Grapevine: New York City solidarity

Don’t blame the foreign media stationed in Israel for biased reporting. Blame the people who are responsible for the cuts and other changes in their material that turn the aggressor into the victim.

October 22, 2015 19:03
Bill de Blasio Israel

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio visits Western Wall. (photo credit: WESTERN WALL HERITAGE FOUNDATION)

DURING HIS three-day solidarity visit to Israel, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio managed to get a lot done and to meet a lot of people. It began with a weekend meeting on the beach with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai with whom he discussed cooperation between Tel Aviv and New York, in addition to reviewing the overall situation in the Middle East.

In talking to Huldai and other dignitaries about attacks on innocent people in Israel, De Blasio said that the truth about what is happening here is sometimes blurred by the media.

Any Israeli with access to foreign media reports would certainly agree with this, as terrorists are often described as victims because they are shot dead after attacking or attempting to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers. The reason that they were shot is often ignored in reports, and there is a tendency on the part of Israelis to “shoot the messenger.”

But every reporter knows that his or her copy or video footage can be distorted by an editor.

Don’t blame the foreign media stationed in Israel for biased reporting. Blame the people who are responsible for the cuts and other changes in their material that turn the aggressor into the victim.

De Blasio also met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and went with him to visit victims of terrorism at Hadassah Medical Center.

On a happier note, the New York mayor attended an event in Beit Shemesh that was organized by the Jerusalem-based Israeli-Arab school Hand in Hand, where coexistence is a daily reality, even though it rankles some people with extremist views. Last year, extremists who don’t like the idea of Jews and Arabs growing up hand in hand set fire to the school building.

Despite the brevity of his visit, De Blasio also managed to fit in a tour of Yad Vashem. This was his fourth visit to Israel and his first as mayor.

AS THE center of the universe, Jerusalem is frequently a source of innovative thought. This week it was the venue for a unique conference that took place at Yad Vashem with the support of the Genesis Foundation. The conference was attended by directors of some of the largest archives located in various countries that were part of the former Soviet Union. They were brought together for the first time with international Holocaust researchers, and there was historic significance in the fact that they all met in Jerusalem at a time when anti-Semitism is again rearing its head across Europe.

Recently, many archives containing vast amounts of documentation and information regarding Jews who lived in countries such as Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and the Ukraine have opened their doors to Yad Vashem, enabling research into interesting and important documents that have added to accessible information on the lives and fate of Jewish communities in those countries during the Holocaust era.

Among those attending the conference were Masha Yonin, director of the Archival Acquisition Department, Yad Vashem Archives; Haim Gertner, director, Archives Division; Fred Hillman, chair of Holocaust Documentation, Yad Vashem; Tatiana Baranova, director of the State Archival Service, Ukraine; Olga Biriukova, first deputy director of the Department for Archives and Records Management of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus; Ramojus Kraujelis, chief archivist, Office of the Chief Archivist, Lithuania; Ihor Kulyk, director, Security Service Archives (SBU), Ukraine; Larisa Rogovaya, representative of the Russian Federal Agency, deputy director of the State Archives of the Russian Federation; Mara Sprudza, director of National Archives Management in Latvia; Grigori Zholnerkevich, head of the scientific exploitation of documents and information of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus; Aniea Travnikova, deputy director of the Russian State Archives; Ilya Altman, head of the Holocaust Educational Center, Russia; Benjamin Lukin, head of the Eastern Europe Department in the Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People, Israel. Other attendees included representatives of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington.

Among the subjects they discussed were identifying names of missing Holocaust victims, updates into research on Jewish refugees, post-war documentation, current archival legislation and the accessibility on documents related to the Holocaust and many other subjects that will fascinate both professional and amateur genealogists, as well as historians whose focus is the first half of the 20th century.

COINCIDENTALLY, THE Holocaust period will also figure in the lecture to be delivered on Tuesday, October 27, by Dr. Gabriel Sivan to the Israel branch of the Jewish Historical Society of Israel. He will discuss the topic “British Fascists and the Jews 1923-2015,” in which he will reveal some surprising information about arch fascist Oswald Mosley and his supporters during WW II. The lecture will also cover the Anglo-Jewish establishment and the anti-Semitic menace in Britain during the war years. The lecture will be held at Beit Avi Chai, adjacent to Yeshurun Synagogue, at 7:45 p.m.

THE JERUSALEM Choir Hakol Yachassi is organizing a two-day major choral event at the Pavilion Theatre in the Clal Building on Jaffa Road on October 28 and 29. Choirs from all over Israel will be joined by a choir from Sweden. A significant part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center for the treatment of cancer patients and their families.

“UNPROTECTED” IS the name of a new multinational exhibition opening on November 12 at the Museum of the Seam, Jerusalem’s sociopolitical contemporary art museum. The exhibition raises the question of whether the individual is responsible for his own protection or whether the authorities of his city or his country are responsible for his safety.

The international group exhibition features works by Jewish, Muslim and Christian artists from more than a dozen countries. The majority of artists are from Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Others are from the United States, Poland, Germany, France, Italy, Morocco, Albania, Algeria, Afghanistan, Bosnia and South Korea. Particularly poignant, given his passing in May, is the inclusion of works by Menashe Kadishman.

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