Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. July 27, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

This week, along with Deputy Director Lesley Weiss, I participated in the State Department’s Ministerial on International Religious Freedom, which featured the participation of over eighty delegations from foreign countries. During an event hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we had the opportunity to speak with numerous leaders, including the Foreign Ministers of Poland, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine.

Secretary of State Pompeo testified on Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, on President Donald Trump’s summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pompeo faced difficult questioning from both Republicans and Democrats. Several senators, including Marco Rubio, raised concerns about the possible Russian cyber threat to the 2018 elections. Before his testimony, the State Department released a statement reaffirming the United States’ policy of non-recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Following his meeting in Moscow last week with Russian President Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and members of the Russian military’s general staff. During their discussions, the delegation proposed that Russian forces in Syria create a buffer zone between the Israeli positions in the Golan Heights and Iranian formations operating in the region. Netanyahu declined this offer.

On Wednesday, 293 Ukrainian olim (immigrants) arrived in Israel on several flights organized by the Friendship Foundation (HaKeren L'Yedidut). Many of the arrivals came from parts of Ukraine devastated by the conflict in the eastern regions of the country.

Earlier in the week, Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari participated with Warsaw residents in a march to commemorate the first deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. Marchers walked passed the streets of the former ghetto area, which were adorned with yellow ribbons bearing the individual names of the victims.

In an interview, Chief Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen of Kazakhstan declared that the Jewish community is prospering due to the country’s traditional tolerance for religious groups. Rabbi Cohen proved instrumental in supporting NCSEJ’s mission to Kazakhstan last year.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. July 27, 2018

March honors Warsaw’s Jews, activist who warned of genocide
Associated Press, July 22, 2018

WARSAW, Poland — Israel’s ambassador to Poland joined hundreds of Warsaw residents Sunday in recalling the first mass deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto and in honoring a Jewish activist who took his own life while despairing over the world’s indifference to the Holocaust.

The March of Remembrance began at Umschlagplatz Memorial, the site where forces of Nazi Germany occupying Poland started in July 1942 putting Jews on trains to the Treblinka death camp. Some 300,000 Jews were sent to their deaths that way.

Marches have been held by the Jewish History Institute each year since 2012 in memory of Warsaw’s Jewish community, which was Europe’s largest before World War II.

Lavrov Meets Israeli PM In Jerusalem Over Syria, Iran
RFE/RL, July 23, 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 23 to discuss the Iranian presence in Syria.

Netanyahu announced earlier that Russian President Vladimir Putin had requested the meeting. The Russian delegation included the chief of the military's General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.

Netanyahu said ahead of the meeting that they would discuss regional developments with "the situation in Syria being first and foremost."

Kazakhstan’s Jewish community is prospering, says Chief Rabbi
By Assel Satubaldina
Astana Times, July 24, 2018

ASTANA – Kazakhstan is home to people of different religions and confessions, including the Jewish community. In a recent interview with The Astana Times, Chief Rabbi Yeshaya E. Cohen discussed the history of Jews in Kazakhstan, the country’s religious tolerance model and Jewish values.

The Jewish community, with its long history in Kazakhstan, is prospering, he said.
One of the first indications of Jews in the nation dates to the 19th century, as in 1825, 12 people of Jewish faith lived in the then-Semipalatinsk district in eastern Kazakhstan.

Wolves In Sheep's Clothing? Putin's Biker Pals Set Up Military-Style Camp In Slovakia
By Yaroslav Shimov and Alan Crosby
RFE/RL, July 23, 2018

With the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion to rein in then-Czechoslovakia quickly approaching, one of the Kremlin's boldest advocacy groups has set up a military-style "camp" outside the capital of NATO member Slovakia.

The Night Wolves motorcycle club, whose members were at the vanguard of Russia's occupation of Crimea and nicknamed "Putin's Angels" by the media, has taken residence at a former military base in Dolna Krupa, about 60 kilometers northeast of Bratislava.

The move by the club, known for promoting Russian nationalism, hatred of gays and feminists, and allegiance to the Kremlin, appears aimed at revealing a dark, anti-Western side of the European Union member, which has sizable far-right and Russophile elements.

Polish couple uncovers Jewish gravestones in their barn
By Eli Senyor
YNetNews, July 23, 2018

While overhauling and organizing their large yard, Monika and Christopher Frelian, residents of Klępie Górne, a Polish town near Kielce, were shocked to discover that the floor of their barn was paved with Jewish tombstones.
Just as they began tearing down their old barn, Monika noticed “something weird” in the paving stones placed below the barn’s wood floor. “The stones were covered with decades worth of dirt. Only after the rain and wind washed the grime away was the Hebrew writing on the stones revealed,” she said, adding that she knew she had to return them to their natural place, she told a Ynet reporter.
Kielce, about a 2.5 hour drive from Warsaw, was a thriving Jewish center before World War Two. About 20,000 Jews lived in the city before the Nazis moved them into the ghetto. Most perished in Treblinka.

New U.S. Russia sanctions push slows in Congress before recess
By Richard Cowan and Daphne Psaledakis
Reuters, July 24, 2018

WASHINGTON - Republicans who control the U.S. Congress are hesitating to advance tough new Russia sanctions legislation as fears of damage to American companies slow efforts to quickly send Moscow a message against meddling in the next U.S. election.

Unlike a year ago, when Congress worked with lightning speed on a sanctions law targeting Russia, North Korea and Iran, some lawmakers said on Tuesday the Senate and House of Representatives were carefully weighing their response to growing fears that Moscow is plotting to interfere in November’s congressional elections.

With a five-week summer recess set to begin in the House on Friday and the Senate taking an early August week-long recess, backers of legislation to impose harsh new sanctions on Russia feared the effort could be losing steam.

Like the Dreyfus Affair: An innocent Jew released from prison in Ukraine
By Iris Georlette
Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2018

UKRAINE - A tragic story has come to a happy conclusion. Israel Repkin, a Jewish Ukrainian who had been imprisoned for years on false charges of attacking an elderly woman, was released from confinement recently. He won his release because the central witness in his case admitted to lying and framing Repkin after having been badly mistreated by the government.

"The man, whose name is Sartzinsky, was himself a suspect and framed Repkin. Afterwards, he admitted that he lied, but the prosecutors did not pay attention," said the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Azman, who was involved in Repkin's release. "Regarding the woman who was attacked, who said she saw Repkin in her house in 2006, there is proof that he was out of the country at the time."

293 Olim from Ukraine arrive in Israel
Arutz Sheva, July 24, 2018

293 immigrants from Ukraine landed Tuesday morning at Ben-Gurion Airport on three different flights organized by the Friendship Foundation headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver received the immigrants at the airport, along with dozens of volunteers who preceded the immigrants with singing and dancing.

For the first time, in order to ease and reduce the bureaucratic procedures of registering immigrants and issuing their identity cards in Israel, a number of representatives of the Interior Ministry were flown to Ukraine at the beginning of the week. The procedure saved the Olim from a significant part of the bureaucratic process that most immigrants have to undergo after their arrival in Israel and enabled them to focus on many other important efforts, such as registering for schools, finding employment, and more.

US State Department to Host First Summit on Religious Freedom
By Nike Ching
Voice of America, July 24, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is hosting the United States' first-ever conference on religious freedom, bringing together government officials, religious leaders, rights advocates, and members of civil society organizations from around the world.

Pompeo told Vatican News the mission for the summit, which begins Tuesday, is "really straightforward and important." He said, "It is to spread the word of the importance of religious freedom for every individual around the world.

Pompeo said there will be more than 40 foreign ministers from around the world attending the three-day conference, the largest number of foreign ministers ever gathered at the State Department.

Religious persecution in Iran, China must end now
By Michael R. Pompeo
USA Today, July 24, 2018

Around the world, adherents from innumerable faith backgrounds suffer similar violations of their most fundamental human rights. Earlier this year, the State Department hosted six United States-based Uighur journalists with Radio Free Asia’s Uighur Service. Their reporting indicates that Chinese authorities are likely detaining, at least, hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps in Xinjiang.  One journalist, Gulchehra Hoja, shared that 23 of her family members have been detained in the region. She, like others, have little to no information about her family’s well-being.

These episodes and others like them are abhorrent. Religious freedom is a God-given right to which all people are entitled. That is why President Donald Trump is taking action to protect religious freedom around the world. It belongs to all people, everywhere.

Victims of Religious Persecution Tell Their Stories at International Conference in DC
By Katherine Rohloff
Daily Signal, July 23, 2018

Iren Fogel was only 13 when her family was brought to Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Weiss, who later added the second “e” to her first name, gave the first of 13 testimonies from victims of contemporary religious persecution who will speak at the Holocaust Memorial Museum over three days, during the first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

The conference at the Holocaust Memorial Museum will feature survivors of persecution from across the world—Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Tibetan Buddhist, Uyghur Muslim, Yezidi—who speak about their experiences. They’re from countries such as China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, and Vietnam.

[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.