Archive for November 13, 2017

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?

November 13, 2017

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan? Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, November 13, 2017

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

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No American or European on the face of this earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do.

Palestinians have respect for the money of their Arab brethren. The respect they lack is for the heads of the Arab states, and the regimes and royal families there.

It is important to take this into consideration in light of the growing talk about Saudi Arabia’s effort to help the Trump Administration market a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, the details of which remain intriguingly mysterious.

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, reportedly being promoted by Jared Kushner.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Saudis pressured Abbas to endorse the Trump Administration’s “peace plan.” Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. At this stage, it remains unclear how Abbas responded to the Saudi “ultimatum.”

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict. Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. Pictured: Abbas on a previous visit to Saudi Arabia, on February 23, 2015, meeting with Saudi King Salman. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

If true, the Saudi “ultimatum” to Abbas is tantamount to asking him to sign his death warrant. Abbas cannot afford to be seen by his people as being in collusion with an American “peace plan” that does not comply completely with their demands. Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that he will not accept anything less than a sovereign Palestinian state on all the pre-1967 lands, including east Jerusalem. He has also emphasized that the Palestinians will never give up the “right of return” for millions of “refugees” to their former homes inside Israel. Moreover, Abbas has clarified that the Palestinians will not accept the presence of any Israeli in their future Palestinian state.

Abbas has done his dirty work well. He knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he promised them. He knows that his people have been radicalized to the point that they will not agree to any concessions or compromise with Israel.

And who is responsible for this radicalization? Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who continue unendingly to tell their people through the media, discourse and mosques that any concession to Israel constitutes treason, pure and simple.

So it would be naïve to think that Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country would be able to strong-arm any Palestinian leader to accept a “peace plan” that requires the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Abbas may have much respect for the ambitious and savvy young crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This respect, however, certainly stops at the border of the political suicide – and extreme personal risk — from Abbas’s point of view.

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

For now, it appears that the vast majority of Arab regimes no longer care about the Palestinians and their leaders. The Palestinians despise the Arab leaders as much as they despise each other. It is a mutual feeling. The Palestinians particularly despise any Arab leader who is aligned with the US. They do not consider the US an honest broker in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, in fact, view the US as being “biased” in favor of Israel, regardless of whether the man sitting in the Oval Office is a Democrat or Republican.

The Saudi crown prince is viewed by Palestinians as a US ally. His close relations with Jared Kushner are seen with suspicion not only by Palestinians, but by many other Arabs as well. Palestinian political analysts such as Faisal Abu Khadra believe that the Palestinian leadership should prepare itself to face the “mysterious” Trump “peace plan.” They are skeptical that the plan would meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians appear to be united in rejecting the Trump Administration’s effort to “impose” a solution on them. They are convinced that the Americans, with the help of Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries, are working towards “liquidating” the Palestinian cause. Abbas and his rivals in Hamas now find themselves dreading the US administration’s “peace plan.”

Like lemmings drawn to the sea, the Palestinians seem to be marching towards yet another scenario where they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

Not Satire | Penn State Greens: Israeli Tree Planting is Environmental Racism

November 13, 2017

Penn State Greens: Israeli Tree Planting is Environmental Racism, Watts up with That, November 13, 2017

h/t Nick – If there was one Israeli initiative you would think radical greens would support, that would be Israeli efforts to restore ancient forests and improve national CO2 sequestration with a massive tree planting programme.

But no – according to Penn State Student organization “Fossil Free Penn”, the tree planting initiative is environmental racism.

Penn Students Hold Presentation on Environmental Racism

By Daniel Tancredi

The student group Fossil Free Penn held a discussion on environmental racism as part of its weeklong engagement project called “Divestfest” Wednesday afternoon.

In discussing environmental racism, the speakers highlighted the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Jewish National Fund, an organization that plants trees in Israel, was a major subject of discussion. After asserting that the organization acted unjustly by purchasing land from Palestinians in the early 1900s in deals from which the Palestinians did not profit, the presenters looked into the symbolism of “making the desert bloom,” a phrase the students argued connected the forest environment to whiteness, evoked the notion of “a vacuum that the European savior can come nourish,” and ultimately incentivized “artificially making these areas look more like Europe.”

The students found a particular problem in the planting of pine trees in Israel and the West Bank, drawing a “connection between pine trees, forestation, and the way they further the colonialist agenda through capitalistic (sic) means of timber production.

While pine trees are an invasive species and can be bad for certain environments, the solution is not merely to plant native trees like the olive tree.

“If we are talking about environmental justice, we have to consider intersectionality,” one of the presenters said. “We have to consider the way that different environmental agendas are being used in order to romanticize and support things that may be in violation of human rights and ancestry rights.” Additionally, the students urged the audience to “look for the complexity in the way that issues are whitewashed.”

Read more: https://statesmanonline.org/2017/11/03/students-hold-presentation-on-environmental-racism/

Penn State, the place where your kids can learn from greens that planting trees is wrong, unless they are planted by people with a politically acceptable pedigree.

‘Don’t you dare’

November 13, 2017

‘Don’t you dare’ Israel Hayom, Yoav Limor, November 13, 2017

Now the message to Gaza is “no more.” Israel will not be a passive player, rather an active one that if attacked – will attack back. If Islamic Jihad considered a limited retaliation, one that would not lead to an escalation of hostilities, Israel is saying that its reaction will be severe regardless. It will not only target Islamic Jihad but the ruling faction in Gaza: Hamas.

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The unusual announcement from Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories unit, Saturday night was not out of the blue. In Israel, defense officials believe Palestinian Islamic Jihad is preparing a revenge attack for the demolition of its underground tunnel and deaths of its people.

This assessment was enough for Mordechai to leave his home Saturday evening, put on his uniform, and drive to IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv to record an announcement in Arabic, the gist of which can be summarized in three simple words: Don’t you dare.

During the 69 seconds in which he spoke, Mordechai sought to transfer the dilemma to the other side. Ever since the tunnel was destroyed, some two weeks ago, Israel has been on high alert; its military activity along the security fence has been minimal, agricultural work in the vicinity has been greatly restricted, and the message received by the Gaza was that Israel was waiting for a retaliation.

Now the message to Gaza is “no more.” Israel will not be a passive player, rather an active one that if attacked – will attack back. If Islamic Jihad considered a limited retaliation, one that would not lead to an escalation of hostilities, Israel is saying that its reaction will be severe regardless. It will not only target Islamic Jihad but the ruling faction in Gaza: Hamas.

This purpose of this message was to pass the dilemma back to Gaza. It was meant for Hamas, which is taking great pains to restrain Islamic Jihad and has thus far managed to stop it from retaliating; and for Islamic Jihad itself – which was warned that a terrorist attack would bring disaster to the Gaza Strip and sabotage Palestinian reconciliation efforts (which Israel opposes but is presently seeking to utilize). As expected, Islamic Jihad responded with an aggressive message of its own, reiterating its intention to retaliate.

With that, it appears the group’s leadership in Gaza has yet to make that decision and is waiting for the green light from its military headquarters in Damascus, namely from Ramadan Salah and his second-in-command Ziad Nahala. This is also why Mordechai included in his statement a particularly undiplomatic message for the two, warning “there will be those who will be held responsible” for the consequences of a future attack.

In the meantime, there are no signs that Islamic Jihad is folding. If the prevailing assumption of a revenge attack materializes – which will lead to an assured Israeli response – we could find ourselves in a downward spiral that neither side wants.

Iran-backed forces could be 3 miles from Israel under Syria deal

November 13, 2017

Israel says agreement does not go far enough in moving Iran and affiliated militias away from Golan Heights border

Today, 12:59 pm

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-backed-forces-could-be-3-miles-from-israel-under-syria-deal-report/

Iranian-backed forces in Syria could be left as close as five kilometers to the Israeli border under the terms of a ceasefire agreement hammered out between the US, Russia, and Jordan, according to a report this week. Israel has indicated that it is unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

An Israeli official said that, under the deal, militias associated with Iran would be allowed to maintain positions as little as five to seven kilometers (3.1-4.3 miles) from the border in some areas, Reuters reported Monday.

In other areas, the Iranian-allied forces would be pulled back as far as 30 kilometers from the border, explained the official, who spoke with the news agency on condition of anonymity. The final arrangements will depend on the current positions held by rebel forces fighting against the Assad regime on the Syrian part of the Golan Heights.

According to media reports, the deal applies even to Iranian proxies fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Ohad Zweigenberg)

Israeli intelligence minister Yisrael Katz refused to confirm those details but Israeli authorities have indicated the agreement does not go far enough in moving Iran and affiliated militias away from the Israeli border.

“Even though we view favorably the agreement on the need to eliminate the foreign forces — namely, the Iranian forces, Hezbollah and the Shiite militias from the area — the test will be on the ground, not in words but in deeds. Israel has already made it clear that it shall not accept Iran and its affiliates and proxies basing themselves in Syria, which will be a permanent threat and a constant source of tension, friction and instability,” Katz said Monday.

Israel has lobbied against allowing Iran to maintain any foothold in Syria. On Saturday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel “will not allow the Shiite axis to be established in Syria as a base for action,” after new photos were published of a permanent Iranian base being built some 50 kilometers from the Israeli Golan Heights.

Tzachi Hanegbi (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On Sunday, minister Tzachi Hanegbi said  the agreement “does not answer Israel’s unequivocal demands that there will be no developments that bring Iranian or Hezbollah forces closer to Israel’s border with Syria in the north.”

The Israeli official who spoke to Reuters said the deal is intended to keep rival Syrian factions from clashing with each other but will also control the presence of Iranian proxies.

The agreement, announced in a US-Russian statement Saturday, affirms a call for “the reduction, and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from southern Syria.

A tank flying the Hezbollah terror group’s flag is seen in the Qara area in Syria’s Qalamoun region on August 28, 2017.(AFP Photo/Louai Beshara)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past voiced concerns over Iran’s plans to cement its presence in Syria, which, he has said, include the establishment of naval and air force bases.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani confirmed Sunday no non-Syrian fighters would be allowed in the “de-escalation zone” under the agreement, which he said was built on a previous ceasefire reached in July.

He also said the deal was a “key step” in ending the fighting in Syria and would help lead to a political solution to the Syrian civil war, according to the country’s al-Ghad newspaper.

The reports on the new ceasefire agreement came after the BBC published satellite photos on Friday said to show the construction of a permanent Iranian military base in Syria.

According to the BBC report, the base is situated at a site used by the Syrian army near El-Kiswah, 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus, and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Israeli border.

Satellite image of alleged Iranian base in Syria from October 2017 (Airbus, Digital Globe and McKenzie Intelligence Services/BBC)

In July, the Times of London reported that Israel was pushing Russia and the US for an agreement that would prevent “Hezbollah or other Iranian-backed militias” from operating in the area, which would extend some 30 miles (48 kilometers) beyond the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group that acts as a proxy of Iran, has been fighting on behalf of the Syrian President Bashar Assad in his efforts to suppress a six-year long insurgency. Russia, an ally of both Syria and Iran, has also provided military assistance in the war.

In recent years there have been several airstrikes inside Syria, attributed to the Israel, that targeted alleged shipments of advanced weapons and rockets for Hezbollah. Israel has vowed to prevent the Shiite organization, which holds positions along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, from obtaining game-changing weaponry.

In August Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Sochi, Russia, and entreated him to curb Iranian military expansion in Syria.

On Friday Pravda reported that while Putin told Netanyahu at their talks that “Israel is also an important partner for Russia in the region,” he stressed that “Iran is Russia’s strategic ally in the Middle East” and declined to abandon Russia’s alliance with the Islamic Republic.

Arab League To Hold Urgent Meeting On Iran As Saudis Reportedly Mobilize Fighter Jets

November 13, 2017
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-12/arab-league-hold-urgent-meeting-iran-saudis-mobilize-f-15-fighter-jets

The Arab League is set to hold an emergency meeting on Iran at Saudi Arabia’s request, this according to Reuters and various regional sources, at a moment when Saudi fighter jets may be mobilizing for war in an attempted show of force. Egypt-based Ahram Online also reports further that the meeting will discuss “Iranian interference” in the region at League headquarters in Cairo, and other early unconfirmed reports indicate the meeting could come as early as next Sunday.

News of the Arab League extraordinary session comes as tensions are at breaking point as regional powers – especially Saudi Arabia and Israel – talk war against perceived Iranian expansion and domination in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, The Daily Star, citing the Baghdad Post, claims that Saudi Arabia has scrambled its air force for strikes in Lebanon: “Reports now state the Royal Saudi Air Force has placed its warplanes on alert to launch strikes as the region sits on a knife edge.” The report accompanies undated footage of Saudi F-15’s in aerial maneuvers over what is presumably a Saudi airfield.

The Daily Star adds the following accompanying the video:

The kingdom has mobilized its F-15 fighter jet fleet to launch a military operation against the Iranian-backed terrorist militia of Hezbollah in Lebanon, regional news website The Baghdad Post reports.

Saudi Arabia previously accused both Lebanon and Iran of committing an act of wars against it after rebels fired a missile at the King Khalid International Airport in the kingdom’s capital of Riyadh.


Saudi Arabia has reportedly placed its air force on alert

However unlikely it is that the Saudis would take direct military action against Lebanon, the report reveals the legitimate fears of Lebanese citizens who are increasingly aware that their country has fallen in the cross hairs of an unusual alliance between Saudi Arabia, Israel, and anti-Iranian interests which see Hezbollah and pro-Iranian proxies as the number one threat and scapegoat for all of the region’s problems.

Iran is currently being scapegoated for just about all tensions which have exploded in the gulf over the past week, including the following:

  • the civil war in Yemen,
  • the Qatar economic blockade and isolation over accusations that it is “Iran friendly”,
  • the latest civil unrest in Bahrain and the alleged bombing of a major oil pipeline there,
  • ratcheting up tensions with Israel in support of Hezbollah,
  • destabilizing Lebanon itself leading to PM Saad Hariri’s “resignation” – all of this precipitating the Saudi “night of the long knives”.

As many astute pundits have pointed out, it’s now “blame Iran time” according to the official Saudi (and allies) narrative of events in order to set the stage for public support for potential military action against Iran

So we never forget !

November 13, 2017
Pendant lost in Sobibor reunites Jewish girl’s family 70 years later
A piece of jewelry discovered by archaeologists at the former Nazi death camp, similar to a pendant that had belonged to Anne Frank, leads to a worldwide journey in search of relatives of its owner, Karoline Cohn. The journey will come to its end Monday, when family members gather in Frankfurt to commemorate a girl they never even knew existed.
https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5041785,00.html

I remember that day clearly. It was January 16, 10 months ago. I got a phone call from an unknown number. I was on my way to the cinema, so I didn’t answer. Ten minutes later, my daughter called and left a message that sounded more urgent than usual. ‘Father, you have to listen to this,’ she said. ‘There’s someone on the line with information about your family.’”In a phone call from his home in Virginia, 72-year-old Barry Eisman tells me about the day his private history underwent a dramatic change. Eisman will arrive in Frankfurt this week for an extraordinary meeting of family members who were separated by fate 75 years ago. Now, thanks to hard work and a lot of luck, the family is about to reunite.

The anonymous girl riddle

The key to the family reunion was buried all these years a few tens of centimeters under the frozen ground of the Sobibor extermination camp in eastern Poland. One day last winter, during an excavation in the area, archaeologists discovered a silver pendant with Hebrew words: “Mazal Tov, 3.7.1929, Frankfurt am Main.”

Karoline Cohn’s pendant, which was found in the ground of the Sobibor death camp, similar to the one worn by Anne Frank (Photo: From family album)

Karoline Cohn’s pendant, which was found in the ground of the Sobibor death camp, similar to the one worn by Anne Frank (Photo: From family album)

The hard work at Sobibor often reveals shocking findings, from children’s name tags to teeth braces and bones. “All we hear in the background are the voices of the spades, and there is constant tension in the air because you don’t know what you’ll find,” says Yoram Haimi, the archaeologist who has been leading the digging in the area for 10 years now, and whose own relatives were murdered in Sobibor.

The excavation has already uncovered some 70,000 items, but the anonymous pendant that was unearthed that morning grabbed his attention and was handed over to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

In early 2017, Yad Vashem researchers discovered the identity of the pendant’s owner. Karoline Cohn, the only Jewish girl born in Frankfurt on the date imprinted on the pendant, was 12 years old when she was deported with her sister Gita and their parents to Minsk Ghetto in Poland. From there, they were likely sent to Sobibor. The pendant was found under the floor of the hut where women were undressed and had their hair cut off, moments before entering the gas chambers.

The researchers were surprised to find out that the only other pendant similar to the one found in the excavation belonged to another girl born three weeks before her in Frankfurt: Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who kept a diary while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam before being deported to a concentration camp. Was there any connection between the two girls? That question remains unanswered.

Anne Frank. Did they know each other?

Anne Frank. Did they know each other?

In January, Yad Vashem researchers and the Israel Antiquities Authority issued an appeal to the public to provide information about Karoline Cohn, who was killed together with her entire immediate family. Chaim Motzen, an Israeli entrepreneur in the field of renewable energy in Africa and an amateur genealogist in his free time, was intrigued by the appeal.

“I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and at the time I was trying to find a picture of my great grandfather for my 90-year-old grandmother,” he says in a phone conversation from Ethiopia. “When I read the story, I said, wow, perhaps I could help. I started researching.

“At first, I made quick progress through testimony pages and by searching through databases, and I found a few relatives. When I contacted them, they were so excited that it encouraged me to keep going. I had to do some detective work, buy documents from abroad, telephone all kinds of people.”

Within several weeks, Motzen contacted dozens of relatives who had never heard about Karoline and her family. Some of them didn’t even know they were Jewish.

“It was an emotional and strong conversation,” Barry recalls the first time he spoke to Motzen. “The first thing I felt was guilt. Guilt that we have a good life, and she deserved a good life too.”

Barry’s father left Germany in 1930 and started a new life in New York. “He must have known Karoline. She was a year and a half old when he left. After he left, his entire family was murdered. He remained all alone. He never spoke about it, and we didn’t know anything about that family. He may have been trying to protect us.”

“Father didn’t talk much about anything,” confirms Michelle Eisman, Barry’s sister, who lives in Hiroshima, Japan. “Even when we asked questions, he didn’t want to answer. But I remember that when the Eichmann trial was broadcast on TV, he was glued to the screen. I sat next to him and asked if it wasn’t painful for him to watch these things. He was silent for a moment, and then he said: ‘Time heals all wounds.’”

‘It’s already changing us’

Sonya Kunkel, 56, of Connecticut, recalls her initial suspicions when she received the phone call from Motzen in January. She quickly realized the magnitude of the story, however, and joined the research efforts. She contacted relatives and started going over documents and pictures. Her paternal grandmother was Karoline’s cousin.

When the new family tree that developed around the girl with the pendant grew, an initiative was raised to commemorate Karoline Cohn and her family members. Over 30 relatives from around the world are expected to come together Monday, and artist Gunter Demnig will place a brass plate with the names of the murdered family members between the cobblestones opposite the family’s house in Frankfurt, like tens of thousands of similar brass plates commemorating Nazi victims all over Europe. Children from Karoline’s old school will hold a memorial ceremony, and archaeologist Yoram Haimi will explain to the children about the research.

Karoline Cohn’s relatives. ‘I felt guilty that we had a good life, which she deserved to have too’

Karoline Cohn’s relatives. ‘I felt guilty that we had a good life, which she deserved to have too’

Barry is very excited about the upcoming trip. He used to be a professional basketball player, and even played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1968. After Motzen gave him his father’s original address in a town near Frankfurt, he contacted the local community and discovered that his father had been an outstanding soccer player as a child. He plans to visit the town during his trip to Frankfurt.

“We’re going to meet a lot of new people,” he says. “If only we could have a normal Jewish family meeting instead of this family reunion, in which people complain about each other and argue about trivial matters. It’s going to be an extremely staggering moment, and I think it’s already changing us. We’re getting closer.”

“I’m very excited about the meeting,” says Sonya. “It’s amazing to find out that an entire part of our family, which I thought had ceased to exist, actually exists.”

Her father, Ernest, is looking forward to the reunion too, but the journey brings back bad memories too. “There’s still the internal feeling of the persecution we went through, hiding in Italy, moving from one village to another in a constant effort to survive. I was very young, but I have a lot of memories.”

Some relatives will arrive from Israel too. One of them is Ruthie Weinstein from Ra’anana. Whose mother was Karoline’s cousin. “I don’t know the people who are coming to Frankfurt,” she says. “I was very surprised by the discovery. I was an only child all my life, and suddenly I have a big family. It’s very strange, but it’s also sad, very sad.”

‘They deserve to be remembered’

The organization behind the initiative is the Claims Conference, which has been active since the 1950s and focuses on negotiations with the German government over reparations for Holocaust survivors. When Yad Vashem researchers found Karoline Cohn’s name according to her birthdate and place of birth, it was thanks to the computerized Yad Vashem database, which was funded by the Claims Conference.

After the relatives were located around the world, the organization decided to use the educational opportunity to initiate a ceremony together with the local schools.

“All this has to do with one of our important goals,” explains Claims Conference Chairman Greg Schneider. “We are in an era in which Holocaust stories are turning from a personal memory into history, and it’s our responsibility to document as much as we can.

“In the documentation area, the main point is the commemoration. A million and a half children were murdered in the Holocaust. It’s impossible to comprehend the meaning of such a number, but it is possible to comprehend Karoline Cohn’s story. That’s why people are comparing the story to Anne Frank. Karoline didn’t keep a dairy, or maybe she did but we haven’t gotten hold of it. That doesn’t make her life less precious. These people deserve to be remembered.”

The organization transfers about $1 billion a year from the German government in direct payments to Holocaust survivors around the world and to welfare organizations that support them. One percent of the budget, about $9 million, is allotted to education, documentation and commemoration.

Schneider plans to attend the Frankfurt ceremony too, along with Chaim Motzen, Yoram Haimi and the relatives. “This day has a grand goal,” he says. “It’s important to the family, which was torn into pieces, but it’s also a unique opportunity for the rest of the world to gain a slightly better understanding of the meaning of the Holocaust.”

“There’s only one thing I’m really distressed about,” Barry concludes. “That my father and his family are not here to discover all of this together with us. I’m certain it would have been very painful for them, but it might have also served as a proper closure.”

He pauses for a minute before adding, “Sometimes I think it wasn’t a coincidence that the pendant fell under the floor. It may have Karoline’s goal. Perhaps she knew that some of her relatives had escaped and settled around the world, and that one day this pendant would be found and would bring the family back together. And look, that’s exactly what happened.”

Now, after helping to bring Karoline Cohn’s family together, Chaim Motzen is seeking the public’s help in finding his own lost relatives:

 “My grandmother Marth (Miriam) Koth Motzen is a Holocaust survivor from Putnok, Hungary. Her dream is to see a picture of her father, Yaakov Yehezkel Koth, who was murdered in the Holocaust. My extensive research has generated no results, and I would appreciate any help. Her father was born in Putnok in July 22, 1897 to Avraham Koth and Catlin (Gittel) Braun. He studied in Bratislava, at the Pressburg Yeshiva, from 1915 to 1919, and married Regina Weingarten in Spišské Podhradie in 1923, and then they returned to Putnok. I would be grateful for any relevant picture, from the yeshiva or from acquaintances.”