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Inauguration of the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union at Yad Vashem


On 9 May 2016, Yad Vashem inaugurated the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, under the auspices of its world-renowned International Institute for Holocaust Research.


The Center was endowed by Michael and Laura Mirilashvili in memory of Michael's father Moshe. Alongside Michael and Laura Miriliashvili and their family, honored guests at the dedication ceremony included MK Yuli (Yoel) Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset; MK Ze'ev Elkin, Minister of Immigration and Absorption and Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage; Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate; Rabbi David Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council; H.E. Mr Alexander Shein, Ambassador of Russia to Israel; and H.E. Mr Paata Kalandadze, Ambassador of Georgia to Israel.


The event commenced with a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, followed by the unveiling of a plaque in the Square of Hope. The inauguration ceremony itself took place in the Yad Vashem Synagogue.


Recalling the terrible events at Babi Yar, Avner Shalev declared: "Research is a vital component in processing the loss. It is imperative in building a consciousness of remembrance, and afterwards, to creating an identity that can comprehend the terrible rupture in the history of the Jewish people and the whole of humanity... Michael Mirilashvili - a man of vision - understands this, and extended his help so that together we could establish this Center, which will lead global academic research in the coming years and ensure the continued development of our mission."


Following the opening of major and local archives in the Former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, multi-disciplinary research into the wartime fate of the Jews in the USSR began to flourish. With the generous support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the European Jewish Fund and other donors, for the past several years Yad Vashem has invested efforts into researching the history of the Jews living in the Soviet Union before, during and after the Holocaust. The Mirilashvili Center is set to consolidate and augment these endeavors of Yad Vashem and lead groundbreaking global academic discourse in this field, strengthening ties with relevant researchers and organizations, encouraging international scholarly cooperation and advancing pioneering research in all related areas for many years to come.


Dr. Iael Nidam Orvietto, Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, gave an overview of current and future projects on which the Center will focus its efforts. Headed by Dr. Arkadi Zeltser, a world-renowned scholar of the Holocaust in the FSU, the Center will launch new areas of investigation, such as inter-ethnic relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Soviet Union during the Holocaust, and continue the Research Institute's ongoing projects in the field, such as "The Untold Stories" - an online investigation of the murder sites of the Jews in the Nazi-occupied territories of the FSU and "Jews in the Red Army" - an online database of Jewish soldiers who fought in the Soviet Army during World War II. The Center will also initiate international conferences and workshops in which it will present its research findings to senior and young scholars alike; and publish academic studies, articles, testimonies and collections of relevant archival documents for the benefit of the worldwide research community.


"Thanks to the generous support of the Mirilashvili family, we are now moving into a much more meaningful and systematic phase in various research projects regarding the Holocaust of the Jews in the Soviet Union," explained Dr. Nidam Orvietto."This new Center is both innovative and vital, and without doubt will contribute significantly to Holocaust research both around the world and specifically in Israel."


Before receiving the Key to Yad Vashem from Chairman Shalev, an emotional Michael Mirilashvili recounted his beloved father, in whose name the Center is dedicated: "I know that my father is looking down from the Garden of Eden and would be proud of this new initiative," he said. "The topic of the Shoah was something that I spoke about with him often; he lost his uncle during the Holocaust and he certainly understood the importance of the work of Yad Vashem and especially research focused on the Holocaust in the areas of occupied Soviet Union."


Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research stands at the forefront of scholarly study on the Holocaust, providing comprehensive infrastructure for further investigation into this calamitous period in human history. The Research Institute is dedicated to advancing international research regarding the Shoah and fostering cooperative projects among academic institutions, as well as encouraging young scholars in their studies.


Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org



 Memorial Service in the Hall of Remembrance in the presence of Chairman Avner Shalev, Michael and Laura Mirilashvili, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Minister Zeev Elkin, Rabbi David Lau, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Directorate Arie Zukerman










Today, B’nai B’rith World Center and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael held a unique Holocaust Day ceremony marking the heroism of Jewish rescuers:


This year the Ceremony was dedicated to commemorating the rescue efforts of "The Bialystok children Angel", Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner, a Jewish teacher and educator whom assisted many children during the war


Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and B’nai B’rith held today the 14th Yom Hashoah ceremony (Holocaust Remembrance Day). The ceremony is unique in the world and is dedicated to appreciate the efforts, and instilling the heritage, of Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony was held in the forest of the martyrs in Jerusalem, and was devoted to gratitude the work of Samuel Markowitz Pevzner RIP, a teacher and an educator who helped Jewish children during the Holocaust.


According to testimonies of survivors, Shmuel Markovitz Pevsner served as Director of the Polish camp of Soviet Scouts ("Pioneers") in the Lithuanian town of Droscaninki when Nazi Germany launched an offensive against the territories of Poland and Lithuania which were controlled by the Soviet Union.


He was responsible for the evacuation of about 300 Jewish kids, of whom approximately 140 were Jewish children from the Bielistok area ("Children of Bialystok"), to the Soviet Union during the battle between Germany and the Soviet Union thus saving their lives. Pevzner established a house for children and with the help of the authorities kept their general education and physical deficiencies despite the emergency, extreme cold in the Urals and emotional difficulties of children.


Danny Atar, Chairman of the KKL-JNF said today at the ceremony: "It is appropriate that these days where divisions among us are escalating and dialogue between various groups in society gets extreme, we remember the spirit of solidarity represented by Shmuel Markowitz Pevsner, who kept us safe even in the most difficult times, lifted us out of the crematorium and ashes and led us to fulfill the Zionist dream of a State of Israel.


It is preferable to have a dialogue even if we don't agree on everything, but it is important to remember that ultimately the common goal of all of us is the prosperity of the State of Israel. This goal could be achieved only if we keep the same spirit which our people discovered during the hardest of times ".


Dr. Haim V. Katz, B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman said that "Today we make historic justice with Samuel Markowitz Pevzner. We as representatives of the Jewish people- praise his accomplishments and commemorate his memory, through his family, by awarding him the "Jewish Rescuers Citation ".


The Kaddish at the ceremony read Ofer Cohen, father of a soldier from the Border Guard ("Mishmar Hagvul"), Hadar Cohen, who was killed in the terror attack at Damascus Gate, and said "My heart is bloody this day standing with soldiers from the Border Guard which were with my daughter when she was murdered. The statement "We will not be led like sheep to the slaughter" turned a gentle and smiley girl into a brave warrior. I ask the military commanders of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to educate new generations of fighters in Hadar's heritage ".


During the ceremony, Esther Reyes Mosel, A member in the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust (JRJ), and Alan Schneider, Director of B'nai B'rith, gave the "“Jewish Rescuers Citation” to Dr. Mark Pevzner, son of Samuel Pevzner RIP, recognizing his father's achievements. The Citation was granted to other Jewish families who helped Jews during the HolocaustHella Rufeisen-SchuepperSimcha Honwald RIP, Esther Tzdikrio Maestro RIP, Wanda (Bella) Rothenberg RIP, Miriam Peleg and Mordechai Ben-Zvi, Dizzy Hlgoah Aruch RIP.


The event was held at the Martyr's Forest –which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with 6 million trees planted in their memory. The trees act as living memorial candles for the memory of the perished.


Across the forest are located many tombstones for the memory of destroyed Jewish communities in Europe as well as monuments: the B'nai B'rith cave, “Scroll of Fire” monument, Anna Frank monument and more. 


Photo Credit: Avi Hayun

Photo Caption: from left to right Alan Schneider, B'nai B'rith World Center directorDr. Mark Pevzner, son of Samuel PevznerDanny Atar, Chairman of the KKL-JNF; H.E Alexander SheinRussian ambassador to Israel; Dr. Haim V. KatzB’nai B’rith World Center Chairman; Ofer Cohen, father of Hadar Cohen Rip which was murdered in a terror attack in Damascus Gate earlier this year; Shimon Dadon, Commander of the Border Guard Training base.






Declaration by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, on behalf of the EU on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2016


On this day we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. On the 25th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration the EU wishes to recall the principle that "the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development".


The right to freedom of opinion and expression includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information. It is a key component of democratic governance and development. People need to be fully informed to be able to form an opinion and participate in

decision-making processes that affect their lives. Freedom of information also contributes to better governance as it enhances transparency in public affairs and can be used as a tool to make governments accountable for their actions, in particular when

access to information results in the exposure of human rights violations or corruption practices.


Ensuring access to information can serve to promote justice and reparation, in particular after periods of grave violations of human rights.


The EU is committed to continue promoting and protecting freedom of opinion and expression worldwide, not only offline but also in relation to the cyberspace and other information communication technologies, as highlighted by the adoption in 2014 of

the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline.

It condemns the increasing level of intimidation and violence that journalists, Human Rights Defenders, media actors and other individuals face in many countries across the world when exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression online and



In addition to combating outright violence the EU is determined to fight against laws or practices that impose censorship, encourage self-censorship or provide legal penalties, including criminal, financial and administrative sanctions, as well as against the misuse of market powers and poor economic conditions. The EU reaffirms its determination to promote and support, freedoms of opinion and expression as rights to be exercised by

everyone everywhere, based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination and universality - through any media and regardless of frontiers.


This is your Right!





IDF Responds to Fire from the Gaza Strip


Overnight, in response to the ongoing attacks against Israeli forces, an IAF aircraft targeted four Hamas terrorist infrastructure sites in the northern Gaza Strip.

Since May 3rd, 2016, Hamas has repeatedly fired and launched mortar rounds and rockets against forces during operational defensive activities adjacent to the security fence with the Gaza Strip.


Lt. Col. Peter Lerner IDF spokesman: “Our efforts to locate and destroy the Hamas terror tunnel network are our main priority due to the serious threat to the lives and wellbeing of Israeli civilians. The IDF does not, and will not, tolerate any attempt to threaten the lives of the people of Southern Israel and is determined to continue to foil any attempt to do so. Hamas' continued aggression jeopardizes the people's mutual interest and right to a calm and quiet normal life, our activities are intended to restore the quiet and negate the threat."








Customs Inspectors and ISA Personnel at Nitzana Crossing Foil Attempt to Smuggle Four Tons of Ammonium Chloride Hidden in Salt Shipment



The following was cleared for publication this morning (Tuesday, 3 May 2016):


Customs inspectors at the Nitzana Crossing, in cooperation with the ISA, prior to the Passover holiday, foiled an attempt to smuggle four tons of ammonium chloride – hidden in a shipment of salt – into the Gaza Strip. Ammonium chloride is used in the production of long-range rockets; four tons would have enabled the manufacture of hundreds of such rockets.


Approximately one week before the holiday, a shipment – purportedly containing 40 tons of salt – destined for Gaza reached the Nitzana Crossing, which is used for the transfer of goods between Egypt and Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A comprehensive inspection by customs personnel revealed that sacks of ammonium chloride were hidden within the salt. The sacks were found to weigh four tons. Ammonium chloride is defined as a dual use substance and its passage into the Gaza Strip requires a permit since it is liable to be used by Gaza-based terrorist organizations – such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad – in the production of long-range rockets. The ISA became suspicious that, given the large quantity of salt that had been ordered for the Gaza Strip, salt shipments were being used to smuggle in chemicals for use in manufacturing facilities in the Strip, especially the manufacture of rockets.


The ISA suspects that in this smuggling attempt the importer, a resident of the Gaza Strip with ties to the Hamas military wing, sought to bring the material into the Strip for use in Hamas' production facilities. This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects.


The security establishment and the Israel Tax Authority customs view the incident with utmost gravity. It is their intention to continue to locate and thwart attempts to smuggle in dual-use materials and deal with those involved to the fullest extent of the law. It should be noted that cooperation between customs authorities, especially personnel at the land crossings, and the ISA has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle items and materials that are prohibited from importation into the Gaza Strip – such as sulfuric acid, diving suits, rocket propulsion fuel components, polyurethane, sulfur, fiberglass rolls and specially coarse coal for use in iron smelters and metalwork – and which are suspected of being for use by local terrorist organizations.


Photos  courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority