‘Jews Are Still At Risk’

Federal officials and  representatives from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial  Museum in Washington,  D.C., have announced  the seizure of a long-lost diary kept by a close  confidant of Adolph Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Federal officials and representatives from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., have announced the seizure of a long-lost diary kept by a close confidant of Adolph Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Late last week, federal officials, along with representatives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington formally announced at a news conference the seizure of the long-lost “Rosenberg Diary.” The book, which had gone missing following the Nuremberg Trials in the late 1940s, is a loose collection of the recollections — from spring 1936 to winter 1944 — of Alfred Rosenberg, one of the most influential and important members of the Third Reich and the Nazi Party.

According to a release by the Department of Homeland Security, Rosenberg was privy to much of the planning for the Nazi racial state, the mass murder of the Jewish people, the planning and conduct of World War II and the occupation of Soviet Territory. Rosenberg was one of a dozen senior Nazi officials executed in October 1946.

“We can already see that the Rosenberg diary is no ordinary diary. It is a varnished account of a Nazi leader — his thoughts … interactions with other Nazi leaders,” said John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a video statement. “Reading Rosenberg’s diary is to stare into the mind of a dark soul, a man untroubled by the isolation and violent extermination of Jews and others he considered undesirable, a man consumed with racial and ethnic superiority.”

Preliminary reports by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum indicate that the diary could offer new insight into meetings Rosenberg had with Hitler, and his top leaders such as Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering. In addition to conducting the Nazi Party’s foreign affairs department and editing the Nazi newspaper, Rosenberg directed the systematic Nazi looting of Jewish art, cultural and religious property.

062113_jews_at_risk2Holocaust survivor Edith Cord, 85, who currently resides in Columbia, just learned about the rediscovery of the diary. She told the JT she was only vaguely familiar with this piece of news, but anytime another artifact or event surrounding or reminiscent of the Holocaust surfaces, “it brings it all back and that is very painful.”

However, she said Jews — and the rest of the world — should take this time to focus on the lessons of the Holocaust. She said, “The world has not learned anything, and the Jews are still at risk.”

Cord came down on the American government in particular, describing the current administration as acting weak in the face of transgressions and wrongdoings.

“When you are the biggest and most powerful country in the world, you need to speak out and support forces of freedom and our president has not done that,” Cord stressed. “Americans — even American Jews — don’t seem to recognize that.”
Cord equated current administration policies with Iran and Syria to children in the playground. She said America “needs to stand up to the bullies in the playground. You have to stand up to them. Otherwise, today it is your dessert, tomorrow your lunch, then your lunch money, then your school bag. It is so painful to see our government not stand up to bullies.”

Cord called on the younger generation to wake up. As more of Rosenberg’s story comes to light, she said she hopes it will make people more “alert and awake.”

“People need to understand what our obligation is: As free people, we have to protect freedom,” Cord said.

Morton said that as survivors like Cord age and pass on, there will be fewer first-hand testimonies of the atrocities of the Shoah. He said that is what makes the Rosenberg diary so significant.

“Sixty-eight years have passed since the fall of Berlin and soon there will be no more human testimony of what happened during the Holocaust — and just as importantly, of how it happened,” Morton said. “So it is important to preserve all written records from this time period.”

The 400 pages of the diary were discovered by the Holocaust Museum and an agent from Homeland Security Investigations in the home of academic Herbert Richardson, who was living near Buffalo, N.Y. The Holocaust Museum has conducted only a preliminary analysis of the piece, and more information will become available in the coming weeks.
“The Third Reich and the Holocaust were a shameful chapter in our human experience,” said Morton. “We must do our part to remember that suffering and to learn from it so our children’s future charts a better course.”

Maayan Jaffe is JT managing editor mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

Natural Gas Exportation By Israel

The Israeli gas rig, Tamar, is situated about 50 miles off Israel’s northern coast. (Albatross Aerial photography/Nobel Energy/FLASH90)

The Israeli gas rig, Tamar, is situated about 50 miles off Israel’s northern coast. (Albatross Aerial photography/Nobel Energy/FLASH90)

Israel not too long ago crossed a major energy milestone when the daily supply of natural gas began flowing from the Tamar offshore res-erve — gas that is expected to power Israel’s electricity production for the coming decades.

But while the domestic use of gas makes Israel less dependent on foreign energy than ever before, it is the export of natural gas that has the  potential to boost Israel’s economy and change Israel’s strategic position in the global marketplace. An even larger natural gas reserve, Leviathan, is expected to begin supplying energy in 2015.

According to industry experts,  export revenues will provide a boom to Israel’s economy, as well as offset the tremendous costs of developing the infrastructure needed to extract and transport the natural gas from the sea to Israel’s electricity plants.

“The infrastructure is financed by consumption agreements,” Delphi Global Analysis founder David Wurmser, who consults for one of the major energy firms invested in the Leviathan basin, said.

“Investors will not spend billions of dollars developing an infrastructure for money to be returned in 20 to 30 years,” he said. “The time frame needs to be much shorter than that.”

Currently, Israel is considering exp-orting natural gas to Western European nations along the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, France and Italy, which are currently supplied with gas by North Africa.

If Europe were suddenly to lose its supply of North African gas due to regional instability, nations may desperately seek to sign an agreement with Israel.

If that happens, Israel would then have “great leverage to demand European Union subsidies for creating infrastructure,” Wurmser said. ”But right now, while the Europeans understand their vulnerability, their demand is basically satisfied,” he said.

But Israel supplying natural gas to Europe may raise a major red flag  for Russia, the primary supplier of natural gas in Eastern Europe.

“Europe is an integrated gas network. The closer you get to Eastern Europe, the more nervous the Russians get. They have a chicken in this fight — even in Southern Europe,” Wurmser said.

Last June, Russian President Vlad-imir Putin made a historic trip to Israel and brought a large economic delegation. According to Wurmser, a significant portion of the visit had to do with natural gas. Putin likely expressed his concerns regarding Israeli intentions to export, in addition to examining the possibilities for joint marketing opportunities.

“Russia is looking with great sensitivity at everything going down in the Eastern Mediterranean — from Turkey to Greece to Cypress to Lebanon. Russia has defined the Eastern Mediterranean as a significant production zone, and Israel stands at the center of it. So you can count on the fact that the Russians were trying to figure out what piece of this pie they can get from Israel,” Wurmser said.

Asia could emerge as a more likely option for Israeli gas exports due to what Wurmser calls “acute natural gas shortages” on that continent.

“Asia does not have all the supplies of gas it will need in five to 10 years. Europe does,” he said.

According to Wurmser, creating an export channel to Asia has the potential to open up a new parallel trade route that can impact Israel’s greater strategic position. The gas sitting off of Israel’s coast in the Mediterranean would need to be transferred to Israel’s southern coast in the Red Sea, then liquefied just south of Eilat and shipped to Asia.

“If the export goes to Asia, the question is whether the gas may begin to anchor the economic development of the Eilat-Ashkelon corridor in such a way that it drives other economic development and the transportation links that really begin to challenge the Suez Canal,” Wurmser said.

“In addition to natural gas, you could have an oil pipeline; you could have high-speed cargo offloading-onloading terminals,” he added. “The way it works with hi-tech, you can get cargo on ships and off ships very rapidly, with rail link transportation to Eilat, then back on ships to Asia. It is much cheaper than taking it around Africa.”

The importance of developing an alternate channel has to do with the economic and political uncertainty surrounding the Suez Canal in the coming years. Travel through the canal, which has been reliable over the last three decades, may no longer be feasible if Egypt fails to maintain the conditions necessary for safe transport.

Since the Muslim Brotherhood takeover from Egypt, natural gas supply from Sinai to Israel — as mandated by the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty — has ceased to flow, a possible indication of what could occur in the Suez Canal.

“Travel through the canal, like all political infrastructure links right now, can be threatened because it is held hostage to the instability of the Arab World,” Wurmser said. ”Furthermore, the canal needs maintenance that costs a lot of money. The Egyptian government doesn’t have a lot of money.”

“I don’t see the Suez Canal as a safe bet in the next 30 years, as safe as it’s been over the last 30 years,” he said. “So Israel may have a chance to establish itself as the European-Asian link. And gas could be one of the driving factors in developing that corridor.”

According to Wurmser, the cessation of natural gas supply from Egypt to Israel is a warning sign with regard to using energy resources as a component of future peace processes.

“What we saw with Egypt was a general assumption, that with that amount of revenue flowing from Israel to Egypt, that the elites as well as the Egyptian state would come to rely on those revenues, and that would essentially anchor the Egyptian-Israeli peace structure,” Wurmser said. “Yet, when the ideological shift in Cairo happened, so went the gas.

“And I think this is a warning sign for anyone who thinks they can use the gas to drive peace,” he added. “Gas should be sold on an economic basis and should not be sold as a means to drive the peace process, because the track record with the Palestinians and with Egypt is not a good one.”

Alex Traiman writes for JNS.org.

Quebec Official: Rosh Hashanah Election Date Not Discriminatory

A Canadian government minister who said the Jewish community receives “privileged treatment” denied that a 2016 election scheduled for Rosh Hashanah discriminates against Jews.

“Give me a break,” said Bernard Drainville, the Parti Québécois minister of democratic institutions and active citizenship, in response to a reporter’s question about his refusal to change the proposed date for Quebec’s first fixed-date election in 2016, which coincides with the Jewish New Year.

Drainville said it will be possible to vote before the election on Oct. 3, 2016, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Last week, one of Quebec’s opposition parties, the Coalition Avenir Québec, joined Parti Québécois in voting down a Liberal Party amendment that would have allowed flexibility in setting the election date if it coincided with a religious holiday or for other reasons.

Lawrence Bergman, a veteran member of the provincial Legislature for a largely Jewish Montreal-area district, said an election on Rosh Hashanah would mean “some people will not have a chance to vote.”

But Drainville insisted that “the main issue here is not a Jewish holiday.”

“The issue here is the principle of not setting the election date according to the different religious holidays,” he said, according to the Gazette. “There are more than 100 religious holidays in the calendar. You cannot say we’re going to allow for the postponement of the vote according to one religion because other religious communities will also demand the same.”

Last month, Drainville opposed the relaxation of parking restrictions in Montreal on Jewish holidays, saying the Jewish community receives “privileged treatment.”

‘Really Dangerous’

Courtesy Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi. Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

Courtesy Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi.
Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

On May 21, Iran’s Guardian Council released a list of “approved” candidates for the June 14 presidential election. As expected, the list of eight candidates included a number of hardliners loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, crushing any hope that Iran’s next president would bring about new policies that would end the nuclear standoff with the West, economic sanctions and domestic political repression.

Many in the West are interested in the upcoming election. The last one, in 2009, launched major protests that became known as the “Green Revolution” after reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi lost to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many in Iran accused the Guardian Council, which is a constitutionally mandated 12-member council of Islamic jurists with wide ranging powers over the country, of rigging the election in favor of the hardliner, Ahmadinejad. But despite weeks of protests, the government brutally quashed the revolution.

With many of Iran’s 2009 opposition movement in jail or under house arrest, the current lineup appears to signal that Iran will continue its move away from the West.

Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, who considered running on a reformist platform for Iran’s presidency but decided not to submit his candidacy, is now launching a new initiative called “A Campaign for a Better Iran.”

He spoke exclusively with JNS.org about his recent experience in Iran, the presidential election and Iran’s future.

JNS.org: What happened during your recent visit to Iran to register as a presidential candidate?
Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi: I withdrew my name from candidacy; I did not want to give the Guardian Council the honor of disqualifying me. I felt the situation was really dangerous; it was very security-oriented, a lot of confusion and frightened people. There was a lot of pressure on me [by colleagues, friends and family] to withdraw and leave the country as soon as possible. Government officials also advised that I stay away from this campaign. Conservative fundamentalists have taken over the country. They don’t want any moderates or reformists to return to power.

Was there any support for your candidacy?
I saw and learned that my campaign was very popular, especially with younger Iranians, from the social and satellite media attention my campaign got. For many people, it was the only real campaign, and the Iranian people were really happy about it. There are serious concerns in Iran about the direction of the country, but the environment was too hostile for me. [It was] too chaotic for me to have a good campaign.

What will the election be like, and who do you think will win? Will there be another “Green Revolution” like in 2009?
The election will not be a popular election; there will not be any enthusiasm for the candidates. I believe the country is set for further radicalism. The next candidate will be more right wing than [Mahmoud] Ahma-dinejad. Of the eight selected, there are no candidates for change. I believe [top nuclear negotiator Saeed] Jalili is slated for the presidency. I believe he is the system’s [religious establishment] favorite, unless something happens, of course. Iran is always full of surprises like we saw four years ago.

What type of leader will Jalili be?
He is an ultraconservative; he doesn’t have the kind of mentality or heart to make changes. Ultimately though, his views don’t matter, he is very close to the Supreme Leader, and his views will reflect that of the Supreme Leaders. He is going to be tough on U.S.-Iran relations and especially
nuclear negotiations. He also personally has no idea how the economy runs, which is something Iran needs.

What do you think of the disqualification of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani?
What surprised me was not that he was disqualified — I was surprised that he had registered at all. In fact, I was shocked he registered.  How can he, living in the country and being a founder of the system, knowing everybody and everything about the current regime, how can he not figure out the negative environment? It is shocking.

Does the result of the election make a difference for the United States and Israel?
There is no difference between all of [the candidates] on Israel. They are all on the same page when it comes to Israel. Israel and the United States are the only two unifying factors among the religious fundamentalists. The moment this animosity disappears, they are going to destroy each other. The only common ground conservatives have is hatred toward Israel and the United States.

Where do you see Iran headed?
There will be less democracy, less social freedom, lots of pressure on women, the youth and minorities. I also think the negotiations between Iran and the U.S. will continue to be stalled. The Iranian government will be more belligerent and will make no concessions on its nuclear program. The economic policy will be further closed off and isolationist. There will be more of this so-called ‘resistance’ economy, which I hear about in Iran. It promotes self-sufficiency and isolationism. All of this is not good news for Iran. But the good news is that the Iranian people want change. There is no way the regime can continue down this path. They will eventually have to give in to the people’s demands. There is no more capacity left in the society to tolerate this oppression.

What is your next move to help bring about change in Iran?
Based on my decision for not submitting my candidacy, we are launching the ‘Campaign for a Better Iran.’ We will work with the next government as well as civil society to promote change and advocate for more productive policies. We will hopefully grow into a political party. But for right now, we want to help people on the ground get organized and change things.

Sanctions, Support

Photo by Justin Tsucalas Jay Bernstein

Photo by Justin Tsucalas
Jay Bernstein

With two weeks until Iran’s presidential election and with an announcement last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has accelerated the installation of critical nuclear infrastructure, allowing Tehran to greatly increase the pace of its uranium enrichment,  the U.S. Senate and House have passed legislation emphasizing Iran’s global threat and restating America’s support for Israel.

First, last week, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs presented HR 850, bolstering sanctions against Iran.  Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) authored the bill, which would also expands penalties against those who violate existing Iran sanctions and increase sanctions specifically targeting human rights violations in Iran. The bill now has a bipartisan group of 344 co-sponsors.

“As the threat of a nuclear-capable Iran continues, Congress is once again leading the way to impose crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime. In the House, I, alongside my Florida colleague Rep. Ted Deutch, introduced HR 938 [in March], a bipartisan legislation with almost 300 co-sponsors, seeking to strengthen the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship,” Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told the JT. “There couldn’t be a more important time for the U.S. to remind the world that we will not sit idly by while these threats put in peril the very existence of our friend and democratic ally, the Jewish State of Israel.”

Then, the Senate voted 99-0 on S. Res. 65, which emphasizes the global threat posed by a nuclear Iran and calls for “the full implementation of [U.S.] and international sanctions.” The resolution likewise urges that “if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the U.S. government should “stand with Israel and prove, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress, to authorize the use of military force [and] diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence.”

Why now? Does this latest round of legislation/support have any meaning?

With regard to the sanctions, if HR 850 passes, the bill will give President Barack Obama the power to bar businesses from operating in the U.S. if they engage in any significant commercial trade with Iran. The Senate statement falls short of a call for U.S. action against Iran — and is not legally binding — though leaders say the timing is right and the call strong.

“It expresses the sense of the Senate. It is symbolic, but it sends a message,” explained Orde Kittrie, professor of law at Arizona State University and a national thought-leader on the subject.

Kittrie said he thinks the statement was motivated by general frustration in the Senate — with Iran, but also with the current administration.

“The administration does not seem to be sufficiently results-oriented with regard to stopping Iran’s nuclear program,” said Kittrie. “I think the Senate is reiterating that if Israel feels compelled to take military action, the U.S. will stand with Israel. … I would also read the resolution as a signal to the Iranians that there is a credible military threat — either from the U.S. or from Israel.”

The statement comes about a month since the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its people, something that President Obama said would signal a red line and U.S. intervention. That red line was crossed without action, and the Seate, explained Kittrie, may have felt the need to strengthen the American position and the notion that military action could happen.

“The sanctions twist Iran’s hand behind its back and make it harder for Iran to move forward. But we also want to give Iran the sense that even if it makes it through the sanctions, it won’t be able to enjoy its nuclear program — the U.S. will bomb Iran if necessary,” the professor said.

Jay Bernstein, the host of the Shalom USA radio program, said he would not consider the resolution meaningless, but he said it is not wrought with meaning, either. He said ultimately the decision about military action would be up to the president. The resolution expresses support for military action — as necessary — but does not break down who will take that action. He said the real elephant in the room is whether Israel will be forced to take action on its own or whether the U.S. will take action alongside the Jewish State.

“The most effective player here would be America,” said Bernstein.

Dr. Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, expressed similar sentiments and told the JT that Israel will need to protect its national security, but it is his
assumption that any military attack would be “timed and coordinated” with the U.S.

The timing, however, of the bill and the Senate resolution, said Abramson, could be tied to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He said the group does seem to be making strides toward sitting down together, and just as the Palestinians likely feel pressured to come to the table in order to receive a $4 billion economic boost, so, too, do Israelis feel pressured to work with Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure support when it comes to Iran.

“For Israelis,” said Abramson, “the incentive is coordination on Iran.”

An economic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the link between political progress and economic assistance and insisted the climate was not right for peace talks. Israeli officials have expressed that Israel’s position is two states for two people and have in recent weeks acknowledged that concessions would have to be made to move forward.

As has been the case over the last several years, officials are still in watch-and-react mode when it comes to Iran. Few thought-leaders expect change. A recently released list of  “approved” candidates for the June 14 Iranian election includes predominantly hardliners loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“There have been sanctions. I support sanctions,” said Bernstein. “I don’t believe sanctions are ultimately going to change the behavior of the Iranian government. … Even the opposition parties are in favor of a nuclear Iran. Sadly and ominously, it is going to take some military action.”

Oldest known Torah scroll found in library of Italian university

What is being described as the oldest Torah scroll known to exist was discovered in the library of the University of Bologna.

The parchment scroll had been wrongly catalogued as dating from the 17th century, a university statement said.

“Instead, ‘Roll 2’ was copied in a period between the second half of the 12th and the early 13th century (1155-1225) and is therefore the most ancient complete Hebrew scroll of the Torah known today,” according to the statement.
[Read more…]

First Jewish funeral held in Australian Outback since ‘43

The first Jewish funeral in an Australian Outback town since 1943 was held with the aid of a Facebook and Twitter campaign.

On Sunday, more than 20 Jews came to the cemetery in the rural town of Goulbourn, about 125 miles south of Sydney, for the funeral of Wayne Robinson, whose dying wish was to receive a Jewish burial.

Since there is no active Jewish cemetery in Goulburn, Rabbi Shmueli Feldman had to seek approval from the local council for an area of the general cemetery to be allocated to Jews, even though there has been no Jewish community there since the gold rush in the 1800s.

Feldman, the son of Chabad’s American-born chief rabbi in New South Wales, had been called to Robinson’s bedside last week.

He also had to find 10 Jewish men willing to travel from Canberra, where Feldman operates in the small Jewish community, or Sydney to cleanse the land and consecrate it according to Jewish law. The word was sent out on Facebook and Twitter.

“The story highlights the incredible unity and interconnectedness of the Jewish people,” Feldman, who had never consecrated a Jewish burial ground, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio. “It was the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever witnessed.”

The group who came for the funeral included four or five previously unknown Jews from Goulburn. One of the men told Feldman he had never officially become a bar mitzvah.

Hours after the funeral, in front of his wife, daughters and the traveling minyan, the man put on tefillin and had what Feldman described as “a mini-bar mitzvah” some 50 years after his 13th birthday.