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Du bow digest germany edition april 16, 2011

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A newsletter on American Jewish - German relations.

A newsletter on American Jewish - German relations.

Published in: News & Politics

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  • 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netGERMANY EDITIONApril 16, 2011Dear Friends:This edition of DuBow Digest precedes two very important holidays – for Jews it’sPassover, for Christians it’s Easter. Since most of my readers in Germany areChristians, I will not spend time is explaining what Easter is all about. However, thedetails about Passover may not be as well known. In order to make it easy for you Ifound a German language explanation which you can access by clicking here. http://www.de.chabad.org/generic_cdo/aid/465315/jewish/Pessach.htmPassover is not a synagogue holiday. It is a family get-together event celebrated athome with a Passover meal called a “Seder”. The meal, traditionally, containscertain elements each of which has important Jewish historical meaning.If you are invited to a Seder, my advice is that you start dieting a few days before theevent because the word “sumptuous” is probably an understatement for what will beput before you.No matter what, I hope you enjoy these wonderful springtime holidays.Now, on to the News…IN THIS EDITIONANTI-SEMITISM & ANTI-ISRAELISM – Defining the difference.A PALESTINIAN STATE? – When? How? Where?GERMAN JEWISH CULTURE ON THE INTERNET – Lots of it.LATINOS & JEWS – Getting along with 1 out of every 6 Americans.GOLDSTONE RECANTS – Important but much too late. 1
  • 2. AS IF WE DIDN’T ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH TROUBLE – Trouble with India.LEARNING ABOUT AMERICAN JEWS – BY ISRAELIS – Don’t they know enoughalready? The answer is no.ANTI-SEMITISM & ANTI-ISRAELISMI am frequently confronted by the question, “What constitutes anti-Semitism andwhat differentiates it from anti-Israelism?” I normally answer that being in oppositionto Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism. However, I sometimes wonder whether atwisted feeling about Jews is hiding behind what seems to be just an ordinaryquestion about policy. I sometimes think the problem is with me and that I am justtoo suspicious.In any case, without doing much about it to find an answer, I myself have wonderedon and off how one goes about making a judgment on, what is to me, an importantquestion. I recently came across a speech made by Hannah Rosenthal, the U.S.State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. In it shenotes, “And what I hear from our 194 posts around the world, and from our closerelationship with NGOs in the US in other nations, opposition to a policy by the Stateof Israel morphs into anti-Semitism easily and often. We record huge increases inanti-Semitism whenever there is activity in the Middle East. This form of anti-Semitism is more difficult for many to identify – but if all Jews are held responsiblefor the decisions of the sovereign State of Israel, when governments call upon andintimidate their Jewish communities to condemn Israeli actions, when academicsfrom Israel are boycotted – this is not objecting to a policy – this is anti-Semitism.Our State Department uses Natan Sharansky’s framework for identifying whensomeone or a government crosses the line – when Israel is demonized, when Israelis held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel isdelegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism. I feel I must also state: sometimes people hide their anti-Semitism behindcriticism of Israel’s existence – but criticism of Israel does not necessary meansomeone is anti-Semitic. If so, half of Israel would be anti-Semitic.I’m not sure that the Rosenthal-Sharansky framework is the final word on the subjectbut it is certainly a great help in trying to understand what is, at times, somethingvery difficult to understand.There is more to Ms. Rosenthal’s speech including a delineation of the six types ofanti-Semitism that abound in the world today. To read it click here. http://www.jidaily.com/HmtS1/eA PALESTINIAN STATE?I don’t think it’s any secret that the Palestinians are going to go to the UN General 2
  • 3. Assembly in September to gain approval of that body for their statehood and have,pretty much, abandoned direct negotiations with Israel. Whether you think this moveis one that comes out of frustration and desperation with Israel’s intransigence or isa way of avoiding any kind of peace agreement which would necessitate signingaway part of the land they consider their own, it looks as if “peace” is further awaythan it has been in a long time.Much will happen between now and September. Prime Minister Netanyahu isreportedly ready to announce a new peace approach and, of course, the Arab world,including all the countries that border Israel, is in considerable turmoil and no oneknows what governments will be in power at the time of the UN General Assemblymeeting and what the overall security situation will be.One thing that has been a major concern for American Jews (and Israelis) is thequestion of what the American government will do when the matter comes beforethe UN. A partial answer came recently when Dennis Ross, Pres. Obama’s topadvisor on the Middle East was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying, “We haveconsistently made it clear that the way to produce a Palestinian state is throughnegotiations, not through unilateral declarations, not through going to the UN,”Dennis Ross told the Anti-Defamation League’s annual leadership conference. “Ourposition on that has been consistent in opposition.”TJP continued in its story, “As expectations increase that the Palestinians will seek aUN resolution on the issue this September, Ross disparaged the idea as unhelpfulnot only to the overall diplomatic environment, but to advancing the Palestinians’own goals. “This doesn’t make it more likely that there’ll be a Palestinian state,” hesaid.Instead Ross reiterated the need for Palestinians and Israelis to engage directly,particularly given the regime-toppling occurring in the region. He said that young andemerging leaderships needed to see that Israel could make peace with thePalestinians and that negotiations were a course for achieving results.“It’s important that they see that peace is a possibility,” he said. “They need to seethat negotiations can not only take place, but they can produce.”For that to happen, he said, each side needed to show that it understood the other’sneeds and realities, including the Palestinians providing assurances over Israel’svery real security needs.In addition, he said, “The Palestinians need to see that they can have anindependent state that’s contiguous and viable.”Despite the regional confusion and the stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians,Ross declared that “one thing in this period of uncertainty that is certain is ourrelationship with Israel, bound with a set of shared values and interests.” 3
  • 4. He continued, “The commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable and ironclad. It’snot just words. We are giving it life and meaning each day.”He noted the very real risks, particularly Iran, and emphasized America’s intention tomake sure Iran doesn’t acquire a nuclear weapon.“We will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranians,” Ross said, pointing tosanctions and other diplomatic measures already being deployed against theregime, which is continuing to enrich uranium in defiance of the internationalcommunity.Ross also acknowledged the risk that Iran would take advantage of the regionalupheaval. “Iran sees in the turmoil something to exploit,” he said, though he alsospoke of opportunities stemming from the unrest.For one thing, Ross pointed to Arab regimes that have long blamed Israel for ills inthe Middle East so as not to have to focus on the very frustrations among theirpopulation that triggered the current rebellions; a dynamic that would likely change.“They sought to deflect the anger they knew existed in their own societies ontoothers – onto the United States and onto Israel,” he said.While so far the popular demonstrations have focused very little attention on Israeland the Palestinians, former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk warned that theycould.“This doesn’t mean they won’t come around to the Palestinian issue,” said Indyk,who spoke at an ADL conference panel after Ross. “It’s not that this cause isn’timportant to the Palestinian state. It’s that they have more important issues to dealwith.”He assessed that while the prospects for a deal between Jerusalem and Damascushad dramatically shifted as a result of the demonstrations – “the potential for makingpeace between Israel and Syria [went] out the window” – he urged the Israelis andPalestinians to hold quiet talks “while the rest of the Arab world isn’t watching.”Though he said the US would never allow the unilateral declaration of statehood topass at the UN, Israel’s diplomatic alliances were fraying nonetheless.“Time is not on Israel’s side,” he warned. “This would be a good time for the Israelileadership to take initiative.”Ross did not definitely say that the U.S. would veto a Palestinian state in theSecurity Council and so it maintained some “wiggle room” if somehow directnegotiations resume (which I doubt). Ross also pointed out the threat Iran poses inthe region especially as they move closer to having nuclear bomb capability. 4
  • 5. No one knows what a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood will mean. Will itreally change anything? Will the Palestinians be unified sufficiently to even considerthemselves a unified entity? Will Israel compromise more than it has?Stay tuned! We’ll have to see how it all works out.GERMAN JEWISH CULTURE ON THE INTERNETKnowing how interested many Germans are in German culture and what the Jewishcontribution is, I came across the following article in Y-Net News and thought youshould know about it.For generations, Germanys Jewry has produced many philosophers, writers, poetsand intellectuals. A new and unique project launched by the Israeli and Germangovernments will have their work displayed on the Internet. The rare collections, which include writings from the past 1,700 years, are nowlocated in the basement of the National Library at Givat Ram, Jerusalem. They areonly accessible to those who visit the place, and some can only be reviewed byresearchers. A German researcher interested in reviewing them must get on a planeand fly to Israel.As part of the project, all the archives of Jewish intellectuals of German origin whoimmigrated to Israel in the 20th century which are stored in 500 boxes in theNational Library will be posted on the Web.They include the writings of Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, Gerhard GershomScholem and Adolf Abraham Fraenkel. The work uploaded to the Internet includes Martin Bubers original manuscript "I-You", which has notes in his handwriting on the side, the suicide note of JewishAustrian author Stefan Zweig, who killed himself together with his wife, as well as aletter from famous writer Thomas Mann to one of the Jewish German intellectualswho immigrated to the Land of Israel.The National Library plans to digitize the archives of the Jewish communities inBerlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, which are currently stored in 800 boxes. Some 6,000books and hundreds of newspapers and magazines printed in German or Yiddish inHebrew letters will also be posted on the Web. The archive also includes raremusical segments of Jewish-German musicians who immigrated to Israel, includingmusical scores which have never been played in public.The project costs some NIS 10 million (about $3 million) and was initiated byCabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser. "The proposal to cooperate with the German 5
  • 6. government is an example of the warm relationship between the countries, as wellas the systematic effort taking place in Israel today at the prime ministers instructionto preserve our cultural assets and guarantee that both we and the next generationswill be able to enjoy them," said Hauser. "This wide-scale activity which includes cooperation with a growing number oforganizations in Israel and abroad, including international collaborations," he added.As for me, I’m delighted that such cooperation between Israel and Germanycontinues and that not everything in the relationship is clouded by the differentperceptions each has about the Middle East situation. Friends should be able todisagree on some issues while continuing a meaningful relationship on others ofimportance. Culture is important.LATINOS & JEWSThe fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. is made up of Spanish speaking“Latinos” who come from the various countries in Latin America. While the U.S. ismade up of a kaleidoscope of people who come from every corner of the globe, theLatinos, largely because their home countries are so close to the U.S. (especially theMexicans) they now number one in every six people in America.Y-Net News reported, “A new national survey finds more than half of America’sJews and Latinos believe anti-Semitism exists within the Latino community.The study, commissioned by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding(www.ffeu.org) and conducted by Latin Insights, also finds nearly half of all Latinosbelieve US foreign policy is too supportive of Israel.Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of FFEU and vice president of theWorld Jewish Congress, announced these findings in conjunction with the Bridges &Pathways Strategic Dialogue Conference in San Antonio, Texas, chaired by formerHUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antonio Henry Cisneros and Rabbi AryehScheinberg of the Orthodox Congregation Rodfei Sholom. “These findings are a wake-up call to both communities and highlight theimportance of this conference taking place in San Antonio,” said Rabbi Schneier.“We need to understand how real anti-Semitism is within the Latino community andhow we can counter it as well as find more effective ways to communicate the valueof Israel to bolster Latino empathy for the Jewish state."This is truer than ever as Latinos now number more than 50 million in the US. Oneout of every six Americans is Latino. It therefore behooves the Jewish community toreach out and foster an alliance with this significant ethnic group. 6
  • 7. ”The survey, commissioned by the FFEU, found both American Jews and Latinosperceive anti-Semitism within the Latino community. Fifty-eight percent of Jewsbelieve such bias exists and 46% of the Latinos concur.When asked about US policies in support of Israel, 46% of the Latinos said Americawas “too supportive” reflecting a 5 to 2 ratio to those who felt it was not supportiveenough. Fifty-six percent of the Jewish respondents, on the other hand, believe theUS is not sufficiently supportive; a 4 to 1 ratio over those who felt it was toosupportive.Other findings pointed out:Over 75% of both groups have experienced discrimination in their livesSeventy-one percent of both groups feel alienated from decisions being made forthem in Washington, DCA strong majority of both groups support immigration-friendly legislation andpositively view the role in US society of newcomers; however, 68% of the Latinosoppose the recent controversial immigration laws adopted in Arizona, while 54% ofthe Jews favor that legislationA solid majority of each community favors American or Israeli measures to stopIran’s nuclear weapons developmentTwo-thirds of the Latinos and Jews doubt peace will come to Israel and thePalestinians in the next five years; the largest group, 39%, believe peace there willnever be reachedSeventy-seven percent of American Jews support Israel over the Palestinians in theconflict, while the Latino view is much more fragmented with a large numberresponding “dont know.” American Jews hold Palestinians more responsible for thefailure to secure peace by a 5 to 1 ratio, where the Latino opinions are much morediffuse.”American Jews, now less than 2% of the population, have great interest in everygroup in the U.S., especially those with great numbers. Like all ethnic groups, Jewshave special political interests and know that numbers are important in getting theiragenda implemented. In addition, given the long history of anti-Semitism amongalmost all groups, it is important to have good relations so that the members of thesegroups can see Jews face-to-face. This sort of contact is education in itself and it iseducation that helps reduce the anti-Semitism that so often comes from a lack ofknowledge. So it goes in America!GOLDSTONE RECANTS 7
  • 8. You may have read the Deutsche Welle story which reported, “In an article writtenfor the US newspaper, Washington Post, Judge Richard Goldstone, who headed theUN investigation into the brief Israeli-Gaza war three years ago, has revised hisassessment of the conflict, recanting his earlier statements that Israel hadcommitted human rights violations in Gaza by targeting civilians.In a surprise about-face, he said the conclusions in his September 2009 reportwould have been different had he been aware of additional information now broughtto his attention.“If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been adifferent document,” Goldstone wrote in the Post, regretting that Israel had notcooperated with the fact-finding mission.The report, which examined potential war crimes on both sides in the 22-dayconflict, triggered widespread condemnation of the Israeli assault on Hamas-ruledGaza, which left some 1,400 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians. Israel sufferedthree civilian deaths and lost 10 soldiers.Of course, the original report, which was totally critical of Israel for committing “warcrimes” in Gaza, was ballyhooed by Hamas and other anti-Israel parties. It was veryharmful especially since Judge Goldstone was a well respected South African Jew.Signing his name to the report in effect made the charges “kosher”.Now that he has recanted and changed his mind the Israeli government is trying toget the report expunged and rejected. However, in my opinion, the damage is doneno matter what the facts. I said last year when the report first came out that JudgeGoldstone’s ego in taking on the investigative task in the first place got the best ofhim. He now says that the report would have been totally different if Israel hadcooperated in his investigation. If he couldn’t get all the facts, why didn’t he justresign? Was he pressured? Indeed, was he pressured, as Hamas now claims, tochange his mind and recant?In many ways I feel sorry for Goldstone who had a brilliant legal career, wasconsidered a great friend of Israel and universally admired in the Jewish communityin the U.S. and abroad. That is all gone now. A stellar reputation thrown away byundertaking a task he should not have in the first place and then disgracing himselfby changing his mind.He goes into the history books as a sad, weak jurist done in by an over inflated ego.The New York Times has a good story. Click here to read it.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/world/middleeast/03goldstone.html?hp 8
  • 9. AS IF WE DIDN’T ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH TROUBLEJews generally feel (with some justification) that no matter where they turn troubleawaits them. The history of anti-Semitism is so long and strong that the feelinghardly ever totally evaporates.However, up until last week it seemed as if the Jews and the citizens of India hardlyhad any problems with one another. However, an American Jewish author, JosephLelyveld, a former executive editor of the New York Times, published a book,In Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India which set off stormyprotests in India.According to Jewish Ideas Daily “A new book about Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948)has set off stormy protests in India for implying that the countrys founding fatherwas bisexual. It, ‘…recalls Gandhis relationship with a well-to-do German-Jewisharchitect, Hermann Kallenbach. Though Lelyveld himself does not explicitly assert asexual angle, the British historian Andrew Roberts, in a cutting review in the WallStreet Journal, concludes on the basis of the books evidence that Gandhi was notonly "a sexual weirdo," and in more ways than one, but also "a political incompetentand a fanatical faddist."Quite apart from the titillating subject of Gandhis homoerotic interests, there areother and more solid reasons to examine his relation to persons and matters Jewish.They include the suicidal counsel he proffered to Jews facing Hitler, his hardheartedopposition to Jewish national self-determination, and the influence of his ideas onsubsequent Indian foreign policy toward Israel.Nowadays, Gandhis memory is repeatedly invoked by Palestinian Arabs and theircultish international supporters to reinvigorate the 60-year-old Arab boycott of Israel.His "legacy of peace" has also become a family franchise for two grandsons, Arunand Rajmohan Gandhi, who make appearances in the West Bank town of Bilin—thesite of ferocious weekly demonstrations by Palestinian Arabs and foreign radicalsagainst Israels life-saving security barrier(Gandi) was sympathetic with Jewish suffering, but highly unsympathetic with anyefforts to alleviate it by means of positive action. In 1937 and again in 1939,Kallenbach visited Gandhi in India endeavoring to elicit his support for the Zionistenterprise—to no avail.Gandhi acknowledged that the Nazi persecution of the Jews had no parallel inhistory. Nevertheless, his resolute counsel to Jews facing the Nazi onslaught wasnon-violent civil disobedience—and forgiveness. As for Zionism, he remainedequally resolute in opposition: "The cry for a national home for the Jews does notmake much appeal to me." Why couldnt the Jews think of Palestine as a kind ofbiblical metaphor and let it go at that? If Jews must settle in Palestine, he advised,they should do so only at Arab sufferance, and if worse came to worst, they should 9
  • 10. allow themselves to be "thrown into the Dead Sea." Even after the destruction ofEuropean Jewry and a litany of Arab atrocities in Palestine, Gandhi held firm: theJews must practice non-violence.To pour a little gasoline on the fire it was reported that (JTA) India, “…underpressure from the United States to halt trade with Iran,(India) planned to depositbillions of dollars in payments for Iranian crude oil in the Bundesbank, GermanysFederal Bank. The intention was for the bank to transfer about $12 billion annually toIran via the Bank of Commerce in Hamburg.So, from a country that most Jews were feeling pretty good about, these two piecesof news emerged to change perceptions. It seemed to me that we already hadenough to worry about but new aggravation always seems to be just around thecorner. In this case it comes from India.LEARNING ABOUT AMERICAN JEWS – BY ISRAELISI have pointed out previously that there is a big gap between American and IsraeliJews. The two groups emanate from very different backgrounds. Israelis comeprimarily from post Holocaust European, Middle Eastern and more recently Russianantecedents. Their native language is Hebrew.American Jews come from older German Jewish, early 20th Century EasternEuropean, some post Holocaust and also recent Russian backgrounds. Their nativelanguage is English. So, you can see that the levels of sameness and understandingcan be quite far apart. Many American Jews, because of wealthier circumstances,have been able to visit Israel. Many Fewer Israelis have visited the U.S.One attempt to bridge the gap is (The Jerusalem Post), “A program to promotebetter relations between Israeli leaders and the American Jewish community has ledto plans to form a caucus in the Knesset on Israeli-North American Jewish relations.The Ruderman Fellows (Ruderman Foundation) program, in its inaugural year, is anattempt to create a deeper awareness of the diverse quality of American Jewish lifeby connecting Israeli political leaders with US-based community leaders, scholars,clergy and professionals.Six Knesset members, selected as the program’s initial fellows, concluded a five-dayseries of seminars and meetings in Boston and New York…”This program was an attempt to take members of the Knesset from the three majorparties and to educate them on the American Jewish community,”(Jay) Rudermansaid. “Hopefully it will continue, and as the years go on, we will build up a number ofKnesset members, members of the Israeli government, who will have a betterunderstanding of the American Jewish community.” 10
  • 11. Brandeis professor Jonathan Sarna said that it was while he was on sabbatical lastyear in Israel that he realized that there was no center for the study and teaching ofAmerican Jewry at any Israeli university.“Every major American university has someone who teaches about Israel,” Sarnasaid. “There are many Israel study centers, but no Israeli study center on AmericanJewry. And as we see, even the leading figures in Israel do not feel that theyunderstand American Jewry appropriately. This program will be the beginning of anew effort to teach Israelis about the American Jewish community so that our twocommunities can better understand one another.”In thinking about it, this program is not far different than the one AJC has with theKonrad Adenauer Stiftung. There is just no substitute for face to face communicationin the nation of the other party involved.************************************************************************************************See you again at the end of the monthDuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking here.Both the American and Germany editions are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect 11
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