July 9, 2018

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Anne Frank’s family tried in vain to escape Nazis to US, new research shows

BERLIN — Research suggests the family of Anne Frank, the world-famous Jewish diarist who died in the Holocaust, attempted to immigrate to the United States and later also to Cuba, but their efforts were thwarted by America’s restrictive immigration policy and the outbreak of World War II.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum said Friday that documents indicate Anne’s father Otto tried twice to collect the papers needed to obtain visas for the United States. He later also appears to have applied for a visa to Cuba.

However, the Frank family’s escape efforts were all in vain. Eventually, they went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam on July 6, 1942 — exactly 76 years ago.

“I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see USA is the only country we could go to,” Otto Frank wrote in English to a friend in the United States in 1941.

His efforts to get the family out of the Netherlands to the US likely started as early as 1938 — a turbulent year in which Nazi Germany annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich. On November 9 that year, Nazis terrorized Jews throughout the country in the violent Kristallnacht pogroms, also known as the “Night of Broken Glass.”

Otto Frank wrote in his 1941 letter to his friend Nathan Straus that he had filed an application at the American consulate in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam in 1938.

However, he also mentioned that “all the papers have been destroyed there,” because on May 14, 1940, while the Frank family was still on a waiting list for possible visas, the American consulate was devastated during German bombardment and all papers were lost.

Even without the loss of their visa application, it would have been difficult for the Franks to immigrate to the United States. With hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in the US each year by the time war broke out in 1939, Washington was issuing fewer than 30,000 annual visas.

The processing of a visa application also lasted several years and included a huge amount of paperwork, affidavits from relatives or friends in the US. Even with all these demands fulfilled, applicants could still be turned down.

The new research focused on the paper trail, looking at documents like the affidavits of support, testimonies on character and other such items provided to the US authorities in the screening process, in addition to items like birth certificates, wedding certificates, tax clearances and more.

The war further complicated any immigration efforts. A renewed attempt in 1941 to get the family to the US failed because all American consulates in Germany-occupied Europe, including the Netherlands, were closed by the Nazis. A visa application to Cuba that same year also never came through.

While the Franks were not explicitly denied visas by the American consulate, “their efforts were thwarted by American bureaucracy, war and time,” the historians wrote.

“All their attempts failed, so going into hiding was their last attempt trying to get out of the hands of the Nazis,” said Annemarie Bekker from the Anne Frank House.

The family hid for more than two years during the war and it was then that Anne wrote her famous diary. On August 4, 1944, they were discovered and ultimately deported to Auschwitz.

Only Anne’s father Otto survived the war. Anne and her sister died in Bergen-Belsen camp. Anne was 15.

After the war, Otto Frank had his daughter’s diary published, and it went on to become a symbol of hope and resilience that has been translated into dozens of languages.

The house where the Franks hid was turned into a museum that is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions.



Thousands of Israelis rally near Gaza for return of soldiers’ bodies

Thousands of Israelis took part in a rally Friday near the Gaza Strip calling for the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers held by Hamas, while nearby on the other side of the border a Palestinian was reported killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Some 4,000 people took part in the event, waving Israeli flags and flying blue kites in a peaceful counter to the flaming airborne devices launched at Israel in recent months from Gaza.

Demonstrators called on the government to retrieve the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, whose bodies were captured by the Hamas terror group after they were killed in Gaza during the 2014 war.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is afraid of terrorism, gives prizes to Hamas and surrenders to its demands time after time,” Tzur Goldin, Hadar’s brother, was quoted by Channel 10 news as saying.

He also rejected releasing Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for Shaul and Goldin’s bodies. “We repeat that returning terrorists is not the only way to bring back our soldiers and citizens,” Tzur Goldin said.

In addition to Shaul and Goldin, Hamas is also holding Israeli citizens Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who each entered Gaza on their own accord.

Hamas is keeping the Israelis as bargaining chips for a prisoner exchange in which it would seek to secure the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

Proposals recently reported in Israeli and Arab media have indicated Israel is willing to take a number of steps to ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza, but will not do so without the return of the bodies of Shaul and Goldin. There is a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza as the enclave faces a lack of electricity, potable water and food.

President Reuven Rivlin said Wednesday Israel will not enable the Strip’s rehabilitation until the return of Shaul and Goldin’s bodies. He spoke at a memorial ceremony for troops killed in the 2014 Gaza war, which was boycotted by the Shaul and Goldin families in protest of Hamas’s continued possession of the soldiers’ remains.

Separately Friday, a few thousand Palestinians were reported to be taking part in the weekly “March of Return” protests on the Gaza border.

During the clashes, a group of Palestinians approached the border fence near the Karni Crossing in northern Gaza and threw an explosive device at Israeli troops, the army said. The device however exploded in Gaza, wounding a number of Palestinians but no soldiers, according to the IDF.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said one person was killed and 396 injured in the clashes. The ministry named the dead Palestinian as 22-year-old Mohamad Jamal Abu Halima.

Israel has accused Hamas of orchestrating the clashes, which began March 30, in order to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the border. Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups have recognized many of the 135 Palestinians reported killed since the start of the protests were their members.



African business leaders and entrepreneurs tour Israel, deepen ties

A delegation of 10 African business leaders and entrepreneurs are touring Israel as part of an effort to grow further business and development ties between the Jewish state and sub-Saharan Africa.

The tour, organized by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, features African business leaders and entrepreneurs from Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, who specialize in renewable energy and agriculture, to meet with Israeli counterparts in those fields.

“We are delighted to host such a distinguished business delegation in Israel and to facilitate introductions to counterparts in fields that symbolize the potential for enhanced engagement between Africa and Israel,” said Eliseo Neuman, director of AJC’s Africa Institute, who is accompanying the delegation in Israel. “We thank the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce in Tel Aviv for its advice in designing the program and granting us access to its impressive membership.”

While Africa is rich in natural resources, there are important bilateral benefits to be realized through expanded exchange of agricultural and other technologies between Israel and Africa.

Since Israel’s founding, the country’s agricultural sector has maintained high yields despite severe and chronic water shortages, and Israel is now sharing its water-technology expertise with countries around the world. For years, Africa has made remarkable advances through the integration of such Israeli agricultural expertise and technology.

In recent years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to build stronger relations with sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, he visited four East African nations, including Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda. He also visited Kenya again in late 2017, where he met with 11 African leaders.

Netanyahu has also sought to bolster diplomatic ties with African nations, including their support for Israel in international forums, while also offering Israel’s expertise in high-tech, water and agriculture to help the developing nations.



South Syrian rebels agree on surrender deal, Assad takes crossing

AMMAN/BEIRUT – South Syrian rebels agreed to give up arms in a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal on Friday, rebel sources said, surrendering Deraa province to the government in another major victory for President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies.

However, a state television correspondent said the surrender talks in Deraa were continuing, and no final deal had been reached because of differences between the rebel groups.

The Syrian government recovered the Nassib border crossing with Jordan, held by rebels for three years, state media reported, after an assault in insurgent territory along the frontier backed by Russian air strikes.

Rebel sources said Russia would guarantee the safe return of civilians who fled the government offensive in the biggest exodus of the war, with 320,000 people uprooted.

Seven years into the war which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, Assad now commands most of Syria with his allies’ help, though most of the north and a chunk of the east remains out of his hands. The presence of Turkish and U.S. forces in those areas will complicate further gains.

As Assad seeks victory, there seems little hope of a negotiated peace, with six million Syrians abroad as refugees and 6.5 million more internally displaced.

Russia has been at the forefront of the Deraa campaign, both bombing and negotiating with rebels who were told at the start of the offensive to expect no help from the United States.

Assad’s next target in the southwest appears to be rebel-held areas of Quneitra province at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where fighting between insurgents and the government escalated on Friday.

Israel said it had targeted a Syrian army post that shelled a frontier “buffer zone” in the Golan area.

Government advances in Deraa since mid June had brought large parts of the province back under state control.

Taking back the Nassib crossing paves the way for Assad to reopen a trade artery vital to his hopes of reviving the Syrian economy and starting to rebuild government-held areas.

Russian guarantees will also be extended to rebel fighters who wish to “settle their status” with the government – a process by which former insurgents accept to live under state rule again, the rebel sources said.

Rebels who did not wish to come back under Assad’s rule would leave for the insurgent stronghold in northwest Syria, they said.

It echoes the terms of previous opposition surrenders, but according to rebel sources, they also secured a concession that some government forces would withdraw from the area.

Russian military police would deploy instead with local forces overseen by Russia also deployed, they said.

The deal is to be rolled out across rebel-held areas of Deraa in phases, but there is no timeline as yet, said Abu Shaima, spokesman for an operations room for rebels under the Free Syrian Army banner.

The initial phases will cover the area along the border with Jordan, rather than the parts of northwestern Deraa around the city of Nawa, he said.

He said Syrian and Russian jets had pummeled towns across the southwest and villages near the border crossing.

Most of the hospitals had shut down amid the destruction in insurgent territory, which now barely had access to water or electricity, he said.

Several witnesses along the Jordan border fence with Syria said they people saw a convoy of over a hundred armored vehicles and tanks with Russian and Syrian state flags, along with hundreds of troops near Nassib.

Assad’s Iran-backed allies are also fighting in the campaign, defying Israeli demands they keep out of the border area. Hezbollah is helping lead the offensive but keeping a low profile, pro-Damascus sources told Reuters.

Both Israel and Jordan, which beefed up their borders, said they would not let refugees in but distributed aid inside Syria.

The U.N. refugee agency has urged Jordan to open its borders to the fleeing Syrians. The Norwegian Refugee Council has called this the largest displacement of Syria’s seven-year war.



U.S. defense official works with Israel on cutting edge anti-terror tech

US Department of Defense official Adam Tarsi’s June trip through Israel to work on joint cutting-edge technology projects to combat terror was far from his first run through “Start-up Nation.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post during Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week and Combating Terrorism Technology Conference in which he announced two new technologies who will receive special seed funding from the US, Tarsi explained that his department has been working with Israel for years on these issues.

Tarsi, whose specific division is called the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), said that the technologies his department helps fund for combating terrorism sometimes are for military and classified use, but sometimes are for use in the civilian sector.

His goal is to “look where venn diagrams intersect…where we have shared needs, so we only all need to solve problems once.”

The US defense official said that Israel is one of America’s “chief partners” on these issues due to its “long history in this business,” while adding that the US has similar agreements with England, Canada, Australia and Singapore.

Talking to the Post in the midst of the ongoing trade crises between US President Donald Trump and various traditional US allies, he said that the broader diplomatic tensions have not impacted his work. “There has been no spill over. We are very lucky that at a working level and an operational level, we go about our business, regardless of some other things that are taking place.”

Another advantage Israel has in developing technologies to combat terror is it faces “an operational test environment every day. Combine that with its innovative spirit, and it allows Israelis to be very aggressive in evaluating and testing novel technologies – adopting ones quickly that work, and dropping one which don’t.”

How is CTTSO different than its more well-known cousin, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), made famous in many fictional movies for researching everything from ultimate weapons to mind-control?

He said that DARPA looks into long-term programs which are likely to take five or more years to develop whereas the CTTSO focuses on rapid prototypes which can be put into the field in only one to two years.

Furthermore, while DARPA’s technologies may serve a wide-range of interests, the CTTSO is exclusively focused on technologies to combat terror.

Moreover, while DARPA has an international office and engages in information exchanges, the CTTSO is more zoned in on international cooperation, and with certain combating terror technologies which DARPA has interest in, his division will even run point on its behalf.

Tarsi said he is “not concerned at all” that the Mossad has been investing more funds in start-ups and could steal off some of the new up and coming ideas because “we are all rowing in the same direction. If there is an innovation that can benefit us, it will be shared with us.”

He made it clear that “if it is too sensitive and cannot be shared, that’s the way it is when you work in national security.”

Regarding the winning new technologies at the conference, first prize of $100,000 went to Cardio Scale. It uses an algorithm and a sleeve placed on a victim to detect how much internal bleeding is taking place in order to do triage on a battlefield with multiple injuries or after a mass terror incident.

Tarsi explained the idea is that, unfortunately there are horrific incidents where dozens or more people may be hurt, and quick decisions must be made about who should be treated first.

Instead of the current rough superficial approach of guessing based on who seems to have the largest outer wounds, Cardio Scale does a quick internal check to determine the rate of blood loss, the balance of internal versus external injuries and how close a person is to cardiac arrest in scoring victims.

Colugo won the second prize of $10,000, and has developed a breakthrough UAV technology that provides the advantages of both quadrotor and fixed-wing technologies, without the disadvantages of either.

This means that the technology allows taking off and landing vertically like a drone, but also flying for long distances and durations like a fixed wing UAV.

A prior Israeli company which his division helped fund was Fincom.

FINCOM’S TECHNOLOGY puts numerical values on phonetic characters, including using non-English characters, to help security systems review a range of spellings of names of particular terrorists on wanted lists.

To date, many times terrorists have gotten past airport or other security systems because the wanted list spelled their name slightly differently than their name in their documents, allowing them to slip by.

A notorious example is the Boston Marathon bomber who Russian intelligence had warned the US about, but who slipped through US security because his name on his documents was spelled differently. This is without a forged and fake identity.

Tarsi said that Fincom is a great example of an “innovation which is a technical solution to a well -understood easy problem” that was significantly harming efforts to catch terrorists.

However, not all of the innovations funded by CTTSO are defensive or logistical. In the past, it has funded technologies for drones to carry assault rifles.

Pressed if he was concerned that pushing forward with such technologies could lead to their eventual falling into the hands of terrorists (a number of terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are working on drones), he admitted it was a concern.

He explained that there are technologies CTTSO does not invest in “for those reasons. There are also things we do while developing to make sure the system does not get turned on ourselves, There are also tactical things – we understand a technologies strengths and weaknesses because we are using it… All terror and national security issues are a cat and mouse game.”

Asked for predictions about whether all of these new technologies for combating terror will continue to be necessary with the fall of ISIS, he said that such a forecast was beyond his area of expertise, but that “it seems like every few decades one [terror group] goes down and another comes up.”

Tarsi said his background was as a stock-broker in finance, but that his switch into this very specific area of international defense cooperation was “very fulfilling and interesting” and that he “loves how…everyone has common attributes, but can benefit from how different people approach a problem.”