The Forward, February 25, 2014
A caricature of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in a German newspaper has drawn charges of anti-Semitism against the artist and newspaper.
As a comment on Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, announced last week, artist Burkhard Mohr depicted the 29-year-old Jewish entrepreneur as an octopus reaching with its tentacles to control social media in the daily German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. With its exaggerated features, including a long nose and thick lips, the cartoon octopus resembles in more ways than one the cartoons published by the rabidly anti-Semitic Julius Streicher in his Nazi-era ”Der Stuermer” magazine.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has protested the depiction, The center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told the Algemeiner newspaper that the cartoon was “an outrage” that proves the artist is anti-Semitic.
But Mohr denied harboring any such sentiments: He told the Jerusalem Post he was shocked by the interpretation of his drawing, and apologized. Mohr has replaced the caricature of Zuckerberg’s face with a gaping maw.
By Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, January 21, 2014
Professor Robert Wistrich had bought a ticket to Paris to attend the opening of an exhibition he wrote about the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel, which was supposed to take place Monday at the headquarters of UNESCO. But after the exhibition was indefinitely postponed, without prior warning, due to Arab pressure, he canceled and decided to stay in Jerusalem.
Speaking to The Times of Israel, Wistrich – the exhibition’s sole author – said it would be a “euphemism” to say he was unhappy about the sudden death of an exhibition that took him nearly two years of hard work to complete. It showed UNESCO’s “contempt for the Jewish people and its history,” he said.
“This is such a betrayal. To do it in this way is so disgraceful,” fumed Wistrich, who directs the Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and is one of the world’s leading authorities in the field. An “appalling act,” the cancellation “completely destroyed any claim that UNESCO could possibly have to be representing the universal values of toleration, mutual understanding, respect for the other and narratives that are different, engaging with civil society organizations and the importance of education. Because there’s one standard for Jews, and there’s another standard for non-Jews, especially if they’re Arabs, but not only.”
UNESCO’s decision to cancel the exhibit allows just one conclusion, Wistrich added: “That at the end of the day, their mandate, which is to be the United Nations’ organization for the promotion of education, culture and science, is in fact subjected, entirely, to political considerations.”
Wistrich also claimed that UNESCO only agreed to host the exhibition to improve its image in the United States, hoping to get the administration to start funding the organization again, after it stopped paying when UNESCO admitted “Palestine” as a member. The historian also took aim at the Obama administration, suggesting the State Department was schizophrenic because it had refused to cosponsor the exhibition — invoking the same reasons that Arab member states used when working successfully to torpedo it — yet later condemned the fact that it was canceled.
By Robert Zaretsky, The Forward, February 14, 2014
On this side of the Atlantic, the imminent publication in Germany of Martin Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks” (“Schwarzen Hefte”) has caused few if any ripples. For better or worse, the philosopher who theorized about “absence from the world” has been largely absent from our world.
Yet in Europe, a surf-like pounding in newspapers and magazines has accompanied the debate over the book’s significance. Several phrases leaked from the book have reintroduced some of the great questions about Heidegger: Namely, was he anti-Semitic and, if so, was his existential philosophy fatally compromised?
Oddly, the waves of controversy have crashed with greater fury in France than Heidegger’s native Germany, not to mention the Anglo-American world. Of course, this in part reflects the waning, but still important role intellectuals play in French cultural and political life. This interest in turn inevitably spills into the national press, whose front pages have carried numerous interviews and columns on the controversy, leading one literary critic, Eric Aeschimann, to announce the arrival of the “new Heidegger Affair.”
By Kevin Rollason, Winnipeg Free Press, February 7, 2014
Does art stolen by Nazi soldiers from European galleries and private owners grace the walls of the Winnipeg Art Gallery?
A federally funded pilot project co-ordinated by the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO) aims to find out.
Stephen Borys, the WAG's director and CEO and also CAMDO president, said the $200,000 provided by the federal government, along with another $200,000 privately raised by the six galleries involved, will allow them to do "provenance research" -- determine the documented history of each painting's ownership through the years.
Borys said the two starting points for the project are works created in 1945 and earlier for which the provenance is not known between the years 1933 and 1945. "This is something we have been doing for years -- we do provenance research all the time -- so it's nothing new," he said.
"But this program allows us to bring in two internationally renowned researchers to work with our team. We can start looking in a much broader way." The issue is topical -- this weekend, the movie The Monuments Men, starring George Clooney, opens in theatres.
It's based on the true story of a platoon ordered by then-U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt to recover and return to the owners artworks the Nazis stole and took to Germany before and during the Second World War.
"There's a heightened presence," Borys said. "And now, 70 years after the Second World War, the people who would know the pieces are theirs are gone." But he said artworks can be returned to their rightful owners by something as simple as a note in a diary describing a piece.
Catherine Chatterley, an adjunct professor of history at the University of Manitoba, said it's believed the Nazis stole hundreds of thousands of art pieces -- as much as 20 per cent of the artworks in Europe.
"When the Germans invaded the countries of Europe, they raided museums, art galleries, libraries and research institutes, stealing works of art, books, religious objects, coins, medal collections -- anything of value," she said.
"France and Italy were particularly affected by the greatest theft in European history, but so was the Soviet Union, with over 173 museums raided...
"The collections were first picked over by (Nazi leaders) Hermann Gring and Adolf Hitler for their own private use, then the remainder was transported back to Germany. The most valuable items, mostly paintings and sculptures, were held in salt mines and caves so as to be protected from aerial bombardment."
Chatterley said the haul included works by Matisse, Dégas, Picasso, Botticelli and Raphael and marble sculptures by Donatello and Michelangelo. She said stolen artworks are still being found, citing a case about two years ago where more than 1,400 pieces were discovered in a Munich apartment. "The apartment owner's father had worked for the Nazis, trading in their stolen artwork."
Chatterley said it's not unusual for major art galleries to have art with provenance voids during the war years. That includes the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., with more than 400 works, the Art Institute of Chicago, with more than 500, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with 393.
Pointing at a large painting entitled Madonna, painted in 1662 by Juan Carreno de Miranda, Borys said: "We're looking at 300 years of provenance.
"One of the first things to be destroyed or moved during war is culture."
Borys said gallery acquisitions have changed in the last few decades. "If we want to buy an 18th-century painting today, we want to know where it was. We would never buy a piece of art now that has large gaps in its provenance. "The biggest challenge is to get private collectors to co-operate. You can't force a private collector to say, 'I will co-operate.' "
By Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2014
On the surface, it is very moving to see half of the members of Knesset at Auschwitz marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
But in a larger sense, it is not at all clear why this is necessary.
The Jewish people have Yom HaShoah V’Hagevura, our own national day of mourning for the genocide of our people in Europe. More importantly, we carry the legacy of the Holocaust inside of us.
Every day, at some level, we experience the ulcerative loss of a third of the Jewish people in the hell of Europe, because we feel the hollow absence of the victims.
The six million murdered have become 10 million descendants who were never born. And we miss them. We remember them too, every day, when we look at our children and thank God we can protect them.
Israel does not need this extra Holocaust memorial day. And before we send another delegation of elected officials to Auschwitz next January 27, we need to ask whether this extra day serves any positive purpose.
By Don Snyder, The Forward, January 18, 2014
A majority of respondents in a recent Polish national survey believe that there’s a Jewish conspiracy to control international banking and the media. And 90% of these Poles say they’ve never met a Jew.
The national study, conducted by the Center for Research on Prejudice at Warsaw University, found that in Poland, the belief in a Jewish conspiracy remains high – 63% in 2013 – and relatively unchanged from 2009 when 65% of respondents held this belief.
The study also found an 8 percent increase in more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, including blaming Jews for the murder of Jesus Christ and the belief that Christian blood is used in Jewish rituals. Some 23% were found to hold such traditional, religious-based beliefs about Jews.
The study’s findings were presented to the Polish Sejm, or parliament, on January 9 by Michal Bilewicz, director of the Center for Research on Prejudice. Bilewicz, an assistant professor on the faculty of psychology at the University of Warsaw, is co-author of the report.
A family photo of Heinrich Himmler in Valepp, Bavaria in 1935. The picture shows Himmler with his wife Marga, back right, his daughter Gudrun, front center, his son Gerhard, front right, and a friend of Gudrun, front left. The photo is part of a trove of letters, notes and photos that were in possession of an Israeli family.
Die Welt, January 25, 2014
He was responsible for the death of millions, organizer of the Holocaust, head of SS and Gestapo. His letters, photos and notes had been considered lost. Now they are published here for the first time.
There was noticeable tension on that Thursday in June. Rumors went around. It had been speculated that there could be "a profound change in the relationship with the Soviet Union". That is what the messages by the leading circles of the Nazi party to the Third Reich's Ministry of Propaganda said. All leave for the members of the Wehrmacht had been cancelled. Something was going to happen on this weekend. Everyone who knew anything about how the Nazis' apparatus of power worked knew that. And it was known that Adolf Hitler had made it his habit to launch his political and military offensives on a Sunday.
Heinrich Himmler, "Reichsführer SS", Chief of the German Police and the Reich's Commissioner for the "Festigung des deutschen Volkstums" (Consolidation oft he German Race) cancelled the ban on leave for himself. For 36 hours he flew from his Berlin office to his private home at Lake Tegernsee, where his wife Marga and his daughter Gudrun were waiting for him. The small family made a trip to the idyllic Valepp valley and had their pictures taken happily frolicking in nature. It was 19 June 1941.
"There is still one can of caviar in the fridge."
Himmler didn't say a word about this to his wife Marga. For all we know the upcoming events were not mentioned during the hastily organized family holiday. Did Himmler give any hints? "Now we are at war again. I knew it. I didn't sleep well at all", Marga Himmler wrote to her husband shortly after hearing the news about the beginning of the attack on the Soviet Union in the morning of 22 June 1941. But as a caring wife she also had some good advice for her husband: "There is still one can of caviar in the fridge. Take it."
His daughter Gudrun sent a letter to her father on that historic Sunday. "It's terrible that we are going to war with Russia. They were our allies after all." And the not even twelve-year-old girl added another concern in her letter: "Russia is sooo big. The struggle will be very difficult if we want to conquer all of Russia."
Gudrun's father had to learn the hard way how true that prediction turned out to be. Two days after the attack he made his way to Hitler's East Prussian headquarters "Wolfsschanze" in his personal train "Heinrich". Although he tried to call his home in Gmund almost every day he still forgot a very important date. "I felt so sorry that I forgot our wedding anniversary for the first time," Heinrich wrote to Marga on 7 July 1941, four days late. "There was quite a lot going on these days" adding that "the fighting is very hard, especially for the SS".
Very Personal Documents of a War Criminal
The letter is one of about 700 sent by Heinrich Himmler to his wife. They are the very personal documents of a war criminal that now have become available to the "Welt am Sonntag", almost 69 years after the end of the war and the suicide of the head of the SS. They are published here for the very first time. The letters, along with other private documents – many previously unknown photographs, diaries and the estate of Himmler's foster son Gerhard von der Ahé – were considered lost for decades and have been kept in a private home in Israel for some time. They are currently stored in a vault in Tel Aviv. The director Vanessa Lapa, who based her documentary about Himmler on that material, owns them now. Her documentary "The Decent" will premier on 9 February at the 2014 Berlinale film festival. "Die Welt" financially supported the production of the documentary.
Especially Himmler's early letters to his wife seem to be mundane at first glance. But they reveal a lot about the mindset of a cold-blooded, self-righteous bureaucrat, who became the mastermind and chief organizer of the Holocaust.
Professor Frederick Krantz
Isranet Editorial, December 24, 2013
Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
The American Studies Association’s embrace of “BDS” restrictions against democratic Jewish Israel has been condemned in many quarters. That it is based on ignorance, hypocrisy and implicit anti-Semitism goes almost without saying; that the motion was passed by a small voting minority of the 5,000- member association is less known. But what concerns me here are the implications of its action as a professional academic group, which raise questions about the appropriateness of professional associations and other corporate groups, and above all universities, taking overt political positions.
As a professional association, the ASA's primary purpose is to promote the professional concerns of its academic members, not to take highly ideological and politicized public positions (which--as in the case of this group--often do not in any case represent the majority of their members: only ca.40% of the ASA membership voted, and of that group, over a third, I gather, opposed the motion, meaning a minority of the overall membership determined its policy).
But the key issue, nevertheless, isn't whether a clear majority did, or didn't, support the ASA's action. It is about whether it is appropriate for academic entities--colleges and universities, and the Faculties and departments which compose them, as well as professional academic associations-to take public political positions binding on all their members.
In terms of these unique institutions, the key consideration, and principle, must be respect for academic freedom (as the American Association of University Professors, in opposing academic boycotts of any kind, has affirmed). Above all, care must be taken not to violate the rights of individual faculty members. As importantly, we are citizens before we are "faculty", and as such our primary political arena--within which political action is not only legitimate, but incumbent on us, and where rights and freedoms are guaranteed by constitutions, human rights charters and civil law--is not the university or professional association, but the state, or "society", generally.
Anna Blech won first prize at the New York City History Day competition for her research paper, "Downplaying the Holocaust: Arthur Hays Sulzberger and The New York Times." For this paper, she also was awarded The Eleanor Light Prize from the Hunter College High School Social Studies Department and membership in the Society of Student Historians.
Tablet Magazine, December 12, 2013
A newly published collection reminds that grotesque images of Jews were routinely mailed by ordinary people around the world.
The following is excerpted from Hatemail: Anti-Semitism on Picture Postcards by Salo Aizenberg and Michael Berenbaum.
The first anti-Semitic postcards were issued in the 1890s at the same time that postcards in general were becoming popular. In fact, there was a convergence between the start of the Golden Era and the Dreyfus Affair. In this famous incident that began in 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a patriotic French army captain, was falsely accused of passing military secrets to the German military attaché in Paris. Even though there was no visible motive and all the evidence was circumstantial, the blame was laid on Dreyfus for one reason: his Jewish heritage. Dreyfus was convicted in 1895 in a sham trial that featured “secret” evidence that Dreyfus’ lawyer was not allowed to examine; the army invoked national security as a reason to keep the documents hidden. Even after the army became aware of the real spy and of the fact that some of the evidence against Dreyfus had been forged, Dreyfus was reconvicted in a second trial held in 1899 (after he had spent four years in harsh prison conditions on Devil’s Island). Fortunately, Dreyfus was pardoned by the French president 10 days after his second conviction, but he was still not exonerated. Only in 1906 did the court declare him completely innocent.
The Dreyfus Affair reached deep into French politics and society, splitting the nation between those who supported nationalism, the church, and a military that spared no effort to continue the cover-up; and intellectuals, progressives, and a small handful of brave politicians and army officials who wanted to learn the truth and promote an equal society. Underneath the drama was the unmistakable anti-Semitic nature of the affair and its influence on the fate of the entire nation. The Dreyfus Affair was also important as one of the factors that influenced Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, to determine that anti-Semitism could not be eliminated and that the Jews needed their own homeland. The affair still resonates, with new books written each year about the incident and its relevance to current events. The Dreyfus Affair was the perfect subject for postcards at the time, since it included all types of sensational events, such as political scandals, forgeries, a suicide, arrests, and, of course, anti-Semitism.
The postcards shown in Hatemail cover multiple nations, every stereotype, and every form of hatred. They depict Jewish men, women, and children with large noses, grotesque feet, deformed bodies, ugly faces, and poor hygiene; money-hungry Jews; rich, crafty, cheap, and cunning Jews; Jews in control of the world; Jews as animals and demons; and Jews as cheaters. They show Jews being ridiculed, mocked, attacked, excluded, and expelled. The reader will not be spared the full extent of the hatred; I believe many will be shocked at what is shown in this book. Even readers who have previously studied anti-Semitism and its messages might be surprised to realize the evil that could be placed on a simple postcard and widely used around the world by “regular” people living in what were considered to be enlightened democracies. Germany, France (including its North African territories that had significant Jewish populations), Great Britain, and the United States were the leaders. Austria, Hungary, and Poland were also key participants. Fewer examples are found in other nations, not necessarily because anti-Semitism was weaker, but because postcards were published in much fewer numbers in these locations. Each country’s postcards had a distinct style of anti-Semitism.
As mentioned, Germany ranked first in anti-Semitic postcards, producing images that immediately cut to the heart of the matter: Jews are filthy animals that deserve to be persecuted, expelled, and excluded from society. French postcards were a close second in their vileness. Images of Jews in control of the world or as evil or ugly money grabbers are the main motifs in French anti-Semitic postcards. Those from other nations, especially Great Britain and the United States, were sold almost exclusively as “humorous” souvenirs—but the anti-Semitism was still palpable. British anti-Semitic postcards generally avoided the worst forms of imagery, instead focusing on large nosed Jews as conniving and money-hungry. American anti-Semitic postcards are the least virulent, focusing almost entirely on images of Jews being greedy. American postcards also ridiculed the physical features of Jews, drawing not only large noses, but also large hands and awkward mannerisms. The postcards in this book all come from my personal collection, which I have been amassing for the last 10 years. The more than 250 examples depicted here are only a small sample of the many thousands of different types that were printed, but they will take the reader through the many permutations of hatred for Jews and help us to better understand a phenomenon that still exists throughout the world today.
Copyright © 2013 by The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. Published by University of Nebraska Press as a Jewish Publication Society book. All rights reserved.