Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. February 22, 2019

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

This week, Chairman Daniel Rubin and I participated in the 45th annual Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization's mission to Israel, where we met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, and many other officials on a range of issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, regional conflicts, and the threat posed by Iran.

This week in Washington, Deputy Director Lesley Weiss attended a number of meetings.

On Tuesday, she was a dinner guest at the residence of Slovak Republic Ambassador to the U.S. Ivan Korčok, as part of a small group of government and Jewish organization leaders, to discuss the recent OSCE conference on anti-Semitism held in Bratislava. On Wednesday evening, Lesley Weiss attended a reception at the residence of the Austrian Ambassador to the United States, in honor of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

In the news this week, President Putin and PM Netanyahu postponed a planned meeting, as Mr. Netanyahu worked to create a right-wing electoral alliance ahead of upcoming Israeli elections. In Azerbaijan, construction is beginning on a Jewish museum in the town of Krasnaya Sloboda, to highlight the history of Mountain Jews and the overall history of Jews in Azerbaijan. NCSEJ has visited the region several times, and we hope this new museum will further heighten international awareness of the peaceful history of the Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan.

Finally, in Ukraine, vandals defaced a Kyiv mall with the giant image of a swastika. NCSEJ has been in contact with the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington about this hateful incident. We continue to be deeply concerned about the modern-day glorification of World War II-era nationalists who collaborated with the Nazis.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. February 22, 2019

PM [Netanyahu] Speaks with Putin, Agrees to Hold Postponed Moscow Meeting ‘in Near Future’
Times of Israel, February 21, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone Thursday after having postponed a visit to Moscow for talks with the Russian leader to instead stay home and broker an electoral alliance between two nationalist parties in a bid to unify a right-wing bloc ahead of national elections.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the leaders would hold face-to-face talks in Moscow “in the near future” and that Netanyahu had congratulated Putin on the occasion of Defender of the Fatherland Day, a public holiday celebrating the military in Russia.

The Russian embassy in Israel said Netanyahu and Putin discussed “international and bilateral issues” during the call, giving no further details. Moscow said the call was initiated by the Israeli side.

World’s First Museum of Mountain Jews to Open in Azerbaijan
By Seymur Mammadov
Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2019

A favorable atmosphere has been formed in Azerbaijan for all peoples who have lived on this Earth for many years in peace, mutual respect and friendship. One of these is the Jewish people, who have lived side by side with the Azerbaijanis for more than 2,500 years.

Representatives of three Jewish communities live in Azerbaijan: Mountain Jews (concentrated mainly in the village of Krasnaya Sloboda in the Guba region); European Jews or Ashkenazi (in Baku and Sumgait); and Georgian Jews, living mainly in Baku. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Mountain Jews became the dominant group of the Jewish population.

Since ancient times, Jews have always been surrounded by the love, care and friendship of Azerbaijanis – while in other countries, Jews were subjected to discrimination and persecution. 

Jewish Agency’s Isaac Herzog Blames ‘Killing Fields of Social Media’ for Rising Anti-Semitism
By Sam Sokol
JTA, February 19, 2019

Social media are spreading anti-Semitism, Jewish Agency chief Isaac Herzog told American Jewish leaders meeting here, and are “a hotbed of the lunatics of the world.”

“The real dirt of the world comes up from the killing fields of social media,” he told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at its annual gathering on Monday.

The meeting opened just days after France and Germany announced major increases in anti-Semitic incidents and amid a diplomatic spat between Jerusalem and Warsaw over Polish complicity in the Holocaust threatened to derail relations with one of Israel’s most important European allies.
In decrying the “culture of hate” online, Herzog cited a recent CNN poll of Europeans in seven countries that found that more than one-quarter of people believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance, and more than one-third said they have no substantial knowledge of the Holocaust.

Netanyahu Urges Europe to Take a Stand Against ‘Plague’ of Anti-Semitism
Times of Israel, February 19, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urged European leaders to take a strong stand against anti-Semitism after the overnight vandalism of dozens of graves in a French Jewish cemetery.

“Today something shocking happened in France,” Netanyahu said in a Hebrew video he published on social media. “Eighty Jewish graves were desecrated with Nazi symbols by wild anti-Semites.”

“I call on the leaders of France and Europe to take a strong stand against anti-Semitism,” Netanyahu continued. “It is a plague that endangers everyone, not just us, and it must be condemned wherever and whenever it rears its head.”

Around 80 graves were discovered to have been daubed with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim, close to the border with Germany in the Alsace region.

Giant Nazi Swastika Adorns Staircase in Kiev Mall, Latest in Ukraine Anti-Semitism
By Hana Levi Julian
Jewish Press, February 18, 2019

A facsimile of the Nazi flag with a giant swastika in the middle was painted on to a central staircase in the middle of the Gorodok shopping mall in the Ukraine capital city of Kiev this weekend.

The “decoration” appeared in the mall several hours before Ukrainian nationalists marched through central Kiev, according to Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee. The Ukrainian nationalist organization “Sokil” held a rally in the capital brandishing the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol, Dolinsky reported on Twitter.

Some 100,000 Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis and their local collaborators at Babi Yar, a ravine in Kiev, during the Holocaust in World War II.

Less than a week ago, a memorial wall at the Jewish cemetery in Kolomiya, Ukraine was vandalized with anti-Semitic grafitti.

These Are The Russian-Speaking Jewish Americans You Never Knew Changed Your Life  
By Julie Masis
Times of Israel, February 19, 2019

When renowned Russian biochemist Vladimir Torchilin immigrated to the United States in 1991, he brought with him a degree from the Soviet Union’s most prestigious educational institution, Moscow State University.

He was 45 years old, and his accomplishments included the development of a new medication to dissolve blood clots. The drug, called streptodekaza, was just as effective as older medications, but with fewer side effects, he said.

Less than 10 years prior to his arrival in the United States, Torchilin received the Soviet Union’s highest award — the Lenin Prize — for his work on enzymes for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Czech PM: Israel Is Our Strategic Partner in the Middle East 
By Tom McEnchroe
Radio Praha, February 19, 2019

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is currently on an official visit to Israel, meeting with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and has high hopes for strengthening what he says is a “strategic partnership”. I asked Irena Kalhousová, an expert on Czech-Israeli relations from the London School of Economics, what makes the relationship special.

“I think there are many reasons. You mentioned history, which I think still resonates. For Czechs, this stance has been maintained since 1989. No matter who was in the government, this pro-Israeli foreign policy has been consistent. 

“However, it is also a political decision, because the Czech Republic is a supporter of Israel as the only so-called democracy in the Middle-East. 

Read the full article here.

Visegrad Group Cancels Summit in Israel after Poland Row
Jewish News Syndicate, February 18, 2019

The Visegrád group of four central European countries has announced it has cancelled their meeting in Israel after Poland’s decision to pull out of the summit following comments by Israel’s foreign minister about alleged Polish collaboration during the Holocaust.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary would instead hold separate meeting with Israeli leaders this week.

“It will not be called Visegrád, because this entails the presence of all four,” an Israeli official said. “It’s going to be a summit with Visegrád members.”

Hungary, Slovakia to Establish Diplomatic Delegations in Jerusalem
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2019

Poland stayed away from a summit of central European countries in Jerusalem on Tuesday, but Hungary and Slovakia gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu some reason to smile by announcing the opening of diplomatic representations in Jerusalem.

While Tuesday’s meetings were originally panned as a summit of the four Visegrad Group countries – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – it was downgraded to bilateral talks between Netanyahu and the visiting prime ministers of each of the three other countries after Poland backed out because of anger over Israeli comments regarding complicity in the Holocaust and Polish antisemitism.

After meeting separately with each of the prime ministers, Netanyahu then hosted them all for lunch at his residence.

‘Yiddish Glory’ Rewrites History
By Alexander Feinberg
Moscow Times, February 21, 2019

The myth still remains that during World War II Jews were more likely to bemoan their fate than to actively resist the Nazis. This is easily disproved by the 300,000-500,000 Jews that are estimated to have fought in the Red Army.

But due to anti-Semitic policies in the Soviet Union, many of these stories were never told, and today we mostly learn about the Holocaust through stories about the liberation of the concentration camps. In these stories, Jews are massacred until their liberation by the American and Soviet armies.

But since the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and the opening of long-sealed government archives, we can now see the Holocaust from another point of view: that of the Jewish Red Army soldier and his family living in the Soviet Union.

[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.