Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. March 29, 2019

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

On Sunday, I moderated the “A Resurgent Russia in the Middle East” panel at AIPAC's Annual Policy Conference. Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister Karoly Gruber and the German Marhsall Fund’s Michal Baranowski joined me to discuss Russia’s intervention in the Syrian Civil War and the bilateral relationship between Moscow and Jerusalem. NCSEJ Deputy Director Lesley Weiss also attended the conference.

To further understand Russia’s maneuvering in the Middle East and Africa, please see Anna Borshchevskaya’s report on Russian Moves in the Gulf and Africa Have a Common Goal. Borshchevskaya is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and spoke at our December Executive Committee meeting about Russia’s growing influence in the region.

The State Department on Wednesday announced that it would fund two projects dedicated to countering anti-Semitism in Europe and Central Asia. The new programs will be operated in cooperation with the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr. We look forward to working with Mr. Carr on these initiatives.

On March 22, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) voted on Item 7, a series of four resolutions that address the “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” For the first time, all of the European Union member states of the UN HRC, including several countries in NCSEJ’s purview, and Ukraine voted against or abstained from two of the measures. NCSEJ congratulates those countries for their opposition to these resolutions, which are biased against Israel. Our organization, however, is disappointed that some governments still supported components of Item 7.

On Sunday, Ukraine will hold the first round of its 2019 Presidential Election. Following the March 31 election, NCSEJ will send out a further report analyzing the results, and information regarding the expected second round of voting on April 21.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
NCSEJ CEO Mark Levin (center) moderated the AIPAC panel session "A Resurgent Russia in the Middle East" on March 24. He was joined by Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister Karoly Gruber (left) and the German Marshall Fund's Michal Baranowski (right). 
Washington, D.C. March 29, 2019

State Department Ready to Fund Programs Against Rise of Anti-Semitism Abroad
By Marcy Oster
JTA, March 27, 2019

The U.S. State Department is offering to shell out up to $1 million each on up to two projects that counter the rise of anti-Semitism in countries in Europe and Central Asia.

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor put out a call this week for proposals for such projects to be carried out in member countries of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The program will be operated in cooperation with the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

EU States Unanimously Reject Trump Golan Recognition
By Times of Israel Staff
Times of Israel, March 27, 2019

European Union member states unanimously reject the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the shift in longstanding American foreign policy was not in keeping with international law.

“The position of the European Union as regards the status of the Golan Heights has not changed,” the EU’s foreign affairs department says in a statement. “In line with the international law and UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 497, the European Union does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.”

Post-Soviet Conflict Areas See Promise, Threat in Trump’s Golan Heights Announcement
By Joshua Kucera
Eurasianet, March 27, 2019

The de facto leadership in Nagorno-Karabakh said that Trump’s decision to recognize the Golan as part of Israel is “a great opportunity for us.”

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would formally recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, most of the rest of the world rejected the move. But he found an ally in the de facto leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Trump’s declaration that the Golan Heights are an integral part of Israel, and represent a critical component of that country’s security and maintains stability in the region, is a very significant and unprecedented announcement,” David Babayan, the spokesman for Karabakh’s de facto president, told the news website news.am. “Particularly in the context of Azerbaijan-Karabakh resolution…. In this context a great opportunity has emerged for us.”

Lithuanian Court Rejects Lawsuit Against State Honors for Nazi Collaborator 
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, March 27, 2019

A court in Lithuania dismissed an American Jew’s lawsuit against a state museum’s glorification of a Nazi collaborator, citing the complainant’s “ill-based” intentions.

The ruling Wednesday in Vilnius was on a petition submitted last year by Californian Grant Gochin.

He sued the state-funded Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania for erecting a plaque honoring Jonas Noreika, a local anti-Communist hero who died while in Soviet custody.

Former WWII Nationalist Guerrillas Granted Veteran Status in Ukraine
By Illia Ponomarenko
Kyiv Post, March 26, 2019

An amended bill on the legal status of war veterans and their social protection in Ukraine came into effect on March 26, nearly three months after it was approved.

The law grants official veteran status to former combatants in a number of Ukrainian irregular nationalist armed groups that were active during World War II and the first decade after the war.

Now, almost 70 years after the end of the nationalist guerrilla campaign against the Soviet Union authorities, which was fought primarily in western Ukraine, all such former combatants will qualify for all veteran benefits, including free public transport, subsidized medical services, annual monetary aid, and public utilities discounts.

Read the full article here.

“Jews and the New Ukraine”: A Seminal Discussion in London
By Maria Montague
The Ukrainian Weekly, March 22, 2019

Jewish communities have lived on the territory of contemporary Ukraine since the late ninth century, yet the Jewish-Ukrainian identity is a very recent phenomenon. Jews in Ukraine who previously self-identified as Soviet Jews or Russian Jews increasingly see themselves as Ukrainian Jews, particularly following the Euro-Maidan revolution of 2013-2014.

This identity shift, as well as the complex history of Jewish-Ukrainian relations, was explored in a landmark discussion on January 29 with experts Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak (Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv), Josef Zissels (chairman of the VAAD Association of Jewish Communities of Ukraine) and Mark Freiman (attorney and board member of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter), and moderated by renowned British journalist Peter Pomerantsev. The event was organized by the Ukrainian Institute London, in partnership with the Jewish Community Center JW3, where it was held, and Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, which sponsored it. 

This Couple’s Goal Is to Photograph Every Living Holocaust Survivor   
By Lior Zaltzman
Kveller, March 20, 2019

At first, it seems like John and Amy Israel Pregulman nailed the ideal “digital nomad” lifestyle. The very-much-in-love couple travels the country and the world, side-by-side, working for an organization they built, together, from the ground up.

“Every day we wake up and go, ‘We can’t believe we’re getting to do this,'” Amy tells me from the passenger seat of the car, as the couple is en route to Boulder from their home in Denver.

But here’s the thing: The Pregulmans don’t have a tech startup, nor are their adventures spent scouring markets for handmade textiles or artisanal cheese. They’re not social media influencers. Instead, their project takes to the homes of people who are often overlooked: elderly Holocaust survivors.

Lithuania Starts to Pay Respect to Its Murdered Jews: A New Museum and Well-Kept Memorials 
The Economist, March 21, 2019

ALL THE Jews of Seduva are dead. The lucky ones who died ordinary peacetime deaths lie beneath simple gravestones in a windswept cemetery outside this unremarkable village. The unlucky ones were dragged out of town, forced into a ghetto in the next village, and then, in August 1941, marched into the woods and shot to death in their hundreds by their Lithuanian neighbours, overseen by the invading Germans. Their corpses were dumped in pits.

Most traces of centuries of Jewish presence were also obliterated, as they were in hundreds of other shtetls (small Jewish towns or villages) throughout Lithuania. The town’s synagogues are gone. The old shtetl’s square, where Jewish artisans traded and debated, is desolate. Until recently, the ancient cemetery was an overgrown mess of weeds and rubbish; the more ornate gravestones were plundered. With no Jews left to tend to the graveyard, the rough-hewn tombstones were worn blank by wind and weather.

British Holocaust Denier David Irving Not Welcome in Poland, Foreign Minister Says 
By Katarzyna Markusz
JTA, March 24, 2019

Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that British Holocaust denier David Irving is not welcome to visit Poland.

Irving is taking deposits on his website for the tour of Nazi historical sites scheduled for September, including visits to the sites of the Nazi death camps Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Majdanek.

“British Holocaust denier David Irving probably will not be able to enter Poland due to the fact that his opinions are unacceptable from the point of view of Polish law,” Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said at a news conference on Friday.

Read the full article here.

These EU States Just Took an Unprecedented Stand for Israel at the UN Human Rights Council
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, March 22, 2019

In a major policy reversal by Western members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, all its European Union member states voted against a permanent item singling out Israel.

The vote Friday was the first time that EU members states, plus Brazil and Japan, have voted against Item 7 — a recurrent draft resolution that is the only permanent item on the agenda singling out any one nation.

The EU states currently on the council are Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Read the full article here.

At Swanky Philanthropy Conference, Politics Is The Elephant in the Room 
By Simona Weinglass
Times of Israel, March 27, 2019

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, which recently held a two-day conference in Herzliya, may be the most influential organization most Israelis have never heard of.

At the opening gala of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress General Assembly on March 18, the wine and caviar flowed freely, as billionaires rubbed shoulders with prominent rabbis and politicians. A who’s-who list of oligarchs from the former Soviet Union, many of whose names often appear in headlines, flew to Israel for the two-day event at the swanky Dan Accadia hotel in Herzliya, where they listened to speeches, voted on resolutions, and watched presentations from grateful recipients of their philanthropy.

Curiously, despite the fascinating combination of money, power, religion, and international relations on display at this high-profile event, few journalists could be spotted among the attendees.

Read the full article here.

Russian Moves in the Gulf and Africa Have a Common Goal  
By Anna Borshchevskaya 
The Washington Institute, March 28, 2019 

Russia has long courted the Persian Gulf states, and in recent years has expanded its presence in the Horn of Africa as well. But now a common thread is emerging between these seemingly disconnected activities: Moscow’s quest for influence and access in the Red Sea region, with the goal of furthering its great-power ambitions at the West’s expense. 

In early March, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov toured the Gulf states, meeting with senior officials in the capitals of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The discussions touched on everything from trade and football to Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and regional security. Russian daily Kommersant suggested that the trip was a prelude to a potential Gulf tour by President Vladimir Putin later this year. 

[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.