Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
April 20, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 12     (12 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 12     (12 of 56 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
April 20, 2018

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 20, 2018 Joseph Savetsky ZOA President Morton Klein The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad A1 Thani, came to America last week to meet with President Trump, Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and other top U.S. officials. With the focus on Qatar, this is thus, the appropriate time to an- nounce the following. The Zionist Organization of America and its president, Morton Klein, are proud and pleased to announce that it was through ZOA's and Klein's efforts, that Qatar agreed to cancel and not allow the release of a viciously anti-Se- mitic Al Jazeera"undercover" film series on the so-called "American Jewish lobby." (Al Jazeera is a Qatar-based media outlet funded by Qatar) It was expected that the film series would have been the American version of AI Jazeera's 4-part "undercover" film series on the "Jewish lobby" in Britain. In that film series, Al Jazeera misleadingly portrayed Israeli and British Jewish groups' legitimate efforts to combat anti-Semitic boycott, divest- ment and sanctions as some- thing nefarious. According to reports, the targets of the A1 Jazeera American film series would have included entities and/or officials of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, and the ZOA. In addition to stopping the anti-SemiticAl Jazeera series, Klein's meetings in Qatar also resulted, after a two-hour meeting with the Emir in his palace, in Qatar agreeing to remove anti-Semitic books from the Doha book fair. The Fair is an important annual cultural event, where hun- dreds of publishing houses representing 29 Arab and foreign countries exhibit their publications; which are then purchased by school systems, libraries and bookstores from throughout the Middle East and the world. The 2017 Doha book fair had almost 24,000 individual and almost 10,000 "professional" (librar- ies, bookstores, etc.) visitors, according to the International Publishers' Association. In 2022, the Doha book fair will be held in conjunction with the World Cup, result- ing in more attendees than ever. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe has expressed alarm for years about the pre- vious anti-Semitic offerings at the Doha book fair. ZOAincor- porated information from the Wiesenthal's Centre into the extensive report presented by Klein to Qatari officials in January demanding changes. Klein was first invited to meet with Qatari officials in September 2017, but turned down the invitation due to concerns about Qatari ac- tions and the potential that Klein's visit could be used for propaganda purposes. Klein received repeated invitations over the next few months from the Emir's agents, who ad- vised him that Qatar wants to change, wants to stop funding terrorism, and wants to be- come a better country. At the end of October, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced increased Qatari- US cooperation in combating terrorism financing. Qatar announced that Is- raeli athletes were welcome to participate in its sports events unlike other Arab countries, (the 2020 World Cup being held in Qatar) and Israel sent its handball, volleyball teams and an Israeli tennis player to participate in tournaments in Qatar. After Israeli athletes won abronze medal, Qatari of- ficials and the Israeli athletes posed for a picture, which was released publicly. In addition, throughout the fall, other top pro-Israel leaders met with Qatari officials, including Confer- ence of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organiza- tions CEO Malcolm Hoenlein, the Orthodox Union's Rabbi Menachem Genack, pro- Israel radio personality John Batchelor, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen, and Religious Zionists of America President Martin Oliner. Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz and Governor Mike Huckabee planned and did visit in Janu- ary, thereby minimizing the possibility that a visit by Klein would provide a significant propaganda boost to Qatar. At that point, ZOA and Klein finally decided that the significant potential upside of meetings with Qatari of- ficials and fighting on behalf of the Jewish people in Qatar outweighed the minimal potential downside. Indeed, throughout history, Jewish leaders and leading rabbis have met with hostile leaders on behalf of the Jewish people. "Since my meeting, Qatar has taken some important steps in the right direction by stopping the anti-Semitic AI Jazeera series and the anti-Se- mitic books at the Doha book fair," Klein stated. "We also note that on Jan. 15, 2018, the White House announced that President Trump 'thanked the Emir for Qatari action to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms, in- cluding being one of the few countries to move forward on a bilateral memorandum of understanding.' The leaders discussed areas in which the United States and Qatar can partner to bring more stability to the region, counter malign Iranian influence, and defeat terrorism." However, Qatar does need to do much more. The ZOA will continue pressing Qatari officials, to whom ZOA now has access, to take important additional steps, including ending official statements and AI Jazeera propaganda false- hoods that promote hatred, violence and demonization of Israel and Jews. ZOA's previ- ous extensive report also described other important steps that Klein raised that Qatar needs to take, including reopen the Qatari trade office in Israel which Qatar had in the past; establish relations with Israel; publicly condemn Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and A1 Qaeda as terror groups; clearly prove Qa- tar's stated position that they no longer provide funding to terror groups; reject all known terror leaders who have been residing in Qatar; and work to obtain the return of Israeli bodies and kidnapped Israelis held by Hamas. In an encouraging step this week, former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber AI Thani tweeted "Israelis have a right to live in their land in peace and safety, this is my conviction. I've had this conviction for many long years, and I still do." Former PM HamadAl Thaniwrote this in Arabic, which added to its significance. By Gabrielle Birkner LOS ANGELES (JTA)-- Whenhlice (Gerstel) Welt last saw Simon Gronowski, she was 13 and he was 10 and, by Alice's recollection, "the most adorable boy ever." When they reunited this week, 76 years later, "I opened the door and there he was, a frail, little old man," she said. At the threshold of Alice's apartment here, the old friends embraced, and they wept. "They weren't talking; they were speaking with their eyes," said Simon's grandson Romain De Mys, 24, who wit- nessed the April 10 reunion. Two days later, Alice and Simon were guests of honor during the Holocaust Remem- brance Day, or Yom Hashoah, program at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Until recently, Alice had long believed that Simon-- the little brother of her child- hood best friend, Ita--had perished with his family at Auschwitz. It wasn't until last summer, after a family mem- ber's Internet search turned up Simon's memoir, that she learned he had survived the war. "I broke down and cried like a little baby," Alice said. A few weeks later, she found out that Simon was still alive and working as a lawyer in Brussels. Simon was just as emo- tional when he received an email from one of Alice's sons saying that his mother was looking to reconnect. "I replied right away that I want to see her," Simon said. It's no wonder, given their families' unique connection. For 10 harrowing days in October 1941, as Alice, her mother and two siblings waited to be smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Belgium, they hid above the Gronowskis' leather goods store, which was frequented by Nazi offi- cers. The Gronowskis risked their own lives to shelter the Gerstels. When Alice and her family left that day, "I said goodbye, but I believed I'd see them again," Simon told JTA. "At this moment, I didn't know Auschwitz." The Gerstels managed to escape Europe, traveling through France and Morocco before boarding a ship bound for Cuba. They ultimately resettled in the United States, where Alice married, had two children and worked as a real estate agent. The Gestapo arrested Si- mon and his family in Febru- ary 1943. They were sent to the Mechelen transit camp, then put on a train bound for Auschwitz. En route, the train was breached by the Belgian resistance, and some passen- gers were able to flee. With his mother's help, 11-year-old Simon jumped from the train and escaped through the woods. His mother, Chana, and sister Ita, who was on a subsequent convoy, would die at Auschwitz. Young Simon was aided by a Belgian police officer, and he spent the remainder of the war sheltered in the homes of Catholic families. Simon's father, L on, also survived the war in hiding, but died shortly thereafter, when Simon was only 13. Years on, Simon put himself through law school, married (now divorced) and had two children. An amateur jazz pianist, Simon was invited in 2014 to play alongside film- maker Woody Allen at New York's Carlyle Hotel, where Allen performs regularly with his band. But for decades after the war, Simon did not talk about what he had endured. In 2002 he publishedamemoir,"The Child of the 20th Convoy," and began speaking in schools aboutwhat happened to his family during the Holocaust. When he stood before the crowd Thursday Bart Bartholomew/Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Siesenthal Center, with Simon Gronowski and Alice Weit, who had a reunion 76 years after being separated by the Holo- caust, at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles where they were honored, April 12, 2018. at the Museum of Tolerance, he said he ultimately decided to share his story "on behalf of victims of all barbarities," including those who died in the 20th century genocides in Armenia and Rwanda. He also decried the pernicious forces of hate and Holocaust denial, and called democracy "a struggle of everyday." At Thursday's event, Alice praised Simon's mother, whom she credits with saving her family. "Your morn was the per- sonification of the saying, 'If you save one life, you save all humanity,'" she said. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which runs the Museum of Toler- ance, told JTA that Holocaust memory is at a critical mo- ment, as "a generation of per- petrators, victims, liberators and bystanders are all leaving the stage of history." "The question is how will we be remembering the Shoah [Holocaust] after the eyewitnesses are gone?" said Cooper, citing Holocaust denial abroad, the rise of far- right candidates in the United States and a new study show- ing that many U.S. millennials lack a basic knowledge about the Holocaust. The study found that 22 percent of respondents be- tween the ages of 18 and 34 had not heard of the Holo- caust or weren't sure if they had heard of it. The same survey, spearheaded by the Conference on Jewish Mate- rial Claims Against Germany, also revealed that 41 percent of respondents of all ages could not identity the concentration camp Auschwitz. Against this backdrop, Cooper saidAlice and Simon's reunion "is a sign of hope, but also a challenge, a reminder to step up." In advance of Simon's ar- rival this week, Alice spent days preparing "a Yiddishe meal" of chopped liver, gefilte fish, matzah ball soup and brisket for her friend. The reunion gave Simon an opportunity to connect with the closest thing he has to his lost family, said Dann Netter, one of Alice's sons. "For us," Netter said, "it provides the opportunity to say thank you." Digital & Offset Printing ~, "', ~ ~'; Brochures & Booklets Direct Mail Services Forms & Letterheads Envelopes Business Cards 205 North Street Longwood, FL3275o Bring in this ad and receive 18" Discount