Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. September 14, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Aleksander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO

Dear Friend,

Please see below for the links to this week's news updates. 

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. September 14, 2018

House Passes Bill Promoting Anti-Semitism Envoy to Ambassador 
JTA, September 13, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives Passed Legislation that upgrades to ambassador level the position of special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism at the State Department. 

The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act was authored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who helped write the 2004 law that created the monitor post.

Lawmakers and Jewish communal organizations have chafed at the Trump administration’s failure to name someone to the anti-Semitism monitor post since Donald Trump became president, citing a perceived spike in anti-Semitism worldwide.

Nazi Collaborator or National Hero? A Test for Lithuania
By Andrew Higgins
The New York Times, September 10, 2018

SUKIONIAI, Lithuania — For the tiny village of Sukioniai in western Lithuania, the exploits of General Storm, a local anti-Communist hero executed by the Soviet secret police in 1947, have long been a source of pride. The village school is named after him, and his struggles against the Soviet Union are also honored with a memorial carved from stone next to the farm where he was born.

All along, though, there have been persistent whispers that General Storm, whose real name was Jonas Noreika, also helped the Nazis kill Jews. But these were largely discounted as the work of ill-willed outsiders serving a well-orchestrated campaign by Moscow to tar its foes as fascists.

New Website Documents Communist-Era Anti-Semitism
By Tom McEnchroe
Radio Praha, September 09, 2018

Whether it was in the show trials of the 1950s or reporting from the Middle East, an undercurrent of anti-Semitism was present in the communist propaganda apparatus in Czechoslovakia. At least that is what a new website aimed at teachers in secondary schools and just released by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes reveals.

Israel as the headquarters for Rothschild political power, kibbutzs as indoctrination centres and Jewish schools as centres of racist, militaristic teaching. These are just a few of the themes contained within videos and posters from the communist era now accessible via a website just launched by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, which oversees communist-era files and other materials. 

Yiddish Glory Tells the Story of Kazakhstan Welcoming Refugees During Holocaust
By Zhanna Shayakhmetova
The Astana Times, September 10, 2018

ASTANA – “Yiddish Glory – The Lost Songs of World War II,” released Feb. 28, features unique musical recordings created by Holocaust victims and survivors, mostly women and children, and Jewish refugees during the war. Hidden since 1947, the ballads are now receiving standing ovations from sold-out crowds.

The Astana Times spoke with University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis to learn more about the project and songs written in Almaty, as Kazakhstan became a home for 2,000 Jewish refugees.

As many of the songs do not have tunes, Shternshis collaborated with musician Psoy Korolenko to reconstruct them. Toronto-based producer Dan Rosenberg then helped them assemble a team of musicians to play at concert halls.

Orthodox Synagogue in Romania's Oradea Inaugurated after Restoration
Romania Insider, September 05, 2018

The Orthodox Synagogue in the western Romania city of Oradea has reopened officially on September 3 after a lengthy restoration process.

The building underwent extensive interior and exterior works. These targeted the edifice’s structural stability, the lighting, the stained glass, and the painting, among others.

The restoration project began in 2009 and cost approximately RON 1.5 million (EUR 322, 580), Stiriletvr.ro reported.

Tel Aviv to Host 2019 Eurovision instead of Jerusalem 
JTA, September 13, 2018

Tel Aviv will host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest and not Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, the preferred site of the Israeli government.

The semifinals will be held May 14 and 16, with the grand final on May 18, at the Expo Tel Aviv International Convention Center, both the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Eurovision Song Contest announced on Thursday.

Both Jerusalem and Eilat also vied to host the world’s largest live music event, which last year attracted 186 million television viewers. Some 20,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Tel Aviv to participate in Eurovision activities.

To Viktor, the Spoils: How Orban's Hungary Launched a Culture War from Within
By Anita Komuves
Calvert Journal, September 05, 2018

Viktor Orbán’s government and the business interests connected to it have taken control of many crucial aspects of life in Hungary since he was elected in 2010: the media, the constitutional court, school curriculums, churches, even tobacco shops. By some measures, half of the entire economy. Moreover, the remaining bastions of independent thinking are constantly under attack: NGOs are being discredited and their employees are threatened with jail if they help asylum seekers. What is left of the independent media is under threat, as are independently-minded judges and scientists.

The latest target of the Orbán government is the cultural sphere. In the past few months, theatres, novelists, museum personnel and pop musicians have all found themselves under attack for being left-wing, socially liberal or simply critical of the government.

PM: Europe Appeasing, Not Fighting, Iranian Terrorism
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2018

As the world marks 17 years since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the time has come for Western governments to join in “the strong and clear effort by the Trump administration against the terrorist regime in Tehran,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu took European leaders to task for “appeasing Iran,” something he said “helps the relentless assault on the values and security of free societies.”

Netanyahu again noted the irony that during the same week in June when an Iranian terrorist cell tried to carry out an attack against an Iranian opposition group in Paris – an attack that Israeli intelligence helped to thwart – European leaders were trying to “appease” Iran and looking for ways to reconcile with it, and soften the fallout from the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

'Sobibor' to Represent Russia in Oscars
By David Israel
Jewish Press, September 12, 2018

Russia has nominated the World War II drama “Sobibor,” directed by Konstantin Khabensky, for the best foreign-language film Oscar, according to producer Alexander Rodnyansky, a member of the Russian Oscar committee, who spoke to TASS on Monday.

In addition to directing, Konstantin Khabensky stars in it the captive Red Army officer Alexander Pechersky, who led the uprising.

Rodnyansky said the committee selected “Sobibor” over the competition as the Russian film with the best chance for winning an Academy award.

A 1939 Phone Book Could be the Key to Unlocking Millions in Polish Holocaust Restitution Payments
By Cnaan Lipshiz
JTA, September 07, 2018

In the small park behind the only synagogue in this city to have survived World War II, Yoram Sztykgold looks around with a perplexed expression.

An 82-year-old retired architect, Sztykgold immigrated to Israel after surviving the Holocaust in Poland. He tries in vain to recognize something from what used to be his childhood home.

“It’s no use,” he says after a while. “To me this could be anywhere.”

[Link to pdf of full articles]
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Founded in 1971, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.