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Eastern Jerusalem resident jailed for ‘Death to Israel’ Facebook page

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 13:55

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An eastern Jerusalem resident was  sentenced to prison for creating and managing a Facebook page called “Death to Israel.”

The eight-month prison term was levied Tuesday on Sami Deis, 27, by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Deis admitted to his actions as part of a plea bargain, Haaretz reported.

His posts included “Death to Israel – post this on all pages an accounts, post it on all profiles, all of the Palestinians and Arabs on Facebook,” “Start fires in Israel,” and “Blood=Blood! Kill them, death to settlers!”

Last week, the same court sentenced a Palestinian man from eastern Jerusalem to a similar prison term for posting messages on Facebook urging his friends and followers to commit “violent acts and acts of terrorism.”

Israeli Cabinet approves plans to upgrade Western Wall Plaza

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 13:50

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a five-year plan to upgrade the Western Wall Plaza.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, the Cabinet also approved several decisions “to strengthen the city of Jerusalem and prepare for the 50th anniversary of its unification,” according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Among the plans approved are the continuing development of the Western Wall Plaza and its tunnels, the preservation of archaeological finds, upgrading transportation infrastructure, and expanding educational activities for students and soldiers.

A full plan will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval in two weeks, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Cabinet also decided to allocate structures in Jerusalem for cultural and recreational use.

A plan to further the economic development of Jerusalem through 2020 also will be budgeted beginning in 2016.

A ministerial committee also has been established in order to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the unification of the city in 2017. The committee has been charged with formulating a plan that will include  events and programs in education, tourism, culture and sports, with emphasis on the 2017 Maccabiah Games.

Woman jailed after fleeing to avoid circumcising 4-year-old son

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:49

(JTA) — A Florida woman is in jail after fleeing with her 4-year-old son to keep him from being circumcised.

Heather Hironimus, 31, of Boynton Beach was arrested  last week after going into hiding with her son Chase three months ago rather than give her consent and turn the boy over for the surgery.

Hironimus and the boy’s father, Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton, had agreed to the circumcision three years ago as part of their separation deal. Hironimus backed out of the surgery and Nebus took her to court. In May, an appeals court in Florida upheld lower court rulings in favor of Nebus and the circumcision. The couple, neither of whom is Jewish, were never married.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge received assurances from Nebus’ attorney that the judge will receive 10 days notice prior to the procedure. Chase is in the custody of his father in an undisclosed location.

The judge, Kenneth Marra, made no ruling on an emergency request by Hironimus to put a temporary restraining order on the procedure.

Nebus has called circumcision “just the normal thing to do.”

An arrest warrant for Hironimus was issued in March after Hironimus failed to show up to hand the boy over to his father as required in the couple’s custody-sharing agreement.

Gene Sosin, Radio Liberty director and WWII codebreaker, dies at 93

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:24

(JTA) — Gene Sosin, a former director of broadcasting for Radio Liberty, has died.

Sosin died earlier this month at his home in White Plains, New York. He was 93.

He spent 33 years at Radio Liberty serving in various posts. Sosin also was a writer, lecturer and specialist in Soviet affairs.

Sosin earned an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York, which he entered as a freshman at the age of 16, before joining the U.S. Navy in 1942. He spent his World War II service in Washington, D.C., with a a top-secret communications unit serving as a codebreaker and translator of Japanese.

After his discharge, Sosin wrote news and features for the Voice of America and returned to Columbia, where he earned his master’s degree and a doctorate.

In 1950, he and his wife, Gloria, participated in the Harvard Refugee Interview Project in Munich, in the American occupied zone of Germany, interviewing displaced persons from the Soviet Union who remained in the West after World War II.

Sosin was a former member of the JTA board of directors. He was elected in 1979.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, two children and two grandchildren.

American tourist, 20, dies in fall at Masada

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 09:01

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 20-year-old American tourist died after falling during a hike on Masada in southern Israel.

The woman fell some 26 feet off the historic mountain’s Snake Path on Tuesday afternoon while traveling with an unnamed organized group, according to reports. It took more than an hour to rescue her from a steep cliff.

In temperatures of at least 104 degrees, the woman was dehydrated, suffering from heat stroke and not breathing when she was recovered, Israeli news outlets reported, citing Magen David Adom paramedics.

Paramedics were unable to resuscitate the woman and she was declared dead at the scene.

Illinois state House passes anti-BDS legislation

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 08:25

(JTA) — Illinois lawmakers unanimously passed a bill that bars state pension funds from including companies that participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The bill passed the state’s House of Representatives on Monday by a vote of 102-0. The state Senate had passed the measure unanimously as well, 49-0.

With the expected signature of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois would be the first state to legislate against BDS.

In a tweet Monday shortly after the bill passed the House, Rauner wrote, “Looking forward to signing #SB1761 making IL first in the nation to fight BDS against Israel.”

The bill requires the state’s pension system to remove companies that boycott Israel from their portfolios. The measure is an amendment to existing legislation now enforced by the Illinois Investment Policy Board mandating that state pension funds be divested from foreign firms doing business in Iran, Sudan or other countries with known human rights violations.

“At the core of the BDS movement is a quest to delegitimize Israel as a sovereign, democratic and Jewish state,” said Chicago Jewish United Fund President Steven Nasatir. “This bipartisan legislation sends a strong message that Illinois will not tolerate such efforts. We anticipate that this legislation will become a model for similar action in many other states.”

The Indiana and Tennessee state Legislatures have both passed nonbinding resolutions opposing boycotts of Israel.

Iranian suspect in AMIA bombing denies involvement, cites ‘influence of ‘Zionism’

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 07:51

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — An Iranian suspect in the 1994 attack on the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish center denied that his country was involved and blamed Argentina for being “under the influence of Zionism.”

The accusation against Iran made by Argentina’s Justice Department “is unfounded, false and a lie,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister in Iran, said in an interview Monday in Tehran. “Argentina should not be an instrument of Zionist politics. Argentina isn’t in the position to interrogate us, they should give us an answer over their weakness before Israel and the United States.”

The AMIA bombing has come under renewed scrutiny following the mysterious death in January of investigator Alberto Nisman.

“We call on Argentina not to be an instrument of the Zionists,” Velayati, who served as the foreign minister from 1981 to 1997, when attacks on both the AMIA Jewish center and on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires occurred, told the Argentine TV news channel C5N. “Here in this region the Zionists don’t have the courage to do anything against Iran, so they provoke others” to act against Iran.

“The enmity of Zionists against Iran is very clear,” added Velayati, currently the head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research.

Asked if he will testify as is called for in the memorandum of understanding between Argentina and Iran to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing, Velayati replied, “Argentina isn’t in a position to question officials of an independent country.”

The interviews with Velayati and Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina who also is a suspect in the bombing, were aired Monday night on a program called “MinutoUno.” C5N is a private channel run by Cristobel Lopez, a businessman close to the national government.

Argentina’s Justice Department has accused the Iranian government of directing the bombing, which killed 85 and injured 300. Iran also is believed to be behind the 1992 car bombing that destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring 242. No arrests have been made in either case.

Nisman, who first made the accusation against Iran and later alleged that Argentina’s president and other government ministers covered up Iran’s role in the bombing, was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment on Jan. 16, hours before he was to present his allegations to Congress. Argentine courts have dismissed Nisman’s claims against the government for lack of evidence.

HUC museum to provide home for B’nai B’rith collection

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 07:07

(JTA) — The art and artifacts from the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum will have a new home at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Klutznick’s sacred and secular fine and decorative arts and social documents will be exhibited in galleries at HUC’s Skirball Museum designated as the B’nai B’rith Klutznick Collection, according to a statement issued Monday by HUC and B’nai B’rith.

In addition, a select group of Klutznick artifacts will be lent to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington to be displayed in its new building, slated for opening in 2020.

The Skirball will collaborate with B’nai B’rith through online exhibitions and links disseminating information about the collection with other organizations, and the sponsoring of special programs and lectures.

B’nai B’rith transferred its archives to the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, also located at HUC.

“The acquisition of this historic collection creates unprecedented opportunities for community engagement on local, regional, national and international platforms,” Skirball director Abby Schwartz said in a statement. “Integrating this collection and making it accessible through digital technology will be a priority, as the Skirball positions itself as a center of Jewish art and culture.”

Western Wall barriers locked to prevent women from getting Torah scroll

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 05:59

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A male supporter of Women of the Wall was arrested after trying to pass a Torah scroll to the women’s section of the Western Wall during prayers for the new Jewish month.

The partitions separating the men’s and women’s sections were locked together and metal barriers placed alongside them on Tuesday morning to prevent the women from receiving a Torah scroll from the men’s side.

Activist Nitai Groen was detained by police after trying to pass a Torah scroll over the partitions, called a mechitzah in Hebrew, and over the barriers, according to Women of the Wall. He was later released.

Despite being unable to pray using a Torah, the group celebrated the bat mitzvahs of six 12-year-old girls who had been prepared to chant from the scroll.

Regulations at the site set by the office of the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel, headed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, have prevented women from using a Torah scroll in their section.

“Just a day after the city celebrated the historical liberation of the Western Wall, Jewish people in Israel and around the world were once more reminded that the holy site is still not a place they can freely pray according to their tradition,” read a statement issued by Women of the Wall. “The Western Wall has been hijacked from being a national site welcoming Jews of all denominations to becoming run by an ultra-Orthodox minority, with regulations discriminating against women at the site.”

Last month, the women chanted from a full-size Torah kept in the men’s section, which was passed to them by moving apart segments of the mechitzah. Haredi Orthodox men praying at the Wall physically attacked the men who helped the women with what the group described in a statement as their “carefully planned help” to obtain the scroll, and then broke through the mechitzah barrier and attempted to take the scroll away from the women.

An April 2013 Supreme Court ruling acknowledged women’s right to pray at the Western Wall according to their beliefs, claiming it does not violate what has come to be known as “local custom.”

Women of the Wall gather at the Western Wall at the start of each Jewish month for the morning prayer service. The group’s members have clashed frequently with staff from Rabinovitch’s office and with police for holding services that violate the rules enforced by that office, including singing, wearing prayer shawls and other customs that are forbidden to women under the office’s interpretation of Orthodox Jewish law.

Ethiopian-Israelis stage peaceful protest in Tel Aviv

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 04:29

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Approximately 1,000 Ethiopian-Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against police brutality and racism.

The protest, which began Monday afternoon and grew as it continued into the night, saw protesters march up the city’s central Rothschild Boulevard, stopping at major public squares and blocking intersections. The protest ended at the central Rabin Square.

Demonstrators led chants protesting police brutality against Ethiopians. Earlier this month, a video spread of a policeman beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier in uniform. The demonstration also protested racism directed at the Ethiopian-Israeli community.

The video sparked a demonstration two weeks ago that ended in a melee at Rabin Square, with arrests and dozens of police and protesters injured. At that protest, police threw stun grenades and used a water cannon to disperse the crowd.

No such conflict happened Monday. Protesters chanted “A violent policeman needs to be put away,” “No matter black or white, racism is the devil,” and “We won’t allow a black person to be unfortunate.”

A scuffle between police and protesters broke out after protesters spotted an Ethiopian-Israeli police officer and chanted, “Ethiopian, take off your uniform.”

“This is a generation of youth, a generation of fighters, a generation of courageous people,” Yaakov Gadasho, one of the protest leaders, said into a megaphone at Rabin Square. “One day we’ll bring out the whole community. One day they’ll know these are people.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of a special ministerial committee to address the integration of Ethiopian-Israelis into broader society.

“There is no room for racism and discrimination in our society. None,” Netanyahu said. “We will fight with all our strength against these unacceptable practices. We will simply uproot them from our lives. We will turn them into something looked down upon, something contemptible.”

Texas judge disciplined for remarks about Jews, Muslims

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 15:12

(JTA) — A Texas judge was admonished publicly for referring to a district attorney as a “New York Jew” and saying a prosecutor’s beard made him look “like a Muslim.”

In a ruling released Monday, the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished Carter Tinsley Schildknecht of the 106th District Court in Lamesa. The commission required Schildknecht to obtain four hours of instruction on recognizing and eliminating explicit and implicit bias and/or prejudice, Texas Lawyer reported.

The admonition, which also criticized Schildknecht for holding marathon court sessions that lasted until 4 a.m., said the judge last July referred to District Attorney Michael Munk as a “New York Jew” in a private conversation with the D.A.’s secretary and later told Munk and another attorney, “When I tell people why you [Munk] are different and have different thoughts, I explain [it is] because you are from New York and because you are Jewish.”

In her written responses to the commission, Schildknecht said, “I may be too blunt, but I am not biased or prejudiced against New Yorkers or Jews.”

The admonition said that last September, Schildknecht told an assistant district attorney, “You look like a Muslim and I wouldn’t hire you.” In her written response, Schildknecht could not remember making the comment but said the situation was “faintly familiar.”

Israeli woman gives birth at age 65

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 14:19

(JTA) — A 65-year-old haredi Orthodox woman became the oldest woman ever to birth a child in Israel and one of the oldest in the world.

Chaya Sarah Schachar of Bnei Brak delivered her first child, a healthy boy, on Monday at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Schachar, who is Hasidic, had been trying to get pregnant since marrying over 45 years ago. The baby, delivered by Caesarean section, was conceived with donated or purchased sperm.

Schachar and her husband, Shmuel, attributed her successful pregnancy to a blessing from their rabbi, according to the Times of Israel.

Last year, a 61-year-old woman gave birth to her first son at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem.

It is not clear who is the oldest woman in the world to have given birth. In 2013, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reported that Rajo Devi Lohan of India was the record-holder, having given birth six years earlier at 69. However, ABC News in 2008 reported on another Indian woman, Omkari Pankwar, who gave birth to twins at 72.

Dr. Tal Biron, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Meir Hospital, told The Jerusalem Post that Schachar can breastfeed the baby despite her advanced age.

While noting that “we do not recommend” attempting pregnancy beyond age 54, Biron said, “We were very excited during the delivery. I have no doubt she will be an excellent mother. She is a very special person. The baby is very cute.”

Montana man shoots bartender over non-kosher drink

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 13:05

(JTA) — A man from Montana was charged with attempted homicide for shooting a bartender who served him a non-kosher drink.

Monte Leon Hanson, 59, allegedly shot Joe Lewis, who is also his neighbor, and killed Lewis’ dog the morning after the bartender made Hanson a red beer — beer and tomato juice — at his Hamilton bar using the Clamato tomato drink rather than tomato juice. One of the ingredients in Clamato is clam broth.

When Hanson learned the drink was made with Clamato he became angry, saying it was against his religion, according to the affidavit, The Missoulian reported.

Early the next morning, on May 9, Hanson reportedly followed Lewis when he left their apartment building to take out his dog. Another neighbor then heard four to six gunshots. He found Lewis holding his dog, dead from a gunshot wound to his head. Lewis also was injured from the gunshots.

Lewis had been carrying the dog, who had a leg injury, which protected him from some of the bullets.

Hanson’s bail was set at $250,000.

Israel taps interior minister as chief peace negotiator

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 12:04

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s new interior minister, Silvan Shalom, was appointed the country’s chief peace negotiator for any future peace talks with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Shalom, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a former foreign minister, on Monday, according to Israeli media reports.

Tzipi Livni, now a co-leader of the opposition’s left-leaning Zionist Union party, previously headed up the negotiations.

Shalom also is tasked with strategic dialogue with the United States, according to Israel Radio.

“The appointment indicates the desire of the prime minister and Israel to have negotiations with the Palestinians, in contrast to the accusations that Israel refuses peace, and in contrast to the Palestinian claims that they cannot avoid unilateral actions in order to advance the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Shalom said in private conversations, the Hebrew language-NRG news website reported.

He also reportedly said that he was “ready to discuss any topic and in any area, from the weighty issues of the United Nations to smaller issues such as joint management of daily life.”

Shalom was foreign minister from 2003 to 2006, during the second Palestinian intifada and Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is scheduled to visit the area and meet with Israel and Palestinian Authority officials later this week in an effort to jump-start the peace process.

U.S.-led indirect peace talks ended in April without progress, after which the Palestinians began to press their case in international forums. Many nations and the Vatican have recognized the state of Palestine.

Ethiopian-Israelis vow protest rally in Tel Aviv will be peaceful

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:40

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ethiopian-Israelis are protesting on a main thoroughfare in Tel Aviv against racism and police brutality.

Several hundred protesters arrived on Monday afternoon at Rothschild Boulevard, with thousands expected by the evening. Protesters plan to march to Rabin Square in the evening.

Organizers, in the aftermath of protests that have turned violent, stressed that the rally will be peaceful.

“Police have given a permit for the demonstration this evening in central Tel Aviv. Several thousands are expected,” Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, according to the Times of Israel. “Police units will respond if necessary to any public disorder.”

Two weeks ago, demonstrators and police clashed at a mass protest in Rabin Square, leading to dozens of arrests and injuries.

Elisabeth Bing, ‘mother of Lamaze,’ dies at 100

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:09

(JTA) — Elisabeth Bing, a leader in the natural childbirth movement who became known as the “mother of Lamaze,” died at 100.

Bing, who fled Nazi Germany in 1933 due to her Jewish roots, died Friday at her home in Manhattan.

She helped to found the educational organization Lamaze International with Marjorie Karmel and advocated for the natural childbirth technique in her book “Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth,” as well in lectures and on television talk shows, according to The New York Times.

After fleeing Germany, Bing, whose Jewish parents converted to Protestantism, trained as a physical therapist in England before moving to the United States in 1949. She worked giving physical therapy to postpartum women before becoming interested in teaching natural childbirth methods.

Bing, who preferred the term “prepared childbirth” to “natural childbirth,” taught Lamaze classes in hospitals and in a studio in her Manhattan apartment.

Jewish teen, woman lightly wounded in Paris-region anti-Semitic attacks

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:00

(JTA) — A Jewish boy and a woman were assaulted in separate anti-Semitic incidents in the Paris region.

The incident involving the woman occurred on May 13 on a street in Sarcelles, an impoverished northern suburb of the French capital where some 60,000 Jews live in close proximity to many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and Africa.

The woman was lightly injured by three African women who assaulted her because she complained to them about the behavior of children, whom the Jewish woman thought belonged to at least one of the African women, the National Bureau for Vigilance Agaisnt Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, wrote in a report published Friday. The children, the report said, had hurled a soccer ball at the daughter of the Jewish woman, identified in the report only as L.D.

As they were allegedly assaulting the woman, witnesses heard the African women shouting anti-Semitic remarks, including “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and a statement about Jews being “a filthy race,” according to the report. “You need some more beatings,” one of the women also said.

Police were called to the scene and the alleged victim filed a criminal complaint for assault. She was also treated in the hospital for her injuries, which required several days of recovery.

“Increasingly, banal conflicts involving Jews degenerate into anti-Semitic incidents and assaults,” BNVCA wrote in its statement, which urged police to “get to the bottom of what happened.”

Separately, on Friday, four unidentified young men assaulted a 16-year-old Jewish male who was wearing kippah as the alleged victim was leaving his home in central Paris, according to a BNVCA report. The perpetrators stole the teen’s cellphone and hit him in the eye.

The perpetrators, aged 17 to 20, had an Arab appearance, the report said. A fifth individual, also of Middle Eastern descent, approached the scene and encouraged the perpetrators to “break” the victim, whom he called a coward.

The beating stopped when an Asian woman intervened and threatened to call the police. The victim filed a complaint after being treated for minor to moderate injuries connected to his emergency eye surgery at Rothschild Hospital.

BNVCA classified the incident as anti-Semitic, according to its report published Sunday.

Ky. campaign consultant disparages Jews in confrontation with ex-client

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:36

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A campaign consultant disparaged Jews during a recorded confrontation with his former client, a candidate in the Democratic primary for Kentucky state treasurer.

“You are why people don’t like Jews,” Jacob Conway said to Daniel Grossberg on the recording that Grossberg provided to Insider Louisville. “You are exactly where the term ‘Jew you out of something’ came from. You’re exactly why my grandfather and everybody else I know has had a hard time doing business in this city.”

Conway at first denied disparaging Jews, Insider Louisville reported. Once confronted with his remarks recorded in his April 23 confrontation with Grossberg, the news website said that Conway said that he was not anti-Semitic and lost his temper.

Grossberg, one of five candidates in Tuesday’s primary, denies owing money to Conway and alleges that Conway attempted to sabotage the campaign. Grossberg’s lawyer told Insider Louisville that Conway may be liable for extortion charges.

Rabbis call for eco-social justice in letter on climate crisis

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:26

WASHINGTON (JTA) – More than 250 rabbis signed on to a letter on the climate crisis that calls for greater involvement in fighting for eco-justice.

The inspiration for the letter dated May 12 began with the decision by Pope Francis to issue an encyclical on the climate “in the context of worsening concentrations of wealth and power and worsening degradations of poverty,” the rabbis wrote.

“So we call for a new sense of eco-social justice – a tikkun tevel, the healing of our planet. We urge those who have been focusing on social justice to address the climate crisis, and those who have been focusing on the climate crisis to address social justice,” the letter said.

In the letter, the rabbis call for the expanded use of wind energy, providing grants to Jewish organizations to power their buildings with solar power and the end of subsidies to energy companies. They also spoke out against fracking, coal mining and oil drilling.

“We believe it is important for the spiritual leadership of the Jewish people to speak to the Jewish people as a whole and to the world on this deep crisis in the history of the human species and of many other life-forms on our planet,” wrote the seven rabbis who initiated the letter.

They are Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the American Jewish University; Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of the Hebrew College rabbinical school; Rabbi Peter Knobel, former president, Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical  College; Rabbi Susan Talve of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center; and Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

U.S. Holocaust museum concerned over new Ukrainian legislation

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 10:19

(JTA) — The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum expressed concern over two legislative initiatives adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament.

One measure adopted last month establishes an official government commemoration of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which murdered thousands of Jews in the 1940s. Another bans Communist and Nazi propaganda and symbols.

The legislation is an “attempt to legislate how the history of Ukraine should be discussed and written, especially regarding the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA),” said a statement issued last week by the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.

The popularity of UPA, which for a time collaborated with the Nazi occupation to further UPA’s ambitions of sovereignty from Russia, has soared in Ukraine since a 2013 revolution that led to armed conflict with pro-Russian militias in Ukraine’s east.

The law prohibiting the symbols does not apply to academia, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Enormous suffering was inflicted on Ukrainians and minorities, especially Jews and Poles, from 1917 to 1991 under Soviet and German control, according to the museum. During the periods of control, the ruling countries dictated the narrative of Ukrainian history to suit their needs.

After Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, it opened its archives to scholars in order to study its history.

“As Ukraine advances on its difficult road to full democracy, we strongly urge the nation’s government to refrain from any measure that preempts or censors discussion and politicizes the study of history,” the museum statement said. “Ukrainian democracy must continue on the path of unfettered scholarly research and open debate on all aspects of the national past.”