(JTA) — When Israel and Poland agreed to resume Israeli youth trips to Polish Holocaust sites last month, their agreement stipulated that new sites be added to the students’ itineraries, including some that document Nazi crimes against non-Jewish Poles. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and history authority, is now calling those additions “inappropriate” and “problematic.”
In statements to Haaretz published on Monday, leading historians condemned the development, arguing that the new trip rules advance what they call Poland’s track record of obscuring its Holocaust record.
The new list of required sites for students to see are “dubious at best and controversial at worst,” said Havi Dreifuss, a Tel Aviv University history professor affiliated with Yad Vashem. She added that some of the sites “ignore documented aspects of Poles’ involvement in the murder of Jews,” or even “glorify Poles who were involved up to their necks in the murder of Jews.”
“What you have there is the ‘Polish wish-list’ of where Israeli youth should go,” said Jan Grabowski, a professor who studies Polish-Jewish Holocaust history and has been prosecuted in Poland over some of his research conclusions. “It reads like a Holocaust denier’s dream.”
Youth trips to Holocaust sites in Poland have long been part of a longstanding educational program in Israel. They were suspended last year amid a series of diplomatic spats between Poland and Israel fueled mostly by a push by Poland’s right-wing government to highlight German crimes against Poles during World War II. Historians around the world have argued that the campaign — which included multiple laws that drew harsh responses from Jerusalem — has also sought to downplay Polish crimes against local Jews before, during and after the Holocaust.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was critical of those recent Polish laws, but since assembling the most right-wing government in Israel’s history earlier this year, lawmakers have pushed for renewing ties. After meeting with his Polish counterpart last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen declared that the countries’ “crisis” in relations was over. Cohen and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau signed an agreement stating that Israeli youth trips to Holocaust sites in Poland would resume, pending approval in the Knesset, or Israel’s parliament. Poland also agreed to reinstate its ambassador to Israel.
Soon after the signing, Poland’s deputy foreign minister noted in a statement that Israeli students would learn on the trips “what [Poland] as a country and as a nation have been through and what we have survived.” The Israeli students will also meet with Polish youths, Paweł Jabłoński added, “to combat negative stereotypes that exist in Israel regarding Poland.”
Now details are being released to the public, Haaretz reported. In addition to touring Jewish-specific sites, students will also be required to visit at least one site per trip related to “other crimes of World War II,” which include museums focused on Nazi crimes against non-Jewish Poles.
Included in the list of additional sites is the Markowa Ulma-Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews in World War II —which tells the story of a Polish family who were killed for hiding eight Jews in their house. Other museums that highlight the “forsaken” or “doomed” Polish soldiers who rebelled against Communist forces in the aftermath of the war. Grabowski said that many of those soldiers were “ruthless murderers of Jews during and after the war.”
Israel’s education ministry and Yad Vashem both said that they have not agreed to modify the trips.
“Every tour that took place in the past can take place exactly as it was and with no changes in the future. The Poles have asked to add sites to the list, yet there is no such commitment to tour one site or another,” the ministry wrote in a statement to Haaretz.
Yad Vashem wrote that students sent through its programs “will not visit any site that is suspected of twisting the history of the Holocaust or promoting a historically incorrect narrative.”
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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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