Israel and Australian flags
Contemporary Jewish History and Israel
diaspora perspective -- Australian bias
Israel and Australian flags
This website is devoted to Contemporary Jewish history, from an International perspective. By contemporary Jewish history is meant the history of all Jewish communities post-Holocaust, and of their relationship to Israel, as portrayed in each community's own media and in national forums. Within each nation we take a special interest in the portrayal of Jews and Israel in the media and in the World Wide Web and social media.
Topics covered include: the ongoing programs to delegitimise Israel; the Baltic States attempts to obfuscate the Holocaust; falsification of Israel demographics by denial of the predomination of Jews of or descended from the ancient communities of the Middle East; diaspora - Israel relations; Jewish media history.
The above opening par was written in 2011-2 when this web page was online at Updating in 2018 it seems remarkable that I did not choose that I did not include as scope the impact of the Diaspora movements, especially the New Israel Fund and Jewish Voices for Peace, which profess support for Israel, but advocate policies of great danger for Israel as a Jewish majority democratic state. My own political background may be seen as left-wing:
  • I lead the ANU Jewish Students Association (ANUJSS) in establishing and running (late 1964-early 1966) NullaNullas a Childrens Club at Wallaga Lake Aboriginal Reserve, on the South Coast of NSW.
  • I was an activist in a conservation campaign leading to the proclamation of the Kanangra-Boyd National Park in the Blue Mountains of NSW.
  • Was the author of the report The Scientific Case for the Conservation of the Byaduk Lava Caves and Environs submitted to Victorian authorities in a succesful quest for protection.
Thus I come from a left-wing orientation, but as an engineer I feel obliged to recognise practical realities faced today both by diaspora communities and by Israeli society. Let's say I'm a pragmatist

Harvey A. Cohen

What Makes Jews Different or at least Distinctive ?

In the aftermath of the Holocaust. Many concentration camp survivors were transformed by their experiences and suffered with symptoms that would now be described as posttraumatic stress disorder. Surprisingly, in the years that followed, accounts circulated of children of survivors who were also severely affected. As one psychiatrist wrote at the time: "it would almost be easier to believe that they, rather than their parents, had suffered the corrupting, searing hell". At the time, psychological models dominated the field of psychiatry. It is perhaps not surprising that the children's symptoms were thought to be the "result of having traumatized parents who may have been symptomatic, neglectful, or otherwise impaired in parenting". In the ensuing decades, as scientists gained access to a range of new research tools, our understanding of psychiatric illness became increasingly rooted in brain science. Some of the earliest successes of the biological psychiatry movement came with seminal studies of posttraumatic stress disorder: first, demonstrating dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and later revealing alterations in the epigenetic regulation of key genes in the stress response system. When researchers began studying Holocaust survivors using modern tools, they found many biological signs associated with trauma. Interestingly, their children showed the same biological and epigenetic markers. On one hand, this demonstrated that the syndrome seen in the children was not merely behavioral—it was biologically mediated in the same way as their parents’. But it also raised a more profound question: did the children acquire these changes by virtue of their own traumatic experiences (conceivably including the stress of being raised by an ill parent)? Or was it possible that there might be some other process at play? The question struck at foundational principles of biology. See the October 2019 issue of the biological psychiatry journal with online abstract of the paper by Yale Professors Stefanie L. Gillson and David A Ross

So modern methodology has proved that traumatic lived experience is inherited by a proven mechanism that is a realisation in DNA of Markovian evolution. Perhaps an extension of this research offers insights into some of the characteristics of 20th century Jews -- highlighted by the remarkable success of the revived Jewish State of Israel.

Ashenazic Jews living in Europe had for over eighteen hundred years faced restrictions on how they could earn their living. Ownership of arable land was forbidden -- so few Jews were in agriculture. Almost all professions were barred to them. Just a very few careers -- such as pawnbroking -- forbidden to Christians -- were open. But there were some obvious positives. Unlike the citizens of the countries in which they lived - they certainly could not be accuratedly termed fellow-citizens -- all males (at least) were literate. They faced constant threats -- dangers to lfe -- such as the massive massacres perpetuated in the Rhineland by the goodly Christian Crusadens enroute to Jerusalem -- and the random slaughter by Cossacks in the Russian Empire.

The Twentieth Century brought a unqique horror -- the mechanised genocide of the Holocaust. Just a paltry percentage of those` directly involved survived. Many of them carried mental scars for life. But a large percentage of the children of survivors also have such issues and problems. But why and how? Some have pointed at the role of survivor parents in the upbringing of their children. But, as Bill Clinton said:

It's the DNA, Stupid

But How? Classical Darwinism could explain how Jews in the twentieth century could show some extraordinary talents as measured -- for example -- by the number ofJewish Nobel Prize Winners in Physics. Survival of the fitest? Average IQ raising as only the more intelligent survived over generations? Some historians have pointed to the concept of Yiccus -- desirability for marriage -- that scholars possess -- which meant that within the Jewish community the daughters of the more successful merchants sought betrothal to the sons of rabbis.
text The Nulla Nulla Club of Wallaga Lake 1964-66 JEWS ACTIVE FOR ABORIGINALS
In the fight against Apartheid in South Africa individual Jews played a leading role, although in 1970 there were only 119,000 Jews out of a total population of 22 million, but perhaps 2.5% of the governing population.
In Australia where Jews are similarly sparse comprising just 0.4% of the nations population -- Jews number amongst the
significant political and legal activists on behalf of Aboriginal rights. However in Australia there is a further element of involvement starting in 1964 when a mainline Jewish Organization -- the Australian National University Jewish Students Union - became directly involved with the isolated Aboriginal community of Wallaga Lake.
What was different about the social contract in Australia that made possible Jewish organizational activties in the 1960's that were inconceivable in South Africa prior to the 1980's?

Clues to the last question.
©Harvey A Cohen 2012

Jewish Continuity logo
The Factors for and the factors Against
Identity and identification
Accommodating diversity versus exclusivity

©Harvey A Cohen 2012
The Jewish people survived as a despised people living apart in Europe and as dhimmi in their ancestoral Middle East homelands for centuries. With the enlightenment Jews joined in mainstream European life -- and there was a great burst of Yiddish Culture. In parallel during the Colonial era, European influence in Muslim lands both eased the disadvantages of the Jewish (and Christian ) dhimmis, as well as providing the opportunities of growth and capitalism. But then ... Almost 50 % were lost in the Holocaust, and post Colonialism rampant Arab nationalism drove out the million Jews that once populated Middle East lands. So the Jews now live In Israel, in Europe, in the Americas, Australia. Can the Jewish communities outside Israel survive ? And what else ? Can Jews survive in Europe when talk of a Jewish Problem is not politically correct, but it is so so correct to promote the destruction of Israel itself. And when immigrant minorities with rampant antisemitic attitudes are gaining political clout.
Just what are the factors for and against continuity ? What actions can community institutions take to truly foster continuity? Are Jewish Schools necessary and sufficient, or unnecessary and yet insufficient ? Should communal funds be firstly invested in Birthright Israel sponsorship, or is that Soul Fusion supplies the answers.
In this section we link to both recent surveys of the Now, and to the emergent Plans and strategies of the Now to foster continuity.
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Slaying the BDS Dragon
Left leaning media in Australia have given the BDS movement media support without limit in Australia, leading to a series of most ugly boycott demonstrations against some retail businesses linked to Israel - notably outlets of chocolate retailer Max Brenner outlets and cosmetics supplier Seacret. These demonstrations with their ugly violence and harassment of innocent shoppers have been a gross affront to Australian values of civility and fair go, and despite the media spin have lead to counter-demonstrations by traditional Australians. The first Brisbane counter demonstration was on August 27, 2011, and is reported
here. A similar counter-demonstration is took place in Melbourne just days later. What is striking is that these emerging groups comprise ordinary Australians, only a few if any Jews are involved.
In contrast to street demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, throughout 2011 and 2012 Labour Federal frontbecher Michael Danby sat down in avarious Max Brenner stores for chocolate with various prominent Australians.
By mid 2012 it is generally acknowledged that the BDS demonstrators -- with their notorious anti-semitic chanting -- had become counterproductive in Australia.
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Far beyond the Nazi and Soviet antisemitism of mid Twentieth Century, a vicious antisemitism claiming to be anti-Zionism developed at the end of that century. As the basic premise of anti-semitism is that Jews are lying and manipulative, this hatred of Jews is combined with the claim that its just the nasty Jews who describe them as anti-semitic -- whereas these defamers claim to be true Human Rights Warriors. Its shameful that the United Nations, which Australia's "Doc" Evatt played such a leading role in establishment should be used as a prime vehicle for the dissemmination of such anti-semitism. But the extremity and bizareness of this new anti-semtism produced a backlash, with the formation of various citizen groups of Voices for Israel towards the end of the first decade of the Twenty First Century. What was perhaps the most strikingly successful launch of an Israel support group, took place in Western Australia (WA). Perth has a Jewish population of 9000; at the launch of AFOI(WA) there were 1500 present, of whom only around 300 (20%) were Jewish.

©Harvey A Cohen 2012
The World and Us
An ongoing series of audio presentations covering such areas as
  • What is really going on in the Jewish World and the Middle East.
  • How to bypass the spin of an often bigotted anti-Israel media.
  • The actual history of the establishment of Israel .
  • Sources -- written and online - of reliable information.
  • Israeli society, technology, and humanitarian achievements.
  • Just what is being broadcast in Arabic.
This is an amazing series, of one hour discussions in English, downloadable as podcasts. Each episode is a unit of Contemporary Jewish History presented in a deft manner, by Australian presenters who embody the complexity and plurality of the Australian Jewish Community. Presenter Gabby, born in Budapest, where members of her family still live, with close relatives elsewhere in Europe, has Australian post-graduate qualifications. Morry born in Australia, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, served in the IDF during the Yom Kippur War. Contrast and balance is provided through interviews with a range of visiting experts, with interludes of Yiddish and Israeli music.
  The series, The World and Us, was broadcast weekly on the first Melbourne Jewish Radio station, Lion FM 96.1, 1910-11.
  Outlines of broadcasts and some suplementary material available at the podcast site.
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Rokiskis and its obfuscated history
Dovid Katz's term, the "obfuscation of history" is well exemplified by looking at the case of the small town of Rokiskis, in Lithuania, north of Vilnius/Vilna. This is a town with a Jewish population for more than four hundred years, but bereft of Jews today.
The regional museum has displays that equate Stalin with Hitler, equate communism with nazism, and glorify as local heroes the right-wing "partisan" group, initially called the LAF, that collaborated with the Eizengruppen in the extermination of the Jewish 40% of the local population. Later in the war this group fought with communist partisans, whose membership was open to Jews. The Jewish contribution to the history of Rokiskis is ignored except for one token reference.
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Issues in Contemporary
Jewish History
Journal of Fondazione CDEC

This online Journal, the very first issue of which was issued in 2010, is certainly the first devoted to Contemporary, post-Holocaust Jewish history. The publisher is the Italian organization Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea aka CDEC .
The next issue, edited by Cristian a Facchini is devoted to Modernity and the Cities of the Jews.
From the introduction to the very first issue, by the editors, Laura Brazzo and Guri Schwarz:
This monographic section (Focus) of the first issue of Quest is dedicated to the study of post-Holocaust European Jewry, a theme that only in very recent years has begun to be the object of systematic scholarly research. The turning point was of course the end of the cold war. In the early Nineties the palpable sense that new challenges were taking shape lead Jewish intellectuals to tackle, on the one hand, delicate issues regarding the future of the Jews and, on the other, opened new possibilities for historical research.
The entire content of the first issue of this brilliant new journal, is online at Papers there include
 West German Jewry: Guilt, Power and Pluralism by Anthony D. Kauders
 Jews and Jewishness in Post-war Hungary by Andr�s Kov�cs
 The Jews in Poland after the Second World War by Carla Tonini
 State-sponsored Anti-Semitism in Postwar USSR by Antonella Salomoni
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
This is an important resource on the state sponsored obfuscation of history that is being developed in the Baltic States. Careful descriptions of the process are made by Dr Dovid Katz. It is noteable that the site is also available as Extensive Lithuanian sources are included, but because of the use of machine translation, these sources are difficult to read.
The intending reader is advised to first hear the podcast interviews with Dovid Katz, episode numbers 32 and 33 in the series available, with outlines on The World and Us Website ©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Inside Lion FM Studio, Melbourne
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Jewish Radio is a major new development in the Diaspora. Actual full-time Jewish Radio stations in the Diaspora have only come into existence in the past ten years. What - apart from the emergence of more radio affordable technology - has stirred this development of essentially full-time Jewish broadcasting stations? What special challenges do these and future stations in the Diaspora face ? How has Jewish Radio Now come about -- and will it survive ?
Australia has a long history of Jewish radio as there were unsuccessful plans for an AM radio in Sydney during 1949-51, with actual Jewish programs on air in Sydney and Melbourne from the 1980's, followed in 2010 by the birth of Lion FM broadcasting in Melbourne 24-6, and on the internet at This history is detailed in with the story of Lion FM updated at http://TheHistoryOfNow.Net/LionFMNow.htm
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Online Antisemitism 2.0 On Social networks and even Google Earth

©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Leading expert Dr Andre Oboler explains that
Around 2004, changes in technology created Web 2.0.[1] As technology adapted, so did online antisemitism. With the new "social web" came a new "social antisemitism." This Antisemitism 2.0 is the use of online social networking and content collaboration to share demonization, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, and classical antisemitic motifs with a view to creating social acceptability for such content. This has lead to the birth of Antisemitism 2.0

©Harvey A Cohen 2012
An documentary film is under development with an Australian producer/director aiming to graphically detail how the Lithuanian state is actively rewriting history. A promo for this documentary is on the website, Click on the logo to left for details and scope of this significant project.
Set of 4 Gambia stamps honouring Lendendary Heroes

In March 2011 Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone issued (simultaneously) a set of three commemorative postal sheets devoted to 12 Jews � men and women � who fought Apartheid and racism in Africa.
An excellent video documentary overview of the history of the Jews in South Africa is now online. The crucial feature of the South African community is its predominate link with Lithunia, where Jews had lived before Christianity arrived. However with the expansion of Russia to incorporate Lithuania, the native Jews, called Litvaks, came increasingly under repression, which culminated in a series of pograms starting in the nineteenth century.
Litvaks with their own experience of repression have lead the fight against Apartheid.
Rebecca Weiner's written overview of the history of the Jews in South Africa is online.
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
Israeli flag with those of USA, UK, Australia, Old South Africa
In the period 1946 - 1951 the Anglo countries and South Africa displayed a most ambiguous response to the emerging Jewish state, with top leadership professing support, but vital government agencies in vigorous opposition.

More .  .  .  .

©Harvey A Cohen 2012
DC-5 YankeeBagel-PashaLancet in Israel In his book (right) Chanan Reich introduced the term ambiguous relationship for the initial Australian diplomatic relationship between Australia and Israel, but the term well covers broader aspects of the relationship of the Anglo countries to Israel. Of special interest is the extent to which material support, whether made-up clothing, animal feed, or potential war materials were prevented from export from Australia to Israel. Just six aircraft from Australia were acquired by Israel 1948-9, but another 80 war surplus aircraft purchased by Australian Zionists could not be exported to Israel even as scrap.
This Douglas DC-5, Called the Yankee Bagel - Pasher Lancet, served in the Israel forces 1948-9. The DC-5 had been registered in Australia as VH-CXC before its export to Israel in May 1948, immediately before a UN arms embargoe came into effect. Some other Australian planes which were used to bring migrants to Australia were acquired in Europe.

©Harvey A Cohen 2012
When locally brewed Kosher Certified Craft lager became available in Australia in 2011 -- what did it tell about the community's viability and integration into the broader Community ? If in doubt -- try drinking Old Time Lager
©Harvey A Cohen 2012
AU4I Facebook banner July 12
Morry Sztainbok wrote on the Facebook page of Australians United for Israel:
I don't think I have ever posted this, but for a while, Melbourne had a thriving FM Jewish radio station, that I was blessed to be part of. Together with Gabby we tried to make sense of the world in discussions and interviews. The program is called "The World and Us", and whilst we are considering winding it down because the current AM frequency reaches very few people, our shows have been podcast and are available on the internet. The most powerful and heartstopping interview, for me, was with Fr. Patrick Desbois, a French priest who is still uncovering victims of the Holocaust today (Episode 36). For those who may be interested in some of these current issues, the discussions and interviews, with amazing individuals like Gal Lusky, Michelle Rojas-Tal and Prof Dovid Katz, are available at the podcast site
©Harvey A Cohen 2012