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Michael Shafir, who played a key role in Holocaust memory in his native Romania, dies at 78

BUCHAREST (JTA) — When Michael Shafir moved to Israel from his native Romania as a teenager in the 1960s, it wasn’t because the Jewish teen was burning with Zionist fervor. Instead, it was the first country that agreed to take him.

“I would have left for wherever there was no communism, because I could no longer live with the feeling that you say one thing outside the house and another at home,” Shafir once said in an interview with Romanian media.

More than four decades later, Shafir would return to the country where he was born, as a professor of international relations. From his post at Babes-Bolyai University, in northwestern Romania, Shafir studied and published extensively on how post-communist right-wing nationalists distorted the past and trivialized or denied the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

Shafir, who died Nov. 9 at 78, was known in his work and in his personal life for his straightforward and often humorous presentation of difficult truths.

“He was among the first to see the early emergence of nationalism in the [Romanian] communist regime’s politics,” his friend and colleague Liviu Rotman, an Israeli historian of Romanian Jewry, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Rotman said Shafir’s 2004 book “Between denial and trivialization. Holocaust denial in post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe” represented a “real encyclopedia” of Holocaust denial, as it outlined three forms that Shafir observed in post-communist states — outright, deflective (which “minimizes own-nation participation”) and selective (a combination of the other two). Shafir also took aim at what he called “comparative trivialization” of the Holocaust, or denying its uniqueness by equating it with communist crimes.

“I used to joke with Michael and told him that he produced a Mendeleev Table of Holocaust denial,” Rotman wrote on Facebook after his friend’s death, referring to the formal name for the periodic table that organizes elements according to their characteristics.

Known in Romania for his irreverent sense of humor and his chain smoking, Shafir’s massive figure wearing a trench coat — and occasionally a hat — could often be seen in the threshold of the conferences and events he attended.

“He was a person with an exceptional sense of humor, who always sent his friends jokes, who always found things to laugh about,” Jewish studies scholar Felicia Waldman told JTA.

“He liked to share everything he discovered, everything he thought,” added Waldman, who also recalled Shafir’s “undiplomatic” vehemence. “Sometimes that created problems for him.”

Shafir promoted his ideas in books and scholarly writing and conferences, but also in the Romanian press, where he proved to be a redoubtable polemicist. As a member of the International Commission for the Holocaust in Romania, he worked to make sure that people in his country understood the truth about the Holocaust and Romanian authorities’ collaboration with the Nazi regime. That history was obscured during the communist era and contested after it.

The commission was established by Romanian president Ion Iliescu in 2003 and headed by Romanian-born Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Shafir and his fellow commission members concluded that between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were murdered in territories under Romanian control during World War II.

In 2004, their report was officially adopted by the Romanian state, which for the first time acknowledged its participation in the destruction of the European Jews.

“Today’s negationism can no longer have the excuse ‘I’ve not read, I’ve haven’t access to information,’” Shafir said in a podcast by the Wiesel Institute in 2021, in which he warns about the crafty and convoluted nature of most contemporary Holocaust denial.

Shafir was still working with the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania at the time of his death, which the institute and his family members confirmed.

Born in Bucharest in 1944, Shafir managed to move to Israel as a teenager in 1961, during one of the periods when Romania relaxed emigration rules for its Jews. He had run afoul of the Communist regime and sought to escape it.

In Israel, Shafir served in the army before moving to Munich, to work as a researcher on audiences at Radio Free Europe, the U.S.-funded radio station for communist Europe. From then on he balanced journalism with academic work: He then returned to Israel, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and English literature at Hebrew University while directing foreign news at the Kol Israel radio station, a position he held until 1982. He had just earned a political science PhD at Hebrew University after writing a thesis on the Romanian intelligentsia under communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Shafir rejoined Radio Free Europe in the mid 1980s and held positions there until well after the fall of the Iron Curtain. His return to Romania and reclamation of his Romanian citizenship in 2005 inspired the country’s progressive left.

“Shafir meant a lot to me; he’s been a reference for his honesty and intellectual courage, and someone capable, like not many others, to review his positions when new data or historical sources asked for it,” Romanian-American software engineer-turned-historian Andrei Ursu told JTA.

Ursu was recently appointed scientific director of the Institute of the Romanian 1989 Revolution, an organization whose mission is to study that year’s Romanian anticommunist revolution. Two of his great-grandparents and a grandfather were killed during the Holocaust.

Ursu — whose father Gheorghe died after being savagely beaten while in politically motivated detention by Romania’s Communist secret police, the infamous Securitate — has been fighting for decades to combat the whitewashing of the Securitate in the country’s public discourse.

He described Shafir as “a person with an endless humor” and “without the exaggerated vanity common to many Romanian intellectuals.” Despite his frail health, Ursu said, Shafir agreed to review part of Ursu’s latest editorial project on the 1989 Romanian anti-communist revolution, “The Fall of a Dictator.”

Like other specialists who collaborated with Shafir, Ursu praised his work ethics and the precision of his sourcing and investigative work.

His media comments and public appearances were frequently peppered with jokes and anecdotes. In 2019, while speaking in an interview about the tens of thousands of Jews whom Ceausescu let emigrate in exchange for cash payments from Israel, Shafir told an old Romanian joke that starts with the Romanian dictator visiting a cooperative producing corn.

“How much do you get for a ton of maize?” Ceausescu asked the apparatchik in charge of the cooperative. “Just that? I get more if I sell 10 Jews.” To which the apparatchik retorts: “Then it’d be good if we start sowing Jews.”

In the interview, Shafir also recalled that the Jewish community headquarters in Bucharest used to display a sign warning gentiles desperate to get a visa to Israel and escape communism that “no conversions are accepted.”

“In the end, a conversion is much less dangerous than crossing the Danube swimming,” Shafir observed.

Although Shafir left Israel, he remained close to his family there and invested in the country’s politics. An activist with Peace Now who defined himself as a “critical Zionist,” Shafir rejected characterizations of Israel as an apartheid state but saw the Israeli continued military presence in the Palestinian territories as incompatible with democracy in the long term.

“He was very much worried about our future here in a country that is drifting to the right,” his daughter, Maurit Beeri, wrote on Facebook after her father’s death. She said he had recently spent time in Israel with his family, including his grandchildren.

Shafir’s body lay in state Nov. 13 at one of his university’s buildings in Cluj, Romania, where he lived with his wife, Aneta Feldman-Shafir.

The post Michael Shafir, who played a key role in Holocaust memory in his native Romania, dies at 78 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Comparing European, American, and French Roulette at Canadian online casinos

Roulette is the most popular table game at online and land-based casinos alike. You can easily find a seat at the table, place your bets, and hope that the wheel turns in your favour. But you have surely noticed that the roulette section is quite rich, featuring at least a dozen different tables. Most of them come with a different design and different rules. The most popular roulette variants are American Roulette, European, and French Roulette. In this article, we will try to explain the main differences between each one.

French VS European Roulette

We’ll first compare the French versus the European version of roulette since they are the most similar. The layout of the bets and the wheel is basically the same. Even the table layout is pretty much the same at most online casinos. Depending on the provider some differences can be found, like the layout of the table or the order of the numbers of the wheel. But as far as the odds and gameplay are concerned, European and French Roulette are basically the same. 

Both roulette variants have a single 0 on the board and the same number of slots on the wheel and numbers on the table. There are 36 additional numbers you can bet on, along with the standard Red or Black and Odd or Even bets. This means both games come with a house edge of 2.7%. So, the only difference comes from the introduction of two basic rules in French Roulette. 

  • La Partage
  • En Prison

La Partage

This rule applies to even money bets, and in case the ball lands on the 0 slot. The term comes from the French word which means to divide. All even money bets are divided into half, and the player gets one half, while the other half goes to the house. This rule works greatly in your favour, especially if you’re playing on higher bets. 

En Prison

The En Prison bet is also applied to even money bets and only when the ball lands on 0. Instead of counting as a loss, the bets are held on the table for the following spin, and if you win, you get your bet back. Even though you don’t actually win anything extra, the En Prison rule gives you a chance to get your money back without a loss. 

The introduction of these rules lowers the house edge on French Roulette down to 1.35%. This is why many players prefer the French version, as the odds are better for the player. 

French VS American Roulette

The main and pretty much only crucial difference between American and French roulette is the 00 and the layout of the slots on the wheel. The added 00 on the American version means that the house edge is higher. It climbs up to 5.26%, which is almost double the house edge on European Roulette and a massive difference from the 1.35% on the French version. 

Since there is an added 00 number, the layout of the slots on the wheel is different. On the table, the 00 is next to the 0, so it doesn’t make a big difference to the layout of the table. But the rules in American roulette are quite simple. If your number doesn’t come up, you lose the bet. There are no extra rules like in the French version. 


If you go by the odds alone, it turns out that the best roulette variant to play at Canadian online casinos is French roulette. But this doesn’t mean you will lose more when you play American or European Roulette. Many players prefer to play the American wheel as it’s faster and more exciting. With the right strategy and some luck on your side, you can easily make a profit on any type of roulette game. 

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Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism

niversity of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

University of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram – “Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus,” laments Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard University who is suing the school because “antisemitism is out of control.”

Jewish students have suffered an unrelenting explosion of hate on American higher education campuses—so far with little relief. They have endured antisemitic rhetoric, intimidation, cancellation and violence. But those charged with keeping campuses safe—whether administrators who govern student and faculty behavior or federal agencies responsible for ensuring that schools adhere to civil rights protections—are failing in their jobs.

Many Jewish students have complained to their colleges’ administrators about the injustices. But instead of responding with measures to ensure Jewish students’ safety—like stopping pro-Hamas protestors from hijacking campuses or expelling militants who incite Jew-hatred— administrators have largely shown indifference. In some cases, college authorities have made things worse for Jewish students by appeasing the riotous, pro-Hamas mobs who have been primary perpetrators of Jew-hatred on campus.

Snubbed by college administrators, Jewish students and their supporters have appealed for federal protection, filing Title VI complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body tasked with enforcing protections under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the OCR, which has the power to levy severe financial punishments against colleges that neglect students’ Title VI rights, has so far rewarded negligent universities with little more than slaps on the wrist.

Until college and university boards of trustees begin hiring administrators committed to Jewish students’ safety—and until the OCR begins seriously punishing antisemitic perpetrators—we can expect no respite. Safe to say, colleges and universities run by arrogant, apathetic administrators will not change until their jobs and schools’ survival are threatened.

College/university administrators don’t take antisemitism seriously. Their reactions to Jewish students raising concerns about Jew-hatred range from indifference to outright hostility. For example, when Mohammed Al-Kurd, who the Anti-Defamation League says has a record of “unvarnished, vicious antisemitism,” came to speak at Harvard, Shabbos Kestenbaum and other Jewish students complained to administrators.

Rather than cancel Al-Kurd’s appearance, which would have been the appropriate action, the administrators ignored the students’ complaints. “Harvard’s silence was deafening,” Kestenbaum wrote in Newsweek. Kestenbaum said he “repeatedly” expressed concerns to administrators about the antisemitism he experienced, but as his lawsuit alleges, “evidence of uncontrolled discrimination and harassment fell on deaf ears.”

Administrators at Columbia University reacted to Jewish students’ complaints about antisemitism even more cynically. In fact, during an alumni event, several administrators exchanged text messages mocking Jewish students, calling them “privileged” and “difficult to listen to.”

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania if calling for genocide against Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct, none could say “yes.” The presidents of Harvard and UPenn have since resigned. Good riddance.

Some college/university administrators have outrageously granted concessions to pro-Hamas students. For instance, Northwestern University agreed to contact potential employers of students who caused campus disruptions to insist they be hired, create a segregated dormitory hall exclusively for Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim students, and form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists could wield undue influence. Brown University agreed to hold a referendum on divestment from Israel in October.

Similar appeasements were announced at other colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Riverside.

So far, OCR has failed to take concrete action against antisemitism on campus. This is evident in recent decisions involving the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan. CUNY was ordered to conduct more investigations into Title VI complaints and report further developments to Washington, provide more employee and campus security officer training, and issue “climate surveys” to students.

The University of Michigan also committed to a “climate survey,” as well as to reviewing its case files for each report of discrimination covered by Title VI during the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the OCR on its responses to reports of discrimination for the next two school years.

Neither institution was penalized financially, even though the Department of Education has the power to withhold federal funds, which most colleges and universities depend on. There are now 149 pending investigations into campus antisemitism at OCR. If these investigations yield toothless results similar to those of CUNY and Michigan, it is highly unlikely that colleges and universities will improve how they deal with antisemitism.

Putting an end to skyrocketing antisemitism on campus involves three things.

First, donors and governments at every level should withhold funds from colleges that fail to hire administrators who will take antisemitism as seriously as they take pronoun offenses or racism directed at people of color.

Second, the OCR must mete out serious consequences to Title VI violators in the form of funding cuts. This may require legislation that specifically mandates withdrawing funding from offending parties. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.)—the University Accountability Act—may be ideal, as it is designed to financially penalize institutions that don’t crack down on antisemitism.

Third, if OCR won’t act, Jewish students and their supporters should turn to the courts. Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the legal director of the Deborah Project, a public-interest Jewish law firm, argues that the CUNY settlement demonstrates the futility of going to OCR and that going to court is more likely to produce “a clearly delineated and productive result,” such as punitive and compensatory fines. As of late May, at least 14 colleges and universities are facing lawsuits over their handling of antisemitism on campus since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

As long as college administrators are allowed to ignore antisemitism on campus and as long as OCR and other government institutions fall short in punishing Jew-hatred, antisemitism will continue to plague Jewish students.

The post Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism first appeared on

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Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK

Candace Owens speaks at CPAC on March 2, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin via Reuters Connect

Political commentator Candace Owens claimed on Friday that the US is being held “hostage” by Israel and suggested that AIPAC, the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, was behind the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.
“It seems like our country is being held hostage by Israel,” Owens, a right-wing provocateur, said during the opening segment of her YouTube show, where she interviewed far-left commentator Briahna Joy Gray.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble for that. I don’t care,” Owens lamented.
Gray, who was the guest for this episode, was recently fired from The Hill‘s TV show, Rising, after aggressively cutting off and rolling her eyes at the sister of an Israeli hostage who said that Hamas sexually assaulted women during the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and that people should believe those women. Gray, who claimed her firing was politically motivated, had repeatedly cast doubt on the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women during the Hamas-led onslaught.
However, Owens said that part of the reasons she was addressing the subject was that people were being fired because they were “not happy … when an innocent Palestinian kid dies” or for “critiquing a foreign nation.”
Also on Friday’s show, Owens claimed US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was “wading into some dangerous waters” when, during an interview with host Tucker Carlson, he spoke about how effective the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is at lobbying members of Congress and suggested the group should have to register as a foreign agent that is acting on behalf of Israel.
The reason it was dangerous, Owens said, was because “we know there was once a president that wanted to make AIPAC register, and he ended up shot … so Thomas Massie better be careful.”
Owens was referencing the fact that Kennedy wanted the American Zionist Council, a lobby group, to register as a foreign agent. However, there is no evidence the group had anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination.
Owens and The Daily Wire, which was co-founded by conservative and Jewish political commentator Ben Shapiro, parted ways after Owens flirted with antisemitic conspiracy theories for a number of months, especially following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“In all communities there are gangs. In the black community we’ve got the Bloods, we’ve got the Crips. Well, imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens said while still at The Daily Wire. “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood if there is just a very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism. It’s food for thought, right? … this appears to be something that is quite sinister.”
Additionally, after getting into a spat with an outspoken and controversial rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, she said, “Are you going to kill me? Are you going to kill me, because I refuse to kowtow to you, and I think it’s weird that you and your daughter are promoting and selling sex toys, that’s why I deem you an ‘unholy rabbi?’”
“You gross me out. You disgust me. I am a better person than you, and I do not fear you,” Owens continued.
The list of controversial incidents involving Owens continued to grow longer with time. In one case, she “liked” an X/Twitter post that promoted the antisemitic “blood libel.” The post read, in response to Boteach, “Rabbi, are you drunk on Christian blood again?”
The “blood libel” is a medieval anti-Jewish slur which falsely claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in their religious rituals.

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