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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony

This is but one of many examples showing the anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination prominent in various sections of the Palestinian public.

Israeli Tech Firm Hires Gazan Programmers

Israeli Tech Firm Hires Gazan Programmers in Bid to Boost Cooperation


An Israeli high-tech company has hired four programmers from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and plans to employ at least six more by 2017.

According to Reuters, 10 percent of Mellanox Technologies’ workforce is already comprised of Arab programmers living in Israel and in territories administered by the Palestinian Authority, including Ramallah.

“From our experience in Ramallah, we think we have the potential to collaborate and make our neighbors successful,” CEO Eyal Waldman told Reuters.

Mellanox Technologies creates products that link computers, servers, and databases. It has a large need for programmers and wants to avoid outsourcing the work to a different time zone.

Many unemployed Arab software engineers reside in Gaza on Israel’s southwest Mediterranean shore. Israel evacuated all Jewish residents from Gaza in 2005 and the territory has been ruled by Hamas since 2007.

Mellanox worked with Ramallah software firm ASAL Technologies to facilitate the hiring process in Gaza, as Israelis are not permitted to enter. Mellanox said it was not aware of other Israeli tech company employing Gazans.

It remains to be seen how a travel ban between Gaza and Israel will affect the working relationship. Waldman said he believes audio and video conferencing will be sufficient.

“This will bring both peoples closer,” he said. “The more we interact, the more we strive for coexistence.”

[Photo: Courtesy]

Abbas retracts rabbis 'water poisoning' comment


Palestinian leader admits his claims at the EU were baseless but rejects "blood libel" claim of the Israeli PM.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has retracted comments he made this week about an alleged plot by rabbis calling on Jewish settlers to poison the drinking water of Palestinians.

Abbas' office acknowledged on Saturday that his comments were "baseless", adding he "didn't intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world."

In a speech to the European Union in Brussels on Thursday, Abbas made claims of a plot to poison Palestinian wells, sparking accusations of anti-Semitism.

Shortage forces Palestinians to resort to water rationing

Abbas's speech, denouncing Israel for stalling the peace talks, received a standing ovation from European lawmakers, but his allegation about the water poisoning drew strong condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said Abbas showed his "true face" by spreading such a "blood libel" and called on him to cease inciting against Israel.

For Jews, allegations of water poisoning strike a bitter chord.

In the 14th century, Jews were accused of deliberately poisoning wells that caused plague across Europe.

Another allegation from the Middle Ages -- that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood for ritual purposes -- gave rise to the term "blood libel".

UN’s Moral Ban-Kruptcy

With thanks to Stanley Lovatt Honorary Consul for Israel in Scotland:

UN’s Moral Ban-Kruptcy

Today, U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon landed in Jerusalem for a final visit before the end of his term. During his 10-year stint as Secretary General, he has seen Palestinian “innovation” flourish. From bus suicide bombings, to rocket fire, and their latest “terrorvation” - underground terror tunnels.

While in Israel, will Mr. Ban condemn the Palestinians digging these terror tunnels and aiming rockets at Israeli children in towns like Sderot? Will he unequivocally condemn the terror attacks in the midst of our cities? Will he speak out at all against the ongoing incitement and hatred so prominently displayed in the Palestinian territories? The answer is - unlikely.

During Operation Protective Edge (2014), Mr. Ban visited the region while Israel faced hundreds of terrorist rockets raining down on its cities and towns and dozens of terror tunnels designed to murder our children. The Secretary General arrived on a private jet financed by the government of Qatar. Conveniently enough, he chose to disregard the fact that every rocket flying out of Gaza has the same Qatari wings as the plane he arrived on and that every terror tunnel dug, bears the imprint ‘courtesy of Qatar’.

All these facts make it highly unlikely that Mr. Ban will use his influence to stop incitement, end terrorism, or move us any closer to a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Through my four and a half years at the United Nations, I have gotten to know Secretary Ban personally. He is a good and decent man, but he has found himself under pressure supporting a very bad cause. The Secretary-General has proven his willingness to downplay or simply ignore tragic events as well as supporters and instigators of violence in an apparent effort to appease and get along with some of the world’s most brutal regimes, and the extreme and hateful ideologies that they represent.

During my tenure as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I learned a great deal about the world body’s hypocrisy, its duplicity, and the triple standard it applies to world affairs - one for dictatorships, one for democracies, and a special critical standard designed only for Israel.

There are dozens of examples of this bias in action. Below are just a handful of examples:

Secretary-General Ban has been easily intimidated by the Arab Group and its allies in the non-aligned movement, which constitute a numerical majority in the UN’s General Assembly. He almost broke a guinness record for the quickest retraction when he apologized to the Moroccan government for describing the country’s annexation of Western Sahara as an “occupation.”

The Secretary-General again succumbed to Arab pressure to stay silent as Leila Zerrougi, his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict who is also by coincidence an Algerian, produced a report suggesting that Israel be added to the U.N.’s list of terrorist groups, which includes Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Mr. Ban was quick, however, to remove Saudi Arabia - a leading peddler of radical Islam and a known “human rights and women’s rights “advocate”- from the same list.

In a Security Council speech earlier this year, Mr. Ban gave terror a very unnecessary tail wind and blamed Israel for the latest wave of brutal Palestinian terrorist attacks, arguing it is “human nature to react to occupation.”

Nowhere is anti-Israel bias more obvious than in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. The council addresses the human rights abuses of all countries in the world under a program known as Agenda Item 4. That is, all countries but one. Israel is the only nation that is singled out for criticism. We have our own Agenda Item 7 at each and every meeting. A result, according to the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, is that more than 50 percent of all condemnatory resolutions are directed at the Jewish state.

The United Nations, once a beacon of hope in the dark days following the conflagration of World War II and the Holocaust, has been overrun by repressive regimes that violate human rights and consistently undermine international security. It is clear that the inmates have taken over the asylum and the warden has been glad to give them the keys.

Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” If Mr. Ban wants to be remembered as a champion for the values that led to the establishment of the United Nations, the same values that South Korea shines on East Asia, then he must seize this last opportunity to condemn terrorism, expose hatred and support those of us on the right side of history. 
Hopefully, as he tours Israel and hears the sirens signaling impending terrorist attacks, Mr. Ban will finally be inspired to stand up for what is right.

The writer is Ambassador Ron Prosor, 
The Abba Eban Chair for International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya.
A distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute & former Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Please Help, Jo’s family have set up a fundraising page to support three organisations close to her heart.

Hope not Hate

Jo CoxDear Friend,

As I write this, I’m still reeling in shock and horror at the murder of Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, who was so brutally killed yesterday. I had a meal with her husband, Brendan, only the night before. Now he is a widower and their two young children face life without a mother. I find it hard to imagine their pain.

But as much as I feel pain, I also feel anger. How dare someone snuff out such a bright voice of hope in this manner? A principled and passionate MP, who championed women’s and refugee rights. What gives the killer the God-given right to make this choice? Jo, a former head of policy at Oxfam, had a bright future as both a mother and a Member of Parliament. Now that’s all gone.

Today I have written a blog for Newsweek to express my anger at her death and the poisonous politics of fear and hate that has dominated the EU debate in recent weeks. Whatever the outcome next Thursday, we are going to be dealing with the consequences of this toxic debate for months and years to come.

Jo’s family have set up a fundraising page to support three organisations close to her heart. I am humbled that HOPE not hate is one of them.

I would urge all our supporters to give to this fund

Over the last 24 hours we have seen the worst and best of Britain. We had nigel Farage and his hateful poster and we had Jo’s senseless murder. And then we have had the genuine outpouring of grief and solidarity that has accompanied her death by people who felt inspired by everything Jo stood for.

Please, stand with me in making a pledge to build a better world


Monday, 9 May 2016

A history of anti-Semitism – and why opposing it benefits us all


They know where you live

Imagine your house being raided by armed police. That’s what happened to Mumsnet’s Justine Roberts after she fell victim to an internet hoaxer.

At around midnight on Tuesday 11 August 2015, a man dialled 999 to report a murder. A woman had been killed in her London home, he said, before hanging up without offering his name. A second call followed. This time, the man claimed to be the killer. He told the operator that he had now taken the woman’s children hostage at the Islington address. They were locked with him inside a room in the house, he said. The police responded with reassuring speed. Fifteen minutes later, eight officers, five of them armed with automatic weapons, accompanied by saliva-flecked dogs, arrived at the scene and took up position in neighbouring front gardens. When one officer banged on the front door of the house, the team was greeted, moments later, not by a masked murderer but by a blinking and bewildered au pair.
Justine Roberts, the woman whom the caller claimed to have killed, was in fact nearly 2,000 kilometres away – in Italy, holidaying with her husband and children. After explaining this to the police, the au pair called Roberts, who assumed that the incident was an unfortunate misunderstanding, one that could be unpicked after the vacation. It was no mistake. Roberts had been the victim of “swatting”, the term given to a false emergency call designed to bait an armed unit of police officers to storm someone’s home. It wasn’t until a few days later, as the family was preparing to return to London, that Roberts discovered that she had been the target of a planned and sustained attack, not only on her household, but also on her business.
Roberts is the founder of Mumsnet, the popular British internet discussion forum on which parents share advice and information. A few days before the swatting incident, members of 8chan, a chat room that prides itself on being an open, anonymous platform for free speech, no matter how distasteful, had registered accounts on Mums­net with the aim of trolling people there. When legitimate Mumsnet users identified and then ridiculed the trolls, some retreated to 8chan to plot more serious vengeance in a thread that the police later discovered. Roberts wasn’t involved in the online skirmish but, as the public face of the site, she was chosen as the first target.
After the initial armed response, Roberts’s perception was that the police were unconcerned about the swatting attack. “We were told that there was no victim, so there was not much that could be done,” she told me. The hoax caller, however, was not finished. In the days after the incident, there was chatter on Mumsnet and Twitter about what had happened. A Mumsnet user whom I will call Jo Scott – she requested anonymity for her own safety – exchanged heated messages with a hacker who claimed responsibility for the 999 call.
“It descended into jokes and silliness, like many things do,” Scott said. “I didn’t take it seriously when the hacker said he had big surprises in store.” She doesn’t believe that what happened next was personal. “I think I was just easy to find.”
A few days after police were called to Roberts’s home, Scott was in her bedroom while her husband was sitting downstairs playing video games. At 11pm, she heard a noise outside. “I looked out of the window and saw blue flashing lights in the street,” she recalled. “I could hear shouting but I didn’t pay it much notice.” Then she heard her husband open the front door. Police rushed into the house. An armed officer shouted upstairs, asking Scott if she was hurt. When she replied that she was fine, he told her to fetch her two young children: he needed to see them. Scott shook her sons awake, explaining, so as not to alarm them, that the police had come to show the boys their cars. As the three of them went downstairs, the officers swept up through the house, repeatedly asking if there were any weapons on the property.
“I was beyond confused by this point,” Scott said. “Everyone was carrying a gun. They had little cutaway bits so you could see the bullets. My eldest asked one of the officers if he could have a go on his gun and went to touch it.”
As Scott sat with an officer downstairs, she asked what had happened to her husband. “I later found out that the noises I’d heard were the police calling for him to come outside,” she said. “He dropped the PlayStation controller as he left the room. It was only later that we realised it’s a good job he did: in the dark, the controller might have looked like a weapon.”
Outside, Scott’s husband had been surrounded and arrested. Other police ­officers were on the lookout in the front gardens of nearby properties, having warned the couple’s neighbours to stay indoors, away from their windows. “One of the officers said it was beginning to look like a hoax,” Scott said. “Then he mentioned swatting. As soon as he said that word, I twigged that I’d seen the term that day on Twitter in relation to the Mumsnet hack.”
The term “swatting” has been used by the FBI since 2008. “Swat” is an acronym of “Special Weapons and Tactics”, the American police squads routinely called to intervene in hostage situations. It is, in a sense, a weaponised version of a phoney order of pizza, delivered as a prank to a friend’s home, albeit one that carries the possibility of grave injury at the hands of police. For perpetrators, the appeal is the ease with which the hoax can be set in motion and the severity of the results. With a single, possibly untraceable phone call, dialled from anywhere in the world, it is possible to send an armed unit to any address, be it the home of a high-profile actor whom you want to prank or that of someone you want to scare.
In America, where swatting originated, the practice has become so widespread – targets have included Tom Cruise, Taylor Swift, Clint Eastwood and the Californian congressman Ted Lieu – that it is now classed as an act of domestic terrorism. In the UK, where Justine Roberts’s was one of the first recorded cases, swatting is classed as harassment, though that may change if these and other forms of internet vigilante attacks, such as doxxing, become increasingly commonplace.
Doxxing involves the publication of someone’s personal details – usually their home address, phone numbers, bank details and, in some cases, email address – on the internet. It is often the prelude to swatting: after all, the perpetrator of a hoax cannot direct the police to the target’s home address until this is known. (During the week of the Mumsnet attacks, one of the perpetrators attempted to locate another target using their computer’s IP address, which can identify where a person is connected to the internet, often with alarming precision. Their calculation, however, was slightly out; police were called to a neighbour’s address.)
Though doxxing has a less dramatic outcome than swatting, the psychological effects can be just as severe. For victims – usually people who are active on the internet and who have outspoken opinions or who, in the eyes of an internet mob, have committed some kind of transgression – the mere threat of having their personal information made available on the web can cause lasting trauma. A Canadian software developer whose home address, bank details, social security number and email history were published online in 2014 told me that he now keeps an axe by his front door. “I still don’t feel safe here,” he said. “It’s terrifying.”
Christos Reid, a social media manager for a software company, was doxxed last year. Reid’s information came from a website he had registered seven years earlier. “I woke up one morning to find a tweet announcing my personal details,” he told me. When he asked the Twitter account holder to take down the address, he was told to commit suicide. Reid said he was “OK for about half an hour”; but then, after he went out, he broke down in the street. “I’ve become more paranoid,” he said. He no longer gives out business cards with personal information.
Reid lives in London, but at the time of the doxx he was attending an event in Nottingham, home to the British police’s largest cybercrime division. He was impressed with the police response, even though they told him that they had not heard of the term “doxxing” before. “I was interviewed by two separate people about my experiences who then compiled everything into a case file and transferred it to the Met. When I arrived home, an officer visited me to discuss what happened and my options.”
The policeman explained harassment law to Reid, and offered advice on how to improve security at his flat and what to do if someone hostile turned up at the address. Reid shouldered the repercussions of what had happened alone; no suspects were identified. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police similarly said that although detectives from Islington CID have investigated the swatting attacks made on Roberts and Scott, no suspects have been identified “at this time”, even as “inquiries continue”.
Doxxing may seem to be a mild form of harassment but it carries with it an implicit threat of impending violence; the worrying message is: “We know where you live.” Unlike swatting, which is always malicious, doxxing is sometimes viewed by its perpetrators as virtuous. In November 2014, hackers claiming to be aligned with the internet group Anonymous published personal information allegedly belonging to a Ku Klux Klan member from Missouri. The hackers said that their action was a response to the KKK’s threat to use lethal force against demonstrators in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, protesting against the killing of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. In January 2015 hackers claiming to be from Isis took over US Central Command’s Twitter account and posted information about senior military officers, including phone numbers and email addresses. In each case, those carrying out the doxxing believed, however mistakenly, in the virtue of their actions and hoped that the information could be used to bring punishment or ruin to the subject.
The term “doxxing” may be new but the practice is an old one. The Hollywood blacklist revealed the political beliefs and associations of actors and directors in the late 1940s as a way to invite shame, deny employment and dissuade others from following their example. “But it has become a lot easier to find people’s private details with the help of the internet,” Jeroen Vader told me. Vader owns Pastebin, a website that allows users to upload and distribute text documents, and where much of the personal data is anonymously uploaded and shared. “People post their private information on social networks,” he said. “A lot of people aren’t aware that their information is so easily available to others.”
In Justine Roberts’s case, the perpetrator may not even have needed to look at social networks to mine her personal information. “If you’re on the electoral roll, you’re easy to find,” she said. “There’s not much you can do to stop people getting hold of your data one way or another, whether it’s for nefarious reasons or simply to better advertise to you. We live in a world that is constantly trying to gather more information about us.”
Jeroen Vader said he has noticed an “upward trend” in the number of doxxing posts uploaded to Pastebin in recent months, but insisted that when someone uses the site’s abuse report system these offending posts are removed immediately.
Across social media companies, action is more often reactive than proactive. Victoria Taylor, a former director at Reddit, one of the largest community-driven websites in the world, said that the rule against publishing other users’ personal information has been “consistently one of the site’s most basic policies” and that “any violation of this rule is taken extremely seriously by the team and community”. Still, she was only able to recommend that victims of doxxing send a message to the site’s administrators. Similarly, when asked what a person can do to remove personal details that have been published without permission, a Twitter spokesperson said: “Use our help form.”
The spokesperson added: “There has def­initely been an overall increase in doxxing since 2006, both on Twitter and on the internet more generally.” She attributed this rise to the emergence of search engines such as Intelius and Spokeo, services designed to locate personal information.
The surge in the number of dox­xing and swatting attacks is in part a result of the current lack of legal protection for victims. Confusion regarding the law on doxxing is pervasive; the term is even not mentioned in either US or European law. In a tutorial posted on Facebook in 2013, the writer claims: “Doxxing isn’t illegal as all the information you have obtained is public,” and adds: “But posting of the doxx might get you in a little trouble.”
Phil Lee, a partner in the privacy, security and information department of Fieldfisher based at the law firm’s office in Silicon Valley, said that differing privacy laws around the world were part of the problem. “Various countries have laws that cover illegal or unauthorised obtaining of data. Likewise, some of the consequences of releasing that data, such as defamation or stalking, cover elements of what we now term doxxing. But there is no global law covering what is a global phenomenon.” Indeed, Roberts believes that her London address was targeted from America – the 999 call was routed through a US proxy number.
One challenge to creating a law on doxxing is that the sharing of personal information without permission has already become so widespread in the digital age. “If a law was to state something like, ‘You must not post personal information about another person online without their consent,’ it wouldn’t reflect how people use the internet,” Lee said. “People post information about what their friends and family members have been doing all the time without their consent.
“Such a law could have a potentially detrimental effect on freedom of speech.”
Lee believes that a specific law is unnecessary, because its potentially harmful effects are already covered by three discrete pieces of legislation dealing with instances where a person’s private information is obtained illegally, when that information is used to carry out illegal acts and when the publication of the information is accompanied by a threat to incite hatred. However, this does not adequately account for cases in which the information is obtained legally, and then used to harass the individual in a more legally ambiguous manner, either with prank phone calls or with uninvited orders of pizza.
Susan Basko, an independent lawyer who practises in California and who has been doxxed in the course of her frequent clashes with internet trolls, believes that the onus should be on the law, rather than the public. She points out that in the US it is a crime to publicise information about a government employee such as their home address, their home and cellphone numbers, or their social security number, even if the information is already online. “This law should apply to protect all people, not just federal employees,” she said. “And websites, website-hosting companies and other ISPs should be required to uphold this law.”
Basko said that doxxing will continue to increase while police have inadequate resources to follow up cases. For now, it is up to individuals to take preventative measures. Zoë Quinn, an American game designer and public speaker who was doxxed in 2014, has launched Crash Override, a support network and assistance group for targets of online harassment, “composed entirely of experienced survivors”.
Quinn, who spoke about the problem at a congressional hearing in Washington, DC in April last year, recently posted a guide on how to reduce the likelihood of being doxxed. “If you are worried you might some day be targeted,” she wrote, “consider taking an evening to stalk yourself online, deleting and opting out of anything you’re not comfortable with.”
Both Scott and Roberts have changed their privacy habits following the attacks. Scott is more careful about interacting with strangers online, while Roberts uses scrambler software, which ensures that she never uses the same password for more than one online site or service.
For both women’s families, the effects of their encounters with armed police have also lingered. When one day recently Roberts’s husband returned home early from work, the au pair called the police, believing it was an intruder. And Scott is haunted by what happened.
“What if my husband had made a sudden move or resisted in some way? What if my eldest had grabbed the gun instead of gently reaching for it? What if people locally believed that my husband did actually have guns in the house?” she asks. “I don’t think the people making these sorts of hoax calls realise the impact.”

Charles Aznavour’s familys saved Jews from Nazis

Charles Aznavour’s family hid Jews in their home during the German occupation of Paris in World War II, French-Armenian singer reveals in new book.

Avner Shapira

“I knew the chains/I knew the wound/I knew the hate/I knew the hurt/ the thirst and hunger/I knew the fear/from one day to the next.”

So go the lyrics to Charles Aznavour’s song “J’ai Connu,” from his 50th studio album, released in 2011. The song, told from the perspective of a Jewish prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps, doesn’t describe the singer’s direct experiences during World War II. But Aznavour, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday later this month, did have some personal awareness of some of the horrors depicted in the song, as the son of refugees who survived the Armenian genocide and rebuilt their lives in Paris after losing most of their relatives.

Although Aznavour’s life has been extensively chronicled, up to now he has said very little about an especially humane and heroic chapter in his and his family’s life: Their decision to shelter and save Jews, Armenian deserters and underground activists in their home during the German occupation of France during the war, and their involvement in anti-Nazi activitvity.

 Aznavour family in the 1920s. Charles’ father, Mischa (center), is next to his wife, Knar

Now Aznavour has decided to tell the whole story, in Hebrew, in a self-published book, “Matzilim (Tzadikim) Ve’Lohamim” (“Righteous Saviors and Fighters”), by genocide researcher Prof. Yair Auron.

The latter spoke at length with Aznavour and his sister, Aida Aznavour-Garvarentz, who told him about their lives under the German occupation and what led their family, especially their father, to take part in rescue missions despite the many risks. The book, which will also be translated into French and Armenian, recounts a specific case, but offers a moral lesson on human behavior under conditions of widespread terror, and political and ideological violence. Above all, it is the moving story of survivors of one genocide who, at great personal risk, felt compelled to help victims of another.

In an interview conducted by email, Aznavour emphasizes the common threads that bind the Armenians and Jews.

“We come from the same pain and the same suffering, and without the annihilation of the Armenians in 1915-1918, the annihilation of the Jews in the Holocaust would not have been possible, because the Germans learned from their predecessors,” he writes.

He cites what Hitler told the commanders of the German army in August 1939, on the eve of the invasion of Poland, as he tried to dispel their anxiety over the use of extreme violence: “Who talks about the annihilation of the Armenians anymore?”

Auron says German officers who were involved in the command of the Turkish army in World War I and signed orders to expel the Armenians later served in high-ranking positions in the Nazi leadership and took part in the annihilation of the Jews.

Aznavour say he knew many Jews when he was a child in Paris.

“We grew up together in the Le Marais district, where many refugees and immigrants – including many Jews and Armenians – lived in the period between the two world wars. My father’s stall in the market was next to the stalls of some Jewish vendors.

“Armenian peddlers, including my father, looked after the stalls of the Jews after they were arrested in the mass deportation of Parisian Jews [“the roundup”] in July 1942. So taking in and hiding Jews in our home during the war was a very natural thing for us to do: they were our neighbors and friends,” he adds. “We had a life together. We were there for them and they were there for us. We had to try to help them, just as it was natural for us to try and help the Armenians who were drafted into the German army and deserted.”

In his three previous autobiographical works, Aznavour made very little mention of these acts of salvation. He told Auron he didn’t think they were so special and didn’t want to be perceived as immodest. But the professor convinced him of the importance of telling the story. Now the singer says, “I’m very proud of my family’s story and the beautiful, noble humanity of the act of rescue. Nothing makes me happier than to think that my dear parents saved people’s lives.”

Burning the uniforms

Aznavour was born in Paris on May 22, 1924, not long after his parents first arrived there. His father, Mischa Aznavourian, was born in Georgia in 1895 and lost his entire family in the Armenian genocide. His mother, Knar Baghdasaryan, was born in Izmir in 1904, and only she and her grandmother out of her entire family survived the genocide.

The couple fled Turkey on an Italian ship that brought them to Thessaloniki, Greece, where their eldest daughter, Aida, was born in 1923.

The family had many Armenian friends in Paris, among them a couple named Mélinée and Missak Manouchian. The latter was the military commander of the underground group known as L’Affiche Rouge (The Red Poster), which was the first to carry out armed resistance actions against the Nazis. Aznavour’s family aided the group on many occasions and also hid the Manouchians for several months while they were being hunted by the French police and Gestapo.

The first time the family hid someone during World War II was when a friend of Aznavour’s father brought his brother to them – a Romanian Jew who lived in Germany, was accused of subversion and sentenced to death. He had managed to escape to France disguised as a German soldier, and he knew that the Gestapo was after him. He found refuge in the family’s three-room apartment at 22 rue de Navarin, in Paris’ ninth arrondissement.

At the start of the war, Aida recounts in the book, “We understood that the Jews were going to be the victims of brutality. We looked upon the Jews with sadness and sorrow. We knew what genocide was.” She says her parents showed no hesitation in taking in the Jewish refugee, “even though it was clear that if the Nazis found this man in our house, they’d kill us right away. We told him that our home was his home, and we treated him warmly, like a good friend who had to extend his stay. For a few days, he even slept in the same bed as Charles.”

Sheltering 11 refugees at a time

The two Aznavour children, who were 16 and 17 at the start of the German occupation in 1940, pitched in to help, not knowing then that they would go on offering shelter to strangers. But then a woman came to the family, asking them to hide her Jewish husband, whose name was Simon. He had escaped from the Drancy internment camp, where the Jews of Paris were sent before being sent to the concentration camps outside of France.
For a while, the family also sheltered another Jew, and later on their apartment also served as a hideout for Armenians who’d deserted after being forcibly drafted into the Germany army.
Aznavour and his sister say there were days when 11 refugees were all hiding in the family’s apartment simultaneously. They hid in different corners of the house, and at night had to sleep on the floor.
The family prepared false papers for them, and one of the tasks assigned to the two children was to burn the deserters’ German uniforms and dispose of them far from the house.

How aware were you of the political significance of hiding wanted people in your family home? How aware of the danger were you?

Aznavour: “My parents knew the danger was there every day, but my sister and I only grasped it later. We were ‘crazy’ young people. We were living out our youth and we followed in our parents’ footsteps. Only after the war did we realize how great the risk really was.”

Auron dedicates a large part of his book to the activities of L’Affiche Rouge – whose story is barely known in Israel, despite significant Jewish participation in it.

The group, which was associated with the French Communist Party and whose members were mostly immigrants without French citizenship, was active in 1942-1943 as part of the French Resistance, and carried out armed attacks against the French police and Gestapo, inflicting casualties among the Germans.

It was named after the red propaganda poster the authorities distributed against it, which included photographs of 10 members who were apprehended.

The group had about 200 members; 67 were arrested, including 34 Jews and three Armenians. Of the 23 who were sentenced to death, 12 were Jews and two Armenian, including Missak Manouchian.
When Manouchian was arrested, his wife found refuge with her friends the Aznavours, after other friends refused to take her in. Aznavour says his parents’ close friendship with the Manouchians was part of the special kinship shared by Armenian survivors. He has vivid memories of the couple from his childhood – “Missak taught me to play chess,” he recalls.

He says that although his parents didn’t officially belong to the Resistance, they aided much of the underground’s activity. His mother helped a group transport weapons that were hidden in a baby carriage.
When Manouchian was arrested, he sent a postcard to Aznavour’s mother, telling her that her son would bring honor to the Armenian people and glory to France. His words helped reassure his mother and planted hope for her son’s future success.

Auron says there were many other Armenian families, like the Aznavour family, who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Twenty-four of them have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, but there were even more.
Because of this connection between Armenians and Jews, both Auron and Aznavour are upset by Israel’s stance on the Armenian genocide. “I’m very sorry that Israel does not recognize the Armenian genocide,” says Aznavour, “because it was the model the Nazis used for the Jewish genocide.”