Tuesday, 27 January 2015

January 27 - 70 years ago Not an end yet to genocide

English: Photo of the Nazi extermination camp ...
Photo of the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken by a United States Army Air Force plane, August 25, 1944. Crematoria II and III are visible. For reference as to the date of the photo and what it shows, see The Case for Auschwitz by Robert Jan van Pelt, 2002, Indiana University Press, ISBN 0253340160, page 175. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today seventy years ago soldiers could not believe their eyes. They found the last extermination camp of the Germans still functioning.

Serbian 1990 War camp
On January 27, 1945, the Soviet troops entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and  found 7,000 survivors. Another 50,000 inmates had been marched out several days earlier by the camp’s staff in order to prevent them from falling into Allied hands. Most of them perished before the war ended. Auschwitz, where over one million people – most of them Jews, but also several non-Jewish Poles, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, disabled persons and Jehovah’s Witnesses  — were killed, has become a symbol for the Holocaust and for evil as such, and rightly so. But people thought at that time and some even now that this could never again happen. Like they said "Never again" at the end of World War I in the last few years we have seen very similar extinguish camps and Serbia was the most horrible place after World War II where the international community did not take action straight away though they did clearly knew what was happening there.

Luckily for humankind not yet any genocide took place in the form or magnitude as the German extermination camps. We luckily never saw any more such torture and horror coming over one specific race or group of people.
The Caucasian race and Germans and extreme right people should shame themselves and sink deep into the ground that their ancestors could bring such a terrible fear over one group of people. For the Jewish people, it is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world, a cemetery without graves and still many families are not sure where their ancestors found their death and are put into the ground.

HKP survivor Pearl Good
points to Plagge’s name on
the Wall of the Righteous at Yad Vashem
Though the present generation can not be culpable for what their ancestors did, plus we must know that not all Germans did agree with this situation or did become such monsters. The thousands and thousands which were cramped together in huge place, too small for the amount of people, had to face dehumanization as part of the camp system, but they also could find friendships which went beyond all human expectations. There were remarkable acts of solidarity and humanity by camp inmates. Among them were non-Jews, who at risk to their own lives, sought to ease the pain, to give aid and to rescue Jews. They proved that even within the brutality and the murder, people could choose not to remain indifferent. There were even stories of German soldiers , even SS officers who like Maj Karl Plagge, Wehrmacht officer, engineer and Nazi Party member who used his position as a staff officer in the Heer (Army) to employ and protect some 1,240 Jews.  {Good 2005, p. 154.}

On 27 January of 2015 many international leaders shall come together in the afternoon, going along the fortified walls, barbed wire, platforms, barracks, gallows, gas chambers and cremation ovens of the largest of the concentration camp complexes created by the Nazi German regime, which show the conditions within which the Nazi genocide took place in the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest in the Third Reich.
The Nazi policy of spoliation, degradation and extermination of the Jews was rooted in a racist and anti-Semitic ideology propagated by the Third Reich.

According to historical investigations, 1.5 million people, among them a great number of Jews, were systematically starved, tortured and murdered in this camp, the symbol of humanity's cruelty to its fellow human beings in the 20th century. 

A few of those who saw the liberating soldiers coming closer to the camps where at that time still not sure what was going to happen with them and for sure could not count on it they would survive it. It is known that also many died  in a few weeks time after coming out in the world of the living again, when they became ill of the food they ate after their liberation.

Having been many times between life and death those survivors would continuously have to live with a huge nightmare and many still find themselves today crawling on the barrack floor or through the mud, because they no longer could walk. Many of them also  remember how they just kept thinking, I must survive, I must survive.

What we commemorate today should be printed in the minds of many generations to come. We may not be at ease thinking that what was unprecedented in human history, this mass killing motivated by the perverse, race-based ideology of the Nazis, who sought to track down and kill every last Jew and any others they considered to be inferior, would not happen again.

Humankind may have come united to overcome the Nazi menace but everywhere we see the (Neo-)Nazi spook turning up again.  Today, we see many similarities with the period coming up to the 1940ies. The economical but also political crisis's and pressure form all sides against immigrants. Not much yet seems to have changed for the minorities which everywhere often face bigotry.  We can not ignore that sectarian tensions and other forms of intolerance are on the rise. Since two years in Belgium and France we have seen a growing amount of anti-Semitic attacks. In several countries in the West it happens that Jews are being killed solely because they are Jews.

Those who belong to Christianity should make it very clear that all people, believers, non-believers and other-believers are all created in the image God. They should react against those who torture or kill others because of different beliefs. they also should demand from their governments and from those countries where there is inequality that the rights of humans shall be respected.

Vulnerable communities around the world continue to bury their dead while living in fear of further violence.
The mission of the United Nations was shaped by the tragedy of the Second World War and the Holocaust.  We want to see that their commitment to protect the vulnerable, promote fundamental human rights and uphold the freedom, dignity and worth of every person shall be worked out fully.

It is good to see that for the past decade, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme has mobilized students and educators around the world to help them achieve these goals. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust:

"The violence and bias we see every day are stark reminders of the distance still to travel in upholding human rights, preventing genocide and defending our common humanity.

We must redouble our efforts to eradicate the deep roots of hatred and intolerance.  People everywhere must unite to stop the cycles of discord and build a world of inclusion and mutual respect.”
From the ashes of the murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps arose the words “Never Again” – spoken as shorthand for our collective responsibility to act in the face of genocide.

Janice Kamenir-Reznik who like many Jews who grew up in the 1950s, internalized a deep sense of responsibility to safeguard the memory of the Shoah – so that the world would understand anti-Semitism’s dangers and prevent Jewish persecution in the future.
He says:
Yet, when I heard about atrocities in faraway places like Cambodia and Rwanda, the notion that I could do something – that I should do something – never materialized in my head. My mindset shifted because of one man, Rabbi Harold Schulweis – with whom I co-founded Jewish World Watch. As he changed my perspective, Rabbi Schulweis dramatically changed my life – and saved thousands of others.
How many of our generation had not heard "Plus jamais" or "Never Again". this they said already after the first World War and repeated it as if they saw the summit after the second World War.

We must confess that our industrialised world did not manage to avoid the horrors of the Holocaust to be followed by genocide after genocide, atrocity after atrocity – from Cambodia to Rwanda, from Darfur to Congo. Since 1945, 46 genocides have claimed the lives of tens of millions.

In 2004, at 80-years-old, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis founded an organization – a movement – that has become one of America’s largest and loudest anti-genocide groups. In the decade since that Rosh Hashanah, Jewish World Watch has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts that helped to bring about pressure to end the genocide in Darfur, drive the most lethal militias out of Congo, and create broad awareness among governments and global corporations about the threat of emerging genocides around the world.

Regarded as the most influential synagogue leader of his generation led the Conservative Valley Beth Shalom (VBS) in Encino for nearly 45 years, introducing significant innovations in synagogue life while also insisting upon connecting the Jewish world with the larger community worldwide through foundations, outreach organizations and, his most successful program, developed late in his life, Jewish World Watch.

Rabbi Ed Feinstein, his friend and successor as senior rabbi at VBS said about Harold Schulweis who died in December at his home after a long struggle with heart disease, that he
"was  a public intellectual who redefined what it is to be a Jew, an author and passionate orator who met injustices and suffering with action,”
In 2004, Schulweis delivered a sermon at VBS on the Jewish high holidays calling for a Jewish response to genocide. He challenged the congregation:


“We took an oath, “Never again!” Was this vow to protect only Jews from the curse of genocide? God forbid that our children and grandchildren ask of us, ‘Where was the synagogue during Rwanda, when genocide took place and eight hundred thousand people were slaughtered in one hundred days?’”

Schulweis’ concern for genocide around the world, led him to reach out to the large Armenian population in his San Fernando Valley neighbourhood after his 2004 sermon at VBS on the Jewish high holidays calling for a Jewish response to genocide.
He had challenged the congregation to take an oath, “Never again!”and not only to protect Jews from the curse of genocide.

In 2005, the rabbi officiated with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Armenian Church of North America at the first joint commemoration of the Jewish and Armenian Holocausts. He joined band members of the rock band, System of a Down, all of them children of survivors of the Armenian Holocaust, in an educational program affirming the common responsibilities of Jewish and Armenian youth to remember their collective experiences of genocide, and to act to prevent its re-occurrence.

The Jewish World Watch and the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) (originally called the Institute for Righteous Acts) provides monthly financial support to some 500 aged and needy non Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The Foundation preserves the legacy of the rescuers through its national Holocaust teacher education program.

Such education programs and us remembering what happened in the 1930-1940ies but also using those awful memories to warn those living today that we always should be at the look out to avoid such disasters coming over humankind.

Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Esq., President and Co-Founder of Jewish World Watch – a multi-faith coalition representing hundreds of thousands in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities, says:
We live during a time in grave need of Rabbi Schulweis’ message. From Congo and Sudan, from Iraq to Syria, from Burma to the Central African Republic, we are called to take the words “Never Again” and turn them into action. In his memory, let us continue to breathe life into the best of our Jewish values to create a better world.

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 Find also to read:

  1. Holocaust Survivor Eva Kor Explains How to Stay Hopeful During Tough Times
    The fact that I have overcome so much adversity in my life helps me to have hope during tough times. I believe if I could survive Auschwitz, if I could survive crawling on the barrack floor between life and death, I could probably survive anything. Basically that is the way we gain confidence in our ability. When we overcome one difficulty and one hardship, we can build on that when any other hardship comes along in life. I also like the fact that people who hear me speak can tune in and feel inspired. They see that I could do it, and they realize they can overcome whatever they are trying to overcome too. That is helpful to realize, that maybe each of us can help others overcome by sharing our stories.
  2. Turning ‘never again’ into action: the legacy of Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
  3. Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, ‘Rabbi of Rabbis’ and world-renowned Jewish leader, dies at 89
  4. Black page 70 years Release – commemoration Auschwitz
  5. Zwarte bladzijde 70 jaar bevrijding – Herdenking Auschwitz
  6. 2012 mensenrechten rapport – 2012 Human Rights report
  7. Vredesweek 2012 en Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
  8. De Vredesweek vraagt Internationale Gemeenschap Verantwoordelijkheid te nemen
  9. Malaysia requires sole use of God's title for Muslims
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Monday, 26 January 2015

Britten: gelovig maar weinig praktiserend

Britse gelovigen tijdens het pausbezoek van Benedictus
Britse gelovigen tijdens het pausbezoek van Benedictus Bron: Phk/KerkNet
BRUSSEL (KerkNet/The Tablet) – Volgens een studie in het 'Journal of Belief and Values' zijn Britten steeds minder praktiserend. Maar zij blijven wel geloven in de kernpunten van christendom, waaronder God, leven na de dood, hemel, hel en zonde. 28.6% van de ondervraagden gelooft in de hel, terwijl dat aantal in 1981 26.2% bedroeg. Het aantal mensen die geloven in leven na de dood blijft stabiel op 44%. 

De studie stelt vast dat het geloof van vrouwen uitgesproken traditioneler is dan dat van mannen. Mensen met hogere opleiding zijn minder gelovig. Volgens de onderzoekers contrasteren de resultaten van de studie scherp met het dalende kerkbezoek. Zij voorzien dat het aantal praktiserenden ook de komende jaren telkens met bijna 1% blijft dalen, tot 8% van de bevolking in 2025. 
(Kerknet)

Communiceren in verbondenheid

Map, municipality belgium Verviers
Map, municipality belgium Verviers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

COMMUNICEREN IN VERBONDENHEID

Na Parijs en Verviers: een ORBIT toolkit

BRUSSEL (KerkNet/Orbit) – In tijden van terreur en angst, spraakverwarring en beeldvorming over de andere, is het belangrijk de dialoog gaande te houden. Effectief communiceren kan alleen als met rust én nuance. 

Naar aanleiding van vragen na de terreurdaden in Parijs (7/1) en alles wat daarop volgde, heeft ORBIT vzw (voorheen Katholiek Multicultureel Samenwerken/KMS) een overzicht opgesteld met gespreksstof, bruikbaar in het onderwijs en vormingswerk, in politiek en maatschappelijk debat, maar ook in beleidskringen. Dit overzicht is uiteraard niet volledig. Het is onmogelijk alle interessante opinies en teksten die nu verschijnen samen te brengen. Orbit tracht een goede selectie te maken, waarbij verschillende invalshoeken aan bod komen.
(Kerknet)

Recordaantaal kerkuittredingen in Duitsland


RECORDAANTAL KERKUITTREDINGEN IN DUITSLAND

BRUSSEL (KerkNet/RadVat) – In 2014 is het aantal kerkuittredingen in de Duitse katholieke en evangelische Kerk sterk gestegen. Dat blijkt uit een enqêute van Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) bij verantwoordelijken van de katholieke bisdommen en de evangelische Landeskirchen. Bij de katholieke Kerk lag het aantal kerkuittredingen zelfs hoger dan in het 'recordjaar' 2010, toen het schandaal van het seksueel misbruik in volle hevigheid uitbarstte. 

Specialisten schrijven de sterke stijging toe aan de hervorming van de kerkbelasting op kapitaaldragers. Sinds januari wordt bij kapitaaldragers van banken en verzekeraars het bedrag van de kerkbelasting meteen geïnd. Vele christenen menen ten onrechte dat het een nieuwe belasting betreft. De voorzitter van de Evangelische Kerk van Duitsland (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, zegt dat de kerken zich de vraag moeten stellen of zij hierover wel goed hebben gecommuniceerd.
(Kerknet)

Oproep tot dialoog tussen de strijdende partijen in Oost-Oekraïne door paus Franciscus


Paus Franciscus maande zondag aan tot een hervatting van de dialoog tussen de strijdende partijen in Oost-Oekraïne en het staken van elke vorm van vijandigheid. Franciscus reageerde in zijn angelustoespraak op de raketaanval op de Oost-Oekraïense havenstad Marioepol.

Gisterochtend kwamen raketten neer in een woonwijk en een mark. Enkele gebouwen vlogen in brand. Er vielen twintig vielen en meer dan tachtig gewonden. President Jatsenjoek van Oekraïne riep westerse bondgenoten en de VN-veiligheidsraad op tot actie. Rusland schendt volgens hem met de aanval gemaakte afspraken en het internationaal recht. 

De paus werd vanmorgen vergezeld door een jongen en een meisje van de jongerenafdeling van de Katholieke Actie in het bisdom Rome, die vandaag haar Karavaan van de Vrede afsluit, een jaarlijkse manifestatie voor de wereldvrede.
(Kerknet)

Abdelhamid Abaaoud brain of Molenbeek's network dismantled in their hideaway at Verviers

Verviers (Belgium), the "Grand'Poste"...
Verviers (Belgium), the "Grand'Poste" (1904/1909 - Architect: Van Hoecke). Nederlands: Verviers (België), de "Grand'Poste" (1904/1909 - Architect: Van Hoecke). Walon: Vèrvî (Bèljike), li Grand'Poste (1904/1909 - Âchitèke: Van Hoecke). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The last few days we have seen more pictures of the horror things Abdelhamid Abaaoud did. Already some months ago we could see him driving a car with some bodies hanging on it being carried over the ground when  this Belgian-born son of an immigrant shopkeeper from Morocco, was laughing with them in Syria.

After one year having been in Syria it seems he is now back in Europe, but nobody seems to know where he went to after he was last seen in Greece. In any case he has earned pages in the international press, cause of his actions and the raid in Verviers last week. He has emerged as a prime suspect in what Belgian authorities say was an imminent terrorist operation thwarted by raids on Jan. 15 on an extremist hideaway in the east of Belgium and nine homes in Molenbeek, after the terrorist attacks in France on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

It is known that about 450 people left Belgium to go to fight in Syria for the Jihad and to support ISIS.
Estimates of the number of foreigners in the Islamic State, or ISIS, vary, but of the more than 31,000 fighters the C.I.A. estimated in September to be active, as many as half came from foreign countries, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London and the Soufan Group in New York. The overwhelming majority are men from Arab and other Muslim countries, drawn to jihad by religious zeal, a chance to fight the decadent West and the lure of excitement in otherwise dreary lives. But the flow of non-Muslim or non-religious recruits from the West, and their use in some of the most grisly actions, is a new and worrying phenomenon.(NYT)

For moths there where investigations going, already before the Paris attack, and as a result of the findings Belgian investigators knew that the terrorist where going to attack several police stations in Belgium and that it was time to act. Therefore on  January 15 the Belgian police raided a house in the eastern city of Verviers, near the German border. The two terrorist suspects killed in that police raid were both from Molenbeek, Belgium’s second poorest area with a youth unemployment rate of 40 percent, and a place where next to the nearby Vilvoorde, lots of Muslim have found sympathy for the Islamic cause.
In Molenbeek, a Brussels district, a heavily immigrant borough with 22 mosques known to the local officials — more than four times the number of churches — could be found the origins of the network dismantled in their hideaway at Verviers.

Sunday January 25 it was also decided that the refugees who were taken in to Belgium would not be welcome again after they would have gone to fight in Syria and would loose all their rights which were freely given to them, on their return form the battlefield. 

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Read more: 
Belgium Confronts the Jihadist Danger Within
Being Charlie 2Being Charlie 3Being Charlie 4Being Charlie 5Being Charlie 6,Being Charlie 7Being Charlie 8Being Charlie 9Being Charlie 10Being Charlie 11
It’s beautiful to watch the spread of #JeSuisCharlie across the world,
Where do we stand in the backdrop of Charlie Hebdo Massacre ?,
Charlie Hebdo, offensive satire and why ‘Freedom of Speech’ needs more discussion
NYTimes.com Special Series: Inside the Jihad
When Jihadists Come Home
Islamic State Praise Paris Attackers as 'Heroic Jihadists'
The Danger of Foreign JihadistsAmericans wrongly informed about situation in Europe

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

NO pasaran #jesuischarlie

Dezer dagen is er heel wat te doen geweest in de pers omtrent de aanvallen op het satirisch tijdschrift Charlie Hebdo.

Men kan stellen dat het duidelijk is dat bepaalde groeperingen onze westerse samenleving willen ondergraven. Zij zijn er op uit om het leven in Europa te ontwrichten en tumult te zaaien onder de bevolking.
Het doel van de aanslag was een groep MENSEN die ons de samenleving en haar werkelijkheid door middel van humor scherper en duidelijker lieten zien. Journalisten en cartoonisten met een (soms uitgesproken) mening die niet bang waren om deze te publiceren. Als samenleving, als burgers kunnen we hier niet tegen inbinden, we kunnen geen stap achteruitzetten, we kunnen niet inbinden tegen deze onmensen die ons met extreem geweld in slaafse onderdanigheid willen dwingen. Ik hoop dat op de voorpagina van elke krant, op elke media website een cartoon van Charlie Hebdo zal prijken. Als ons “No Passaran” waarin we duidelijk maken dat er aan de vrije meningsuiting niet getornd kan worden, met welk geweld je ons ook bedreigt. Ik wil geen wereld voor mijn kinderen waar uitschot met het geweer gaat bepalen wat ze moeten denken of waar ze mee mogen lachen. Als we dit niet doen hebben de terroristen vandaag gewonnen.
Laten we de dingen bij de naam noemen en stoppen met politiek correct zijn.

We hebben een probleem met extremistische jihadis en moslims die wel in onze samenleving willen leven en de vruchten ervan plukken maar niet de basis spelregels van die samenleving zoals vrijheid van meningsuiting, gelijkberechtiging van de vrouw en het op zijn minst tolereren van de anders-geaarde medemens. We moeten niet de islam of zijn gelovigen bestrijden maar wel de extreme islamisten die hun onverdraagzaamheid (het islamisme met verbaal en fysiek geweld willen verspreiden.Het gevaar van de aanvallen in Frankrijk en de terroristische dreigingen waar België nu onder gebukt gaat is dat mensen uit angst een verkeerde houding gaan aannemen en iedereen onder één en dezelfde kam gaan scheren. De islamitische jihadstrijders brengen meer schade aan het imago van de Islam toe dan dat zij zouden wensen.‘Ik verwijs hier naar korangeleerden (religious clerics). We moeten goed nadenken waar we voor staan, en ik heb dat al een paar keer gezegd. Het is onvoorstelbaar dat het denken waar wij voor staan als het meest heilige, de gehele umma (gemeenschap van gelovigen) tot een bron van angst maakt, gevaar, dood en destructie voor de rest van de wereld. Onmogelijk!

Het doel van de aanslag was een groep MENSEN die ons de samenleving en haar werkelijkheid door middel van humor scherper en duidelijker lieten zien. Journalisten en cartoonisten met een (soms uitgesproken) mening die niet bang waren om deze te publiceren. Als samenleving, als burgers kunnen we hier niet tegen inbinden, we kunnen geen stap achteruitzetten, we kunnen niet inbinden tegen deze onmensen die ons met extreem geweld in slaafse onderdanigheid willen dwingen. Ik hoop dat op de voorpagina van elke krant, op elke media website een cartoon van Charlie Hebdo zal prijken. Als ons “No Passaran” waarin we duidelijk maken dat er aan de vrije meningsuiting niet getornd kan worden, met welk geweld je ons ook bedreigt. Ik wil geen wereld voor mijn kinderen waar uitschot met het geweer gaat bepalen wat ze moeten denken of waar ze mee mogen lachen. Als we dit niet doen hebben de terroristen vandaag gewonnen.

Laten we de dingen bij de naam noemen en stoppen met politiek correct zijn.We hebben een probleem met extremistische jihadis en moslims die wel in onze samenleving willen leven en de vruchten ervan plukken maar niet de basis spelregels van die samenleving zoals vrijheid van meningsuiting, gelijkberechtiging van de vrouw en het op zijn minst tolereren van de anders-geaarde medemens. We moeten niet de islam of zijn gelovigen bestrijden maar wel de extreme islamisten die hun onverdraagzaamheid (het islamisme) met verbaal en fysiek geweld willen verspreiden.

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Lees verder:
NO pasaran #jesuischarlie
Imams draaien zich vast in taqiyya
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December 2015 update: