Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. November 09, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

This week marks the eightieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” in Nazi-controlled Europe, when Nazis killed Jews and destroyed synagogues, businesses, hospitals, schools, and homes. Communities around the world are holding events to mark this tragic moment in Jewish history.

This week’s update has two stories of interest about Kristallnacht. The first addresses Austria’s dark history on that night, when all but one of Vienna’s synagogues were destroyed. The other story deals with the rededication of the main synagogue in Kaliningrad, Russia, eighty years after it was destroyed on Kristallnacht.

The United States held mid-term Congressional elections this past Tuesday. When Democrats gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2019, a number of important committees and sub-committees relevant to our mission will have new chairs. These include the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Appropriations, and Ways and Means committees.  

The Austrian government will hold a conference on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at the end of November. The meeting will coincide with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Vienna where he will hold bilateral discussions and attend the conference.

This week's update also includes a wide-ranging Times of Israel interview with Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov, in which he calls for better coordination between Jerusalem and Moscow on Syria, and discusses Iran's activities in the region, and Moscow’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Earlier this week I attended a dinner hosted by Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States Tihomir Stoytchev, in honor of Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zakharieva. I discussed a number of issues with the Foreign Minister including U.S.-Bulgarian relations and the status of the Bulgarian Jewish community.

NCSEJ is finalizing its program for the upcoming annual Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, December 4, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, in Washington, D.C. We are pleased to announce that the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant of State for Europe and Eurasia Elisabeth Millard will be our luncheon keynote speaker. In addition, the Moldovan Ambassador to the United States Cristina Balan will address the board meeting. To RSVP and receive additional information, click here or contact David Shulman at (202) 898-2500 or dshulman@ncsej.org.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. November 09, 2018

Netanyahu to Visit Vienna for Anti-Semitism Summit at End of November
By Jeremy Sharon
The Jerusalem Post, November 07, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit Austria at the end of the month for a summit on antisemitism and anti-Zionism, as well as bilateral talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Kurz announced the summit and Netanyahu’s participation on Wednesday morning, with the event scheduled for November 20-21.

Kurz tied the summit to the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, in a video message posted on Twitter, which he said should remind Austria of its responsibility to fight antisemitism of all forms, whether “of the old kind or newly imported.”

Said Kurz, “As Federal Government of Austria and in the context of the current EU-Presidency we will be hosting a high level conference with the goal of jointly fighting against antisemitism and anti-Zionism in Europe on the 20th and 21st of November in Vienna.”

Hundreds Attend Limmud FSU Ukraine Festival
eJewish Philanthropy, November 05, 2018

This weekend (November 1-4), 650 members of the Jewish community of Ukraine gathered in Lviv (Lvov) for the 11th annual volunteer-driven festival of Jewish learning organized by Limmud FSU. The four-day conference, dedicated to Israel’s 70th anniversary, took place in the cultural capital of Ukraine for the fourth time, and included more than 120 seminars, lectures, presentations, excursions and workshops, given by an array of international and local speakers, as well as a special program for children.

Among keynote speakers were Joel Lion, Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine; Dorit Golender, Genesis Philanthropy Group and former Israeli Ambassador to Russia; Dr. Zeev Khanin, Chief Scientist of the Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption; the famous Russian-Jewish actor, Immanuil Vitorgan from Moscow; Alex Mershon, Director of the Department of Culture and Education at Nativ; Dr. Igor Shchupak, Director of “Tkuma” – the Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies; Rabbi Grigoriy Abramovich from Belarus and many others.

PM Borissov Praises Unity of Community of Bulgarian Jews
The Sofia Globe, November 06, 2018

I have been in politics for 17 years and I have never seen the Bulgarian Jewish community as united as it is today, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said at a meeting on November 6 with Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis.

Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt expressed gratitude to the Bulgarian government for its support and solidarity that the country extends to the Bulgarian Jewish community.

In other parts of Europe, there was a rise in antisemitism, in contrast to Bulgaria, a government statement quoted him as saying.

Borissov praised the strength and unity of the Bulgarian Jewish community and underlined that he was very impressed by its active role in civil society, adding that it was well-respected in society as a whole.

Rare 150-Year-Old Torah Scroll Found in Lodz Jewish Ghetto House
The Jerusalem Post, November 06, 2018

A 150-year-old Torah scroll was found inside a shack in the Polish city of Lodz on a street that was part of the Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust.

The scroll was transferred to the Shem Olam Holocaust Institute, established in 1996 in Kfar Haroeh by Rabbi Avraham Krieger, which then brought it to Israel. 

150-year-old Torah scroll was found inside a shack in the Polish city of Lodz on a street that was part of the Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust.

The scroll was transferred to the Shem Olam Holocaust Institute, established in 1996 in Kfar Haroeh by Rabbi Avraham Krieger, which then brought it to Israel. 

“This is a historical finding and a rare piece of life from the ghetto that survived until today,” Krieger said. “The Poles continue to suppress our history. These lone wooden shacks left on the Lodz Ghetto streets were going to be demolished and the only evidence left in Poland of what happened in the Holocaust was going to be erased.”

Austria Confronts Kristallnacht -- 80 Years Later
By Liam Hoare
Forward, November 06, 2018

2018 is Austria’s Gedenkjahr, 12 months of landmarks, anniversaries and commemorations that reach their zenith and nadir in November. The 11th and 12th of the month 12 mark 100 years since the abdication of the last emperor, Charles I, and the declaration of the Republic of German-Austria. November 9 and 10, however, will be 80 years since the Novemberpogrom or Kristallnacht, when all but one of Vienna’s synagogues and houses of prayer were destroyed. Over two days of blazing destruction, 27 Jews were murdered, 88 severely injured, more than 6,500 arrested. Jewish-owned stores were smashed up and looted. The pogrom spurred the forced exodus of Jews from Austria, which had begun after the Anschluss in March 1938.

Russia’s envoy says plane downing still rankles, blames US for fatal Gaza riots
By Raphael Ahren
Times of Israel, November 9, 2018

Moscow’s defense establishment is “extremely disappointed” with the Israeli military’s response to the downing of a Russian military reconnaissance plane in September, Russia’s top envoy to Israel said, calling on Jerusalem to better coordinate with the Kremlin its activities in Syria.

Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov also said that Israel’s demand that no Iranian troops be stationed in all of Syria was both “unrealistic” and unnecessary, since Tehran has no plans to attack Israel. He noted, somewhat derisively, that no Israelis have been killed at the hands of Iranians in recent years, while dozens of Iranians fell victim to Israeli air strikes in war-torn Syria.

In a wide-ranging interview in Russia’s Tel Aviv embassy, Viktorov also discussed Moscow’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying he fully understands why Ramallah refuses to even consider the US administration’s forthcoming peace proposal, and stating that the recent months of riots at the Gaza border were “caused directly” by the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Polish Independence Day March by Nationalists Banned in Warsaw
BBC, November 07, 2018

A Polish rally that has become a magnet for the far right has been banned by the mayor of Warsaw, days before the country marks the 100th anniversary of independence.

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz said security must come first and Warsaw had suffered enough from "aggressive nationalism".

A year ago, 60,000 people took part in the nationalist march, amid chants of "Pure Poland, white Poland".

Some of the organizers have threatened to go ahead with the march regardless.

Russia’s westernmost synagogue rebuilt 80 years after Kristallnacht destruction
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, November0 8, 2018

KALININGRAD, Russia — Walking to school and back, Michael Wieck twice a day would pass by one of Europe’s largest and most spectacular Jewish places of worship: Koenigsberg’s New Synagogue.

“We saw the hulking ruin of our historic old synagogue each day, now a silent, accusatory memorial, a memorial to suffering,” Wieck wrote in a 2003 biography that he penned about his childhood in Koenigsberg.

Now, precisely 80 years after the orgy of violence against Jews and their institutions in Nazi-controlled Europe, another Jewish community is about to open a nearly exact replica of the building in the same place to serve Jewish worshippers. The restoration is meant to assert Jewish presence and revival in a place long associated with irreparable destruction.

Polish Prosecutor Who Wanted to End Investigation of Jewish Holocaust Scholar Is Demoted
JTA, November 08, 2018

A Polish prosecutor who twice wanted to end the investigation into an article written by a Princeton University professor saying that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during World War II has been demoted.

Katowice prosecutor Michal Binkiewicz was conducting the investigation into the possible insult of the Polish nation by Jan Gross launched in October 2015. Binkiewicz dismissed the case in October 2016 and June 2017, saying that no crime was committed and Gross had exercised the right to freedom of expression.

But his superiors overruled the decisions and appointed experts to evaluate Gross’ words. In October, the case was taken over by another prosecutor, Iwona Skrzypek.

Netanyahu Asks Romania to Help 'Significantly' Change the EU's Position on Israel
By Yossi Lempkowicz
Jewish News Syndicate, November 04, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested Romania to help “significantly” change the European Union’s position on Israel.

He made the request at a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă as part of the summit meeting of the Craiova State Forum in Varna, Bulgaria.

Romania will take over the E.U. presidency on Jan. 1, 2019.

Netanyahu told his Romanian counterpart that Israel is defending Europe by preventing dozens of attacks on its soil.

The two discussed strengthening relations between the two countries, ways to increase the volume of trade and investment, as well as promoting cooperation in security and combating terrorism, in technology, energy and other bilateral issues.

[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.