Latvia’s Parliament Approves $46 Million in Holocaust and Soviet Reparations

Feb. 17 2022

In 1940, the Soviets occupied Latvia and nationalized private property. Nazi Germany invaded shortly thereafter, killing, with local assistance, 90 percent of Latvia’s 93,000 Jews—many in a two-day mass shooting in the Rumbula forest. When the country became independent in 1991, following the fall of the Soviet Union, property was denationalized and Latvians reclaimed it. But, as Emma Bubola writes, “most Jewish owners had been killed in the Holocaust, and many of their homes, baths, slaughterhouses, orphanages, and synagogues became state property.” Now, following years of negotiations, the Jewish community of Latvia will receive compensation.

The 19th-century synagogue in the southern Latvian town of Akniste has become a firefighting depot. An older synagogue, with wooden vaulted ceilings, is now a community center. One has been turned into a church. After the Latvian Jews who owned, managed. and frequented the buildings were killed during the Holocaust, the state took them over.

On Thursday, the Latvian Parliament gave its final approval to a law that awards 40 million euros, about $46 million, to the Latvian Jewish community “to eliminate the historical unjust consequences” resulting from the Holocaust and activities under Soviet rule.

“This law cannot bring back a destroyed community or a destroyed synagogue,” said Gideon Taylor, a chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, one of the main promoters of the bill. “But what it can do is recognize what happened, and this is why it is important.”

Bubola also acknowledges the controversy surrounding the bill:

Opponents of the legislation had argued that if Jews received compensation, it should also be given to all of the other communities affected. But to the supporters of the legislation, which included the American and the Israeli governments, the bill was not a statement about their suffering but a reimbursement for property that belonged to them.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Holocaust, Holocaust restitution, Latvia, Soviet Jewry, World War II

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror