Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Antisemitism in: United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, United States 

Anti-Semitic incidents rise in Germany, Australia, U.S. in 2007

By Anshel Pfeffer and Asaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent
Sun., January 27, 2008 Shvat 20, 5768

The annual global report on anti-Semitism being presented to the cabinet Sunday morning points to a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, Australia, the United States and Ukraine together with an overall decrease in Western Europe. The largest number of incidents were recorded in Britain, followed by France.

Under pressure from Diaspora Jewish community leaders, particularly the Board of Deputies of British Jews, it was decided this year not to cite numbers of incidents but only to report general trends. In previous years there were discrepancies between the numbers in the Israeli report and data published by other countries.

The report, a joint government and Jewish Agency project, indicates a decline in anti-Semitic incidents in 2007 after the steep jump registered for 2006 in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. In countries where an increase did occur, such as Germany and Australia, this was tied to the strengthening of the radical right, along with aggression by local Muslim communities.

Rising anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., including a 30-percent increase in New York, is also associated with racist activity by right-wing extremist groups.

In Ukraine, last year saw a move from spontaneous anti-Semitic acts to more organized activity within parties with anti-Semitic platforms and the distribution of anti-Semitic propaganda at universities and colleges. Contrary to President Victor Yushchenko's declarations during his visit to Israel two months ago, the government only recently began countering such activity.

Similar trends can be seen in other Eastern European countries. Anti-Semitism is rife in Russia, alongside general racism and xenophobia, but the central government has cracked down on the phenomenon over the past year.

The security director for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Michael Whine, declined to comment on Britain's topping the list of anti-Semitic incidents in the Israeli report, saying only, "we are still going over our data."

In related news, the Muslim Council of Britain will participate for the first time in today's National Holocaust Memorial Day, chosen for the date that Auschwitz was liberated. The large umbrella organization decided two months ago to end its six-year boycott of the memorial day, a decision that followed accusations in recent years by the British government and Jewish organizations that its positions were anti-Semitic.

The city of Liverpool will host the main event, where speakers will include Britain's Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Ms. Magazine accused of being anti-Israel 

‘Feminist Moment Of Truth’

Ms. magazine’s refusal to print pro-Israel ad raises questions about the ‘Palestinianization’ of the women’s movement.

by Stewart Ain
Staff Writer
The Jewish Week

Ms. Magazine’s rejection of an ad celebrating three Israeli women leaders has prompted Jewish feminists here to charge that the magazine has adopted an anti-Israel posture.

“This is a feminism that has been utterly Palestinianized,” said Phyllis Chesler, one of five Jewish feminists who lashed out at the magazine this week.

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance founder Blu Greenberg told a press conference at the offices of the American Jewish Congress, whose ad Ms. Magazine rejected, that the leaders of the magazine “have aligned themselves with those on the political far left whose agenda is to totally de-legitimate Israel on the stage of world opinion.”

Francine Klagsbrun, an author and Jewish Week columnist, termed this a “feminist moment of truth.” “I call on Ms. to stand up to the pernicious pressures of anti-Israel prejudice among its readers,” she said. “If it fails in this and caters to anti-Israel sentiments, then it has failed the revolution and those of us who have continued to believe in it.”

But Katherine Spillar, the executive editor of Ms. Magazine, defended the magazine’s rejection of the proposed ad that featured pictures of Dorit Beinisch, the president of Israel’s supreme court; Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, and Dalia Itzik, the speaker of the Knesset. Under their names were the words, “This is Israel.”

“We don’t do pro-country ads,” Spillar said. In addition, she suggested, it is misleading.
“Israel does not have equality [between men and women],” she explained in a phone interview. “There is no country where women share power equally with men. The ad implies” otherwise.

And in a statement, Spillar said the ad could be seen as favoring certain political parties over other parties because two of the women belong to the same party.

Harriet Kurlander, director of the AJCongress’s Commission for Women’s Empowerment, said none of those reasons were given to her when she tried to place the ad. “They said we can’t take the ad because it’s too controversial,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Why, we are saluting three women who have achieved high office in Israel. This is not about settlements or borders or Jerusalem.’ I was in a state of shock.” The magazine’s representative later told her, Kurlander said, that if the ad were accepted, “it would create a firestorm.”

Kurlander said the magazine’s rejection of the ad has created a firestorm of a different kind. She said that more than 4,300 people have e-mailed a form letter to the magazine protesting its action. (Spillar said the figure was closer to 2,000). And Kurlander said it has galvanized Jewish feminists across the country.

Novelist Cynthia Ozick sent a letter to the AJCongress criticizing Ms. Magazine and saying it is “now conspicuously exposed as having joined the anti-democratic anti-Israel totalitarian radical Left. A journal that once stood for free and open opportunity for all now shows itself to be among the haters: closed, narrow, insular, and above all cowardly.”

And Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., issued a statement saying she was “profoundly disheartened by this foolish decision” of the magazine.

“Silencing the voices of women from the State of Israel who are struggling for political and economic parity is a betrayal of our feminist solidarity,” she added. “Moreover, a boycott of Israel, motivated by a repudiation of Israeli politics, is an unacceptable rejection of Jewish women and our efforts to achieve Middle East peace.”

But Spillar insisted that the magazine is not disregarding Israel but rather has written numerous stories about it. She said that in the 16 issues that have been printed in the last four years, the magazine has covered the Israeli feminist movement and women leaders there “no fewer than 11 times.”

She cited a story in the current issue about Livni and a feature story in the spring of 2006 by Israeli feminist Alice Shalvi in which she “catalogued the ongoing struggles to rectify” inequalities in Israeli society, including the need to increase women’s representation in the Knesset and at the negotiating table for peace.

Klagsbrun pointed out at the press conference that Livni heads the Israeli team conducting the peace negotiations. And she said she knew of no other country in the world in which women “have the top posts in the legislature, the judiciary and the executive branch.”

Chesler said she stopped reading the magazine several years ago but read some articles in back issues before coming to the press conference. They convinced her, she said, that the magazine is “consistently and sickeningly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.”

“Apparently, Palestinians are the sacred victims who are pure and can do no wrong,” she added. “Israelis are the Nazi-like aggressors and occupiers who can do nothing right. This is not the Ms. I once knew so long ago.”

She said the Palestinization of the feminist movement began after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War in 1967 because “Israel was no longer the little David” standing up against the Goliaths — the Arab states that surrounded it.

The controversy has also been a wake-up call to Jewish feminists, according to Greenberg.

“We have kept our heads in the sand for too long,” she said. Klagsbrun agreed that she and some other Jewish feminists have “separated our feminism” from concerns about attacks on Israel.

And Chesler said this incident should become an “opportunity to start asking American Jewish and non-Jewish voters how important is the demonizing of Israel.”

“I would like people to begin asking the candidates for president where they stand on the demonization of Israel ... and where they stand on Iran and its extermination delusions,” she said.

Kurlander said the AJCongress has heard from Jews who feel “personally betrayed” by the magazine’s action. She said there are feminists in Israel, such as Shalvi, who side with the magazine and believe “Israel should be shown as the terrible country it is vis a vis women and who don’t believe in showing Israeli women’s accomplishments.”

But she suggested that these are the same women who would want the world to lament the Palestinian olive groves that were destroyed by Israel to prevent them from being used to conceal Palestinian gunmen. But the “core of Israel’s feminist movement would be pained by this and antagonistic to Ms.,” Kurlander added.


American Jewish Congress

Ms. Magazine Blocks Ad on Israeli Women


January 10, 2008 — Ms. Magazine has long been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights and equal opportunities for women. Apparently that is not the case if the women happen to be Israeli.

The magazine has turned down an AJCongress advertisement that did nothing more controversial than call attention to the fact that women currently occupy three of the most significant positions of power in Israeli public life. The proposed ad (The Ad Ms. Didn't Want You To See) included a text that merely said, “This is Israel,” under photographs of President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinish, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.

“What other conclusion can we reach,” asked Richard Gordon, President of AJCongress, “except that the publishers − and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. Magazine readers − are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?”

When Director of AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Empowerment Harriet Kurlander tried to place the ad, she was told that publishing the ad “will set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject − the subject presumably being whether or not one can say anything positive about Israel. Ms. Magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal failed to respond to a signed-for certified letter with a copy of the ad as well as numerous calls by Mr. Gordon over a period of weeks.

A Ms. Magazine representative, Susie Gilligan, whom the Ms. Magazine masthead lists under the publisher’s office, told Ms. Kurlander that the magazine “would love to have an ad from you on women’s empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this.” Ms. Gilligan failed to elaborate what “this” is.

“The only conclusion that one can reach from this behavior is that Ms. Magazine feels that an ad highlighting the accomplishments of three incredibly talented and dedicated women would offend their readership. Since there is nothing about the ad itself that is offensive, it is obviously the nationality of the women pictured that the management of Ms. fears their readership would find objectionable. For a publication that holds itself out to be in the forefront of the Women’s Movement, this is nothing short of disgusting and despicable,” stated Mr. Gordon.

Ms. Magazine has a long record of publishing advertisements rallying readers to support reproductive choice; opposing the Religious Right; highlighting the fragility of the pro-Roe v. Wade majority on the Supreme Court; charging that “Pat Robertson and his Religious Right cohorts don’t like individual freedom;” announcing support for the “struggle for freedom and human rights;” opposing the Bush administration’s campaign to fill federal courts with judges who “will reverse decades of progress on reproductive rights and privacy, civil rights, religious liberty, environmental protection and so much more;” as well as accusing the Bush administration of being “bent on rewarding big corporations and the rich, turning back the clock on women’s rights and civil rights, and promoting a U.S. empire abroad.”

“This flagship publication of the American women’s empowerment movement publishes ads that are controversial in the general culture but not so among its readership,” Ms. Kurlander said. “Obviously, Ms. believes our ad would enflame a significant portion of their readers.”
Mr. Gordon added, “What really amazes me is that just recently, in their Winter 2007 issue, Ms. ran a cover story with a picture of Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi with the heading in big letters: “This is What a Speaker Looks Like.” While Ms. has every reason to be proud of Speaker Pelosi and her accomplishments, as are we, the only discernable difference between Speaker Pelosi and Speaker Itzik apparently is that Speaker Pelosi is not Israeli.”

Mr. Gordon noted that while Israel was apparently too hot to handle, Ms. Magazine did not extend that taboo to Arab and Moslem women. “What is even more amazing is that, while refusing to publish a simple ad praising three very notable women, women who embody the ideal that Ms. Magazine seemingly espouses, Ms. has run a cover article in the Fall 2003 issue on Queen Noor of Jordan, has featured a number of articles on Muslim women, and even ran an article in the Winter 2004 issue entitled, ‘Images of Palestine,’ which discussed the Ramallah Film Festival and gave sympathetic reviews to films concerning ‘the liberation of South Lebanon’ from Israel as well as numerous films which portrayed terrorism as legitimate ‘revolutionary’ activity against Israel and miscast Israel’s activities to counter terrorism as ‘oppressive.’”
“Clearly Ms. has changed a great deal from the days when AJCongress members and leaders of the AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Equality − including Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug and Ms. co-founder Letty Pogrebin − were at the forefront of the Women’s Movement that led to the creation of Ms. Magazine.”

AJCongress President Gordon concluded, “Ms. has the right to turn down our ad. But in exercising that right, it has spoken loudly about itself and its readership, and their lingering hostility to Israel.”


Ms. magazine Responds to American Jewish Congress Ad Controversy

For Immediate Release January 14, 2008

Statement of Katherine Spillar, executive editor
Ms. magazine concerning the AJCongress ad

Ms. magazine has been criticized for not running an ad submitted by the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) featuring the photographs of three prominent Israeli women leaders with the statement “This is Israel.” In its press release, AJCongress claims that Ms. therefore must be ‘hostile to Israel’. This is untrue and unfair.

Ms. covers women leaders across the globe. Ironically, the current issue just now hitting newsstands features a major story profiling Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, highlighting her career and accomplishments. Livni was one of the women pictured in the AJCongress ad. Ms. had previously reported on Dorit Beinish, also pictured in the ad, becoming the first woman president of Israel’s Supreme Court. Over the past four years (16 issues) Ms. has covered the Israeli feminist movement and women leaders in Israel no fewer than eleven times.

The mission of Ms. is to report on U.S. and global struggles to combat sex discrimination and oppression and to provide feminists everywhere with the information they need to take action to win equality for women and girls. Ms. policy is to accept only mission-driven advertisements from primarily non-profit, non-partisan organizations that promote women’s equality, social justice, sustainable environment, and non-violence.

In Ms. magazine’s judgment, the ad submitted by AJCongress for consideration was inconsistent with this policy. Not only could the ad be seen as favoring certain political parties within Israel over other parties, but also with its slogan “This is Israel,” the ad implied that women in Israel hold equal positions of power with men. Israel, like every other country, has far to go to reach equality for women. As the Israel Women’s Network notes: “Women have consistently received symbolic representation in Israeli politics, at least sufficient enough to generate the myth of an open and egalitarian system.”

Indeed Israeli writers have reported in the pages of Ms. on the continuing efforts of the Israeli feminist movement to combat discrimination and achieve a larger voice for women in the country’s political arena.

In a feature length story in the Spring 2006 issue of Ms., Israeli feminist scholar/activist Alice Shalvi catalogued the ongoing struggles to rectify such inequalities, including increasing women’s representation in elected office and at the table negotiating for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Women only comprise 14% of the Israeli Knesset, placing Israel 74th in the world for women’s representation in government.

The AJCongress press release compared its ad with the cover story Ms. ran when Congressmember Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House. However, when Ms. featured Speaker Pelosi on its cover with the words “This is What a Speaker Looks Like,” we did not claim that “This is what the USA looks like.” Far from it, since women comprise only 17% of the Congress, ranking 65th in the world in women’s representation, and continue to face discrimination in every aspect of American society.


Wikipedia article about Ms. magazine

Ms. is an American feminist magazine founded by American feminist and activist Gloria Steinem, which first appeared in 1971 as an insert in New York magazine. The first stand-alone issue appeared in January 1972 with funding from New York editor Clay Felker. From July 1972 to 1987 it appeared on a monthly basis. During its heyday in the 1970s it enjoyed great popularity, but was not always able to reconcile its ideological concerns with commercial considerations. Since 2001, the magazine has been published by the Feminist Majority Foundation, based in Los Angeles and Arlington, Virginia.

Origins of the title

The title of Ms. magazine came from a friend of Gloria Steinem's who heard the term in an interview on WBAI radio and suggested it as a title for the new magazine. Modern use of Ms. as an honorific was conceived in 1961 by Sheila Michaels, thinking it was a typographical error. Michaels, who was illegitimate, and not adopted by her stepfather, had long grappled with finding a title that reflected her situation: not being "owned" by a father and not wishing to be "owned" by a husband. Her efforts to promote its use were ignored in the nascent Women’s Movement. Around 1971, during a lull in an interview with "The Feminists" group, Michaels suggested the use of the title "Ms." (having chosen a pronunciation current for both in Missouri, her home).

Controversy raged in the early 1970s over the "correct" title for women. Men had Mr. which gave no indication of their marital status since the formal address term "master" for an unmarried man had fallen largely into disuse; etiquette and business practices demanded that women use either Miss or Mrs. Many women did not want to be defined by their marital status and, for a growing number of women who kept their last name after marriage, neither Miss nor Mrs. was technically a correct title in front of that name.

Historic Milestones

Ms. made history when it published the names of women admitting to having had abortions when the procedure was still illegal in most of the United States. Running before the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the 1972 statement was an action of civil disobedience.[citation needed]

A 1976 cover story on battered women made Ms. the first national magazine to address the issue of domestic violence. The cover photo featured a woman with a bruised face.

Ms. magazine's credibility was damaged in the 80s and 90s when it became swept up in the day care sexual abuse hysteria and moral panic about Satanic ritual abuse.[1]

The "We Had Abortions" petition appears in the October 2006 issue as part of the issue's cover story. The petition contains signatures of over 5,000 women declaring that they had an abortion and were "unashamed of (the) decision", including actresses Amy Brenneman and Kathy Najimy, comedienne Carol Leifer, and Steinem herself.[2]

Recent Ownership

In 1987, it was bought by Fairfax, an Australian media company, headed by Sandra Yates. In 1989, concerned about a perceived 'Cher cover'-centered editorial direction under Anne Summers, American Feminists bought it back and began publishing the magazine without ads.

Robin Morgan and Marcia Ann Gillespie served respective terms as Editors in Chief of the magazine. Gillespie was the first African American woman to lead Ms. For a period, the magazine was published by MacDonald Communications Corp., which also published Working Woman and Working Mother magazines. Known since its inception for unique feminist analysis of current events, its 1991 change to an ad-free format also made it known for exposing the control that many advertisers assert over content in women's magazines.

In 1998, Gloria Steinem and other investors created Liberty Media and brought the magazine under independent ownership. It remained ad-free and won several awards, including an Utne award for social commentary. With Liberty Media facing bankruptcy in November 2001, the Feminist Majority Foundation purchased the magazine, dismissed Gillespie and staff, and moved editorial headquarters from New York to Los Angeles. Formerly bimonthly, the magazine has since published quarterly.

In the Spring 2002 issue commemorating the magazine's 30th year, Gloria Steinem and Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal noted the magazine's increased ability to "share research and resources, expand investigative journalism, and bring its readers the personal experience that has always been the source of the women's health movement."

In 2005, under editor-in-chief Elaine Lafferty, Ms. was nominated for National Magazine Award for Martha Mendoza's article "Between a Woman and Her Doctor". Despite this success, Lafferty left the magazine after only two years following various disagreements including the editorial direction on a cover story on Desperate Housewives,[3] and a perceived generation gap towards third-wave feminists and grunge music, a genre that Lafferty had trashed as being oppositional to feminism.[verification needed]

Over the years the magazine has featured articles written by and about many women and men at the forefront of business, politics, activism, and journalism. Writers have included Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Susan Faludi. The cover has featured comedian Wanda Sykes, performance artist Sarah Jones, Jane Fonda, actress Charlize Theron, Queen Noor of Jordan and former First Lady and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The magazine's investigative journalism broke several landmark stories on topics including overseas sweatshops, sex trafficking, the wage gap, the glass ceiling, date rape, and domestic violence.


"All the babies you can eat: Ms. magazine's reporting of unsubstantiated satanic rituals" by Brian Siano, Humanist, March-April 1993.

David Crary (October 3, 2006). Women Sign "We Had Abortions" Petition. Associated Press. Retrieved on 2007-04-12.

Sheelah Kolhatkar (April 14, 2005). 'Desperate Housewives' Causes Another Breakup. New York Observer. Retrieved on 2007-04-12.


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Nazi Archives open 

Museum Provides Detail From Nazi Archive

WASHINGTON, Fri Jan 18, 12:38 AM
Associated Press

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is offering to help survivors and their families navigate a vast Nazi archive that promises to document their persecution and provide clues to the fate of loved ones.

After months of work on more than 100 million digital images from the International Tracing Service archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany, the museum announced that it would begin answering requests from survivors and their families.

"This moment is a wonderful victory for survivors, although long overdue," museum director Sara J. Bloomfield said Thursday in a statement. "But the significance of ITS extends far beyond the survivor generation. With an increase in Holocaust denial and minimization, the evidence in this massive archive will serve as an authentic witness to the scope of the crimes of the Holocaust for many generations to come."

In August, the ITS began transferring the documents to the Washington museum and two others — Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem's outskirts, and the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw, Poland. The International Committee of the Red Cross administers the ITS archive.

The Washington museum will be the first of the three museums to begin answering large numbers of requests that researchers hope will help survivors and their families get long-sought answers to bitter questions. They believe even small details could prove invaluable to aging survivors.

"The reason that we got into this in the first place is that we heard from so many survivors and families that it was important for them psychologically," said Paul Shapiro, director of the museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. "Having a copy of a real document in your hand, perhaps seeing the signature of someone who you lost — that may be the only connection to a moment when that person was alive that you have got."

The museum has been accepting requests for information from survivors and their families since last month. It also has provided information to a small number of people as part of its efforts to learn how to search the immense archive and to train its researchers. Now it will begin responding on a larger scale.

Survivors and their families can make requests online on the museum's Web site. The museum also will provide request forms by mail or through a toll-free number, 866-912-4385.

The museum is warning that while the documents — transportation lists, Gestapo orders, camp registers, slave labor booklets, death books — refer to about 17.5 million people, they are not a comprehensive documentation of the fates of the millions of victims and survivors.

Most of the documents in the archive are written by hand, sometimes in old German script. They also contain variations in the spelling of names, many of which are recorded phonetically. That makes it impossible, for now, to convert large numbers of files to a digitally searchable form.

Shapiro says survivors who hope the files will contain important information on lost life insurance policies also may be frustrated, as researchers have not found evidence that the files contain that information.

Those hopes have been reflected in legal action by survivors. In a multimillion-dollar settlement between victims and the Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali, a federal judge ruled last year that a deadline for victims to file claims, now expired, could be extended until August if the Arolsen files turned up relevant information.

Despite the archive's limitations, historians believe the files' data on the 17.5 million individuals will add texture to the narrative of misery in the camps, where millions of people were worked to death or were simply exterminated with industrial efficiency. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust, one of every three Jews on Earth at the time.

Allied forces began collecting the documents even before the end of World War II and eventually entrusted them to the Red Cross. The archive has been governed since 1955 by a commission of 11 nations that ratified an accord in November that unsealed the archive.

The ITS has completed digitizing some 50 million index cards from shelves that would stretch 16 miles and fill a half-dozen buildings in Bad Arolsen. The remainder of the collection, relating to slave labor and displaced persons camps, will be transferred to the museums in installments between 2008 and 2010.

On the Net:

International Tracing Service: http://www.its-arolsen.org/

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: http://www.ushmm.org/

Yad Vashem: http://www.yadvashem.org/

Institute of National Remembrance: http://www.ipn.gov.pl/wai/en/10/5/

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nazi Archives Reveal Real Horrors 

German archives' opening helps Israeli man track his father's death in Holocaust

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent
Wed., January 16, 2008 Shvat 9, 5768

The last time 74-year-old Moshe Bar-Yoda saw his father, Avraham Kastner was about to be sent to a Nazi labor camp in Slovakia along with other residents of his Czech village.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum archives have a record of Kastner being sent to the camp on March 27, 1942, but there the documentary trail ended.

Although a witness testified before the rabbinate in 1948 that Kastner had been killed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust, Bar-Yoda, a journalist and Jewish Agency emissary, did not know any of the details and had no record of his father's death - until now.

Two weeks ago, Bar-Yoda became the first Israeli to receive information about the fate of family members via Yad Vashem since Germany's International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen opened its World War II archives to the public at the end of November.

The tracing service says it serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages.

The archives include more than 50 million references that contain information about more than 17 million people.

Although relatives of Nazi victims had previously been allowed to examine the archives, the records are now open to researchers around the world and have been digitally transferred to the Yad Vashem archives, making it easier for family members to conduct more precise searches and find out exactly what happened to their loved ones.

After searching the International Tracing Service records, Bar-Yoda discovered that his father's name appears on the list of the dead whose bodies were incinerated at the Majdanek death camp in Poland on September 7, 1942, six months after the two last saw each other.

Now, Bar-Yoda said, he can finally commemorate his father's passing on his yahrtzeit the day of his death instead of on the day designated for those who do not know the day of their loved one's death.

"Ater having said kaddish [the Jewish mourner's prayer] for him for 60 years on the general kaddish day on the fast of Asara B'Tevet, now I have a specific yahrtzeit," said Bar-Yoda. "And while it doesn't comfort me or make me happy, there is a kind of satisfaction here, that I can move forward."

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said Bar-Yoda's tale shows how the newly expanded collection of records can help the families of Holocaust victims.

"This story demonstrates how the tens of millions of documents collected by the Yad Vashem archives, in conjunction with the millions of new documents that have recently arrived and will arrive from the International Tracing Service archive in Germany over the next two years, will be able to help individuals fill in the picture about the fate of their loved ones in the Holocaust."

Yad Vashem had previously received many documents from the International Tracing Service, but will be bolstering its collection over the next two years. Bar-Yoda had looked through the Yad Vashem archives, which include microfilm of some 20 million documents received from the tracing service at the end of the 1950s. However, the Majdanek document did not reach the Bad Arolsen archives until the mid-1960s.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

President Bush: Auschwitz railtracks should have been bombed 

At Yad Vashem, Bush says U.S. erred in not bombing Auschwitz

By The Associated Press
Sun., January 13, 2008 Shvat 6, 5768

President Bush had tears in his eyes during an hour-long tour of Israel's Holocaust memorial Friday and told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should have bombed Auschwitz to halt the killing, the memorial's chairman said.

Bush emerged from a tour of the Yad Vashem memorial calling it a "sobering reminder" that evil must be resisted, and praising victims for not losing their faith.

Wearing a yarmulke, Bush placed a red-white-and-blue wreath on a stone slab that covers ashes of Holocaust victims taken from six extermination camps. He also lit a torch memorializing the victims.

Bush was visibly moved as he toured the site, said Yad Vashem's chairman, Avner Shalev.

"Twice, I saw tears well up in his eyes," Shalev said.

At one point, Bush viewed aerial photos of the Auschwitz camp taken during the war by U.S. forces and called Rice over to discuss why the American government had decided against bombing the site, Shalev said.

The Allies had detailed reports about Auschwitz during the war from Polish partisans and escaped prisoners. But they chose not to bomb the camp, the rail lines leading to it, or any of the other Nazi death camps, preferring instead to focus all resources on the broader military effort, a decision that became the subject of intense controversy years later.

Between 1.1 million and 1.5 million people were killed at the camp.

"We should have bombed it," Bush said, according to Shalev.

Upon viewing an aerial shot of Auschwitz, taken during the war by U.S. forces, Bush called the ruling not to bomb it "complex." He then called over Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's decision, clearly pondering the options before rendering an opinion of his own, Shalev told the Associated Press.

"We were talking about the often-discussed 'Could the United States have done more by bombing the train tracks?'" Rice told reporters later aboard Air Force One. "And so we were just talking about the various explanations that had been given about why that might not have been done."

Rice did not say what those reasons were.

Tom Segev, a leading Israeli scholar of the Holocaust, said the Bush comment, which appeared spontaneous, marked the first time an American president had made this acknowledgment.

"It is clear now that the U.S. knew a lot about it," he said. "It's possible that bombing at least the railway to the camps may have saved the lives of the Jews of Hungary. They were the very last ones who were sent to Auschwitz at a time when everybody knew what was going on."

But Segev said the question of a bombing is not so clear cut, noting that "it wasn't clear that the United States had the ability to carry out such an operation."

Eliezer Schweid, a professor of Jewish Thought at Israel's Hebrew University, said the question of a bombing is irrelevant in retrospect.

"World Jewish leadership was afraid to ask publicly for the Allies to bomb the death camps, believing that would turn the conflict into a war for the Jews," Schweid said.

In the memorial's visitors' book, the president wrote simply, "God bless Israel, George Bush."

The memorial was closed to the public and under heavy guard Friday, with armed soldiers standing on top of some of the site's monuments and a police helicopter and surveillance blimp hovering in the air overhead.

"I was most impressed that people in the face of horror and evil would not forsake their God. In the face of unspeakable crimes against humanity, brave souls - young and old - stood strong for what they believe," Bush said.

"I wish as many people as possible would come to this place. It is a sobering reminder that evil exists, and a call that when evil exists we must resist it," he said.

It was Bush's second visit to the Holocaust memorial, a regular stop on the visits of foreign dignitaries. His first was in 1998, as governor of Texas. The last U.S. president to visit was Bill Clinton in 1994.

Bush, making the most extensive Mideast trip of his presidency, was accompanied on his tour by a small party that included Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

At the compound, overlooking a forest on Jerusalem's outskirts, Bush visited a memorial to the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust, featuring six candles reflected 1.5 million times in a hall of mirrors. At the site's Hall of Remembrance, he heard a cantor sing a Jewish prayer for the dead.

Shalev presented Bush with illustrations of the Bible drawn by the Jewish artist Carol Deutsch, who perished in the Holocaust.

Deutsch created the works while in hiding from the Nazis in Belgium. He was informed upon, and died in 1944 in the Buchenwald camp. After the war, his daughter Ingrid discovered that the Nazis had confiscated their furniture and valuables but had left behind a single item: a meticulously crafted wooden box adorned with a Star of David and a seven-branched menorah, containing a collection of 99 of the artist's illustrations of biblical scenes.

The originals are on display at Yad Vashem. The memorial recently decided to produce a special series of 500 replicas, the first of which was to be presented to Bush.

Debbie Deutsch-Berman, a Yad Vashem employee whose grandfather was Deutsch's brother, said she was proud that Bush would be given her relative's artwork.

"These are not just his paintings, they are his legacy, and the fact that they survived shows that as much as our enemies tried to destroy the ideas that these paintings embody, they failed," she said.

Later Friday, Bush was to wrap up his three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories with a visit to Christian holy sites in Galilee before departing for Kuwait, the next stop on his Mideast tour.

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Modern German youth hate Jews 

Holocaust scholar: 'Jew' has become curse word among German youth

By Ofer Aderet, Haaretz Correspondent
Sun., January 13, 2008 Shvat 6, 5768

German schools are failing in educating students about the Holocaust, a new study by a political education center has found, as German youth, who one historian said use the word "Jew" as a common curse in daily discourse, are increasingly distant from the suffering of the victims of Nazism.

According to a study commissioned by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, a political education center known by its German acronym BPB, history courses no longer manage to teach Germany's younger generation of the horrors of the Nazis.

In the report, which appeared in the German educational magazine Focus-Shula, teachers are quoted as saying that they are having trouble impressing upon school children the horrors of the Holocaust, and have stated that their tools for teaching about the Shoah are not effective.

"The entire time we stood before the crematoriums of Auschwitz, the students took more interest in the types of pipes used to pump in the lethal Zyklon B gas, and not the fate of the Nazis victims," a teacher was quoted as saying.

In their words, this generation's students are less sensitive to the horrors of the Holocaust than any before.

The research also examines the role that immigrants have played in the changing attitudes towards the Shoah. Experts are quoted in the study as saying that there is a marked rise in the number of Muslims in Germany, many of whom see the teaching of the Holocaust as a veiled endorsement of the policies of the state of Israel.

"Out of fear of the students' reactions, many of the teachers avoid teaching this chapter of history in order to not be viewed by some students as supporters of Israel."

"The word 'Jew' has turned into one of the most common curse words among students in both east and west Germany," said Gottfried Cosler, a Frankfurt-based Holocaust scholar.

Robert Sigel, a historian who contributed to the study, is of the opinion that students are taking a great interest in the Holocaust, but that the methods in which the subject is taught today are in need of improvement.

"Often time the teachers, especially the more devoted ones, get carried away, and demand way too much of themselves," Sigel told Focus magazine. "They want to teach the facts and at the same time get across a moral message, call for education and tolerance, deal with the extreme right and prevent anti-Semitism. They put all this material into the subject, and it's too much."

Susan Orban, a historian at Yad Vashem, says that the Holocaust should be taught using methods that have proved successful in the past.

"Today's kids live in different times than that of Anne Frank," Orban said. In order to bridge the generational gap, she submits a different approach, "for example, asking them to imagine that they have to abruptly leave their homes and start a new life elsewhere." Such a method, according to Orban, would speak more directly to the children's hearts and minds than descriptions of the horrors of the concentration camp.

Sigel expressed similar sentiments, adding that the children of immigrants have shown particular interest to the victims of Nazism given that many of them suffered from racial persecution, religious intolerance, and even genocide in their native lands.

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