Google denies deal to jointly monitor YouTube videos with Israel


Google has denied an Israeli government claim that it has agreed to jointly monitor YouTube videos that incite attacks on Israelis.

Google, which owns YouTube, on Monday denied that it had made such an agreement at a meeting last week of the company’s executives with Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely.

A statement about the meeting released by the ministry last week, which remains on its website, quoted Hotovely as saying, “We are engaged daily in confronting incitement to violence, a task which can benefit greatly from the cooperation of those companies that are involved in social media.”

The announcement of an agreement to jointly monitor inciting videos was removed from the statement, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told the French news agency AFP.

Hotovely, who met with Google’s senior counsel for public policy, Juniper Downs, and YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, was briefed on the companies’ system for identifying video clips that incite to violence, according to the statement.

A Google spokesman told AFP that the meeting was just “one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging and removals.”

Read this article, bubala!


Back in the 1970s, when I attended the freshly integrated Fairfax High School, black and Chicano gangs would spar in the lunch yard. I used to joke that we Jews should also form a gang. We’d hire a locksmith to break into stores, doctor the books and write ourselves a few checks. Despite the joking, I lived in constant fear of being mugged (one time at gunpoint!). The trauma has faded with time — although I still won’t go to the toilet between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

If only Jaquann and Luis had been there to save me. 

Jaquann and Luis are the African-American and Latino Jewish gangbangers who are the main characters in “Bubala Please,” a successful Web series of videos launched last Chanukah. The two meet during an altercation. Luis’ bling — a big chai — falls out of his undershirt, to be noticed, then reciprocated, by Jaquann showing his Star of David. They become fast friends — or as close to friends as gangbangers can be. 

It’s tough to explain a joke without killing it, so you’ll have to see “Bubala Please” for yourself. Still, here’s a taste: The two Jewish gangbangers celebrate all the Jewish holidays, but not in any way you’ve ever imagined. Ever eaten a Baja Gefilte Fish Taco? How about Matzoh Nachos? And suffice it to say, after you’ve watched their ultra-authentic — i.e., filthy — urban gangster Purim rap, “We Doin’ Purim” (available on iTunes) and see these homies noshin’ on hamantashen, you’ll never see that pastry quite the same way again. Likewise with Jaquann’s very emphatic Shehechiyanu. As the BubalaPlease.com warning states, this isn’t for the kinderlach. Or the ultra-serious.

[From Hollywood JournalHow to make money on YouTube with Web series]

Jaquann and Luis are played by two Angelenos from the inner city, Marcus Wayne and Rick Mancia. Take off the tear-drop tattoos, the gang wear, bling and façade of machismo, and it’d be hard to find two nicer guys, a testament to their acting abilities. To play their gangbanging alter egos, each says he channels people they’ve come across. Mancia says he’s still always shocked by the fact that “there are actually people whose idea of a weekend is: ‘I’m gonna hang out, get high and maybe beat up some guys.’ That’s the way they talk. They really exist!” he marveled. “To make them Jewish just seemed like a hilarious idea.”

Playing Jewish gangbangers has also opened curious new vistas for the actors. Wayne said, “It’s deepened my respect for Jewish culture and religion. And watching TV is a whole new experience. [Since I’ve learned a lot of Yiddish and Jewish culture] I understand television a lot better. I never knew how much I was missing!” 

By playing these characters, Mancia said, “You realize that underneath the façade that everyone sees, we are all the same. We all want to belong, to be respected, enjoy life, have some fun.” 

“Bubala Please” is the creation of Napkin Note Productions and its two nice Jewish boys from Texas, who met in college: Jacob Salamon and Jared Bauer. Salamon, the grandson of Holocaust survivors who has an Israeli father, attended a predominantly Mexican-American high school. Bauer, the son of New York transplants, attended a predominantly African-American one before graduating college and film school. 

“Bubala Please” is their attempt at achieving racial harmony. Or at least racial hilarity. “Mel Brooks earned the absolute right to make racial comedy, but we’re claiming that right,” Bauer asserts. Of course, Salamon and Bauer, both in their 20s, are comedic babies on the block. But most viewers see their mixture of Jewish and gangsta culture as sidesplittingly funny. Roseanne Barr is a fan — she wants a cameo, Salamon reports — along with more than a million other YouTube viewers. Surprised, Salamon said that lots of Orthodox Jews — many of them women — are among their most fervent fans. Both Salamon and Bauer also love the fact that, growing up as lone Jews in the Lone Star State, they now feel more connected to the Jewish community than ever before. 

The success of “Bubala Please” came as a surprise to Bauer and Salamon. Normally, through a partner company, they make commercials, including for Taco Bell. Salamon recalled, “We made the first episode as a sort of holiday card to send to some of our contacts in the business. All with our own money.” Mancia interjected, “Yeah, we worked for bubkes!” Salamon added, “I realized we were on to something when I got three e-mails in one day telling me to go watch the video, and then it registered over 50,000 views on YouTube in the first week.” He and Bauer later raised funds at the crowdfunding platform Jewcer.com, which enabled the production of more episodes, with the Passover episodes being the latest of six. Three more are in the pipeline before they wrap the first season.

Where will it all lead? With Bauer and Salamon, there is no shortage of ideas. After hesitating, they shared their idea for a full-length feature film: “Jaquann and Luis Go on Birthright.” Homies in the Holy Land? Just the idea induces laughter. Talk about being “strangers in a strange land.” If Jaquann and Luis could have brought quiet to my race-riven high school lunch yard, maybe, while on Birthright, they can work some magic between Palestinians and Israelis. I already know their opening gambit: “Make peace, MF’ers!” Hey, it’s never been tried — like “Bubala Please” itself. And that was surprisingly successful. Yasher koach, bubalas.

Let My People Post Passover Videos


FADE IN.SCENE: A fat, white Jewish boy wearing a backwards baseball cap, pink sunglasses and a snarl, walks down the street to the tune of “Baby’s Got Back,” but instead of saying “I like a big butt and I cannot lie,” he’s rapping these words:

Dawgs, I like matzah balls and i’ll tell you why
If I don’t get ‘em it makes me cry.
When the smell rolls in and I imagine the taste, and around them in your face
You get Tums!
Wanna eat that stuff – cuz one just ain’t enough!
My clothes they keep on tearing, I’m fat but i’m not caring…

It’s “Matzah Ball Rap,” one of the many Passover videos virally spread around YouTube, the premiere medium to get out a message—whatever that message may be. Since the Passover seder is the most attended Jewish ritual of the year, the Jews of YouTube have lots to say about it, with videos—funny, satirical, animated and somewhat educational.

In other words, a perfect medium for today’s younger generation of Jews looking to connect to their heritage.

There are the rap songs, like the animated hip-hop video by Smooth-E (comedian Eric Schwartz) called “Matzah: Hip Hop Fo’ Jews” (I feel like a freak/because every time I pull out something to eat for this week/I can’t do it/because I’m Jewish/and I can’t eat bread/and my rabbi said only/MATZAH!), which was featured on the “Tonight Show.” Then there are the melodic spoofs, such as Michelle Citrin’s “20 Things to Do With Matzah” (Passover’s over and wouldn’t it be neat/if you could use all the matzah you didn’t eat/Catch it like a Frisbee with your friends in the park/ or jump in the water and pretend you’re a shark), which in the last year registered almost half a million hits.

There are the cute ones, like Sam Apple’s “Who Let the Jews Out,” to promote his book “Schlepping Through the Alps” (Ballantine, 2006), and the utterly ridiculous ones, such as the movie preview “I Know What You Did Last Seder” (four Jewish teens are in great danger when a rabbi discovers they have been eating leavened bread during Passover).

Others are more substantive than songs, with modern-day interpretations of the Passover story, such as “Let My People Grow,” an animated sketch—by Stephen and Joel Levinson, based on their seder skits growing up on Dayton, Ohio. This one frames the Jews’ desire to leave Egypt as a breakup. (Jewish Slave Girl: “We think it’s time to move on, you know, get a place of our own.” Egyptian master: “But you can’t leave now! I mean things were going so well! Listen, this pyramid is almost done—just finish it up … ”)

“I think there’s a lot of stuff to be had in the Jewish world: a cynical, modernist retelling of the Bible,” Joel, a full-time YouTube videographer who earns his living winning YouTube contests, said about “God and Co.,” Nextbook’s video series of Bible stories. “God is portrayed in a way that he isn’t usually portrayed.”

Just as the Internet and its blogs have upended traditional media like newspapers and television, YouTube has changed the way many young people think about religion. The Passover videos are just one example of how the Jews of YouTube—usually 20- and 30-something comedians, musicians and writers—are using their culture and creativity to redefine the tradition.

“Being Jewish is a part of me—it’s not the only part of me, but it’s part of my story,” said Smooth-E, a comedian who has made dozens of YouTube videos, including Jewish ones like “Crank That Kosha Boy,” which has generated more than 3 million hits, perhaps because it spoofs SoulJa Boy’s popular hip-hop song “Tell Em (Crank That).”

“As a Jewish artist, I’m telling my story. I kind of have a skewed view—I look at matzah and think that I love the tradition, but matzah stops you up like traffic on the 405 at rush hour,” Smooth-E said, referring to a Los Angeles highway. “It’s not disrespectful, but we can all relate to it.”

There are different reasons behind Jewish videos on YouTube.

Some are inadvertently America’s Funniest Home Videos-style funny, like “Seth’s Bar Mitzvah,” which features a family singing karaoke horribly off-key. Others are serious affairs, like castigating the United Nations for its stance on Israel, or explaining Jewish rituals such as the seder.

But the ones that gain the most traction are the scripted, funny videos. Some promote Judaism, but in a more subtle—and timely—way.

Take Citrin’s “I Gotta Love You Rosh Hashanah,” a parody of the “Barack Obama Girl” video (“Yom Kippur leaves me feeling empty inside/Passover reminds of the tears that we cry/but I don’t want to think of our tragic history/cuz I’m comin’ home for Rosh Hashanah”).

“The crazy part was the response I got from people—‘You make me proud to be a Jew’ and ‘You’re so cool,’” Citrin said, noting that she heard from children, grandmothers, even a Holocaust survivor.  Hebrew school teachers told her they use it in their curriculum, and people still stop her on the streets.

“People really connect to it,” said the 28-year-old folk singer from Brooklyn.

Others use YouTube videos to promote a specific cause, such as Sarah Silverman’s “The Great Schlep,” which encouraged young Jews to urge their grandparents to vote for Obama—and grabbed more than 3 million views.

“Talk to your audience where they hang out,” said Matt Dorf, of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, who worked with the people behind “The Great Schlep” campaign, and Birthright Israel, a Jewish organization that makes good use of YouTube.

Birthright has hired artists like Citrin to make videos and holds video contests for program alums.

“It’s where their people are,” Dorf said of the18- to 26-year-olds eligible for Birthright’s first-time free trips to Israel. “You’re not going to speak to them with a full-page ad in The New York Times.”

Where do people hang out?

On Web sites like JDate, which like Birthright recently hired Brandon Walker—the songwriter of the 1.6 million-viewed video “Chinese Food on Christmas.” For Birthright, he wrote a Passover one, “Get Down Moses,” and for Jdate he wrote “February’s Here” (“Never thought I’d be the type to use a dating site online/but February’s here and I don’t have a Valentine …”).

“People come still come up to me and say, ‘Oh my cousin from Argentina got it from his uncle in Israel who sent to his doctor in California,’ these bizarre stories,” said Walker, 26, who teaches music at a Jewish day school in Baltimore in addition to writing music. (“Chinese Food on Christmas” was originally a college class assignment to write a Christmas song that he first posted on the Web in 2003).

Walker wasn’t surprised by the popularity of his YouTube videos.

“Jews love to have a voice in pop culture,” he said. “We’re a minority and been through so much, but we’re so vocal and prevalent—I think that’s why we love stuff like this.”

With YouTube, Walker said, Jews get “to make our presence known in a positive, lighthearted way, which is not always the case.”

What is the line between lighthearted parody and wicked satire? Between being “good for the Jews” and “bad for the Jews”?

Rob Kutner of “The Daily Show” doesn’t think he crosses the line with Jewish spoofs—“Meshuganeh Men” (Miss Holowitz, what would you say if I told you I had a cozy room reserved for you in the Catskills this weekend and we could curl up together and watch the Eichmann trial?) and “Jewno” (I thought it would be worse—getting under 1200 under the SATs, donating money to the Jewish Bush presidential library, stopping a diet!”)—all written to promote the 92nd Street Y/Tribeca’s annual Purim shpiels.

“I think these are generally positive stereotypes,” Kutner said, although he does receive some negative feedback as well. “I figure words can never hurt me.”

Some YouTube Jews don’t care much about whether it’s good for the Jews or not. Consider “Miriam and Shoshana,” or as they are known on YouTube, “Hardcore Jewish Girls.” Dressed in buttoned-up white shirts and knee-covering dark pleated skirts, they play Orthodox yeshiva high school girls rapping—“School starts at 7:45 a.m./before that we get some ‘Schevitz in/‘82 ‘yo, study Torah/we’d read some to ya/but we’d bore ya”—as they chase boys and dream of being like Amy Winehouse.

Videos such as “Hardcore Jewish Girls” and “Modern-Day Jesus,” both produced by filmmaker Oren Kaplan, 29, are not out to promote a holiday or a cause or Judaism—just the artists themselves.

Kaplan noted that Comedy Central has optioned his “Modern-Day Jesus,” which he hopes will be a serious satire about religion and secularism.

“We get broader exposure on YouTube than through the film festival route and working our way up through Hollywood,” he said. “It allows us to throw stuff out there and see what people like and don’t like, and it allows us to entertain.”

It also caused a “conversation” on YouTube, where a rabbi made a video “banning” the video (“Hashem Yirachem [may God have Mercy]  on all those involved and all those who have seen it,”) and another person “unbanned” it (“I think Hashem will be very proud and give them a lot of brachas”).

Ultimately, though, Reb Moshe of Safed left it up there because the video had so many hits, it ended up getting him hired for other work, including a promotional video for the city of Las Vegas.

What about people who don’t get the joke?

“A lot of those involved with kiruv [religious outreach] seem to me overly concerned with how others think of the Jews,” said Kaplan, whose day job is a videographer for Disney.

“I have been socialized in a much more secular world. I don’t really see a need to be extremely careful what I put out there,” he said. “I know it bothers a lot of people, but then [I say] don’t watch it and don’t talk about it.”


Learning to embrace the YouTube revolution
By Amy Klein, JTA

Making videos is an essential step for Jewish organizations interested in getting their message out to a younger audience, new media marketing experts say.“Unfortunately, many people are not reading newspapers anymore and watching TV—there’s only one way to get people’s attention,” said Jason Frank, co-founder of Giving Tree, the marketing, production and consulting company for Jewish nonprofits that he runs with Molly Livingstone.

Frank said organizations should post videos to YouTube instead of just distributing them through an organization’s network or a niche site such as YidTube or JewTube, which has faced legal action by YouTube.

“No one’s really interested in watching only Jewish videos,” he said. “You have to promote something in the secular world.

“Finding a Passover rap is funnier if you find it on YouTube than on a Jewish video site,” Frank said, referring to the video “Matzah Ball Rap,”, which he and Livingstone made as one of a series they produced “to help promote Judaism and holidays in a fun way.”

Of all the new technologies—e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, podcasts—videos are still the best way to communicate a message, said Matt Dorf, managing partner of Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, who consults with many organizations and helps them make videos.  “It spreads far beyond the reach they’d otherwise have. It gets their brand and message out there and it reaches the people they want to reach in a young and fun way—and it’s cost effective,” Dorf said.

But some established Jewish organizations don’t understand the new culture of YouTube and its economics, saidFrank, who works with many Israeli nonprofits. Many established groups, he said, are “more interested in traditional videos”—meaning a 30-minute video that might cost $20,000 and take three months to make. “They think it’s better if it’s more expensive.”

Dorf said American Jewish organizations want to tap into the market but aren’t always sure how to use the new technology.

“This is the new hip—they all want to be doing this. They just don’t know how,” he said. Also, “once you make it, how do you get people to watch it?”

That’s the question many artists ask when posting to YouTube, which in the past few years has exploded with tens of thousand of videos posted daily. Some are good, some are bad and some are so bad they are good—like the most watched video, “The Evolution of Dance,” which has registered more than 115 million hits. And all of them are competing for “eyeballs,” the term for numbers of people watching a video.

“The biggest misconception is that if they make a good video and they put it on YouTube, it will explode,” said Oren Kaplan, who runs his own production company that makes experimental videos.

“You have to spend a lot of time pushing it on a social networking site. You need to be a big part of the YouTube community, to have its members care about other members,” he said, referring to registering on the site and posting your own videos and commenting on others’ videos. “It’s not an overnight sensation. It takes a lot of work—unless it’s your dog running into a mirror.” (“Puppy vs. Mirror” got at least half a million hits on YouTube.)

Rob Kutner of “The Daily Show” has a built-in audience from his job, but said he is also “growing his distribution list” using YouTube lingo. He also recommends cross-promoting to other Web sites—he posts to Funny Or Die, Gawker and Defamer. An organization can send its videos to like-minded Web sites such as political, social action or Jewish.

What makes a good YouTube video?

“Simplicity is the mantra—you don’t get anyone’s eyeballs for more than 3 minutes,” Kutner said. “It has to have some sizzle or a star or something sexy”—for example, parodying something well known, as he has in his Jewish-themed spoofs of “Mad Men,” “Juno” and “Jewish Girls Gone Wild.”

Essential ingredients are a catchy title, good thumbnail (the still picture) and a controversial or timely subject, Kaplan said. For example, his company’s video “Writer’s Strike Gets Violent” came out within days of the 2007 strike. While it only received about 100,000 hits, Kaplan said, 80 percent were in Hollywood. And that’s an important lesson Jewish organizations can use: Sometimes videos can appeal to a niche market.

“The Great Schlep,” the edgy Sarah Silverman video, was aimed at urging younger Jews to convince their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama.

“The goal was to get people talking about it,” Dorf said.

That it did, going “viral”—the term for catching on quickly with a large audience—to the tune of 3 million hits.

Not every video has to be edgy, Dorf said. Hadassah, another of his firm’s clients, does videos showcasing its programs geared to an audience older than 20-somethings.

“Videos are not the be-all and end-all,” he added. “They have to be good and smart, carry a message and be well targeted.”

The overall verdict from these experts is that YouTube is here to stay—and Jewish organizations should get on board.

“This is the way people will have to start promoting themselves,” said the Giving Tree’s Frank.  “It’s unfair, but that’s the reality.”


10 YouTube videos for Passover
By Amy Klein, JTA

Here are 10 popular Passover videos of years past: many animated, many musical, not all kid-appropriate.

20 Things to Do With Matzah
Michelle Citrin and William Levin
A funny acoustic guitar song about using leftover Passover matzah.
“You can make a matzah pick and play the guitar/or you can make a matzah license plate for your guitar.”

Moses Rap: A Pesach/Passover Video
Matt Bar Beat and Music Production
Old-School, MTV-style hip-hop video showing recording of the song mixed with Passover’s 10 plagues.   
“Moses in the Red Sea/Like who’s gonna follow me/Pharaoh’s in the tides, we’re gonna ride to our destiny…”

Matzah: hip hop fo’ Hebrews
Smooth-E (comedian Eric Schwartz) of “Crank That Kosha Boy” fame, produced by Jib-Jab.
Slick, animated hip-hop kid (in “Chai” baseball cap and bling Jewish star ) sings about matzah.
“How could one bread rock it so famous/when the taste is the same flavor of the box it came in?”

Matza Ball Rap
D’ Dog Dorf for Giving Tree Productions, a marketing company for Jewish nonprofits.
Grainy parody of Sir Mix-A Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
“My rabbi tries to warn me/ but those matzah balls got me so horny/oh roll that knaidel …”

Who Let the Jews Out
Sam Apple, for his book “Schlepping Through the Alps.”
Simple animated greeting card Pharaoh sings to the tune of “Who Let the Dogs Out.”
LAMB: “Oh hello, Pharaoh. Listen, the Jews have escaped.” PHARAOH: “What! That’s impossible!”

Get Down Moses!
Taglit Birthright hired Brendon Walker (of “Chinese Food on Christmas” fame).
Ancient Moses gets fired from his modern-day job and goes to the streets to part hair, rap and sing.
“We’ll eat some good food if you come to my seder/ My favorite mode of transportation is the elevator/We’ll put you on the show,  I’m quite the showman/But you gotta RSVP so we know if you’re afikoman.”

Matzah Man
American Comedy Network
Kid-friendly animated dancing matzahs to the tune of “Macho Man.”
“Matzah Matzah man, I’m gonna be a Matzah man.”

Getting There is Half the Fun
Stephen and Joel Levinson for Nextbook’s “God & Co.” series of modern interpretations of Bible stories.
Animated sketch of Aaron “roasting” his brother Moses (with some profanity) after 40 years in the desert.
“My brother Moses is such a great man, if we had known what a great leader this kid was gonna become, mom might have not thrown him in the Nile!”

Happy Passover!
Unleashed TV
A “Family-Guy” type animated sketch in which a Hollywood agent invites a talking dog to dinner.
DOG: “I wanna bring over the breadsticks.” AGENT: “There’s no bread.” DOG: Breadsticks!” AGENT: “Oh, I guess that’s alright.”

The Matzah Challenge
Video Jew Jay Firestone for The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
A fake news story on the tasting of five matzahs.
“This unleavened bread can sometimes be accused of tasting bland … and that argument has more holes than the subject in question.”

 

Same old United Nations, Sarkozy [hearts] Israel, Gilad Shalit turns 21 in captivity


Groups Assail U.N. Conference

A U.N. conference under way in Geneva is as bad as expected, watchdog groups say. In reports from Switzerland, two major U.N. watchdog groups said the conference – the first in a series of preparatory meetings for the follow-up to 2001’s notorious anti-Semitic Durban conference against racism – was following the path of its predecessor.

Anne Bayefsky, editor of the Eye on the U.N. Web site, called the meeting’s opening session “a slap in the face to every state and nongovernmental organization that really cares about equality and nondiscrimination.”

Egypt, speaking Monday on behalf of the African group, singled out Israel for its “continued occupation of Palestine and violations arising there from.” Pakistan, speaking for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, urged the conference to “move the spotlight on the continued plight of Palestinian people” and accused critics of waging a “smear campaign” against the gathering.

The conference is intended to combat racism and discrimination. Even before the conference began, critics warned that the process could lead to a repeat of the 2001 Durban conference, where an event ostensibly aimed at fighting discrimination became a platform for the dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda and the singling out of Israel.

Sarkozy Reaffirms Pro-Israel Stance

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reaffirmed his affection for Israel and hostility toward Hamas.

“I have the reputation of being a friend of Israel, and it’s true. I will never compromise on Israel’s security,” he said Monday in his first foreign policy speech since taking office in May.

While he said France would continue to cultivate rich ties with the moderate Arab world, Sarkozy drew a line at engaging Hamas or allowing Iran to procure nuclear weaponry. He described the Gaza Strip as “Hamastan” – a term seldom heard outside Israeli political circles – and said the Islamist Palestinian group must be curbed, lest it take over the West Bank as well.

Sarkozy, who was speaking to French diplomats, further urged Iran to abandon its nuclear program or for effective international sanctions to be imposed on Tehran. Otherwise, he hinted, there could be military intervention.

“This tactic is the only one that allows us to escape from a catastrophic alternative: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,” he said.

Captive Israeli Soldier Turns 21

Israelis marked the 21st birthday of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Supporters of Shalit held a rally in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, the conscript sergeant’s second birthday in Palestinian captivity. Newspapers and other media carried fresh coverage of his family’s ordeal.

Shalit was abducted in a June 25, 2006, cross-border raid by Hamas-led gunmen in the Gaza Strip. Two of his comrades were killed in the incident.

His father, Noam, said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was not doing enough to recover his son from Hamas, which wants a prisoner exchange. Olmert has signaled a willingness to bargain for Shalit’s return but has ruled out the lopsided swap demands by Hamas.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said Monday that a deal was almost clinched to trade Shalit for 350 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, but that it fell through over the types of prisoners the Olmert government would release. Israel has said it will only release prisoners not involved in killings.

YouTube Under Fire in Germany Over Hate Videos

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has joined the call to punish YouTube for failing to remove hate material from its Web site. YouTube, the online video sharing portal, has been accused of spreading neo-Nazi material.

According to a report in the ARD television magazine, anti-Jewish propaganda from the Third Reich and music by the banned neo-Nazi group, Landser, can be viewed unhindered on YouTube. Such material is illegal in Germany. The report said some of the material had been online for several months.

The federal Ministry of the Interior has recommended filing charges. German officials reportedly have warned YouTube more than 100 times to remove the material but without a response. The vice president of the German Jewish Council, Salomon Korn, has asked that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Justice Ministry intervene to stop the online publication of offending video clips.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, is based in California and thus beyond Germany’s legal reach. But German officials could come down harder on Web companies with operations in Germany.

Israeli Holocaust Assets Listed Online

Israeli assets believed to have been left behind by Holocaust victims can now be claimed by their heirs over the Internet. The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims Assets, which was set up in 2006 following disclosures that Israeli banks hold many accounts and properties that have gone unclaimed since World War II, has set up a Web site with the names of some 7,000 original owners believed to have perished at the hands of the Nazis.

Heirs of those who appear on the list can apply for restitution at www.hashava.org.il. The site is in Hebrew with English translation. The site does not deal with living persons or properties and accounts outside of Israel.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegrapic Agency.

Tragedy and Triumph Comes Alive for Teens


 

As 14-year-old Lisa Jura said goodbye to her mother at a Vienna train station in 1938, Jura’s mother spoke words that would inspire her for a lifetime: “Hold on to your music. It will be your best friend.”
Jura didn’t imagine that these words — and how her life came to embody them — would inspire subsequent generations of teenagers, even 70 years later.
An aspiring pianist, Jura traveled from Vienna to London as part of the Kindertransport, an effort to save children from Nazi peril that ultimately rescued nearly 10,000. Jura, like most Kindertransport children, never saw her parents again. But she nurtured her dream, continuing to study music while living throughout World War II in a London orphanage. She ultimately earned a scholarship to the prestigious London Royal Academy of Music.
Jura’s story was chronicled in a book by her daughter, Mona Golabek, who herself became a Grammy-winning pianist. Now, an array of educational materials are being developed to bring the story to teens nationwide.
The book, “The Children of Willesden Lane” (Warner Books, 2002) will now have a teacher’s guide, geared for middle and high school. The Santa Monica-based Milken Family Foundation commissioned the teacher’s guide, after being impressed with the book’s themes of resilience, hope and triumph over tragedy. The Milken Foundation also funded a companion CD featuring Golabek reading excerpts and performing the classical music mentioned in the book.
The Massachusetts-based nonprofit education organization, Facing History and Ourselves, created the curriculum, which explores such concepts as what it means to be an outsider, why people choose to help others, and what is a legacy. The historical context of the Holocaust also is examined.
The Pennsylvania-based Annenberg Foundation will produce video resources, including footage of Golabek playing piano and showing how teachers have applied the lessons in their classrooms. It’s due to be completed next summer.
The book itself is available through Hold On To Your Music, a nonprofit founded by Golabek to help make copies available to schools at a discount.
Some 58 public, private and religious schools throughout the country have obtained the curriculum materials, including the lower school of Milken Community High School in Los Angeles. That number will likely grow after next month, when the materials will be shared with Jewish day school principals at a meeting hosted by the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles.
“I think we’ll have a lot of takers,” said Aviva Kadosh, the bureau’s director of day school and Hebrew-language services. The curriculum applies to the study of history, literature and music, she said.
Children from both urban and rural areas have embraced the story and its characters, said Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Foundation. She described how an audience of 4,000 students in Scranton, Pa., “greeted Mona like a rock star. They gave her a standing ovation before she even started to speak.”
“This story spans ages, religions, races and academic disciplines,” said Foley, adding that students are especially affected by Jura’s story because they’re close to the age of Jura at the time the narrative takes place.
Jura was, said Foley, “a firsthand witness to the events of World War II.”
For free downloads of “The Children of Willesden Lane” study guide and CD, visit www.mff.org or www.facinghistory.orgwww.facinghistory.org.