Reporting history: This day in Jewish and Israeli news

In this edition, we span over 60 years of Jewish and Israeli history to bring back some of the 20th century's most important stories read this day.

July 13, 2017 18:28
1936 Berlin Summer Olympics

Spectators giving the Nazi salute during one of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics medal ceremonies. (photo credit: FOTO:FORTEPAN / LŐRINCZE JUDIT VIA CC BY-SA 3.0)

From the JTA archives -- only minor changes have been made, otherwise all stories are left as they were originally written.

The first story revolves around the relationship between Transjordan and Jewish communities. The Emirate of Transjordan was a British protectorate from 1921 to 1946. It gained independence in 1946 and was renamed the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" in 1949.

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July 13, 1926: Extension of Jewish Activities to Transjordania Will Be Welcomed

LONDON - That Transjordania will welcome the intended extension of Jewish activities to that territory, announced recently by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, was the assertion made by the Transjordanian Premier Hassan, in an interview with the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here.

Premier Hassan expressed himself as being friendly to the idea of Arab Jewish cooperation.

“Transjordania, as well as Palestine, cannot be developed without Jewish capital,” Premier Hassan stated. “There is every reason for the Arabs to cooperate with the Jews in the upbuilding of both countries and I am convinced that the time is not distant when the question of Jewish activity in Transjordania will be taken up in a practical way. The Jews and the Arabs would both benefit from an influx of Jewish capital and energy across the Jordan,” he declared.

The Nazi regime organized the mass displays of Nazi propaganda and nationalist symbols across Germany during the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics events (photo credit: FOTO:FORTEPAN / LŐRINCZE JUDIT VIA CC BY-SA 3.0)
The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were held in Berlin during Nazi rule. Jews in Germany had been discriminated against well before 1936, including boycotts of Jewish-owned stores, book burnings, and the 1935 Nuremberg Laws which stripped Jews of their German citizenship and forbade marriages and relations between Jews and non-Jewish Germans.

July 13, 1936: Nazis Seek to Keep Olympic Guests from Getting Data on Jews

BERLIN - The Nazi authorities today took precautions against foreign visitors to the Olympics Games getting first-hand information on the Jewish question.

The Gestapo, secret State police, ordered Jewish institutions not to maintain contact with foreign visitors who wish to study the Jewish question. Names of visitors desiring to get into direct touch with the Jewish organizations must first be reported to the Gestapo, the order specifies.

The Ministry of Propaganda has detailed special guides to take American and other visitors to the games on a tour of the “ghetto” cafes on Berlin’s “white way,” the Kurfuerstendamm, which are frequented chiefly by foreign Jews. The purpose of this action is to impress upon the foreigners that “Jews are still leading a free life in Germany.”

Homes of Jews will be distinguished from those of their “Aryan” neighbors during the forthcoming Olympic games, under an order issued today by Dr. Julius Lippert, State Commissar for Berlin.

The order provides that all buildings must fly both the Reich and the Olympic flag. But since Jews are barred under the Nuremberg laws from displaying the national flag, Jewish buildings will be conspicuous by its absence.

The belief was expressed that Jews may be permitted to fly the Berlin municipal flag instead.

The first groups of several thousand American Olympics visitors arrived yesterday. It was reported that no Jews were included among them.
Warsaw Ghetto, 1941, intersection of Ksawery Lubecki and Gęsia street (photo credit: BUNDESARCHIV BILD 101I-134-0780-38 / CUSIAN ALBERT / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

The next story's death toll includes those murdered by the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi SS mobile killing units) from 1939-1941. After the Wannsee Conference officially put the Final Solution into effect on January 20, 1942, the deportation and mass murder of Jews to extermination camps began. From 1939-1945, a total of approximately 3 million Polish Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

July 13, 1942: Nazi Government, Fearful of Reprisals, Denies Murder of 700,000 Jews in Poland

BERNE - Apparently perturbed over the fact that adequate and immediate reprisals have been demanded for the mass-slaughter of Jews by the Nazis, the German Government yesterday [July 12, 1942] denied that 700,000 Jews have been executed by the German administration in occupied Poland.

The denial was broadcast from Berlin over the German radio. The broadcast, however, admitted that “executions of Jews have taken place as punishment for sabotage,” without going into details as to the extent of these executions.

The Nazi newspaper Neuer Tag, published in Prague, takes issue with the reports in London and New York about the massacres of Jews in Nazi-occupied territories. “The Jews constitute a menace for Germany, hence they are dealt with like enemies,” the paper writes.


"Atoms for Peace" was taken from a speech given by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the United Nations
on December 8, 1953. Through the program, the US gave equipment and information to schools, hospitals, and research institutions around the world. Iran, Israel, and Pakistan all had their first nuclear reactors built through the program.

July 13, 1955: US and Israel sign “atoms for Peace” Agreement in Washington

WASHINGTON - The United States and Israel formally concluded yesterday (July 12, 1955) the atoms for peace agreement under which uranium is to be leased to Israel for research and development programs for humanitarian uses of atomic energy.

Israel’s formal signing of the initialed agreement with the US marked an historic event since Israel is among the first nations to have completed negotiations. Signatories to the initialed agreement included George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Israel Ambassador Abba Eban, and Admiral Lewis Strauss, chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission.

Ambassador Eban expressed his appreciation to the many officials of the State Department and the Atomic Energy Commission who have enabled Israel to be “amongst the first beneficiaries of this constructive and farsighted program.” He said that Israel being the second country to sign the agreement indicates that it will not be lagging far behind the rest of the world in utilizing the benefits of the program. The Government of Turkey on June 10 was the first country to complete negotiations with the United States.

Israeli troops near Rafah during the Six Day War (photo credit: David Rubinger, GPO)
The Six Day War was fought between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria from June 5-10, 1967. This story takes place during the aftermath of the war.
July 13, 1967: Israeli Units Sink Two Egyptian Torpedo Boats in Battle off Sinai Coast

JERUSALEM - Two Egyptian torpedo boats attacked an Israel patrol cruising last night off the Sinai coast and both were destroyed the Israeli army spokesman reported today. Both of the attacking torpedo boats apparently exploded and Israeli boats cruising the area reported they could find no survivors. Eight Israeli sailors were injured in the clash, most of them slightly.

The patrol consisted of the destroyer Elath and two Israeli torpedo boats. It was cruising along the Sinai shore some 25 miles east of Port Said when the Egyptian vessels approached and opened fire. One of the Egyptian vessels was claimed by the Israeli torpedo boats and the other by the destroyer.

The spokesman said that the attackers saw only the Israeli torpedo boats and were not aware that the destroyer was part of the patrol. Navy commander Shlomo Erel was in constant contact with the unit and reported this morning to headquarters on the battle. One of the Egyptian boats was so close to Elath when it blew up that it caused some damage to the ship and the injuries to some of the Israeli sailors.


During the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich -- on the 5th and 6th of September -- 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team and 1 West German police officer were murdered by Palestinian terrorist group Black September. This story follows the security detail for the Israeli Olympic team during the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal.

July 13, 1976: Strict Security Maintained for Israeli Athletes in Montreal

MONTREAL - Seven members of Israel’s Olympic team were surrounded by a tight security net when they arrived here yesterday for the games. An armed Canadian soldier sat in front of the bus transporting the team on the ride from the airport and a helicopter flew overhead.

The widows of three of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed by terrorists at the Munich Olympics four years ago accompanied the Israeli team Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was due to attend a memorial service here today for the 11 slain Israelis. Members of the 1976 Israeli Olympic team and relatives of the victims will participate in the hour-long service.

Before the service was to be held at the Shaare Hashomayim Synagogue, it was carefully searched by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They also conducted a search of the surrounding area and of a Roman Catholic church opposite the synagogue. Neighboring streets were closed, and a fire station in the area was temporarily closed down and the fire engines moved to another location.

 Past meets Present: A demonstration held outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem against the overturning of the Western Wall agreement and the contested conversion legislation in July 2017 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

And last but not least, we discovered that the more things change, the more they stay the same with this story about a Jewish conversion bill from the archives:

July 13, 1987: U.S. Jewish Leaders Welcome Knesset Defeat of Jewish Identity Bills

NEW YORK - American Jewish leaders are congratulating the Knesset for upholding religious pluralism and avoiding a possible rupture between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.

The messages, on behalf of major organizations, refer to the Knesset’s votes Wednesday defeating two controversial bills which would have given the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate exclusive right to approve conversions performed abroad. The practical effects of those measures would have been to invalidate conversions by non-Orthodox rabbis and, by implication, question the legitimacy of the non-Orthodox branches of Judaism in Israel.

Theodore Mann, president of the American Jewish Congress, said: “We are gratified that the Knesset has defeated the latest effort of extremist religious parties in Israel to amend the Law of Return so that Jews converted by non-Orthodox rabbis would no longer receive recognition in the Jewish State. The latest rejection of this pernicious and offensive proposal, which has been introduced repeatedly in the Knesset, is an affirmation of the historic unity of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora.”

Theodore Ellenoff, national president of the American Jewish Committee, also hailed the Knesset’s action. “By firmly rejecting these measures, the Knesset of Israel has reaffirmed the pluralistic character of Jewish life and has strengthened the unity and solidarity of support for Israel among Jews of the United States and other Diaspora communities.” he said. Franklin Kreutzer, international president of the United Synagogue of America, the association of Conservative congregations in North America and Mexico, said his movement is “grateful to the Knesset for supporting Diaspora Jewry’s legitimacy and upholding the current Law of Return.”

Kreutzer added, “Conservative Jews love Israel and want to be given first-class religious and secular citizenship…Conservative Jews will interpret this favorable vote of the Knesset as a sign of acceptance and welcome and we will attend the World Zionist Congress.(in Jerusalem next December) with renewed zeal and commitment.”

Simon Schwartz, president of Mercaz, the Zionist movement of Conservative Jews in the US, said the vote “reflected an understanding in the Knesset that these matters do affect Diaspora Jewry. It would be unconscionable to deprive Jews of the Diaspora, particularly non-Orthodox Jews, of their rights in Israel and outside,” Schwartz said.

Evelyn Auerbach, president of the Womens League of Conservative Judaism, said “We are heartened that the Knesset saw fit to honor its commitment to the unity of the Jewish people, the welfare of Israel and the Diaspora. We will continue to monitor any attempts to erode the legitimacy of the Conservative Masorli movement as well as the principle of religious pluralism.”

Rabbi Daniel Syme, vice president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), the congregational organization of Reform Judaism, said “The Knesset has once again acted in the best interests of Israel and of the Jewish people as a whole in rejecting pieces of legislation that would have shattered Jewish unity.

“We call again upon Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist Jews throughout the world to join with us in the Reform movement in confronting common problems as one Jewish community. To do otherwise is to insure continued tension, growing bitterness and a diversion from the central agenda of the Jewish people.”

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