World Briefs 1-31-12

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The last Jew in Afghanistan

Click photo to download. Caption: Zebolon Zimontov is the last Jew in Afghanistan. Credit: Channel 4 News.Zebolon Simontov has the unique position of being a religious minority of one. Wearing a Kipa, and occasionally kissing a photograph of his former wife and two daughters, now in Israel, Simontov spoke to the UK’s Channel 4 News about being the last Jew in Afghanistan.

Simontov now prays in an abandoned synagogue near his apartment, and has lived through Communism, the Taliban, and the mujaheddin.

“The Taliban told me to become a Muslim, but I told them to become Jews,” Simontov joked. He spoke openly about his political views, warning the U.S. and the U.K. against leaving Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries, claiming that “the [Taliban, and other Islamists] would come in and seek to carve up this country all over again.”

-JointMedia News Service

Belgium as anti-Semitic today as in 1930s

Israeli Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein told European dignitaries and Jewish leaders last week that Belgium is still experiencing anti-Semitism at a level equal to that in the late 1930s, the Jerusalem Post reported. Belgium is home to about 40,000 Jews and recent studies have shown a 60 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the country. 

“A brick hurled at a Jewish shop. A Molotov cocktail at a rabbi’s house. A Jewish girl attacked at school. These aren’t memories of Europe in 1938, but headlines in 2011,” Edelstein said in a speech during his recent visit to Belgium. The speech was in honor of the country's chairmanship of the intergovernmental Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research. The country will take over as task force leader in March of this year.

Julius Berman, chairman of the Claims Conference, said that all member countries need to educate about the Holocaust in schools, and teach not only about the murders of Jews but also about the theft of their property. Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo also promised to “fight and oppose any anti- Semitic incident” via video address.

-JointMedia News Service

Austrian far-right leaders call themselves “new Jews”

Austrian far-right politicians held an annual ball, frequented by members of neo-Nazi groups in the past, and then compared protests against the ball to Nazi persecution of Jews, the Associated Press reported.

Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache and associate Klaus Nittmann received strong condemnation for their comments. Strache said that protests against the ball are “like Kristallnacht” and added, “we are the new Jews.” Nittmann continued, “whoever works for this ball immediately gets a Jew star pinned on him.”

Austria's Jewish community demanded an investigation into the comments. Karl Oelligner of the opposition Green Party said that someone making such comments "has either lost his marbles or is trying to trivialize the horrors of Nazi rule." Hannes Rauch from the coalition People's Party called it "an open slap in the face for all those who were victims of the criminal National Socialist regime."

-JointMedia News Service

Turkey says Mashaal’s stay in the country is ‘out of the question’

Click photo to download. Caption: The Turkish government has refused to let Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, pictured here, stay in the country. Credit: TrangoTurkey has dismissed recent claims that Hamas is planning to move its political headquarters to the country and that Ankara promised aid to the Palestinian terror group, Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported on Monday.

Turkish government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc, speaking at a news conference on Monday, said that a relocation of Hamas' headquarters to Turkey was "out of the question," and denied reports the Turkish government would give the group millions of dollars in aid, according to Israel Hayom.

Today's Zaman quoted Arinc as saying that the Turkish government had recognized Hamas as the organization governing Gaza, and that Hamas political bureau chief “Khaled Mashaal’s stay in Turkey is out of question."

Arinc's comments come after diplomatic sources said recently that Turkey promised to give Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's government $300 million. Turkey, unlike other NATO members, recognizes Hamas as a legitimate political party.

-JointMedia News Service

Jihadi comic strip depicts Jews as child traffickers

A recent jihadi comic strip portrays a man bearing Jewish characteristics—as well as the name “Cohen”—raising children under “harsh conditions” with the intent to train them as soldiers, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Qasf Al-Ru'ood,” a member of the jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam, posted this story in which the soldiers are outwardly depicted as heroes, but “miserable” and seeking “love and happiness” on the inside.

By the end, one of the soldiers converts to Islam and declares that he has become a “true human being.”

—JointMedia News Service

Turkey broadcasts holocaust documentary on public television

Click photo to download. Caption: Claude Lanzmann (R) spent 11 years working on the holocaust documentary, "Shoah", which was broadcast in Turkey on Thursday evening. Credit: Roman Bonnefoy. Marking a first in history, Turkey broadcast the first episode of the nearly 10 hour French documentary film about the holocaust, “Shoah”, The Associated Press reported. This was the first time a film about the holocaust had been shown on public television in a Muslim-majority country.

The film, which was subtitled into Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish by the Aladdin Project (a group that aims to promote Muslim-Jewish understanding) was shown on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"It is a historical event," said Claude Lanzmann, the filmmaker, in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Paris. "It is extremely important that it is being shown in a Muslim country."

JointMedia News Service

German Foundation cuts funding to pro-Nakba NGO

The German Shoah Foundation EVZ will no longer fund Israeli NGO Zochrot, which strives to promote awareness of the Palestinian “Nakba” among Israeli Jews. The Palestinians use the term, which means catastrophe in Arabic, to describe Israel’s 1948 Independence War and the 700,000 Palestinians who fled Israel during that war.

“This is a significant victory in the battle to hold funders accountable for their support of NGOs involved in demonization. Zochrot, a radical Israeli NGO, supports the Palestinian claim to a ‘Right of Return’—which has no legal basis and would end the existence of Israel as the Jewish nation-state—endorsed the violent ‘Free Gaza Flotilla,’ and falsely accused Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘forcible displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people,’” Professor Gerald Steinberg, head of NGO Monitor, told the Jerusalem Post.

EVZ Spokesman Eugene Esau said in an email to the newspaper that “the support for the projects from Zochrot contractually ended on December 31, 2011.”

—JointMedia News Service

Nations commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day

Nations around the world marked the International Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday, Jan. 27, also the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said Germany must fight against all forms of extremism, citing a recent study that showed that 20 percent of Germans are still anti-Semitic. “In Germany, that’s 20 percent too much,” he said, according to Deutsche Welle.

Literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki, 91, also addressed the German parliament. The Polish Jew was imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto, and his parents were murdered in the Treblinka extermination camp. “What was called the ‘relocation of the Jews’ was simply... the deportation from Warsaw. It had only one goal, it had only one purpose—death,” he said.

—JointMedia News Service

UK ultra-Orthodox kosher-certify cell phones

Click photo to download. Caption: The ultra-Orthodox community in the U.K. kosher-certified a number of cell phones with calling-only capability. Credit: Laihiu.The United Kingdom’s ultra-Orthodox Jews are concerned certain cell phones can lead members of the community astray from the religion’s values. To combat this, the community has decided to kosher-certify phones with certain features, so that the ultra-Orthodox can still enjoy the benefits of mobile technology.

“Anything that can be used to enhance Judaism is welcomed,” said Rabbi Chanoch Kesselman, who represents the British Rabbinate, according to Public Radio International. “But like so many things there are uses and abuses.”

“The rabbinate was very concerned that cell phones with texting facility should not be used by youngsters,” Kesselman added, because texting can encourage “immodest” exchanges.

As a solution, the rabbinate has officially blessed a series of phones for use in the community. These are essentially phones that have no other features except calling capability. Because the ultra-Orthodox community in the U.K. is relatively small, it wasn’t practical to make these changes through the cellular companies. Instead, the changes “were from the hardware and software in the device.”

“No cameras allowed, no SMS allowed, no Internet allowed,” said Maxi Rose from Rose Communications, the company selling the phones. 

—JointMedia News Service


Posted on January 30, 2012 and filed under Briefs, World.