Saturday, April 15, 2017

From Ian:

Meet The Men Who Fought Hitler — And Fought Dirty
In the hours and days following the invasion of Normandy, allied soldiers sacrificed their lives on the northern shore of France for one goal: to establish a beachhead. The time had come to fight Adolph Hitler’s army and push it eastward toward the German border, but to do that they first needed to gain a solid foothold on the continent. While many are familiar with the heroism of the soldiers who stormed the beaches, few know about a much smaller group of men and women behind enemy lines who helped to ensure their success.
In preparation for D-Day, a highly secretive British department known as Baker Street worked to drop 250 saboteurs behind enemy lines with one purpose: to stop the German army from sending supplies and reinforcements to Normandy. These guerillas were tasked with a massive coordinated sabotage mission to frustrate and block Hitler’s war machine in any and all ways possible. Especially important was stopping Germany’s most lethal division, the 2nd SS Panzer Division, Das Reich.
One saboteur destroyed all of Das Reich’s tank transporters by replacing the axle oil with axle grease mixed with an abrasive, forcing the division to travel by road and damaging six out of every 10 tanks. A separate team then barraged Das Reich with sabotage after sabotage, including felling trees in their path and planting bombs beneath them. In the end, what should have been a 72-hour journey took Hitler’s crack tank division 17 days—enough time for the allies to establish their beachhead.
Baker Street is the focus of Giles Milton’s latest book, Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat, which follows the department from its inauspicious beginnings in a small office in Caxton Street to its hundreds of successful sabotage missions around the world, culminating in the allied landing in Normandy.
Anti-Semitism envoy post to be filled, State Dept. says
The Trump administration will appoint a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, according to State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
The envoy post has been vacant since Trump took office in January. On Thursday, JTA reported that the envoy’s office staff could be eliminated soon due to new State Department employment rules. The envoy is responsible for keeping tabs on global anti-Semitism and advising other countries in fighting it.
In a statement to JTA Friday, Toner didn’t address whether the staff would remain intact. But he said the department will continue its work to protect religious freedoms globally, and that it has selected candidates for the envoy post. Toner did not say when the envoy would be appointed.
Several senior positions at the State Department remain vacant.
“The Department remains committed to advancing the protection of basic human freedoms and values including the unimpeded practice of religion and protection of communities of faith from persecution in every form,” the statement said. “There have been no actions taken to limit or close the offices in the Department dedicated to this pursuit. Candidates have been identified for this role.”
Silence in Paris
What does it mean when no one talks about a brutal murder?
As every married person knows, silences can be pregnant with meaning, even if the meaning is not immediately clear. The silence in the French press about a recent startling event in Paris is surely pregnant with meaning. On Monday, April 3, an Orthodox Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, a doctor aged 66, was thrown out of a window to her death by an African man aged 27. He was her neighbor in the flats where she lived. According to witnesses, whose testimony has yet to be confirmed, the man, who had been harassing her with insults for several days, shouted “Allahu akbar!” as he threw her.
Also, according to unconfirmed reports, neighbors had called the police because of the young man’s behavior. Three policemen came but did nothing, deciding that it was up to other authorities, presumably psychiatric, to act. At any rate, the young man was transferred to a psychiatric clinic almost immediately after his arrest.
He had a history of delinquency and in all probability had taken drugs. It seems likely that he was in a state of psychotic excitement, whether drug-induced, drug-exacerbated or purely endogenous, at the time of his crime.
But it has been known for a long time that the delusions of madness take on the coloring of the culture of those who suffer them. (De Quincey says, in The Confessions of an English Opium Eater, that if a man thinks of oxen, his opium dreams will be of oxen.) It would be stretching credulity to suggest that the young man’s victim was chosen at random, that he might just as well have chosen someone else. If this is so, it reveals something unpleasant about the man’s cultural milieu.



Why I don’t identify with the Israeli left
A recent Haaretz op-ed excoriating the National Religious community in Israel as being worse than Hezbollah has been making the rounds and mucking up controversy. The op-ed reminds me of a conversation I had shortly after moving to Israel, where I identified myself as left-wing.
“I’m left-wing too – but if you’re left-wing, how can you live in Jerusalem? There are so many ultra-Orthodox people and Arabs. As a left-wing person, I hate spending time with people who are intolerant!”
That was the moment when I first realized that, although I do have some very left-wing political views, the Israeli left might not be the right fit for me. I enjoy talking to and learning from people from different cultures — including ultra-Orthodox and Arab people. I know plenty of committed left-wing Israelis who feel the way I do, and who are doing great work promoting tolerance and human rights, fighting for a version of Zionism that I believe in.
But I still don’t feel at home in Israeli left-wing politics, in part because I have also encountered the three stereotypes below.
There Must Be Limits to American Jewish Community’s ‘Big Tent’
What is the one value that the Jewish community should care most about?
To listen to many who run Jewish organizations and communal philanthropies, the answer is inclusion. At a time when it is difficult to engage young people, maintaining a “big tent” is a sacred concept. Drawing a line and declaring those on the other side to be outside the community is not merely seen as divisive, but as antithetical to the preservation of the community.
But the left-wing group that calls itself Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) seems determined to prove that inclusiveness can be a highly overrated virtue.
Some of JVP’s leaders like to describe the group as pro-peace, and ‘agnostic’ about Zionism. But there’s no doubt where the organization’s loyalties lie.
JVP is an ardent supporter of the BDS movement, which wages economic warfare against Israel. And JVP works with the most virulently anti-Zionist and pro-BDS groups in America, including the openly antisemitic Students for Justice in Palestine. JVP also promotes a narrative about the Middle East conflict that treats the creation of Israel as a “nakba,” or catastrophe, and regards the sole democracy in the region as an illegitimate state.
And while it may have started out as a marginal band of leftists, JVP’s willingness to openly attack the idea of a Jewish state has enabled it to displace J Street as the primary voice of the Jewish left.
Though J Street’s stances pit the group against the views of the overwhelming majority of Israelis, it still bills itself as both “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace.” In an era when the radical left is gaining strength among those who call themselves progressives, that’s enough to make J Street either too moderate or too Zionist for many, such as the JVP, who have bought into the lies about Israel being an “apartheid state.”
Upside-down Down Under
Here’s a riddle for our politically twisted times: when is a black woman a white supremacist? Answer: when she speaks out against female genital mutilation, sharia law, and jihadism.
This is the tortured logic of the feminist Left in Australia, which helped stop a lecture tour by the human rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Anonymous protestors warned venues and insurers not to have dealings with the Somali-born, anti-radical-Islam activist if they wanted to avoid “trouble.” The “Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia, Inc.” accused Hirsi Ali of being part of the “Islamophobia industry . . . that exists to dehumanize Muslim women.” Another group, “Persons of Interest,” took to Facebook to describe her ideas: “This is the language of patriarchy and misogyny. This is the language of white supremacy. This is the language used to justify war and genocide.”
Hirsi Ali canceled her trip in early April, only days before she was due to speak in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Auckland, New Zealand. In Australia, as in the UK, the costs of security have to be borne by event organizers, not the government, as is the case in the U.S. Perhaps there were disagreements between the speaker and her sponsors about security. In any case, Hirsi Ali travels with armed guards, but it was still too dangerous for her to speak in public. Yes, in Australia.
Iran's creeping crescent and Israel's greatest strategic threat
ON MARCH 15, the bloody and tragic civil war in Syria marked its sixth anniversary.
Half a million people have been killed, one million wounded and 10 million – nearly half the population – have been uprooted and are now refugees.
Occasionally, the world pays lip service, but mostly remains mute and shows its cynicism in face of the atrocities.
All involved parties, from the region and outside, care solely about their interests with little compassion for the human cost.
Though Israel opened a field hospital on its Syrian border and has so far treated 3,000 wounded Syrians, it is no exception.
Israeli policy is non-interventionist, with three exceptions related to its national security interests and defined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all defense ministers as “red lines.”
One is that the IDF retaliates from air and land, whenever shells and rockets land on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights regardless of whether the Israeli side of the border was targeted intentionally or not.
Another is the establishment of terrorist networks near the Israeli border; attempts to do so have resulted in the assassination of Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah commanders.
The third and most important exception is the occasional bombing, without admission, of convoys carrying and warehouses storing long-range accurate missiles sent from Iran via Syria and destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad says Trump can’t hurt ‘powerful’ Iran
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday he does not view recent US missile strikes on ally Syria as a message for Iran, which he called a “powerful country” that the US cannot harm.
The controversial former president made the remarks to The Associated Press on Saturday in his office in northern Tehran, three days after he stunned Iranians by registering to run for president again.
His surprise candidacy must still be approved by authorities but has already upended a race that was widely expected to be won by incumbent moderate Hassan Rouhani.
Ahmadinejad dismissed suggestions that the US strike on Syria might also be a warning for his country.
“I do not think it has a message for Iran. Iran is a powerful country and people like Mr. Trump or the United States administration cannot hurt Iran,” he said.
PLO official: Settlers now inhabit the White House
As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas prepares to visit Washington to meet President Donald Trump, a top member of his administration lashed out at Trump’s team, saying the White House is inhabited by Israeli settlers.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said Saturday that the Israeli right has penetrated the American administration.
“We used to say there were settlers in the Israeli coalition borne of the far right that detests Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. But today we say there are settlers inside the White House,” she said, in comments reported by the Ynet news website.
“The administration has adopted the extreme Israeli position to the right of (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and which supports the settlements.”
An exact date for the Trump-Abbas meeting has not been set, but a Palestinian advance team is reportedly expected to visit Washington DC later this month.
Palestinian campaign demands UK apologize for Balfour Declaration
More than 11,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the British government to formally apologize for the Balfour Declaration, a letter written by British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour in 1917 expressing Britain’s support for the establishment of a Jewish state in historic Palestine(sic.).
The petition was recently launched by the Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) and calls for the British government “to openly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration.”
The 100th anniversary of the Declaration, which many see as the document that paved the way for a Jewish state in Israel, will be marked in November, and British Prime Minister Theresa May has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the UK for the occasion. Netanyahu has accepted the invitation.
The British government was responsible for Palestine from 1917 to 1948, when they withdrew just before Israel declared an independent Jewish state. Palestinians say they now want an apology.
“We have said clearly that we have been victims of British colonialism and that the least we would expect from the UK is to apologize to the Palestinian people,” Xavier Abu Eid, a spokesman for the PLO, told the Media Line. “A foreign colonial power decided to give Palestine to an organization that was not even in Palestine. This is one of the darkest episodes of the past 100 years.”
The petition demanding an apology is sponsored by the Balfour Apology Campaign. As the petition has already reached 10,000 signatures, the British government must issue a formal response, within three days. Organizers said it had passed the 10,000 mark five days ago and they have not yet received a response.
If they reach 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in parliament.
America Solves Middle East Crisis with Really, Really Big Bombs (satire)
The US military has confirmed this week that the root of all the problems in the Middle East was that there just wasn’t a big enough bomb. Until now…
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis commented, “I’ve been looking at this issue for some time, first in my role as Commander of CENTCOM and now as a senior advisor to the Toddler-in-Chief. And the conclusion I’ve come to is that we just weren’t dropping big enough bombs. This was really brought home to me earlier this week when the President authorized us to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria. Sure, they looked really cool but they made really small bangs. Unless of course, you happened to be standing under one, in which case for those people, well, you know.”
“But now in the beautiful shape of the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB), we have the solution. If I may a coin a phrase it is indeed ‘bigly’. We’ve run a test in Afghanistan and I’m pleased to say that shortly after it incinerated several dozen of their fighters, the Islamic State has thrown in the towel. Job done! The plan at present is to drop one on Libya this coming Monday, then two more on Iraq on Tuesday, followed on Wednesday by whatever we have left onto Syria. If all goes well we intend to solve the Arab-Israeli dispute by handing Israel and Egypt 50 MOABs each and letting them have at it. Frankly, I’m surprised we’re the first Administration to think of this.”
Stabbing attack victim named as British student Hannah Bladon
Hannah Bladon, a 20-year-old female British exchange student, was killed Friday afternoon after being stabbed during a terror attack on the Jerusalem light rail, a few meters outside the Old City, where tens of thousands of visitors from across the globe are observing Passover and Easter.
According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the 57-year-old suspect from east Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood got on the light rail heading toward the center of town at Damascus Gate at approximately 1 p.m.
“As the tram approached Kikar Tzahal, he pulled out a knife and stabbed the female tourist in the upper body, critically wounding her,” said Rosenfeld. “She was treated at the scene by paramedics and rushed to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, where she died of her wounds.”
Rosenfeld said the assailant, identified as Jamil Tamimi, was immediately apprehended by a police officer on the train.
Family of British student killed in Jerusalem attack ‘devastated’
The family of a British exchange student murdered in a terror attack in Jerusalem on Friday has said it is “devastated” by her death in a “senseless and tragic attack.”
Hannah Bladon, 21, was stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife by a Palestinian terrorist while riding on Jerusalem’s light rail. She was critically wounded and later died of her injuries.
In a statement on Saturday her family in the UK said Hannah “was the most caring, sensitive and compassionate daughter you could ever wish for.”
The statement noted that Hannah was “a talented student,” an “enthusiastic rugby player” and “a keen Derby County supporter.
“She was driven and passionate and her death leaves so much promise unfulfilled.”
UK student was standing near killer because she gave up her seat for woman with baby
Hannah Bladon, the British student who was stabbed to death on the Jerusalem light rail on Friday, was standing by the exit doors of the train, near to the murderous Palestinian assailant, because she had given up her seat to enable a woman who was holding a baby to sit down, Israeli TV reported Saturday.
The Palestinian terrorist, Jamil Tamimi, 57, told investigators that he attacked her because he wanted to die and hoped the soldier who was standing next to her on the train would kill him, Channel 2 news further reported, describing the killing as “an attempted suicide attack.”
Tamimi was on his way from a mental hospital in northern Israel when he carried out the fatal stabbing. He had telephoned his family when he reached Jerusalem, and spoken to one of his sons, who told him that the family wanted no contact with him, in part because he had previously been convicted of sexually abusing his daughter.
He told investigators that he felt he had “nothing left to lose.” He purchased a knife in the Old City and boarded the light rail at Damascus Gate shortly before 1:00 p.m. Seeing an armed soldier on board, he decided to attack the young woman — Bladon — who was standing nearby. He took out the knife he had just purchased and stabbed her multiple times, critically wounding her.
“I attacked her so that the soldier would shoot me,” the TV report quoted Tamimi as saying to investigators.
The missing word: How BBC reports terror attacks in Israel without using the word “terror”
Yesterday an innocent young woman from the UK, Hannah Bladon, was brutally murdered by a terrorist in Jerusalem. Yet reading the article tucked away in the “Middle East” section of the BBC website, one would find it difficult to realise that this is what actually happened.
The headline states, “Jerusalem stabbing: Tributes paid to Hannah Bladon.” This is contrast to the terror attack a few weeks ago in London which the BBC reported as, “London attack: Four dead in Westminster terror attack.” In London (outside of Israel) when a terrorist, inspired by the incitement of militant Islam, murders innocents, it’s a “terror attack.” In Israel, where innocents are murdered by a terrorist, inspired by the incitement of militant Islam the word “terror” is nowhere to be seen in the headline, or indeed the entire article. There was just a “Jerusalem Stabbing” not a “terror attack.”
The BBC article continues, “Birmingham University student Hannah Bladon was killed on a tram in Jerusalem on Good Friday…a 57-year-old Palestinian man was detained at the scene.” I wonder why? Why isn’t he described as the alleged terrorist or the alleged murderer? The Times of Israel stated clearly, “British exchange student murdered in a terror attack in Jerusalem on Friday.”
Taxpayer Supported World Relief Responds Evasively to CAMERA Challenge
Despite “launching” the Justice Conference, declaring it a partner, obtaining its trademark and sharing staff members with the movement, World Relief is, through a statement from its CEO, attempting to distance itself from the speakers and content of the conference in South Africa declaring, “With regard to the referenced conference in South Africa, World Relief had no part in the selection of any of the speakers…”
Did it vet the speakers? Given the tight, interlocking relationship between World Relief and the Justice Conference, World Relief bears responsibility for the content of the Justice Conference whether it chose the speakers or not. Breene's statement indicates that World Relief did not exercise proper oversight over the Justice Conference's actions.
Interestingly enough, Breene's statement did not even mention the name of the conference being discussed. This is interesting given that early last year, World Relief took credit for launching the Justice Conference movement.
The upshot is this: The Justice Conference is a creature of World Relief, which according to its tax documents is officially called the World Relief Corporation of National Association of Evangelicals.
While there is some institutional distance between the NAE and the Justice Conference, at least some responsibility for the content at the event in South Africa leads back to the NAE.
Most of the responsibility, however, leads back to World Relief. World Relief cannot take credit for its support of the Justice Conference and then walk away from the content when controversy erupts. It apparently owns the trademark for the movement — which it founded — and one of its senior staffers, Mark Reddy is executive director of the movement.
Both the NAE and World Relief need to exercise greater oversight over the Justice Conference and ensure that the events it holds do not promote anti-Zionist hostility and violence.
World Relief also needs to come clean about its financial support and managerial oversight of the Justice Conference. World Relief does important work, work that is supported by private donors and American taxpayers who have a right to know if the organization is supporting anti-Israel activists even in far away places like South Africa.
German state head gives BDS Bethlehem hate preacher nearly $32,000
The Green Party president of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, personally delivered in late March a check for €30,000 (roughly $32,000) to a Lutheran pastor in the West Bank who advocates the destruction of Israel.
“Mitri Raheb [the Bethlehem pastor] authored the ‘Kairos Palestine document of Christians in Palestine’... the German-Israel Friendship Society already criticized the paper at the time of its publication in 2010, because it calls for economic sanctions against Israel... and speaks out against its right to exist,” the friendship society’s Stuttgart chapter wrote in a public letter to Kretschmann on April 9.
The Stuttgart chapter said the Kairos paper “engages in propaganda against Israel using bogus theological arguments.”
The €30,000 is supposed to be used for solar energy technology for the Dar Al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture Bethlehem run by Raheb.
In addition to providing financial support to Raheb, Kretschmann visited Israel with a delegation of companies to establish economic contacts.
Bärbel Illi, writing on behalf of the Stuttgart chapter, asked in the letter: “How does economic cooperation with Israel go with a boycott of Israel?”
Highbrow Fascism on Campus
Many have observed a trend on campus toward intolerance for expression and debate. This is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to the monomaniacal, semi-professional street performers who dedicate themselves to careers in activism. In recent years, however, those advocating aggression in response to unwanted speech have migrated from the streets onto student-newspaper editorial boards, where they gloss their tyrannical fanaticism with a veneer of false sagacity.
In recent years, student editors have protested the appearance of conservative speakers on campus by associating difficult ideas with physical trauma. A 2012 op-ed in the Harvard Crimson declared expressions of racism to be “an act of violence.” In 2015, The Oberlin Review protested Christina Hoff Sommers for questioning the statistical basis for a variety of feminist myths by penning “a love letter to ourselves.” This exercise in self-soothing relieved the pain that resulted from the rejection of what Hillary Clinton once called a self-professed victim’s “right to be believed.” Georgetown’s The Hoya endorsed Oberlin’s assessment of the threat posed by Sommers and, thus, critical statistical analysis by asserting that her invitation to speak at the university amounted to endorsing “a harmful conversation.”
The notion that one is under physical assault eventually legitimizes—even demands—a preventative response. The editors at Wellesley College’s student newspaper inadvertently endorsed this grim totalitarianism in an editorial advocating the use of “appropriate measures” against those who support those they deem to be irresponsible politicians or lecturers. “[I]f people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted,” the piece read. Amid laborious prose that read as though an algorithm translated it from the original Mandarin, these students articulated the logical foundations of fascism: We, the victimized, are owed reparative justice. And here it comes.
Concordia University Urged by Major Canadian Jewish Group to Take Action After Student Government ‘Exploits Passover’ With Anti-Israel Event
An official with a prominent Canadian Jewish group demanded on Friday that Concordia University administrators take action against the Montreal school’s student union (CSU) after it was involved in an anti-Israel event that he called an “exploitation of Passover.”
Aidan Fishman — campus advocacy director for B’nai Brith Canada — told The Algemeiner that the CSU should face “serious consequences for blatantly hijacking a Jewish holiday” by participating in a “Passover Against Apartheid” event on Thursday. The CSU provided space in its lounge for the program to be held in.
“The CSU is only able to collect mandatory student fees (through tuition) with the help of the Concordia administration,” Fishman said of the university’s role in regulating CSU behavior, and administrators’ right to interfere in the student government when necessary.
According to a promotional poster, the event included an art exhibit and a discussion period about Passover being a time to “practice solidarity with Palestinians.” The poster also posed questions for Jews to ponder, like what lines might “replace ‘Next year in Jerusalem'” in the Haggadah. Concordia’s chapter of Students for Palestinian Human Rights was among the backers of the event.
Jonathan Mamane, vice president of Concordia student group Israel on Campus, told The Algemeiner, “Most Jews who saw the poster were angered by it, and thought it was disgusting to twist the Passover Seder in order to push a specific agenda.” He added that he believed the CSU agreed to be involved “since a Jewish student senator spearheaded this project [so] it’s seen as okay,” referring to Marion Miller, who refused a request from The Algemeiner for comment.
Student Leader Fears Potential Violence After Jewish Conspiracy Posters Appear at Auburn University
A student leader at Auburn University in Alabama is concerned “acts of violence will follow” the recent appearance on campus of posters encouraging Christians to “disobey” Jewish power, she told The Algemeiner on Friday.
Lily Buder, the president of Auburn’s Hillel, said the fliers — credited to a group calling itself the Auburn White Student Union, which is unaffiliated with the university — not only “promoted typical conspiracies about Jews, but encouraged people to actively resist us for existing.”
Buder said she worries that such “resistance” could take the form of anything from physical violence to desecrating synagogues to publicly publishing the addresses of Jewish students.
Included on the posters were pictures of major Jewish historical figures — including Chabad leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl and Shas founder Rabbi Ovadia Yosef — and supposed quotes from them stating “gentiles” should serve Jews. The fliers also provided an address of an “alt-right” website where people could get more information.
The posters were found in a central campus building of the Alabama university and on cars parked in an Auburn parking lot.
Buder said they were quickly taken down, many by “outraged” students — both Jewish and non-Jewish.
The NYT’s Ignores Jihad AND Protects the Muslim Brotherhood in Coverage of Egypt Palm Sunday Bombings
“The Gray Lady” thus casts the Islamic State’s actions in purely political terms: With IS supposedly on the ropes, it must show it can project power and expand its sphere of influence by taking on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
This interpretation fails to address the reality that the church bombings were aimed squarely at Egypt’s Coptic Christians, including Pope Tawadros II, who was attending services at one of the churches bombed -- a fact not revealed until several paragraphs into the article.
One might think that an Islamic State attack on the leader of the Coptic church on Palm Sunday would draw more emphasis than a narrative about IS’ struggles, or later in the piece General Sisi’s crackdown on civil society in response to the attack.
Why is the ignored religious component so critical?
Former Tablet Editor Bari Weiss Joins 'New York Times' Opinion Section
Congratulations to Tablet contributor Bari Weiss on her upcoming move to the New York Times opinion section.
Bari, who edited our news and politics section from 2011 to 2013, moves to the Times from the Wall Street Journal, where she worked as associate book review editor and also wrote frequently about topics like political correctness and campus culture.
Throughout this time, she’s remained a valuable contributor to Tablet. You can read all of her pieces here, but we would especially recommend two of her most recent ones: A post-election consideration of Steve Bannon, and another about the uncomfortable test facing anti-Trump Jews. Bari also regularly appears on NY1’s Book Reader feature, and moderates the Jewish Book Council’s Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation series.
Please join us in wishing her—and the Gray Lady—a mazel tov.
Vilnius University to honor Jewish Holocaust victims — unless they fought Nazis
Vilnius University in Lithuania said it would award academic degrees posthumously to Jewish students who were murdered in the Holocaust — unless they were partisans.
In a statement published Wednesday on its website announcing the initiative titled Recovering Memory, the university encouraged relatives of Holocaust victims to apply for recognition through a special procedure set up this year.
But in a twist connected to the Lithuanian state’s complicated attitude to its wartime history, the procedure excludes any Jewish student who fought with communist or pro-Soviet partisans against the Nazis. Diplomas will not be issued “if evidence of collaboration with political and police structures of totalitarian regimes is determined,” the procedure states.
Virtually all resistance movements in Lithuania during World War II were supported or otherwise linked to the Soviet Union.
In Lithuania, both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany are defined as totalitarian regimes by state historians. Prosecutors in 2008 launched a controversial probe against three Jewish partisans who were suspected of war crimes. The investigation was dropped following an international uproar.
‘OSLO’ HEADING TO SILVER SCREEN
Playwright to adapt Broadway show on 1993 peace talks as film.

The very day it officially opened on a Broadway stage, it was announced that the play Oslo – about the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace talks – is being adapted as a Hollywood movie.
Film producer Marc Platt – best known for hits such as La La Land and Legally Blonde – has signed on to the project. Playwright J.T. Rogers is slated to adapt the script, and director Bartlett Sher will also stay on board, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news. A representative for Marc Platt Productions could not provide more details on the film’s timeline or who else would be involved in the project.
The show had its official Broadway debut on Thursday night, after being in previews for several weeks. The play ran for several months off-Broadway last summer, with rave reviews.
The show follows the little-known story of the integral role a Norwegian couple played in getting the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table in 1993.
While the play focuses on Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband, Terje Rod­-Larsen, there are plenty of supporting characters that take the stage, including Uri Savir, the Israeli negotiator, deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin and even an appearance by Shimon Peres.
“It’s such a verbal and idea-driven story, but also a visually compelling one,” Rogers told The Hollywood Reporter about the film adaptation. “I always thought that, in the back of my mind, it’d be fascinating to pivot and come at it from a very different way.”
Orthodox Christians celebrate ‘Holy Fire’ in Jerusalem
Tens of thousands of Orthodox pilgrims gathered at Christianity’s most holy site under heavy police guard Saturday for the traditional “Holy Fire” ceremony to mark Easter.
Clutching candles, the faithful packed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, built on the site where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Thousands of pilgrims from Eastern Europe thronged the church alongside Arab members of the local Orthodox community.
Thousands more, unable to enter the building, waited in the square outside to receive the flame, passed from candle to candle in a symbol of eternity, peace and renewal.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is in the Old City of Jerusalem. The ornate shrine surrounding what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus was reopened last month at a ceremony that followed months of delicate restoration work.
Following a $3.7-million renovation led by the church’s three main Christian denominations, the shrine has been painstakingly restored to its former glory, including a warm reddish-yellow coloring.
Why 189,000 Soviet Jews fled to Italy rather than the Promised Land
At age 10, Michael Drob left the Soviet Union and became a stateless refugee.
For almost a year, he shared a room with his older sister, his parents and his grandmother in Italy. In the room was a single bed, in which his grandmother slept — everyone else slept on the floor. Drob, who is today an American software engineer, remembers it as a happy year: Instead of attending school, he washed cars on street corners to help his parents pay for food.
The experiences of his family and other Soviet Jews who immigrated to the United States through Austria and Italy in the 1980s are the subject of Drob’s new documentary “Stateless,” released on DVD in late February.
“This specific immigration wave had never been mentioned in a film, it’s a subject that hasn’t been covered,” said the 39-year-old father of three who made the film with his wife Victoria. “One day, I decided to find out why my family was denied refugee status by the US while we were immigrating. It didn’t lead to answers, but it led to stories about immigration.”
Half a million Jews were let out of the Soviet Union between 1970 and 1990 with Israeli visas. But of these, approximately 189,000 people chose not to go to Israel but instead became refugees in Austria and Italy, hoping to secure visas to the United States.
Science helps verify an unbelievable Holocaust escape account
A one-hour TV program airing next week on PBS links brings advanced scientific techniques to bear on an incredible Holocaust escape story.
“Holocaust Escape Tunnel,” a “Nova” production to be shown April 19, sheds new light on the attempt by 80 imprisoned men and women — mostly Lithuanian Jews — to make a break for freedom in the face of Nazi bullets. The show documents the application of scientific methods to verify what would otherwise be a nearly unbelievable story.
The documentary is set in and around Vilna, the Yiddish and Hebrew designation for Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. At its peak, before World War II and the Holocaust, the city boasted a Jewish population of some 77,000, had 105 synagogues, the largest Jewish library in the world and six daily Jewish newspapers.
The vigorous Jewish life in Vilna started to decline in 1940, when the Soviet Union absorbed Lithuania. It was almost completely destroyed after German armies attacked Russia in 1941, quickly conquering Lithuania.
Within a year Nazis shot and killed – in the days before Auschwitz-type gas chambers – most of the Jews and tossed their corpses into huge pits in the nearby Ponar Forest, initially dug by the Soviets to store fuel and ammunition. One pit alone held 20,000 to 25,000 corpses.




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