Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. February 2, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

As I am sure many of you are aware, both the lower and upper houses of Polish Parliament have passed a troubling piece of legislation that promotes historical revisionism with regard to the Holocaust. The full text of the legislation is available by clicking here.

NCSEJ released a statement on Sunday calling on the government to rescind the legislation and cease its movement through the legislative pipeline. NCSEJ released another statement yesterday after the bill passed the Polish Senate, urging President Andrzej Duda not to sign the bill into law. NCSEJ has been in regular contact with the Polish government on this issue and will continue to engage with Warsaw to ensure the concerns of the American Jewish community are heard and the interests of the Polish Jewish community are defended.

This week, NCSEJ has been following another troubling trend in Poland's neighbor, Ukraine. Reports emerged that the ultra-nationalist Azov Battalion, a group with neo-Nazi ties, has launched a paramilitary police force across Ukraine. The group, Natsionalni Druzhyny, marched in Kyiv on Sunday and has appeared in other cities across the country. They promise to restore order to the Ukrainian streets as a supplement to national police forces. This is a dangerous development; non-state paramilitary organizations, let alone ones with neo-Nazi ties, should not be replacing the role of government forces. NCSEJ has communicated with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington on this issue will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week. The two leaders discussed Iran and Syria and visited Moscow's Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. February 2, 2018

Israel and Poland try to tamp down tensions after Poland’s ‘death camp’ law sparks Israeli outrage

By Ruth Eglash and Avi Selk

Washington Post, January 28, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke by phone Sunday and agreed to open a dialogue to avoid further diplomatic fallout following Poland’s initial approval of a law making it a criminal offense to mention Polish complicity in crimes committed during the Holocaust.

The crisis between the two countries appeared to be deepening Sunday as Poland’s deputy chief of mission, Piotr Kozlowski, was summoned to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem to explain why his country would promote such legislation.

Polish lawmakers voted Friday for a bill that would fine or jail people who blamed Poland or Poles for Nazi atrocities committed on its soil during World War II, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The law still needs final approval from the Polish Senate and the country’s president.

Read the full article here.

Poland Senate passes law to criminalize use of terms such as ‘Polish death camps’

By Katarzyna Markusz

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 1, 2018

The Polish Senate passed legislation that criminalizes accusing the Polish state of the crimes committed by the Germans during World War II.

The amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance was adopted early Thursday morning by a vote of 57-23, with two abstentions.

The legislation, designed to make it clear that Nazi Germany is responsible for the crimes against humanity that took place in the camps, was approved last week by the lower house of the Polish Parliament, or Sejm. The legislation must still be signed by the country’s president.

Read the full article here.

Netanyahu Meets Putin on Iran: Holocaust Teaches Us to ‘Stand Up to Murderous Ideologies’

By Noa Landau

Haaretz, January 29, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin are meeting in Moscow to discuss Iran's meddling in Syria and Lebanon.

As they headed into their meeting Netanyahu said: "I think that the main lesson of the rise of the Nazis and then the defeat of the Nazis is that we have to face murderous ideologies in time and with power."

"This is our mission today as well," Netanyahu said, noting that their meeting was to focus on the countries' "joint efforts to promote security and stability in our region, and of course our mutual cooperation between Russia and Israel."

Read the full article here.

In Ukraine, Ultranationalist Militia Strikes Fear in Some Quarters

By Christopher Miller

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 30, 2018

The gathering was large and formidable, with hundreds of mostly young men in fatigues keeping tight ranks on Kyiv's central Independence Square before marching in formation to a torch-lit fortress on a hillside in the Ukrainian capital.

There, in the January 28 spectacle, 600 of them swore an oath to clean the streets of illegal alcohol, drug traffickers, and illegal gambling establishments.

Their mission would seem righteous enough. And it was featured in a slickly produced video with aerial drone footage, sweeping edits, and menacing music that caught the attention of many on social media.

Read the full article here.

How the Holocaust Haunts Eastern Europe

By Lev Golinkin
New York Times, January 26, 2018

One of my big shocks upon arriving in America from Ukraine in the 1980s was learning that the United States had museums to commemorate the Holocaust.

We Soviet Jews didn’t meticulously construct exhibits — we walked past Nazi killing grounds on the way to buy groceries. Eastern Europe is crisscrossed with ravines holding bones of the millions who, instead of being deported to concentration camps, were massacred on the spot.

Three times cursed are the dead Jews of the old Communist bloc: gunned down outside their towns and villages, ignored and whitewashed by the Soviet Union, and now, their killers glorified by the resurging nationalism of today’s Eastern European governments.

Read the full article here.

Report: Ukraine had more anti-Semitic incidents than all former Soviet countries combined

By Cnaan Lipshiz

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 28, 2018

In its main annual report on anti-Semitism, Israel’s government singled out Ukraine as unusual in Eastern Europe for the alleged increase in attacks there, triggering protest by Kiev.

The allegation appeared in the anti-Semitism report for 2017 that the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs under Education Minister Naftali Bennett published last week, ahead of the Jan. 27 International Day of Holocaust Remembrance.

“A striking exception in the trend of decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in Eastern Europe was Ukraine, where the number of recorded anti-Semitic attacks was doubled from last year and surpassed the tally for all the incidents reported throughout the entire region combined,” the report said.

Read the full article here.

Trump’s Stance on Russia Sanctions Angers Both Moscow and Washington

By Neil MacFarquhar and Peter Baker

New York Times, January 30, 2018

The Trump administration managed the unusual feat this week of outraging both Russia’s leaders in Moscow and Russia’s biggest critics in Washington with its handling of a new law intended to punish the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 American elections.

The State Department angered members of Congress by announcing on Monday that it did not plan to impose new sanctions called for in a measure that President Trump reluctantly signed into law last year. And the Treasury Department angered Moscow late Monday night — Tuesday morning in Russia — with a new name-and-shame list identifying 210 senior Russian political and business figures.

Read the full article here.

The Inside Story of How Vicious anti-Semitism Quietly Aids Moscow’s Covert Influence Campaign in the U.S.

By Anton Shekhovtsov

Haaretz, January 29, 2018

On the 15th of January, the previously little known website, Russia Insider, published a 5000-word long manifesto authored by the website’s editor Charles Bausman, in which he demanded the world in general, and Russia in particular, "Drop the Jew taboo," stating that it was high time to start assertively addressing the "pernicious influence" of the "Jewish elites."

The manifesto alleged "Jewish pressure groups" were in no small degree responsible for various sins, ranging from current sex scandals to most of the deadly turmoil in the world over the last 30 years. And, since Russia Insider’s contents mostly concern Russia, Bausman claimed that "the unreasonable hostility towards Putin’s Russia [was] very much a Jewish phenomenon."

Read the full article here.

Kennan Cable No. 30: Democracy in Ukraine: Are We There Yet?

By Matthew Rojansky and Mykhailo Minakov

Kennan Institute, January 30, 2018

More than a quarter century ago, the Ukrainian people made a historic choice in favor of independence, democracy, and the free market. Their vision of a fully sovereign, democratic, and prosperous state has been only partially fulfilled. While Ukraine is a clearly established polity with internationally recognized sovereignty, it is nonetheless hampered in its democratic and free market development by endemic corruption, retrograde political cycles, and aggression by its powerful neighbor Russia.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine emerged as a highly pluralistic but unstable democracy. Through the 1990s, the country’s political system developed along two parallel paths, combining a liberal democratic façade with post-Soviet oligarch-controlled distribution of power and resources. The contradictions between these two dimensions of Ukraine’s politics yielded two revolutionary cycles, spanning roughly 1992–2004 and 2005–2014. During each of these cycles, a period of popularly supported democratic reforms was soon displaced by simulated democracy, driven essentially by oligarchic competition and then, later, by authoritarian consolidation, resulting in civic protests and eventual regime change, resetting the cycle.

Belarus – Honoring International Holocaust Day, Beit Simha Hosts UN and EU Dignitaries and Jewish Leaders

World Union for Progressive Judaism, February 1, 2018

On the eve of the Holocaust International Remembrance Day, the Sandra Breslauer Center for Progressive Judaism “Beit Simha” hosted commemorative events dedicated to the day which was launched worldwide in 2005 by the decision of the UN General Assembly.

Taking part in the ceremony were representatives of all Jewish Unions and organizations, the German Educational Center IBB, Netzer and Hillel youth movements, the twelve embassies and international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union. The ceremony included lighting Shabbat and memory candles for all those killed in the Holocaust in Europe, as well as the recitation of prayers and prayers for peace.

Read the full article here.

[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.