Friday, March 23, 2012

Warsaw honors fighter killed in ghetto uprising

From JPost, 21 Mar 2012:
Sixty-nine years after he died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a plaque was dedicated to Jewish fighter Pavel Frankel in a ceremony held Tuesday in the city where he died.

Composite drawing of Pavel Frankel - a portrait drawn by Gil Gibli* a police artist, based on descriptions provided by the last remaining people who knew him.

The ceremony was attended by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, former defense minister Moshe Arens, a native of Poland, as well as Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and the Polish deputy education minister.
“This represents the mending of the historical tragedy of Pavel Frankel and his brothersin- arms in the Jewish army, who fell in battle and whose story has not been told for many years and who did not receive the proper recognition they deserve for their part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising,” said Sa’ar.
Frankel was 23 years old when he was killed fighting in the uprising in 1943.
From the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel:
Pavel Frankel Square Dedicated in Herzliya In Memory of Betar Leader in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
On July 13, 2008, a square at the junction of Hadar and Leib Yaffe Streets in Herzliya was dedicated in memory of Pavel Frankel (1920-1943), leader of the Jewish Military Organization (ZZW) in the Warsaw Ghetto. Herzliya City Council member Yaron Olami filed the request to name the square for the Betar commander. Frankel commanded the Jewish Military Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto’s Moranowska Square, where, according to witnesses, the most fierce and difficult fighting of the uprising took place.
The names of Frankel and the organization he headed are almost non-existent in national and world memory. Haim Lazar, whose family members were present at the ceremony, was the first to write about the Betar uprising in his book, Masada of Warsaw. Representatives of the Jabotinsky Institute, the Begin Heritage Center and Betar also attended the ceremony, along with many Herzliya residents.
Herzliya mayor Yael German said in her remarks that “today we pay a historic debt. The anonymous heroes who fought steadfastly and bravely during the Shoah for the survival of the Jewish People were not always granted perpetuation in the annals of history.” She concluded her remarks with a quote from Yigal Alon: “A nation that does not respect its past faces a present of weakness and a future pervaded by clouds.”
Likud chairman and former prime minister MK Binyamin Netanyahu, said that truth and justice were one and the same. History is selective and it often distorts, twists or simply omits facts. The case of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is not understood. The saga of the uprising is known and recognized throughout the world, marking a turning point in the fate of the Jewish nation. The young Jews who fought in Warsaw, members of all youth movements, are deserving of veneration. Yet, it is incomprehensible how the actions of Frankel and his Betar comrades in the Uprising are ignored.
The Polish ambassador to Israel, Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, expressed her pride at participating in the dedication. She said that while Pavel Frankel was a part of Jewish and Israeli history, he was no less a part of Polish history. She added that on the previous Holocaust Memorial Day, the Polish Embassy in Israel had helped place a sign in Moranowska Square in Warsaw in memory of the ZZW. Its members were not commemorated in the official narrative of the ghetto uprising since they were members of Betar, and because many of them were officers and soldiers in the Polish army who maintained contact with the Polish underground Armia Krajowa. Now, after many years of the perversion of history, she was proud to stand as a representative of the liberal Republic of Poland.
Former defense minister and foreign minister Moshe Arens, who has been involved for a number of years in commemorating ZZW’s role in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, will soon publish his research. According to Arens, 65 years ago, on the 19th of July, Pavel Frankel fell in the final battle that took place in the Ghetto. Frankel and 11 of his fighters had been discovered by the Germans at 11 Zabowska Street. All of the Jewish heroes fell in the fierce fighting that left four Germans dead and many others injured.
Mordechai Anilewicz and Pavel Frankel, leaders of the two largest military organizations in the Ghetto, set out on April 19, 1943 to fight the German murderers in a war of few against many. They knew they had no chance to prevail; yet that this was a war for the pride of the Jewish nation. Atop the tallest building on Moranowska Street, they hoisted two flags: the Zionist flag — the Israeli flag, and the Polish flag. The Germans were forced to battle for three days in order to remove these flags.
Arens concluded with a quote from Frankel, who, several days before the Uprising had told his friends, “We will die young here, but we will not sentence ourselves to obscurity. Jewish children in the State that will arise will yet learn of our struggle.” 

*A Holocaust hero rescued from obscurity

By Yair Sheleg
A picture of Pavel Frankel, the leader of the Beitar uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto has been "located" after 61 years. This is not an authentic photo that has suddenly surfaced, but a portrait drawn by a police artist based on descriptions provided by the last remaining people who knew him.
The drawing is part of a project initiated by former defense minister Moshe Arens, who decided to "redeem" the Beitar movement's role from oblivion and write a large study on the Beitar rebellion in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943.
Arens says that it is already clear that the role played by Beitar - which operated separately from the rest of the underground fighters who were led by Mordechai Anielewicz "because Anielewicz's people viewed them as fascists and refused to work in cooperation with them" - was much greater than previously documented.
"They had far more weapons," says Arens, "including two machine guns, and at a certain stage they even gave grenades to Anielewicz's fighters."
Arens discovered during his research that not one photo of Frankel, who was killed in the uprising, had survived. He decided to commission a drawing of the man based on testimony.
Through friends in the Israeli Police, Arens met Gil Gibli, the portrait artist for Globes newspaper who also works as a composite portrait artist for the police. He drew the composite that led to the identification of the 17th victim in the suicide bombing at Megiddo in 2002, and recently gained acclaim as the illustrator of a book written by the late former chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, for his grandchildren.
Arens arranged a drawing session with Gibli and three of the last witnesses Arens managed to locate from among Frankel's acquaintances: Yisrael Ribek, who had Frankel as his group leader in the Beitar youth movement; Milka Rosenzwieg, who knew Frankel before the war; and Fella Finkelstein, who was in Frankel's command during the uprising. Gibli, who tried to help them remember and describe the man they knew 60 years ago, said that his method was different than when drawing a regular criminal composite.
"First of all, there is more time for asking questions," explained Gibli. "It is not `a ticking bomb.' Of course it is very hard to have them focus on the image. I had the best success with Ribek, and his description was the basis for the portrait. Milka had trouble remembering, but confirmed what Ribek said. They had a difference of opinion as to whether he had a mustache. Ribek and Fella remembered him having one, Milka did not. I drew two possibilities, but I tend to believe he had a mustache, because it fits the general description I received from them, and also from the fact that he became a leader."
Finkelstein, 79, who was an 18-year-old signaler at the time, says, "I remember him very well, but only in general terms. It is hard for me to say whether he had thick or thin eyebrows, or what type of nose he had. So Gibli showed me the drawings he had made, and I told him what was right."
Finkelstein has not yet seen the final portrait, but she gave the latest drafts a seven, "because they looked about right, but not perfect."...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Israel inks sixth sub deal with Germany

From JTA, March 21, 2012:BERLIN (JTA) -- Israel will receive a sixth Dolphin-class submarine from Germany, significantly increasing the country's self-defense capabilities.
The deal was signed Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, according to his office. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere had announced the deal a day earlier.
Under the contract, Israel will purchase the submarine, which is capable of delivering missiles. Germany will assume one third of the total cost, or up to some $179 million, for the submarine, as it has with the three Dolphin-class subs already delivered to Israel and the two currently under construction.
"We are committed to this [sale] and find it proper," de Maiziere reportedly said.
Also at the signing ceremony were Israel's Defense Ministry Director General Maj.-Gen. Udi Shani and German State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defense Rudiger Wolf.
The deal "reflects the depth of Israel and Germany's relationship, as well as the German government's clear commitment to the State of Israel's security," Barak said in a statement following the signing. The deal reportedly follows years of negotiations.
Last fall, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel had threatened to halt delivery of one Dolphin submarine in protest against the Israeli government-approved construction of 1,100 apartments in the Jerusalem settlement of Gilo. But according to Israeli Military Radio, the threat was withdrawn last December when Israel acceded to European Union demands that it release some $100 million in frozen tax and customs fees to the Palestinian Authority.
The submarine deal was made in 2005 under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
German news reports emphasize the subs' nuclear capability.

U.N. unites on Syria, violence spills into Lebanon

From Reuters, Wed Mar 21, 2012, by Khaled Yacoub Oweis:AMMAN (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council, including Russia and China, threw its weight on Wednesday behind efforts by Kofi Annan to end the bloody conflict in Syria, providing a rare moment of global unity in the face of the year-long crisis.
In a statement approved by all its 15 members, the council threatened Syria with unspecified "further steps" if it failed to comply with Annan's peace plan, which calls for a ceasefire and demands swift access for aid agencies.
Although the original statement was diluted at Russia's demand, editing out any specific ultimatums, the fact that all world powers signed up to the proposal dealt a serious diplomatic blow to President Bashar al-Assad as he battles a popular uprising.
...The conflict spilled over Syria's borders late on Wednesday when several shells hit the Lebanese border village of al-Qaa and nearby fields, injuring one person, residents said.
Al-Qaa, 10 km (six miles) from the Syrian border, has been the first stop for many of the 7,000 Syrian refugees who have fled fighting into Lebanon.
Refugees complain that they are pursued by Syrian forces, who have often fired across the border, but al-Qaa residents said this was the first time artillery has been used.
Adding to the pressure on Damascus, European Union governments are set to impose sanctions on Assad's wife Asma on Friday, EU diplomats said, meaning that she will no longer be able to travel to the 27-nation bloc or buy products from EU-based shops in her own name.
The sanctions, which still need formal approval from ministers, come after the British-born former investment banker became the focus of media attention when a trove of emails obtained by Britain's Guardian newspaper appeared to show her spending tens of thousands of dollars on internet shopping sprees while Syria descended into bloodletting.
At least 8,000 people have died in the revolt, according to U.N. figures. Violence has intensified in recent weeks as pro-government forces bombard rebel towns and villages, looking to sweep their lightly armed opponents out of their strongholds.
Assad's forces have chalked up a string of gains as they turned their firepower on areas held by rebels. But the fighting shows no sign of abating and analysts expect the insurgents to change their tactics and adopt guerrilla warfare.

...Russia and China, competing with Western powers for influence in the Middle East, previously vetoed two U.N. draft resolutions that would have condemned Damascus and have resisted calls from Western and Arab states for Assad to stand down.
But faced by growing global outrage at the bloodshed, the two countries agreed to a so-called "presidential statement". They are generally non-binding documents but do require unanimous support in the Security Council.
Russia, one of Assad's few remaining allies, praised the document as pragmatic. "The most important thing is that there are no ultimatums ... and no suggestions as to who carries more blame," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Berlin.

...The latest Council accord came after Moscow adopted a new, sharper tone with Syria, which hosts Russia's only naval base outside the former Soviet Union.
"We believe the Syrian leadership reacted wrongly to the first appearance of peaceful protests and ... is making very many mistakes," Lavrov told Russian radio on Tuesday.
France welcomed the Security Council's move and said Assad must now halt all violence and repression, allow humanitarian aid to reach everyone in need and engage in "inclusive dialogue" with the opposition to find a lasting political solution.
"With this declaration the United Nations Security Council is beginning to take responsibility after months of blockage," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in Paris.