The United States and Israel officially withdrew from UNESCO, amid allegations that the Paris-based organization displays anti-Israel bias. UNESCO has been very critical of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem. They have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granted full membership to Palestine in 2011 as a member state. Israel and the U.S. have ceased payment, resulting in unpaid dues of $600 million for the U.S. and $10 million for Israel. Israeli U.N. envoy Danny Danon said that Israel “will not be a member of an organization whose goal is to act against us deliberately, and that has become a tool manipulated by Israel’s enemies.” Ironically, UNESCO was cofounded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.
Georges Loinger, a French Jewish underground fighter, died in Paris recently at the age of 108. Loinger was able to rescue hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust while serving in the military by using clever tactics such as kicking a soccer ball across the border between France and Switzerland and then sending children to go after it, or by sending children to cemeteries disguised grave-diggers. His blond-hair and blue-eyes made it possible for Loinger to mask his Jewish identity and escape prison camps. He enlisted in the Jewish humanitarian group OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants), which according to its records saved 5,000 Jewish children whose parents had been murdered or sent to concentration camps. After the war, he helped some of the children he rescued emigrate to Israel. In his lifetime, Loinger was recognized for his heroism by Germany and France.
In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that resulted in the murder of 11 Jews, the football team the Pittsburgh Steelers has donated $70,000 through the Stronger than Hate campaign to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Fund for Victims of Terror. The Steelers’ logo was modified to include a Star of David next to the words “Stronger than Hate.” The image was held on posters by fans during a recent game along with signs reading “Shalom” under a Star of David. The team donated an additional $18,000 to the synagogue.
The kever of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira lies in the Egyptian town of Damahour. Rabbi Abuhatzeira, the grandfather of the Baba Sali, was one of a long line of rabbis from the famous Abuhatzeira rabbinical family, most of whom emigrated to Israel in the 1950s. Until 2012, many North African Jews made the pilgrimage to visit his tomb. The Egyptian government ceased visits stating that the sight of so many Jews was “offensive to Egyptians.” Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi, is now asking incoming Ambassador to Egypt Amira Oron to allow visits to resume. Rabbi Yosef has said that his father Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef zt’l visited the grave once and expressed a desire that Jews continue to visit the site. Oron said that Egyptian authorities were looking into the request.
While Scotland has fewer reported anti-Semitic incidents than other parts of the United Kingdom, Director of the Jewish Scottish Council of Jewish Communities Ephraim Borowski states that many Jews would like to leave the country. He attributes this to feelings of “being alienated, vulnerable, and not (feeling) at home.” Borowski said that Jews were “treated differently” from everyone else and “singled out” for anti-Semitism. Scotland is home to about two percent of the UK’s Jewish population.
Jews from Arab countries who were mandated to leave their homeland once Israel gained independence never received any monetary assistance or compensation from the international community nor did they seek refugee status, which would have enabled them to receive formal aid. Israel is now demanding that Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen pay back Jews $250 billion for being forced to abandon their motherland without their assets and land. As a form of retaliation, an estimated 850,000 Jews were forced to flee Arab countries, where many had thriving businesses, simply because Israel was declared a Jewish State in 1948. “The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” Israel’s Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel said. Palestinians receive aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency(UNRWA), which is the only region-specific aid organization giving aid solely to Palestinians.