Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. July 6, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

Please see below for the links to this week's new updates.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. July 6, 2018

Lukashenka Calls For Remembrance Of Trostenets Nazi Death Camp Near Minsk
RFE/RL, June 29, 2018

MINSK -- A memorial honoring victims of Trostenets, a Nazi extermination camp near Minsk, has been unveiled by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka together with delegations from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, and Poland. The camp, known as Trastsyanets in Belarusian and Trascianiec in Polish, operated as a prisoner-of-war camp from July 1942 until October 1943 when it was transformed into an extermination camp.

Soviet authorities estimated that more than 200,000 people -- mainly Jews from Belarus, Poland, Austria, Germany, and Czechoslovakia --were put to death in the area, but this figure is disputed by historians who say it is exaggerated.

The Holocaust research institute's Yad Vashem says 65,000 Jews were killed there in 1941-43. If the correct figure is closer to the Soviet estimate, that would make Trostenets the fourth- largest Nazi extermination camp after Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Treblinka.

Yad Vashem says joint Israel-Poland Holocaust declaration has ‘grave errors and deceptions’
JTA, July 5, 2018

Israel’s main state museum and research body on the Holocaust said Thursday that a joint statement by Israel and Poland on the genocide contained “grave errors and deceptions.”

The Yad Vashem statement pertains to a declaration made last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, that acknowledges collaboration by some Poles during the Holocaust and the rescue of Jews by others. It also states that during the Holocaust, “unfortunately, the sad fact is that some people – regardless of their origin, religion or worldview – revealed their darkest side.”

Newspapers in Israel, Germany and the United Kingdom published the declaration, leading to criticism from opposition leaders and historians in Israel. The PKO Foundation of Poland’s Bank Polski paid for the ads. The bank has close ties to the government.

Plaque honoring SS officer unveiled in Estonia
By Cnaan Liphshiz
JTA, June 29, 2018

A town in Estonia unveiled a plaque honoring a Waffen SS officer, spurring protests from the Jewish community.

A nonprofit unveiled the plaque in Mustla for the local Nazi collaborator Alfons Rebane, who fought with the Germans against the Russians as part of the Nazi armed force.

Across Eastern Europe, collaborators with the Nazis, including perpetrators of the Holocaust, are celebrated as heroes, often for their fight against what many in the region consider Soviet occupation.

Hungary condemns rising anti-Semitism within halls of UN Human Rights Council
JNS, July 3, 2018

Hungary condemned the growing threat of anti-Semitism during the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 38th session in Geneva on Monday.

The joint statement was delivered by Hungary on behalf of 21 co-sponsors including Albania, Croatia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Austria, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Australia, Germany, Montenegro, Belgium, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Greece, the United Kingdom, Canada and Liechtenstein.

Bulgaria will open honorary consulate in Jerusalem
JTA, June 24, 2018

JERUSALEM — Bulgaria will open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting that he spoke the previous night with his counterpart, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who informed him of the decision.

Borisov visited Israel earlier this month, meeting with Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

Slovakia declares it will move its embassy to Jerusalem
By Ariel Kahana
Israel Hayom, July 4, 2018

"Slovakia is on its way to relocating its embassy to Jerusalem," Head of the Slovak National Council Andrej Danko told President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the visiting delegation of Slovak lawmakers announced the Eastern European country would open a cultural center in the Israeli capital.

The move, when it materializes, would mark a break from European Union policy on Jerusalem. Slovakia would join the Czech Republic and Bulgaria as the other European Union member states to expand their diplomatic presence in the city since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Poland Purges Supreme Court, and Protesters Take to Streets
By Marc Santora
New York Times, July 4, 2018

WARSAW — Surrounded by cheering supporters, Poland’s top Supreme Court justice took a defiant stand on the courthouse steps here Wednesday morning, hours after the government purged the tribunal. She vowed to keep fighting to protect the Constitution and the independence of the nation’s courts.

“I’m doing this to defend the rule of law and to testify to the truth about the line between the Constitution and the violation of the Constitution,” the justice, Malgorzata Gersdorf, told the crowd. “I hope that legal order will return to Poland.”

At the stroke of midnight, the government had effectively forced her and more than two dozen other justices out of their jobs, but on Wednesday morning, the authorities did not prevent her from entering the building. The courthouse confrontation was followed by dueling news conferences, fiery speeches and more street protests.

The Great Russian Disinformation Campaign
By David Frum
Atlantic, July 1, 2018

In a recent talk in Washington, the historian Timothy Snyder observed that Russia’s annual budget for cyberwarfare is less than the price of a single American F-35 jet. Snyder challenged his audience to consider: Which weapon has done more to shape world events?

Snyder is an unusual historian-activist, both a great scholar of the terrible cost of 20th-century totalitarianism and also a passionate champion of endangered democracy in Ukraine and Eastern Europe—and now, the United States. Increasingly, he sees his concerns fusing into one great narrative, as methods of manipulation and deception pioneered inside Russia are deployed against Russia’s chosen targets.

Clausewitz defined war as the use of violence by one state to impose its will upon another. But suppose new technology enabled a state to “engage the enemy’s will directly, without the medium of violence,” Snyder writes—this would be a revolution in the history of conflict. This revolution, Snyder argues, is what Russia has imposed upon the United States and the European Union. How, why, and with what consequences is the theme of Snyder’s newest book, The Road to Unfreedom.

Russia Relaxes, for a Moment, to Let Soccer Fans Rejoice
By Andrew E. Kramer
New York Times, July 2, 2018

MOSCOW — Under normal circumstances, a single Muscovite can hold a sign on a sidewalk without a parade permit. But if another person turns up, it becomes an illegal gathering and the police can make arrests.

Defying expectations, geopolitical tensions and a thousand grim years of Russian history, the government has turned the World Cup into an event that is, well, fun.

Human rights critics fear the sports event will strengthen the hand of President Vladimir V. Putin, who has made good use of the tournament to smooth over an unpopular pension reform at home and burnish Russia’s image abroad, and bolster his authoritarian, conservative and nationalist approach to governing.

The dark history of U.S. presidential summits with Putin
By Vladimir Kara-Murza
Washington Post, July 3, 2018

Last week, the White House and the Kremlin simultaneously announced that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold their first official bilateral summit in Helsinki on July 16. “The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues,” reads the U.S. statement.

As Trump prepares to travel to Helsinki, he would be wise to remember how his predecessors’ attempts to seek accommodation with Putin ended. For an officer of the Soviet KGB (they like to say the term “former” never applies), an interlocutor’s willingness to compromise is a sign of weakness, never an invitation to reciprocate. Both Bush and Obama ended with very different attitudes toward Putin from the ones they started with; both ultimately came to the realization that there cannot be genuine partnership, let alone a convergence of interests, between a democracy and a corrupt authoritarian regime.

[Link to pdf of full articles]
1120 20th Street NW, Ste. 300N Washington, DC 20036-3413
Telephone: +1 202 898 2500  |  ncsej@ncsej.org
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.