When Tatyana fled the beleaguered eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk late last week, she felt relieved just to have made it out alive.
“It was a horror. We boarded the train under heavy bombing,” explains Tatyana, 50, who escaped together with her daughter, son-in-law and 7-year-old grandson. “It was relatively calm until July 13; there was some transport around the city, some stores were open. But then the real fighting began, and everyone ran to buy tickets to leave the city; we were lucky to purchase tickets for July 24. Anyone still there can no longer leave because the central train station was bombed, and trains cannot leave the city. People are dying in Lugansk, and it is getting worse each day.”
Tatyana, who declined to give her last name, and her family, are among the more than 250 Jewish refugees from Lugansk and surrounding towns slowly recuperating at the first Jewish refugee camp established in Ukraine. The site was secured on campgrounds owned by Chabad-Lubavitch of Zhitomer and is being organized by Rabbi Sholom Gopin, Lugansk’s rabbi and the director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Lugansk.
Since early July, when Ukrainian armed forces began closing in on the pro-Russian separatists who control Lugansk, the border city has been transformed into a virtual war zone. With artillery explosions and gruesome death quickly becoming a daily part of life, thousands of Lugansk’s citizens have fled, and together with them, an estimated 1,000 members of the Jewish community.
“This is the biggest Jewish refugee crisis in Ukraine since World War II,” exclaims Gopin, speaking to chabad.org from Zhitomer, where he is directing the camp as he attempts to help community members resettle, at least temporarily. Like so many of their neighbors in embattled eastern Ukraine, “the Jews of our community left everything behind,” he says. “They have no homes, no jobs, no money. Many still have family stuck in Lugansk. This week, five elderly people were killed in an explosion at an old-age home adjacent to our Simcha Jewish Orphanage, where close to 40 Jews are now staying.”
NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — Authorities are searching for the vandals who spray painted anti-Semitic messages on a South Florida synagogue.
Residents who voluntarily patrol the area discovered swastikas and the word, “Hamas” spray painted in red on columns on the Congregation Torah V’Emunah at 1000 NE 175th St, early Monday morning.
“I saw this and then I stopped and I said, ‘Wait a minute. What am I seeing here?’ and then I backed up again and I looked again and I immediately sent a text to the two supervisors,” said resident and neighborhood watchman Yona Lunger.
Residents are now trying to figure out who would want to desecrate their place of worship. “Absolute hate and why are you doing this, what have we done to you? We want to live at peace over here, we’re not fighting with you, we want to get along,” said Lunger. “We don’t go to any mosques, we don’t go spraying, anything like that. All we want to do is get along.”
Some residents are even concerned about their safety.
“I mean honestly it makes you question if it’s safe to walk around, wearing your yamaka, like how safe you really are in America,” said neighbor Josh Rosenberg.
Pictures of the defaced columns were posted on Facebook and many people around the world are reacting. “It’s like disgusting,” said Yossi Rosenberg.
The vandalism has since been removed.
This incident comes a day after a Miami Beach family’s vehicles were egged and defaced with the words, “Jew” and “Hamas” smeared on the windshields.
This is a few blocks from where my youngest daughter lives.
As the fight in Gaza wears on, anti-Semites across Europe are attacking the continent’s Jews under the pretext of protesting Israel’s politics.
Since the beginning of the current war between Israel and Hamas, eight synagogues in France have been attacked. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for Jews to apologize for the actions of the Jewish state. In Germany, a prominent Muslim Imam gave a sermon asking Allah to kill all of the “Zionist Jews.”
The atmosphere in Europe since the beginning of the war has been so toxic that the foreign ministers of France, Italy, and Germany on Tuesday issued a rare joint statement condemning anti-Semitism at pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
All of this presents a troubling paradox for Zionism. The state of Israel was founded in 1948 as a haven for Jews. But in 2014 Europe’s anti-Semites have attacked Jews for the deeds of the Jewish state.
It is a classic anti-Semitic canard to punish any Jew for the perceived crimes of all of them. There is no evidence also to suggest that if Israel did not respond to rockets fired from Hamas, the Jews of Europe would be any safer or the continent’s anti-Semites would be any more tolerant. After all, some of the worst attacks on Jews in France occurred at a time of relative quiet in Israel.
But during a war that has claimed nearly 700 Palestinians and far fewer Israelis, Jewish leaders in Europe say their communities are being held responsible for the actions of Israel.
“If you are a French Jew you should not be responsible physically for what happens 4,000 kilometers away,” Roger Cukierman, the president of the umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in France known as CRIF, told The Daily Beast.
PARIS — Clashes erupted in Paris on Sunday as thousands of people protested against Israel and in support of residents in the Gaza Strip, where a six-day conflict has left 166 Palestinians dead
Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People”.
But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas. The unrest was continuing early Sunday evening.
Media reports said that hundreds of Jews were trapped inside a synagogue in the area and police units were sent to rescue them.
A person in the synagogue told Israel’s Channel 2 news that protesters hurled stones and bricks at the building, “like it was an intifada.”
In the northern city of Lille, meanwhile, between 2,300 and 6,000 people protested peacefully, according to differing figures provided by the police and organizers.
The descent into violence in the Gaza Strip began on June 12 when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and later murdered, triggering a major military crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank and an escalation of rocket fire from Gaza.
The revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists on July 2 added further fuel to the fire, turning into an all-out conflict on July 8 when Israel launched an air campaign against Gaza terrorists.
The Palestinian death toll from Israel’s punishing air campaign has hit 166.
So far, no Israelis have been killed, although terrorists in Gaza have pounded the country with nearly 800 rockets since the fighting began and a further 150 have been intercepted by the Jewish state’s Iron Dome defense system.
I really don’t have much to add except to say that I’m really glad to see this because we don’t need to be fighting with each other over here too. We can get along.
Muslim-Jewish iftars are popping up across the nation, bringing together dozens and sometimes hundreds of people for a celebratory Ramadan meal and to forge interfaith friendships.
This Ramadan, as Jews and Muslims exchange rocket fire in Israel and Gaza, those attending these meals say they are all the more significant, as a way of demonstrating that Jews and Muslims have much in common, and can enjoy each others’ food and company.
In Los Angeles on Thursday (July 10), an iftar that bills itself as the single largest gathering of Muslims and Jews in the city, is sponsored by NewGround, an organization that works year-round on Muslim-Jewish relations. The group exists to build resilient relationships that both groups can draw upon in particularly difficult times, said Rabbi Sarah Bassin, NewGround’s former executive director.
“Yes, we are in another awful flare-up of violence and both of our communities are suffering,” Bassin said. “That will be acknowledged at the iftar.”
At next week’s “Iftar in the Synagogue” at Chicago Sinai Congregation, “we will try to figure out how we can deal with the tragedy overseas and move forward,” said Husna Ghani, management consultant at the Council of Muslim Organizations of Greater Chicago. “That’s the whole point.” […]
Larry Klayman marked Independence Day with a column railing against liberal American Jews, calling them “self-hating” and anti-Semitic. Klayman was upset that “the Obama regime and other Western leaders were quick to blame Israeli settlers on the West Bank” for burning an Arab teenager alive, which he claims is proof that President Obama and John Kerry are anti-Semites who are out to destroy Israel. (Three of the six suspects, all Jewish, have reportedly confessed to the murder.)
Klayman went on to scold “liberal Jews” who “lose no opportunity to distance themselves from their Judeo-Christian heritage in the style of Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky and indeed the evil Fuhrer Adolf Hitler himself,” adding that “these types of Jews, some of whom are present in the Obama White House to give Obama cover for his anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli acts and practices, are among the greatest enemies of the Jewish people.”
In recent months, Israel and the world have witnessed the consequences of this retreat. Hamas had now ascended to a unity government with the Palestinian Authority and is more powerful than ever, extending its reach from Gaza into the West Bank. And, just in the last few weeks, this power has become more apparent as Hamas, in a brazen act of provocation, kidnapped and executed three Jewish Israel teenagers in this West Bank. Just days after their bodies were found, a Palestinian boy was found dead, his body bad burned and left in a forest in Jerusalem. Although the cause of this death is unknown at this time and under investigation, the Obama regime and other Western leaders were quick to blame Israeli settlers on the West Bank and thus Israel for the killing. True to form, Obama’s equally anti-Semitic secretary of state, John Kerry, took the lead in gleefully blaming Jews for the killing of the Palestinian boy, while expressing only pro forma if not feigned grief for the dead Jewish teenagers.
While this type of anti-Semitic behavior is predictable from Obama and his secretary of state, what is more frightening is the reaction of many liberal Jews themselves. These Jews, indeed self-hating ones, lose no opportunity to distance themselves from their Judeo-Christian heritage in the style of Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky and indeed the evil Fuhrer Adolf Hitler himself, who many historians have concluded had Jewish roots on his father’s side of the family. These types of Jews, some of whom are present in the Obama White House to give Obama cover for his anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli acts and practices, are among the greatest enemies of the Jewish people.
- See more at RightWingWatch: rightwingwatch.org
Jews and Muslims conducted a joint prayer session for the safe return of three Israeli teenagers abducted five days ago near the site of their kidnapping south of Jerusalem Tuesday
About two dozen Jewish residents of the Etzion bloc and rabbis arrived at the junction where officials believe the kidnappers drove after abducting the three yeshiva students.
The prayer session was organized by the Tag Meir forum, a grassroots organization created to fight Jewish nationalist vandalism targeting Palestinians. Prominent rabbis and public figures, including former Meimad minister Rabbi Michael Melchior; educator Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun from nearby Alon Shvut; and Hadassah Froman, the widow of rabbi and peace activist Menachem Froman from the settlement of Tekoa, recited psalms or spoke at the event, alongside a handful of Muslims.
“Our hearts are torn at this moment, and my heart goes out the mothers of these children,” said Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Hawa from the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur on the Mount of Olives, before reciting the first chapter of the Quran, the Fatiha.
“There is a wall between our two nations, and we hope to remove the wall separating the hearts of humans … we pray that God return these youngsters to their mothers as soon as possible, God willing,” he added, speaking in Arabic.
Melchior told the audience that he had spoken to Islamic clerics who expressed their concern over the fate of the youths, demanding their immediate release “without any debate or negotiation.”
“Not only are the people of Israel in distress, but they [the Palestinians] are in great distress as well. They feel that a crime has been perpetrated. All that is left to do is to pray for God’s mercy,” Melchior said.
That sentiment was expressed by Ziad Sabatin, 42, a Palestinian peace activist from the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem.
“Any person of faith should be here today,” Sabatin told The Times of Israel. “Man is holier than land.”
KHARKOV - Life appears completely normal in the eastern city of Kharkov. Ukraine’s second-largest city, it was one of several locales where separatists began their budding civil war, taking over government buildings and seeking to gather the reins of power into their hands.
While Donetsk, some 280 km. to the south in the Donbass industrial region, suffered from running gun battles between separatist militias, allegedly backed by Russia, and the Ukrainian army, Kharkov is quiet.
Ukrainian security forces were able to quell the uprising here quickly and the city experienced little more than mob clashes before order was restored last month. The apogee of the violence came on April 28, when Gennady Kernes, the city’s Jewish mayor, was shot in a failed assassination attempt. Local Jewish leaders have gainsaid reports that the attack was anti-Semitic. Kernes is recovering in an Israeli hospital.
While downtown Kharkov is packed with shoppers, shops are open and life appears no different than anywhere else in Europe, this is not something that local Jews take for granted.
The quiet is nothing short of a miracle, local Chabad Rabbi Moshe Moskoivitz told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday during an interview in a synagogue.
“When everything started they mentioned Kharkov, Donetsk and Luhansk. Kharkov was part of the cities that people thought would be trouble,” the rabbi said.
While the community is now “far from the conflict” in many ways, he said, the continued fighting to the south has had a tangible impact on its quality of life.
There are approximately 30,000 Jews in the city and many are mulling immigration to Israel, according to Moskoivitz.
“I have all kinds of people who are thinking of going on aliya, kids, businessmen, older people,” he said. “They don’t see a future.”