wiesenthal center

Scaramucci pledges $25K to Wiesenthal Center after Twitter Holocaust poll

WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci, the financier who briefly helmed President Donald Trump’s communications department, pledged $25,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center after an account in his name posted a survey asking people how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

“On behalf of the @ScaramucciPost we will be making a $25,000 donation to The Simon Wiesenthal Center. Hopefully I spelled that right,” Scaramucci said Tuesday afternoon on his personal Twitter account, ending with a grinning emoji.

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Wiesenthal Center removes Harvey Weinstein’s name from roster of honorees

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Wednesday said it would remove Harvey Weinstein name from its “roster of honorees,” following a string of sexual harassment allegations against the film mogul.

Simon Wiesenthal Center founder and dean Rabbi Marvin Hier released a statement, saying everyone at the human rights organization was “horrified by the charges leveled against Harvey Weinstein by so many people.”

“Given the gravity of the accusations, we are removing his name from our distinguished roster of honorees in all our future publications,” Hier added.

“Obviously, we can’t go back in time, but had we known then what we know now, we would have never honored him, because such egregious behavior is against everything the Museum of Tolerance and the Wiesenthal Center stands for and is in contradiction to the text of the award he received: ‘Who is honored, he who honors mankind.’”

Weinstein, who was fired by the production company he founded, received the 2015 Humanitarian Award from the center, which promotes tolerance, and was honored at its annual gala dinner. Weinstein received the award due in part to his contributions to the group, which have totaled nearly $100,000. That year’s dinner brought in $1.75 million.

“We honored Harvey Weinstein because he and his company, like many other leaders in the entertainment world, have been longtime supporters of the Wiesenthal Center and its work,” Simon Wiesenthal Center spokeswoman Marcial Lavina wrote in an email to JTA.

Asked whether the group would withdraw the award, Lavina wrote, “That hasn’t been up for discussion.”

In his speech accepting the award, Weinstein said of anti-Semites that Jews “better stand up and kick these guys in the ass.”

An expose in The New York Times last week detailed decades of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein from female actors and employees, and he was fired on Sunday. Weinstein and his brother, Bob, founded the studios Miramax and the Weinstein Company, and produced several award-winning films.

Weinstein was a high-profile donor to Democratic politicians, and several have pledged to give his contributions to charity. They include Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, who is the minority leader; Al Franken of Minnesota; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

In 2015, along with the Simon Wiesenthal award, Weinstein received the Truth to Power Award from the Survivor Mitzvah Project, which aids elderly Holocaust survivors. The group did not respond to JTA calls for comment.

Weinstein had Jewish-themed movie projects in the works. He had announced plans to direct a film adaptation of “Mila 18,” the Leon Uris novel about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and just days ago his company acquired the rights to “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz,” about a US prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

The company said net profits from the documentary would be donated to the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC.

Wiesenthal Center isn’t withdrawing prize given to Harvey Weinstein

JTA — The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it hasn’t considered withdrawing an award given to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was fired by the production company he founded following a string of sexual harassment allegations.

Weinstein received the 2015 Humanitarian Award from the group, which promotes tolerance, and was honored at its annual gala dinner. Weinstein received the award due in part to his contributions to the group, which have totaled nearly $100,000. That year’s dinner brought in $1.75 million.

“We honored Harvey Weinstein because he and his company, like many other leaders in the entertainment world, have been longtime supporters of the Wiesenthal Center and its work,” Simon Wiesenthal Center spokeswoman Marcial Lavina wrote in an email to JTA.

Asked whether the group would withdraw the award, Lavina wrote, “That hasn’t been up for discussion.”

In his speech accepting the award, Weinstein said of anti-Semites that Jews “better stand up and kick these guys in the ass.”

An expose in The New York Times last week detailed decades of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein from female actors and employees, and he was fired on Sunday. Weinstein and his brother, Bob, founded the studios Miramax and the Weinstein Company, and produced several award-winning films.

Weinstein was a high-profile donor to Democratic politicians, and several have pledged to give his contributions to charity. They include Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, who is the minority leader; Al Franken of Minnesota; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

In 2015, along with the Simon Wiesenthal award, Weinstein received the Truth to Power Award from the Survivor Mitzvah Project, which aids elderly Holocaust survivors. The group did not respond to JTA calls for comment.

Weinstein had Jewish-themed movie projects in the works. He had announced plans to direct a film adaptation of “Mila 18,” the Leon Uris novel about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and just days ago his company acquired the rights to “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz,” about a US prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

The company said net profits from the documentary would be donated to the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC.

Does Berlin’s mayor belong on Wiesenthal Center’s top 10 list for anti-Semitism? Local leaders say no.

(JTA) — Berlin’s mayor, many local Jewish leaders agree, could do more to counter the city’s vocal BDS movement.

But does that make him an anti-Semite?

A report that the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center may include Mayor Michael Müller on its annual list of the world’s 10 worst cases of anti-Semitic activity has perplexed prominent Israel supporters in Germany.

In an interview Monday with The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, charged that by declining to publicly oppose recent high-profile anti-Israel events in the city, Müller is “mainstreaming the BDS movement that never contributes to the daily life of Palestinians. BDS is widely recognized as anti-Semitic.”

Jewish leaders in Germany note that other cities have done more to block activities by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. But they say this is no reason to put Müller in the stockades and could be counterproductive.

While it’s “embarrassing for the city of Berlin that the mayor hasn’t yet taken a clear and unequivocal position against BDS,” it is “grotesque to put him in line with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the worst anti-Semites in the world,” Joseph Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement Thursday.

Though a clear stance would be appreciated, Müller “definitely does not belong on this list,” the Jewish Community of Berlin’s commissioner on anti-Semitism, Sigmount Königsberg, said in a statement Thursday. He called BDS “nothing less than the continuation of the anti-Jewish boycotts” of the 1930s in Germany.

Cooper confirmed to JTA that Müller will remain a candidate for the list until he acts to curb BDS activities in the German capital. He accused Müller of supporting the movement through inaction.

BDS “needs legitimate players to gain legitimacy,”  said Cooper.

“We didn’t consult with the Jewish leaders in Berlin, and they are welcome to say and do whatever they think or feel is appropriate,” Cooper added. Müller, as mayor of a world-class city, is “impacting an ongoing global project that aims to demonize and get rid of the Jewish state.”

Initially reluctant to comment, Müller now has called the charges “absurd” and suggested a fuller response would come.

The insinuation of anti-Semitism impacts the entire Berlin government, Müller told the Berliner Zeitung on Wednesday.

“Especially in a city like Berlin, we are aware of the special responsibility” of Germans given their history, he said.

Others have defended Müller, including Bundestag member Volker Beck, former head of the body’s German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group; Elio Adler, founder of a nonpartisan Jewish political initiative in Berlin; and Sergey Lagodinsky, a member of the Berlin Jewish community assembly of representatives.

“Including the mayor in the list for no obvious reason discredits all the critical work we do to keep the issue alive. This is irresponsible,” Lagodinsky told JTA. “One can and must criticize Müller’s too mild course in dealing with conservative or political Islam, but to attribute to him anti-Semitic motives in doing so is wrong and unfair.

Lagodinsky added that any judgment of Müller should come from Berlin and not from Los Angeles.

“Adding him weakens the relevance of this list,” he said.

It also risks devaluing the term anti-Semitism, said the heads of a prominent German organization fighting anti-Semitism among Muslim youth. In a statement Wednesday, Reinhold Robbe and Dervis Hizarci of the Berlin-based Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism urged Cooper to drop the “far-fetched” idea “immediately and unequivocally.”

They noted that Müller had made clearly pro-Israel statements as the state leader of the Social Democratic Party, and that state culture senator and fellow party member Klaus Lederer had called the BDS movement “disgusting.”

In addition, throughout his political career and especially as mayor, Müller “has repeatedly proved his friendship and his deep connection with the Jewish community and with Israel,” Robbe and Hizarci said. “So it’s not at all understandable to have this accusation hanging over him.”

The BDS movement in Berlin recently called for a boycott of an international pop festival in the city when it emerged that the Israeli Embassy had contributed about $600 to cover the costs for some performers. Several bands from Arab countries dropped out of the event.

In June, after BDS activists disrupted an event with a member of the Israeli parliament and an Israeli survivor of the Holocaust at Berlin’s Humboldt University, the chair of Israel’s Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, blasted the mayor for giving anti-Israel activists “the freedom of the city.”

The Tagesspiegel reported that the Wiesenthal Center wants Müller to bar the annual anti-Israel, pro-Iran Al-Quds demonstration, which takes place in early August.

Local authorities allow political demonstrations while setting boundaries as to what can be said or displayed by participants — boundaries that are not always easily enforced.

In response to a Jerusalem Post article from June, the Israeli Embassy clarified that it was critical of anti-Zionist events in Berlin and “not [of] the mayor or the Berlin Senate.”

Cooper agreed that there are enough anti-Semites in the United States alone to “fill half of this year’s top 10” and “there is not exactly going to be a shortage.” But a world-class city has to set an example, he added.

“In other cities there has been leadership to fight” BDS, Cooper told JTA. “The mayor should know better and do something about it. It’s not too late. Is he going to facilitate the BDSers or derail them?”

The center’s annual list is neither scientific nor definitive, and tends to read as an annual survey of trends in anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity. Still, observers take notice.

In 2013, the Simon Wiesenthal Center came under criticism for including remarks by German journalist Jakob Augstein on its annual list. The then-head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, agreed that Augstein wrote “horrible, hideous” articles on Israel, but said his inclusion trivialized all the others on the list.

Wiesenthal Center program against racism part of Youth Olympic games

BUENOS AIRES — The Simon Wiesenthal Center program against Racism in Sport will be implemented in the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games with the support of the Organization of American States.

The “Eleven Points Against Racism in Football” program works with sport authorities, athletes and referees to stop and prevent racial hatred in sport matches and events and to use sports as a bond between peoples.

On Tuesday, the Latin American representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Ariel Gelblung, confirmed to JTA the agreement with OAS and its support to implement the program during next year’s global event organized by the Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires for young sportsman.

On Friday OAS confirmed its decision to grant its support to the program as a way to fight for fundamental rights.

“If we succeed in eradicating racism, xenophobia and discrimination in sport we can generate a greater awareness in society. As Nelson Mandela has shown, sport is a powerful tool for changing unacceptable behaviors and promoting inclusive societies,” Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a letter to the Wiesenthal Center.

“Over the next year, we look forward to working hard to adopt the program in the lead up to the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games,” said Gelblung, who is planning an educational site inside the Olympic village in Buenos Aires.

The initiative was inspired by a similar program, Football Against Racism in Europe, or FARE, to prevent violence in major sporting events.

In March 2012, the Wiesenthal Center called on the Argentine Football Association to penalize the Chacarita Juniors club over anti-Semitic chants from its fans against Atlanta, a team associated with the Jewish community. One year later, the center asked for sanctions against Atlanta for making racist chants against rival Chacarita.

Israel will participate in the 2018 youth Olympic games, which has soccer star Lionel Messi as one of its main supporters, in which athletes from 206 countries ages 15 to 18 years old will compete in Buenos Aires, October 6 -18, the third edition of the global sport main event for youth organized by the Olympic committee.

Wiesenthal Center urges Germany to stop funding Palestinian sports

The Simon Wiesenthal Center anti-Semitism watchdog called on the German government to end its funding of Palestinian sports agencies over their practice of naming teams and tournaments after Palestinian terrorists, saying that Germany should not support the “blatant sanctification of Jew-killers.”

A statement Tuesday from the organization’s director for international relations Shimon Samuels came in response to an agreement signed last week between the head of Germany’s representative office in Ramallah, Peter Beerwerth, and Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub. Under the agreement, Germany agreed to pay “all expenses and fees” for a German soccer expert to help the association improve the quality of Palestinian soccer, according to the Palestinian Media Watch monitoring group.

Rajoub has previously said that he “won’t allow and won’t agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel,” and has called on soccer’s main governing body, FIFA, to suspend Israel’s membership.

In its statement, the Simon Wiesenthal Center provided a list of teams and tournaments sponsored by the Palestinian Football Association named after Palestinians who killed Jews and Israelis, such as a team named after Salah Khalaf, who helped plan the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics in which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September.

Samuels said that by funding an organization that glorifies terrorists such as Khalaf, Germany was associating itself “with the blatant sanctification of Jew-killers” and “thereby evoking the shadows of the 1936 Nazi Olympics and the 1972 Munich Olympics atrocity.”

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Samuels called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel “to suspend this unthinkable agreement until the Palestinian Authority removes all names of terrorists from all sectors of Palestinian sport and their acts of terror be publicly condemned by Ramallah.”

He added that “if Berlin wishes to reignite the spirit of peace, it should perhaps invite Israeli and Palestinian football teams for a ‘friendly’ match, despite Sports Minister Rajoub’s definition of sports encounters of young Palestinians with their Israeli peers as a ‘crime against humanity.’”

Other examples of Palestinian sports teams and tournaments named after terrorists, according to PMW, include a soccer tournament named after Khalid al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, who masterminded a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis for the Palestinian Liberation Organization prior to being killed in Tunisia 1988 by Israeli commandos; and a soccer team named after “the engineer” Yahya Ayyash, who was Hamas’s chief bomb-maker and was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis before Israel assassinated him in 1996 with an explosives-rigged phone.

WIESENTHAL CENTER: NAZI WAR CRIMINAL PROBES NEARLY DOUBLE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR

The number of ongoing investigations of suspected Nazi war criminals almost doubled from 2015 to 2016, according to an annual report released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The status report, titled “Worldwide Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi War Criminals” cover the period of April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016, and presents comprehensive statistics on the numbers of Holocaust perpetrators convicted and indicted, as well as figures on new and ongoing investigations all over the world.

The report was authored by the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who noted that the extension of life expectancy has made it possible to continue efforts to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, even years after their crimes.

“We hope to help maximize those efforts despite numerous obstacles,” he said in a statement. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the murderers, nor should old age afford protection to those who committed such crimes. (Some of their victims were even older than their tormentors are today.) As Simon Wiesenthal frequently noted, we owe it to the victims to find their killers and hold them accountable.”

Wiesethal, an Austrian Holocaust survivor and famed Nazi hunter, passed away in his sleep at the age of 96 in his home in Vienna, but the work he dedicated his life to was continued by the center that had been founded in his name in 1977.

Since 2001, the institute had released annual reports, monitoring progress in this field.

The latest report highlighted Germany as the country with the most significant and practical progress and achievement in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. During the recorded time period, one conviction was obtained, and two indictments were filed in Germany against individuals who had served in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Zuroff explained that the progress in Germany had come about as the result of a change in the law instituted several years ago, which determined that suspected Holocaust perpetrators who served in death camps or Einsatzgruppen, could be convicted of accessory to murder based on service alone. Previously, prosecutors were required to prove that a suspect had committed a specific crime against a specific victim and that the crime had been motivated by racial hatred.

Italy, Denmark, the United States, Poland and Canada, were also listed among countries conducting ongoing investigations of suspected Holocaust perpetrators.

The report stated that between January 1, 2001 and March 31, 2016, 103 Nazi perpetrators have been convicted in court,the majority in Italy (46) and the United States (39). Those countries also filed the majority of the 103 indictments submitted against Nazi criminals during the same period.

Zuroff allocated grades — ranging from A to F– to those countries which are dealing with this issue, as well as those which aren’t – but who he thinks should be. The US and Germany were at the top of the list, both with an A grade, followed by Italy, which got a B.

Norway, Sweden, Lithuania and Ukraine all got Fs. The former two countries failed due to their refusal in principle to investigate, because of legal or ideological restrictions. Meanwhile Lithuania and Ukraine failed on the basis that though there are no legal obstacles in these countries to the investigation and prosecution of suspected Nazi war criminals, they have failed to do so, primarily due to an absence of political will and/or a lack of the requisite resources and/or expertise.

Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay and Uruguay all received an X, meaning that they did not respond to a questionnaire sent to them by the center, but according to Zuroff they, “clearly did not take any action whatsoever to investigate suspected Nazi war criminals during the period under review.”

Wiesenthal Center protests Lithuanian neo-Nazi march

Several hundred ultra-nationalists marched in Lithuania’s prewar capital of Kaunas on Tuesday, yelling slogans in honor of Holocaust collaborators and denouncing their nation’s enemies, drawing harsh condemnations and accusations of anti-Semitism.

The annual march, which was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Baltic state’s independence from Russia in 1918, was smaller than that of previous years, said Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, who attends the event every year.

Zuroff estimated that between 200 and 300 people took part, a significant decline from the usual 500 to 1,000 participants.

“There were the usual nationalistic slogans and they announced that they are honoring the heroes of Lithuania who are being discredited by the enemies” of their country, Zuroff said in a phone call from Kaunas. “All of those are people who murdered Jews during the Holocaust.”

Among those honored in recent years is Juozas Ambrazevicius, the prime minister of Lithuania’s wartime provisional government and an enthusiastic Nazi collaborator.

While the size of the crowd may have been smaller than usual, the issue of Lithuanian complicity in the genocide of its Jewish population has been a hot topic across the country in recent weeks, following the publication of Zuroff’s book Our People; Journey With an Enemy, which he co-wrote with local author Ruta Vanagaite.

The book, which claims to lay bare the extent of Lithuanian complicity in the genocide, ignited a public firestorm, leading the government-sponsored Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance to announce that it would publicly release a list of collaborators about whom the authors wrote.

However, the government later backtracked on its pledge and, while the local Jewish community was initially supportive of the decision, it publicly demanded the release of the names and the prosecution of any perpetrators remaining alive.

The Jewish community’s umbrella organization did not make any public statements regarding Tuesday’s events, leading Zuroff to harshly criticize the group, with which he has previously engaged in several public clashes.

In a February 16 op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, Zuroff explained that while these marches were initially held in a “blatantly anti-Semitic” manner, in recent years the “anti-Semitic content [has been] far more subtle…

around the issue of Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust, which the nationalists persistently refuse to acknowledge.”

During last year’s march, one of the organizers denied that the event was anti-Semitic, stating that there were “many Lithuanians who find it hard to forgive Jews who, during communism, killed nationalist freedom fighters.

But I think we should leave it in the past and look ahead.”

Wiesenthal Center alarmed over anti-Semitism in Morocco

(JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed concern at what it described as a proliferation of expressions of anti-Semitism in Morocco.

Shimon Samuels, the center’s director of international relations, conveyed the concern Monday following the airing of videos from Sunday’s mass demonstration in Casablanca in support of Palestinians, which featured men dressed as haredi Orthodox Jews destroying a model of the Al-Aqsa mosque before being led as prisoners by armed men wearing kaffiyehs to a fake execution.

“These disturbing scenes come on the heels of other expressions of anti-Semitism we’ve seen in Morocco and may have a destabilizing effect not only in North Africa but among the Muslim communities in Europe, where Moroccans make up a large share of the population,” Samuels said.

He noted the presence in February of anti-Semitic literature such as Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and Henry Ford’s “International Jew” at Casablanca’s International Fair of Publishing and Books, which is billed as the most important book fair in the Arab world.

Samuels said he feared a worsening of anti-Semitic rhetoric in Morocco in view of the submitting in 2013 to the country’s parliament of two bills, yet unpassed, that would criminalize trade and other forms of exchange with Israel, as well as the publication by an anti-Israel organization of names of businessmen — many of them Jewish — who are said to have ties to Israel.

Moroccan authorities, Samuels added, “may wish to appease extremists by turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism.”

Wiesenthal Center tells Jews not to go to Reykjavik

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Friday issued a travel warning for Jews wishing to visit the Icelandic capital after Reykjavik municipality voted Tuesday in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues.”

In an emailed statement Friday, the associate dean of the LA-based Jewish NGO, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said that while Iceland was a popular destination with many Jews and Israelis, “when the elected leaders of its main city pass an extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic law, we would caution any member of a Jewish community about traveling there.”

Cooper also accused those behind the boycott of hypocrisy, for singling out Israel as a target. “The Jewish state alone — not Syria, not Iran, not North Korea, or the Sudan — is being subject a dangerous double standard that needs to be denounced by all fair-minded people,” he said.

Iceland’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday distanced itself from the boycott decision, saying the move was “not in line” with the country’s foreign policy. Its government told The Times of Israel that the resolution by the capital was its own and not representative of the country’s stance.

“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs wishes to underline that the City Council’s decision is not in line with Iceland’s foreign policy nor does it reflect on Iceland’s relations with the State of Israel,” a spokesperson said by email.

The ministry pointed out that Reykjavik, Iceland’s largest city and home to one-third of the island’s population, “formulates policies pertaining to its own local affairs, including its procurement policy, ensuring that it is in accordance with national legislation.”

In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Iceland’s total imports from Israel amounted to roughly $6 million, the bulk of which was Dead Sea chemicals and machinery.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move, and, in an apparent reference to Iceland’s famed geological activity, said “a volcano of hatred spews forth from the Reykjavik city council building.”

“For no reason or justification, except hatred for its own sake, calls of boycotting the state of Israel are heard,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We hope someone in Iceland will come to their senses and end the one-sided blindness fielded against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”