Du bow digest american edition april 10, 2012

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An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

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  • 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netAMERICAN EDITIONApril 10, 2012Dear Friends:I hope you are enjoying Passover. I trust that during the Seder the message offreedom came across clearly, especially to young people. For those of you whocelebrated Easter I sincerely hope it was uplifting.What a great time of year! The Seder offered me an opportunity to see my family,family friends and eat all that matzoth stuff that I love. In addition, it has remainedwarm and so the threat of winter snow has passed over (pun intended). To make iteven more perfect the basketball team of my alma mater, the University of Kentucky,won the national NCAA championship. I think I’ve mentioned this before, however itbears repeating. My mother used to say, “Everybody is entitled to one “Mishagas” (acraziness)” Mine is UK basketball. If you didn’t know that about me before, now youdo!This edition is long. The poem of Günter Grass, so critical of Israel, engendered agreat deal of press commentary in the U.S., Israel and Germany. It merited a lot ofcoverage.So, without further delay, let’s get on with the news…GÜNTER GRASSOne of the most beloved icons of German culture these days is Günter Grass.Unfortunately he has become an outspoken enemy of Israel though he claims to bea friend. As Petra Marquardt in The Jerusalem Post noted: “In an awkward, cliché-laden “poem,” German Nobel laureate Günter Grass hasannounced to the world that he had to break his silence about an issue that hasburdened him for too long: even at the risk of being labeled an anti-Semite, he 1
  • 2. simply had to sound the alarm about the terrible threat to world peace posed byIsrael…There is already a huge outcry against Grass’s strange poem, and many of theresponses refer to the last time Grass broke a very long silence – and also caused ahuge outcry: In August 2006, shortly before the publication of his autobiography,Grass revealed in an interview that he had served in the Waffen SS.Below you will find some of the criticism that appeared.Spiegel On-Line reported, “Günter Grass, Germanys most famous living author andthe 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, sparked outrage in Germany onWednesday with the publication of a poem, "What must be said," in which he sharplycriticizes Israels policies on Iran."Why did I wait until now at this advanced age and with the last bit of ink to say: Thenuclear power Israel is endangering a world peace that is already fragile?" Grasswrites in the poem. The 84 year old also criticizes the planned delivery ofsubmarines "from my country" to Israel, a reference to Germanys plan to deliverDolphin-class submarines to Israel that are capable of carrying nuclear-armedmissiles. At the same time, Grass also expresses his solidarity with Israel.In the poem, published by Germanys Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and otherEuropean dailies on Wednesday, Grass also calls for an "unhindered andpermanent monitoring of Israels nuclear potential and Irans nuclear facility throughan international entity that the government of both countries would approve." It iswidely believed that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, although it has never beenproven.In response to the publication, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin issued a statementoffering its own version of "What must be said." "What must be said is that it is aEuropean tradition to accuse the Jews before the Passover festival of ritual murder,"the statement reads. "Earlier, it was Christian children whose blood the Jewsallegedly used to make their unleavened bread, but today it is the Iranian peoplethat the Jewish state allegedly wants to annihilate. What also must be said is thatIsrael is the only state in the world whose right to exist is openly doubted. That wastrue on the day of its founding and it remains true today. We want to live in peacewith our neighbors in the region. And we are not prepared to assume the role thatGünter Grass is trying to assign to us as part of the German peoples efforts to cometo terms with the past."The Central Council of Jews in Germany has called the poem an "aggressivepamphlet of agitation." Ruprecht Polenz, the chair of the German parliamentsForeign Affairs Committee and a senior member of Chancellor Angela MerkelsChristian Democrats, told the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that, while Grass is aliterary great, "he has difficulties whenever he comments on politics and is often 2
  • 3. wrong." Polenzs CDU colleague Philipp Missfelder said "the poem is tasteless,ahistorical and demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the situation in the MiddleEast."Henryk Broder, a journalist at the newspaper who is the countrys most prominentJewish writer. The Berlin-based polemicist, who himself is famous for his outspokenviews, attacks Grass in an editorial. "Grass always had a problem with Jews, but ithas never articulated it as clearly as he has in this poem."He writes that "Grass has always had a tendency toward megalomania, but this timehe is completely nuts."Grass, Broder writes, "is the prototype of the educated anti-Semite, who is well-meaning when it comes to Jews. Haunted by feelings of guilt and shame and alsodriven by the desire to settle history, he is now attempting to disarm the cause ofthe recognizable threat."There is much more to Broder’s reply which you can read by clicking here.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,825712,00.htmlDavid Harris of AJC chipped in with, “Grass pulled the wool over the eyes of theGerman people and the world for 60 years, hiding his participation in the Waffen SS.Now he is trying to pull the wool over the world’s eyes about an Iranian regime thatthreatens to destroy Israel, and is building the capability to achieve its aim,” saidAJC Executive Director David Harris.“Which country – democratic Israel or authoritarian, bellicose Iran – is the realmenace to regional and world peace? It is Iran that has called for a world withoutIsrael, not the other way around,” said Harris. “Why can’t Grass see what is sopainfully obvious?”In his poem, Grass charges that “Israel’s nuclear power endangers world peace,”and claims that Germany, due to the Holocaust, refrains from criticizing Israel.“Grass already has a published record of hostile positions on Israel,” said Harris.“The new Grass poem confirms that his thinking is inverted. He has reversed theaggressor and the intended victim. In doing so, he is totally out of step with his owncountry, and most of the world, when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program anddesigns on Israel.”The poem, by the overly self-importance and puffed-up ego of the morallyquestionable Günter Grass should be criticized in the strongest possible terms.However, the poem itself and the articles surrounding it (even those that are criticalof Grass) have appeal for those in Germany that market themselves as “peaceloving” but have underlying feelings of hostility for Israel and for Jews. 3
  • 4. However, it is not the “anti” people that I am worried about. There is a strong feelingof pacifism in Germany in the general population as well as affection for Grass.Being opposed to Israel because of the Palestinian issue and now because of apossible Israeli strike against Iran does not help in strengthening support for theJewish state. Not a happy thought during the Easter season when love for Jews isfrequently at an all time low. No matter! What will happen politically will happen!However, when something so vile appears, especially from a person with a soiledpast, outspoken criticism is the appropriate course.You should also read another commentary in Spiegel On-Line by SebastianHammelehle. Click here to read it.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,825818,00.htmlTHE GRASS RETORTYou may be “Grassed out” by now but in the interest of fairness you should knowwhat Günter Grass said after he and his poem received the criticism it did,History tells us that once you’ve written and published something – it’s yours! Youmay wish you’d never put it out there but something written and published isindelible. It’s there for good. You may want to retract it but it’s too late. You maywant to say you were misunderstood and maybe you were. However, why didn’t youthink about how it might be taken before you put it down in black and white? If allelse fails – blame the media. A time honored political dodge. It’s equal inuntruthfulness as, “I’m leaving office to spend more time with my family”.The Local.de reports, “Grass, a longtime leftist activist, said in separate interviewsthat the media had piled on him without understanding his message and although hefound the personal accusations against him "hurtful," he had no plans to back down."The tenor throughout is, dont focus at all on the content of the poem but rather,conduct a campaign against me and claim that my reputation is now damaged for alltime," Grass told public broadcaster NDR."I have noticed that in a democratic country with press freedom that people areexpected to toe the line and that there is a refusal to address the content and thequestions I raise here."Grass said he was particularly stung by the widespread accusations of anti-Semitism against him in the German media."That is quite hurtful and not worthy of a democratic press," he said. In a separateinterview with public broadcaster 3sat, he said he was being "pilloried" but had "noplans to recant" what he said in the poem. 4
  • 5. He acknowledged however that it would have been better not to speak of Israel butrather "the current government of Israel", he said, according to excerpts released bythe channel.He said a closer reader of the poem "would recognise my concern about the futureof this country which has a right to exist."In addition, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported, “Günter Grass appears hurt by themassive condemnation of his poem. He said he feels that the German press hasdenounced him. Its position on Israel is monolithic and there is no objective debate,he said. He had predicted the knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism, the writer saidtold the public broadcaster NDR."Old clichés are applied. As expected, the term anti-Semitism is put to immediateuse," Grass said.In his literary work he extensively confronted the German past, the 1999 Nobel Prizewinner said in his own defense in an interview with radio station 3sat."In my books The Tin Drum and Peeling the Onion I bring the burden of mygeneration, the confrontation with the German responsibility for atrocities, forward tothe present day," he said. "And thats why this accusation of anti-Semitism is hatefulvenom, without parallel."Grass said he made an error by referring to Israel generally in his poem and notspecifically the Israeli government. He added that he feels sympathy for the country,while expressing concern about its development. A preemptive strike against Irancould cause a nuclear disaster, even World War III, the 84-year-old said."This is not just a small military action. As if it a couple of missiles could be fired withonly a few deaths, as Barak and Netanyahu claimed," Grass said. "This is a militaryaction that will have consequences. The situation is getting worse. The danger isincreasing that it will come to acts of war that will then further escalate."Grass remained firm in his criticism of the German government. He said Berlin pays"dishonest reparations" by delivering and partly financing submarines to Israel.Three of these subs are already in operation and two more are to follow later thisyear. In March 2012 an agreement was reached to provide a sixth submarine, one-third of which will be paid for by Germany. These submarines can be equipped withconventional torpedoes, but also with nuclear warheads. Grass said that meansGermany is "drawn into sharing responsibility."Grass warned against unilateral Israeli action and the growing isolation of thecountry in diplomatic circles."Until now, after the experience of the Second World War, we tried hard - even with 5
  • 6. rogue states - to use diplomatic means," Grass said. "These attempts are currentlyalso being made with the Israeli government. This high-handedness, to decide forthemselves, no matter what others say, is a break with the hitherto successful tactic:As long as we are talking, we are not shooting."Grass said he sees it as a duty to stand by Israel, even as a critic. Israel cannot bespared criticism; this would be "cowardice before a friend" - here the author employsa Cold War-era quotation from former Chancellor Willy Brandt.I think that’s enough for you so that you can make up your own mind in decidingabout what Günter Grass truly believes. What he wrote is there to be read. It won’tgo away.THE SAARLAND ELECTIONState elections in Germany have a much greater impact on the national scene thanthey do in the U.S. Recently the smallest of the states, Saarland, held one when thegovernment collapsed after internal bickering.Spiegel On-Line reported, “Angela Merkels conservatives won Sundays stateelections in Saarland by a surprisingly large margin. But the Free Democrats, theirjunior coalition partner in Berlin, were resoundingly punished by voters, securing justover 1 percent of the vote. The real winners were the upstart Pirate Party, who willnow enter the state parliament after getting over 7 percent.Many observers had expected that the result would be yet another expression ofvoter frustration with the national government of Angela Merkels center-right CDU,its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the business-friendly FreeDemocratic Party.But in the end, the CDU won a surprisingly clear victory, gaining 35.2 percent of thevote, according to preliminary official results, a gain of 0.7 percentage points overthe last election in 2009. The incumbent state governor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, will continue in her position.The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) came second with 30.6 percent, again of six percentage points from 2009, when they got 24.5 percent.Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on Sunday evening that she would quickly beginnegotiations with the SPD to form a so-called "grand" coalition government.On Sunday, voters punished the FDP, who received just 1.2 percent of the vote,falling far short of the 5 percent hurdle that is necessary to get seats in the stateparliament. The result represents a major collapse of support for the party, which got9.2 percent in the 2009 Saarland election 6
  • 7. The real winner of Sundays election was Germanys newest political force, thePirate Party, which campaigns for political transparency and Internet freedom. Theywon 7.4 percent of the vote, despite having had to rush to cobble together acampaign after snap elections were called. They will now be represented in the 51-seat state parliament with four seats.No doubt that Chancellor Merkel is breathing a little easier with a CDU victorythough her natural coalition partner, the FDP (Free Democrats), was practicallyerased. More and more it’s looking like she is planning on a 2013 national “Grand”coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), her natural competition. However, thereis still a long way to go. What’s the implication for those interested in German –Jewish/Israel matters? Well, Chancellor Merkel is about as a good a friend as Israelhas had in Germany in a long time. Would an SPD Chancellor be as strong onIsrael’s important issues? Maybe, but it would certainly be a question. Perhaps it isbetter that it is not answered.ARE THE PIRATES FOR REAL? (NOT THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES!)If you read the item above, you know that the new Pirate Party got 7.4% of theSaarland vote and four seats in the state parliament. So, the question is, “Are theyfor real?” “Can they be some sort of a national force?”The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung reported, "These Pirates, who owe some oftheir image to their racy name, have now established themselves in provincialSaarland following their grandiose success in big city Berlin. Until recently, theydidnt even have political platforms. Ahead of the general election, the other partiescan now safely assume that the success of the Pirates is more than just hype. ThePirate Party evidently satisfies a trusting, impartial, heartfelt, grassroots desire forpolitics. This desire has become alien to an increasingly frumpy and jaded FDP, andthe Greens have lost this desire in the daily grind of parliamentary politics. Everydaypolitics will catch up with the Pirates too at some stage, but it hasnt yet."The business daily Financial Times Deutschland wrote: "The significance of thiselection for national politics shouldnt be overestimated. But it does offer someinteresting insights. The Pirates are continuing to seize fresh territory. They haveproven for the first time that they can capture more than a big metropolis, and canalso appeal to voters in the gentrified provinces. The newcomers will remain a forceto be reckoned with in the upcoming state elections.Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates have had 19 consecutive losing seasons. TheirGerman namesakes seem to be starting out life on a distinctly different footing. I’velooked and asked about the Pirate Party’s program. I haven’t gotten any satisfactoryanswers. A Russian news website RT (Russia Today) at least reported somethingthat made some sense. It noted, “Many people do not know where to put us, what 7
  • 8. we really are,” the party’s political leader, Marina Weisband, explains. “But manypeople say: ‘Youre something new and we like that’, because many Germansbelieve that politics are rusty at this time.”As the big players struggle with the key economic and political issues, the PirateParty does not even have an official stance on the eurozone crisis or on the ArabSpring. Nevertheless, it continues gathering supporters – a mere coincidence or analarming signal for mainstream politicians?The Free Democrats Party, which is Angela Merkels federal coalition partner, wasthe first to feel the voters’ change of heart, losing that Berlin vote along with anotherfive local votes across the country.“Mainstream politics are losing attractiveness, because theres often too littledistinction between different parties from different fields or areas,” Dr. LeonhardDobusch, a researcher at the Free University of Berlin, explains. “Sometimes itsdifficult to see the difference between conservatives and social democrats.”Experts say the Pirate Partys key success tool is the Internet. They see it as thenew driving force, changing politics much in the manner that TV did over half acentury ago.Observers of Germany’s disillusioned electorate believe that unless the mainstreamparties adapt and change their tactics, it may not be too long before they becomethe ones sitting on the margins.So, where the Pirate Party stands on the various issues still remains a mystery. Nota word yet about Israel, the Palestinians, Iran or any issue of internationalimportance. The amazing thing, of course, is that many people are willing to vote forthem knowing that their issues agenda is a blank page.One coincidence though. One of my closest friends in Israel, Howie Weisband, adyed in the wool Pittsburgh Pirate fan and the Pirate Party leader Marina Weisbandshare a last name. So far Marina is 2-0 and Howie is 0-19. I’ll probably hear fromhim about this.Incidentally, (actually not so incidentally), Marina is Jewish (So is Howie). Accordingto Wikipedia “Marina Weisband grew up in Kiev. In 1994 she and her family movedto Wuppertal in Germany as Kontingentflüchtlinge (literally "Quota refugees"—theseare foreigners admitted to Germany on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.Most Kontingentflüchtlinge from the former Soviet Union are Jewish.) She finishedschool in 2006 and studied psychology at the University of Münster. She describesherself as a devout Jew and lives in Münster.Who knows? Maybe someday Germany will have a Jewish woman Chancellor.Could happen! 8
  • 9. GERMANS: EAST & WESTBack in the 1980’s when I started visiting Germany I was able to bring an AJC groupto East Germany (DDR) and emanating from that I established a relationship withthe Jewish community in East Berlin. I traveled a bit in the DDR and was struck bythe physical differences between East and West Germany. It seemed that the formerhad hardly recovered from World War II. Many buildings still needed extensiverepair. Since the DDR was relatively poor and paint was expensive, most were greyand unpainted. The people seemed compliant and accepting of their governmentand economic situation. Certainly, no one was starving.The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and so ended communist rule. The people in theWest were heavily taxed for the rebuilding of the East (roads, a new telephonesystem, transportation, etc.) and today, on the surface I find that it is difficult to tellEast from West. The physical rebuilding, the opening of stores, etc. is really quiteamazing considering it’s only been a little over 22 years.Much has changed and, as DW points out, “For the first time ever, both Germanyschancellor and president are from the former East Germany. But otherwise, Germansociety has been dominated by western German elites – is a sea change at hand?What do US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel havein common? They both belong to minorities. The most powerful man in the world isthe first black head-of-state in a white-majority country, while the most powerfulwoman in Europe is the first eastern German head-of-government in a westernGerman-dominated Germany.And just as black-white relations have changed very little in the US since Obamaselection in 2008, so too the relationship between eastern and western Germans hasbarely altered since the start of Merkels chancellorship in 2005.By the same token, the election of Joachim Gauck - raised in the communist GDR -to the German presidency is unlikely to change much either. Having two EastGermans in the two highest political offices in the country is one thing, but the realityof life and the perceptions of the people who live in the former East Germany is verydifferent.One glance at the statistics shows how slowly the situation has changed, bothsubjectively and objectively. Unemployment in eastern Germany is, at 12 percent,nearly twice as high as in the west (6.9 percent). The big economic differences haveonly deepened since the early 1990s.There is still a huge income gap between East and West, some 22 years afterGerman reunification. Those living in the land between the Baltic coast and the 9
  • 10. Czech Republic receive only around 85 percent of the salary of those living betweenHamburg and Munich."On the other hand, the pension level in eastern Germany has now reached nearly89 percent of the West," the government said with a note of pride in its annual reporton the "status of German unity 2011." But many of those affected still feel a sense ofinjustice.This disappointment regularly emerges in opinion polls. Since the mid-1990s,around two-thirds of people living in eastern Germany have consistently complainedof a sense of social injustice. As many as 42 percent still feel like second-classcitizens, a figure that has not changed since the beginning of Angela Merkelschancellorship in 2005.The conclusion after 22 years of reunification is as clear as it is sobering: formerEast Germans dont get into elite positions. Chancellor Merkel and President Gauckare little more than exceptions to the rule. In light of the importance of their offices,of course, they are very significant exceptions, but that shouldnt lead to falseconclusions. They have not made the country any more East German than it was.The “disappointment” has, as one might expect, led to the rise of a populist,nationalistic feeling among some of the youth who do not feel they have much of achance to move ahead economically. The neo-Nazi movement is especially strong inthe East where the neo-Nazi Party NPD has representatives in two statelegislatures. There is a movement now, since a few the NPD members seem to havesome connection to a string of murders of immigrants, to outlaw the NPD. I fear thatsuch a move would only drive them underground and that might even be worse.No matter how that turns out the problem of having “two” Germanys is a genuineconcern. The Germans are working on it and we will continue to watch it.BARAK, THE SUBS & GERMANYIn late March Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak came to Berlin to sign a purchaseagreement for the securing of the 6th Super Dolphin Submarine from Germany.The Jerusalem Post reported, “The signing ceremony with Barak for the contract topurchase a sixth Super Dolphin submarine for Israels navy took place at thecountrys embassy and represents the crowning achievement of German-Israelimilitary cooperation. The advanced Dolphin possesses a second-strike nuclearweapons capability.Philipp Missfelder, the Christian Union Democratic deputy and foreign spokesmanfor Chancellor Angela Merkels party in the Bundestag, told The Jerusalem Post on 10
  • 11. Thursday, "We stand strongly on the side of Israel. The military cooperation showsthat Israel has a special status.""We cannot merely make nice speeches if we do not cooperate with Israel militarily.If Israel is in danger, Germany should stand by its side. It is right to advocate thatthe military option remain. I support defensive military supplies to Israel," hecontinued.Israel Hayom reported, “Israel already has three Dolphin submarines from Germany— one half-funded and two entirely funded by Berlin — and two more are currentlyunder construction.Germany’s Parliament approved the purchase in November and agreed to paysome 135 million euros ($180 million) of the costs — about one-third of thesubmarine’s price.Barak said in a statement the submarine will “substantially increase the capabilitiesand the strength of ... Israel in the face of ever-increasing challenges.”Sources in Israel have said the deal has implications for the country’s strategic andsecurity considerations.According to foreign press reports, Israel’s submarines are armed with long-rangecruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. If Israel were attacked withnuclear weapons, these submarines would give Israel secondary responsecapabilities.The Dolphins can also be used to gather intelligence from distant places when greatsecrecy is required. They possess a variety of other operational capabilities as well.”I have said many times before (but I’ll repeat it) the subs are absolutely critical forIsrael’s defense. Capable of carrying nuclear weapons and lying submerged withinfiring range of Iran, they give considerable credence to “second response capability”.Interestingly, German Defense Minister De Maiziere had previously talked about his“opposition to a preemptive strike against Irans nuclear facilities. Nonetheless,Barak may have secured more military cooperation from Germany than was voicedin de Maizieres anti-strike comments.”In sharp contrast to de Maizieres remarks, a Tuesday article in the FrankfurterAllgemeine Zeitung, also known as FAZ, lends additional evidence that Barak hasconvinced the Germans to fulfill aspects of their pledge to champion Israelssecurity. The FAZ piece noted that the Merkel administration will "immediately"support Israel and provide rocket-defense systems and specialized personnel ifrequested by Israel in order to bolster its defenses during a conflict with Iran. 11
  • 12. The Jerusalem Post article continued, “While de Maiziere said at a joint meeting onTuesday in Berlin that "a military escalation would bring incalculable risks for Israeland the region, to the detriment of Israel," the meetings among German ministriesspoke a somewhat different language.The FAZ noted that the German defense ministry, foreign ministry and chancellorsoffice met to determine the meaning of Chancellor Merkels statement about Israelssecurity interests being integral to German interests. According to the newspaper,the German government will "immediately" show support for Israels defensemeasures.Concretely, the Merkel administration will supply Israel with Patriot rocket systems,mobile defense devices and technical personnel. The article also said thatGermanys government would not expect additional military requests from Israel.I don’t have much more to add. Who knows what really went on behind closeddoors? And, who knows that if and when the “chips were down” and Israel is in ashooting conflict with Iran, what Germany could and would do? The odds are evenlonger especially if there is a change of government and Chancellor Merkel isreplaced.I hope we’ll never have to get to that point..GERMAN RAIL, THE HOLOCAUST & WASHINGTON LOBBYINGThis is one for the lawyers. The German rail system, Deutsche Bahn, has hired botha lobbying and a law firm to safeguard it from possible lawsuits emanating and leftover from the Holocaust.DW reported, “According to documents filed with US authorities and reviewed byDW, Deutsche Bahn late last year hired a strategic communications group and a lawfirm to advise and represent the company in its dealings with members of Congressand US government agencies.Deutsche Bahn’s lobbying efforts are related to the Holocaust Rail Justice Act whichwas introduced in the US Senate and the House of Representatives on March 17,2011.The goal of the two identical bills, which specifically mention France’s nationalrailway SNCF, is to enable Holocaust victims to file suits regarding the deportationby trains to Nazi concentration camps before US courts.There is disagreement among experts as to the scope of the bill in question. Alawyer lobbying for the Holocaust Rail Justice Act argues that the bill would apply 12
  • 13. only to SNCF.Richard Weisberg, a law professor and founding director of the Holocaust andHuman Rights Studies program at Cardozo Law School at New York’s YeshivaUniversity disagrees:"The bill seems to reference specifically the SNCF, but when you get to heart of itit’s fairly clear that it could apply to other European railroads," he told DW.Morris Ratner, an associate-professor elect at U.C. Hastings College of the Law inSan Francisco, is one of the attorneys who prosecuted Holocaust-era claims againstGerman entities, participated in the negotiation of and was a signatory to theagreements resulting in the creation of the German Foundation agreement.He argues that the scope of the bill extends beyond SNCF, but that Deutsche Bahnwouldn’t be affected by it:"The bill is not country-specific," Ratner told DW per e-mail. "So it is not limited toSNCF."But, adds Ratner, "German entities are protected from Holocaust-era suits by theGerman Foundation Agreement, which recognizes that the German FoundationAgreement resolves all such claims involving German entities."Deutsche Bahn, it appears, doesn’t want to take any chances and has hired twoNew York firms to lobby on its behalf.On December 13, 2011 Deutsche Bahn signed a three-month contract with NewYork-based communications group Strategy XXI Partners to "develop aCommunications Plan related to Holocaust asset issues."On December 19, 2011, New York-based White & Case law firm confirmed in an e-mail sent to Deutsche Bahn’s Berlin headquarters "that we have opened a separatebilling number relating to potential meetings with members of the U.S. Congressand/or U.S. government agencies on potential legislation regarding World War II-related issues".There’s a lot more to the story which, if you are an attorney or just someoneinterested in Holocaust compensation, you’ll want to read all the details. Whatamazes me is that after all these years the legal questions surrounding theHolocaust are not yet settled. I guess the enormity of the crime is such that it leavesall sorts of questions, legal and otherwise, open for discussion and some sort ofconclusion. Perhaps it will never end.You can access the article by clicking here. 13
  • 14. http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15838460,00.htmlISRAEL, IRAN & GERMAN YOUTHIn the last edition of DuBow Digest I reported on the fact that the head of the SocialDemocratic Party (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel referred to Israel as an “apartheid regime”bringing into question where the SPD stood on the Israel – Iran issue.It looks as if the youngsters in the Party don’t quite go along with Gabriel’s kind ofthinking. Benjamin Weinthal reporting in The Jerusalem Post notes, “ WhileGermany’s social democratic leader and chancellor hopeful Sigmar Gabriel recentlytermed Israel an ‘Apartheid regime’ during his visit to Hebron, the Berlin youthchapter of the left-liberal party, Jusos, broke ranks with, according to theircomments, the anti-Israeli hostility of the party’s leadership. The Jusos passed, arguably, the most pro-Israel resolution in the history of theFederal Republic on Sunday at their party conference and their officials have voicedunconditional solidarity with the Jewish state in the major media. ‘If Iran continues to work on a nuclear weapon, we are arguing for a preventiveattack,’ said the Berlin Jusos chairman Kevin Kühnert in the Munich-basedSüddeutsche Zeitung. The roughly 4,000 members of the Berlin Jusos are under theage of 35. The organization serves as both a platform to cultivate future leadershipand as an idea factory. Fabian Weissbarth, the 24-year-old deputy representative of Jusos Berlin, told meon Thursday via telephone, that the resolution serves to jumpstart ‘a discussionwithin the party’ about support for Israel. When asked why Jusos Berlin launchedthe resolution, he said there has been a culture of ‘criticizing anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism’ within the youth group. As an example, he cited the Jusos decision in2006 to defend Israel’s right to counterattack Hezbollah rocket attacks. In sharp contrast to a kind of naïve pacificism of most of Germany’s politicalestablishment, including the defense and foreign affairs ministers, the Jusos Berlinsection has redefined the debate about what constitutes meaningful solidarity withIsrael. The decision to retain the military option conforms with the positions of theDutch, British, US, and Israeli governments.Is there a generation gap unfolding in terms of supporting Israel’s security inGermany? It may be too early to know. What we do know is this: There has been no shortage of theoretical and abstractsupport for Israel in Germany. It is rather the concrete, practical support where thegaps—or better put, large holes—exist. 14
  • 15. As if to fill these gaps, the most recent Jusos resolution on Israel states, “Our self-concept: Solidarity with Israel, theoretical and practical.” Will Jusos (and the JungeUnion (Ed. Note: Part of the CDU) influence a radical change in the behavior ofGerman political and civil society?Let’s hope that the kids will be taken seriously.*******************************************************************************************See you again in a few weeks.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect 15