Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
Netanyahu: We may not meet the deadline to form a Government
Coalition negotiations are proving to be a great challenge, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Likud faction meeting Tuesday, the day of the Knesset’s inauguration.
“We’re in the middle of forming [the government],” Netanyahu said. “It’s not a simple job and there are different aspects – giving out portfolios, control over the state budget and many other challenges.”
Netanyahu expressed hope that the government will be formed by the May 15 deadline, but said he may have to ask for an extension. The absolute final deadline, by law, for Netanyahu to form a coalition is May 29. No coalition negotiations took place on Tuesday.
The prime minister told Likud MKs they should begin work in the Knesset even before there is a coalition and said he will meet with all 35 of them in the coming days. He also told them not to rush to make vacation plans for August, because they’ll likely face a “legislative blitz” in the month that the Knesset is usually closed.
“We’re working hard on the [haredi] enlistment law,” Netanyahu said, referring to a compromise Likud’s negotiating team is preparing to resolve one of the major sticking points of the coalition talks.
Netanyahu’s remarks came after a report in Yisrael Hayom that he lamented his coalition potential partners are making outlandish demands.
The prime minister also said that this would not necessarily be his last term in office.
“It’s the decision of the nation and, of course, as long as the public wants me to continue serving it, and as long as I can, I will continue to serve it,” he responded to a question from Channel 12 reporters in the Knesset’s halls.
Netanyahu dodged a further question about whether he would support bills giving him immunity from criminal proceedings while he is in office.
Earlier Tuesday, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman warned that there are “a lot of land mines” in the coalition talks, specifically in disagreements between his party and the haredi Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, whose aims are mostly supported by the Religious-Zionist Union of Right-Wing Parties.
“On religion and state, I want to make it clear,” Liberman said. “We are for a Jewish State and we are against a halachic state,” meaning, a state governed by Jewish religious law.
As for haredi enlistment in the IDF, Liberman reiterated his demand that the bill he proposed in his capacity as defense minister, which passed a first reading in the Knesset last year, be supported unchanged by any coalition he would join. He said Shas and UTJ “can live with” the bill.
“I know the religious parties have 22 seats and we have five… To take advantage of the situation in the Knesset for forceful, unilateral action is not acceptable,” Liberman added.
The Yisrael Beytenu chairman also said he opposes the use of DNA tests to determine Jewish status, which he called “an invasive, dramatic tool that rabbinic courts cannot use, with all due respect.”
Shas and UTJ “want to harm the status quo. We want to keep the status quo” on religion and state, Liberman insisted.
“As long as we don’t have agreements on matters of principle, we will not negotiate about portfolios,” he added.
In Kulanu’s faction meeting, party leader Moshe Kahlon denied that his party is going to merge with Likud.
“Kulanu is independent and will continue to be independent. Don’t pay attention to the headlines,” he said.
Though the party dropped from 10 to four seats, Kahlon said the election results were a “great success” and Kulanu is “alive and kicking.”
Kahlon called news about coalition talks “spin and fake news,” and said that he has been negotiating directly with Netanyahu about important topics. He added that he is waiting to see what happens with other parties.
Meanwhile, Blue and White had its first faction meeting, with co-leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid playing the good cop and bad cop, respectively.
Gantz relayed a unifying message, quoting from this week’s Torah portion (Lev. 19:17-18): “Do not hate your brother in your heart… Do not hold a grudge.”
He said that the party has an important role in the opposition, and they will defend the rule of law. “We will support what is right and firmly oppose what must be opposed.”
Lapid, however, accused Netanyahu of “systematically tearing the nation apart.”
“That’s how he makes his living,” Lapid said. “The person who was elected on a campaign of incitem
Opening Knesset after bitter election, Rivlin tells MKs to ‘clean up’ politics
President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday addressed lawmakers at the inaugural session of the 21st Knesset, adopting a tone of less-than-gentle admonishment after an election campaign in which he said politicians had “worked overtime in the service of delegitimization, hatred and slurs.”
Speaking at the opening induction ceremony for the incoming MKs, Rivlin began his address by quoting the late prime minister Menachem Begin’s call for “hatred and vilification to subside and mutual respect to increase.” The president, in turn, urged the lawmakers of the new parliament to “put down the cudgels of elections and clean up the mess.”
After a tumultuous election campaign, the president told the Knesset and assembled dignitaries, “Political considerations can no longer be the only guide. This is not only what is expected of you, it is what every citizen of Israel demands and requires of you, our leaders, every member of this house.
“This was a difficult election campaign. We have disparaged and been disparaged. We have distorted. We have worked overtime in the service of delegitimization, hatred and execration. Now, it’s over. Enough,” Rivlin said in an apparent pushback at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s populist rhetoric.
Critics have charged that Netanyahu throughout the campaign sowed seeds of discord, with rhetoric against Arab Israelis and leftists, as well as embracing divisive policies such as the nation-state law, which gives Judaism an enhanced standing in Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.
Rivlin, a former Likud hawk whose public views have softened since he became president, has criticized Netanyahu in the past.
The Likud party won 35 seats in Israel’s parliament, the same as rival Blue and White. But Rivlin chose Netanyahu to form the next government after he received backing from 65 of the 120 Knesset members.
Nonetheless, giving voice to concerns that Netanyahu will form a narrow right-wing and religious government that serves the interests only of its constituents, Rivlin said, “Now is the time to fight for our common home where secular, religious, ultra-Orthodox, Jews and Arabs — yes, they are called Arabs and there is nothing wrong with saying it — right and left, can find themselves equal.”
In a direct message to Netanyahu, Rivlin added, “To those who will form the next government, let me say this: One should lose gracefully and one should win gracefully. You are not in the opposition. You have held the keys of power and leadership for a long time. As such, your responsibility is to ease up on destroying your opponents, to ease up on the feeling of being a victim, and to govern all citizens and communities who live here with respect and love.”
In a message to the Knesset members, specifically the record 49 rookies who were sworn in Tuesday, Rivlin ordered: “Perform your duty with reverence for those who sent you here. Remember, the eyes of the people are on you.”
Since becoming president in 2014 Rivlin has often emerged as a voice of moderation. In March he spoke out in defense of state institutions after Netanyahu lashed out at police over his numerous criminal investigations, and defended the free press after the premier attacked its legitimacy. He has praisedanti-corruption protests — largely aimed at Netanyahu — as essential for democracy.
At the opening of last year’s winter session, Rivlin defended the judicial system and the media, saying government attempts to undermine them amounted to a “coup” against the pillars of Israeli democracy and lambasted attempts to “weaken the gatekeepers” of that democracy.
Concluding his remarks on Tuesday, Rivlin made a similar plea for MKs to protect, not destroy, the fragile balance that exists between the branches of Israel’s government.
“I cannot conclude my remarks without pleading with you to put an end to the dangerous clash between the legislature and the judiciary,” he said.
“We must strengthen the separation of powers, particularly that between the legislature and the judiciary, to maintain the dignity and the independence of each branch of government and to end the overlap and mutual erosion between them,” Rivlin added. “You, members of the Knesset, are in a position to add another vital brick in the wall protecting Israeli democracy and to ensure that the State of Israel continues to flourish as a Jewish and democratic, democratic and Jewish state.”
After Rivlin’s address, the MKs each swore allegiance to the State of Israel, and to honorably carry out their duties as member of the Knesset. The parliamentarians rose one after the other and declared, “I pledge!”
Nearly half of the freshman class hails from Benny Gantz’s fledgling Blue and White party, only 11 of whose 35 incoming MKs served in the previous Knesset (all as Yesh Atid MKs). The situation is almost exactly reversed for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, which sees 12 new lawmakers out of 36.
The festivities of the day began in the morning when, upon entering the Knesset, the MKs new and old were each presented with a certificate congratulating them on their election to parliament and a rosette in the state’s colors to be worn on their lapels throughout the ceremony.
Rivlin made his entrance to the Knesset grounds with the usual Israeli version of pomp and circumstance, accompanied by an honor guard on horseback and the IDF military band, before meeting privately with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
In Edelstein’s own address, delivered immediately after Rivlin’s, the Knesset speaker urged MKs to act in the Knesset “as if our children and parents are watching us, and the public will be accountable.”
Echoing Rivlin’s words, he said, “We must always remember who sent us here, and to whom we are to be held accountable: to the citizens of Israel, they rightly demand that the discourse of the ‘losers’ and the ‘Winners’ will be replaced by the discourse of ‘partners,’ that is the only way we can succeed.”
More than 1,000 people attended the ceremony, most in the glass-enclosed public gallery. Among the guests were Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the two chief rabbis, the heads of the Shin Bet and the Mossad, and foreign diplomats. Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, notably entered after Rivlin had finished speaking.
All MKs from the Arab Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad parties exited the hall for the Hatikva anthem at the end of the ceremony, with MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Sa’adi also leaving during a recording of Israel’s first president David Ben Gurion declaring independence for the new state in 1948.
Three of the 120 people elected to serve in the Knesset — Labor’s Shelly Yachimovich and Hadash-Ta’al’s Aida Touma-Suleiman and Youssef Jabarin — were absent from the ceremony. They will still need to swear their oaths of office before officially being considered MKs.
On the plenary floor, the MKs sat in accordance with their parties’ post-election blocs and relative strength. The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism are now both sitting on the main coalition benches to the right of the hall, having each won eight seats and, subsequently, an upgrade from their previous seating at the back shared by coalition and opposition MKs. Their old seats will now be filled by the depleted Labor delegation — down from 24 seats to its worst-ever election result of just six, and thus demoted from the frontline opposition benches.
Netanyahu technically has 28 days to form a coalition, giving him until mid-May, and he may ask Rivlin for a two-week extension. Until then, the ministers from the 34th government act as an “interim government,” fulling their ministerial roles until a new government is sworn in. As well as the new and reelected MKs, all members of the current interim government are invited and expected to sit in the plenary, even if they are no longer Knesset members. (the Times of Israel) Lahav Harkov
IDF deploys Iron Domes ahead of Eurovision, Independence Day
The Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries throughout the country on Tuesday, following a rocket attack from Gaza the previous night and ahead of what is expected to be a sensitive next few weeks.
Earlier in the day, the Israel Defense Forces accused the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad of firing the rocket late Monday night, which landed several kilometers off the coast.
The military expects the coming weeks to be particularly tense, as they will see the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the international Eurovision song competition in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days, and the first anniversary of the opening of the contentious US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Following Monday’s rocket launch, Israel scaled back the permitted Gaza fishing zone from 15 nautical miles to six until further notice. The fishing zone had previously been extended to 15 miles — a level that the coastal enclave has not seen in over a decade — as one of the first concessions by Jerusalem under an unofficial ceasefire agreement with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
In an apparent response to Israel’s decision, Palestinians in Gaza launched several balloon-borne incendiary devices into southern Israel on Tuesday, sparking at least one fire. In recent weeks, such arson attacks have tapered off under the ceasefire brokered by Egypt last month.
The blaze occurred outside Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. It was quickly extinguished by a team of volunteers, the fire department said.
On Tuesday morning, the IDF said the Islamic Jihad intentionally fired the rocket from the northern Gaza Strip toward coastal Israel the day before in an effort to derail ongoing efforts to maintain the ceasefire.
The Islamic Jihad is considered the second-most powerful terror group in the Strip, after the coastal enclave’s de facto rulers, Hamas, despite having a slightly larger arsenal of rockets and mortar shells, mostly locally manufactured varieties based on Iranian designs.
The IDF specifically named Baha Abu al-Ata, an Islamic Jihad commander responsible for the group’s activities in northern Gaza, as having given the order to fire the rocket. The military said the rocket was fired from the al-Attra neighborhood of Beit Lahiya.
Identifying al-Ata by name could be seen as a tacit threat by the military. Al-Ata has been targeted by the IDF in the past, both in the 2014 Gaza war and in the smaller 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.
In addition to the apparent threat directed at al-Ata, the IDF’s identification of Islamic Jihad as the source of the rocket fire appeared to be an effort to force the Gaza-ruling Hamas to bring the Iran-backed group to heel.
According to the IDF, the Islamic Jihad is “trying to maintain a low profile so Hamas doesn’t know” that it’s seeking to undermine the ceasefire efforts, despite claims by the two groups that they are cooperating.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military made a similar allegation. On April 1, the IDF warned that the Islamic Jihad was planning to carry out a large-scale terror attack in order to derail the relative calm along the Gaza border.
While there has not been a complete cessation of violence along the Gaza border since the ceasefire went into effect last month, the situation there has been relatively calm.
Terror groups in the Strip have threatened to bring back regular border riots if Israel does not abide by its side of the deal.
On Friday, dozens of Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli troops at various locations along the Gaza-Israel border. According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry 60 people were wounded, including 36 who were shot by live fire.
The IDF had no comment on Friday’s injuries, but a spokeswoman said that approximately 7,000 Palestinians were taking part in Hamas-led protests along the border. She said demonstrators “hurled rocks and a number of explosive devices” toward troops, and the IDF responded in accordance with standard procedures. (the Times of Israel) Judah Ari Gross
Israel to release more prisoners as part of swap deal with Syria
Israel will release more prisoners in return for the remains of other fallen Israeli soldiers recovered by Russian soldiers in Syria, according to a report in Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat Tuesday.
Over the weekend Israel released two prisoners – a Fatah terrorist and a drug smuggler – sending them to Syria in return for the body of a long-missing IDF soldier Zachary Baumel, retrieved by Russia earlier this year.
The London-based paper reports that sources tell them the initial prisoner swap was just the first stage of a broader deal, which Israeli officials maintain never took place.
According to Asharq al-Awsat, two Syrian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails – Sidqi al-Maqt and Amal Abu Salah – which many speculated would be released as part of the swap conducted over the weekend – had apparently been told by the Syrian officials they will be freed in the next installment of the deal.
The paper cites Majdal Shams sources – a druze village north of the Golan Heights – the hometown of the two prisoners.
On Sunday, Hamis Ahmed, 35, and Zeidan Tawil, 57, were transferred from Israel to the Syrian border town of Quneitra.
Ahmed – released four years early – is a Fatah activist from the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria, while Tawil is a resident of Khader, who was imprisoned in 2008 for drug smuggling. He was to be released in July.
On Saturday, Israel confirmed it had decided to release the two prisoners. An Israeli official claimed the decision was made over the last few days and it wasn’t a condition of Baumel’s initial release by Russia. “Israel has recently decided to release the two prisoners as a gesture of goodwill,” he said. (Ynet News) Daniel Salami
French ambassador summoned for reprimand
French Ambassador to Israel Hélène Le Gal was summoned on Monday to Israel’s Foreign Ministry for a dressing down after a outgoing French Ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud called Israel an “apartheid state.”
Le Gal, who met with Rodica Radian-Gordon, was harshly reprimanded for Araud’s interview with the The Atlantic, in which he criticized US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” and said the plan allows “the more powerful [party]” to “impose terms on the weaker party.”
“That’s the basis of Jared Kushner’s [peace plan],” he said then, adding that “it will be a proposal very close to what the Israelis want.”
If Israel makes residents of the Palestinian Authority citizens of Israel or stateless, he explained, that would be “an apartheid” and “there will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.”
All Israeli officials have been banned from meeting Araud, who is expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days. (Arutz Sheva) Yoni Kempinksi
Saudi Arabia offered Abbas $10 billion to accept Trump peace proposal
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has offered Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas $10 billion to accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming Mideast peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians, reported the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on Tuesday.
“According to information obtained by Al-Akhbar, Salman briefed Abbas about the details of the deal of the century and asked him to accept it. According to the information, Salman asked Abbas: What is the annual budget of your entourage? Abbas replied: I’m not a prince to have my own entourage.”
Salman then asked Abbas: “How much money does the Palestinian Authority and its ministers and employees need?”
Abbas replied with an answer of $1 billion annually, to which the Saudi crown prince replied: “I will give you $10 billion over 10 years if you accept the deal of the century.”
According to the outlet, among economic and other incentives, the Saudi offer also includes the founding of a Palestinian embassy in the town of Abu Dis, located on Jerusalem’s eastern outskirts.
Abbas rejected the offer, saying it would “mean the end of my political life.”
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said last week that the so-called “deal of the century” will be released after the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, which starts on May 5 and concludes on June 4. (WIN) Staff
Anzac Day commemorated in Jerusalem
The Embassy of Australia in Israel held the annual commemorative service for Anzac Day at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery, Mt Scopus in Jerusalem on Monday.
This ceremony has become an important occasion not only for Australian and New Zealand diplomats serving in Israel, but also for Australian olim and Australian gap year participants to show respect for those who fell at Gallipoli and in various military actions and service since then.
Each year, the Zionist Federation of Australia organises for Australian gap year participants to attend and actively participate in this ceremony. This year over 120 were present with representation from the Australian Zionist Youth Council, Lone Soldiers, Bnei Akiva, Betar, Netzer, Hineni, Habonim and Israel By Choice (IBC.) Each of these movements and organisations laid wreaths at the ceremony.
ZFA’s Yila Sela and Australia’s ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan
Australian Ambassador to Israel, Chris Canaan said: –
“Remembering ANZAC Day is, of course, not about glorifying war. It is about remembering and honouring, the sacrifice of fellow countrymen and women who put their lives on the line for something larger than themselves – our nations, our interests and our values.
They sacrificed on the rocky shores of Gallipoli, on the plains of Beersheba, in the rugged hills of Jerusalem, and in so many other corners of the globe, so that we may live.
Today, we remember their contributions, which stand the test of time.”
Nicky Retman from Hineni in Melbourne said: – “To be in Israel and commemorate ANZAC Day together with fellow Australians and Israeli’s is an experience I will never forget. It was an honour to have been part of the ceremony and represent my youth movement and my country in my Homeland.”
There was a large crowd in attendance of diplomats, ambassadors and representatives from Australia, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Turkey, France, Germany and New Zealand; Zionist youth, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Israel Defence Forces, Members of Australian Armed forces serving in the United Nations Truce Observation Forces in the Middle East and the Australian Zionist Federation, along with Australian and New Zealand olim living in Israel.
ZFA Israel Office Director Yigal Sela, laid the wreath on behalf of the ZFA, he said: – “I am very proud to represent the Zionist Federation of Australia and for so many of our Australian gap year participants to be here today. They felt a need and responsibility to be present at such an important ceremony here, in Israel. It symbolises more than anything else, the very close relationship between Israel and Australia, and especially the Jewish community there.” (JWire) Hayley Hadassin
Famed Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld: It feels like the 1930s
by Ron Kampeas JTA
It’s not an unfamiliar frame for describing the rise of the new nationalism: There’s a bad wind blowing through the West, and nothing less than democracy is at stake.
What makes it especially unsettling for Beate and Serge Klarsfeld is that they have lived through it before — and spent a subsequent lifetime trying to make sure the “bad wind” did not return.
“There is a bad wind in Europe and democracy is losing its influence,” Serge Klarsfeld told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview Monday, just before he and his wife received the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Elie Wiesel Award for their lifetime of hunting Nazis and forcing Europe to confront its past.
In their final years, the Klarsfelds have taken to arguing that the best means of preventing the return of anti-Semitism and corrosive prejudice is protecting institutions like the European Union.
The rise of nativism in the United States and Europe, the persistence of anti-Semitism and a number of high-profile anti-Semitic attacks — these elements do not surprise the couple. They take the long view: Live long enough, said Serge Klarsfeld, who is 83 (Beate is 80), and what went around will come around again.
“It’s an atmosphere like the beginning of the ’30s, and the authority of the state is at stake,” Serge Klarsfeld said.
“We are sorry to see each Saturday the Gilets Jaunes,” the populist “yellow jacket” movement demanding increased economic benefits in France, he said. Some of its followers include nativist and anti-Semitic elements “on the streets with anti-Semitic slogans against Jews coming from the extreme right. You see people with the hand like a Hitler salute, publicly.”
They also are not surprised by white supremacy’s resurgence in the United States, nor the murderous attacks carried out by white nationalists, most recently on a synagogue in the San Diego area last weekend.
“There was always the Ku Klux Klan,” Serge Klarsfeld said. “There were very many violent actions against Jews and black people, against others, it cannot disappear in a few decades.”
Explicit anti-Semitism and to a lesser degree racism fell out of favor after World War II, but always existed below the surface, the couple agree.
“Anyone who wants to find an enemy finds an enemy in the Jew,” Beate Klarsfeld said.
The Klarsfelds have accrued multiple national awards over the decades. They are perhaps best known for tracking down Klaus Barbie, the notorious “Butcher of Lyon,” in Bolivia. They also exposed Kurt Lischka, who served as chief of the Gestapo in Paris.
As the publisher of a recent joint biography, “Hunting the Truth,” puts it, “they were born on opposite sides of the Second World War”: Beate to a German father who served in the Wehrmacht, Serge to a Jewish father who was deported to Auschwitz.
(In 1986, the couple got the Hollywood treatment, portrayed by Farrah Fawcett and Tom Conti in a well-received made-for-TV film.)
The Klarsfelds are using the influence they have accrued through their lifetime of work to help the institutions they say have protected Jews and other minorities. They have published ads in France urging votes for the pro-European Union parties in the next European Parliament elections at the end of May.
“The fight against anti-Semitism is not the priority,” Serge Klarsfeld said. “The priority is the defense of democracy to defend the republican state of France and democracies in other states in Europe.”
Democratic institutions, and the the expansion of the European Union after the breakup of the Soviet empire, is what has kept the peace for seven decades on a continent wracked for centuries by war.
In a back-and-forth dialogue, the Klarsfelds list the elements they say have eroded attachment to the European Union among Europeans: a resentment of the flood of migrants after the 2011 Arab Spring, particularly in Eastern Europe, where homogeneous societies were ill prepared for assimilating other cultures; a decline of Holocaust education; interference by China and Russia, which are inimical to a unified Europe; and the pan-European ultranationalist movement promoted by Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former adviser.
They also blame a generation of Europeans who took progress for granted.
And they say the erosion of trust in democratic norms comes from three directions: the left and its anti-Zionists; the right and its ultranationalists; and Islamists who live among the migrant communities.
“It has to be done much more,” Beate Klarsfeld said of Holocaust education, particularly among the migrant young. “It’s not the priority today to work with the youth.”
Her husband adds, “The young generation never suffered from wars, hunger, they never suffered from losing their families, they don’t know what is war, they see war on TV, in other countries. They don’t understand the risk of losing democracy and losing the European Union, which is the protector of Jews.”
In a separate interview with Agence France Presse, Serge Klarsfeld took aim at Trump.
“I have not heard President Trump take a strong position against the far right here, whereas in France, in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, leaders of states always have a firmer response,” he said. “Either he fails to see the danger or he doesn’t believe it is dangerous.”
Speaking to JTA, the Klarsfelds acknowledge an anomaly: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces the very authoritarians they hope to defeat in the next parliamentary elections. And Trump, who has worked closely with Netanyahu on Middle East policy, also has derided the international institutions the Klarsfelds say preserves security for Jews.
“We are grateful to President Trump for what he did for Israel, and we understand that Israel has diplomatic reasons for allies in Eastern Europe, authoritarian regimes like Poland and Hungary,” Serge Klarsfeld said. But the cross-European institutions are critical, he said. “Europe, it’s a continent that has only known wars for centuries and centuries and for 70 years you have no more wars.”
The Klarsfelds are resigned to the fight to preserve that peace, even if it outlasts them.
“You never know what will happen after you disappear, you never know whether your side will be victorious or not,” Serge Klarsfeld said. “You can leave a legacy to help others.”
A Terrorist Tried to Kill Me Because I Am a Jew – Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein (New York Times)
Today should have been my funeral. The terrorist was standing there with a big rifle in his hands. And he was now aiming it at me. For one reason: I am a Jew. He started shooting. My right index finger got blown off. Another bullet hit my left index finger.
After the massacre in Pittsburgh, we had a community training. Now that training kicked in. Somehow my brain directed my body to the synagogue ballroom, where the children, including two of my grandchildren, were playing. I ran toward them screaming “Get out! Get out!” I grabbed as many as I could with my bloody hands and pushed them out of the building.
I do not know why God spared my life. I do not know why I had to witness scenes of a pogrom in San Diego County like the ones my grandparents experienced in Poland. I don’t know why I had to see my good friend, Lori Gilbert Kaye, hunted in her house of worship.
I pray that my missing finger serves as a constant reminder to me. A reminder that I am part of a people that has survived the worst destruction and will always endure.
The writer is the rabbi of Chabad of Poway, Calif.