LONDON (WJC)–Nazi leader Adolf Hitler possibly had Jewish as well as African ancestors, according to a report by the British newspaper ‘Daily Express’, citing new DNA tests done in Belgium.
Samples taken from Hitler’s relatives link him to both the Jewish community and people from northern Africa. Belgian journalist Jean-Paul Mulders said he had investigated Hitler’s DNA after managing to lay his hands on a serviette dropped by the dictator’s great-nephew Alexander Stuart-Houston in New York. He said he got a second sample from an Austrian cousin of Hitler, a farmer known as Norbert H., the report said.
The DNA tests revealed a form of the Y-chromosome that is rare in Germany and the rest of Western Europe, but common among Jewish and North African groups. Experts now think that Hitler had migrant ancestors who settled in his homeland. Mulders said both the test samples had a form of genetic material known as ‘Haplopgroup E1b1b’, proving an “irrefutable link” to the Nazi leader.
“It is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, in Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mulders was quoted as saying. The link to Hitler’s ‘migrant ancestors’ could go back anything from three to 20 generations, said experts.
Ronny Decorte, a professor of Forensic Genetics and Molecular Archeology from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, told the ‘Daily Express’: “Hitler would not have been pleased about this. Race and blood was central in the world of the Nazis. Hitler’s concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not ‘pure’ or ‘Aryan’.”
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TUNIS (WJC)–A musical show scheduled for the Carthage International Festival has been called off after its actors sparked outrage on the internet for performing for Israelis. Selim Baccouche, actor and organizer of the musical ‘Nouraniet’, canceled his show after his co-actor, Tunisian performer Mohsen Cherif voiced support for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video posted on ‘Facebook’. “Long live Netanyahu! Long live Bibi!” Cherif shouted at the concert for Israelis of Tunisian origin, using Netanyahu’s nickname. Festival organizers said the show had been canceled because Baccouche was “indisposed”. A press conference was also called off.
Baccouche himself became the target of criticism after a video showed him and other Tunisian artists performing for Israelis at a concert during a pilgrimage to the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba. Thousands of internet users angrily demanded that the musical be canceled and some called for Cherif to be stripped of his Tunisian citizenship. Unions, including those representing musicians, condemned the “slur on national sentiment”, calling it a “shameful act” for Tunisians, who are generally hostile toward Israel. Tunisia and Morocco are the only two Arab states with a sizeable Jewish community.
Baccouche defended the video and said he was only responding to demand from a public for whom “all Tunisian artists, without exception” perform each year. “Why this video appeared one week before my show…I do not understand it,” he declared on the website ‘Kapitalis’.
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By Judy Lash Balint
JERUSALEM–The Sephardic Educational Center in Jerusalem’s Old City celebrated the completion of a new Torah scroll Wednesday night, July 28, in a lively celebration of Jews from around the world.
A scribe dips his quill pen into special ink and puts the finishing touches to a new Torah scroll before sewing up the parchment with special thread and dancing with the Torah through the streets of the Jewish Quarter.
Dozens of people from all over the world took part in the dedication of the scroll that was donated by families from Morocco and the United States.
A delegation of Sephardic leaders from Los Angeles and New York took part in the festive event, with many men putting their hand over the hand of the scribe as he finished the last letters of the scroll that contains the Five Books of Moses.
Scribes who are trained in the art of writing a Torah must undergo rigorous training. It takes about one year to complete the writing of the quarter million letters that make up the scroll.
The parchment must come from a kosher animal–usually a goat, bull or deer and generally takes about 80 skins for one Torah scroll.
A special feather quill and ink are used and the scribe must not write anything from memory. After checking the scroll with another scribe, the ceremonial completion is scheduled. It’s considered a great honor to take part in the writing of a letter of the Torah.
The last part of the scroll was sewn together, a cover and silver bells placed on it, and the entire congregation accompanied the Torah under a wedding canopy, dancing through the streets of the Jewish Quarter.
Balint is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem. This is reprinted from her website, Jerusalem Diaries:In Tense Times
The following op-ed by Menachem Z. Rosensaft was published on the website of the ‘Washington Post’ on 29 June 2010.
By Menachem Z. Rosensaft
I take no position on whether countries should prohibit religious proselytizing. Over the centuries, Jews, especially Jewish children, have far too often been the victims of proselytization. During the years of the Holocaust, desperate Jewish parents in Poland smuggled their children out of the ghetto for safekeeping by Christians only to discover after the war – I am speaking, of course, of those who were fortunate enough to survive the death camps – that the children had been baptized and indoctrinated to reject their Jewish faith and identity.
I am far more concerned, therefore, with the presence or absence of the freedom of different faith groups to worship according to their respective beliefs.
The Kingdom of Morocco is a Muslim nation where Jews and Christian are able to practice their religions openly. Synagogues and churches stand alongside mosques, and the Moroccan government is a rare beacon of tolerance in an otherwise mostly religiously xenophobic Muslim world. Both King Muhammed VI and his late father, King Hassan, have publicly placed the Moroccan Jewish community under royal protection. As Rabbi Marc Schneier, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, reminds us, “during World War II, when Morocco was ruled by the anti-Semitic Vichy government, King Muhammed V prevented the deportation of Jews from Morocco .” Moroccan law simultaneously guarantees freedom of religion and criminalizes proselytization. Morocco has also been a stalwart ally of the United States and the West.
Anti-proselytizing laws are common in Muslim countries. Proselytizing is illegal in Afghanistan, as is conversion from Islam. Earlier this year, a Christian shopkeeper in Pakistan was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an. Last year, nine Christians were arrested in Malaysia for attempting to convert some Muslim students at a university near the capital of Kuala Lumpur . In Saudi Arabia , according to the US State Department’s 2009 International Freedom Report, “Conversion by Muslims to another religion (apostasy) and proselytizing by non-Muslims are punishable by death under the Islamic laws adopted by the country, but there have been no confirmed reports of executions for either crime in recent years.”
In 2006, according to the Catholic AsiaNews.it, A Catholic Indian priest was expelled from Saudi Arabia after he “was discovered by the religious police as he organized a prayer meeting in the lead-up to Easter. . . . On 5 April, Fr George had just celebrated mass in a private house when seven religious policemen (muttawa) broke into the house together with two ordinary policemen. The police arrested the priest and another person. The Saudi religious police are well known for their ruthlessness; they often torture believers of other religions who are arrested.”
It is in this context that one must consider the Moroccan government’s essentially benign expulsion earlier this year of five American Christians accused of proselytizing at a Moroccan orphanage. The Moroccan Penal Code specifically prohibits the “seduction in the aim of undermining a Muslim’s faith or of converting him/her to another religion, either by exploiting his weaknesses or needs, or through the use, to this end, of health or educational establishments, as well as shelters or orphanages.”
A group of Republican members of Congress have taken up the cause of the expelled Christian missionaries, which is, of course, their right. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Anh Cao (R-La.) recently convened a hearing at which they urged Morocco to allow the deportees to return.
At the hearing, some of the rhetoric turned ugly. Rep. Wolf called for the suspension of US foreign aid to Morocco and compared the Moroccan government to the repressive Ceaucescu regime in Romania during the 1980′s. Rep. Pitts went further and likened the measures taken by the Moroccan authorities to “some of the tactics used by the Nazis.”
These comparisons are over the top and betray either an ignorance or a disregard of history. Non-Muslims enjoy far greater freedom of religion in Morocco than in most other Muslim countries, and Americans who go there are fully aware that proselytizing is prohibited. There are no allegations that the Americans involved were tortured or physically mistreated. They were simply expelled from Morocco for refusing to abide by its laws.
As His Excellency, Aziz Mekouar, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, emphasized, “The repatriation measures were taken against the concerned parties not because of their Christian faith but because they committed criminal offenses, proven by an investigation conducted by the Crown Prosecution Office, following formal complaints by parents and close relatives of the children concerned.”
Once again, we should all refrain from making Nazi or Cold War analogies for rhetorical effect. The above-cited comments by Reps. Wolf and Pitts were as unfortunate and out of place as Newt Gingrich’s recent claim that the Obama administration’s policies represent “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.”
Someone should remind Reps. Wolf and Pitts that our government regularly deports foreign nationals who are deemed to have violated U.S. laws.
Representative Pitts’ comments are also in stark contrast with his praise for far more repressive Muslim countries. Back in 2004, he commended Saudi Arabia for “working closely with the US to root out al-Qaeda” and Pakistani forces for “rounding up terrorists on their border.”
In fairness, it should be noted that earlier this year, Reps. Wolf, Pitts, Frank, Smith and Cao appealed to the President of Uganda to reject legislation that subjects homosexuals to life imprisonment.
Proselytizing is a complex issue which deserves serious consideration. In December 2009, for example, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that a Milwaukee , Wisconsin , sheriff was constitutionally prohibited from proselytizing his fundamentalist Christian beliefs to his deputies at official staff meetings. Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. had brought members of the Fellowship of Christian Centurions to address his deputies, and indicated that he would base promotions on the whether or not the candidates were “people of faith.” Specifically, the Court held that Clarke’s proselytizing had violated the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
I assume that Reps. Wolf and Pitts would not compare the 7th Circuit ruling to Nazi or Communist oppression, however much they might disagree with it. They and others who take up the cause of the American missionaries who were expelled from Morocco would be well advised to similarly refrain from introducing such inappropriate analogies into a dispute with a valued ally.
Menachem Z. Rosensaft is adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, and vice-president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants.
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(WJC)–Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again triggered a walkout by Western countries at the UnitedNations following a blistering attack against the United States and Israel at a nuclear non-proliferation conference of the United Nations in New York. Ahmadinejad called for the US to be dismissed from the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency for “threatening non-nuclear states”. In a 35-minute speech Ahmadinejad – who was the only head of state to attend the conference – berated the Obama administration for menacing other countries and accused it of hypocrisy for supporting Israel.
“The Zionist regime continues to threaten other nations with terror and invasion and its nuclear program is assisted,” he declared. The delegates of Australia, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United States boycotted his speech or left the General Assembly Hall when Ahmadinejad launched his diatribe.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was not present during the Iranian leader’s speech, but afterwards held a bilateral meeting with him, apparently at the request of Ahmadinejad. Ban urged Iran to restore trust with the international community.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who was not in the room during Ahmadinejad’s speech, said: “We are extremely disappointed in his statement. He had a wonderful opportunity … to dispel certain doubts around Iran’s intentions. It was the same speech, the same aggressive tone. Nothing in here would indicate that Iran wants to conform to what over 100 countries have been able to do.”
Unlike Israel, Iran is among 189 signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). With non-proliferation and the downsizing of nuclear arsenals key goals of President Barack Obama, the UN conference is better to check the spread of nuclear weapons and bring about their gradual elimination.
The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, opened the NPT Review Conference by saying that Iran had failed to provide “necessary cooperation” with the IAEA. “In the case of Iran, the agency continues to verify the non- diversion of declared nuclear material, but remains unable to confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activity because Iran has not provide the necessary cooperation,” he said. “I continue to request Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, and to clarify activities with a possible military dimension,” Amano added.
Outside the UN compound, American politicians and Jewish leaders held a rally against Ahmadinejad.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who addressed the UN conference a few hours after the Iranian leader, lambasted the regime in Tehran for “flouting the rules” and for its failure to comply with the NPT and with international demands concerning its nuclear program. Clinton also revealed that the United States possesses 5,113 nuclear warheads. That number was until now a closely kept secret. After Clinton’s speech, the Pentagon said that figure had plummeted from a peak of 31,255 in 1967. “We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can about the nuclear program of the United States,” Clinton told reporters. “We think that builds confidence.”
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Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:
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