Weekly News Update 
WASHINGTON, D.C. October 28, 2016

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Dear Friend,

UNESCO maintained its relentless attack on Israel this week with a second resolution seeking to deny the Jewish people’s connection to the land of Israel. Voting in a secret ballot, its World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution that refers to the Temple Mount only by its Arabic name (ten countries voted for, two against, eight abstained and one was absent).

The international outcry against these resolutions has been loud and sustained. This week, Pope Francis joined in the criticism. During a public address at the Vatican, the Pope affirmed Judaism’s unbroken link to the land, saying “The people of Israel, who from Egypt, where they were enslaved, walked through the desert for forty years until they reached the land promised by God.” The Pope’s speech came directly before his meeting with Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation.

NCSEJ joins again with its member agencies in condemning these UN resolutions, and calling on the international community to reject them as biased and historically inaccurate.

This Sunday, Moldovans head to the polls for their first presidential election in nearly two decades. The ballot is being cast as a struggle between pro-EU and pro-Russian forces. Moldova, Europe’s poorest nation, has had successive changes in governments in recent years, and its citizens are hoping for a period of stability.

Also this week, the Kyrgyz Republic’s prime minister formally resigned, following the collapse of his six-party coalition’s parliamentary majority. Two parties within the ruling coalition had opposed proposed constitutional changes, which would have expanded the powers of the prime minister and parliament and reformed the Kyrgyz judicial system. The government will seek to form a new coalition within the next few days.

I’d like to highlight a story in the update about the continued “frozen conflict” along Georgia’s northern border with Russia. After the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Russia made claims to parts of Georgian territory, and, as the New York Times reports, Russia is making incremental incursions southward into Georgia’s South Ossetian territory.

Finally, I hope you can join NCSEJ at our annual Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, December 6 in Washington, D.C. Please click here to RSVP.


Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. October 28, 2016

Poles who preserve country’s Jewish heritage awarded
JTA, October 25, 2016

Poles involved in the preserving of Jewish heritage in Poland received awards during two separate ceremonies in Warsaw.

Professor Ewa Geller received the Jan Karski & Pola Nirenska Award during an award ceremony at the Jewish Historical Institute.

Read the full article here.

Facebook censors Ukrainian Jews over criticism of Holocaust collaborators
By Sam Sokol
JNS.org, October 24, 2016

A prominent Jewish figure in Kiev found his Facebook account suspended after a post detailing Ukrainian collaboration in the Holocaust was flagged as violating the social networking site’s terms of service.

Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, an advocacy group, told JNS.org he found himself locked out of his account Oct. 20 after posting an old video of a Soviet trial of two members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), who participated in the murder of Jewish civilians during World War II.

UNESCO panel adopts another decision denying Jewish link to Temple Mount
The World Jewish Congress, October 26, 2016

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday adopted by a secret ballot a decision which accuses Israel of damaging the character of Jerusalem and ignores the Jewish and Christian connections to the holy sites in the city. Earlier, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder had called on the 21 members of the committee to reject the “blatantly dishonest, inflammatory, and one-sided" text.

Of the 20 WHC members who cast their vote, 10 voted in favor of the text, 8 abstained and 2 voted against. The members on the committee are Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Berel Lazar thanks the pontiff for supporting Israel
Interfax-Religion, October 27, 2016

Pope Francis of Rome protected Israel from slender, chief rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar believes.
"Words of gratitude from the pope to Israeli government are the best response to those who have spread slanderous rumors that Israel, or even broader - Jews - oppress Christians," Lazar told Interfax-Religion on Thursday.

Thus, he commented the pontiff's recent words that the Jewish people were exiled from Egypt and wandered along the desert until they reached the land promised to Israeli people by God. The pope of Rome also thanked Israel government for preserving Christian heritage.

Belgrade Jews Oppose Rehabilitation of World War II-era Prime Minister
Haaretz, October 24, 2016

Some 90 percent of the country's Jews perished during the period that Milan Nedic was prime minister of Nazi-occupied Serbia.

The Jewish community of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, has vowed to use all legal means to prevent the rehabilitation of the country's World War II-era Prime Minister Milan Nedic, who they say participated in the Holocaust, according to the Balkan Insight website.

Nedic was prime minister from 1941 to 1944, a period during which the country was occupied by Nazi Germany. He was declared a war criminal by the Yugoslav Communist authorities after the war.

Read the full article here.

Pro-EU, pro-Russia forces head-to-head in Moldova vote
By Mihaela Rodina
AFP, October 28, 2016

Ex-Soviet Moldova will cast ballots Sunday in a presidential election viewed as a tug-of-war between supporters of European integration and advocates of closer relations with former master Moscow.

The crisis-hit country of 3.5 million, wedged between Ukraine and Romania, will for the first time since 1997 elect a president by national vote instead of having parliament select the head of state.
Read the full article here.

Putin Grants Citizenship to Millionaire From Ukraine
Current Time, October 27, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship by Ukrainian businessman Eduard Shifrin and his 16-year-old daughter. The corresponding decree published on the official portal of legal information.

Shifrin is known for his charitable and social activities. He invested in the reconstruction of the synagogue in Kiev, took an active part in the opening of the restored synagogue in Volgograd, was co-Chairman of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, Vice-President of the Eurasian Jewish Congress and Vice-President of the world Jewish Congress.

Read the full article here.

Czech President's Snub Of Holocaust Survivor Outrages Countrymen
By Charles Recknagel and Kristyna Foltynova
RFE/RL, October 27, 2016

Dozens of Czech institutions and civic groups have rushed to present an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor and remembrance activist with awards of their own after President Milos Zeman withdrew the offer of a state honor for George Brady in an apparent concession to China.

Brady, a Canadian Jew of Czech extraction who survived the Nazi Auschwitz death camp, told Czech media that he has received so many invitations following the president's last-minute reversal ahead of an annual state awards ceremony on October 28 that he is not sure he can attend all the events.

Read the full article here.

Rise of Europe's far right 'different to 1930s': top historian
AFP, October 27, 2016

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s, one of the continent's leading historians told AFP.

Despite the rise of populist and extreme right-wing parties across the continent, Professor Ian Kershaw -- the acclaimed biographer of Hitler -- insisted that drawing parallels with the rise of fascism was off the mark.

'The Surkov Leaks' Reveal the Expected: Kremlin's Guiding Hand in Eastern Ukraine
The Moscow Times, October 26, 2016

Hackers from the Ukrainian group Cyber Hunta claim to have hacked two email accounts belonging to Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's longtime grey cardinal and reportedly in charge of relations with Ukraine. If authentic, the leaked emails prove that the Kremlin was constantly in touch with rebels in eastern Ukraine throughout 2014 as the conflict there started to unravel.

According to the Cyber Hunta website, hackers obtained access to Surkov's personal email account via Russia's biggest search engine Yandex. Anton Gerashenko, advisor to Ukraine's Interior Ministry, claimed in a Facebook post that the Yandex emails were authentic.

Read the full article here.

Kyrgyz Government Resigns After Coalition Collapse
RFE/RL, October 26, 2016

The Kyrgyz government of Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov has formally resigned following the collapse of its coalition earlier this week.

The office of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev made the announcement on October 26, two days after Atambaev's Social Democratic Party (SDP) announced it was leaving the six-party ruling coalition.

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Terrorist Attack on Russian Soil
The Moscow Times, October 26, 2016

The terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for an attack that occurred on Oct. 23 in Nizhny Novgorod. The SITE Intel Group, which monitors global terrorist activity, tweeted the group's claim on Wednesday.

In the group's declaration, they claimed the Nizhny Novgorod attack was carried out by "two soldiers of the Islamic State."

Read the full article here.

Montenegrin PM Resigns, Suggests Russia Behind Alleged Coup Plot
RFE/RL, October 26, 2016

Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has resigned, hours after suggesting that Russia was involved in an alleged coup attempt on the country's election day and accusing the opposition of collaborating with the Kremlin.

Djukanovic said on October 25 that there was "a strong connection of a foreign factor" in the October 16 vote, which was marked by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning armed attacks against the prime minister and his supporters after parliamentary election results were announced.

Russia has strongly opposed Djukanovic's bid to join NATO and the European Union while opposition leaders made frequent visits to Moscow ahead of the vote.

Why Is Ukraine’s Political Class Trying to Roll Back Reforms?
Atlantic Council, October 27, 2016

Since the Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine's leaders have repeatedly committed themselves to fighting graft. Former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk promised that all corrupt officials would be prosecuted, current Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman vowed an "intolerance of corruption," and President Petro Poroshenko campaigned as a reformer who would "wipe the country clean” of endemic graft.

Despite these promises, however, activists warn that Ukraine's political class is currently aiming to systematically roll back key reforms.

Lithuania issues manual on what to do if Russia invades
By Nic Robertson, Antonia Mortensen, Elizabeth Roberts and Woj Treszczynski
CNN, October 28, 2016

If you invade, don't expect our people to make it easy for you.

That was the message Lithuania sent to Russia Friday as it published a manual for its three million citizens on how to defend their homeland in the event of invasion. Since Russia annexed Crimea two years ago, Lithuanians have been on edge.

Conscription has been restarted and defense spending ramped up, not to mention their now-answered calls for NATO to deploy more troops to the Baltics.

Read the full article here.

Is Russia Killing Off Eastern Ukraine’s Warlords?
Foreign Policy, October 25, 2016

Arsen Pavlov was no stranger to extreme violence.

This Russian commander, better known by the nom de guerre “Motorola,” was a veteran of Moscow’s ruthless campaign in the Second Chechen War and later became a prominent figure in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, leading a battalion of Moscow-backed separatists. He soon emerged as one of the region’s most famous warlords, an effective fighter who took part in major offensives at the Donetsk airport and Ilovaisk. He was also ruthless, known to boast about executing captured Ukrainian soldiers.
Read the full article here.

In Russia’s ‘Frozen Zone,’ a Creeping Border With Georgia
The New York Times, October 23, 2016

Marked in places with barbed wire laid at night, in others by the sudden appearance of green signs declaring the start of a “state border” and elsewhere by the arrival of bulldozers, the reach of Russia keeps inching forward into Georgia with ever more ingenious markings of a frontier that only Russia and three other states recognize as real.

But while dismissed by most of the world as a make-believe border, the dirt track now running through this tiny Georgian village nonetheless means that Vephivia Tatiashvili can no longer go to his three-story house because it sits on land now patrolled by Russian border guards.

Read the full article here.
Post-election Georgia: More problems to come?
By Archil Sikharulidze
New Eastern Europe, October 27, 2016

On October 8th, Georgia hosted a parliamentary election. The ruling Georgian Dream party supported by local tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, received 48.68 per cent of the vote, while the leading oppositional force the United National Movement received 27.11 per cent. The third party entering the parliament is the Patriotic Alliance, with 5.01 per cent of the vote. On October 30th, in some districts, the second round of votes will take place to elect majoritarian MPs.

Read the full article here.
Returning the Names: Moscow to Mourn Victims of Stalin's Terror
By Daria Litvinova
The Moscow Times, October 28, 2016

On Oct. 29, the eve of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression, hundreds of people will gather on Lubyanskaya Ploshchad near the Solovetsky Stone. They will patiently wait in line for hours, and then, one by one, read out the names of people executed in Moscow during the darkest days of the Soviet Union.

The reading will last at least 12 hours and some 1,500 names are expected to be read in front of the Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters, former home of its predecessor, the dreaded KGB secret police.

Read the full article here.
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Founded in 1971, NCSEJ 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.