Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Du Bow Digest Germany Edition December 20, 2013

258

Published on

An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

Published in: News & Politics, Spiritual
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
258
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.net GERMANY EDITION December 16, 2013 IN THIS EDITION ISRAELIS/PALESTINIANS/AMERICANS/IRANIANS: LOTS OF TALKING – So far that’s it! BECOMING JEWISH – Is it possible to become an Associate Jew? EUROPE WITHOUT JEWS? – Yes? No? ISRAEL & WEOG – What’s a WEOG? OTHER NEGATIVES & POSITIVES FOR ISRAEL – Bads and goods. THE MEANING OF ANTI-SEMITISM – Definitions count. ARAB CHRISTIANS – A military surprise. Dear Friends: It is good to know that Germany finally has a government in place. From this side of the Atlantic it seems that the "GROKO" is made up of very substantial and experienced people so, at least, there should be some semblance of cooperation and tranquility. That's more than I can say for our own government where disputes always seem to be the order of the day. I recognize the fact that a grand coalition cannot get as much done as a normal coalition but there is something to be said for a shortage of political pitched battles on a daily basis. The American Jewish world is at a "wait and see" time. The Iran and Palestinian situations are in the talking-negotiating stages so we're waiting and looking forward to seeing some progress soon. It is not at all clear whether the Obama administration and Secretary of State will come away with one or two winning agreements or none. Much 1
  • 2. of the President's foreign policy legacy will be decided by the results. If nothing else, the President has certainly invested a great deal of his foreign policy political capital in these two situations. One thing I can guarantee. No matter what finally happens not everyone will be happy. The most important study of American Jews in many years was done this year by the Pew Research Center. It is a blockbuster dealing with all aspects of American Jewish life. I won't even try to give you a summary. You can read it at http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewish-american-beliefs-attitudes-culture-survey/ If you have an interest in the subject please click on the above link. Read the Pew summary and you will be an instant expert on American Jews. I am sending this month's Digest a bit early because I am going to be taking a short end of the year vacation (to San Diego and some warm weather). Let me wish all my Christian readers a very Merry Christmas. I hope der Weihnachtsmann has not forgotten you. To all of you my fondest regards with the hope that 2014 will prove to be a wonderful year for you. Let’s get on with the news… ISRAELIS/PALESTINIANS/AMERICANS/IRANIANS: LOTS OF TALKING No self-respecting newsletter which deals with Israeli and, more broadly, Jewish matters would let an issue go by without at least commenting on both the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the Iranian-U.S.-EU interim agreement. However, to be honest I'm not exactly sure what to report or even comment on. Both sets of negotiations or talks or whatever you want to call them are at "in-between" phases. As far as the Israeli - Palestinian talks are concerned, they don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Secy. of State Kerry has made his "uptenth" visit to the region to make sure that the whole project has not come to a screeching halt. Amos Harel writing in Haaretz notes, "The question that will rise in the near future has to do with the Americans. Which route will they choose? Will they insist on trying to force a permanent agreement on the two sides? Will they propose an interim agreement? Or will they abandon the talks altogether and hasten the road towards renewed escalations in the West Bank? At the moment both directly affected parties are holding long held positions. The Israelis are deeply concerned about their security not having such good results after pulling out of Gaza and southern Lebanon. They fear that leaving the West Bank would only give them a 3rd front to defend against rocket attacks. Kerry has suggested that the Israelis might have a 10 year security situation in the Jordan Valley which would be on the east side of what would be Palestine. That has gone over like the proverbial "lead balloon". 2
  • 3. It is not clear at all what the Palestinians want. I guess it is an unencumbered country without any Israelis on its territory. Given the very shaky status of their current government and its deep disputes with the Palestinians in Gaza, It is not a sure thing that they could actually govern anything. An imposed American agreement doesn't seem at all possible. An interim agreement might have some chance but, frankly, I do not see what the terms might be. As far as the Iranian agreement is concerned, Pres. Obama has convinced the U.S. Senate to "wait and see" for at least a little while before voting for stronger sanctions. There is widespread disbelief that the Iranians will stick to any agreement. That disbelief is shared by almost everyone in Israel and many in the U.S., especially in the Congress. I think everyone is taking an end of the year "breather" before getting back to serious talks and action. At least at this moment there is very little in the way of any hostilities and that has to be counted as a positive. How long will that state of affairs hold? Your guess is as good as mine. BECOMING JEWISH How does one become Jewish if not born into “the tribe”? Normally, if one is not born to a Jewish mother (In Reform it can also be a Jewish father as well) then the only path is study under the auspices of a rabbi and then a formal conversion. Will there be another path in the future? Steven M. Cohen a research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, executive director of Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute have written an article in JTA noting, ―In the United States, interest in becoming Jewish has grown, owing in part to intermarriage, intergroup friendship, and more positive feelings about Jews and Judaism. As a result of Judaism entering the marketplace of ideas, Jewish thought and ideas resonate with many people. And with the melting of hard social boundaries separating Jews from others, many have entered into marriages, friendships and close working relationships with Jews. Yet, notwithstanding the thousands of non-Jews who maintain familial, friendship and collegial ties to Jews, many with some interest in joining the Jewish people may be disinclined to do so for any of a variety of reasons. In the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011, 7 percent of adults who identified as Jewish reported that neither of their parents were Jewish. Of the 7 percent, 2 percent said they formally converted and 5 percent said they became Jewish by personal choice and not by way of religious conversion. How can we explain the popularity of people assuming a Jewish identity without undergoing religious conversion? We believe that some prospective converts to Judaism feel that religious conversion demands what for them would be an insincere affirmation of religious faith. Perhaps they are agnostic or atheist or secular, or even committed to another faith tradition. Others may be wary of adopting Judaism as an exclusive religion so as not to offend 3
  • 4. their parents or other family members, or because conversion requires abandonment of religiously grounded customs and holidays like Christmas. Even though significant numbers of Jews are secular, atheist or celebrate Christmas as a seasonal holiday, holding such positions and observing such practices present prospective converts with insurmountable barriers to conversion. As a result, many would-be members of the Jewish people have no possibility of engaging in a course of study and socialization that would lead to public recognition of their having joined the Jewish people, and they have limited access to enriching their familiarity with ―lived Judaism‖ — the actual culture and ethos of Jewish life as lived in families and communities. And we know that most people live out their Judaism more in the informal context of family and friends than in the more formal context of religious institutions. In theory at least, broader access to Judaism beyond that already offered by rabbis, congregations, and religious movements could result in more non-Jews in Jewish families and friendship circles building Jewish homes. To provide a viable alternative to religious route to becoming a Jew, we propose a second explicitly cultural pathway to join the Jewish people. This pathway, which we call Jewish Cultural Affirmation, would be clearly distinguished from Jewish religious conversion. Religious conversion would remain a rabbinic prerogative, and Jewish Cultural Affirmation would not assume an anti-religious ethos. Nor are we suggesting that Jewish Cultural Affirmation undermine or obviate the traditional path to conversion. Rather, by offering an additional vehicle to acquiring a Jewish social identity, Jewish Cultural Affirmation would allow prospective Jews to acquire a measure of familiarity with being Jewish and to undergo a non-religious pathway toward membership in the Jewish people. Candidates for Jewish Cultural Affirmation would undertake a course of self-guided study and experiences, outlined in a web-based curriculum to be developed by a panel of scholars, communal professionals and others. The curriculum would consist not only of reading, but of experiences of lived Jewishness. Candidates would be encouraged to sample a variety of areas of Jewish civilization – such as politics, literature, music, comedy, social action, learning, organized community, Israel, chesed, and sacred and secular texts — and to achieve a level of familiarity with and competence in participating in American Jewish life. Candidates would meet with mentors (in person and virtually), and gather from time to time in small group sessions, perhaps at private homes, restaurants, cafes or other convenient venues that are not explicitly Jewish in association. For those who may come to desire official recognition, we propose a public ceremony that would need to be designed, and also a certificate of membership in the Jewish people, whose specific substance and formulation would need to be addressed. 4
  • 5. Accomplished Jewish cultural experts — professors, writers, artists, educators, communal leaders, and others — would constitute boards that would oversee the program and would attest to the validity of the affirmation. Jewish Cultural Affirmation would not preclude eventual conversion by rabbis, should they seek more traditional religious recognition of their Jewish status by religious authorities. Indeed, acquiring an identification with the Jewish people is a crucial segment in all approaches to religious conversion, implying that Jewish Cultural Affirmation can be seen by religious authorities as comprising a significant step on the path to religious conversion. We welcome those who would like to support this endeavor to join us in the conversation so that this proposition might be brought to reality. Changes in Jewish practice come slowly. Sometimes it takes centuries and sometimes they just never change. However, today’s world is moving very quickly and changes in the American Jewish community are no exception. Interestingly, the authors do not suggest anything immediate or even quick. Wisely they ask those interested in the subject to “join us in conversation”. My guess is that they will have a lot of discussants in a very short period of time. I wonder if any of them will be from the Jewish community in Germany. I will try to keep you up dated on what people have to say. Would any of you like to voice an opinion? If so, let me know. EUROPE WITHOUT JEWS? Might there come a time when living in Europe will be so unpleasant and dangerous for Jews that, like in other parts of the world (Middle East and Asia), that there just won’t be any? In the last year or two I have been trying to alert you to the fact that there is a troubling rise of anti-Semitism, perhaps not so much in Germany, but throughout much of Europe that Jews are seriously considering leaving. Much has been written on the subject but most of it is factual reporting. How about a thoughtful contextual piece? An AJC colleague of mine, Lawrence Grossman (also an ordained Orthodox rabbi) has written one and I am going to print it in its entirety below for you to read and think about. It is entitled, “The Double-Pronged Threat to European Jewry”. It appeared originally in The Times of Israel. In his 1996 book Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945, historian Bernard Wasserstein predicted the imminent disappearance of European Jewry. This was not, he wrote, due to anti-Semitism, which he did not consider a serious danger. The problem was rather the ―very beneficence of the surrounding environment‖ which ―tends to diminish the Jews’ attachment to specific Jewish practices, languages, traditions and values.‖ 5
  • 6. While the forces of cultural assimilation Wasserstein perceived continue to weaken European Jewish communities, a revival of hostility toward Jews on the continent – which he did not foresee – could very well deliver the coup de grace. It takes two forms: one, coming from the streets, is unapologetically anti-Semitic; the other, ostensibly highminded, emanates from the elites. The recent report of a survey conducted by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency provides considerable information about what European Jews encounter on the streets. Polling close to 6,000 Jews across eight European countries that contain 90% of the continent’s Jews, the report found that about two-thirds of the respondents considered anti-Semitism a problem and three-quarters said it was worsening. Almost half worry about being verbally harassed or insulted in public for being Jewish. Roughly a third fear being physically attacked and two-thirds are afraid that their children or grandchildren will be subject to anti-Semitic insults. Internet anti-Semitism is a particular problem, 75% of respondents citing it. In a number of countries, Jews are reluctant to go in public wearing clothing that would identify them as Jews. About a third of the respondents say they have considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism and the percentages are even higher in Belgium, France and Hungary. Elite opinion in Europe would surely disdain such anti-Semitism, but in its own way demonstrates considerable discomfort with Jews. Unlike Americans, whose Bill of Rights and historical experience commit them to the protection of religious freedom, most educated Europeans are deeply secular. They have little respect for religious traditions – especially those held by minorities – and do not take seriously the right to practice religion when it comes in conflict with currently defined ―rights.‖ That is why two essential elements of Judaism that trace back to the Bible – kosher slaughter and ritual circumcision – have come under attack. This past summer, the Polish parliament defied the stated policy of its government and made Poland the fifth European nation to outlaw kosher slaughter. The stated reason was the procedure did not allow for stunning before the incision and hence constituted cruelty to animals. Poland’s pre-Holocaust history as a world center of Jewish civilization gave the ban great symbolic importance. Anti-Semitism was not overtly raised in the parliamentary debates, but the vote sent a clear message that a central Jewish rite violated animal rights. In a 2012 case concerning a Muslim boy, a German court declared ritual circumcision illegal and it took the persuasive power of Chancellor Merkel to convince Parliament to pass legislation overriding the decision. Then this past October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called for countries to protect children from violations of their physical integrity, specifically including infant circumcision for religious reasons. The claim was that this age-old Jewish practice deprived children of their human rights. If the absence of kosher slaughter would only make life difficult for Jews – the meat could, after all, be imported – the criminalization of ritual circumcision would make the survival of Jewish communities in Europe virtually impossible. 6
  • 7. Almost 70 years ago, after four years of horrific war, the Nazis failed in their quest to make Europe Judenrein, free of Jews. Could anyone have foreseen then that a combination of open attacks on Jews and governmental interference with their religion would once again raise the specter of a Europe without Jews? It goes without saying that Germany is much more sensitive to Jews and the practice of Judaism than what is seen in other European countries. However, some of the same negative feelings do existin the Federal Republic even though the government usually deals with them quickly and efficiently. Yet, they are still there and cannot be dealt with by government action alone. In any case, I would be very interested in your reactions to the Grossman piece. You can write them to me at dubowdigest@optonline.net. ISRAEL & WEOG No! WEOG is not some sort of a distasteful behemoth even though there are some similarities. WEOG, the Western European & Others Group is a regional grouping of nations in the UN. Unless a nation is a member of WEOG or another such group it cannot be a member of the UN Human Rights Council. If you have followed the UNHRC and its predecessor’s activity over the years, you know that it spends a great deal of its time denouncing Israel and doing very little else. To make things worse, some of the member countries with seats on the Council are the worst violators of human rights in their own countries. For many years the Arab bloc had kept Israel out of WEOG and therefore, out of full participation in the Council where it could, at least, defend itself. Why it would even want membership in a setting where it can be beaten over the head regularly, escapes me. However, I’m not a country or a diplomat. They must have their reasons. According to The Times of Israel, ―Israel … was invited to join a regional group within the United Nations Human Rights Council, marking a major diplomatic achievement that significantly increases Jerusalem’s ability to advance its interests at the Geneva-based body. However, Israel will most likely remain the target of disproportional criticism and condemnation from the council. The European states agreed to welcome Israel into their midst in exchange for Jerusalem’s return to the council and its participation in its Universal Periodic Human Rights Review process. Israel left the council a year and a half ago to protest its alleged anti-Israel bias. Israel will very soon be admitted into the Human Rights Council’s Western group, putting an end to a longstanding act of discrimination whereby the Jewish state was the 7
  • 8. only nation to be excluded from a regional group,‖ said Hillel Neuer, the director of Geneva-based nonprofit UN Watch. Admission to WEOG would allow Israel to participate with all other UN member states in receiving regular briefings, and have a say in the selection of council investigators, Neuer said. ―More than anything, admission for Israel would be a sign of equal treatment, removing what has been an ugly stain of bigotry upon the reputation of the UN.‖ So, there you have it. Israel no longer has to hear the insults lodged against from the outside. They will now be able to sit in the Council and hear them face to face. Strange world! Diplomatic settings are the strangest of them all. By the way, the U.S. State Dept. chimed in with a nice statement. They said, ―Israeli membership in the WEOG in Geneva is overdue, and we welcome the decision to invite Israel to join beginning January 1, 2014. It goes without saying that at a time when the scourge of global anti-Semitism is on the rise, it is more important than ever for Israel to have a strong voice that can be heard everywhere. This is a particularly welcome development as we work to end anti-Israel bias in the UN system. We will continue to speak out for our close ally, Israel, and we will continue to support efforts to normalize Israel’s treatment across the UN system as a full and equal member of the community of nations. OTHER NEGATIVES & POSITIVES FOR ISRAEL Particularly in the academic world both in the U.S. and in Europe there continues a movement to boycott, support disinvestment from and promote sanctions against Israel. Generally speaking it is referred to as BDS. You may not hear or read much about it unless you closely follow the Jewish press but it continues to exist. And, perhaps, even flourish. Recently, the Association for American Studies conducted an on-line vote open to all of its 5,000 members meant to register the group’s protest against Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. Nathan Guttman writing in The Forward notes, ―The question will then be whether the vote represents an outlier amid broader rejection of the movement by larger academic associations in America — or the beginning of a trend. ―We are confident that this resolution will be remembered as among the first of many future similar decisions by U.S. academic entities to come,‖ stated a letter to the ASA signed by nearly 5,000 pro-boycott activists. The Israel academic boycott movement has gained traction in Europe but has yet to register much success in the United States. In April the Association for American Asian 8
  • 9. Studies — like the ASA, one of the smaller such academic groups — approved a similar resolution in protest of Israeli policies, though few media outlets took note at the time. While the BDS movement continues apace, as mentioned above, such positive actions as Israel’s admittance to WEOG (see above) are also taking place. My AJC Berlin colleague Deidre Berger in a note to members of her board noted, ―Regarding the EU dispute on continuing Israeli participation in the EU Horizon 2020 flagship research and development program, a compromise was achieved. Israel has agreed to EU stipulations prohibiting EU grants, prizes or loans from being used in Israeli entities outside the Green Line, while the EU agrees to respect Israel’s viewpoint that the territories must have a negotiated settlement between the parties in dispute, without pre-determined borders. In other words, the EU and Israel agreed to disagree. The agreement secures Israeli access to European-Israeli research and development projects, leaving Israel with an estimated net gain of about 300 million Euros. …we were pleased to see that Israel has become by unanimous vote the first nonEuropean member of the Bern-based CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research, an organization that operates several particle reactors. Israel has had an associate status and made major contributions to the research. I don’t think I have to spell out for you how important these sorts of “recognition” matters are. While I do not in any way underestimate the importance of the Israel – Palestinian dispute, it is still hard for me to fathom the hostility of individuals and groups toward the Jewish State. After all, the friction between Israelis and Palestinians is not the only, or even most, charged dispute between two rival people. When one looks at the rest of the Arab world and considers the vicious clashes between Shiites and Sunnisor in Africa with what is going on between Muslims and Christians, the Israel – Palestinian dispute absolutely pales. Yet, the latter gets an outsized amount of publicity and political concern. Perhaps there is something deeper in the heart and souls of the BDS people that is not immediately apparent. Keep reading. THE MEANING OF ANTI-SEMITISM For those of you that didn’t know (I didn’t) the EU has an organization called “The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) which is one of the EU’s decentralized agencies. These agencies are set up to provide expert advice to the institutions of the EU and the Member States on a range of issues. FRA helps to ensure that the fundamental rights of people living in the EU are protected. One of the issues the FRA has dealt with in the past is anti-Semitism. According to The Jerusalem Post, ―The European Union’s agency for combating racism dropped its 9
  • 10. definition for anti-Semitism and now is unable to define the term, an agency spokeswoman said. ―We are not aware of any official definition [of anti-Semitism],‖ Blanca Tapia of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency told JTA on Tuesday. Tapia was answering a query on the recent removal from the agency’s website of a ―working definition‖ of anti-Semitism that was adopted in 2005 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia — the EU entity that her organization has replaced. The removal was first reported by the pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada. Campaigners against anti-Semitism said the document is significant because alongside classical anti-Semitic behavior, it lists the vilification of Israel or Israelis, which some scholars call ―new anti-Semitism.‖ The definition lists ―claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor‖ and drawing comparisons between Israel and Nazis as examples of anti-Semitism. One would think that the mere removal of a definition would be a major event. However, in this case it is. AJC was moved to request that the definition be restored. In a press release it noted, ―AJC is urging the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to restore to its website the ―working definition‖ of anti-Semitism. ―The working definition was a landmark achievement, its usefulness remains undiminished, and, in fact, it informed the FRA’s own comprehensive survey of antiSemitism in EU member states,‖ said Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC’s director of international Jewish affairs. AJC worked closely with the director of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in drafting the working definition. Notably, the document, issued in 2005, acknowledged that a new form of anti-Semitism was emerging, one that demonized the State of Israel and questioned its very legitimacy. The working definition has been an essential tool in the efforts to monitor and combat anti-Semitism across Europe. It has been included in police training materials prepared by the OSCE. In addition, the U.S. Department of State adopted the working definition, and it has been recommended by inter-Parliamentary commissions in the United Kingdom and Canada. Since it was released it has helped many people come to recognize that anti-Semitism can take multiple forms, including some that relate to Israel. After the EUMC became part of the FRA in 2007, the working definition was included on the FRA website until it was inexplicably removed recently. ―It is unfortunate that the working definition has disappeared from the FRA website, and we would urge its return if only in recognition of the important legacy of the EUMC,‖ said Baker. ―The FRA has shown that it is in the business of examining and confronting antiSemitism,‖ said Baker. ―Its recently released survey of Jews in the EU described in 10
  • 11. detail their experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism and demonstrated for one and all that the problem is acute and widespread.‖ I’m not an expert on this matter and haven’t consulted with FRA or AJC, however, in diplomatic tussles it is often what is not said which proves out to be more important than what, indeed, is. So, would I be wrong in saying that FRA, under some sort of pressure from anti-Israel sources decided to take down its definition because anti-Israelism in some way was being a significant factor in the broad meaning of anti-Semitism? If that’s the case, they should be ashamed of themselves. ARAB CHRISTIANS Christians are having a hard time in Middle East. With the rise of the Islamists (not Islam itself), the lack of any other sizeable minority to scapegoat and the general unrest throughout the region, it is the Christians who have become the main focus of hostility. For instance, DW.DEreported, “Islamic extremists among anti-government rebels have been targeting Syrian Christians as 'infidels.' After a mortar attack left four children dead, one bishop laments, 'We are suffering a new genocide.' An estimated 3 million Syrians have left the country, including tens of thousands of Christians. For Bishop Nalbandian, who is of Armenian ancestry, the refugee upsurge reflects a personal tragedy. Armenians fled Turkey to Syria in 1915 after a genocidal attack by the Ottoman Turkish Army. He says Armenians came as refugees to Syria, where they created schools, churches and a new life. "After 95 years we are suffering a new genocide," he said. "It's more difficult for us to carry this cross." The one place the exact opposite seems to happening is – you guessed it –Israel. Ben Cohen writing in JNS reported, ―Over the summer, the Israeli media highlighted a phenomenon that is both intriguing and encouraging: a movement among Israel’s Christian Arabs advocating that their community be drafted, along with the country’s Jewish and Druze citizens, into the Israel Defense Forces. Historically, Israel’s Arab citizens have been exempted from mandatory conscription. There have been exceptions—many Bedouin, for example, have served in the IDF with distinction—but those who actually volunteer are a tiny minority. At the same time, many Arabs have complained, not without justification, that the exemption marginalizes them from fully participating in Israeli life. …draft dodging won’t be too much of a problem when it comes to Christian Arabs. Their community, at 130,000 strong, makes up just less than 10 percent of the total Arab population in Israel. In the weeks that followed the formation of a new political party, 11
  • 12. B’nei Brit HaHadasha (―Sons of the New Testament‖), by a merchant seaman, Bishara Shilyan, whose nephew serves as a major in the Israeli Army, around 90 Arab Christians enlisted in the IDF. It seems like a tiny number, but it’s a threefold increase compared to 2010. And earlier this month, around 250 Arab Christian youths attended a recruitment event organized by the IDF with the assistance of Father Gabriel Nadaf, an orthodox priest from Nazareth and a vocal supporter of Christian recruitment into the armed forces. This new mood among Christian Arabs has worried the communists and Arab nationalists who have traditionally played a central role in the political leadership of Israel’s Arab citizens. You can imagine them tearing their hair out when they hear statements like this one, from Father Nadaf: ―It’s only natural that the country which protects us deserves that we contribute to its defense.‖ At a time when Christian communities across the Islamic world are facing vicious persecution, in the form of arrests, mob violence and bombings of churches, it’s no coincidence that this assertive form of Christian identity has manifested in democratic Israel. Increasingly, Christians in the Middle East understand that if their faith is to have a future in the region, the states in which they live need to be governed by the values of democracy and tolerance. A state that is Jewish in terms of its identity, but which gives the same rights and demands the same duties of all of its citizens, is truly a revolutionary development for the Middle East—and a key reason why so many of its neighbors dream of its destruction. Being in the Israeli Defense Forces might not be the optimum situation for any Arab; however, when one is faced with destruction one takes the best available option. Obviously, participating in the army of a democratic state in which one is a citizen certainly solidifies one’s own security and the possibility of religious continuity. I’m not surprised that they are pursuing it. ********************************************************************************************* See you again in January.Merry Christmas &Happy New Year! DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be reached at edubow@optonline.net Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com 12

×