Jews living in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, are
outraged that the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi
group, is scheduled to protest near their main synagogue on
Yom Kippur. “Almost all of our members have some sort of
connection to the Holocaust, so it is upsetting for them to see,
and maybe hear, Nazis protest close to the synagogue, when
everyone is there at the Yom Kippur service,” says Allan
Stutzinsky, chairman of the Gothenburg Jewish community.
The hate group will be passing the synagogue while marching
during the Gothenburg Book Fair, the largest literary festival in
Scandinavia. The Jewish community is not demanding that the
group be prohibited from expressing their views and marching,
rather they are questioning the sensitive time and location.
Based on data from the Freedom of Information Act, from
August 2016 until this past summer, Israel has donated around
$32 million on goods for Syrian civilians, including $26
million from donations and $6 million from the army budget
in Operation Good Neighbor. The money has been used to
purchase medicine, medical equipment, and food. This sum
does not factor in the costs of providing medical attention
to 3,500 Syrian patients who have received treatment in
IDF-operated fi eld hospitals along the border and in Israeli
hospitals. The sum is estimated to run in the millions of dollars
and is covered by the fi nance, health, and defense ministries.
Initially, Israelis tried to make sure that no Hebrew words would
be printed on any of the supplies, but due to the frequency
and large quantity of the shipments of goods and products,
this was diffi cult to maintain. The assistance provided by the
IDF includes 360 tons of food; 450,000 liters of gasoline;
50 tons of clothes; hundreds of packages of diapers; seven
generators; six mules; and large quantities of pharmaceuticals.
Donations have come from organizations such as the Peres
Center for Peace and private citizens. Brig. Gen. Yaniv Asor
explained that in addition to helping out from a humanitarian
standpoint, this move was also helpful militaristically since
good relations with its neighbors makes Israel more secure and
restrains hostile groups in the border region. “It’s not a burden.
This is a signifi cant element in defending the border, and it has
operational signifi cance,” he said.
A few months ago, Yakov Goodman, a Belarus native and JewishAmerican
activist for the preservation of Jewish heritage sights, set a
court motion for an injunction to stop the construction of two luxury
apartment buildings on top of a former Jewish cemetery on Sozhskaya
Street in the city of Gomel in Belarus. His efforts failed as a recent
ruling from the Tsentralny District Court stated that no intervention
may be made to the building plans. The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress
issued a stronger condemnation of the ruling, saying the courts in
Belarus are “dependent on the executive bodies,” according to the
2017 country report for Belarus by the Freedom House democracy
watchdog. Robert Singer, the executive vice president of the World
Jewish Congress, also spoke out against the plans in Gomel. “The
WJC has engaged in constructive and positive dialogue with the
Belarussian government, including the president, prime minister, and
foreign minister, in recent years,” he said, “and we hope to maintain
the same level of communication and understanding with regard to
this issue as well.” The cemetery has endured previous construction,
and the last burial was before 1885.
Poland is experiencing an alarming rise in anti-Semitism over the past
year, and its unwillingness to meet and discuss the issue with Polish
Jewish leaders has the European Jewish Congress very concerned.
“Across Europe, governments consult with the local offi cial leaders
of the community to seek their counsel and coordinate a response to
anti-Semitism. Poland stands out as an example of leadership which
appears to have little interest in opening a dialogue with the Jewish
community,” Moshe Kantor, the group’s president said. Poland’s
Chief Rabbi, Michael Schudrich, has said in the past that he believed
Polish Jews are much safer than Jews living in other parts of Europe;
however, he has recently retracted this claim saying that Polish Jews
today do not feel “100 percent comfortable as they used to.” He
admitted that the community wishes their government would be more
vigilant in expressing their condemnation of anti-Semitic acts.