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Cancellation of the unveiling ceremony of the holocaust monument in Kavala, Greece

Kavala memorial 1

Sunday 17th May was meant to be a day of remembrance for the 1,484 Greek Jews of the town of Kavala who were annihilated by the Nazis. A long-planned Holocaust memorial was to be officially unveiled in the center of the city.

Instead, thanks to the disgraceful decisions by the mayor of Kavala, Dimitra Tsanaka - fuelled apparently by a combination of anti-Semitism and idiocy – the event was cancelled in a fiasco that (rightly) provoked international condemnation.

In an inexplicable and deeply offensive decision, Tsanaka, backed by the majority of the municipal council, decided to postpone the unveiling ceremony because the memorial - a Holocaust memorial to the Jews killed in WWII - bore the star of David. 

According to the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the mayor of Kavala asked for the star's removal before the monument could be officially presented.

The shocking decision was immediately condemned by both Jewish groups and the Greek central government and was reported on extensively by the international press.

The Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KISE) attacked the decision as “unacceptable, immoral and insulting.” 

Many in Kavala also objected to the decision which was damaging to the reputation of the city.

About 100 people including 4 sisters from Israel whose parents had come from Kavala and Komotini and who had been killed in the concentration camps, marched through the city of Kavala today condemning the cancellation of the memorial unveiling ceremony. Some wore symbolic yellow stars of David during the silent protest.

The group marched on the town hall where they were met by the mayor.

According to Kavala-Portal, Tsanaka reportedly apologized for the incident which she attributed to a ‘huge misunderstanding’. She provided assurances that the memorial would be installed as planned on a date that would be decided on together with KISE – likely to be on June 7th.

 

However while Tsanaka admitted having made mistakes – it is notable that she did not acknowledge that one of those had been requesting the removal of the Star of David from the memorial. “Perhaps” she said, “I was wrong to trust so much the deputy mayor of culture, Michalis Lychounas, who took on entirely planning the event and the memorial. That was my mistake.”

 

But Mr Lychounas himself, in an article written about the incident in the Kathimerini newspaper, indicates that there was something perhaps deeper behind the disgraceful episode. After describing the many delays in actually succeeding in getting the memorial ready (it was actually first approved by the municipality in 2004 but was plagued with foot-dragging and interminable delays), Lychounas writes that:

“The preparations with all relevant organs continued with the goal of a celebration of memory, but also of the future, until the cries of horror were heard: “The symbols of Lucifer (Star of David), indifference over our dead (make a memorial for the Greeks killed of Asia Minor), a global Zionist conspiracy, freemasonry, the new order of things which seeks to destroy the nation and hysteria over supposed protests” were the arguments…The bitter truth is that there remains a segment of the Greek population which has powerful anti-Semitic feelings based on ignorance and prejudice and the education system does not do enough to eliminate the phenomenon.”

It is now up to Tsanaka to prove that such anti-Semitic prejudices have no place in the local government of Kavala.

Source: www.thetoc.gr- The Times of Change

 


Our condolences to Brother Yves Kamami

All the brothers and sisters of B'nai B'rith Europejoin to send their condolences to Yves Kamami for the passing of his father. Barouch Dayan Haemet.

The last of the founding brothers of Norgeslosjen passes away

Sammy Steinman zal




On 1 May 2015 ex-president Samuel "Sammy" Steinmann z''l passed away, 91 years old.

Sammy was one of the founding brothers of Norgeslosjen in 1952, and his passing represents a watershed in that we no longer have any of our founding brothers at our midst.

Of perhaps far more significance, Sammy was also the last survivor of all the Norwegian Jews who were deported to the concentration camps during the Second World War. In all, 772 Norwegian Jews were deported, of which only 34 returned.

After the war, Sammy returned to Oslo where he continued the family clothes business. He married and had three children, and was an active member of the Jewish community in Oslo, amongst other as president and active member of B'nai B'rith. Despite his social and outgoing nature, it was not until the early 1990s that Sammy first started talking about the horrors he endured during the war. Since then, and until the very end, he gave testimony in public, to schools, universities and on TV, not least in the 2012 TV documentary "The Tram to Auschwitz" which focuses on Sammy's story from when he was arrested by Norwegian police and escorted on the tram to the centre of Oslo, until returning to Oslo on 17 May 1945. For his tireless efforts Sammy was awarded the King's Medal of Merit (Gold) in 2012.

As a sign of respect to Sammy, and also to the other Norwegian Jews who perished and to the Norwegian Jewish community of today, Sammy's funeral was attended by H.R.H King Harald, the Prime Minister and other senior Norwegian officials.

Our deepest condolences go out to Sammy's family and friends.

On behalf of B'nai B'rith Norgeslosjen,

Alexander Levi
President

 

Helping Nepal!


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B'nai B'rith Europe shares the sorrow  of the people of Nepal in these difficult moments and sends its condolences to the families of the victims.

We wish to express our solidarity by participating in the coordinated  humanitarian aid actions with BBI and IsraAid. Please help the victims and their families by sending your emergency humanitarian aid donations to our Special Actions account under the mention: Relief Fund Nepal
B'nai B'rith Europe
IBAN: BE95 7320 0748 9158
SWIFT CODE: CREGBEBB
RELIEF FUND NEPAL

Centenary of the Armenian genocide




Armenian genocide


Today we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. 24 of April corresponds to the eve of April 24 1915, when 200 Armenian leaders were arrested, and later executed.

 Before the oppression started in 1894, Armenians were around 3 million people in the actual territory of Turkey. Turks were the same number and, the rest of the population was composed of many other nationalities.

From 1879, the Ottoman Empire Grand Vizir, expressed his wish to “make the Armenian people disappear forever.

In 1894, the Turks started the massacres, forced conversions, and gradually the destruction of the Armenian people had become State organised. The destructions reached a peak in 1914.One million and half perished either from massacres, starvation or deportations…

Most non-Turkish scholars of the events regard them as genocide - as do more than 20 states, including France, Germany, Canada and Russia, and various international bodies including the European Parliament.

Turkey rejects the term genocide, maintaining that many of the dead were killed in clashes during World War One, and that many ethnic Turks also suffered in the conflict.


 A 100 years after, we, B’nai B’rith remember and send our thoughts and prayers to the the Armenian people.

Happy 67th Birthday Israël!




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