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Ignorance is Not a Trend Anymore
December 2009 

This winter cinema season in Ukrainian Union of Jewish Students opened with "Ever Again" movie from the Simon Wiesenthal Center Collection. The Ukrainian premiere of the film exploring European anti-Semitism draw attention not only of young Jews, but of many their peers from Ukrainian universities.

Screening was followed by hot discussions, involving such experienced experts as Josef Zissels (Chairman of Vaad of Ukraine), Vyacheslav Lihachev ( political scientist, expert on documentation anti-Semitic, xenofobia, rasist, fashist actions in Ukraine), Yevgeniya Slozka (board member Amnesty International Ukraine), Sergey Kulchevych (relations in Ukraine co-ordinator of Anne Frank House, International department, Netherlands), Ruben Landsberger (French lawyer). During the debates, moderated by UUJS team, participants came to the conclusion that the problem of anti-Semitism is still topical for Ukraine. In spite of the fact that discrimination of Jews is not institutional any more, as it was few decades ago, but anti-Semitism still has roots in people's minds and hearts. At the same time, interest of so many young people, their non-ignorance and will to combat prejudices and live in diverse, multicultural society, is a symbol of changes for the better and the best proof of Simon Wiesenthal's mission long-term outcomes.

                                                               UUJS press-release

On 7th December Ukrainian Union of Jewish students has organized a review of Simon Wiesenthal Center documentary "Ever Again". The date was not chosen accidentally: the meeting was dedicated to the Celebration of the Day of Human Rights which takes place on 10th December.

The gathering was attended by about 35 people, not only Jews but also youngsters who are interested in Jewish history, traditions, Israel and its policy, the problem of violence, racism and anti-Semitism in Europe. Among them there were the representatives of different NGOs, particularly the Amnesty International and the Anna Frank House and another young active youth.

The presence of experts and specialists animated the discussion after the film and gave a lot of specific information about the situation in Ukraine from those who monitor it. Our French guest explained the situation with anti-Semitism in France and Spain so far as he travels a lot and communicates with his Jewish friend in Europe.

The feedback of participants was following (quoted):

"This discussion has really broadened my horizons and my mind! I have been living in this country for a long time I have never even heard of such kind of problems in our society! I began paying attention to the literature that is sold everyone, I visited extreme sites and I read a lot about Nazism in contemporary Europe. Thank you very much, guys!"

"Well, I've known a lot about the extreme movement, about violence and attacks. But today I've heard plenty of new facts, I had a chance to compare the situation in Ukraine and in France, for instance, and I realized that I live in a relatively peaceful country. I wonder why the information about the neo-Nazi threat is not widespread."

"I think the information in this film doesn't show the real picture and real situation. We've just seen some facts combined in a way to threaten us. I don't think everything is as serious as it's demonstrated. Yes, the problem exists but I would also like to hear the point of view of another side. And we should also be aware of the fact that these attacks are not always organized by a movement or certain terrorist structure. I can be just done by an extreme youngster of insane person."

The opinions differed and it made the discussion intensive and active. We main point is that everyone is looking forward to the next meeting.


 

 
Israel Divestment Assaults Democracy

By Reut Cohen
FrontPageMagazine.com | 3/5/2009

In the struggle to defeat Israel, those who support terror as a weapon against Israelis certainly have no difficulty in distorting the truth, even it is in the form of a divestment petition on a university campus. The purpose of boycott and divestment campaigns is not only to hurt Israel’s economy but to cast her as a pariah state. These campaigns are sponsored by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups in the United States and around the world.

The Arab boycott of Jewish interests began in 1921, more than 27 years prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948. The boycott remains in effect today under the sponsorship of the Arab League and its Central Boycott Office in Damascus, Syria. Divestment and boycott efforts not only include products produced in Israel, but also companies that do business in or with Israel. Ships that have docked in Israeli ports regardless of the cargo's point of origin or ultimate destination have also been blacklisted.

Congress passed a law creating the Office of Antiboycott Compliance within the Department of Commerce in 1977. This law disallows U.S. firms from partaking in actions in support of unsanctioned foreign boycotts against a country that is an ally to the United States. Because Israel is an ally of the United States and the government does not sanction the Arab boycott of Israel, the law prohibits actions that further or support the Arab League boycott of Israel. US legislation forbids participation in such boycotts in order to prevent private citizens from potentially generating a de-facto foreign policy.

These divestment campaigns have gained momentum since 2000, mostly on college campuses where movements have become more like street theater, but also in cities and towns, churches, businesses and non-profit organizations. These campaigns, moreover, were initially inspired by the Palestinian Authority, which is part of the official Arab League boycott of Israel.

Despite the best efforts of antisemitic and anti-Israel activists, including some gains among church groups, the divestment campaign’s main negative impact has been on Israel’s image. A divestment movement at Harvard University drew censure from Lawrence Summers, then the university president. Summers called the efforts to single out Israel for divestment as anti-Semitic “in their effect, if not their intent. In May 2008, the United Methodist Church rejected five petitions calling for divestment from companies which support or profit from Israel."

Nonetheless, these divestment campaigns must be condemned as they perpetuate lies about Israel, including the lie introduced by the UN which asserts that "Zionism equals racism." Zionism is a term coined in 1896 to describe an international philosophy maintaining that Jews should have a single national homeland in the Middle East where they would not have to worry about discrimination, pogroms, or other persecutions, but be able to live peacefully.

Today 22 countries are officially Muslim and 48 countries—and growing—maintain Muslim majority populations. Yet condemnation of Zionism is ridiculous when one recognizes that Zionism has created a country which is tolerant of all individuals and minorities, including Muslims. Arab Christian and Muslims today serve within the Israeli government and enjoy a higher standard of living than any other country in the Middle East. The few remaining Jews in Islamic countries live in fear of persecution, spurring them to leave their native lands if possible; only last week some Jews from the ancient Jewish community in Yemen had to flee from murderous al Qaeda-inspired attacks.

Israel accepted the notion of a Palestinian state back in 1948 when even the Arabs did not wish for it. In recent decades, Israel uprooted Jewish settlements and gave land to Egypt and Jordan in return for peace treaties. Under the Oslo Accords, Israel granted Palestinian autonomy and received non-stop terror in return. Furthermore, unlike Arab governments which have used Palestinians as scapegoats, Israel absorbed indigenous Jewish populations of the Middle East who today amount to more than half of the Israeli population.

The real reason for the lack of peace has everything to do with Arab Nationalism and Islamic radicalism. It has nothing to do with bogus charges of human rights violations against the Jewish state where the rights of all citizens, regardless of nationality or religion, are protected.

From March 1st to the 8th universities, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, will be pushing anti-Israel divestment campaigns on their campuses. These divestment campaigns will perpetuate lies about the state of Israel, painting the Jewish state as racist and a colonial usurper, all this despite the fact it’s no larger than the state of New Jersey and its territory doesn’t even amount to one percent of the Middle East.

Students are preparing to address the hypocrisy of Israel divestment campaigns. Utilizing resources from organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s campus division, i-Act, students on college campuses will have the ability to print flyers and coordinate events which point to how silly divestment campaigns are as they certainly don’t stop citizens of the Arab world from using technology developed in Israel.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, explained the motivations of Israel divestment and boycott campaigns. “The real goal of the boycotts, calls for divestment and sanctions is to cast Israel as the 21st Century version of the hated regime of Apartheid South Africa,” Cooper stated. “Israel is far from perfect but doesn't deserve the vicious double standard applied to the Jewish state and her alone,” he stressed.

A flyer that defends Israel, which is available here for downloading and printing, points out that Israel is a leader in innovation that we all take for granted. Rabbi Aron Hier, the Director of campus Outreach, can be contacted at iact@wiesenthal.com for information about the campaign and how to get involved.

Other informative brochures, from groups like StandWithUs, demonstrate freedom and tolerance in Israel, comparing Israel to neighboring Arab nations in which shocking human rights violations occur without much international condemnation. Brochures and materials for students are available here and are designed to help students combat anti-Israel campaigns.

Divestment is an assault on democracy, the free market economy and US laws which protect our allies like the State of Israel—which also happens to be the only democracy in the entire Middle East.


Reut Cohen graduated from UCI, where she ran a blog to document the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and anti-American incidents on campus.

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The Jewish Journal of greater L.A
ICan Ad Targets Student Boycotts of Israel
The Jewish Journal of greater L.A - Los Angeles,CA,USA
Now, as Israel Apartheid Week is being held on college campuses, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is fighting back with an ad campaign focusing on all the ...



 

Letters from students:

Dear Rabbi Hier,
Thank you very much for coming to our school and showing us "Genocide." Though I've learned about the Holocaust for many years in school, the film taught me in a different way. Seeing the horrible images and footage taken at the concentration camps only made me see how truely terrible the result of hatred was during the Holocaust. If groups people during that time would have stood up to Hilter and done the right thing, there may not be those horrible photos of thousands of dead bodies. The scene that affected me the most was the bulldozing of dead bodies into the deep pits at the camps. The bodies were so frail and thin, but the saddest part is that they were spiritually dead way before their time of physical death. After working all day with little food or water, and after seeing their families killed before their own eyes, it was almost as if it were better to be dead than to live another day in a concentration camp. I can't even imagine how heartbreaking it is to see family members die, but for the sake of peoples own lives they had to remain emotionless. I think it is very honorable of you to go around teaching people of the horrors in the Holocaust so they can help make sure it never happens again. I leanred that it is just as bad to sit by and watch violence occur, as it is to be the one inflicting violence upon people. The video was very effective in showing the result of hatred against innocent people. I can't believe what went on behind the walls of concentration camps, but it is important for people to know what happened. Knowledge of the Holocaust will only help people to make sure it never happens again. Thank you so much for your visit and for teaching me very important lessons.
Sincerely, Danielle


 

Dear Rabbi Hier,
Thank you for coming to visit our school. I was highly interested in the movie that you showed. It opened my eyes to what really went on during the holocaust. In class we talk about it, see some pictures, but in the movie when there was real footage of all of the bodies and how poorly they treated the people, I really saw how horrific the holocaust really was. I respect you for what you do, how you take the time to go around and teach people about tolerance. The images that I saw in that movie will stay with me forever. It really changed how I think and feel about the holocaust. Once again thank you for taking the time to visit our school and educate us.
Jessica


 

Dear Rabbi Hier,
Thank you for coming to Calhoun High School and showing us the video about genocide. The video on genocide is important for us to see because it showed us how many of the victims were forgotten. Simon Wiesenthal's story of hunting down all the Nazis is amazing and should be told to all students because it shows how effort was put in to make sure the Nazis were punished for what they did to people who did not commit any crime. Simon Wiesenthal's life and story lives on forever through these videos and should be shown at schools all over the country.
Samantha

Reviews:    
I Have Never Forgotten You, The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal 


Croatian News Discusses Wiesenthal Film at University

Movie about Wiesenthal shown

Rabbi Aaron Hier said that in the movie not only Jewish problems are discussed, but all war crimes.

"Freedom is not a gift from heaven, but something that we must fight for, every day." That is one of messages from Jewish Nazi-hunter, the late Simon Wiesenthal, of whose life a movie was screened last night at the philosophy faculty of Zagreb. The documentary is one of the movies that "Simon Wiesenthal Center" from Los Angeles, whose manager, Rabbi Aaron Hier, visited Croatia, after Hawaii, the Netherlands and Alabama, aiming to introduce Simon Wiesenthal to our students. in the movie "I Have Never Forgotten You / The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal", the hard work of a Holocaust survivor is shown, in finding escaped Nazi war criminals, who were mostly hiding in Argentina, Brasil and other overseas countries.

The movie begins with Simon's moving telling about exiting Mauthausen, one of few concentration camps he was imprisoned at. As he said, in one of the scenes, his compatriots ate grass, while waiting for the Americans. As Rabbi Hier said, the message of the movie is not only accenting the Jewish problem.


click on press clipping to view full size...


The film was incredibly moving … I find it incredibly difficult as a traveler and as an overseas student to be able to express my Judaism and nationalism freely.  My second semester at UH, Spring 2007, I switched my major to Ethnic Studies … A few weeks into the course, I slammed my books down and walked out right after the teacher answered a student's question with:

"Well,  Zionism is, in fact, terrorism.  There is even biblical proof for that." 

This stuff happens, this stuff will continue to happen. How can we keep our people and future generations out of harm?  
— Student, University of Hawaii


‘I can’t speak; I need to think about this experience…it has changed my life.’ 
— Mrs. B, Wales

The film on Simon Wiesenthal was very emotional. I think is not easy to keep it dry when you see that film. On high school I went to Prague and also to Theresienstadt. It's unbelievable to see what happened there. I always get goosebumps (kippenvel) and tears...
—Sendra, Student, Amsterdam



Frankly speaking I was deeply touched by your movie about the life of Simon Wiesenthal....
—Eszter, Student, Hungary
   

‘I am deeply upset-I have cried; I felt quite overwhelmed. All of the audiences were moved, it affected us all.’ 
— Dr B.,
Wales


‘My Uncles were lost through the holocaust, as a family we never spoke about it. There is a huge message in this film, not just to be a bystander when hate of this nature is happening, it’s so important to bear witness, but not to be
JUST to be a witness… Perhaps I can even change the way I felt about some things. Hate grows easily in all of us…isn’t that sad.’
— Jo,
Wales


‘That was amazing. Simon Wiesenthal was so special, I will find out more about the center’s work.’ 
— Diane, Bristol


‘I was aware of the atrocities of the war- I was not aware of the work of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. Their work is an inspiration to the world. What a wonderful example of continuing justice for those who didn’t have a voice’
— Jane, North Wales.


Reviews:  
Ever Again

'The key point of the film, though, emphasized well by your discussion, was that it’s the responsibility of the world – Jews as victims and non-Jews as responsible citizens of the world – not to passively ignore the signs of bullying and censure that lead to acts of unfairness that lead to outright groundless hate, violence and the “pogroms” that have been allowed to develop in the past.'
—Bruce, Student, University of Hawaii 


‘I am frankly disgusted hate exists in our world, I really feel I should do more, I am speechless.’
— Anonymous



Great to had you over! It was an amazing event and very open and fine discussion. I have never seen an audience so eager to speak up in The Netherlands, and I have seen a lot.
 —Nathan, student activist, Amsterdam


Thank you very much for visiting UVSC. I enjoyed watching your film and I appreciate the exposure to your points of view. I can not believe that we still live in a world where such ignorance exists...
—David, Student, Provo, Utah



Thank you so much for your efforts and for your willingness to continue to educate people about this sinister practice.
—Faculty member, Utah State University