Two Holocaust survivors have been brutally attacked in their Amsterdam apartment on August 4, and police are investigating whether the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.
The married couple has been in a rehabilitation center since the attack. “I have extreme pains,” says 86-year-old Diana Blog. She suffered severe bruising, while 87-year-old Shmuel lost his vision and had his thigh bone broken by the assailants’ kicking.
Both are now confined to wheelchairs, after being completely independent before the robbery.
The Jewish couple, who have been married for 56 years, fell victim to violent abuse when two men entered their apartment disguised as police officers. “They knocked loudly on the door and said, ‘open up, police,'” the couple recalls.
Diana, an Auschwitz survivor, says she told her husband not to open the door because she was worried that something was wrong, but Shmuel opened the door – and so began the couple's nightmare.
Immediately after the door was opened, two black-clad men burst in. They began to severely beat the couple. “I told them, ‘don’t hit my wife,'” Shmuel says tearfully, but the attackers paid no mind and knocked the elderly couple to the ground, kicking them repeatedly.
They then tied them up and began ripping Diana’s jewelry off her body. One of the assailants demanded to know where the jewelry was kept. Diana’s father was a diamond polisher, so there were more than a few pieces of precious jewelry and family heirlooms, some gifts from her parents, in the home.
“They wanted to chop off my finger because the rings didn’t come off fast enough,” Diana, who still bears dog bite scars, remembers as she cries. “They called us ‘dirty Jews’ and said: ‘You don’t need your jewelry anymore. You’ve been wearing it for too long. Now it’s all ours.’”
The robbers emptied the apartment of valuables and caused extensive property damage.
Emmanuel, the Blogs’ son, offered a cash prize of 10,000 euros to anyone with information that would help catch the assailants. Many citizens shocked by the incident increased the reward by a few thousands euros.
Amsterdam police distributed a description of the assailants, while Emmanuel distributed pictures of his injured parents, so “the whole world sees what they did to my parents.”
The Blogs struggle to recover from the ordeal. “Those bastards ruined our lives,” said Shmuel.
The Dutch Embassy in Israel said regarding the robbery: “This is a shocking incident, a brutal robbery that extremely affected the victims. Dutch police is handling this case with the utmost seriousness, and is investigating it. No suspects have been apprehended yet, so it’s difficult to make unequivocal statements about the motives.
"In general, it’s important to emphasize that everyone should feel safe in the Netherlands. We will not tolerate any incident of discrimination and anti-Semitism. The Dutch foreign minister recently issued a statement before his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he expressed concern about the rising wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. "It affects Jewish communities first of all, but affects all of our lives, too. Fighting anti-Semitism is part of the protecting the fundamental values of liberty and security for all. The Dutch government’s position has remained clear: We will not tolerate anti-Semitism in our society.”
Suspect arrested, reporter says 'a man in handcuffs at the scene was yelling
about Hitler.'Three people were killed in two shootings in two Jewish centers in Kansas. A suspect has been arrested and was heard yelling "heil Hitler" as he was taken into custody.Overland Park Police confirmed that multiple shots were fired at the JCC center and the Village Shalom retirement home. Two men were killed at the JCC - which was full of teens auditioning for KC Superstar - and another 70-year-old women was killed at the assisting living center. According to the police, the shooter arrived first at the JCC where he shot two men in the parking lot, and then moved on to the elderly home. According to CNN, the shooter first made sure his victims where Jewish, but additional details were not yet available. Overland Park Fire Department spokesman Jason Rhodes said Sunday afternoon that one person of interest was in custody and a KCTV reporter claimed "a man in handcuffs at the scene was yelling about Hitler." Additional reports claimed the man was heard yelling "heil Hitler." The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City wrote on its Facebook that "There has been a shooting incident at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City near the White Theatre entrance. The building remains on lockdown. The police are currently on the scene. We will post more information as it becomes available to us. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers." According to a KMBC report, which quoted the police, the entire Jewish Community Center campus has been placed on lockdown while police search the area while gunman was are reportedly still at large. A spokeswoman with the Overland Park Regional Hospital confirmed for NBC that they had one victim "under 16 years old in critical condition." An other report claimed that the JCC was full of teens who were auditioning for Kansas City Superstar, the local version of American Idol, with their parents frantically trying to get to the children after the shooting began. Police were also examining a truck in the center's parking lot that had shattered windows. KSHB claimed that a news photographer on the scene spoke with a man who claimed another man pointed a gun at him and shot the windows out of his car. That person was not injured. Mike Metcalf, an area resident, reportedly told Fox 4 that :“My son and I were walking into the Jewish Community Center this afternoon for an umpire clinic, around the westside and all of the sudden we heard a gunshot, a pretty loud gunshot... I turned to look to my right and I can see a man standing outside a car with a shotgun, what to me looked like a shotgun, and there was somebody laying on the ground.”
Several hundred protesters blocked work on a controversial monument in Budapest Tuesday which Jewish critics say glosses over Hungary's active role in the Holocaust. Around 300 people angrily tore down a cordon erected by workers and occupied the site of the planned monument, which the Hungarian government says will mark all the victims of Hungary's occupation by Nazi Germany in 1944. Critics say the monument – which will depict Hungary as an angel being attacked by a German eagle – absolves Hungarians of their active role after the occupation in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths. One protester, Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy, also an opposition politician, told AFP that volunteers would mount a round-the-clock guard to prevent the restart of building works. "It is an extremist memorial that covers up the past with a lie, and a gesture (by Prime Minister Viktor Orban) to the far-right," he told AFP. "We won't let it be built!" he added, as police observed the protesters without intervening. The monument was originally scheduled for unveiling on March 19 to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Jews after the Nazi occupation. After protests in Hungary and abroad, and a boycott of official anniversary commemorations in 2014 by leading Jewish organization Mazsihisz, the government postponed the construction until after the general election which took place on Sunday. In the vote, Orban was re-elected to a second consecutive term in office with a landslide win, well ahead of an alliance of left-wing parties and a strengthening far-right Jobbik party. Orban, whose party adopted some of Jobbik's nationalist tones in the past, has often sought to position himself as a bulwark of democracy against extremists. After the election "we are close to a two-thirds majority in parliament. I think that's the best defense against the far-right," he said Monday. A statement by the Government Information Centre published on state newswire MTI Tuesday confirmed that construction of the monument had begun. "The work is scheduled to be finished by May 31," it said.
An Irish radio presenter has been suspended from broadcasting after a row with a government body about Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip. Peter Kearney, presenter of the International Politics show on Dublin’s Near FM, had ridiculed Ireland’s Broadcasting Authority after a complaint from the Israeli embassy was upheld. The Sunday Times reports that Kearney has been suspended and told by station management that his actions ‘were not acceptable.’ Kearney had interviewed a number of people last March about their experiences in Gaza in the aftermath of Israeli military action in 2008 and 2009. The paper reports that during his program, he described Gaza as an ‘open-air prison,’ endorsing a term used by one interviewee. The presenter also said on air that Israel did not want to share the waters off the coast of Gaza with Palestinians because of their potential gas and oil reserves. Boaz Modai, Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, then complained to the Broadcasting Authority that the program was a ‘propaganda platform’ for Gaza Action Ireland as there were no neutral guests or advocates of Israel’s position. The authority’s compliance committee ruled that the show was not ‘fair, objective and impartial’ as current affairs programs are required to be. After Near FM broadcast the BAI’s ruling before an episode of International Politics, Kearney discussed the ruling with Azizi, a comic character who is the creation of Sami Moukaddem, a Lebanese musician. On the program Azizi described the BAI ruling as ‘the garbage that we just smelt,’ He said it had ‘stank the whole office.’ The paper says that Kearney then said that the ‘I’ in BAI stood for Ireland and not Israel and said if he had endorsed the opinions of the interviewees he wasn’t going too far wrong. He said: “Shock, horror, I allowed their opinions to be expressed.” Azizi added on air that, historically, people who tried to expose human rights abuses were vilified. The comic said: “There is not enough toilet paper in this building to clean me of the vibe of what we just heard.” The report says that Azizi then mocked the BAI committee for upholding the embassy’s complaint. He said: “Give us this shit, let us expose you. They keep on exposing themselves.” He also said that the complaint exposed the Israelis ‘as bullies of just about everything, small and big.’ Kearney then took to the program’s Facebook page where he claimed the BAI had supported an Israeli embassy attack on his show. He wrote: “This is an attack on community volunteers.” The station apologised to both the BAI and Israeli embassy after the Sunday Times investigated the program. In a statement, it said: “Near FM fully accepted the decision of the BAI regarding the lack of balance in the International Politics program of March 26. We stand over our apology as broadcast on November 6. “The presenter, who undermined that apology, acted counter to Near FM’s policies and has been suspended. The presenter was informed about the seriousness of this matter, and acted contrary to Near FM’s instructions. His views are not the views of Near FM.” The report adds that Kearney was unrepentant on his Facebook page. He said: “I have a clear conscience. The suspension is wrong. The Israelis are wrong.” He also claimed the reluctance of the Israeli embassy to accept any criticism or questioning of its state was ‘shocking and undemocratic.’
A special poster exhibition opened this week in the United Nations Information Offices in Vienna, Austria, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was marked Monday.The exhibition includes posters created by students of art and design from around the world, including Muslims from Indonesia, who were asked to present their personal interpretation of the memory of the Holocaust. The exhibition is joint international project in which participants from the Czech Republic, Canada, England, Russia, Indonesia and Israel were invited to create original posters on "Keeping The Memory Alive - Journeys through the Holocaust" after taking part in special seminars in their countries.
The United Nations and countries around the world will hold memorial ceremonies commemorating the victims of the Holocaust on Monday, the International Holocaust Memorial day. A special UN ceremony will be held at UN headquarters in New York. The evening will be themed "Journeys through the Holocaust" and will feature a video message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban Ki-moon recently released the video, reflecting on his visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland late last year. "I will never forget my visit. I saw the horrific remnants of the machinery of genocide... The United Nations was founded to prevent any such horrors from happening ever again," Ban Ki-Moon stated. “We will continue to shine a light on these unspeakable crimes so that they may never be repeated.” Emphasizing the importance of formal instruction on this subject, the secretary-general has also said that education and public awareness are the first defense against prejudice, ethnic hatred and intolerance. The Oscar-winning film director, writer and producer Steven Spielberg was scheduled to deliver the keynote address during the UN ceremony. “I am humbled by the opportunity to speak at the United Nations on this significant day of remembrance,” said Spielberg. European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also related to International Holocaust day Monday, emphasizing the importance of fighting racism. "On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must keep alive the memory of this tragedy. It is an occasion to remind us all of the need to continue fighting prejudice and racism in our own time. We must remain vigilant against the dangers of hate speech and redouble our commitment to prevent any form of intolerance. The respect of human rights and diversity lies at the heart of what the European Union stands for," Ashton stated.
The Jewish community of Hungary has threatened to boycott all events associated with their government’s yearlong commemoration of the Holocaust.The ultimatum, delivered via the website of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) on Sunday, comes in response to a statement by Sándor Szakály, director of the state-sponsored Veritas Historical Research Institute, allegedly minimizing the Holocaust. Szakály reportedly termed the deportation and massacre of tens of thousands of Jews in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine, during the Second World War a “police action against aliens.” Mazsihisz and other Jewish organizations have demanded that Szakály apologize and step down. On August 27–28, 1941, near the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, some 23,600 Jews were killed, most of them Hungarian Jews (14,000- 16,000). Mazsihisz, citing Szakály’s “relativization of the Holocaust” as well as the “falsification of history” by government and media figures, stated that it was “contemplating refraining from participation in the events of the Holocaust Year,” according to a translation of the statement on the Hungarian Spectrum weblog. “Moreover, we will make use of the grant we received from the Civil Grant Fund only if there is a change in the direction of the whole project,” the group promised. Such “attempts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust” are “extremely common in post-Communist Eastern Europe,” Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wisenthal Center said. The center expressed “support for the call by Mazsihisz to all politicians to refrain from using the 70th anniversary of the mass deportations of Hungarian Jewry to Auschwitz in the upcoming elections and for a halt to falsifying the past in a disrespectful manner which will destroy the credibility of the events scheduled during 2014 to mark the tragedy.” The European Jewish Congress also expressed support for Mazsihisz. “During the year in which we commemorate the annihilation of half a million Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, we would expect the Hungarian government and its institutions to ensure that this event isn’t trivialized or minimized. The European Jewish Congress fully understands and supports the decision by its Hungarian affiliates to take such action in the face of the many recent provocations which have shown that far too many have failed to learn the lessons of history,” a representative told The Jerusalem Post. “Mazsihisz’s quasi-ultimatum pushes [President] Viktor Orbán into a corner. He either has to sack Szakály... and give up the idea of erecting a monument to the German occupation which is an important part of the myth he wants to create about the innocence of Hungarians in the Holocaust, or he loses the support of the Hungarian and international Jewry which he seems to find very important,” the Hungarian Spectrum commented. Orban’s attempts to rehabilitate Hungary’s past stem partially from his need to draw voters away from the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party, which came out of nowhere to become Hungary’s third-largest parliamentary faction during elections in 2010 and will seek to expand its representation in April’s vote. During a recent interview, Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman said that Jewish organizations must “strengthen the backbone of the political leadership of [countries such as] Bulgaria, Romania [and] Hungary, to stand up and say no” to extremist parties rather than to accommodate them out of “political expediency.” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder last May called on Orban to ban Jobbik. “Through its anti-Semitism, its hostility to the Roma, and its paranoid rantings at the outside world, Jobbik is dragging the good name of Hungary through the mud,” Lauder declared. Szakály’s views do not reflect those of the Hungarian government, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office informed the Post. Orban’s office said that Szakály “is a historian, and the Veritas Institute was established to provide a forum for historians to discuss certain issues.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Saturday to be vigilant to the dangers of anti-Semitism ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom. In her weekly podcast, Merkel described the events of November 9, 1938 – also known as The Night of Broken Glass – as "one of the darkest moments in German history." She called on "all the people in this country to show their civil courage and ensure that no form of anti-Semitism is tolerated." Merkel added it was "almost inexplicable but also the reality that no Jewish institution can be left without police protection." Nevertheless, she noted there was now a thriving Jewish community in Germany, with an influx from the former Soviet Union. On November 9, 1938, Nazi thugs plundered Jewish businesses throughout Germany, torched some 300 synagogues and rounded up about 30,000 Jewish men for deportation to concentration camps. Some 90 Jews were killed in the orgy of violence. In 1933, when Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler came to power, there were around 560,000 Jews living in Germany. By 1950, their number had dropped to 15,000. Today, there are some 200,000 Jews, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany. November 9 is a particularly noteworthy date in German history, as it was on this day in 1989 that the Berlin Wall fell.
Trois ressortissants de pays de l'Est ont été arretés et placés en garde a vue samedi pres de Paris dans le cadre de l'enquete sur le braquage spectaculaire d'une bijouterie de luxe la veille dans les quartiers chics de Paris, a-t-on appris de sources proches de l'enquete. Ces trois personnes s'ajoutent au Moldave et au Roumain, de 17 et 24 ans, arretés des vendredi et toujours en garde a vue. Les enqueteurs tentent de savoir si les trois derniers interpellés sont impliqués directement dans le braquage ou si elles ont des liens avec les auteurs présumés. Il s'agit de "ressortissants de pays de l'Est", a indiqué la source, précisant qu'ils ne portaient pas de papiers d'identité. Les enqueteurs travaillent sur cette affaire "en lien avec la police roumaine". Des perquisitions ont également ponctué ces interpellations. Une quinzaine de malfaiteurs avaient attaqué vendredi une bijouterie-horlogerie de luxe en plein coeur de Paris, emportant une vingtaine de montres d'une valeur totale de "plus d'un million d'euros" avant de prendre la fuite a pied. Cette attaque tres spectaculaire et inédite s'est déroulée pres de la place Vendôme, vitrine mondialement connue de la joaillerie et des montres de luxe, a deux cents metres du ministere de la Justice. Deux hommes, bien habillés, ont pénétré dans la boutique Vacheron Constantin, dont la porte est encadrée de deux caméras de surveillance. Ils ont tenu la porte ouverte a un troisieme homme, armes a la main, afin de faire entrer six autres complices cagoulés et munis de masses et de haches. Ils ont alors brisé les vitrines des présentoirs de la boutique pour s'emparer des montres. Le 9 septembre, dans le meme quartier, des bijoux et de l'horlogerie de luxe avaient déja été dérobés lors d'un casse éclair a la voiture bélier pour un montant de 2 millions d'euros.
Pope Francis said the Catholic Church should not allow its bans on gay marriage, abortion and contraception to dominate its teachings, but must be a more welcoming Church where priests are understanding pastors and not cold, dogmatic bureaucrats. In a dramatically blunt interview with Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit monthly, Francis did not hold out the prospect of any changes soon to such moral teachings but appeared to be trying to shift the Church's tone on them from condemnation to mercy. Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years and the first from Latin America, said the 1.2 billion member Church had "locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules." The Church, he said, should see itself as "a field hospital after a battle" and try to heal the larger wounds of society and not be "obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently." The long interview took place over three sessions in August and was released on Thursday simultaneously in translations by Jesuit journals around the world. "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that," he said. "But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time," he said. Speaking specifically of homosexuals, he said: "In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy." The pope also spoke about the role of women in the Church, saying their "deep questions must be addressed". "We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the Church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church," he said.