Globe Briefs April 21

Globe Briefs April 21

Tufts student senate passes Israel divestment resolution

The Tufts University student senate passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from four companies that do business with Israel.

The resolution, titled “A Resolution Calling for Tufts University to End Investments in The Israeli Occupation,” passed the Tufts Community Union Senate on April 9 by a vote of 17 in favor and six opposed, with eight abstentions. More than 100 students attended the senate debate prior to the vote, according to the Tufts Daily student newspaper.

The resolution calls for the university to divest from or not begin investing in Elbit Systems, G4S, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and to screen its investments for human rights compliance. It is unclear whether Tufts currently invests in those four companies.

The symbolic resolution is not binding on the university.

Students associated with the Students for Justice in Palestine group put forth the resolution two weeks ago. Some students during the question-and-answer period of the senate meeting expressed concern that holding the vote the day before the start of the Passover holiday prevented Jewish students who went home for the holiday from expressing their opinions, according to the Tufts Daily.

Tufts Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, who is also a research professor at the university, told the Algemeiner Journal that Hillel was working to combat the resolution.

“The Hillel Jewish community is deeply disturbed by this vote, and by the way the resolution was brought so close to Pesach, at a time when many of our students are home with their families readying themselves for the holiday,” Summit told the Algemeiner.

Several other student governments at colleges and universities have passed similar resolution. They include Stanford, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Oberlin, Vassar, Wesleyan University, and a number in the University of California network — Los Angeles, Berkeley, Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Cruz and Davis.

Holocaust memorials in Greece vandalized

Two Holocaust memorials in Greece were vandalized.

In Kavala, a city in northern Greece, the marble veneer was smashed with hammers the night of April 5, the Athens-based daily newspaper Ekathimerini reported. There are no suspects.

The monument unveiled about a year ago commemorates 1,484 Jews from the city who died in Nazi death camps during World War II.

“Every act of vandalism on a monument opens a new wound in regards to the history and culture of Kavala, a community that has always been open, always tolerant and respectful of other cultures and religions,” the municipal authority said in statement, according to Ekathimerini.

Days earlier, a memorial in Arta, in northwestern Greece, was vandalized with paint and the aphorism “Yolo,” you only live once.

The attack came several days after the community held a ceremony to remember its pre-Holocaust Jewish community. In 1944, some 352 Jews in the town were arrested; most would eventually be sent to Auschwitz and their death.

“It is obvious that there are still people disturbed by their Jewish fellow citizens even if the latter are dead. They cannot tolerate even their memory,” the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said in a statement.

“We are confident that both the municipality of Arta and the vast majority of its citizens will not allow the desecration of memory by a few nostalgic obscurantists who vulgarly aim at staining the image of the city. We are also confident that soon the monument will stand again to fulfill its purpose: remind the visitors of the atrocity that led to the annihilation of the Jews of Arta simply because they were Jews and awaken the society that such an absolute evil can happen again unless we strongly preserve our democratic and humanitarian principles.”

Demolition begins on Jewish Theater building in Warsaw

Work began on demolishing the Jewish Theater building in Warsaw.

The demolition of the building at Grzybowski Square began April 7, but actors, staff and spectators came to the site the following day to say goodbye to the 50-year-old building. The demolition could last for several weeks as it is dismantled in accordance with environmental laws.

A new office building and skyscraper is planned to be built in the place of the theater building by the investor that bought the property more than six years ago, when the theater was forced to sell due to financial problems. The developer has said there will be a place in the new building for the theater.

The theater was built in the late 1960s with the financial support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. JDC could not transfer funds directly to the theater at the time because it was a state institution, but instead granted it to the association, or TSKZ, which became the owner of the building. In 2011, TSKZ sold the property to a developer, Ghelamco.

In June 2016, Ghelamco closed the building and locked out the theater, citing a decision by the district construction supervisor’s office, which called the building a threat to public safety.

Theater director Golda Tencer was dropped from the membership of the Jewish Social and Cultural Society in Poland, or TSKZ, for her protests against the closure of the building and its demolition.

“We just came to say goodbye to our house, which was built for Ida Kaminska, the first director of this place. Here are our dybbuks, our actors whom we leave behind. It hurts terribly,” Tencer said.

Three weeks ago Tencer received a letter from TSKZ informing her that she is no longer a member of the organization because “she was acting to the detriment of TSKZ by blocking the emergence of a new building and defaming the organization’s reputation.”

The Jewish Theater currently presents its performances in two temporary spaces in Warsaw.

Formed in 1950, the troupe is a link to the rich pre-Holocaust culture of Poland’s Yiddish-speaking Jewish community. The Jewish Theater in Warsaw is the only theater in Poland performing in Yiddish, and one of two in Europe, including the Jewish Theater in Bucharest.