Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. August 31, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

Please see below for the links to this week's news updates. We wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. August 31, 2018

Moldova schools to teach Holocaust studies
By Jeremy Sharon
Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2018

The Republic of Moldova has said it is moving ahead with plans to improve Holocaust education in the country for school pupils and university students, and intends to implement an action plan by next year.

It is also advancing plans to fund the restoration of neglected Jewish cemeteries in the country, particularly a large cemetery in the capital Chisinau, and to fund a Holocaust museum in the city.
In July 2016, the Moldovan Parliament adopted a political declaration to accept the final report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, chaired by the late Elie Wiesel, which was published in 2004 and included plans for Holocaust education.

At Vilnius synagogue, Netanyahu warns Jews are still under threat
Times of Israel, August 26, 2018

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Jews were still at risk even decades after the Holocaust, as he wrapped up a groundbreaking visit to Lithuania, a Baltic state once home to his forefathers.

“For the Jewish people, what has changed in these 75 years? Not the attempts to destroy us, they still seek to destroy us,” Netanyahu told around 300 Lithuanian Jews gathered in Vilnius’s Choral Synagogue.

The prime minister identified what he termed new existential threats facing the Jews, with Iran and the Hamas terror group which runs the Gaza Strip being among them.

Netanyahu praises Lithuanian president’s Holocaust commemoration efforts
JTA, August 24, 2018

During the first visit by an Israeli prime minister to Lithuania, Benjamin Netanyahu praised the country’s efforts to commemorate the Holocaust, drawing a rebuke from a Jewish activist.

Netanyahu’s visit Thursday to the capital Vilnius coincided with a meeting of the leaders of all three Baltic states — Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – who also met with Netanyahu. “This reflects Israel’s growing stature around the world,” Netanyahu said of the invitation to the summit.

The Baltic states are among Israel’s staunchest supporters in the European Union.

Russian xenophobia, anti-Semitism up significantly over last year, Levada poll finds
By Paul Goble
Windows on Eurasia, August 27, 2018

Over the last year, Levada Center polls show, xenophobia and anti-Semitism have increased dramatically, with a third of Russians now saying they do not want to see Roma in Russia, only a few less saying they do not want to see Chinese there, and 12 percent saying the same thing about Jews.

All these numbers are up substantially from a year ago, from 17 percent, 15 percent and four percent respectively. Moreover, one in every six now say that they do not want to see any nations in Russia “except Russians,” and the share backing “Russia for the Russians” has nearly doubled from 10 percent to 19 percent.

Fleeing hardship and war, some 400 Ukrainians leave for Israel
The latest immigrants succeed 740 others across 19 flights from eight countries who arrived in the Jewish state earlier this summer.
JNS, August 29, 2018

Fleeing economic hardship and ongoing war in their native country, some 400 new immigrants from Ukraine are scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday and Thursday via two special flights coordinated by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

This is part of an influx of more than 1,000 immigrants from eight countries who have emigrated to Israel this summer through the organization. The latest immigrants succeed 740 others across 19 flights from eight countries who arrived with the Fellowship earlier this summer. As of 2014, at least 13,500 Jews have fled Ukraine.

Poland gives out record numbers of passports to Israelis
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, August 24, 2018

More than 20,000 Israelis have obtained Polish citizenship in the years 2010-2017 — an increase of more than 250 percent over the previous seven years.

The data, released last month by the embassy of Poland in Israel, on the approval of naturalization applications by Israelis to the Polish embassy in Israel show that 10,820 Israelis became Poles during the years 2015-2017 alone — slightly more than in the years 2002-2010 combined.

The data came from the Polish foreign ministry following a query by Marek Jakubiak, a lawmaker for the far-right Kukiz’15 movement who is representing the party in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament.

Warsaw Jewish Theater to have a new home with $41 million from city
JTA, August 30, 2018

WARSAW, Poland – The city of Warsaw will allocate $41 million to give its Jewish theater a new home.

On Thursday, the Warsaw City Council approved the proposal by Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz to adapt a five-story tenement building. The building from the late 19th century is one of the few remnants of the former Jewish Warsaw. It is located on Prozna Street in the area of Grzybowski Square, where the original theater building was located before its demolition in 2017.

The Warsaw Jewish Theater was closed in 2016, when the building’s owner decided to empty the building before authorizing its demolition. Its director and actors protested the decision.

Suspect identified in anti-Semitic graffiti attack on Jewish center in Russian village
JTA, August 27, 2018

Russian authorities identified a suspect in the anti-Semitic graffiti attack on a Jewish center in the Russian village of Lyubavichi, the cradle of the Chabad Hasidic movement.

The suspect was a man from Murmansk, a city located hundreds of miles north of Lyubavichi, according to Yuri Ivashkin, the mayor of the village in western Russia.

“We knew immediately this was not the work of a local,” Ivashkin told JTA. “Police are still working on identifying an accomplice.”

New 'Glory to Ukraine' army chant invokes nationalist past
By Dmytro Kaniewski
Deustche Welle, August 24, 2018

"Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" That is the slogan the Ukrainian military officially began using at the country's Independence Day parade on Friday, replacing the soviet-era "Wish you health, comrade!"

The phrase dates back to World War I, when military units from the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic were fighting alongside German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers against Russia. However it was in the 1930s when it really took hold, becoming a rallying cry for the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), explained Oleksandr Zaitsev, a historian from the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

"There are records showing that during the court hearings against OUN's leader Stepan Bandera in 1936, his supporters were accompanying the slogan 'Glory to Ukraine' with a hand-throwing fascist-style salute," he told DW.

Ukraine PM in exclusive interview: ‘We are building a new country’
By Iris Georlette/Maariv
Jerusalem Post, August 26, 2018

“We are open to the world, and the world opens its gates to us. Ukraine is destined for greatness. I believe that. I live and work for that. That is my narrative.”
So says Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in an exclusive interview to Maariv magazine.

Groysman, elected April of 2016, is the only Jewish Prime Minister currently in office in a country other than Israel. At 40, Groysman is leading a country that has faced several challenges over recent years; the conflict with Russia and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula; the rising antisemitism, and the fight to eradicate corruption.

Israel reaps rewards of unlikely alliance with Vladimir Putin
By Mehul Srivastava and Kathrin Hille
Financial Times, August 29, 2018

At a dinner in June for the Russian ambassador in Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered some insights into how he had wooed Vladimir Putin into the most fruitful partnership of any western leader.

First, he paid homage to Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Then, he thanked the Red Army for defeating the Nazis. He spoke of the million Russian-speaking Jews now living in Israel. And he thanked the Russian president for fighting anti-Semitism. “I have great respect for Russia,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “I have respect for its contribution to civilisation and the courage of its people.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s cocktail of praise has proved to be seductive. As the war in Syria raged across the Israeli border, he forged an unlikely alliance with Mr. Putin, one that has benefited both leaders militarily and survived the shifting loyalties of that civil war.

Putin dilutes pension reform that has hit his popularity
By Andrew Osborn and Andrey Ostroukh
Reuters, August 29, 2018

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin diluted draft legislation to reform the pension system which has knocked his popularity and stirred protests, but said on Wednesday that Russia’s shrinking workforce meant reform was inevitable and would still hurt.

In a TV address, Putin, who once promised to never raise the retirement age, for the first time took responsibility for the reform which he said was needed to protect state finances, ensure social stability and safeguard national security.

But while putting his name to changes which have sent his popularity ratings to four-year lows, he said he was softening parts of the reform, including cutting the proposed retirement age for women by three years to 60.

[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.