Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. December 21, 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, Russian President Vladimir Putin held his fourteenth annual end-of-year press conference. Putin answered questions about Russia's economic future, the authorities' crackdown on musicians, the fear of nuclear war, and the U.S. withdrawal from Syria. He also addressed foreign policy issues, including recent tension with the United States over non-proliferation and the seizure of Ukrainian naval ships in the Kerch Strait. Putin underlined the need for greater cooperation between Russia and the West to ease tensions. Putin also welcomed the United States’ decision to withdraw its military forces from Syria. 

Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine Joel Lion criticized Lviv’s regional council for declaring 2019 the year of Stepan Bandera. Lion stated, “I was shocked on hearing [the] Lviv regional council’s decision....I cannot understand how the glorification of those who were directly involved in terrible anti-Semitic crimes can help fight anti-Semitism and xenophobia.” NCSEJ is tracking this story and the Ukrainian parliament's recent decision to commemorate Bandera’s birthday as an official national holiday.  

NCSEJ commends the decision of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Georgia Support Act. This legislation underlines the United States’ support for Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. The Act also supports developing trade relations, including negotiations for a U.S.-Georgia bilateral free trade agreement. 

NCSEJ works to promote and protect the well-being of Jewish communities in the second largest Jewish diaspora. Please remember to support our work as part of our yearly Chanukah Appeal. Click here to make a donation online, or call us at (202) 898-2500 to donate by phone.  

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. December 21, 2018

Germany Offering Compensation to Hundreds Who Fled Nazis As Children
By David Rising
Talking Points Memo, December 17, 2018

Germany has agreed to one-time payments for survivors, primarily Jews, who were evacuated from Nazi Germany as children, many of whom never saw their parents again, the organization that negotiates compensation with the German government said Monday.

The New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said the government had agreed to payments of 2,500 euros ($2,800) to those still alive from among the 10,000 people who fled on the so-called “Kindertransport.”

This year is the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the transport of the children to Britain from Nazi Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The Holocaust in the USSR and the Memorial Calendar
By Alan Rosenbaum
The Jerusalem Post, December 13, 2018

How does one commemorate a yahrzeit (anniversary of a date of death) without a Jewish calendar, and without an organized Jewish community? These questions were real-life issues for the Jews of the Soviet Union after World War II, who wanted to mark the murder of their fellow Jews during the Nazi occupation of the USSR.

This subject will be the theme of the lecture delivered by Dr. Arkadi Zeltser, direct or of Yad Vashem’s Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, at next week’s international research conference titled “The Time Dimension During and Regarding the Holocaust: In Real Time and in Retrospect.” Organized by Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, the conference will cover a wide array of topics on the relationship to and perception of time during the Shoah for those caught in its inferno.

A Promise To Keep in A Budapest Graveyard
By Steve Lipman
Times of Israel, December 18, 2018

As a 13-year-old middle school student from Sydney, Australia, Michael Perl visited Hungary for the first time in 1984 with his Hungarian-born, Holocaust survivor father. They walked around Budapest’s sprawling Kozma Street Jewish cemetery, where Perl’s great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents and “many other relatives” are buried.

The grounds, says Perl, who moved to the United States 20 years ago and works as a portfolio manager, were in good shape. “It left a deep impression on me.”

Eight years ago, Perl went back to the cemetery again. Most of the 190-acre site was now overgrown with trees and above-ground roots and weeds, and the gravestones were covered with ivy; the area was largely impenetrable. “You could not walk in most of the sections. You had to jump over trees and under bushes.

Highlights: Russian President Putin’s End-of-Year News Conference
Reuters, December 20, 2018

“Provocations are always bad. A provocation is geared toward escalating the situation. Why do our Ukrainian partners need this development? They need to escalate the situation around the elections, to raise the rating of one candidate for the post. Did the provocation achieve its aims? In terms of raising ratings, maybe.”

“He achieved his aims, at the expense of (Ukraine’s) interests and I believe these are poor methods. (The sailors) were sent, and it was expected that one of them would die. And the fact that not one of them died was a great dissatisfaction in its ruling circles.”

How to Fight anti-Semitism’s Resurgence in Europe
By Andrew Baker
Washington Post, December 18, 2018

Anti-Semitism is sometimes compared to a virus. While we can’t eliminate it, we at least know how to keep it under control. But what if we’re wrong? What if, like a virus, anti-Semitism has developed a new strain, unresponsive to all the traditional treatments?

The European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights' (FRA) new report on discrimination and hate crimes against Jews in the E.U. is deeply disturbing. Anti-Semitism is “pervasive” and "has become disturbingly normalized,” it says. “The persistence and prevalence of antisemitism hinder people’s ability to live openly Jewish lives.”

FRA polled more than 16,000 Jews in 12 E.U. countries this year. More than a third of those polled say they have considered emigrating. The first FRA survey, six years ago, surprised many, who imagined Jews were comfortable and secure in a prosperous and modern Europe. Instead, it revealed high levels of anxiety, Jews fearful of encountering anti-Semitic harassment or attacks, and 1 in 3 deciding not to wear any identifiable Jewish symbol in public.

Israel Will ‘Intensify’ Fight Against Iran in Syria after US Withdraws
JTA, December 20, 2018

Israel will step up its fight against Iran in Syria after the United States withdraws its troops from her neighbor to the north.

“We will continue to take very strong action against Iran’s attempts to entrench itself in Syria. In neither of these sectors do we intend to lessen our efforts; we will intensify them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the U.S.,” Netanyahu said Thursday in a statement to the media.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump launched a full and accelerated pullout of the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, a move that could leave a vacuum that Iran will be eager to fill. Trump on Wednesday confirmed the reports of a pullout in a tweet. “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” he said.

40 Years Ago, A Refusenik Made Art of the Soviet Jewish Tragedy. At 82, He Is Seeing Its First English Translation
By Penny Schwartz
BBC, December 18, 2018

The well-worn books that fill the shelves in David Shrayer-Petrov’s living room reveal the remarkable literary life of the influential refusenik, who has left his mark both as a distinguished physician and as an acclaimed writer.

Among the volumes are works by literary lights of Russian 20th-century literature, including novelists Mikhail Bulgakov and Vasily Aksyonov, a peer of Shrayer-Petrov dating back to the 1950s, and the poets Boris Pasternak and Genrikh Sapgir, his close friend until the poet’s death.

But it’s the copies of the writer’s own globally published works that bear witness to Shrayer-Petrov’s triumph against the oppressive and anti-Semitic control exerted by Soviet officials who tried to silence the voice of the masterful and influential writer.

Tension with Moscow Seems over As Russian Defense Delegation Visits Israel
Jerusalem Post, December 19, 2018 

Despite reports of tension between Jerusalem and Moscow, a top defense Russian delegation visited the Knesset for high-level talks with members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The delegation, hosted by committee chairman MK Avi Dichter (Likud), included: Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security; and Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States and the deputy chairman of the committee as well as two additional members.

Kislyak is one of the Russian officials who US President Donald Trump shared intelligence with – collected by Israel – in the Oval Office in May 2017. The intelligence was reportedly connected to an ISIS terrorist plot emanating from Syria.

Read the full article here.

Soviet Sentimentality: Russians’ Regret At U.S.S.R.’s Collapse Hits 14-Year High
RFERL, December 11, 2018

More Russians regret the breakup of the Soviet Union than at any other time since 2004, an opinion poll shows.

In a survey whose results were published on December 19, two-thirds -- or 66 percent -- of respondents answered "yes" when asked whether they regret the 1991 Soviet collapse.

That is up from 58 percent a year earlier and is the highest proportion since 2004, the last year of President Vladimir Putin's first term, Levada said.

Rights Groups Call for Facebook Board Overhaul for ‘Weaponizing anti-Semitism’
By Glenn Chapman
Times of Israel, December 19, 2018

Dozens of civil rights groups on Tuesday called on Facebook to purge Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg from its board for blunders including “weaponizing anti-Semitism.”

Advocacy and rights group took direct aim at Zuckerberg and Sandberg for Facebook enlisting Definers Public Affairs to conduct research on company critics.

“You retained the services of Definers Public Affairs to investigate, undermine and attack our allies, mimicking the tactics of the worst, disreputable political operatives and hate groups,” read the letter.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that Facebook sought to deflect criticism and discredit advocates by exploiting anti-Semitic campaigns against philanthropist George Soros.”

[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.