(JTA) — Uruguay’s president has withdrawn a proposal to transform a swastika-emblazoned 800-pound bronze eagle from a sunken Nazi ship into an artistic display of peace, following criticism that the plan devalued history.
The question of what to do with the eagle, which sits in a naval warehouse, has vexed Uruguay since private explorers recovered it from the wreckage of the Admiral Graf Spee in 2006. The country briefly displayed it as a historical artifact but retracted the display after facing charges that it was glorifying Nazism.
In 2019, a Uruguayan court ruled that the government must auction the crest and give the proceeds to the investors who paid for the recovery mission. It was pulled off the auction block amid protests by Jewish groups and the German government; last year, a Jewish businessman offered to buy it and destroy it.
President Luis Lacalle Pou offered another idea on Friday: let the Uruguayan sculpture artist Pablo Atchugarry melt down the relic, refashioning the Nazi eagle into a dove of peace.
Local Jewish leaders initially applauded the presidential announcement. But soon voices emerged to criticize the plan.
Turning a Nazi artifact into a peace dove would be like if “Mexico turned its Aztec sacrificial stones into camping tables,” Uruguayan historian and humorist Diego Delgrossi argued. A former parliamentarian, Anibal Gloodtdofsky, likened it to “transforming Auschwitz into a nude camp.”
And the Uruguayan writer Mercedes Vigil tweeted in response to the government’s announcement, “If the cultural heritage of humanity followed these criteria, jewels like the Roman Circus, Cappadocia, the Wailing Wall and more, today would be scorched earth.”
On Sunday Uruguay’s president announced that he withdrew his decision. “If one wants to generate peace, the first thing to generate is unity. And that is what is not happening,” Lacalle Pou said in a press conference. “I still think it’s a good idea, but a president has to listen.”
The debate extended across the Rio de la Plata, the river separating Uruguay and Argentina, where there is a significant Jewish population and the region’s only Holocaust museum, which recently reopened after a three-year renovation.
“All ideas and artistic representations that raise awareness about the horror of Nazism are very valuable,” the Buenos Aires Holocaust Museum’s executive director, Jonathan Karzembaum, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Monday. “However, it is not necessary to take an object or historical document for this, especially one as unique as the eagle on the Graf Spee, which links the history of the Third Reich with the Rio de la Plata river.”
Another Argentine proposed a different plan for the Nazi eagle.
“The eagle on the Graf Spee must not be adulterated or destroyed,” tweeted Carlos Maslaton, an attorney and political liberal with a large social media following. “On the contrary, it should be taken to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, which is the country of the Jews, and exhibited in a special monument with the phrase: ´Failed Nazis, the operation went wrong. Zionism has won. Blow yourself up.’”
Uruguay is home to about 15,000 Jews, according to the Latin American Jewish Congress, out of a total population of 3.4 million. It was the first South American country to officially recognize the state of Israel and was home to the first Israeli embassy in Latin America, established in 1948.
Uruguay is far from alone in struggling with how to handle Nazi relics. Most auction houses eschew the items, in part out of fear that they may be purchased by Nazi sympathizers, though a few have made a business in the trade.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement in 2021 urging Uruguay to display the crest in a museum instead of selling it to an open market. German officials have changed their initial anti-display posture, saying that they would allow the eagle’s display in an educational museum context. Lacalle Pou did not offer another plan after withdrawing the peace dove proposal.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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