World Briefs 2-28-12

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Turkey reveals uncomfortable relationship with Jews

Click photo to download. Caption: Singer Can Bonomo, a Sephardic Jew, will represent Turkey at the Eurovision contest this year. Aside from examples like this one, there is growing concern that ant-Semitism is increasing in Turkey. Credit: Maneki Neko.“Never was any nationality, religion or belief group oppressed in these lands. On the contrary, they were treated as equals, with respect, and their cultural heritages were conserved,” Huseyin Avni Mutlu, Istanbul’s governor, recently said at a Holocaust commemoration ceremony. Still, though twenty thousand Jews currently live in Turkey, all is not as it seems in this Middle Eastern country.

Singer Can Bonomo, who will represent Turkey at the Eurovision song contest in Azerbaijan this year, is a Sephardic Jew. Recently the country also aired a movie about the Holocaust on public television, the Boston Globe reported. However, Deborah Dwork, director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, believes Turkey always had a policy of inviting only those Jews it deemed useful.

 “As far as I’m concerned, that is both compliance and complicity with mass murder,” she said.


Two Istanbul synagogues were bombed by Al-Qaida militants in 2003 and since then anti-Semitism has been on the rise across the country, said Murat Onur, an Istanbul-based commentator. Critics also point back to 750 Jewish refugees who sought shelter in Turkey during the Holocaust, only to be sent back to be killed.

-JointMedia News Service

Ontario names May Jewish Heritage Month

Ontario, Canada has decided to name May as its Jewish Heritage Month. Canadian politicians put forth Bill 17, the Jewish Heritage Month Act, in October of last year, and it’s the first such law ever to be passed in Canada.

Two-hundred thousand Jews currently live in Ontario. Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal MPP Mike Colle said he wanted to “honour the significant achievements of Jewish Canadians across Ontario,” according to the Canadian Jewish News.

According to the act, “Jewish Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Jewish Canadians have played, and continue to play, in communities across Ontario.”

-JointMedia News Service

Families of Buenos Aires bombing victims to mark 20th anniversary

Click photo to download. Caption: Twenty one trees and seven branches stand in memory of the victims of the 1992 Israel embassy bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.Relatives of victims of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires will fly to Argentina in two weeks to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack that took the lives of 29 people and wounded many more, Israel Hayom reported.

Iran was declared to be behind the terrorist attack. The explosion destroyed the embassy building, as well as a nearby Catholic church and local school.

This year’s ceremony takes place under the shadow of Hezbollah’s threat to attack Israelis and Israeli embassies throughout the world. Israeli diplomats said that in addition to remembering those killed in the attack, they also intended to mark the anniversary by raising awareness of the Iranian connection to terrorism.

The official ceremony—which will be broadcast live in Argentina and attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon—will include speeches by senior Israeli and Argentine officials.

The Foreign Ministry views the Buenos Aires attack as an open wound, especially since the perpetrators have yet to be apprehended.

JointMedia News Service

Germany releases submarine to Israel

Israel now has in its possession a submarine, that will provide “second strike” capability in the event of war, the Sunday Times reported.

The submarine can carry nuclear missiles, and is capable of remaining submerged for three weeks. This will enable the submarine and two sister vessels, which will be released by 2013, to monitor the Iranian coast.

The hull of the submarine is German built, but all of the communications systems and and electronic warfare systems are Israeli made. The deal to build this submarine was reached with the government of former chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2005. Current chancellor Angela Merkel attempted to withhold the equipment until Israel offered concessions in the Palestinian territories. She has since released the equipment in what is seen as a show of support for Israel. 

JointMedia News Service

Iran nuclear plan frightens international community

A senior team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran is still refusing to cooperate with the international community and its concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear research. A particular concern is the Fordow plant near the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom. The plant is buried beneath 80 meters (265 feet) of rock and soil, which gives it better protection against international military strikes.

Fordow can hold up to 3,000 centrifuges. While this is not enough to maintain a nuclear power plant, it could still be enough to create small amounts of the kind of high-enriched uranium used in a nuclear weapons program, western officials said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“As Israel sees it, the nuclear program represents a serious threat; the time when Iran’s putative efforts to build a bomb will become immune to a strike is fast approaching; and military action in the near future—perhaps as early as this year—therefore is a real possibility," said a report by the International Crisis Group think tank.

—JointMedia News Service

Mormon Church baptizes Ann Frank

After the Mormon Church had already apologized publicly for posthumously baptizing the parents of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal, an ex-church member revealed that a Mormon temple in Dominican Republic also baptized Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

Helen Radkey, an excommunicated church member, said the ceremony was conducted last Saturday. As a teenager, Frank left a world-famous diary describing life in hiding during the Holocaust before she was murdered in a concentration camp. 

In 1995, it was revealed that the Mormon Church had already baptized more than 30,000 Jews killed in Holocaust. The church itself says it has outlawed the practice and is prepared to take disciplinary action against any violators. “It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the Church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention,” the church said, according to the New York Daily News.

—JointMedia News Service

Chavez opponent attacked with anti-Semitic rhetoric

Caption: Venezuelan Opposition Leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, has faced anti-Semitic attacks in his run against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.Credit: Mcadenas45.Jewish groups are condemning Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for not putting a stop to an anti-Semitic attack against his rival in the country’s upcoming elections. Venezuelan Opposition Leader Henrique Capriles Radonski is the grandson of Polish Jews who fled Nazi Europe.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said a column was published in the country discussing Capriles’s Jewish roots, calling him a Zionist. The article referred to Zionism as the “most rotten sentiments represented by humanity,” Yedioth Ahronoth reported. Chavez himself referred to Capriles as a pig on national television.

“What we are seeing at the outset of Venezuela’s presidential elections is an attempt to cast the opposition candidate as a ‘traitorous Jew’ who is unworthy of the presidency,” said Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League.

—JointMedia News Service 

Turkey demands further restrictions on Israeli cargo flights

Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority is examining a new demand by Turkey that it report, 10 days in advance and through diplomatic channels, any Israeli flight that intends to pass through Turkey’s territorial airspace and contains hazardous cargo.

According to Israel Hayom, the Transportation Ministry said that CAL Cargo Air Lines, which operates cargo flights to Belgium and the U.S. from Israel, received the demand from Turkish authorities and relayed it to the ministry.

Almost all cargo flights from Israel pass through Turkish airspace and they almost always include materials that can be defined as hazardous.

Relations between the once-steadfast regional allies have chilled in recent years.

JointMedia News Service

EU agrees to impose sanctions on Syrian central bank

Caption: British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Swedish Foreign Minister, Karl Bild together prior to an EU foreign affairs council in Brussels, Belgium, February 27, 2012. Reports state that EU governments agreed to impose new sanctions on Syria. Credit: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET.European Union governments agreed to impose new sanctions against Syria on Monday, targeting the central bank and several cabinet ministers in a bid to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and target sources of funding for his government, Israel Hayom reported.

The new measures take effect later in the week and also include a prohibition on trade in gold and other precious metals with state institutions, and a ban on cargo flights from Syria, officials said.

The decision complements several other rounds of EU sanctions. It comes as the military onslaught against civilians continues through Syria, where Assad is battling a revolt against four decades of his family’s rule.

Syria’s authoritarian government held a referendum on a new constitution Sunday, but the opposition deemed it an empty gesture and the West dismissed the vote as a “sham.” Activists estimate that close to 7,500 people have been killed in the 11 months since Assad’s crackdown on dissent began.

JointMedia News Service

Posted on February 27, 2012 and filed under Briefs, World.