Tribal Report no.9
Compiled: 19 December 2009, 22 Kislev 5768
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1. Eire: The Holocaust Shame of Ireland
Will Not Go Away
2. Norway: An Anti-Semitical
3. Judah in Israel: Conversion Problems (see the Brit-Am Comment below the
1. Eire: The Holocaust Shame of Ireland
Will Not Go Away
From "Upfront" (Jerusalem Post) December 12, 2008
In Comparison, Pius XII was a Saint by Sean Gannon
Here in Ireland, the Catholic Church's endemic anti-Semitism had more indirect,
yet still devastating, consequences. Irish Catholicism had, throughout the
1920s and 1930s, published and preached against the Jews as a deicidal nation
which had endured for 2,000 years as "the worm in the rose" of Christendom. And
in a country where notions of Irishness and Catholicism were inextricably
entwined, the Jews, as enemies of the Church, were, by definition, enemies of
the State, and religious and non-religious anti-Semitic motifs were synthesized
to create one national anti-Jewish ideology. So "Jewish finance" was
characterized as a mean of enslaving the Irish Catholic nation while Freemasonry
and Communism were presented as Jewish-driven vehicles for what Ireland's
leading anti-Semitic ideologue Fr. Denis Fahey- (most of whose books were
prefaced and approved by prominent members of the Irish hierarchy) called "the
destruction of Catholic civilization through the perversion of hearts."
Thus Ireland's Rome-based Catholic clergy could warn the Irish
ambassador to the Holy See in 1946 that Jewish influence was not just
"anti-Christian [but] anti-national and detrimental to the revival of an Irish
cultural and religious civilization," an attitude which may partly explain the
Irish colleges' apparent refusal to shelter Jews during the round-up of Roman
Jews three years earlier, even as 4,500 were being hidden in other Catholic
institutions, 10% of them in the Vatican itse1f. The Irish government's
response to the increasingly desperate pleas of the chief rabbi of Mandated
Palestine and former Irish chief rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog (ironically, one of
Pius XII's first defenders) to use its influence to rescue small groups of
French and Hungarian Jews was, in the words of the historian Shulamit Eliash,
"tepid and unenthusiastic." And, mindful of the "numerous protests regarding the
number of alien Jews who [had] established themselves" in Ireland, the Ministry
of Justice (which had the final say on refugee visas) implemented throughout the
Nazi era an immigration policy which explicitly excluded those with what were
termed "non-Aryan affiliations." So while just one Irish Jew actually perished
in the Holocaust, one wonders how many of her Continental coreligionists died as
a result of Ireland's institutionalisation of societal anti-Semitism, which
resulted in fewer than 70 Jewish admissions between 1933 and 1945.
The alleged "70 Jewish
admissions between 1933 and 1945"
were not necessarily Jews but rather European (Austrian etc) Catholics of Jewish
whom the Nazis would have killed on racial grounds but whose demise may have
upset Catholic officialdom.
There were PERHAPS seven Jewish dentists who it is said were admitted to Eire.
These dentists had to come alone and be middle-aged
so as to lessen the risk of their impregnating Irish females.
But did these dentists really ever reach the shores of the Emerald Isle?
Or was their entry only approved but not carried out?
How many real Jews did Eire actually accept?
By comparison Britain saved ca.70,000 Jews in Britain itself and another 70,000
in British Dominions
and another ca. 70,000 taken to the USA at British request.
I myself may be of Irish descent on the side of my father and sympathize with
so I can afford to point out these unpleasant realities.
2. Norway: An Anti-Semitical
Norway - a paradigm for anti-Semitism
Dec. 13, 2008
MANFRED GERSTENFELD , THE JERUSALEM POST
'I would like to take the opportunity to remember all the billions of
fleas and lice that lost their lives in German gas chambers, without
having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish
This is what Norwegian comedian Otto Jespersen said on Thursday 27
November on the country's largest commercial TV station. Much worse,
however, is that the director of the station defended this expression of
A week later Jespersen, in his weekly TV appearance, gave a "satiric"
monologue of mixed anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli remarks. He concluded by
wishing the Jews a happy Christmas. But then as an afterthought, he said
this was not proper as the Jews had murdered Jesus. Two years ago the same
comedian burned pages from the Tanach in front of a TV camera, but this
was no reason to terminate his employment. Jespersen explained that he
wouldn't burn the Koran if he wanted to live longer than a week.
LAST WEEK, on four consecutive days, there were anti-Israeli articles in
Norway's second-largest daily Aftenposten. The first called for a general
boycott of Israel. The second promoted an academic boycott, falsely
accusing Israeli physicians of participating in torture and the Israeli
Medical Association of remaining silent about it. Any honest debater would
have reported that Israeli hospitals routinely treat Palestinian children,
some of whom express joy when suicide bombers kill Israelis. One wonders
whether any other country would allow this.
The third article stressed the right to criticize Israel. This is a
typical attack on a "straw man," as nobody denies this right. The fourth
claimed that Israel is not a democracy. Only thereafter a pro-Israeli
voice was heard.
Two years ago the conservative Aftenposten got international attention
when it published an op-ed by Jostein Gaarder which until this day remains
the vilest anti-Semitic article published in a European mainstream paper
since the Second World War.
Whoever wants to understand how Jews might live in a future democratic
Europe if no major counter-forces are mobilized should study Norway. Among
parts of the elite there, Jew-hatred and rabid anti-Israelism intermingle.
The country's population numbers only 4.6 million. The Jewish population,
even before the war, was never more than 2,000. It now numbers 1,300, of
which only 700 affiliate with the organized community. Yet Norway must
figure prominently in any future history of post-war European
Norwegian anti-Israelis keep repeating that their anti-Israelism is not
anti-Semitism. One only has to check their statements against the European
Union's working definition of anti-Semitism to see that this is often
untrue. Norway has a long history of anti-Semitism. In 1929 a great
majority of its parliament voted to forbid shechita (Jewish ritual
slaughter) - several years before Hitler's Germany did so. It is still
forbidden, although hunters, including government ministers, can legally
kill animals in as cruel a manner as they want. Last year Norway aimed to
kill 1,000 whales, but succeeded in finding only 500. If all needs for
kosher beef were met by local shechita, it would require at most several
tens of cows annually.
During the war, the Norwegians were the ones who rounded up Jews and
robbed them before shipping them off to Auschwitz. After the war,
emergency help was given to what the Norwegians called the two
"hardest-hit groups" - fishermen and residents of the northern part of the
country. The Jews, however, were robbed further by the Norwegian
democrats. During the restitution process, they had to pay for the
administration of those of their assets recovered from the looters. About
10 years ago a senior Norwegian Nazi official proudly told a Jewish
visitor that he had no regrets, and still had paintings and furniture
taken from Jews.
In the new round of restitution in the mid-1990s, several authorities did
their utmost to avoid paying. Berit Reisel, the only Jewish member of the
commission of inquiry, states that she was threatened by chairman Oluf
Skarpnes, a former Justice Minister. He told her that if she didn't go
along with his proposed report, it would cost her dearly as far as her
life and health were concerned. Reisel added that a few days later she was
attacked on a street in Oslo.
AFTER THE beginning of the second intifada, several Jewish children were
harassed in school. The aggression was supported by teachers on several
occasions. Since then, the Jewish community has kept a low profile. When
asked by the press, its leaders will admit there is anti-Semitism, but
claim that critics overstate it. They usually remain silent on the
anti-Semitic aspects of anti-Israelism.
Norwegian hate cartoons often mix anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. Some
are straight-out anti-Semitic, such as one which appeared in the Labor
movement daily Dagsavisen in 2003. It portrayed a Jew with a long beard
reading the new Ten Commandments, including "murder, kill, liquidate,
execute." During the Second Lebanon War, anti-Semitic incidents in Oslo
were the most severe in Europe. The synagogue was shot at, the cantor was
attacked on a main street and the Jewish cemetery was desecrated. The
Jewish community's president Anne Sender was thereafter quoted in a
European Jewish Congress report speaking of the considerable "atmosphere
of intimidation and fear."
Anti-Israelism has been built up systematically in Norway by trade unions,
media, some prominent Christians and politicians. The demonization is
classic: major media report negative things about Israel while obfuscating
or omitting Palestinian suicide attacks or declared genocidal intentions.
The main counterforce is a small group of Christian friends.
NGO Monitor has analyzed how significant governmental development aid
reaches NGOs engaged in political campaigning against Israel and in
support of extreme Palestinian demands. The good the Norwegian government
does, including subsidizing the rebuilding of synagogues in Poland, cannot
be offset against the infrastructure of hatred it supports.
The writer has published many books, the most recent of which is Behind
the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews,
published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Friends of
Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
3. Judah in Israel: Conversion Problems
(see the Brit-Am Comment below the article extracts)
Scandal in the Rabbinate
Israel's Supreme Rabbinic Court effectively accepted
a radical stance that conversions can be retroactively annulled.
The decision is a scandal.
Once, the rules seemed clear: Reform or Conservative converts knew that some
Jews wouldn't accept them as members of the tribe. Orthodox conversions were
honored by everyone, including Israel's state rabbinate. They were the gold
It has actually never been so simple. Orthodox rabbis have cast doubts on one
another's conversions, and the Israeli rabbinate has become steadily more
selective even about accepting Orthodox converts who come from the diaspora. But
the idea of universally accepted conversions collapsed completely with a
decision of Israel's Supreme Rabbinic Court publicized in May. The panel of
three judges upheld a lower court's ruling that a woman who had converted 15
years ago, under state-sanctioned Orthodox auspices was not Jewish, because
she's not currently living by Orthodox law.
The judges also cast doubt on thousands of conversions performed through the
state's Conversion Authority, headed by Rabbi Haim Druckman, a leading religious
Zionist rabbi. (The Authority was set up to ease the conversion process, until
then handled by state rabbinic courts.) What's more, the court effectively
accepted a radical stance that conversions can be retroactively annulled.
The decision is a scandal: People who made the choice to become Jews, studied
Judaism and underwent the required rituals now find their identity challenged.
Children born to female converts have been put in limbo.
Fortunately, a guide exists for those perplexed by the current crisis: Israeli
scholars Avi Sagi and Zvi Zohar's newly published book, Transforming Identity,
traces how giyyur, the process of becoming Jewish, has developed in rabbinic
tradition. Theirs is that rare scholarly study of esoteric material that's
easily read by lay people.
As Sagi and Zohar demonstrate, the Talmud contains two views of giyyur. One
describes it as joining a group defined by the discipline of religious practice,
the equivalent of joining a religious order. In the other view, giyyur is a
ritual process by which "an individual born as a gentile is transformed into a
Jew," a member of a kinship group. When a convert immerses in a mikveh, a ritual
bath, and emerges, it's as if he has reemerged from the womb and been reborn
into the Jewish family.
For centuries, the model of joining the tribe dominated halachic thinking. At
the same time, rabbis have argued over whether a person had to show religious
motives to be allowed through the gates of rebirth. But everyone has agreed on
this: Giyyur is irreversible. A convert who doesn't keep the commandments is
precisely like a Jew born of a Jewish mother who eats treif. Both are still
In the last century or so, as Sagi and Zohar show, a new approach to giyyur has
developed in ultra-Orthodoxy. First, some rabbis began to require converts to
have inner sincerity in accepting the commandments "for the sake of heaven."
Demanding an inner feeling was a fundamental innovation. Since the 1980s one
Israeli rabbi, Gedalya Axelrod, has promoted an even more radical innovation: If
a convert does not strictly follow religious law, we can deduce that she was
insincere at the time of conversion. So the conversion is void. Therefore, all
conversions are conditional on converts current behavior. Axelrod's
revolutionary view has gained support among Israeli rabbinic court judges and
underlies the lower court decision that was just upheld by the Supreme Rabbinic
In the past, many Orthodox Zionists defended Israel's state rabbinate by arguing
that it preserved "one Jewish people." No one but the rabbinate could perform
marriage, divorce or conversion, and everyone accepted the rabbinate's
is a Jerusalem-based journalist and the author of The Accidental Empire: Israel
and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977.
The author of the above
article has an anti-Jewish anti-religious agenda as may be seen by his
activities against Jewish settlement in the Holy Land. He is also exaggerating.
And he is inaccurate. No real innovation has been introduced but rather an always
existing opinion brought more into focus.
The article however does
highlight a problem.
Too many non-Jews are converting to Judaism without intending to try to keep the
This is causing a reaction and may make conversion more difficult for those who
are genuine applicants and who in some cases face a difficult enough task as it is.
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