From:                              Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford

Sent:                               Thursday, October 22, 2015 2:24 PM

To:                                   'New Bedford Jewish Federation'

Subject:                          The Bulletin -- A Community Update for October 22, 2015

The Bulletin - A Community Update for October 22, 2015

The Status Quo

Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t often like to take his words back, but he would have at least rephrased his comments about Hitler and the mufti of Jerusalem (a Muslim cleric who oversees the holy places for Islam in Jerusalem including Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest place) that made the news recently in a different way if he could. 

In a speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Netanyahu described a meeting between Husseini and Hitler in November, 1941: "Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here (to Palestine).' According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: "What should I do with them?" and the mufti replied: "Burn them." No one knows exactly what words were exchanged between the leaders, but Netanyahu’s view is rejected by most accepted Holocaust scholars.

Netanyahu was criticized by politicians and historians for his remarks. Notably, when asked about the comments, Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Merkel reiterated Germany’s culpability for the Holocaust.

Netanyahu was forced to issue a statement in which he clarified: “ . . . had no intention to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry. Hitler was responsible for the Final Solution to exterminate six million Jews. He made the decision.”

Haj Amin al Husseini was indeed a vicious anti-Semite and a strong ally of Hitler. Last week The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg examined the mufti’s role in the 1928-29 riots against the backdrop of the current escalation with a terrific piece that explains the many status quos involving Jerusalem’s holiest places. It is very important to note particularly, given the current events, that Jews were not allowed access to the Western Wall during the time between the birth of the state in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967. When Israel liberated the Old City in ’67 soldiers raised an Israeli flag atop the Dome of the Rock. Moshe Dayan, then defense minister, not only ordered it taken down but promised the leaders of the Muslim Waqf, the trust that controlled the mosque and the shrine, that Israel would not interfere in its activities. Since then, successive Israeli governments have maintained that status quo.

Not all status quos are created equal, however, and this week Palestinians have proposed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declare the Western Wall an “integral part” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. While the proposal has since been amended, it still contained a request to recognize Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as Muslim sites and was approved yesterday by the executive committee of the Paris-based body for which the US cut funding several years ago after it recognized the Palestine Authority as a state.

And before we close the book on the mufti some points gathered by the staff at The Tower.




No Longer Silent


In a letter to the Standard Times today I made a few points about the situation in Israel that I thought had to be made for an audience beyond the Jewish community of Greater New Bedford.




Echoes & Reflections workshop

When: Friday, October 23

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – workshop, Holocaust curriculum education for middle, high school and college instructors and interested community members

1:00 PM – talk by historian and novelist Ronald Florence on his book Emissary to the Doomed dealing with the fate of the Hungarian Jewish population during the last year of WW II  

Where: Jackson Arts Center, BCC, 777 Elsbree Street, Fall River, sponsored by Bristol Community College Holocaust Center

Screening of Treblinka’s Last Witness

When:  Wednesday, November 4, 6:30 PM

Where:  U Mass Dartmouth, Claire T. Carney Library, sponsored by Holocaust Education & Memorial Committee

Manya Bark speaks about the plight of the gypsies during the Holocaust

When:  Friday, November 6, 11:00 AM

Where:  800 Purchase Street, 2nd floor, New Bedford, sponsored by Bristol Community College Holocaust Center

Ruth Oppenheim talks about “persistence of memory” in describing her family’s experience on Kristallnacht and their escape from Germany

When:  Sunday, November 8, 3:00 PM

Where:  Tifereth Israel Synagogue, New Bedford

Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin

When:  Wednesday, November 18, 5:00 – 6:30 PM

Where:  Grand Reading Room, Claire T. Carney Library, U Mass Dartmouth  (Park in lot 13.)

Shabbat Shalom,


The Bulletin is a weekly email from Amir Cohen, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford.  I welcome your feedback at