence to the contrary, can only flow from the willingness to believe the absolute worst about Jews. This is anti-Semitism.

Brandeis Center Welcomes Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias to the Brandeis Blog Team

agliszczynskagrabias_clip_image002The Louis D. Brandeis Center has recently had the pleasure of adding yet another impressive figure to the center’s long list of blog contributors. Polish legal scholar Dr. Aleksandra Gliszczyńska–Grabias will now be a regular contributor to the Brandeis Center blog. Dr. Gliszczyńska-Grabias joins a team of impressive legal and historical minds who regularly contribute to the Brandeis Center Blog, including Gil Troy, Greg Lukianoff, Alyza Lewin, Harold Brackman, Andre Oboler, Lesley Klaff and Rafael Medoff. Said Louis D. Brandeis President Kenneth L. Marcus, “Dr. Gliszczyńska–Grabias is emerging as an important voice in international human rights legal scholarship, especially as it relates to anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli discrimination, and I am excited to welcome yet another truly impressive scholar to the team of bloggers at the Brandeis Center.”

As a young legal scholar with an expertise in international human rights law, Dr. Gliszczyńska–Grabias brings a long and remarkable list of accomplishments to the Brandeis Center’s blog team. After graduating from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, she went on to receive several awards and recognitions. Some of these honors include the 2012 Fellowship of the Foundation for Polish Science for outstanding achievements in science and research, the 2010/2011 Graduate Fellow of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of anti-Semitism at Yale University, and the 2010 and 2009 Felix Posen Fellowship for doctoral candidates of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Europe’s Toxic Anti-Semitism Problem

Manfred Gerstenfeld, author the new book, “Demonizing Israel and the Jews,” and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Robert Wistrich, probably the world’s leading authority on the history of anti-Semitism, are like diagnosticians who agree on the grim prognosis for European Jewry, but disagree on the probable cause of death.

Gerstenfeld has attracted a headline in “The Times of Israel” (July 10) by extrapolating from a 2012 study conducted by Germany’s University of Bielefeld for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation that asked 8,000 people across eight EU member states whether they agreed that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” Responses varied from 38 percent in Italy to 63 percent in Poland, but a continent-wide average 40 percent answered “yes.” The population sixteen years and older of EU countries is approximately 400 million. Gerstenfeld’s estimate of “well over 150 million” European anti-Semites comes from dividing 400 million by two fifths.

Wistrich, on the other hand, retorts—to paraphrase slightly—that 150 million idiots do not necessarily equal 150 million anti-Semites! Remember that the term “idiot” among the ancient Greeks referred not to mental impairment but to complete political ignorance and ineptitude—a condition generally assumed by them to be beyond remedy.

Looking more closely at the University of Bielefeld poll, one finds that the question asking about Israel’s waging genocidal war on the Palestinians was actually one of two outlier questions. The poll’s major analysis was based on answers to four questions. One was phrased positively—have the Jews “enriched our culture”—three negatively: to they have too much influence? do they play the Nazi victimization card? and do they only care about their own kind? The three negative questions again elicited varying responses—significantly higher in eastern than western Europe—but here the overall average (based on many more responses than to one question) was around thirty percent. Thirty percent of 400 million adult Europeans equals 120 million: still a hell of a lot of anti-Semites!

Today’s German Question Mark

Winston Churchill famously quipped of Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Twenty-first century Germany is, instead, a question mark—especially regarding its relationship to the present and future of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish hatreds.

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper cites a new cartoon (belatedly apologized for) in Germany’s largest mass-circulation daily, the Munich-based “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” depicting Israel as “a ravenous Moloch” as classic anti-Semitism “grotesquely beyond the pale of legitimate criticism.” Let’s put this cartoon in context:

First, the good news:

• The Bundestag has voted overwhelmingly for a resolution vowing to support the fight against anti-Semitism as well as Germany’s special relationship with Israel. It mentioned Israel-related anti-Semitism, but with no recommendations to combat Muslim extremists. The emphasis was on better education against prejudice, without concrete actions except aid to Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, which supports Holocaust survivors.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Ceremony to be Broadcast in English

Our friends at Yad Vashem are announcing this English language broadcast of the 2013 Erev Yom HaShoah (Holocaust memorial) service:

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) network in partnership with the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem will for the first time ever be broadcasting the Erev Yom HaShoah (Eve of the Holocaust Memorial Day) state ceremony from Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

The event took place on April 7, 2013 and will be broadcast with an English translation during the month of July. The broadcast is a historic event since this is the first time our friends in the USA will be able to watch the program in this manner. Note that there is also an online watching opportunity for our international friends.

Seminar: The UCU, Antisemitism and the Boycott Campaigns Against Israel

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The Louis D. Brandeis Center was recently made aware of an upcoming conference which readers may find interesting. One of the main topics of discussion will be the recent Fraser v. UCU court case, a very important case which several contributors to the Brandeis Center’s blog have analyzed throughout the past few weeks.

Thu 11 Jul 2013

The University and College Union (UCU) has passed anti-Zionist resolutions since 2005 and Jewish members have complained about antisemitic tendencies within the union. In 2012 Ronnie Fraser brought a case against the UCU complaining of institutional antisemitism in violation of the Equality Act. However, the employment tribunal handling the case ruled that his complaints of harassment were unfounded. Despite the evidence that was brought forward the judges did not recognise antisemitism in the union and instead accused Fraser of disregarding pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression by trying to silence his political opponents. This workshop seeks to analyse this case as well as antisemitism in unions and on campus, including anti-Israeli boycott campaigns. It explores why there is a reluctance to recognise anti-Zionist forms of antisemitism in the frame of anti-racism and anti-discrimination.

Kenneth L. Marcus on Campus Anti-Semitism

LDB President Kenneth Marcus recently went on The Edwin Black Show to discuss the anti-Israeli de-legitimization, or BDS (boycott, divest, and sanction) movement. Mr. Marcus, in particular, was able to address what is happening on college campuses in regards to this BDS movement. According to Mr. Marcus, this problem is something repeatedly presenting itself on America’s college campuses all around the country.

What at first may begin as a political sentiment oftentimes, stated Mr. Marcus, turns virulent so to be not just aimed at Israel and Israelis, but also in a sense to Jewish Americans as well. The political movement against Israel transforms into something more foreboding, and is often verbalized in an anti-Semitic fashion, making use of traditional anti-Semitic motifs.

The problem is exacerbated because of the disproportionate influence on college campuses of individuals with extreme positions, especially if they are on the far left. It is not the case, Mr. Marcus states, that most professors and students are anti-Semitic. Rather, it’s a relatively small number of anti-Semitic people in a given situation that get much more attention on a college campus than they would in any other faction of American life. Compounding that, anti-Israeli professors are the ones more likely to be teaching Middle East studies and the Humanities. Additionally, they are the ones who are more likely to say it’s okay to introduce your values into the classroom as well as to be politically active themselves. It follows, then, that anti-Israeli professors are engaged in shifting the politics in a way that supports their movement. All of these factors, says Mr. Marcus, lead to greater anti-Israel, and sometimes anti-Semitic, influence on college campuses.