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Heirs of Baron Herzog sue Hungary to recover looted art

July 30, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJC)–Heirs of the late Hungarian Jewish banker and art collector Baron Mor Lipot Herzog are suing the Hungarian government for the return of more than 40 paintings seized during World War II and estimated to be worth more than US$ 100 million. The case, filed in Washington DC, follows a failed battle in Hungarian courts.

Family members, who are also suing state-owned museums, say Hungary currently holds about 40 works, including paintings by El Greco. Herzog left the collection to his children when he died in 1934 before it was plundered by the Nazis. “What happened in the Holocaust was reprehensible,” Herzog’s great grandson, David de Csepel, said. “But what Hungary is doing is also egregious, knowing that this art belonged to our family.”

The family’s lawyer, Michael Shuster, told the ‘Los Angeles Times’ the legal action was “one of the largest – if not the largest – restitution claims ever filed in US courts by a single family against another nation”. 

The heirs won a small victory in 2000, when Budapest’s municipal court ruled that ten looted paintings, which were part of the Herzog collection, legally belonged to his grand-daughter Martha Nierenberg. However, in 2008, an appeals court overturned this ruling.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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Adventures in San Diego Jewish History, September 3, 1954, Part 4

July 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Compiled by San Diego Jewish World staff

A Grievous Loss (Editorial)
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 7

The Jewish Community lost one of its outstanding leaders last week with the passing of George Neumann, at the age of 69.  He and his wife, Julia, had been pioneers and leaders in every worthwhile activity in the Jewish Community since 1918.

Founders of the Hebrew Home for the Aged, they gave not only money, but their time and energy to provide a last refuge for those in need. A life-long devoted member of Temple Beth Israel, he served on the board for many years and was instrumental in the lifting of the mortgage.

Any group or organization which sought to alleviate people’s suffering could enlist the aid of this most worthy Jew.  His generous contributions to the United Jewish Fund and the State of Israel Bonds were only a small part of his effort to do his share for his co-religionists in need.

Among the many virtues “Uncle” George possessed was his sweet modesty. The burdens he undertook were unknown to most people, since he never sought honors or recognition.  He was content to let his deeds speak for him.  His aid to individuals in distress were legion and unknown.  He was benefactor to many and like the true Jew he was, his deeds were never told.

George Neumann’s geniality and quiet good sense will be sorely missed in this community.  He was a true “Elder Statesman.” – Requiescat in pace.

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A Goal Is Set (Editorial)
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 7

All of us have goals in business and in our personal lives.  If we are really interested, we strive to reach those goals… if the goal is important enough, we deprive ourselves willingly of other things which we feel are not as important as that one big thing. Usually, our goals are individual or concern only our families and friends.

A different type of family, much larger and more diverse in their personal lives and desires has also set a goal.  The goal they have decided upon affects all of us in some way because we are all members of this community family.  We owe it to ourselves to follow through on this project and through our own efforts of the other members of the community.

The citizens of San Diego have set a goal … for $1,350,000 to help those members of the community who need help.  In typical family spirit, other members can be counted upon to help where help is needed.

As a  citizen of this community, you are also a member of this unique family… don’t let the other members down.  Support THE Community Cause, the Second United Success Drive.

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Something To Think About  (Editorial)

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 7

The decision by the United Jewish Fund of St. Paul, Minn., to impose “ethically sound community sanctions” against persons holding positions of leadership or responsibility, whose pledges to the Fund are considered inadequate, should be of some interest here.

The board which passed this resolution (by vote of 23 to 2) stated that “such sanctions are based on the principle that an individual’s adequate discharge of major community responsibilities must be precedent to his occupying a position of leadership in our community organizations.”

The idea of giving responsibility to only those who give according to their ability has been discussed in this community from time to time by our leaders. If this should become a trend throughout the nation some decision will no doubt be made in order to insure adequate fund raising.

According to the latest information from our United Jewish Fund, the 1954 Drive will need additional effort if the minimum goal that was set is to be reached.

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From Where I Sit
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 7

By Mel Goldberg

Herb Seltzer is reported to have sold a car to a young sailor with the parting advice, “Bring it back for a checkup when you’ve got 500 miles on it.”… The sailor left completely enthralled over his shiny new Chevvy … Next morning when Herb arrived at the salesroom, the sailor was standing around … With trepidation, Herb questioned him as to what was the matter … “Oh nothing,” said the Navy man.  “You said to bring the car in when I got 500 miles on it.  I stayed up all night driving 500 miles.” …

We have very flatly spent our last dollar in Baja California.  IT will be a cold, cold day in July when they catch us down there again. .. To begin, some of the plush joints spend a fortune on tricking you to come down there and what happens?  You discover a place that probably cost a quarter of a million dollars to construct, with rest-room facilities that resemble the municipal dump of a central Mississippi town…. We stopped at an alleged fabulous spot, with a score of “shleppers” hanging around the lobby, looking fort a fas t buck … and yet, the management did not see fit to assign one of those domestic to the rest room to perform such simple tasks as placing paper in the (A) empty paper towel rack and )B) the other type of paper dispenser one finds in a tiled sanctuary…

Somehow, this seems a more important duty than having a chap handy with the physical stamina to carry our 13-ounce featherweight overnight bag, the twenty-foot distance from the trunk of the car to the lobby desk… In closing, we have traveled every 1st and 2nd class road in Baja California and we have yet to discover a wash room that can be judged satisfactory….

Jai Alai’s Fronton Palace came fairly close to getting an okeh, but the woman operator we had assigned to investigate the ladies’ room delivered the following report: “Cleanliness was satisfactory, however no paper in any of the booths, and hostess was more concerned with turning on the faucet in sink, than in securing additional paper.”  A pox on you, old Fronton Palace!

Bill Schwartz and Berenice Soule seem to have been carried away over battling about Shakespeare in the last edition of the Jewish Press … May we add a few words? … Being an intellectual slob we state: As to which is the most offending “The Merchant of Venice,” “Othello,” or any of Shakespeare’s material is like asking how do you want to die; by burning or drowning? …

John Ruskin took his son, David, to Del Mar, for a day at  the races.  Ruskin, an engineer, selected a horse, “Lone Deal” via a methodical system.  He told David to bet $5 on the horse for place .  David walked to the window and asked for the number. The man who takes the wagers demanded another $1… David had mistakenly purchased a ticket for “across the board.”  …He was too embarrassed about it to tell his father until the race was over… You see the race was a photo-finish and Lone Dal paid $80.  

And where were you when Senator McCarthy spoke at the $100-a0plate dinner last week?…

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Jews in American History~300 Years

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 7

By Dr. Philip L. Seman, University of Judaism

California has grown tremendously in population and developed as an industrial state particularly within the last quarter of a century. During these last twenty-five years, Southern California has developed culturally as well. This is largely due to the unusual growth in population.  We learn much of the progress in California and mainly in Southern California from Harris Newmark’s book “Sixty Years in Southern California,” containing his reminiscences from 1853, the year he came to Los Angeles, until 1913.  We note an optimistic prophecy concerning the future that Los Angeles is destined to become the world center, prominent in almost every field of human endeavor.

In 1854 the first steps were taken to establish a Jewish cemetery and not long after the first Jewish child was buried there.  It was Joseph Newmark who inspired the purchase of land for the cemetery. Largely, because the name of Newmark is so closely connected with the growth of Los Angeles we may spend a moment with Joseph Newmark, who was an uncle of Harris Newmark.  Born in 1799, he came to America in 1824. He spent a few years in New York and, during his residence there, started the Elm St. Synagogue, one of the earliest in America.  Immediately after reaching Los Angeles, he organized the Los Angeles Hebrew Benevolent Society which probably was the first charitable institution in the city. Although Mr. Newmark had never served as a salaried rabbi, he had been ordained and was permitted to officiate.  Harris Newmark broke ground for the Jewish Orphans’ Home which in 1925 moved to Vista del Mar near Culver City as a cottage plan institution.

Harris Newmark tells us that in 1865 a Los Angeles merchant, David Solomon, called on  him and related that while returning by steamer from the north, Prudent Beaudry had made a boast that he would drive every Jew in Los Angeles out of business. Thu we see that the Jew in Los Angeles nearly ninety years ago was not among the best loved of people.  However, the progress made by such pioneers as Harris Newmark and others is indicative that while such “crack pot” statements made from time to time were not very encouraging, nevertheless hard, determined work will win out in the end as it has, if one reviews the progress made in business as well as in cultural endeavors.

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United Success Drive Names Chairman

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

Names of five more persons to work on the Second United Success Drive of the San Diego area Community Chest were announced this week by George A. Scott, chairman.

Sol Bloom will be group chairman for the Retail A section. This group includes specialties, department stores, locker clubs, variety stores, clothing stores and furniture stores.

Victor Schulman will assist him as chairman of the furniture section.

Norman Kaufman will head Hotels Section and will be responsible for the recruitment and supervision of campaigners to solicit this area.

Murray Goodrich will be vice chairman of the Individual Pace Setters Division.  In this capacity, he will be in charge of campaigning those persons who are giving $500 or more and who cannot be reached at their place of business.

Edward A. Breitbard, chairman of the Service Group, will be responsible for the campaigning of cleaners, social service, mortuaries, hospitals, advertising and amusements.

“This is our primary job, taking precedence over all other interests, for we know that success in our business and personal affairs depends in large measure on our success in this undertaking,” Scott said.

The drive will begin September 8 with a luncheon at El Cortez Hotel for the Pace Setters and Commerce and Industry Divisions. Guest speaker will be General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, who is national campaign chairman of the United Defense Fund-USO, a Red Feather organization.

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(Mode of travel)
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

No man has ever been known to travel far on a lame excuse.

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Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

Forty hospitalized patients from the Naval Hospital were guests of San Diego Post 185, Jewish War Veterans and Auxiliary at the football game played Sept. 1 at the Balboa Bowl between the College Prep Stars and High School Stars.  This annual charity classic is sponsored by the Breitbard Foundation.

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New Café Offers Tempting Dishes
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

Oskar Goldschmied and Kurt Adam have purchased the Orange Belt Café at 807 Broadway. Recent refugees from Czechoslovakia, they will serve Continental Food, specializing in Hungarian dishes such as Hungarian Goulash, Vienna Schnitzel, Gefilte Fish and other popular dishes.

The Orange Belt Café will open at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Special lunches are from 67 cents and dinners are a la carte.

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Hereafter Don’t Count
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

Dying penniless is not what worries some people—it is having to live that way.

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Jewish Community Center
Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

Rhythmic Exercise Class—During the month of September, Mrs. Esther Moorsteen has graciously offered the use of her patio for the Center Rhythmic Exercise Class.  Women are invited to bring a sandwich and coffee will be served after the class.  Again children are welcome and a baby sitter will be available upon the mother’s request.  Mrs. Moorsteen resides at 4370 Arista Drive.

 Modern Dance Class—All women interested I the beginners modern dance techniques are invited to participate in the group meeting at the Jewish Community Center on Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m. under the leadership of Mrs. Eugene Berger.  This is an opportunity for all working women (including the housewife) to relax and enjoy and evening of rhythmic exercise and creative dancing,. For further information call the Center at Atwater 1-7744.

Center Women’s League – There will be a meeting of the Center Women’s League on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m., September 16th at the Jewish Community Center.  The nominating committee with Mrs. Milton Fredman as chairman and including Mesdames Sam Bennett, Jos. Kwint, Eugene Berger and Ben Ferber will present a slate of officers for the coming year. All women interested I participating in the development of the Jewish Community Center are invited to attend.

Cooperative Nursery School – The Cooperative Nursery School will hold open house at the Center, 3227 El Cajon Blvd., on Sunday, Sept. 12th, from 3 to 5 p.m.  All pre-school children and parents are invited to attend and inspect the facilities.  Refreshments will be served.

“We are busy planning for the fall term of the Cooperative Nursery School for the Jewish Community Center which commences September 15,” announced Mrs. Melvin Karzen, chairman at a parents’ and children’s picnic held recently at Presidio Park.  The purchase of new equipment and the repainting of nursery school tables and chairs head the list of activities for mothers and fathers.

This will be the second year for the Community Center Nursery School.  Anyone interested mnay contact Mrs. Bert Eifer, Juniper 2-4824.

Teen-Agers—There will be a meeting of all Teen-Agers who attend high school and college on Thursday evening, Sept. 9th, at 8:30 p.m. to discuss and plan the fall program at the Center.  Committees will be chosen and the special events being planned and teenagers are requested to help plan those activities that interest them.

Volunteer Leaders –With the beginning of the fall program year, the Jewish Community Center has been requested to organize clubs, play groups and classes for various age groups. Such groups can only be organized with adequate leadership and so we are asking for both men and women who are mature, and are interested in children, to volunteer their services.  The minimum time necessary for such participation is five hours per week and any person who has skills such as games, leadership, arts and crafts, dramatics and athletics are especially welcome. A special training course, to discuss the problems of leadership and the necessary skills required, will be developed within the next month. Please call Mr. Posin at the Center office to volunteer your help.

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“New Faces” Theme Set by Hadassah

Southwestern Jewish Press, September 3, 1954, Page 8

Mrs. Harry Felson, newly elected president, will hold her first official meeting of Hadassah on Wednesday, Sept. 15. At 12 noon at the Temple Center. The theme of the initial meeting will highlight “New Faces of 1955” and all new members are especially asked to attend the luncheon meeting.  In addition to honoring new members, Mrs. Harold Elden will address a special tribute to the old members of the chapter.

Following a very successful Membership Tea, Mrs. Edward Kitaen, membership chairman, will again be in charge of the meeting and assisted by her same capable committee, Mmes. Manuel Haffner, Rodin Horrow, Ray Smith, Ray Lowitz, Howard Hoffman, Archie Bushnell, Elmer Wohl, George Wixen and Fred Leonard.

Mrs. Morton Thaler, program chairman, promises a laugh a minute with a clever presentation called “Take a Number.”  A very informative and entertaining afternoon is definitely assured, so make reservations early with Mr. Howard Hoffman, AT-4-8681.

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“Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” is sponsored by Inland Industries Group LP in memory of long-time San Diego Jewish community leader Marie (Mrs. Gabriel) Berg. Our “Adventures in San Diego Jewish History” series will be a regular feature until we run out of history.  To find stories on specific individuals or organizations, type their names in our search box.

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Australian Nazi suspect wins appeal against extradition to Hungary

July 5, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–An Australian citizen, Charles Zentai, has won an appeal against extradition to Hungary on war crimes charges. He is accused of killing a young Jewish man during World War II while serving in the Hungarian army, then allied to Nazi Germany – a charge he denies. Australia’s Federal Court found that the government had not explored options other than surrendering him to Hungary, such as prosecution at home.

Mr Zentai, who is in his late 80s, had spent five years fighting extradition. He moved to Australia after World War II and was living in the western city of Perth when the Hungarian government began extradition proceedings. Speaking after Friday’s ruling, Mr Zentai said long legal battle had put him and his family “through hell” and cost him his life savings. “I have lost practically everything,” he said.
 
The Federal Court overturned an extradition order made last year by Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor, saying the case had exceptional elements that “set it apart from any precedent”. The court ruled that “the more humane solution” – trying Mr Zentai in Australia – had been dismissed “on the basis of longstanding policy”. Judge Neil McKerracher pointed out there were apparently “no live witnesses to the alleged events” and that statements relied upon to prove his guilt “were secured in arguably questionable circumstances”.
 
Charles Zentai is accused of killing Jewish teenager Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944. At the time, Mr Zentai was a warrant officer in the Hungarian army. The Hungarian government alleges that Mr Zentai took part in the fatal beating of Mr Balazs for not wearing a Star of David to identify him as Jewish. Mr Zentai says he was not in Budapest at that time.
 
The allegations against Mr Zentai were initially brought by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights organisation dedicated to hunting down Nazi war criminals.He is listed as one of the centre’s 10 most-wanted suspects, for having “participated in manhunts, persecution and murder of Jews in Budapest in 1944”. The Australian government has not said whether it would appeal against the ruling.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

The Jews Down Under~Roundup of Australian Jewish News

July 5, 2010 1 comment

Garry Fabian

Compiled by Garry Fabian

Jewish community has get together with law enforcement officials

MELBOURNE– 2 July – Victoria’s top cops rubbed  shoulders with rabbis and other communal  dignitaries at a reception last week highlighting  the close working relationship between the community and the state police.

Among the boys in blue at St Kilda Town Hall were  Commander Ashley Dickinson and Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, while enforcers of Jewish law  included Rabbis Yaakov Glasman, Meir Shlomo Kluwgant and James Kennard.

Addressing the gathering, Jewish constable Anthony Tannenbaum spoke of the rigorous
application process for joining the force. “I  remember the sergeant doing my interview asked me  why there weren’t more Jewish police applicants.  I replied with as honest an answer as I could . Jewish mothers.”

Recalling his graduation ceremony in 2008, he  added: “I know my family felt tremendous  pride.  They could now tell everyone they had a  son who practised criminal law.”

Thursday night’s event, hosted by the police and  supported by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, was also attended by representatives of  other faith groups as well as  the Mayor of Glen Eira and the Deputy Mayor.

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Proposed Eruv raises angst among locals

SYDNEY, 1 July – Jewish community plans to overcome an ancient and restrictive religious
commandment by creating a virtual wall around an entire North Shore suburb is upsetting local residents.

But its push for greater freedom has caused angst among some St Ives residents, who say it will
block their views and create a “Jewish ghetto”.

Under Jewish law it is forbidden to push or carry objects beyond the private home on the Sabbath
and during holy festivals such as the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah.

That means parents are often unable to take babies and young children to synagogues or parks
because they cannot push them there in prams. Likewise, the elderly and disabled cannot be pushed in wheelchairs.

But the creation of a part-symbolic, part-physical zone known as an eruv allows Jews
to carry out such activities within its boundaries.

“Really the ultimate aim is to basically help families, liberating people from their homes,
such as young mums with kids in their prams,” said David Guth, 32, of St Ives.

The married father of three children, including a five-month-old baby, is a member of Northern
Eruv, a group seeking Ku-ring-gai Council’s approval to create an eruv around St Ives.

An eruv already exists in the Waverley area, including along the promenade at Bondi Beach, but
is so inconspicuous few people know it is there.

Most of the 20-kilometre boundary of the St Ives eruv would be demarcated using wires, cables and
power poles owned by Optus, Foxtel and EnergyAustralia. But about 20 per cent would be
formed by erecting 26 aluminium poles six metres high in 14 locations across St Ives. The poles would then be linked by a wire.

The development application drew 21 public submissions. Four, including one from the NSW
Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, were supportive.

Most objectors were concerned about the impact the poles would have on views but some went
further, claiming an eruv would benefit one religious group at the expense of others.

The chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Vic Alhadeff, dismissed the concerns,
saying the plan would have little effect on the environment because it was “in the form of existing poles and wire”.

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Foreign Minister’s statement  draws community ire

CANBERRA, 1 July – Tensions flared between the community and the Government this week over a
statement released marking the fourth anniversary of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

The clash came in the wake of comments by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, which the Executive
Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) slated as “tepid” and “especially troubling”.

Friday’s statement from Smith noted that “Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid into Israel
by the armed wing of Hamas and has been held in captivity in the Gaza strip by Hamas since that
time.” It went on to say “Australia joins other members of the international community in calling for his immediate release.”

The statement then focused on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and humanitarian assistance for Gaza.

While he thanked the minister for calling for Shalit’s release, in a letter sent to Smith on Monday, ECAJ president Robert Goot claimed: “The remainder of the announcement was disconcertingly lacking in substance and tepid in its tone. To say, as you did, that Gilad Shalit ‘has been held in captivity in the Gaza strip by Hamas’ is to gloss over the most heinous aspect of his captivity – the fact that he has been held incommunicado for four long years.”

Goot went on to observe, “At the time of your statement . the Foreign Minister of Italy, is reported as stating ‘that the condition of Gilad’s captivity breached all international rules and showed the terrorist nature of Hamas’.

Meanwhile, Rome’s City Council made Gilad Shalit an honorary citizen of the Eternal City.”

He also drew a comparison with a statement from Human Rights Watch, which claimed “Regardless of
Hamas’ grievances against Israel, there are no grounds to cut Shalit off completely from his family”.

Describing Shalit’s captivity as “a burning humanitarian issue which must be considered in
its own right and divorced from the issues in contention between Israel and Hamas”, Goot said.
“It is regrettable that your announcement omitted to make this distinction. It is an omission that
is especially troubling to Australian Jewry, in light of the general tenor and positive outcome
of our recent discussions at the Lodge.”

He was referring to a meeting last month between then-prime minister Kevin Rudd and community
leaders intended to heal any rift following the Government’s harsh line against Israel following
the passport crisis and flotilla affair.

Goot concluded: “We cannot help feeling let down by the inexplicable failure of your announcement
to make the clear statement of principle, and send the strong message of support which the occasion required.”

When asked about the ECAJ letter, a spokesperson for the Foreign Minister told The AJN, “Australia
was one of only a handful of countries to make a formal statement urging Shalit’s release,
reflecting the strength and sincerity of Australia’s views. Sadly, many others have remained silent in the face of his deplorable detention.”

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New Minister’s appointment welcomed by community

MELBOURNE, 1 July –  Jewish school representatives plan to rekindle their relationship with newly
appointed Education Minister Simon Crean.

Crean, who Jewish leaders have nicknamed Shimon because of his strong friendship with the
community, was appointed Minister for Education, Employment, Workplace Relations and Social
Inclusion on Monday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

His former portfolio of trade was given to current Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

Nechama Bendet, co-chair of the Australian Council of Jewish Schools, expressed satisfaction
with the former Labor leader’s appointment to the important position.

“We warmly congratulate Minister Crean on his appointment as Education Minister and are confident he will continue to support the education of every child in every school and the
sector’s capacity to provide Australian families with meaningful choice and diversity in their child’s schooling,” she said.

Bendet explained that when Crean was shadow minister for education in the mid-1990s, Jewish
educators had an “extremely good relationship” with him.

He showed “an understanding of the Jewish community, and Israel, for which the community has been most appreciative”.

The co-chair, who is also business manager at Melbourne’s Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Colleges, said
the council would request a meeting with the new minister shortly “to offer any assistance to him”.

The Australian Council of Jewish Schools represents the interests of the country’s Jewish educational institutions to Government. It, and other Jewish representative organisations, had a close working relationship with Gillard, the previous minister, in looking after the specific needs of Jewish schools, including resolving funding anomalies and incorporating Holocaust education into a new national curriculum.

Meanwhile Smith, who has been occupied in recent months with matters pertaining to Israel –
evicting an Israeli diplomat over allegations the country had forged Australian passports, acting
to try and prevent Israel’s enemy, Iran, from developing nuclear weapons, and responding to the
deaths of nine people on a flotilla that challenged Israel’s blockade off Gaza – will have an even fuller plate. Smith told reporters he was confident he would manage the extra workload.

“The two ministers in the past have been served by one department [of foreign affairs and
trade],” he told the ABC. “Now one minister will be served by one department.”

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PM says slurs don’t’ stand up

CANBERRA, 2 July – New Prime Minister Julia Gillard hit back at accusations she has a conflict of interest over her support for Israel, saying her commitment to the country goes back many years.

She also confirmed she was hopeful a planned visit to Israel by new Education Minister Simon
Crean would go ahead in coming weeks, and emphasised her soft spot for the local Jewish
community based on a shared passion for education.

Speaking on Wednesday – in her first interview with a newspaper since becoming Prime Minister –
Gillard denied her partner Tim Mathieson’s employment with property group Ubertas – directed
by Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange founder Albert Dadon – influenced her parliamentary activity.

“My interest in Israel and my support for Israel is longstanding, much longer standing than my
partner’s employment with Ubertas,” she said. “The things that I’ve done, for example when I
was acting prime minister dealing with the Gaza crisis and issuing a response on behalf of the
Australian Government, that was well before any suggestion that Tim would go and work with the Ubertas Group.”

She continued: “Seriously, I don’t think it stands up”.

Dadon confirmed that Mathieson’s role at the company is simply to sell apartments.

The PM, who was sworn in by the Governor-General last Friday, said she understands intense
interest in her and her family’s lives goes with the position.

“I understand and accept that, it is the way things are going to be,” she said.

Commenting on her predecessor’s recent decisions to expel an Israeli diplomat after intelligence
suggested Israel had forged Australian passports and to call for an Israeli inquiry into the Gaza
flotilla crisis and for additional humanitarian items to be allowed through the Gaza blockade,
Gillard said she backed Kevin Rudd’s stance.

“I have served as a member of the national security committee in my capacity as deputy prime
minister and the decisions that you’ve seen of the Government were taken by the national
security committee,” she said. “On the question of the passports issue, as a nation, we’ve made
our point there about the use of Australian passports and we are looking to move on.”

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Adelaide Shop keeper  rejects exhibition poster

ADELAIDE, 2 July – A Holocaust survivor staging an Adelaide exhibition on the Shoah was appalled
when told a flyer for the event could not be posted outside a local store because a regular
customer “does not believe in the Holocaust”.

Adelaide sculptor Andrew Steiner , 77, who survived the war in Budapest, losing 13 members
of his family, said he was shocked when a staff member informed him that a A3 sized poster,
affixed to a pillar outside the shop, had to come down.

When contacted Digital Concepts in Norwood (an Adelaide suburban shopping mall), the shop
assistant who had spoke to Steiner said “The flyer had ‘Holocaust’ written on it, and we have
customer that comes here regularly, who doesn’t believe in the Holocaust, so if we have stuff
like that, then we have to get into arguments with people, and we cannot be bothered”.

The store manager later issued an additional explanation and confirmed that notorious Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben was regular customer. However he insisted the content of the flyer was not the reason it was removed. He added that posting notices in the common areas in the shop violated his lease A spokesperson for the centre confirmed it was its policy.

Steiner said he had posted about 40 flyers in libraries, civic centres and shopping areas around Adelaide, and had not any objection elsewhere. Anti-Defamation Commission executive director, Deborah Stone expressed her dismay at the shop assistant’s reaction. “The Holocaust is not a matter of  belief, it is fact of history.Exhibitions like this one are an important part of educating people to understand what happened and protecting human rights in the future. Fredrick Toben’s offensive behaviour in denying
the Holocaust has been condemned by Australian courts.  No retailer should be pandering to that”.

The exhibition – Remembering the Holocaust: Art and the Holocaust – was devised financed and
curated by Steiner, who had been preparing it for 18 months. It is running at the Adelaide
Immigration Museum until the end of August.

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Call to prayer goes high tech

MELBOURNE< 5 July – Tefillah and technology merged last week, after a businessman introduced an
innovative way to gather a minyan for afternoon prayers in Melbourne’s CBD.

David Werdiger, who hosts a mincha minyan in his city office, implemented an SMS system whereby a
message is sent to a distribution list in the morning.

“Every morning we broadcast a message asking who can make it. Once we get a minyan (10 men over
the age of bar mitzvah), we broadcast another message confirming. If we don’t get a minyan in
time, we advise people so they can make other arrangements,” Werdiger said.

Werdiger approached a partnering company responsible for developing customised SMS
applications and the business was “happy to assist” in turning his idea into reality.

“The original idea was that the system would automatically broadcast a confirmation once 10
yeses had come in. We aren’t there yet, but it requires minimal effort from the coordinator,” he said.
The minyan, called Jews in the CBD or JBD, is currently held in a Collins Street office near the Rialto Towers.

“When we were running the minyan in previous venues, people would be standing there calling or
texting friends to see if they could come.

“So I thought it would be much easier if we could automate it,” he said, adding that after just one
week of using the new method, people are already giving their suggestions for further ideas.

“People seem to respond to SMS much faster than to emails. Using it for the first week has
brought forth some other ideas and enhancements, like a secondary list of people who would respond
to a call to be a “tzenter” [Yiddish for 10th one], and other ways to automate the system,” Werdiger said.

“People have been very supportive in suggesting others to add to the distribution list, and ways
we can make the minyan more attractive.”

With more than 10 attendees each day last week, Werdiger is now considering extending the minyan further.

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Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World.

Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
 
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
 
Surprised?
 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
 
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
 
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
 
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
 
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
 
And finally…
 
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Holocaust Survivor offers hope to teenage moms

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)–Edith Palkowitz, local Holocaust survivor, held 60 students spellbound at the Lindsay Community Day School on Thursday, May 13, as part of the Words Alive Adolescent Book Group program.

The Lindsay Community Day School is a part of the Juvenile Community Court School (JCCS) system, which offers an alternative school setting for young parenting and pregnant teens. Lindsay has been a part of the Words Alive Adolescent Book Group (ABG) program for over 10 years, which facilitates book group discussions at the school monthly.

Palkowitz recounted her experience as a Holocaust survivor; living in a Budapest ghetto, losing her entire family and escaping to the United States at the ripe age of 19. “I cannot live in your shoes…you cannot understand what it is like to live in mine. But if you have hope, you will overcome anything,” Palkowitz remarked as she encouraged the teenage mothers to succeed and reach for their goals.

As part of the ABG program, the Lindsay students read Maus 1 by Art Spiegelman, which several copies were donated by Words Alive. The lead teacher, Dawn Miller also incorporated studies and lessons about the Holocaust and WWII.

Throughout Edith Palkowitz’ presentation, the students were encouraged to listen, ask questions and learn. When asked how she could recover from such a tragedy, Palkowitz definitely said, “I turned to books. Those 26 letters in the alphabet can become your best friends.”

She ended her presentation by looking at each girl, stating that “knowledge is power…with hope, anything is possible.” There was not a dry eye in the room.

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Preceding provided by Words Alive

Many UN members walk out after yet another Ahmadinejad diatribe

May 7, 2010 Leave a comment

(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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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.