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‘Non-Aryan’ surprises found in Hitler’s family tree

August 24, 2010 1 comment

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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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Poll finds Arabs in support of nuclear Iran

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJC)–An opinion poll conducted in several Arab countries has found that 57 per cent of respondents believe Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons and regard this as a positive outcome for the Middle East.

The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll was carried by University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami in conjunction with the polling firm Zogby International. This year’s poll surveyed 4,000 people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, during the months June and July.

Among the most striking findings is that US President Obama’s popularity in the Arab world has declined sharply over the past 12 months, and only 20 percent of those surveyed approve of him now. Last year, following his Cairo speech, 45 percent of respondents viewed him positively. Professor Telhami said much of the decline in Obama’s ratings was due to disillusionment about the president’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, identified by 61 per cent of respondents as the US policy they were most disappointed with.

Asked to name which world leader they admire most, respondents for the first time favored Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who launched a number of verbal attacks on Israel following the deadly raid of the Gaza-bound ‘Freedom Flotilla’. President Obama’s name did not even show up on this year’s most-admired leaders list.

Only 3 per cent of respondents said they empathized with the Jewish people if they watched programs about the Holocaust, with 88 per cent saying they resented such material, or had mixed feelings.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Commentary: Parallels between Johnson’s failed presidency and Obama’s.

August 11, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM — There is a troubling item in the New York Times that describes “the Obama administration pouring billions into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money.”

If the budget says spend $X on program Y, there is internal pressure to get it done. It is not so much a government giveaway as shoveling money out the door.

It reminds me of Community Action.

It may not have been the War on Poverty that ended the Johnson Administration, but it did not help. One can argue about which element of that presidency has contributed more to sully its reputation over the subsequent years.

One of the undisputed goods of that period are the social policies that have put the Obamas in the White House, and Black faces in corporate board rooms, university faculty offices, the staffs of distinguished hospitals and law firms, and in the roles representing those functions on popular television shows. Yet there remain the wreckages of Black lives and those of other minorities.
There are pictures circulating of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Detroit in 1945 and today that portray sparkling cityscapes in Japan and a wrecked Detroit
For those who don’t get the message, one of the items concludes with “What  has caused more long term destruction – the  A-bomb, or  U. S. Government welfare programs created to buy the votes of those who want someone to take care of them?”
 
Americans are a long way from knowing what they will gain and lose from the administration’s 2,000 page health reform, along with federal administrative rulings, state actions, as well as adjustments by insurance companies, HMOs, private physicians, and what the courts will say about the above.

The NYT has documented some of the unresolved questions of who will get what, at how much cost, and when will we finally know?
No one should accuse the NYT of being anti-social, anti-Democratic, or anti-Obama. However, it has reported about the continuing problems of a war that seems unwinable, as well as the follies in congressional/White House logrolling and public administration.
Americans may be seeing a repeat of the bad war and problematic social policy of the 1960s, this time in the presence of persistent unemployment, a large debt overhang, and all those tea parties.

Things are not looking any better in a region of the world claimed as a priority.
The Brookings Institution is reporting a poll of public opinion in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, during the period of June 29–July 20, 2010. Among its findings:

“Early in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, 51% of the respondents in the six countries expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East. In the 2010 poll, only 16% were hopeful, while a majority – 63% – was discouraged.”
The Arab public also has not gotten the administration’s message about Iran. “In 2009, only 29% of those polled said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be “positive” for the Middle East; in 2010, 57% of those polled indicate that such an outcome would be “positive” for the Middle East.” The governments in most of the countries surveyed have expressed strong opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Go figure.
There has been a stability of feeling from 2008 to the present about the prospects of a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians. Again, the signs do not give the American president what he wants. 50-55 percent feel it will never happen, and 27-40 percent say that it is inevitable, but will take more time.

The Palestinians have refused to begin direct negotiations with Israel, and the Israelis have refused any concessions without direct negotiations.
It is hard to blame either the the Palestinians or the Israelis for those postures. They both are reacting to political realities more than Americans and others still pushing for direct negotiations. Only the naive can expect something more positive than angry frustration to result for such talks in the presence of Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran, and Syria, plus a weak Palestinian Authority and a suspicious Israel.

The Americans may have to prepare themselves for a short presidency. We’ll get an some fresh tea leaves to read on November 2nd.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Concert of pro-Israeli Tunisian cancelled after protests

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

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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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Completion of Torah Scroll in Old City prompts celebration

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Scribe completes a Torah scroll

By Judy Lash Balint

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.

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Balint is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem.  This is reprinted from her website, Jerusalem Diaries:In Tense Times

Jerusalem tourism waxes and wanes with international politics

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–More than two million overseas visitors arrived in Jerusalem during a recent year. The attractions are well maintained places linked to individuals and events featured in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, and a functioning Old City enclosed by walls built in ancient times and last reconstructed in the 16th century. The Old City offers sites and shopping for tourists, and four distinctive neighborhoods that are the homes of 30,000 Jews, Muslims, Armenians and other Christians. Only a short ride away is Bethlehem, equally compelling for those wanting to see the roots of Christianity. Jericho is not much further in another direction. It offers winter visitors a chance to dine comfortably in an outdoor restaurant, while ten miles away in Jerusalem it may be raining and close to freezing.
While the numbers coming to Jerusalem are impressive, and often a nuisance to locals having to cope with crowds and traffic, the city ranks lower than 50 others in the numbers of tourists it attracts. London, New York, Bangkok, Paris, and Rome attract from three to seven times the number of international tourists as Jerusalem. Dublin, Amsterdam, and Prague get twice as many, while even Kiev and Bucharest, plus resorts near Bangkok attract 50 percent more international visitors than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may have more of a mystic pull than these other places. The “Jerusalem syndrome” is a documented condition whereby some visitors believe themselves to be biblical characters. Jewish and Christian sufferers act as David, Jesus, or some other figure associated with their faith. I am not aware of visitors to London and Paris thinking that they are Henry VIII, Napoleon, or any of the other figures associated with local history.
Why does Jerusalem rank only #51 on a sophisticated ranking of international tourism? 
Distance has something to do with it. Visitors to Western Europe can avail themselves of numerous attractive destinations as part of the same trip from home. There are decent beaches and other features in Tel Aviv and Netanya, but they attract only 60 and 10 percent of the overseas visitors as Jerusalem. Tiberias is on the Sea of Galilee and close to sites important to Christians, but draws only 25 percent of the number of visitors to Jerusalem. 
 
There are other sites in countries close to Jerusalem, notably Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, but the borders of the Middle East are not as easy to cross as those of Western Europe. For some years now Israeli security personnel have not allowed Israeli Jews to visit Bethlehem or Jericho without special permits, and others have to pass through barriers and inspections meant to protect us.

Politics and tension are more likely to figure in a decision to visit Jerusalem than other cities. The number of overseas tourists to Israel dropped from 2.4 million in 2000, which was mostly prior to the onset of the latest intifada, to a bit over one million in 2003, which was one of the bloodiest years. Numbers increased to 1.9 million by 2005 when the violence had diminished significantly. No other country included in the regions of Europe and the Mediterranean surveyed by the United Nations tourist agency showed comparable variations in the same period. Even on a mundane issue like this, the U.N. is unable to consider Israel part of the Middle East region, which includes all of the countries bordering it and Palestine.

Jerusalem has drawn more tourists that some well-known sites in Europe. It does better than Florence and Venice, and is pretty much tied with Athens. Why less than Kiev and Bucharest? There are mysteries in the world of tourism that may boil down to nothing more than current fashion or a lack of precision in the numbers.

Tourist flows change with politics and economics. Thirty years ago there was virtually no direct travel between Israel, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Now Russian visitors are in second place behind those from the United States; there are sizable numbers from Ukraine and Poland. Thousands come each year from India, Korea, Japan, China, and Nigeria. Indonesia and Morocco receive Israelis and send visitors to Israel, even though there are no formal diplomatic relations. There are even a few hundred visitors annually from Malaysia and Iran, whose officials are usually among our most intense critics .

My latest Jerusalem experience may be part of a multicultural gesture to attract overseas visitors, or it may reflect nothing more than the lack of experience or attention by the person responsible. While I usually pay no attention to the music piped into the exercise room at the university gym, this morning I became alert to something familiar. It was Silent Night, in the English version I was required to sing many years ago at the Highland School. But only in December. Never in July.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

A pleasure cruise to Turkey? I think not!

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO–A friend of mine was considering a Mediterranean cruise.  I suggested that he find another itinerary.   One of the ports of call he had been considering was in Turkey.  I can’t imagine a reason after the Gaza Flotilla incident why any member of the Jewish community would want to go to Turkey, anymore than they should want to go to Iran, Syria, Lebanon, or to Gaza.

There are places in the Muslim Middle East I would recommend visiting: Egypt, Jordan, and Oman, all of which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting myself.   Oh, I’ve also been to Turkey, but not again, thank you.  While Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in power, I’ll be waiting for his government to be reset, tied up, er-gone.  If I want Middle Eastern flavor, I’ll go to Israel.  And if I do venture among Israel’s other neighbors, perhaps it will be to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco or Tunisia. I certainly won’t waste time on the country of a false friend, a provocateur, someone who has betrayed Israel in order to curry favor with the most radical regimes in the Middle East. 

Beautiful beaches? Erdogan’s Turkey can keep them.   Antiquities?   There are a lot more in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.  Turkish coffee?  The world has learned to brew it long ago.  Carpets?  We can manage without them.

There was a time when I wanted to travel everywhere on the globe, to meet the people of every land, to taste their foods, partake of their customs.  Not anymore.   If other countries want tourism, let them earn it.  Let them show that they respect the people of the world, no matter where they come from or how they pray.  Let them demonstrate that they are willing to abide by international standards of decency.  

It was an act of indecency last May when Turkey attempted to force Israel to either give up its right to self-defense or be condemned by  Arab-engineered “world opinion” for blocking such manifestations of “humanitarian assistance” as knives, cutlasses, grenades, and automatic weapons.

Five of the six ships in the so-called Gaza Flotilla went peacefully to the Israeli Port of Ashdod and their humanitarian cargoes were transferred without incident to Gaza.  These supplies amounted to drops of water in the river of aid that Israel continually sends to the people of Gaza notwithstanding the fact that their Hamas “leaders” thank the Israelis with Kassam missile strikes on Sderot and the villages of Sha’ar Hanegev.

Only the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara refused to be escorted peacefully to Ashdod.  As the video released by the IDF makes clear, the “humanitarians” on board replied to the Israelis who invited them to deliver the cargo there: “Shut the f**k up.  Go back to Auschwitz!  We’re helping Arabs going against the U.S.  Don’t forget 9/11 guys.” 

Listen, you so-called “humanitarians,” we Jews are not going back to Auschwitz.   And we Americans will definitely remember 9/11, and all the innocent people who died there at the hand of terrorists with whom you apparently have much in common.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World