Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. March 23, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

I returned last night from the Sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem where more than 1700 leaders, politicians, and diplomats gathered to discuss strategies to combat the ongoing, multi-faceted campaign against Jews around the world and Israel. We had the chance to hear from senior officials in the Israeli government and the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev. Four justice ministers signed a communique, committing to focus on hate speech that proliferates on the internet. Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process at the UN, delivered a particularly moving speech.

I had the honor to chair a panel on Holocaust revisionism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. I had an insightful and lively discussion with panelists Anna Bokshitskaya, Executive Director, Russian Jewish Congress; Andras Heisler, President, Hungarian Jewish Community; Efraim Zuroff, Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem; Rafal Pankowski, Co-Founder, Never Again Association of Poland; and Sophie Kotzer, Department Director for Education and Culture, Nativ. 

As a reminder, the next Board of Governors meeting will be on Tuesday, June 5 in Washington, DC. Please save the date if you have not already done so.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
CEO Mark Levin at the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.
CEO Mark Levin (at far right) chaired a panel at the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. From left to right are panelists Rafal Pankowski, Sophie Kotzer, Efraim Zuroff, Andras Heisler, and Anna Bokshitskaya.
Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process at the UN addressing the Global Forum.
Washington, D.C. March 23, 2018

Jews Can’t Fight Antisemitism Alone Is Key Message at Jerusalem Conference

By Tamara Zieve

Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2018

Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem” was a central message of panelists who stressed the need for an international response to the problem at the sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem, held from Sunday to Wednesday.

Antisemitism should concern and be tackled by society at large, rather than just by the Jewish communities that it most directly affects, participants highlighted.

Yehuda Bauer, a prominent Israeli historian of the Holocaust, spoke at panel session held on Tuesday on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the Working Definition of Antisemitism. “We have to realize that antisemitism is not a Jewish problem but a problem of the societies in which it rises. It’s a cancer which eats the societies in which it comes up,” he said.

Read the full article here.

Trump congratulates Putin on his reelection, discussed U.S.-Russian ‘arms race’

By Jenna Johnson and Anton Troianovski

Washington Post, March 20, 2018

President Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection victory in a phone call Tuesday and said he intends to meet with Putin to discuss various subjects, including an “arms race” that is “getting out of control.”

The call was initially disclosed by the Kremlin and subsequently confirmed by Trump in remarks at the White House. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he congratulated Putin on “his electoral victory,” adding that he and Putin would get together “in the not-too-distant future.”

Some world leaders have hesitated to congratulate Putin, since his reelection occurred in an environment of state control of much of the news media and his most prominent opponent was barred from the ballot.

Putin’s 2024 Problem: Election Win Raises Curtain On Clouded Future

By Steve Gutterman

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 18, 2018

When a friend told Ilya Barabanov that he would vote for the very first time on March 18 -- and vote to keep President Vladimir Putin in office until 2024 -- the journalist had to ask why.

"At least it's some sort of guarantee that he'll be gone in six years," came the reply.

Don't count on it.

Now that Putin has been declared the winner, the clock starts ticking on what could be his final stint as president, because the Russian Constitution imposes a limit of two consecutive terms.

But few believe that will stop the man who has been president or prime minister since August 1999 from looking for ways to continue to call the shots after 2024.

Read the full article here.

Putin’s Victory, Europe’s Temptation

By Judy Dempsey

Carnegie Europe, March 19, 2018

Vladimir Putin’s predictable election victory has the potential of dividing the European Union and weakening the transatlantic relationship.

Although the EU has, against all the odds, kept rolling over the sanctions on Russia after Putin’s annexation of Crimea four years ago this month, several EU leaders and political parties are, to say the least, ambiguous about Putin.

From Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the UK’s Labour Party opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to Horst Seehofer, the former leader of Bavaria and now interior minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fourth coalition government—they have all pandered to Putin.

Read the full article here.

Putin Not Remotely Antisemitic, Says Russia’s Chief Rabbi

By Greer Fay Cashman

Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2018

The controversy stirred up by Russian President Vladimir Putin – who in a recent interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly suggested that Jews might be responsible for election meddling in America – apparently did not raise as much ire among Russian Jews as it did elsewhere in the Jewish world.

 Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s two chief rabbis who is currently in Israel, told a packed auditorium in Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai on Monday night that Putin is not remotely antisemitic, and that he was the first Russian president to attend the opening of a synagogue, or any Jewish event for that matter.

In a conversation with Steve Linde, editor in chief of The Jerusalem Report, Lazar contended that Putin had listed several options and Jews had been included – not because of antisemitism, but because in Russia Jews are considered to be very clever and powerful, and this simply confirmed that belief.

Read the full article here.

Russia and Ukraine: From Brothers to Neighbors

By Dmitri Trenin
Carnegie Moscow, March 21, 2018

The Ukraine crisis is usually seen as an act of final liberation of the second largest former Soviet republic from imperial Russia. The significance of the reverse effect, of Russia finally drawing the border between itself and Ukraine, is often overlooked. Yet its importance is huge.

It closed the books on the post-imperial period in Russia’s recent history, which still held out hopes for some sort of meaningful reintegration of the former Soviet republics around the Russian Federation. Instead, the separation from Ukraine and the breakdown in relations with the West have ushered in a wholly new era in which the Russian Federation asserts itself as a self-standing multiethnic nation-state in the middle of the mega-continent of Greater Eurasia.

In this setting, the other countries of the former Soviet Union, not just Ukraine, are simply geographical neighbors, rather than “little brothers” in an extended family run from Moscow. For Russia to succeed in its relations with these countries, it needs to learn the lessons of Ukraine.

Read the full article here.

Law on Holocaust rhetoric unconstitutional, Polish attorney general says

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 22, 2018

The Polish attorney general’s office described as partly unconstitutional a law passed last month that criminalizes blaming Poland for Nazi crimes.

Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro published a statement on the law Thursday. The nonbinding opinion has no immediate legal consequences, but may be taken into account by the Constitutional Court in reviewing the law.

The legislation, which was enacted earlier this month, imposes fines or up to three years in jail on anyone who ascribes “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich.”

Read the full article here.

50 Years After: Jews Banned From Poland Once Again Fear for Jewish Community’s Fate

By Ofer Aderet

Haaretz, March 19, 2018

In March 1968, 50 years ago this month, when the Polish communist regime began an anti-Jewish propaganda campaign, Michael Sobelman was only 15 years old. His mother, who was half Jewish, had passed away a few years earlier and he grew up in the city of Sosnowiec with his father, “an elderly Holocaust survivor, closed and very sad,” says Sobelman. He had remained in Poland after World War II.

The wave of student protests, which began at Warsaw University, spread quickly all over the country. In an attempt to silence the criticism of the government, the Communist Party chose to incite the masses against the Jews, claiming they were leading the protests as part of a “Zionist conspiracy,” and began a witch-hunt that included expelling Jews from the party, jobs, government offices and the universities.

“I was in high school at the time and felt the hostile atmosphere in school,” says Sobelman. The geography teacher teased him, saying: “Poor you, what will be with you? Go to Palestine and you won’t be able to eat ham.”

Read the full article here.

Ukraine to commemorate Reform synagogue destroyed by Nazis in Lviv

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 21, 2018

Municipal authorities in the city of Lviv in Ukraine are designing a monument marking the site where one of the region’s first Reform synagogues once stood before the Nazis destroyed it.

A preliminary design calls for paint or red-tinted bricks that would trace the contours of the Temple Synagogue, whose foundations lie under Old Market Square, the website TvoeMisto reported Friday.

“We also want to add greenery and remove a few kiosks so that they do not block the entrance from the tram stop to the relevant part of the square,” architect Olga Krivoruchko, who is preparing the project in consultation with Jewish organizations and local business owners, told the news website.


Hungarian resort town opens restored synagogue as educational center

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 20, 2018

A newly renovated former synagogue building and modern virtual exhibition center in Hungary was opened to the public.

The building complex opened Tuesday in Balatonfüred, popular resort town in western Hungary a 90-minute drive from the capital of Budapest. Owned by the municipality, the complex aims aims to serve as an educational and cultural site.

The original plan to restore the synagogue building was initiated six years ago by a local Jewish personality, Ferenc Olti, a Balatonfüred native whose family members were deported from the town and killed during the Holocaust.

Read the full article here.

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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.