A roundup of the most talked about political and global stories in the Jewish world this week:
A Lag b’Omer bonfire in Antwerp got out of hand last week when Haredi participants burned an Israeli flag. Afterward a picture from the incident went viral, showing a man burning a handmade Israeli flag as kids watch along. “This is one of the first times we have seen this sort of thing in recent years,” the editor of Joods Actueel told JTA. Some have begun to worry that the incident will have a negative impact on the perception of Jews in Hungary, and beyond. “In Judaism there is no room for hatred,” said David Terry, general manager of the Jewish News. “Do these people forget that Jews were burned in Auschwitz? We must always strive for reconciliation, not this kind of malice.”
Obama’s controversial appointee
Stephanie Rose is a candidate for a U.S. attorney position to the dismay of some Jewish people, according to reports. She is known for being involved with the prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of a Kosher meatpacking company that came under fire for using illegal immigrants and violating child labor laws, and some felt that she crossed the line into anti-Semitic waters. Should it matter? At least one senator was quoted as saying that he “did not feel Rose’s character as U.S. Attorney in the Rubashkin matter should be at issue because she was acting mostly out of orders from Washington.”
Some Greek Jews have condemned Nikos Michaloliakos, head of the Golden Dawn party, for publicly saying that “there were no gas chambers and ovens [crematoria] in Auschwitz.” Their statement included this response: “It is an insult to the historical memory, the memory of the 6 million Jews, our brethren, amongst whom there where 70,000 Greek Jews, who perished in the death camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka and the other sites of the extermination factory founded by Adolf Hitler.” The comments have sparked outrage across the world. “It’s criminal, really, that a moment of natural beauty, a daily coming of the light into the darkness, should be hijacked in its description by a group of barbarians,” said a Sydney Morning Herald blogger.
Child abuse charges
A report in The New York Times last week got people talking about how New York City investigates and prosecutes child abuse within the Hasidic community. The sect “prefer not to use secular governmental institutions, such as the police and courts. Those not abiding by community rules are often shunned and sometimes even assaulted,” Newsmax reported. “Sometimes religious courts do not fully accept the testimony of children or women, making proving molestation claims very difficult. They also have no formal power to punish, subpoena or collect evidence,” said a New York Times writer. Amid the backlash that’s come, the Brooklyn DA has stated that his office takes these cases extremely seriously and will prosecute anyone who is proven to be guilty of such heinous crimes.
Is Hatikva racist?
Recently, the Israeli national anthem Hatikva, or “The Hope,” has been called into question, and some are calling for a revamping of the lyrics. “The successful integration of Israeli Arabs into Israeli life, on which the country’s future depends, has to have its symbolic expression, too. It’s unacceptable to have an anthem that can’t be sung by 20% of a population. Permitting it to stand mutely while others sing is no solution,” said a Jewish Daily Forward blogger in March. Proposed changes appear here. For others, though, the original anthem is so powerful that any changes at all could alter the meaning of symbolic moments and times.