News Releases 2017
Paris, 18 September 2017
The third annual Copernic Synagogue Prize for Dialogue, Peace and Fraternity was awarded to the Centre Simon Wiesenthal (CSW), the Memorial to the Shoah and the Festival Al-Andalus.
The Synagogue, in partnership with the Institut de L'Engagement (Institute for Commitment) annually recognizes personalities or associations that are outstanding in their reconciliation, rejection of hate and of prejudice.
Receiving the award, CSW-France President, Richard Odier spoke of the activist role of the Centre in the spirit of the late Simon Wiesenthal, as in his work on behalf of the Centre in Rwanda and on Darfur.
Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, speaking of the October attack on the Synagogue, recalled his presence on the corner of rue Lauriston, 150 meters away from the explosion. He had just wished a Happy Succoth (Tabernacles) to Aliza Shagrir - wife of the Israeli film-maker, Midna Shagrir - as she turned into rue Copernic, where she met her death as one of the four street victims of the bombing that also wounded 41 inside the destroyed building.
Lt-Rt: Copernic Synagogue President Francois Bensahel,
Wiesenthal Centre-France President Richard Odier
and Director for International Relations Shimon Samuels,
Copernic Rabbi Jonas Jacquelin
"The investigating magistrates handed their final report on 28 July setting the formal decision for trial within 40 working days - Deadline for 23 September".
"We urge French Justice Minister to ensure that 2018 brings final closure to families of the victims and survivors. After 37 years, justice further delayed is justice denied"
Paris, 13 September 2017
In a letter to the French Justice Minister, Nicole Belloubet, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels noted that "on 28 July 2017, one of the longest judicial inquiries in the history of a French tribunal moved forward. Thirty-seven years after the crime, the investigating magistrates completed their inquiry into the 1980 bombing of the rue Copernic Synagogue in Paris. The magistrates closure sets a calendar for a formal decision within 40 days on proceeding to trial. A period of 40 working days places the deadline for 23 September - one week from now."
Blog by Shimon Samuels posted in The Jerusalem Post
4 September 2017
Security personnel chat next to the statue of Genghis Khan at the parliament building in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. (photo Reuters)
In mid-August, at our regular fruit juice stand in Tel Aviv’s Carmel market, I made my order and went to buy a bouquet of flowers. On my return, the fruiterer noted that flowers are bought on Friday but this was Wednesday.
“What’s the event?” I explained that it was our Golden Wedding.
He retorted, “50 years and you buy a bunch of flowers?! Take your wife somewhere special.”
“We’re going to Mongolia,” I said.
“What’s in Mongolia?”
“Desert, camels, tents.”
“So you could go to the Negev! How do you get [to Mongolia]?”
“By train from Beijing.”
He ended triumphantly, “You work for Wiesenthal; there must be Nazis over there?”
Blog by Shimon Samuels posted on The Times of Israel
4 September 2017
In 1998, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre was called to the German Labour Ministry in Bonn. Since reunification in 1990, followed by the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, the number of war pensions had mushroomed among Wehrmacht veterans and widows, frozen for some 45 years in Communist East Germany, the Baltics, the Balkans and Ukraine.
While the Justice Ministry had cooperated with Simon Wiesenthal regarding the ID’s of war criminals, just down the road the Labour Ministry was sending cheques to their families in the Federal Republic. The Government, now eager to save revenue, asked the Centre’s help. Our expert, Efraim Zuroff was able to identify those military units responsible for war crimes to automatically strip their members of pension rights.
In 2007, the Centre promoted a draft convention, in the same spirit, to prosecute the instigators and accomplices of suicide terrorism. The intent was to criminalize all along the chain of terror from recruitment (especially online and now social media) to ideological radicalization, financing, arming, hosting and glorifying. The convention might have legally prevented the families of Jihadist “martyrs” from receiving “life insurance” benefits and blocked spurious “pension” grants to surviving perpetrators in jail.
“Such Jew-hatred undermines the de facto relationship between Egypt and Israel in together confronting terrorism. It legitimates attacks on Jews and further endangers the Coptic Christians victims to continued assault.”
Paris, 18 August 2017
In a letter to Inter-Parliamentary Union (IUP) Secretary-General, Martin Chungong, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, drew attention to antisemitic incitement at the Majlis Egyptian Parliament.
Referring to the IPU “as the “international organization of Parliaments,” Samuels noted its “Strategy for 2017-2021: ‘Better Parliaments, stronger democracy’ with a special focus on ‘peace-building’.”
The letter also recalled the IPU’s connection last February to claims of “demeaning the Egyptian Parliament’s image abroad,” adding that “the examples are in direct violation of encouraging ‘peace-building’, for in fomenting hatred to undermine any hope of Middle East peace.”