World Briefs

March in Ukraine
includes chant
of ‘Jews out’

Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev chanted “Jews out” in German at a New Year’s Day march celebrating the birthday of a Nazi collaborator whose troops killed thousands of Jews.

Thousands attending the event celebrating Stepan Bandera in the center of the Ukrainian capital held up his portrait while an unidentified person shouted the anti-Semitic slogan on a loudspeaker, prompting many participants to repeat it, a video published by the Federal News Agency showed.

In the 1930s and ’40s, Bandera was a leader of a Ukrainian nationalist movement that included an insurgent army which fought alongside Nazi soldiers during part of World War II. Supporters of Bandera claim they sided with the Nazis against the Soviet army, believing that Hitler would grant Ukraine independence. Bandera was assassinated in 1959 by Russia’s KGB in West Germany.

Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian Jewish lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, called on authorities to investigate the march and prosecute those responsible for the hateful slogans.

“I still can’t get over hearing it at the rally,” Feldman wrote in a Jan. 3 post on Facebook. Adding that the chants came from a “gang of a few idiots who don’t represent anyone,” he nonetheless wrote: “I can’t ignore it when I, a man who worked so much for my country and city, created the hundreds and thousands of jobs, am being screamed at by some bastards to leave my homeland.”

Feldman accused the far-right Svoboda party of being responsible for what he termed “a provocation” during the march.

Bandera is being celebrated across Ukraine as a national hero. In July he had a street named after him, also in Kiev, despite protests from the Jewish community. — jta


Auschwitz gets
record number
of visitors in 2016

More than 2 million people from around the world visited the Auschwitz museum in 2016, setting a record, the museum said in a Jan. 2 statement on its website.

The 2.05 million visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum were led by the host country, Poland, with 424,000, said the museum, which this year will be observing the 70th anniversary of its creation.

The United Kingdom had 271,000 visitors, followed by the United States with 215,000 and Italy with 146,000.

The numbers include 61,000 organized tour groups, and individually conducted tours by museum guides for 310,736 people, according to the museum. In addition, some 150 movie crews produced documentaries last year at the museum and memorial. — jta



Argentina to probe
role of ex-prez in
bombing cover-up?

An appeals court in Buenos Aires has cleared the path to a criminal probe into former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s motives in cooperating with Iran on the investigation of the deadly 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish center.

In a 249-page ruling handed down Dec. 29, three judges wrote that the evidence presented “does not permit a justified dismissal of possible illicit actions” by Kirchner in connection with a deal between her and her administration with Iranian officials. Kirchner, who already is on trial over corruption charges, allegedly covered up evidence from the bombing in exchange for Iranian oil.

The allegations made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously in January 2015, had been dismissed by a lower court.

Nisman accused Kirchner of trying to derail the investigation into the bombing of the Amia Jewish community center, which killed 85 and injured 300. Argentine courts have accused Iran of orchestrating the attack, though Iran has denied any involvement.

In 2013, the Argentine congress under Kirchner approved an agreement with Iran to jointly probe the bombing, despite condemnations by representatives of Argentina’s Jewish community, Israel and others. A federal court in 2014 ruled the agreement was unconstitutional, prompting the government to appeal. Last year, however, the new Argentine government under President Mauricio Macri withdrew the appeal, effectively voiding the agreement.

Kirchner said the agreement was to make headway in the investigation, and she has dismissed Nissan’s charge — that the move was part of a plan to close the country’s energy gap by trading Argentine grains for Iranian oil — as absurd.

Nisman’s death was initially classified as a suicide, but an official investigating the case said early this year that the evidence pointed to homicide. The investigation is ongoing. The prosecutor was just hours away from a scheduled appearance in Congress to brief lawmakers on his accusations against Kirchner when his body was found on the floor of his apartment, a .22-caliber pistol by his side. — jta


‘Mein Kampf’ a
hot seller in 2016
in Germany

The annotated edition of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” sold 85,000 copies in Germany in 2016 — the first year since World War II it was released in print in Germany.

“Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition” is in its eighth printing, according to the Spiegel newspaper, which noted that the book topped its best-seller list in April.

The 70-year copyright in the German state of Bavaria of the anti-Semitic tract, whose title means “My Struggle,” expired on Jan. 1, 2016, allowing it to be published in the country. The publication was controversial: Some Jewish groups endorsed the annotated edition and others opposed it.

The Munich Institute for Contemporary History said it published the book to preempt uncritical and unannotated versions, and that it hoped the new edition would help destroy the book’s cult status. Its first run of 4,000 sold almost immediately, the German dpa news agency reported.

It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was “totally unfounded,” institute director Andreas Wirsching said in a statement to dpa.

To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies.

Other editions of “Mein Kampf” remain available for purchase via the internet. — jta


Greek agency halts
‘escape’ from
Auschwitz game

A recreational agency in Greece canceled a game in which players use clues to escape from a room themed around the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

The Rubicon agency, which is located in the Athens suburb of Galatsi, in recent weeks advertised the Auschwitz “escape room” on social media until it provoked negative reactions among Greek Jews and non-Jews who found it was disrespectful to Holocaust victims, the news site Protagon reported last week.

“In frozen Poland, the walls of the crematorium of the infamous Nazi concentration camp for prisoners, primarily of Jewish origin, still reek of burnt human flesh, they say,” a promotional text for the game read. “Take on the role of a prisoner still looking for signs of life from loved ones, dare to stay  in the shadow of the historic crematorium, discover the big secret and escape before you, too, turn into ashes.”

Reached by Protagon, a spokesman of the firm responsible for the game said it had been scrapped and that the decision to create it did not take into account “that this could cause offense.”

Escape room games feature a space, often with a dramatic theme, in which a group of players is locked in until they find a way out based on a series of clues, riddles or puzzles.

Approximately 77 percent of Greece’s Jewish population of 70,000 Jews was murdered in the Holocaust, mostly by German Nazis at Auschwitz.

Earlier in 2016, the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam criticized an escape room game made to look like the small Amsterdam apartment where the teenage Jewish diarist hid with her family. — jta


Aussie ex-leader:
end Palestinian
aid, move embassy

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called on his country to cut its $40 million aid to the Palestinian Authority and to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv if President-elect Donald Trump moves the U.S. Embassy.

Writing in the weekly edition of the Spectator magazine, Abbott pointed to “Palestinian TV’s consistent glorification of suicide bombers, reference to Jews as the ‘sons of monkeys and pigs’ and claims that the state of Israel is a ‘satanic project.’”

He added: “Of course, there should be a permanent settlement for a Palestinian state where Jews have the same rights as Palestinians have in Israel. The alternative is a kind of apartheid that’s at odds with Israel’s own values. … And Australia should cut our $40 million a year in aid to the Palestinian Authority while it keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families. Another way for Australia to demonstrate its unswerving support for Israel, as the Middle East’s only liberal, pluralist democracy, might be to join any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop dismissed Abbott’s suggestions, and Fairfax Media reported that Bishop said Australia “does not have any plans to move the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” — jta



JTA news agency