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UK: Jewish student says she does not feel safe at City University

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 11:36 AM PST

Via The Jewish Chronicle:
Jewish students said they felt threatened and intimidated by a "hostile mob" as students at a London university passed a motion supporting the Israel boycott movement, BDS.

The vote at City, University of London, resolving to ban any links between the institution and companies linked with "Israeli war crimes", was passed by a large majority on Thursday evening during a student union meeting.

Jewish students were jeered and sworn at by BDS supporters who took photographs of opposing speakers and those voting against the motion.

Gabriella Soffer, a student at City, described the BDS supporters as "a hostile mob".

She wrote in a Facebook post: "Having experienced what I did tonight – people taking pictures of me and various other Jews individually, having someone behind me whispering obscenities in my ear to intimidate me and telling me to 'shut the f**k up' every time I spoke - I can safely say that no longer do I feel safe as a Jew at City."

Student Union officials said they refused to eject the students taking photos because they were "afraid of the reaction of the opposing side".

The Jewish students were a minority among the 150 people in attendance and seven said they chose to abstain from voting, for fear of being targeted afterwards.

One non-Jewish student described how "there was an extremely hostile environment in the room that even I felt highly uncomfortable in, despite not being on any particular side."
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Iceland: Circumcision ban will prevent Jewish life, leaders warn

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST

Via Times of Israel:
The leaders of the Jewish communities of four Nordic countries said that a bill proposing to ban nonmedical circumcision in Iceland "will guarantee" that no Jewish community is established there.

The presidents of the umbrella groups of Jewish communities in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland issued the unusual warning Tuesday in an open letter to all Icelandic lawmakers in reaction to the submission last month of a bill proposing to ban all nonmedical circumcision of boys younger than 18 in Iceland, a Scandinavian island nation of some 300,000 people with a few hundred Jews and Muslims.

Lawmakers from four parties with 46 percent of the seats in parliament, including the ruling party, co-authored the bill.

If passed, "Iceland would be the only country to ban one of the most central, if not the most central rite in the Jewish tradition in modern times," wrote Aron Verständig, Dan Rosenberg-Asmussen, Ervin Kohn and Yaron Nadbornik in the letter.

Referencing the Nazi prohibition on brit milah, Jewish ritual circumcision, they noted: "It would not be the first time in the long tradition of the Jewish people. Throughout history, more than one oppressive regime has tried to suppress our people and eradicate Judaism by prohibiting our religious practices."

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Polish Jews stunned, scared by eruption of anti-Semitism

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 04:00 AM PST

Matylda Jonas-Kowalik has spent most of her 22 years secure in the belief that she would never know the discrimination, persecution or violence that killed or traumatized generations of Polish Jews before her. She once thought the biggest problem that young Jewish Poles like herself faced was finding a Jewish boyfriend or girlfriend in a country dominated by Catholics.
But an eruption of anti-Semitic comments in public debates amid a diplomatic dispute with Israel over a new Holocaust speech law has caused to her to rethink that certainty. Now she and others fear the hostile rhetoric could eventually trigger anti-Semitic violence, and she finds herself thinking constantly about whether she should leave Poland.

"This is my home. I have never lived anywhere else and wanted this to keep being my home," said Jonas-Kowalik, a Jewish studies major at Warsaw University. "But this makes me very anxious. I don't know what to expect."

(...)
Anna Chipczynska, the head of Warsaw's Jewish community, said members feel psychologically shaken or even depressed, and that the hostile rhetoric has triggered hateful phone calls and emails and other harassment.

In recent events, two men tried to urinate in front of Warsaw's historic Nozyk Synagogue, and then shouted obscenities when security guards intervened. One Jewish community member found a Star of David hanging from gallows spray-painted outside a window of his apartment. A woman found the word "Zyd" — Polish for "Jew" — written in the snow outside her home.

Agnieszka Ziatek of the Jewish Agency for Israel said she has seen a spike in the number of Polish Jews inquiring about immigrating to Israel.

(...)
Mikolaj Grynberg, a writer and photographer, said while young Polish Jews feel shocked and "lost," he, at 52, has long been aware of Poland's anti-Semitic undercurrent. While on book tours, Grynberg said people would sometimes ask him "why did you choose to write in our language?" as if he weren't as Polish as they.
As the descendant of Warsaw Ghetto survivors, he has faced years of hateful emails and online messages and says he has been prepared psychologically for a return of bad times.

"Each time you have an anti-Semitic wave, there are Jewish people who leave," Grynberg said. "It's not just a whim: It's about their fear. Jewish people know what can come after."
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German gets jail time for running neo-Nazi website 'Altermedia'

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 03:00 AM PST


Via DW:
A court in Stuttgart has sentenced the 29-year-old creator of a banned neo-Nazi website to two and a half years in prison. The site published content that denied the Holocaust and targeted Jews, refugees and foreigners.

A 29-year-old IT specialist and driving force behind the neo-Nazi "Altermedia Deutschland" website was given a prison sentence by a court in Stuttgart on Thursday, two years after authorities shut the site down.

The man, identified as Ralph Thomas K. in accordance with German privacy laws, was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and being the ringleader of a criminal organization. He was sentenced to two years and six months behind bars.

Three women were also on trial for their roles in maintaining the right-wing extremist internet platform. One of them, a 48-year-old woman who worked in a call center, was identified as a key player in the website and she was given a two year suspended sentence.
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Poland's Premier: There Were Polish Perpetrators in the Holocaust Just as There Were Jewish Ones

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 02:00 AM PST


Via Haaretz:
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday that the Holocaust had Polish perpetrators, just as it had Jewish ones.

Moraweicki made the statement at the Munich Security Conference in response to a question by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman regarding the controversial law that criminalizes mentioning the Polish nation's complicity in the Holocaust. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply rebuked the 'outrageous' remarks.

Bergman told of his mother's past as a Holocaust survivor and concluded by asking, "If I told her story in Poland, I would be considered a criminal. What are you trying to do? You're drawing more fire to the matter." The crowd applauded following the question.

The Polish prime minister said that according to the amended law, those who claim that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust would not be punished, since there were Polish perpetrators, "just as there were Jewish and Russian perpetrators, as well." 

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