January 23, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: What Americans Know About the Holocaust (Pew Research Center)
    Only 45% of U.S. adults correctly answered a multiple-choice question about the number of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust (6 million), according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
    When asked to describe the Holocaust, 84% mentioned the attempted annihilation of the Jewish people or concentration-death camps, Hitler, or the Nazis. 63% knew about Nazi-created ghettos where Jews were forced to live.
    43% knew that Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany through a democratic political process.

Iran Tries to Fill Gen. Soleimani's Boots - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, and Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Gen. Mohammad Hejazi has been appointed as Deputy Commander of the Quds Force.
    Hejazi served as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force's (IRGC-QF) Lebanese Corps Commander and was involved in the Hizbullah missile precision project.
    He was also responsible for the violent repression of the 2009 protests in Iran.

Arms Embargo on Iran Set to Expire - Andrea Stricker (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    This October, the UN arms embargo on Iran will sunset even though Tehran continues to attack its neighbors.
    The 2015 nuclear deal became part of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which included a five-year international arms embargo.
    The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assesses that Tehran will likely import new conventional weaponry and military equipment from Russia and China.
    International law will no longer prohibit Iran from exporting such weapons to other countries or its proxy militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.
    There is also an impending sunset on UN missile restrictions against Iran, which expire in 2023. At that time, Iran will be free to import missile-related equipment and to buy and sell advanced systems.
    Also in 2023, restrictions on Iran's advanced centrifuge capabilities will begin to sunset.
    The writer is a research fellow at FDD.

Uncovering the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Order of Battle - Marie Donovan, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. Kagan (American Enterprise Institute)
    Qasem Soleimani's death calls into question the future of the Quds Force's dominance over Iranian military operations abroad.
    Its new commander, Esmail Ghaani, has nothing like Soleimani's presence and influence.
    The regular Revolutionary Guard forces may come to play a more significant role in shaping and conducting Iran's activities around the region.

The Factory that Makes U.S., UK and Israeli Flags for Iranians to Burn - Darren Boyle (Daily Mail-UK)
    An Iranian factory in Khomeini City, four hours south of Tehran, produces hundreds of thousands of U.S., UK and Death to Israel flags and banners each year for burning by demonstrators.
    As tensions with Iran have intensified in recent weeks, the factory is doing a roaring trade.

How the World Discovered the Nazi Death Camps (AFP)
    The Nazi concentration and extermination camps were liberated one by one as the Allied armies advanced on Berlin in the final days of World War II.
    The first was Majdanek in eastern Poland, freed on July 24, 1944, by the Soviet Red Army.
    Russian and Polish investigators photographed the camps at Majdanek and Auschwitz, and U.S. army photographers made a documentary on Struthof, the only Nazi concentration camp based in what is now France.
    But the images were not widely shared. France did not want them broadcast to avoid alarming people with relatives who were missing.
    A turning point came on April 6, 1945 with the discovery by American forces of Ohrdruf, an annex of the Buchenwald camp in Germany.
    The Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight Eisenhower, visited the camp on April 12, describing afterwards "conditions of indescribable horror."
    The Allied leadership decided immediately that all censorship should be lifted so the world could see evidence of the Nazi atrocities.
    See also Last Auschwitz Survivors Speak (AFP-Times of Israel)
    As Israel prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp, AFP met with 10 survivors to hear their testimonies.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • World Leaders Gather in Jerusalem to Mark Holocaust - David M. Halbfinger
    Dozens of presidents, premiers and potentates descended upon Jerusalem on Wednesday in an extraordinary show of collective resolve to fight anti-Semitism. The gathering, timed ahead of Monday's 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was orchestrated to focus even more on the present day, with anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric spreading across Europe and North America.
        The turnout points to the seriousness with which anti-Semitism is viewed in the West and in Israel, and offered representatives of countries considered hotbeds of anti-Jewish hatred a chance at least to demonstrate their revulsion for it on a global stage. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Seeks to Corner Hizbullah in Latin America - Muath al-Amri
    The U.S. provided information to Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru about "support and financing networks" affiliated with Lebanon's Hizbullah, as part of its efforts to restrict the party's activity in Latin America and to exert maximum pressure on Iran and its proxies. Diplomatic sources in Washington said the FBI arrested a number of persons involved with Hizbullah or suspected of planning to expand their activities inside the U.S.
        These moves came in parallel with the Third Regional Conference Against Terrorism in Bogota, Colombia, where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on "all nations" on Saturday to classify Hizbullah as a terrorist group. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Syria's Rapidly Worsening Economic Troubles - Sarah Dadouch
    The main threat facing the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad as he regains control over most of his country is not military but economic. The currency has plunged to half its value in 2019. The prices of some consumer goods have doubled, and those of staples such as meat and vegetables are up as much as 50%, according to official estimates. The government plans to ration sugar, rice and tea.
        The steep drop in the Syrian currency is largely the result of an economic crisis in neighboring Lebanon, which has seen the Lebanese pound's value decline significantly. Lebanon is a hub for Syrian traders and business executives. "Lebanon was Syria's only lung," said Samir Aita, a Syrian economist based in Paris. "Austerity in Lebanon will be a disaster for living conditions in Syria."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • World Leaders Vow to Stand Against Racism, Anti-Semitism - Rossella Tercatin
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin welcomed dozens of heads of state in Jerusalem on Wednesday who are in Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Rivlin said the gathering embodies a commitment to pass on the awareness of what happened during the Holocaust to the next generations. He emphasized that attacks against Israel are a form of contemporary anti-Semitism, and that one cannot profess to love Jews and attack Israel.
        Spain's King Felipe quoted 12th-century Jewish philosopher and Torah scholar Moses Maimonides, known as the Rambam, who was born in Spain, who wrote that "all evils originate from ignorance." Felipe added that there is no greater ignorance than not knowing the simple truth that all men and women are created equal. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Said Involved in "Intensive Efforts" to Rein in Hamas, End Balloon Bomb Attacks
    Egypt is involved in "intense efforts" to get Hamas to end a recent uptick in arson and bomb balloon attacks on Israel from Gaza, Israeli TV reported Wednesday. There were at least two attacks by balloon-borne incendiary devices on Wednesday. One bundle of balloons attached to a "suspicious object" landed in a family's backyard. Israeli officials believe Hamas is behind the spate of balloon-borne bombs and incendiary devices launched into Israel in recent days. (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF Defuses Explosive Charge near Gaza Border - Matan Tzuri
    IDF forces on Thursday defused an explosive charge near the border with Gaza. The explosives were concealed in a soccer ball that was tied to a bundle of balloons flown into Israeli territory over the border from Gaza. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem

  • Anti-Semitism Is a Cancer that Destroys Your Nations - Prof. Yehuda Bauer
    Prof. Yehuda Bauer spoke to world leaders at the Israeli President's Residence in Jerusalem for the World Holocaust Forum on Jan. 22, 2020:
        Why did World War II break out? Because Nazi Germany wanted it. Hitler had a deeply held belief that demanded action, to prevent the physical annihilation of the German people at the hands of the chimera he and millions of others believed and still believe in, of a secret cabal of an invented international Jewry that controls both East and West.
        ISIS and al-Qaeda disseminate this today. World War II was the result, at least in large measure, of this ideology. The war caused 35 million dead in Europe alone, of whom 5.6 to 5.7 million were Jews who died in the Holocaust. But 29 million were non-Jews from Europe and North America who died, in large part, because of the hatred of Jews, and the majority of these victims were Soviet citizens.
        Anti-Semitism is not a Jewish illness, but a non-Jewish one; it is a cancer that kills and destroys your nations and your countries. So, there are, my friends, 29 million reasons for you to fight anti-Semitism. Not because of the Jews, but to protect your societies from a deadly cancer. The writer is professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at Hebrew University. (Times of Israel)
  • Jewish President of Ukraine: 1/4 of Jews Killed in Holocaust Were Ukrainian - David Horovitz
    The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, 42, is the comedian who played the president in a TV sitcom called "Servant of the People" and last April was elected president of Ukraine in the real world, defeating the incumbent by a landslide 73-25%. He told me in an interview at his office in Kiev that he had been in Israel many times for comedy appearances and also has relatives there.
        Zelensky is coming to Israel for the events marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. "So many people who died in this tragedy [of the Holocaust] were Ukrainian Jews - starting with Babi Yar, where 150,000 Ukrainian Jews were executed. The statistical information that we have shows that one in four of the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust were Ukrainian. That is why, for Ukrainians, it is very important to honor the victims of the Holocaust."  (Times of Israel)
  • The Road to Auschwitz Was Paved with Collaboration - Rivka Weinberg
    Anti-Semitism was entrenched in Europe for centuries before the Holocaust, supplying the Nazis with many collaborators. The local population, the police and the army often helped the Nazis. Where the local population was more anti-Semitic, they tended toward greater collaboration, resulting in a markedly higher murder rate.
        To kill people living within a population, you have to be told who and where they are. It's helpful when the local police do the rounding up for you (as some did in Lithuania, France and Hungary). In Bulgaria and Italy, where the culture wasn't as anti-Semitic, the local populations didn't cooperate with the murder of Jews; most Bulgarian and Italian Jews survived.
        Romania and Ukraine, on the other hand, had virulently anti-Semitic cultures and many Romanians and Ukrainians actively participated in murdering Jews. Few survived. Poland was also very anti-Semitic. Although there were Poles who sheltered Jews, many instead turned them in and looted their property. Some murdered Jews themselves. Very few Polish Jews survived. The writer is a professor of philosophy at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. (New York Times)
  • Allies' Refusal to Bomb Auschwitz Shows Why a Sovereign Israel Is Necessary - Jonathan S. Tobin
    There is no evading the fact that at the moment in history when Jews were being slaughtered in the Nazi death factory at Auschwitz by the hundreds of thousands, their fate was a minor issue even to those in the civilized world who were waging war on Germany.
        In April 1944, two young Jewish prisoners, Rudolf Verba and Alfred Wetzlter, escape from Auschwitz. They reached safety and reported in detail the way Auschwitz operated to Jewish officials, who then passed the document to the U.S. War Refugee Board in Switzerland. They hoped to warn the Jews of Hungary, who were the next group the Germans and their collaborators intended to transport to Auschwitz for certain death.
        But throughout the rest of 1944, the trains to Auschwitz kept running. From May to July 1944, 55,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to the death camp every week. Jewish leaders and officials of the War Refugee Board urged that the American and British air forces bomb the railroad tracks and the death factory itself, to put Auschwitz out of commission. U.S. planes were already bombing an I.G. Farben factory complex in the vicinity. But the Allies took no action.
        The allies already knew about Auschwitz. A year earlier, President Franklin Roosevelt had already heard personally from Jan Karski, a brave Polish officer who had snuck into and then out of the Warsaw Ghetto and German camps and brought out of Poland other evidence of the Nazis' effort to industrialize murder. German plans for the annihilation of the Jews of Europe were also known and published.
        The lesson here is that the Jews were basically on their own. Israel's ability to defend itself represents a guarantee that never again will the Jews wait in vain for friends to save those in peril. It is the need to preserve the ability and the will of the Jews to defend themselves that is the true lesson of Auschwitz. (Israel Hayom-JNS)
  • Europe's Desperate Jewish Academics in the Holocaust - Laurel Leff
    After Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, biologist Leonore Brecher was fired from her position at Vienna's famed Institute for Experimental Biology along with 15 other Jewish employees, who made up half the staff. Brecher knew her only hope was to immigrate. U.S. immigration law provided non-quota visas to professors at institutions of higher learning abroad who had a job offer from an American university. She and thousands of other desperate Jewish scholars contacted American universities and some made offers to refugee scholars, but many more did not. Only 944 professors from Europe received non-quota visas between 1933 and 1941.
        On Sep. 14, 1942, Brecher boarded a train in Vienna along with about 1,000 other Jews, arriving at Maly Trostinec, an extermination camp in Belarus on the outskirts of Minsk. The Jews were herded immediately to open pits in the nearby forest and shot. Only 17 Viennese Jews are known to have survived the camp.
        The writer is Associate Director of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University in Boston and the author of Well Worth Saving: American Universities' Life-and-Death Decisions on Refugees from Nazi Europe (2019). (Ha'aretz)
  • Universal Lessons from Auschwitz - Irwin Cotler
    Of the 1.3 million people murdered at Auschwitz, 1.1 million were Jews. The genocide of European Jewry succeeded because of a state-sanctioned ideology of hate. The Jew was seen as the enemy of humankind and humanity could only be redeemed by the death of the Jew.
        Jews died at Auschwitz because of anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism did not die. It remains today. The Holocaust crimes resulted not only from state-sanctioned incitement to hatred and genocide, but from crimes of indifference, from conspiracies of silence from the international community.
        Some say that if there had been no Holocaust there would not have been a State of Israel. But it is the other way around. If there had been a State of Israel, there would not have been a Holocaust. The writer, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, is a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Some have chosen not to see what really happened wherever the Nazis and their henchmen wielded power. Instead, they deny the horrors of a diabolical plan to implement a hateful idea of racial purity that ultimately led to the murder of millions of innocent men, women and children - including six million Jews.
  • But denying this history has only helped those who continue to perpetrate hateful ideas of racial, ethnic or religious purity. The lessons of the Holocaust are universal and Muslims around the world have a responsibility to learn them, heed the warnings and join the international commitment to ensure "never again."
  • One year ago, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day approached, I wrote a letter to Sara Bloomfield, director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, on behalf of the Muslim World League: "The Holocaust [is] an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person."
  • "True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever....We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished."
  • That letter was immediately posted in both Arabic and English on the website of the Muslim World League. I received a flood of responses from Muslim religious scholars endorsing the view I had expressed. Not a single reputable scholar has stood up to oppose this view. None could dispute the indisputable. I urge all Muslims to learn the history of the Holocaust, to visit memorials and museums to this horrific event, and to teach its lessons to their children.

    The writer is secretary-general of the Muslim World League and president of the International Organization of Muslim Scholars, based in Mecca.