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’.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
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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JERUSALEM (WJC) — Rafael Haddad, an Israeli citizen arrested and imprisoned in Libya in March while photographing Jewish sites, has returned to Israel after being freed in a deal reportedly engineered by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Haddad, who has dual Israeli-Tunisian citizenship, had gone to Libya in March to photograph former Jewish community buildings in Tripoli for a Jewish heritage association. He was arrested and turned over to Libyan intelligence on suspicion of espionage, and until Sunday his whereabouts were unknown. Israeli officials now announced that he had been freed by Libyan authorities and flown to Vienna, following prolonged negotiations.
Reportedly, the case involved international efforts and was linked to Israel’s treatment of a pro-Palestinian ship sponsored by Libya that tried to run the blockade of Gaza last month. “The Foreign Ministry and the foreign minister worked for a long time to have him freed, along with other international bodies, and we thank all involved for their help,” an Israeli spokesman said, but did not provide further details. Libyan authorities have not commented.
Israeli nationals are banned from visiting the north African country. Haddad was traveling on his Tunisian passport when he was arrested.
Israeli officials said the efforts to free Haddad involved Italy, which has close ties to Libya and is home to a Libyan Jewish exile community, as well as France, Tunisia and the United States. Israeli officials quoted by AP said the final deal was arranged by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff.
Haddad was flown to Vienna on Schlaff’s private jet, the officials said, and was greeted at the airport by Lieberman. As part of the deal Israel allowed 20 prefabricated houses from the Libyan-sponsored ship, which tried to reach Gaza in July, to be delivered to the Strip. The Libyan ship was diverted to Egypt.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
(Press Release) WJC–A conference on the rights of Jews who had to flee their Arab home countries after 1948 was held at the Knesset in Jerusalem as Israel’s parliament is set discuss a bill that would make the issue an integral part of future Middle East peace negotiations. Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, US Congressman Eliot Engel, the head of the group Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), Stanley Urman, and leaders of Jewish organizations from Egypt, Syria, Libya, Morocco, and other Arab countries took part in the gathering, which was held in the Knesset building.
Originally submitted almost a year ago to the Knesset, the bill passed its first hearing two weeks ago. Now various interest groups are pushing the bill with the Knesset’s 120 members before it is submitted for a second and third reading next week. The bill was sponsored by Knesset member Nissim Ze’ev of the Orthodox Shas party and follows a resolution passed in the US House of Representatives in 2008, which calls for the recognition of Jewish and Christian refugees in addition to Palestinian refugees.
Irwin Cotler said: “We are not just speaking about financial compensation or indemnification. We are talking about justice for Jews from Arab countries. This speaks to the question of, among other things, rectifying the justice and peace narrative of the last 62 years where the question of Jews from Arab countries has not been part of the narrative. There have been more than 160 UN resolutions on the matter of refugees. All 160 dealt with Palestinian refugees only. I am not saying they shouldn’t address Palestinian refugees, but I am saying there is no justice and no truth if it does not also address the plight of Jews seeking justice from Arab countries.”
According to JJAC, some 850,000 Jews were displaced from Arab countries after the State of Israel was established. These include Jews from Syria, Trans-Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
The speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin of the governing Likud Party, said the issue was an important counterweight to Palestinian demands for a right of return to homes from which they were expelled or had to leave in 1948, and which are now part of Israel.
“The Arab peace initiative, based on the Saudi initiative, has a clause that calls for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue,” Rivlin told participants at the conference. “Israel is opposed to the right of return… we have to make an appeal today, to say that there is no room for bringing up the Palestinian right of return without the Jewish refugee issue being resolved. This has to be heard in the political discourse in Israel and in the international community.”
Congressman Eliot Engel said there was hypocrisy in the way the international community dealt with the Palestinian refugee community: “The Arabs today, as they have done for 50 years, use the Palestinian refugee population as political pawns. They want them to live in misery. They want them to suffer and then to blame the Jews. The fact of the matter is that the blame lies right at the foot of the Arab states, be it Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Egypt or any of those countries that have lots of petro-dollars and they don’t even spend a shekel to help their refugees.”
The preceding provided by World JewishCongress
By Laurel Corona
LA JOLLA, California – Each of us has a narrative about our family’s past, whether it’s shared around the table at family celebrations, or kept quietly to ourselves. When Serge Boccara (Clement Sibony) sets out from France to Tunisia with his pregnant wife Jeanne (Judith Davis) in director Ferid Boughedir’s 2008 film Villa Jasmin, he discovers the power of his own childhood memories and the fragility of the story he has constructed around them.
The film (based on a novel by Serge Moati) moves between the present and the past as the story evolves, blending the two to interesting effect when Serge occasionally intrudes on scenes that happened before he was born. Sometimes he is a mere observer and sometimes he is a participant in those scenes as it becomes clear that the driving force behind his desire to come to Tunisia is to come to grips with what he considers to be abandonment by both his parents when he was young. “Your parents didn’t abandon you,” his wife tells him. “They died.” Of course that’s different, but even after all these years, it doesn’t feel that way to Serge. “My mother preferred death to her son,” he thinks at one point, believing–however irrationally–that she let herself give in to cancer after his father’s death.
Serge Junior discovers quite quickly that the past will be difficult to revive when he sees that the villa is now a run-down electric cable company. The courtyard and grounds are in ruins, and he is too overcome by disappointment to want to step inside. He persists, though, visiting people and places all over the city, and little by little his parents’ story opens up with such vividness that he begins to inhabit their world.
The locus of the film is the eponymous Villa Jasmin, the seaside mansion of a Serge Senior (Arnaud Giovaninetti) and Odette Boccara (Elsa Mollien). He is from an “old” established Tunisian Jewish family, and she from a “new,” immigrant one, and though they are very much in love, much is made of the social tensions between the two groups.
The sociology of this place and time is one interesting element of the film, but it is also well worth seeing for the sensual evocations of the sounds, colors, and even smells (jasmine) of a vanished era. The cast is extraordinarily attractive, though from time to time the performances are too low-key to seem realistic under the circumstances and the villains of the story seem little more than stereotypes. But those interested in knowing more about twentieth century North African Jewish culture and Tunisian history from the first stirring of its independence movement through the end of the Nazi occupation will learn a great deal through this captivating story of ethical tenacity, personal sacrifice, and enduring love.
Villa Jasmin will be presented at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival at 6:20 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, at the AMC La Jolla.
Corona is a San Diego-based freelance writer and award winning author
By Rabbi Baruch Lederman
SAN DIEGO–In the 1500s, the King of Tunisia became deathly ill. A Jewish doctor, Reb Yaakov Teib saved his life. Rebbe Yaakov Teib, an accomplished and righteous Torah scholar was
well versed in scientific knowledge. The king became very impressed with Reb Yaakov and appointed him his personal physician.
One day, the King of Algeria, a relative of the Tunisian king’s mother, came to visit. As they were chatting in the palace garden, the Algerian king noticed that his host seemed distracted. He asked what he was thinking about. The host explained that he was contemplating a wondrous creation, the grapevine.
The King of Tunisia elaborated, “The grape is a magnificent desired fruit, yet it grows from a vine that whose wood is soft, weak and useless. You never see utensils, furniture or buildings made from its wood. Such a useful delicious fruit from such a useless vine.”
The King of Algeria sneered, “Why do you bother yourself with such pointless pondering? There are no answers do such questions.”
“Who told you this question cannot be answered, let’s ask my physician Reb Yaakov Teib.”
The King of Algeria roared, “A Jew?! Do you really think there is wisdom amongst the Jews?”
The host replied, “The whole world draws from the wisdom of the Jews.”
Reb Yaakov was summoned and the question was put to him. He responded, “That is an excellent question. There is a scientific answer and a Talmudic answer.”
The king was overjoyed, “Let us hear and grow in wisdom.”
“The fruit is so juicy, sweet and useful that it siphons all the useful qualities of the wood, leaving it soft, weak and useless. Further it is the sponginess of the wood which allows it to absorb all it needs from the earth to pass along to the fruit.”
The King of Tunisia asked, enraptured, “And what do the wise men of your nation say?”
“First they note that grapes produce wine which is used in the service in the Holy Temple. It would be incongruous and humiliating for the wood of such a noble fruit to be used for idolatry. Therefore it is rendered useless. No idolaters ever worship the wood of grapevines, nor can idols, altars, or houses of idol worship ever be built from it.”
“Further, the Jewish nation is likened to a grapevine as it is written (Psalms 80:9) ‘Out of Egypt You brought a grapevine.’ Just like a grapevine is soft and weak, while its fruit is sweet and juicy; the Jewish nation is small and weak, while its Torah and mitzvos are the pinnacle of excellence.
The King of Tunisia was beaming with delight. His guest became very quiet.
“If my king will permit me, I would like to add that when the proper amount of wine is consumed, it gladdens the heart. If too much wine is consumed it causes one to lose his senses and vomit his entire meal. So too with the Jews; if the king taxes them fairly, their presence will cause his kingdom to prosper and flourish. If he overtaxes them, he will be sad and his kingdom will suffer, for he will lose their presence, as happened to Paroah and all oppressors of Israel.”
The King of Tunisia smiled a knowing smile. There are some who believe that later in life, he secretly converted to Judaism.
[The foregoing true story is documented in Matamim, published in Bnei Brak, Israel]
Dedicated by Dr, & Mrs. Frank Felber in memory of his father Abraham Felber, Avraham ben Yozef, on the occasion of his Yahrzeit, Shevat 1. Dedicated by Andy & Mazal Levin on the occasion of the sixth yahrtzeit of her mother Fara Eshaghian.
Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah in San Diego
NEW YORK (Press Release)—The Jewish Agency for Israel announced that 3,767 new immigrants from North America will have moved to Israel in 2009, an increase of 17 percent compared with 2008, which saw 3,210 newcomers from the US and Canada.
Globally, there was also an increase of 17% in the number of new immigrants to Israel from around the world to over 16,200, excluding immigrants from Ethiopia. The largest growth in percentage of immigrants by geographic area was from Eastern Europe (27%) and from the former Soviet Union (22%), followed by North America (17%). Countries with the largest increases in the number of new immigrants included the UK (with an increase of 34%, to 835 new immigrants), Argentina (51% to 325), Spain (52%, to 38) and Scandinavian countries (104%, to 57 new immigrants).
Aliyah from Ethiopia, whose volume is directly dependent on the number of Ethiopians Israel’s Ministry of Interior grants aliyah eligibility to, dropped this year to under 300, but is expected to rise to 2008 levels of approximately 1,500 immigrants in 2010.
“Every new immigrant strengthens the country and is a strategic asset to Israel,” Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said at a press conference Sunday in Jerusalem announcing the immigration data. Sharansky thanked Jewish Agency partners Nefesh B’Nefesh in North America and Ami in France for their work.
In 2009, special arrangements were made to bring Jews to Israel from sensitive regions: 47 Jews were brought to Israel from Yemen, 25 from Morocco, 13 from Tunisia, 3 from Lebanon and 90 others from several additional countries.
Of the 3,767 new immigrants this year from North America, 3,324 were from the US (representing a 19% increase compared number of US immigrants in 2008) and 443 were from Canada (a 6% increase compared number of Canadian immigrants in 2008).
New immigrants from North America also took advantage of unique Jewish Agency absorption opportunities – 300 attended Kibbutz Ulpan; 90 attended Ulpan Etzion (including 20 who are at the new campus in Haifa), and 200 are enrolled through the Student Authority in degree studies in Israel. “We are proud of the attractive and innovative absorption options which we provide olim – from Hebrew ulpan to job options,” said Liran Avisar, head of the Jewish Agency’s Aliyah delegation in North America. “These difficult economic times have prompted people who were considering aliyah to decide that now is the time.”
In the last week of 2009 (and included in the annual figures), 400 new immigrants will arrive in Israel – 200 from North America on a flight arriving Wednesday (Dec. 30) in partnership with Nefesh B’Nefesh and 210 from South Africa, France and the UK on Jewish Agency-arranged flights.
Preceding provided by the Jewish Agency for Israel