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Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011
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Du Bow Digest Germany edition feb. 6, 2011

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A newsletter on American Jewish - German relations

A newsletter on American Jewish - German relations

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  • 1. GERMANY EDITIONFebruary 8, 2010THE MERKEL VISIT(This article as is also appears in the American Edition of DD)Chancellor Merkel visited Israel with members of her cabinet in the third annualsuch visit. Israel is the only country outside Europe with which Germany holdsjoint cabinet sessions, although it does so regularly with France.These cabinet “get-togethers” are a visible sign of the closeness of the twocountries even though differences remain between them especially on MiddleEast issues. The Chancellor’s visit came at a particularly difficult time – just asthe demonstrations in Egypt had broken out. According to D-W World, “(she)appealed to Israel to take constructive steps toward reinvigorating the MiddleEast peace process.Afterwards, both sides said the talks were held in a very “businesslike manner”with Netanyahu outlining how he sees the next steps in the peace process.Merkel urged Israel to halt its settlement policies in the West Bank, saying thesewere a serious problem for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.Both leaders agreed that the current situation in Egypt and other parts of theArab world was “very difficult” and a concern for Israel. Netanyahu said Israelwas watching the situation with "vigilance" and "worry" and that he feared Egyptcould wind up with a radical Islamic regime, like Iran.Cabinet ministers from both sides also signed a variety of bilateral agreements toboost cooperation in the fields of research, environment, climate protection,energy, development aid and education.In a private meeting before the session, Netanyahu and Merkel reportedly spentmuch of the time discussing the current unrest in Egypt. Merkel also called onIsrael to stop building in West Bank settlements, saying it was hurting the peaceprocess, Haaretz reported.Meeting with PeresChancellor Merkel also met with Pres. Peres. The President wisely reminded herthat, (Y-Net News) "the world must learn from what happened in Gaza.Democracy begins with elections – but does not end with elections. Democracyis a civilization, and if you choose the wrong side you bring about the end ofdemocracy. We must ensure that human rights are guaranteed in a real 1
  • 2. democracy."Peres reminded Merkel that Hamas took over Gaza following democraticelections. "The world saw what happened in Gaza when they pushed fordemocratic elections and a radical and dangerous movement, which wont givethe Gazans one day of democracy, rose to power.Merkel said she agreed with Peres remarks on the Iranian threat, saying that thiswas a problem which threatened the entire world and not just Israel. "Israels security is a global matter, not a bilateral matter," she said, adding that"in light of the recent events, its time to speed up the peace process." She clarified that the Palestinian Authoritys leadership was strong. "I believe Ihave arrived in Israel at a very important time. Time is essential to guarantee thatIsrael remains an independent state within its borders. The concept of two statesfor two people cannot remain a statement – it must be seen on the ground."Meeting with LivniThe Chancellor also met with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Haaretzreported, “According to a member of Merkels entourage, Livni voiced fears to theGerman chancellor that Iran may exploit the current instability in the region,reiterating the oft-repeated Israeli calls for tougher sanctions over Tehransnuclear program.Many Israelis share Livnis fear that a weaker Egypt could mean greater Iranianinfluence in the region.In their meeting, Livni and Merkel also discussed Israels stalled peace processwith the Palestinians. Livni was quoted saying that negotiations were in Israelsnational interest and not a favor to the Palestinians or Europeans.SO?One might be inclined to think that nothing much happened during the two daydiscussions. Maybe one might be correct. However, just the fact there werethese meetings and the Israelis were able to voice their point of view on Egyptand Iran to the leader of the EU (She is that!) has to be of some importance.In addition, the Israeli cabinet heard a re-statement of the European Union’sMiddle East stance – Stop building settlements, get back to the negotiating tablewith the Palestinians and make some sort of peace agreement. What Europeneeds is stability and the current situation is not helping. 2
  • 3. My assumption is that the members and leaders of both delegations are smart,knowledgeable people. They all know now that the Israel – Palestinian situationis not the major cause of instability. If it ever was, it is not that any longer. TheEgyptian situation and the one in Tunisia change everything mostly not in Israel’sfavor. So, whatever was said between them must have an Egyptian asteriskattached to it. Today’s reality, in all likelihood, will not be tomorrow’s.An immediate question facing Germany and the EU is the upgrading of theirdiplomatic relations with the Palestinians as Ireland has already done. WillGermany follow?It will take some time for the implications of the tumult in the Arab world to befigured out. Israel will need the friendship of the EU nations as the dramaunfolds. When that happens the test of Germany’s oft-stated friendship will begiven a real test. I’m sure we’ll all be tuned in to see how it turns out.THE PALESTINE PAPERSAccording to Foreign Policy Magazine, The Palestine Papers -- more than 1,600internal Palestinian documents summarizing negotiations with Israel over thepast decade. The documents were apparently provided to Al Jazeera bydisgruntled Palestinians who set out to harm the PLO leadership and theirpeaceful path toward realizing Palestinian national goals. The Qatar-basedsatellite network has played along, insinuating that the documents show that thePalestinian leadership has proved weak and willing to capitulate to Israelidesires. On the documents pertaining to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, itlaments that Palestinian negotiators "gave away almost everything to the Israelis,without pressuring them for concessions or compromise."The first batch of documents focuses largely on the 2008 final-statusnegotiations between the PLO and Ehud Olmerts government that followed theAnnapolis peace conference in November 2007. They are meant to demonstratethat Palestinian negotiators are desperate quislings, willing to cooperateshamelessly with the Israeli occupiers, while selling out sacrosanct Palestinianpositions on the status of Jerusalem and the "right of return."The Jewish Week noted, “While the Netanyahu government contends that Israellacks a partner willing to get into the nitty gritty of a peace deal, the PalestinePapers seem to undercut that argument. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz notedin an editorial, the documents illustrate “the serious and down-to-businessapproach of the Palestinians with regards to the central core issues — borders,Jerusalem and holy places.”But that also points to a devastating failure by Palestinian leaders: holding fast torigid, extreme positions in public while showing latitude for compromise in 3
  • 4. private. A public schooled only in the maximalist rhetoric of the PA and theoutright incitement of the PA-sanctioned media and education system can onlycreate political conditions that make it all but impossible for leaders to take thefinal steps toward peace.The fact that Palestinian leaders are now furiously denying the validity ofdocuments showing their greater willingness to compromise suggests they havenot learned that lesson.Frankly, I don’t know what to make of it. First of all, who knows how accurate thepapers are? Second, if they are genuine, how important are they? They recordprivate conversations and negotiations and not decisions. In such sessions manythings that are said are, indeed, only negotiating positions never expected to turninto hard and fast positions. Third, on both sides many of these “trial balloons”have been floated up previously. However, neither side, especially thePalestinians have never publicly acknowledged to their own people that theymight have to make major concessions. Even if the two sides agreed and signedon the dotted line, would their populations back them sufficiently to make anagreement stick?Fourth, as soon as the Egyptian demonstrations began, the P Papers not onlymoved off the front pages, they were dropped completely. In summary, I justdon’t think they’re very important. If, however, you want to read more, try the twolinks below.JTA: http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/01/25/2742703/in-israel-palestine-there-are-now-maps-but-not-much-else-newHaaretz: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/pa-negotiator-u-s-british-citizens-are-responsible-for-leaking-palestine-papers-1.339382DUAL LOYALTY?Over the years the enemies of both American Jews and Israel accuse theAmericans of having greater loyalty to Israel than to the United States. Historyshows that the charges are bogus. There is no group that has a greaterdedication to the U.S. than American Jews.The other side of the “dual loyalty” coin is the issue of relationship betweenAmerican Jews and Israel. The problem can best be understood as “no dualanything” with American Jewish youngsters having diminished feeling andconnection to their co-religionists in Israel.Y-Net News recently reported, “The Yeshiva University Center for the JewishFuture (www.yu.edu/cjf) sent 40 select North American undergraduate students 4
  • 5. to Israel last week for a seven-day service learning and experiential educationprogram entitled “A Place Called Home.”The objective of the mission… was to explore the complex dual-loyalty felt byDiaspora Jews for their homes outside of Israel and the Homeland itself.“We believe it is essential that these future leaders experience the realities ofIsraeli life and politics through the lens of individuals and communities who aretrying to build – and rebuild – their homes in Israel,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander,the David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).“In this way, they will develop a deeper appreciation for what it means to be acitizen of the Jewish State and gain a better understanding of how they – andother Diaspora Jews – should relate to Israel.”The seminar, which will be run with support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, willfocus on several hot-button issues, including what it means to build a home anda life in Israel, the price of unity and how our ideologies shape and divide us,balancing Jewish values with humanism and democracy; the importance ofsettling and developing an authentic connection with the land, and the costs andbenefits of establishing a life in Israel versus the Diaspora.“Like every other CJF initiative, an underlying goal of this program is to inspireour students to become agents of change in their communities and the world-at-large,” added Brander. “We hope that this experience encourages them toconsider how they might approach issues like tolerance between religious andsecular Jews and the disparity between Jewish law and democratic values intheir own Jewish communities.”As I have pointed out previously, the Jewish population of the world is small.Considering all it has gone through, especially in the last century, it can ill affordto have its two largest populations become estranged from one another. Just thematters of distance (miles) and culture (a Jewish nation vs. a secular one) makefor difficult relationships. So, any program that tries to bridge the differences getsmy vote.Read the entire story by clicking here.http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4018733,00.htmlCHINA & THE JEWSIn year’s gone bye there hasn’t been much relationship between China and theJews with the exception that in the U.S. the Jewish community seems to have adeep love of Chinese food. Last year when Elena Kagan was being grilled by theSenate before being approved as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Sen. Lindsey 5
  • 6. Graham asked Kagan, in relation to a question about the Christmas Day Bomber,“Where were you on Christmas day?” Responded Kagan, to a deserved round ofapplause: “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”There is more to the relationship than food these days.Nathan Jaffay writing in Jewish Ideas Daily notes, “Back in 1991 Chen Yiyi was,as he puts it, a “bored” law student at Peking University. At the time, China wasin the process of formalizing relations with Israel, and the Chinese EducationMinistry and Israel’s Foreign Ministry selected his university as the site of China’sfirst Hebrew course taught by visiting Israeli teachers. When the class fell shortof its eight-student enrollment target, Chen was persuaded to sign up to boost itsnumbers.Little did Chen know at the time that he was embarking on a career in whatwould soon be a burgeoning field within Chinese academia: Jewish studies.Chen, who is now director of Peking University’s Institute of Hebrew and JewishStudies, teaches a Bible course at his school that is billed as a class in Tanach,using the Hebrew word for the Bible and drawing upon Jewish interpretations.Now in its eighth year, the class can accommodate a maximum of 200 studentseach session, but it regularly has 500 students sign up.“The interest in Jews and Israelis goes way beyond business, way beyondtechnology, to a wish to understand what the Jewish nation is all about,” said IlanMaor, joint vice president of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce and a formerIsraeli consul general in Shanghai.Israel and some American Jewish groups have been eager to encourage theChinese interest in things Jewish. For the visit by the Chinese academics,Israel’s Foreign Ministry partnered with the Charles and Lynn SchustermanFamily Foundation and the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange,which organized the trip. A few days after the academics returned home, it wasannounced that China Central Television has just produced, in cooperation withIsrael’s embassy in Beijing, a 12-part series intended to introduce Chineseaudiences to the history of Israel and the Jewish people.The Israel Project, a Washington-based advocacy group, has proposed buildingon this interest to create a strong base of support for Israel in China. Last year itconducted a focus group on opinions toward Israel in Shanghai.“Because China’s interests in the Middle East are relatively recent, and Israel isstill largely a blank slate to most Chinese, we have a real opportunity to make asignificant impact on its decision-making and views concerning us and the widerMiddle East,” Laura Kam, the group’s executive director for global affairs, wroterecently in The Jerusalem Post 6
  • 7. Considering the importance of China today it certainly pays to invest in trying toget the Chinese to understand more about Israel and Judaism. Without question,the more people know about you the less chance there is of misunderstandingand hostility. AJC’s investment in opening an office in Berlin is based on thesame philosophy.There is more to Mr. Jaffay’s piece. You can read it by clicking here.http://www.jidaily.com/XeOYp/eRICHARD FALKWho is Richard Falk and why is he important?Well, Richard Anderson Falk (born 1930) (according to Wikipedia) is anAmerican professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, writer(the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20books), speaker, activist on world affairs, and an appointee to two United Nationspositions on the Palestinian territories. A 9/11 “truther”, Falk has beencondemned by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and others forsuggesting that the George W. Bush administration, rather than al-Qaeda, wasresponsible for the September 11 attacks. To make things a little clearer he hasbeen very anti-Israel.You can always count on the UN Human Rights Council to put people with ananti-Israel bent into important positions. On March 26, 2008, the United NationsHuman Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a UnitedNations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinianterritories occupied since 1967”. Not exactly what I would call a fair minded,impartial person to fulfill this important position.Recently (press release), AJC called on the UN to immediately dismiss RichardFalk after he publicly endorsed 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Falk is the UnitedNations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the PalestinianTerritories.In his blog this month, Falk endorsed the slander of conspiracy theorists whoclaim that the terrorist attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed, wereperpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.“We agree wholeheartedly with the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN,Ambassador Susan Rice, who stated that Mr. Falk’s comments are ‘despicableand offensive’ and, like her, urge the UN to remove him from his position,” saidAJC Executive Director David Harris. “Falk has long been a conspiracy-riddenand harmful figure who surely does not serve the best interests of the UN.” 7
  • 8. AJC expressed outrage when Falk was first appointed Special Rapporteur in2008, saying that his selection underscored the innate bias of the Human RightsCouncil, the UN organ that appointed him to examine a situation involving Israel. "His longstanding record of hostility toward Israel, as well as his support ofboycotts and sanctions against the Jewish state, should have disqualified himfrom consideration, but then again, tellingly, the world body was not looking foran objective and disinterested individual," Harris said.“The UN must now, at long last, do the right thing and fire Richard Falk,” saidHarris.My guess is, considering who he works for, Mr. Falk will have long employmentwith the UNHRC. He doesn’t even have to do their bidding. He is, at least, asanti-Israel as their most anti-Israel members. No change needed.The matter of Prof. Falk’s employment would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.ZIONISM, REV. HECHLER & THE GERMAN CONNECTIONThedor Herzl, the father of Zionism, the freedom movement of the Jewish people,which resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel had significant Christianhelp.The Jerusalem Post reported, “The contribution of a Christian chaplain toTheodor Herzl’s work and to the Zionist cause was commemorated in London onMonday with a tombstone dedication at his unmarked grave.Rev. William Henry Hechler was pivotal to Herzl’s diplomatic successes, allyinghimself with him and emerging Zionist movement and providing Herzl with keyintroductions to German royal society.Hechler had been a close friend of Archduke Frederick I of Baden and a tutor tohis children.In 1896, while serving as the chaplain for the British Embassy in Vienna, he readHerzls newly written The Jewish State and immediately understood the centralityand vital importance of Herzls work as complimentary to his belief in theprophetic biblical restoration of the Jews.In 1893, Hechler published his own broadsheet, The Restoration of the Jews toPalestine according to the Prophecy and anticipated that the days of the Jewishsalvation would begin in 1897-1898.With Hechlers and the Archdukes assistance, Herzl met the Sultan of TurkeyAbdul Hamid II in 1896 and German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898. 8
  • 9. “Rev. Hechler played a vital role in advancing the Zionist cause at the crucial,early stage of the movements emergence,” said Dr. David Breakstone, vicechairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), who attended thecommemoration. “In honoring him as we did this week, we not only paid him therespect that was long overdue, making good on an historical debt of gratitude,but also publicly recognized the vital role that so many Christians have played -first in the establishment of the Jewish state, and since then, in support of it.“It is very important to Israel and the Jewish people to recognize the incredibleefforts and friendships made by our friends and supporters in the Christianworld,” said Alan Aziz, director of the Zionist Federation of the UK. “The ZF hasvery strong links to the Christian community which we value enormously.The placing of an appropriate gravestone on Rev. Hechler’s grave even after 80years since his death is the right thing to do. Theodor Herzl spent the entire latterpart of his life trying to get support for a Jewish homeland. He was unsuccessfulin getting the Kaiser’s help and after his death (1904) and the end of World War I,the British issued the Balfour Declaration that served as the legal basis for theestablishment of Israel after World War IIThe story of Christian assistance to Jews seeking a homeland is not known wellenough. Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll write more about it. In the meantime,if you want to read the entire Hechler story click here.http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=206349BUSINESS & BACK CHANNELSABC News ran a piece in December which merits attention by those interested inIsrael/American Jewish relations with Arab countries. In spite of the surfacehostilities and political distance person to person contacts are continuingespecially with Arab businessmen in the Gulf States.The story quotes my AJC colleague Jason Isaacson who has spent a great dealof time and energy in the last number of years maintaining these relationships.The ABC reporter notes, “‘Little by little there have been signs of progress,’ saidJason Isaacson of the American Jewish Committee. Jason and I met on thesidelines of the Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference where he wasinvited by the Bahraini government. Isaacson told me he’s been to the Gulf‘frequently,’ leading AJC delegations to meet with Gulf officials and publicfigures. ‘I cannot believe that relations forged over many years die when officesare closed. Because the common interests are there and the common threatsdont go away,’ he said in a phone interview days after the Manama meeting. 9
  • 10. ‘We talk with their diplomats in Washington a lot. We have similar concernsabout the region, and about moving the peace process forward.’Isaacson said there’s reason to believe that Gulf-Israeli relations are getting arethink, and there were signs of it in Bahrain. Speakers advanced the idea thatArab states need to recognize Israeli security needs and opportunities foreconomic integration. In a sit-down interview, Sheikh Khalid al Khalifa, theForeign Minister of Bahrain, told me Arab states need to reach out more to Israelipeople.‘We’re not talking about normalization here...we’re talking about communication,’said Sheikh Khalifa. ‘You need to go to them through their own TV channels,through their own newspapers, and tell them that we are here in the Arab worldand we want peace. We don’t want to throw you in the sea.’You can read the whole story by clicking here.http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=6161209&ct=8976651My point in writing about this story is that no matter how dark political mattersseem there are always people who seek stability because it serves the purposeof bettering trade and business. It seems to me that we do not credit “business”enough as a major factor in the solution of political problems. Relationships andstability are a great aid to increased trade and, therefore, more attention shouldbe paid and encouragement given to those who keep the lines of communicationopen in an effort to not only make profit but to help move their societies towardpeace. Particular kudos should go to people like Jason who make no profit out oftheir efforts other than knowing that they are making a contribution to worldpeace.. 10
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