JTNews | August 2, 2013

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JTNews | The Voice of Jewish Washington for August 2, 2013

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  • www . j t n e w s . n e t n a u g u s t 2 , 2 0 1 3 n 2 6 a v 5 7 7 3 n v o l u m e 8 9 , n o . 1 6JEWISHthe voice ofJTnews w a s h i n g t o n peace talks begin page 16german preoccupation page 2

    @jew_ish @jewishcal/jtnewsprofessionalwashington.comconnecting our local Jewish community

    the bus ad saga continueson page 6

    Shuttle diplomacy

  • 2 opinion JTnews . www.JTnews.neT . friday, augusT 2, 2013

    Our 2014 Community Campaign is Underway!The Jewish Federation is looking ahead to a new and exciting year of

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    German preoccupation: Why bother with David Irving?Steven Blum Jew-ish.com

    When I found out David Irving, noted anti-Semite, Holocaust denier, and widely discredited historian was coming to Berlin, I had the kind of reaction I think many Jews can relate to: I groaned and wanted to move on to the next article in Google News.

    Why? Because Holocaust deniers, in this day and age, seem like low-hang-ing fruit, sensationalist fodder for any lazy journalist in search of a Nazi-related headline. Holocaust Denier David Irving Plans to Return to Germany, But Will Hotels Let Him Stay? is a headline many will click, even if the story is vacuous.

    On the other hand, I understand why its a very big deal that Irving is coming to Germany: Irvings research, having been roundly rejected by journalists, World War II historians, and laymen the world over, has allowed him and the entire revisionist movement to fashion him-self as what Christopher Hitchens calls free speech martyr.

    One need only look at the comments section underneath the Huffington Posts story to see the supposed free-speech activists out in full force.

    I would like to see an open debate on Mr Irvings [sic] findings and make up my own mind if they have any truth in them, reads one comment. Why do a group of

    self appointed censors think people are not intelligent enough to draw their own conclu-sions?

    In March of last year, when the Daily Mail reported that a Munich court had overturned Irvings lifetime ban in Germany, more com-menters cheered the decision as a victory for freedom of speech.

    Why is it a crime to deny the holocaust? one bewildered-seeming comment reads, before going on to deliver a paranoid dia-tribe about Jewish control of the media. What do they not want us to know? Dont believe the lies. We are NOT free.

    Inciting hatred, violence, murder and even genocide begins with speech, which is one reason why Germany has made it a crime to openly deny the Holocaust in the first place. I dont see that as a bad thing, and I think the ban on Irving should have remained in place.

    Irvings minimizing of Jewish death makes him particularly infuriating to read.

    He has claimed that more people died on the back seat of Senator Edward

    Kennedys motor car in Chappaquiddick than died in the gas cham-ber of Auschwitz. Hes also said outright that he thinks the Holocaust was a hoax invented by the Jews, and made ominous claims about what will happen to them when the world finds out the truth.

    Two years from now, too, the German historians will accept that we are right. They

    will accept that for 50 years they have believed a lie, he said.

    In England, the court found Irving to be an active Holocaust denier, antisemite, and racist, who associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism, and that he had for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.

    And yet, even today, Irving contin-ues to enjoy a large following. In 2011, he crisscrossed the U.S., visiting over 30 cities on a lecture tour titled The Life and Death of Heinrich Himmler, Hitlers Lieuten-ant, 44 years in 44 minutes. A few years before, he led his own tour of Auschwitz,

    stopping by the gas chambers to lecture about Hitler being a great man, one of the greatest Europeans for centuries.

    And just last week, when the Huffing-ton Post wrote about Irving coming to Germany, the Holocaust Truther force flocked to the comments section to defend their beleaguered leader.

    Part of this is the fault of the journalist who wrote the story. Simply calling Irving a Holocaust denier is not enough. With-out providing evidence that contradicts Irvings claims, the press is essentially saying, Heres a bad man coming to Ger-many; why dont you Google him and see what you find? Theyre not writing that the historians of the world have already debated Irvings claims and come to the conclusion they are entirely made up.

    Even the angle of the story is suspect: A league of hoteliers have joined forces to ban Irving from staying at any of their properties? Hooray! Except hes still being allowed to come here.

    Irving is still being allowed to spew his racist, anti-Semitic bile in the former seat of Nazi power. He will be able to sleep on a friends bed or at a B&B, eat some Wie-nerschnitzel, walk around the city and talk about how the Jews have been lying all along.

    Wikimedia Commons

    British historian David Irving in July 2003.

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  • the rabbis turn

    friday, august 2, 2013 . www.jtnews.net . jtnews

    3opinion

    He would probably school me. Taylor Halperin, an intern for Sen. Maria Cantwell and big basketball fan, on whether he would take the court with President Obama while hes in the other Washington for the summer. Read about the M.O.T. on page 9.

    The test of balancing our communitiesRaBBi alliSon B. FlaSh Temple Beth am

    Since becoming a rabbi, I have come to believe there really are five seasons to the year. There are the typi-cal four: Fall, winter, spring, and summer, but for rabbis, there is an additional season called pre-High Holidays. It is the time of year when rabbis reflect on the messages we want to give our congre-gants and plan the services in observance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As a Jewish educator, I spend this time preparing to open religious school for our almost 600 students, making sure our program is the best it can be.

    This year, my attention is being spent on something much more mundane and, ironically, more stressful. With many school districts beginning at the same time as Rosh Hashanah, I find myself preoc-cupied with what to do about the fact my daughter will miss the first day of her high school classes. While I know our family belongs in synagogue, I also am keenly aware she will actually miss an exam being given on the first day. For many, this does not sound like such a big issue, but for my daughter, it is certainly a concern. While I understand that legally she cannot be penalized for missing school due to reli-gious observances, I also understand there are ways in which she will feel punished.

    This is but one example of what it means to live as Jews in the secular world. Lets face it we dont live in Israel or even a city large enough that secular school calendars are affected by the Jewish calen-dar. For many of us, we are the only Jew in our school or office. We are constantly being asked to balance our Jewish and sec-ular identities, whether at school func-tions, with social engagements, or at work. The balancing act can be tricky at times. The larger problem is how this constant balancing often makes us feel like an out-sider in our own community.

    I recently overheard a teenage girl tell another how she does not like wearing her necklace with a Jewish star on it. She explained that wearing it made her look

    too Jewish and how she didnt like to set herself apart from her peers at school. For many, being different is a positive, but for far too many, this feeling of being differ-ent is isolating. This isola-tion affects people regardless of age. Make no mistake teens are not the only ones who struggle with this issue.

    Unfortunately, the chal-lenge of finding a balance between the Jewish and secular parts of our identity will not go away. Navigating these challenges as they occur will be an ongoing process. There will be times when we feel like the outsider, but the answer is not to turn away from our Jewish identity. Rather, we need to turn to our synagogue or chavurah or youth group, to remind ourselves that we do belong, that we are not alone. When we belong to and are active in a synagogue, attend religious school or adult learning classes, take part in Jewish summer camps, belong to Jewish youth groups (regardless of which one), and are active with orga-nizations such as Hillel, the Jewish Com-munity Center, Jewish Family Service, or Federation, we remind ourselves that we are not the other. We are, in fact, together. By taking part in a vibrant Jewish community, we surround ourselves with other Jews and are invited into a sense of belonging often lacking in other areas of our lives. I repeatedly hear students tell me they love coming to religious school because, while they are the only Jew in their grade or school, they have commu-nity in our synagogue. They feel validated.

    As a rabbi, Jewish educator, and mother, this pre-High Holiday season is spent contemplating how important it is to live as a Jewish American one who straddles both the Jewish and secular worlds and one who proudly belongs to both communities. It is exactly this pride I wish for all Jews to have so when choices must be made, it brings pride not dis-comfort. May this New Year bring with it deeper connections within the Jewish community for each of us.

    He will be able to walk to the places where the storm troopers burned Jewish books, past the businesses that were stoned during Kristallnacht, and the homes from which Jewish families were evicted, dispos-sessed and then murdered en masse as he openly questions whether it was all made up by the Jews for attention, money and

    power. Hell be able to stand where Hitler once gave speeches about Jews being rats and say, essentially, the same thing and people will listen.

    Its as if nothing has changed at all.

    Former seattleite steven Blum writes

    dispatches for Jew-ish.com from his new home

    in Berlin.

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    Helen Thomas interviewer: Media whitewashed late journalists anti-SemitismJacoB KamaRaS Jns.org

    On June 1, 2010, the day after the Gaza flotilla incident in which nine Turk-ish militants were killed after attacking Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara, famed reporter Helen Thomas didnt hide her opinions about Israel in a briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

    The initial reaction to the flotilla mas-sacre, deliberate massacre, an interna-tional crime, was pitiful. What do you mean you regret something that should be so strongly condemned? And if any other nation in the world [besides Israel] had done it, we would have been up in arms. What is this ironclad relationship where a country that deliberately kills people and boycotts, and we aid and abet the boy-cott? Thomas asked Gibbs.

    Little did the public know at the time that just a few days before that press brief-ing, Thomas had uttered anti-Semitic comments that would go on to garner far more attention than what she said about the Gaza flotilla. Adam Nese-noff, the 17-year-old son of Rabbi Dr. David Nesenoff who handled the tech-nology-related aspects of his fathers RabbiLive.com blog, was busy graduating high school. That meant a May 27 video interview that Helen Thomas gave David Nesenoff on the White House lawn in which Thomas said Jews should get the hell out of Palestine and go home, to Poland and Germany, America and every-where else would not be posted online until a week after it was recorded.

    Thomas, who worked 57 years for United Press International and a decade for Hearst Newspapers, died July 20 at age 92. She covered every U.S. president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, and is credited with opening the White House press corps to women. But all it took was a roughly 90-second interview to end her career in 2010 Nesenoffs video brought about her retirement shortly after it was posted.

    Nesenoff believes that the first part of Thomass obituary should be her anti-Semitism, because her poison infected everything she ever wrote. Yet that wasnt the type of Helen Thomas obituary Nese-noff saw from the mainstream media after her death.

    I got to hear people like Mika Brzez-inski of MSNBC say that, Helen Thomas is my role model, Nesenoff said in an interview with JNS.org. That CBS News decided to say, Well, it was a little contro-versy, she said that Jews should go back to

    Europe. They couldnt even say the word Germany, because they have to whitewash everything.

    Its bothersome to see that the news really cant call an anti-Semite an anti-Semite, Nesenoff said.

    Nesenoff was alerted to Thomass death through anti-Semitic email messages he received such as, Happy now, kike?

    It tells you the type of people that liked Helen Thomas, and basically its kind of emblematic of what my life has been like since being the reporter on the front lawn of the White House who uncovered an anti-Semite, Nesenoff said.

    Nesenoff said the media didnt know what to do about Thomass comments because heres this sweet old lady, and shes saying these vile things about Jews going back to Germany.

    Over time, some came to understand Thomass statement that Jews should get the hell of Palestine as referring to Jewish communities located beyond the pre-1967 lines, not all of Israel. But Nesenoff dis-putes that interpretation, explaining that if Thomas was okay with Jews remaining in parts of Israel, she would have said, Go back to Tel Aviv.

    She said tell them to get the hell out and go back to Germany, Nesenoff said.

    Thomas apologized for her remarks to Nesenoff shortly after the interview, saying, I deeply regret the comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recog-nize the need for mutual respect and toler-ance. May that day come soon.

    Yet it wouldnt be the last time she uttered anti-Israel and anti-Semitic com-ments. Thomas went on to say that Zion-ists own the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street in an interview for Play-boy magazine, in addition to similar com-ments in other interviews, Nesenoff noted.

    Nesenoff said the legacy of his 2010 interview with Thomas was that it brought down that wall of Im anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish. National legislators, including U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), took notice and in April 2012 wrote a letter to Palestinian Author-ity President Mahmoud Abbas denounc-ing an award the PA gave Thomas.

    Engel and Chabot also warned Abbas that the honor for Thomas might hurt U.S. assistance to the PA due to the parameters

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