Holocaust Remembrance Project

A January 25, 2019 report rates individual European Union (EU) countries on how honest they are in facing up their Holocaust pasts. The report gives each country a rating of green, yellow or red. For example, Hungary, Poland and Croatia received red cards for revisionism. It is no coincidence that countries rated red often have nationalist autocratic governments. Germany, France and Romania are among the countries rated green. And Denmark and Italy are examples of countries the report rates as yellow.

Yale College and Grinnell College helped finance the report. With their support, student researchers traveled throughout Europe during the summer of 2018 preparing reports. Local representatives from the European Union of Progressive Judaism checked their work. 

William Echikson of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) led the effort. CEPS is a Brussels think tank focusing on EU affairs. Echikson heads the CEPS Digital Forum. He’s worked at Google and as a foreign correspondent in Europe for a series of publications including the Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and BusinessWeek

You can read the report online, download the report as a PDF or purchase a version for the Amazon Kindle.

On January 25 2019, the project was presented to an audience which included policymakers, members of the press, and interested colleagues.

Marilyn Monroe on Projection

The truth is I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t. When they found this out, they would blame me for disillusioning them and fooling them.

Wikiquote – On Being Blonde (2007)

Jeff Bezos: Defender of a Free Press

The most interesting part of Jeff Bezos’s February 7, 2019 piece on Medium is in parentheses:

(Even though The [Washington] Post is a complexifier for me, I do not at all regret my investment. The Post is a critical institution with a critical mission. My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life, if I’m lucky enough to live that long, regardless of any complexities it creates for me.)

I don’t care about the personal life of Jeff Bezos. But I care very much about a free press.

Newspapers are in decline and under attack. Mr. Bezos’s support of The Washington Post is important for the country and the world. A democracy cannot function without a free press.

The words and actions of Mr. Bezos make him a worthy successor to Katherine Graham. The Post certainly doesn’t cut Amazon or Mr. Bezos any slack and it seems clear he is content to let the fine journalists of his newspaper do their jobs as they see fit.

Thank you, Mr. Bezos. A free press is more important than all the stuff we buy on Amazon or all the rockets Blue Origin puts in space.

Book Review: “Paris, Paris Journey into the City of Light”

I stumbled across Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light while preparing to visit Paris again, a city I have loved for almost 40 years. The author, David Downie, is an American who has lived in Paris since 1986. He loves Paris deeply and knows it far better than I do.

The walk begins at France’s gigantic national library – Bibliothèque nationale de France. This is the largest library I have ever seen; it houses 15 million books and journals. It is located near the Métro station Bibliothèque François Mitterrand right along the Seine. But not much else is nearby. The location feels desolate, modern and suburban, although the library remains within Paris’s Périphérique or beltway.

However, it was unclear to me from reading the book where the walk ended so I emailed the author who cheerfully responded with the details and even suggested a nice, reasonably priced restaurant for lunch right along the walk. The restaurant is La Fregate and is at the only spot on the walk where you have to go up to the sidewalk from the river. Downie describes the restaurant as “cozy, friendly, insiderish, welcoming – and the service – efficient, discreet and unusually chummy for Paris.”

I watched the city transform from stark, modern suburbs and eventually came upon Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower and on to its terminus at the Pont Mirabeau. I will never forget Le Pont Mirabeau after reading Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem in high school. The poem breathes life and love into the bridge. Seeing Le Pont Mirabeau at the end of this day-long walk was special. The entire walk was about 10 km or 6.2 miles. The transformations within that short distance speak volumes about Paris.

On top of the wonderful details that make Paris come to life, Downie’s prose shows a love and mastery of the English language that I appreciate. This gem of a book will teach you so much about Paris and make you want to return again and again. Or, it may motivate you to go to Paris and remain as Downie has.

At Downie’s suggestion, I also visited Buttes Chaumont park which is even more impressive than Mr. Downie describes. He knows Place des Vosges like the back of his hand so that chapter is exceptional.

On top of the wonderful details that make Paris come to life, Downie’s prose shows a love and mastery of the English language that I appreciate. This gem of a book will teach you about Paris and make you want to return again and again. It may even motivate you to go there and remain as Downie has.

Podcast: BBC’s HARDtalk Tackles Rising Antisemitism

HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Pinchas Goldschmidt, the Swiss-born Chief Rabbi of Moscow and president of the Conference of European Rabbis on the subject of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States. Rabbi Goldschmidt explains that:

  • Antisemitism is back in vogue;
  • There has been a decline in Europe’s Jewish population from 2 million to 1.6 million;
  • Some European countries are trying to rewrite the history of the Holocaust;
  • The internet is “under-regulated” in combating hate speech; and
  • The future of Jews in Europe is dependent on the future of Europe, which is currently in doubt.

The future of Europe and European Jewry each seem uncertain a troubling way. The European Union has done a good job of keeping the peace. Is post-WWII European peace at risk?

Syrian Human Rights Violations Compared to Holocaust

Josh Rogin, writing in The Washington Post, compares the human rights violations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Holocaust:

What would Assad have to do to justify a comparison to the Holocaust? Attempted ethnic cleansing on a massive scale? Check. Mass torture and murder of civilians in custody? Check. Crematoriums ? Check. Gassing children? Check.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington has an exhibit entitled “Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us” about atrocities being committed by the Assad regime. The exhibit uses video, music, and testimony to introduce visitors to the conflict in Syria through the story of Mansour Omari, who survived detention and torture there.

China: Serious Allegations of Human Organ Harvesting

British human rights activist and journalist Benedict Rogers explains in The Wall Street Journal that China is accused of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience:

The sto­ries are bru­tal. Dr. En­ver To­hti, a for­mer sur­geon from Xin­jiang, tes­ti­fied in the British, Irish and Eu­ropean par­lia­ments to re­mov­ing or­gans from a pris­oner forcibly in 1995. “We had been told to wait be­hind a hill, and come into the field as soon as we’d hear the gun­shot,” he re­called. “A mo­ment later there were gun­shots. Not one, but many. We rushed into the field. An armed po­lice of­fi­cer approached us and told me where to go. He led us closer, then pointed to a body, say­ing, ‘This is the one.’ By then our chief sur­geon ap­peared from nowhere and told me to re­move the liver and two kid­neys.” Ac­cord­ing to Dr. To­hti, the man’s wound was not nec­es­sar­ily fa­tal. But Dr. To­hti went ahead and re­moved the liver and kid­neys while the man’s heart was still beat­ing.

This makes me think of the medical experiments Josef Mengele conducted at Auschwitz. Why is this less important in the press than the most recent ephemeral tweet?

If these allegations are true, I would gladly pay extra for an iPhone that did not come from a country that supports such practices.

Source: The Nightmare of Human Organ Harvesting in China

Podcast: ‘Explaining The Holocaust to Millennials’

The Tipping Point podcast is a weekly podcast about Israel produced by The Israel Project, a non-partisan American educational organization dedicated to informing the media and public conversation about Israel. In Episode 101 — “Explaining The Holocaust to Millennials” – the moderator interviews two young Jewish Israelis (Eli Teplow and Batya Medved) about what the “Shoah” means for them. They discuss important questions including whether Hollywood films are good tools for teaching people about the Holocaust, the best social media for reaching millennials and when and how the Holocaust should be taught to children. Their answers are instructive. For example, they feel that new films about the Holocaust are needed because young people don’t watch the old films like “Schindler’s List.”


Privacy Resources

This is a list of resources I have found helpful in understanding privacy-related issues and exploring options that may be suitable. I will update this post as needed. If you know of other useful resources, please leave a comment.

That One Privacy Site: The site has excellent VPN reviews. The site also has valuable information about email providers.

Privacy Tools: Provides knowledge and tools to protect your privacy against mass surveillance.

Switching.social: “ethical, easy-to-use and privacy-conscious alternatives”

The Complete Privacy and Security Podcast is a weekly podcast that helps listeners to maintain their privacy in the digital age.

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University: The Center brings “together the sharpest, most thoughtful people from around the globe to tackle the biggest challenges presented by the Internet.”

ProtonMail: Encrypted Email and VPN provider in Switzerland

Tutanota: Encrypted Email provider in Germany

Tutanota Guide to Leaving Google

Fastmail: Private fee-for-service email with no advertising or tracking; very reliable

Secure Messaging Apps Comparison

Choosing a Linux Distribution

Encryption Tools

BBC Witness: ‘The Death of Hitler’

In 1989, the Zina Rohan of the BBC interviewed Traudl Junge. Junge worked as a secretary for Adolf Hitler during WWII. She was in the bunker in Berlin when he committed suicide in 1945 as the Red Army closed in. She explains that Hitler was only close to his mistress and wife Eva Braun and his dog.

In the 1989 BBC interview – which incidentally was the year the Berlin wall fell — Junge expresses admiration for Hitler. Later she was featured in a film called “Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary” (“Im toten Winkel” in German). In that 90-minute interview released in 2002, Junge sees Hitler in a far less favorable light. The comparison is interesting. Junge died of cancer in the same year the film was released. She was 81.

BBC WitnessOvercast