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April 4, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 16 IIIIIII HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 4, 2003 l museum By Katka Krosnar Mizrahi's ambitious vision might be realized thanks to SKOPJE, Macedonia money now secured for the (JTA)--Macedonia's national Holocaust Fund, established day of mourning for its lost seven months ago after the Jewish population has just Macedonian government in- ended, and Viktor Mizrahi is troduced a sweeping restitu- already looking ambitiously tion law. Unlike most other to next year's anniversary, similar meaures, the law in- By next March 11, Mizrahi, troduced aprovision for heir- the president of Macedonia's less property seized from de- Jewish community, hopes ported Jews - or the equiva- the capital city of Skopje will lent value in government boast a Holocaust museum, bonds -. to be transferred to or as he prefers to call it, a the fund. memorial center, for the Recently, the first actual whole Balkans region, property was handed over to "Macedoniaiost98percent the fund - two small shops in of its Jews in the Holocaust Skopje. Further, a sum of but the other Balkan coun- $1.8 million is about to pass tries lost huge proportions into the fund's account and tooandwemustcreateatrib- that, he points out, is far ute to the memory ofall those more than the $500,000 or Balkan Jews who died," he so needed to fund the build- says. ing. Pulling out a notebook But Mizrahi has a second from a cupboard in his office priority that he says won't within theJewishcommunity wait a year- a public apology centerin Skopje, Mizrahileafs from the Bulgarian govern- through an artist's illustra- merit for the murder of al- tions for a possible design - a most all of Macedonia's Jews. white, Star of David-shaped None of the 7,148 who were building on three floors, rounded up on March I1, The ground floor would 1943, and deported to house a museum to show TreblinkabyBulgaria, which Jewish life through history, had seized control of the The second floor would lea- neighboring Balkan country, ture an education center and survived. the third a research center. "We are still waiting for an photo by Katka Krosnar/JTA Chairman of Macedonia's Holocaust Fund, Samuel Sadikario. apology. For me, every pass- ing day is a day too late," says Mizrahi, who says he lost 81 relatives as young as six months and as old as 105 in Treblinka. "The truth is the truth. Everyone must know who destroyed the Jewish community in Macedonia." During the war, Bulgaria pro- tected the Jews living within its prewar borders, but helped round up the Jews of Macedonia. While Mizrahi insists the apology is the most impor- tant thing, the Macedonian Jewish community is also seeking $16.5 million in compensation from Bulgaria for personal belongings and cash seized when Macedonia's Jews were rounded up. Pulling out another folder, Mizrahi leafs through docu- ments showing the precise amounts deposited in vari- ous bank accounts, part of it in "special" taxes that Macedonian Jews were forced to pay the Bulgarians. "This money is part of our treasure and we think that it must be returned to this Jew- ish community," he says. As for the museum, Macedonia and its Jewish community may be small but the geographic location and the financial means to real- ize his big dream make the project viable, Mizrahi in- sists. The chairman of the Holo- caust Fund, Samuel Sadikario, says the assassi- nation of Serbian prime min- ister Zoran Djindjic this month, apparently by crimi- nals loyal to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, illustrates the ur- gent need for such a center in the region. "Yugoslavia has a history of ethnic conflicts - Bosnia,Meanwhile, the Kosovo and Croatia - and Macedonian Jewishcommu- Djindjic'sassassinationshows nity has been collecting that there is always a risk of documents and researching thathappeningagain,"hesays, the lives of the 7,148 mur- "The center would play an dered Jews for the museum, important role in helping to to be built on the site of a educate about tolerance and former synagogue in the old preventing such ethnic ten- Jewish quarter. One key aim sions and conflicts in the fu- is to match allvictims' names ture." The Macedonian guy- with photographs. ernment has shown an im- There are also hopes to pressive commitment to res- support the excavation of a tituting properties that be- synagogue in central longed to the country's Jews Macedonia that is believed to before the war, particularly in be the oldest in the Balkans, the face of severe economic as well as the ongoing reno? strains. The country has suf- vation of the Jewish cemeterY fered severely from the in Bitola, the only surviving breakup of Yugoslavia, for- Jewish cemetery in merly Macedonia's primary Macedonia. Mizrahi acceptS trading partner, that not all governments in Sadikario estimates there the region may be willing to are around 1,000 properties, hand over their Jewish arti- both residential and corn- facts and documents but says mercial, that were seized that Greece and Bulgaria from deported Jews and have already agreed to the which the fund is eligible to plan. take over because there are The Jewish community no surviving heirs, also hopes that the Holocaust But although important Fund will pay for Jewish progress is being made, he books; stipends for young points out the long process students studying the Holm ahead, caust and a home for elderly "It is a very complicated Jews. situation because the state "Macedonian historywith- sold these properties to pri- out Jewish life is like a body vateownerswhooftenresold without a limb," Mizrahi them," he says. says. By Joe Berkofsky The law, enacted under fore arriving on U.S. shores prison people who have been the Homeland Security because they are fleeing a victimsof"torture, rapeand NEW YORK (JTA)--Some Department's Operation well-founded fear of perse- other extreme persecution" Jewish immigration activists Liberty Shield and whichcution based on political, without the opportunity to are blasting a tough new went into effect March 18,is religi,ous, ethnicor national seek parole or reviewoftheir American anti-terror law targeted at potential terror- ties. case, HIAS President that would indefinitely de- ists from 34 nations in the Most Jewish immigrants Leonard Glickmanwrote in tain people fleeing countries Middle East, Central Asia and from suspect nations in re- a letter to Homeland Secu- where the AI-Qaida terrorist elsewhere, cent years came as legal refl~- rity Secretary Tom Ridge last network is active. Itaiiowsthe indefinite de- gees. week. Whilesupportingtheneed tention of those who arrive Foreigners already in the Such measures contrast toprotectAmericafromter- in the United States request- United States who request with previous policy, which rorism, the Hebrew Immi- ing political asylum but lack political asylum also would ailowed asylum seekers who grant Aid Society said the proper immigration or refu- not be affected, are detained to explain their new law casts too wide a net gee documentation or carry The law immediately individualcaseswhenapply- that could ensnare innocent forged papers, sparked a sharp rgbuke by hag for parole, said Gideon people, including Jews from It would not affect people HIAS, the nation'soldestim- Aronoff, the Washington Iran and the former Soviet who have qualified for the migrant aid group, representative for HIAS. Union. legal status of refugee be- The new law would im- "To lock them up when they come to the land of the free, seeking freedom, is a cruel irony," Aronoff said. "It's a dangerous time, and a new policy is clearly re- quired, but every new pc/iicy must be given careful review to ensure it makes America safer and doesn't do undue Bill Strassberger, a spokesman for the Immigra- tion and NaturalizatiOn Service's Bureau of Immi- gration and Customs I~n-. forcement, now under the Homeland Security Depart" ment, said the United States remains a haven for those "damage to the fundamental fleeing persecution. values of our country and "Asylum hasn't changed" community,"Aronoffadded, that's our nation's heritage, It remains unclear how many Jews might show up in the United States seeking asylum with improper docu- mentation from nations linked to AI-Qaida, HIAS of- ficials said. HIAS said it has helped to provide safe refuge for people," Strassberger said. "At the same time, we're at war, and we do have a~ obligation to protect the American people," he said. Acknowledging that tho.sC who arrive from certain resettle 378,374 legal refu- lands seeking political asY" gees fleeing persecution be- Ium without proper docu" tween 1980 and September ments would be detaine.~ 2002. That included 13,060 Strassberger saidit must Iranian Jews and 339,607 asked: "Is it someone jus~ people from the former So- trying to take advantage o~ viet Union, most of whom the asylum system, or is [ were Jewish. someone just trying to 8~,~ So far this fiscal year, 600 into the United Statesv Jews from the former Soviet some harm?" But HIAS oI~; Union, including some Mus- cials said those who hope lira republics, and from Iran escape persecution from rla: have come to the United tions such as Iraq lack.a~a~ States as refugees, HIAS mechanism to seek offic]* said. refugee status before arriV" In 2002, according to the ing here because the.i~ Homeland Security Depart- homelands lack diplomaU ment, about 600 people from ties with the United state.Saj nations where AI-Qaida up- For many such potency. erates, including Iran, Iraq, refugees, false documemT -ill! KazakhstanandUzbekistan, tion remains "the o were detained upon their ar- means to escape," said rival because they lacked Lipiner, supervisory attOt - proper refugee papers,hey for HIAS. -uld "KNOCKS OSSIBI- About 60 percent of those While the new law wo ! rib affect refugeesarrwmgata Y i ' YOUR IMP |tt asylum seekers came from "" i!~ i Irld W YOI'V I m 'l fl' " 'Oe Iraq. U.S. oorder, Lipinersaid' | SOCKS OFF! s HIAS officials said the migrationofficialsinthe [ A HIGHLY tougher new laws could end York and New Jersey at.: [ l ENJOYABLE, up jailing between 600 to have effectively beend ~, I / SLAP-HAPPy NIGH/I" 1,000asylumseekerswhodid ingsuchrefugeessince) i ! not secure refugees status The new law would de j! JtJ-~ - Liz Smith Cflttt'al F~o~'i~a before their arrival this year, all improperly docum~nt~ [ I. and some will likely be Jews. as lum seekers lro - countrieS' [ l,ill rlegtra- 407.447.1700,pril,rt'd Under the new law, anlra- - ,', nian woman fleeing anti- Strassberger of the H i ' t 'c GIRL'gNIGNTOUT:Group=iO+ Special Group Rates Available . foralim tear tn. Semitism in her homeland land Security Depart t ld !'~ i~/i who could not secure the said, though each caS.e~tio~,~a~l~:: properrefugeepaperswould go before an imm g',lti- | court and one-thiro " ~ ~--ma be'lumped" together with a mutely get grante, d asylt~ terrorist, Aronoff said. ~',~