“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.” Isa. 51:3
TRUMP TO REVEAL MID-EAST PEACE PLAN THIS WEEK: President Donald Trump said over the weekend that he will release his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East this week, during which Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House. Trump said Palestinians might react negatively to his plan at first, but that “it’s actually very positive for them. It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work.” For the time being, the US administration doesn’t expect the Israeli government to recognize a Palestinian state, only to express willingness to discuss it in the future, and only if the Palestinians meet the American demands. (Israel Hayom/Reuters)
TOP ISLAMIC LEADERS VISIT AUSCHWITZ: A delegation of Muslim leaders visited Auschwitz on Thur. 23 Jan. 2020 ahead of the anniversary of the liberation of the Polish death camp in which over one million Jews were killed. Jewish leaders called the visit a ‘groundbreaking’ event. The secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, and the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, led a delegation of 62 Muslims, including 25 prominent religious leaders, from 28 countries in a tour of Auschwitz. “To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honor,” Al-Issa said. “The unconscionable crimes to which we bear witness today are truly crimes against humanity.” AJC CEO David Harris called the group of Saudi and other Muslims “the most senior delegation of Muslim religious leaders to visit Auschwitz ever.” Auschwitz concentration camp was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. Of the 1.3 million people sent to Auschwitz, 1.1 million died. Those not gassed died of starvation, exhaustion, disease, individual executions, or beatings. Others were killed during medical experiments. The camps became a major site of the Nazis’ Final Solution to the Jewish Question. (VFI News)
A BLOW TO HOLOCAUST DENIAL: Dignitaries from around the world gathered in Israel last week for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum. Kings, presidents and other notables came together in Jerusalem for the event, including US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain’s Prince Charles, and French President Emmanuel Macron. The long list of attendees also included four kings and many leaders from such countries as Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Ukraine and Argentina, as well as the presidents of the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament. Israeli diplomats said that not even the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres drew groups of foreign dignitaries like the ones attending last week’s Holocaust commemoration, which was secured by more than 10,000 police. Events involving the visiting global leaders included speeches addressing the alarming increase of anti-Semitism; the necessity of dealing with the peril of Iran, and visits to Jerusalem’s World Holocaust Remembrance Center; Yad Vashem.
One among many positive outcomes of last week’s gathering might be defined as a blow against Holocaust denial. For who could pass through the halls of Yad Vashem, with its photographs of Jewish victims, beaten, starved, tortured and put to death in gas chambers by the millions and not be undone emotionally by the indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality? Holocaust denial and distortions are forms of anti-Semitism perpetrated by such figures and groups as the UK’s David Irving, Palestinian chief Mahmoud Abbas, with a Ph.D. Thesis supportive of Holocaust Denial, and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said upon leaving office that publicizing his Holocaust denial was a major achievement of his presidency. Holocaust denial has also manifested within white nationalism and the Ku Klux Klan. May the lies denying the facts and actuality of the Shoah be toppled by the magnitude of visible, written, indisputable evidence to the contrary. (VFI News)
NETANYAHU: A LESSON THE HOLOCAUST TAUGHT US: Speaking to a group of world dignities from around the world on Thur. 23 Jan. 2020, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, “Your presence in Jerusalem honors the memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust. Israel and the Jewish people thank you. Israel is eternally grateful for the immense sacrifice that was made by the allies, by the peoples and the soldiers, to defeat the Nazis and save our common civilization. Without that sacrifice, there would be no survivors today. Yet we also remember that some 80 years ago, when the Jewish people faced annihilation, the world largely turned its back on us. For the Jewish people, Auschwitz is the ultimate symbol of Jewish powerlessness. It is the culmination of what can happen when our people have no voice, no land, no shield. The Jewish people have learned the lessons of the Holocaust: always to take seriously the threats of those who seek our destruction; to confront threats when they are small, and above all to always have the power to defend ourselves by ourselves.” (Prime Minister’s Office/VFI News)
MOST US ADULTS DON’T KNOW FACTS ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST: A new study released by the Pew Research Center last week found that more than half of US adults don’t know basic facts about the Holocaust, including how Hitler came to power or the number of Jewish victims. The study asked nearly 13,000 respondents, Jewish and non-Jewish adults and teenagers, key questions about the Shoah. Most knew that the Holocaust took place between 1930 and 1950 and that Nazi ghettos were areas of cities where Jews were forced to live. But only 45% knew that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Among the teens, only 38% knew the number of killed. In the Pew study, 43% of the American adults knew that Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany through a democratic process. A quarter of adults thought Hitler came to power through violence and another 25% did not know. Jewish respondents to the Pew survey answered all the questions correctly at higher rates than the overall sample. 90% knew the era when the Holocaust happened, 86% defined ghettos correctly and knew 6 million Jews were killed, and 57% knew that Hitler became chancellor democratically. (VFI News)
FRANCE: TOO LITTLE HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS: A recent survey conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany has found that 25% of French millennials have not heard of the Holocaust. The survey, which was released last week in advance of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, stressed both the desire and the need for Holocaust education. It was the fourth survey done by the Claims Conference in recent months, with others being carried out in the USA, Canada, and Austria. Vice president of the Claims Conference in Israel Shlomo Gur said that there is no doubt we have reached this point because there is just too little Holocaust education in schools. “Holocaust education needs to be incorporated into both the formal school system and in an informal setting as well, in both Jewish and non-Jewish schools worldwide”, he said. Gur added that it is also deeply troubling that the French study found that “more than half of the 1,100 people polled (52%) believe that something like the Holocaust could happen again in Europe.” Of those surveyed, 36% of French respondents also felt that something like the Holocaust could happen in the United States, “a sentiment that mirrors findings in the previously conducted Austria survey, which indicated 47% felt that something like the Holocaust could happen in the United States.” Asked about how to encourage the younger generations to learn about the Holocaust now and in the future as the number of survivors dwindles, Gur pointed out that using formal education “to at least plant the seeds,” together with the news media and the Internet are important means of connecting to the next generation and educating them about the Shoah. French President Emmanuel Macron last week laid a wreath at the Memorial to the Deportation of Jews from France, located near Beit Shemesh in Israel. The memorial carries the names of the deportees, along with their date and place of birth. It is set in a forest of 80,000 pine trees, signifying the 80,000 Jews deported from France to Nazi labor and death camps. (VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff