LÍDERES JUDÍOS SUDAFRICANOS ENFRENTARON EL ANTISEMITISMO Y SALIERON AIROSOS

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El brote antisemita que se registró en Sudáfrica últimamente, con el muy publicitado acto de exhibir una cabeza de cerdo en uno de los supermercados de la cadena Woolworths, en protesta por la venta de productos israelíes, fue manejado con gran habilidad por parte de la Junta de Representantes Judíos de Sudáfrica (SAJBD, por sus siglas en inglés).

El relato de los hechos de Mary Kluk, presidenta SAJBD, fue citado en la mayoría de los medios (News 24, IOL News, Mail and Guardian, por nombrar algunos). “Kluk dijo que los cerdos están estrictamente prohibidos por las leyes alimentarias judías por lo que este acto fue ofensivo y se propuso intimidar a toda la comunidad. ‘En el pasado, estos hechos se llevaban a cabo de manera anónima. Por el contrario, el Congreso de Estudiantes Sudafricanos (COSAS, por sus siglas en inglés), no solo lo hizo de manera pública sino que fue más allá y le dio amplia difusión a este acto de intolerancia’, dijo la presidenta”. (Fuente)

Con gran habilidad, SAJBD expandió la controversia más allá del ámbito judío-israelí, incluyendo de esta manera a todos los sudafricanos, al hacer referencia a la democracia y la constitución, de tal manera que todos podían identificarse y condenar los actos de COSAS.

Wendy Kahn, directora de SAJBD, comentó que la organización estaba muy impactada ante la inflexibilidad de COSAS que no le importaba perjudicar a sus propios compañeros. “Este acto representa una violación de nuestra democracia y de nuestra constitución”, declaró.

SAJBD presentó una denuncia en contra de Ngxowa (el presidente provincial de la COSAS) ante la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Sudáfrica. (Fuente).

Más aún, SAJBD organizó una protesta en Ciudad del Cabo al día siguiente del incidente en Woolworths. Una respuesta tan rápida tanto en los medios como en las calles, con las correspondientes pancartas y cobertura mediática, es esencial para combatir el antisemitismo. Esta actitud resulta tan eficiente porque expone abiertamente los problemas y los afronta directamente, propiciándole a la comunidad judía la oportunidad de centrarse en los temas que le atañen y abordarlos. Esta postura se transforma en una referencia para cuestiones relacionadas con el judaísmo y con el antisemitismo en general, y permite debatirlos desde una perspectiva judía.

Otras comunidades y organizaciones alrededor del mundo pueden aprender mucho de la manera en que SAJBD manejó esta situación y otras similares.

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The ROI Community: Investing In Young Jewish Leaders

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(Photo via ROI)

Today, world Jewry has found itself in a precarious position. Globally, anti-Semitism has risen to levels once unthinkable years earlier. From the streets of European capitals to the far reaches of New Zealand and South Africa, Jews are finding themselves again facing the existential threats of Jew-hatred and bigotry. Our communal institutions have been caught off guard- the very leaders and organizations meant to protect and advocate for us, have been slow at best, and incapable at worst, in fighting a battle increasingly taking place on new battleground like social media and university campuses. I believe young and innovative leaders are required to reinvigorate our Jewish institutions and respond to anti-Semitism. To guarantee the success of such leaders, the Jewish community must invest in and nurture them. One organization leading this task is the ROI Community.

Founded by Lynn and Charles Schusterman Philanthropic Foundation, the ROI Community is an international network of young Jewish activists and “change makers who are redefining Jewish engagement for a new generation of global citizens”. With the view that Jews around the world make up one united kehilah, the ROI Community creates a forum for young Jews to discuss and learn from each other ways in which to strengthen and improve their respective communities and societies. This is done primarily through the program’s capstone Summit meeting which pays for identified Jewish leaders to come to Israel from all over the world and facilitates on-going interactions and relationships among them. The organization also gives out micro grants for personal and professional development to the leaders. Recent ROI Community participants include Andre Oboler, the founder and CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, an Australian charity combating online anti-Semitism, and Melissa Sonnino, the Community Affairs Coordinator at CEJI, where she implements diversity training against all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism.

It is inspiring to see such capable and innovative young Jews coming together to solve our shared problems. World Jewry must work to encourage our established Jewish organizations to open up to the new ideas and fresh perspectives that these new Jewish leaders offer. By working together, anti-Semitism can be defeated!

Anti-Semitism in UK Football Must Be More Seriously Addressed

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The realm of UK football was long been plagued with bouts of anti-Semitism. It seems that every few weeks there’s another story describing anti-Semitic sentiment or outright physical attacks.

In September, Liverpool FC tweeted a Rosh Hashana greeting to their substantial Jewish fan base.  The tweet was quickly taken down after being flooded with thousands of anti-Semitic comments. Also that month, Irish football star Tommy McGuigan underwent police investigation after he urged fans to “punch Jews in the nose.”

Only a month later a Jewish youth league team (Manchester’s Maccabi Under-16 team) was forced to abandon a match due to the endless anti-Semitic taunting of the opposing team. The manager of the aggressing team refused to apologize.

And who can possibly forget when West Ham United fans chanted ‘Adolf Hitler, he’s coming for you’ and made hissing noises to imitate the gas chambers, all during and in response to a match against Tottenham.

The latest scandal comes from Wigan F.C. head Dave Whelan. In an interview with British paper Guardian, Whelan said “The Jews don’t like losing money. Nobody likes losing money.” Then continued to ask “Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do?” Whelan continued, “I think they are very shrewd people. It’s telling the truth. Jewish people love money, English people love money; we all love money.”

He later semi-apologized, saying it was not intentionally offensive and that he had many Jewish friends. Frankly, he doesn’t seem to even remotely understand the age-old anti-Semitic trope.

This interview comes after Whelan hired Malky Mackay as second-tier Wigan’s manager. Mackay is currently under investigation for sending anti-Semitic and racist text messages. Just another tier in the Whelan scandal.

The Board of Deputies of British Jewry (Bod) released a statement regarding the situation, simply explaining that they did not think that Whelan’s response was adequate, and demanded a proper apology. They claimed they would take it up with the Football Association and Kick It Out, but that remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, like most of the BoD’s efforts, I do not believe that statement was enough. Anti-Semitism in football is a serious issue, and has been for some time. It must be widely addressed by the Football Association, as well as individual teams and fan organizations.

The most proactive response I’ve seen yet has come from two sponsors of Wigan- iPro, a sports drink, and a shirt sponsor both ended their contracts. iPro’s statement read “iPro Sport actively encourages positive working relationships irrespective of colour, race, nationality, religious belief, sexual orientation or age and cannot condone racism, sexism or homophobia.”

To work for long-term change, the BoD must speak to football sponsors, fan clubs, as well as news and fan websites. If this is to be a reality, the BoD must step up its act, statements and complaints are proven to be of little help.

Crise antisémite en Belgique: qu’y a-t-il de plus à faire?

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(Photo Joods Actueel/Flash 90)

La sécurité de la communauté juive européenne parait fragile. En Belgique, le siège des groupes européens de justice, l’antisémitisme s’est exprimé à travers de violentes attaques contre des citoyens juifs.

Si vous m’aviez dit que seulement un an et demi après les effroyables meurtres au musée juif de Belgique, un juif à Anvers pourrait se faire poignarder à la gorge aussi facilement, j’aurais été sous le choc. Seulement, entendre cela après des mois “d’incidents” antisémites sans retours politiques ou sociaux, cela n’est malheureusement pas surprenant.

L’Europe ne semble pas traiter l’antisémitisme avec la gravité nécessaire.

C’est seulement maintenant qu’une conférence sur l’antisémitisme organisée par l’Organisation pour la sécurité et coopération en Europe s’est tenue à Berlin. Et seulement deux-tiers des 57 états membres de l’OSCE étaient présents. Deux tiers!

L’ambassadrice américaine aux Nations Unis, Samantha Power, a fait part de son inquiétude concernant l’absence d’un tiers des participants, surtout que l’antisémitisme est en constante hausse en Europe. Mais mieux encore, Stephan Kramer, directeur du Bureau européen du Comité juif américain sur l’antisémitisme et anciennement à la tête du conseil central juif en Allemagne a déclaré: “En dehors de belles déclarations et de marques de solidarité qu’on exprime et qui sont les bienvenus et encourageants, il manque … des mesures concrètes et des plans d’action de la part des gouvernements à travers l’Europe.”

(Source)

En réponse à l’agression, le congrès juif européen (CJE) a aussitôt appelé les autorités européennes à prendre des mesures immédiates pour protéger les communautés juives. Le groupe demande à ce que “les autorités européennes forment un corps pan-européen consacré spécialement à la lutte contre l’antisémitisme … Cela nécessitera la mise en place de ressources supplémentaires afin de mettre en commun les renseignements, de coopérer dans l’application des lois et des peines plus sévères, pour garantir la sécurité de nos communautés”

L’immédiateté de ce communiqué souligne les récents changements opérés au CJE après des mois d’inaction.

Le forum flamand des organisations juives a déclaré qu’ils travaillaient sur l’amélioration des mesures de sécurité mais, le fait est que des mesures de sécurité strictes ont été mises en place depuis les meurtres en mai.

Il me semble que les besoins actuels soient une action plus forte de la part du gouvernement belge, et une campagne culturelle à travers les médias et dans l’éducation afin de lutter contre l’antisémitisme dès la racine.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece Must Develop a New Approach to Anti-Semitism

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(Photo via the Commentator)

I have a deep respect for Greek Jews, whom live in a particularly unfriendly climate. In their 2014 poll, The Anti-Defamation League scored Greece as 69% anti-Semitic, making it the most anti-Semitic nation in Europe.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of Greek anti-Semitism lies within the government itself. I am of course referring to the Golden Dawn.

The infamous Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn are responsible for the outrageous dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda, and their members are known to frequently put up anti-Semitic graffiti. In fact, multiple Golden Dawn MPs have swastika tattoos- a clear tribute to their beliefs. Their spokesmen have often (and outright) expressed great support for Adolf Hitler. I don’t feel the need to explain their banner- you can see it in the photograph above.

Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos has openly denied the existence of gas chambers and crematoria during World War II. Perhaps this would explain why the Athens Holocaust Memorial was defaced multiple times over the past year, including in the fall. Let it be noted that more than 95% of Greek Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

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(photo via the Guardian)

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, KIS, recently released a statement condemning anti-Semitism in the press, stating “We are deeply concerned about the unexpected outburst of historical-like articles, inspired by the age-old traditional racist propaganda, that are purely anti-Semitic.”

It was this statement, as well as the ADL poll that made me realize that similar to the situation in France, Greece’s anti-Semitism is deeply engrained in culture.

From what I’ve seen so far, both the Greek government and KIS have taken a strictly political approach to combat anti-Semitism. And though I’m sure this has value to some degree, we must keep in mind that Greece has been in political turmoil since 2010. Evidently the arena of politics is not currently the ideal battle ground for ensuring the safety of the Jewish community.

If anti-Semitism and the future of Greek Jews is to be sufficiently addressed, it must be aimed at Greek youth- both Jewish and otherwise. KIS must develop a social media approach, channels of influence, rather than simply expressing concern for the press’ representation of the Jewish community.

The group should also concentrate on developing youth programs, giving precedence to organizing and empowering Jewish youth movements. After all, only Jewish youth can ensure a Jewish future in Greece. And it is in their territory of culture that the fight against anti-Semitism lies.

Chavismo Anti-semitism Must Stop: Calling The Jewish World to Stand With Their Venezuela Kin

As the world witnessed the horrific eruption of anti-Semitism this past summer, South America was no exception.  Yet in Venezuela, this was not the beginning of an anti-Semitic trend, but rather a continuation of deep seated anti-Semitism rooted from within the ruling political elite. A recent manifestation of this Jew hatred can be seen in the 2013 election campaign of current President Nicolas Maduro, who utilized anti-Semitism to garner votes and smear his opposition. Such actions are unacceptable and Jewish organizations around the world must work to pressure Venezuela to end such incitement.

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(photo via Foreign Policy)

Following the death of Venezuela’s previous leader, Hugo Chavez, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, fought an election campaign against opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski. As tensions heated, especially after Maduro’s victory by a thin margin, the government negatively brought Capriles’ Jewish roots (his maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors) to the forefront of the public discourse. In country that already spies on its Jewish organizations and where Judaism is increasingly equated with Zionism, of which Maduro and his predecessor Chavez’ are strongly opposed to, is no surprise that the government attacked Capriles as “representative of Zionism”. What corresponded were close to 4000 expressions of anti-Semitism in Venezuela during the 2013 election season as well as a marked rise in anti-Semitic articles published by official state media according to CAIV, Venezuelan Jewry’s representative body.

While organizations like the CAIV and the Anti-Defamation League have drawn attention to the issues of government anti-Semitism in Venezuela, action is needed to end the Maduro government’s rhetoric and incitement against Jews. South American Jewish advocacy organizations such as the Jewish Confederation of Brazil and the Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations, must work in tandem with US Jewish groups like Bnai Brith and the American Jewish Congress, to lobby their respective governments to exhort pressure on Maduro.  Venezuela’s Jewish population must know that they have the support of World Jewry and that we will fight the common enemy of anti-Semitism together.

ESCUCHARON NUESTRAS VOCES: LA PRESIÓN DE ACTIVISTAS HIZO QUE EL CONGRESO JUDÍO EUROPEO (EJC) SE OCUPE DE ASUNTOS CANDENTES

Me alegra mucho ver el cambio general que se observa últimamente en el quehacer del Congreso Judío Europeo (EJC). Me da la sensación, o al menos eso quiero creer, de que escucharon nuestras críticas a su falta de acción y, al tomar consciencia de las necesidades de sus comunidades están cambiando lentamente sus prioridades.

Lo primero que me llamó la atención fue una pequeña mención en un artículo de Times of Israel. En la nota se relata un encuentro entre grupos de judíos europeos y estadounidenses en el que debatieron la necesidad de implementar estrategias de seguridad en sus comunidades para afrontar el creciente antisemitismo. El jefe de seguridad del EJC, Gabi Jiraskova, fue citado diciendo: “Nuestro rol es hacer que la comunidad entienda de que es necesario estar preparados, respetando las jerarquías internas de cada comunidad… ”

Esta breve pero significativa mención refleja que, de alguna manera, el EJC está actuando entre bastidores.

El cambio más perceptible fue en la sección “De nuestras comunidades” en su sitio web en la que comenzaron a publicar regularmente actualizaciones acerca de incidentes antisemitas cotidianos perpetrados en las comunidades judías europeas.

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foto vía eurojewcong

Por ejemplo, hace unos días se publicó una nota en la que se comentaba que Putin había defendido recientemente el pacto nazi-soviético de la 2ª Guerra Mundial. Esto es particularmente significativo porque en el último medio año, aproximadamente, el EJC no había publicado nada relacionado con los judíos en Rusia. No hay que desconsiderar esta publicación. Es una clara señal de que el EJC está mejorando su desempeño.

No pretendo con esto adjudicarle a estos cambios una importancia desproporcionada. Entiendo la necesidad que tiene el EJC de cuidar su imagen pública abordando temas candentes, pero eso no significa que esté cumpliendo su rol en un 100%. Sin embargo, hay que tener presente algo importante: en este momento, cualquier mejora es bienvenida.