Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. October 12, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

On Thursday, I co-chaired a panel on “Religion and Globalization: Challenges and Responses” at the Sixth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Kazakhstan. I traveled to the capital city of Astana for the two-day conference, whose themes included religion’s role in geopolitics, global security, and overcoming extremism and terrorism. It was my privilege to attend this important gathering as the representative from the organized American Jewish community, along with religious, government, and community leaders from the Americas, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

As part of the continuing fallout from Israel’s downing of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft over Syria on September 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Russian Federation would not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that President Putin had no set plan to meet with Netanyahu, despite the latter’s claim that they had agreed to discuss the situation personally. Despite meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov to discuss bilateral economic relations this week, the relationship between the two countries remains strained. 

On Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda paid respect to Konstanty Rokicki, one of the country's diplomats during the Second World War, who helped to save several hundred Jews during the Holocaust. Rokicki, who served in Poland's Embassy in Switzerland, helped provide Jews with forged Paraguayan passports. Duda laid a wreath at Rokicki's renovated tombstone in Lucerne, and spoke about his efforts. Survivors, their families, members of the Swiss Jewish community, and Polish Foreign Ministry representatives also attended.  

A fragment of a prewar Torah scroll was returned to Kielce, Poland after a two-year restoration process. It had been housed in a scientific society’s headquarters for many years, where it was rediscovered several years ago. Bogdan Białek, President of the Jan Karski Association said in an interview that “We want to treat [these fragments] as a relic of a 20,000-strong Jewish community that was murdered. In this way, we would like to display it in our institute.”

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. October 12, 2018

Russia Will Not Recognize Israel's Sovereignty over Golan, Foreign Minister Says
JTA, October 11, 2018

Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that his country will not agree to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights unless it is approved by the international community.

Sergey Lavrov was responding to the call by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to accept his nation’s presence on the Golan Heights, which Israel took from Syria in 1967 during the Six-Day War.

“Today we see what is happening over the border – Iran’s attempts to establish a military presence and the aggression of terrorist fanatics. We will continue to stand strong and determined against all of these,” Netanyahu said Tuesday at the dedication of a synagogue at the Ein Keshatot archaeological site on the Golan Heights. “Israel on the Golan Heights is a guarantee for stability in the surrounding area. Israel on the Golan Heights is a solid reality based on ancient rights. Israel on the Golan Heights is a fact that the international community must recognize, and as long as it depends on me the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty because otherwise we would have Iran and Hezbollah on the shores of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Nikki Haley, Fierce Defender of Israel, Resigns as US Ambassador to the UN
By Josefin Dolsten and Ron Kampeas
JTA, October 09, 2018

Nikki Haley, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations and a strong defender of Israel in the world body, will leave her post by the end of this year.

President Donald Trump in an Oval Office appearance with Haley on Tuesday morning praised the former South Carolina governor and said that about six months ago, she told him that she was ready to leave by the end of this year.

“She’s a fantastic person, very importantly, but she’s also somebody that gets it,” Trump said.

US Rabbi: Muslim States Ask Azerbaijan How to Conduct Ties with Israel
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, October 08, 2018

Saudi, Pakistani, Afghani and Emirati officials are asking Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev about how to balance their identities as Muslim countries with a relationship with Israel, the Azerbaijani leader told an American rabbi on Monday.

Rabbi Marc Schneier , who met with Aliyev in Baku, said the Azerbaijani leader told him – without going into names – that officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Pakistan “are looking for his guidance on how to navigate being a Muslim country committed to Islam, and at the same time reaching out and supporting Israel.”

Lithuania Won't Tolerate Attempts to Rewrite History, Foreign Minister Says
The Baltic Times, October 09, 2018

Lithuania will not tolerate attempts to rewrite history and reverse the roles of victims and executioners, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Monday. 

"The Russian ministry's official spokeswoman has announced her assessment, which is a message to the world. We are convinced we can't ignore it," Linkevicius told BNS by phone from Yerevan. 

"This is our national hero, a man who symbolizes our resistance fight, and it's unacceptable to make unsubstantiated accusations against him," he said. 

The minister commented on his ministry's decision to hand a note of protest to Russia over its officials' statements about Lithuania's post-war anti-Soviet armed resistance hero Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, whose remains were buried in a state funeral last Saturday.

Netanyahu Meets Highest-Ranking Russian Official Since Syria Plane Downing
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, September 09, 2018

Amid a mini-crisis with Russia over Moscow's blaming Israel for indirect responsibility in Syria’s downing of a Russian intelligence plane in September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov on Tuesday and stressed the importance of continued cooperation between the two countries. 

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu emphasized the importance of the link between the two states and of the need for continued dialogue regarding threats in the region based on common interests. 

Akimov is currently in the country as part of a delegation taking part in meetings of the Israel-Russia Economic Forum at the Foreign Ministry.

Faith: A Journey from Russia
By Karen Mahoney
Kenosha News, October 06, 2018

As part of her sabbatical this summer, Rabbi Dena Feingold, spiritual leader of Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha, traveled to Russia on a 10-day tour led by Rabbi Jonathan Porath, one of the foremost experts on Jewish travel to Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Since his initial visit to the Soviet Union in 1965, Rabbi Porath has visited Russia more than 175 times, having led tours to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and served as senior staff of the Russian Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee from 1993 through 2008.

Kremlin Mobilizes Its Arsenals to Influence Ukrainian Elections
By Oley Sukhov
Kyiv Post, October 05, 2018

In the run-up to Ukraine’s 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Kremlin is mobilizing its resources to influence the outcome of the votes.

The tools at Russia’s disposal are diverse: friendly political parties, economic influence, escalation on the war front, media resources, and even the pro-Russian Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

“Russia will use everything it can use,” political analyst Vitaly Bala told the Kyiv Post.

Restored Fragment of Prewar Torah Scroll Goes on Display at Site of Kielce Pogrom in Poland
JTA, October 08, 2018

A fragment of a prewar Torah scroll returned to Kielce, Poland, after a two-year restoration, and went on display at the Institute of Culture, Meeting and Dialogue located on a site significant to Jews.

The fragment was found in the Kielce Market Square just after World War II. For many years it was housed in the archives of the Łomża Scientific Society, where it was rediscovered several years ago. The scroll’s parchment was in poor condition, covered with a large amount of dust and mycelium. The restoration was carried out by the National Museum in Kielce.

It is estimated that the document is about 15 percent of the original Torah scroll.

Israel and Russia Go Back to the Future
By Eyal Zisser
Jewish News Syndicate, October 08, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was announced at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, will be among the most important the two have held in recent years. On the docket will be more than the question of maintaining Israel’s freedom of action in Syria; the two leaders will determine the future of the countries’ relations in the wake of the deep crisis caused by the downing of a Russian spy plane by Syrian air defenses in September.

Along with the announcement of the impending meeting, a report in the Arab media on Sunday said that Russia has offered to mediate between Israel and Iran to lower tensions between the two rivals, reach understandings and delineate red lines regarding Iranian activity in Syria. Such a development would help stave off the breakout of an Israeli-Iranian war, which many view as inevitable and a matter of time.

Polish President to Commemorate Diplomat Who Helped Save Jews from Nazis 
By Jeremy Sharon
Jerusalem Post, October 09, 2018

President of Poland Andrzej Duda will pay tribute on Tuesday to Konstanty Rokicki, a Polish diplomat who lived in Switzerland during the Second World War and who helped save several hundred Jews during the Holocaust.

Rokicki was involved in providing Jews with forged South American passports. 

The idea was brought up by Juliusz Kühl, a Polish Jewish diplomat; Chaim Yisroel Eiss of Agudat Yisrael; and Abraham Silberschein, said Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Weisenthal Center.

Polish envoys Aleksander Łados and Stefan Ryniewicz provided diplomatic cover, while Silberschein and Eiss dealt with smuggling the passports into Nazi-occupied Poland.

[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.