AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION
January 27, 2014
IN THIS EDITION
IRAN: THE WASHINGTON BATTLEGROUND – A battle over a diplomatic battle.
CHABAD: GERMANY & THE AMERICAN CAMPUS – An amazing organization.
IMPEDIMENTS TO PEACE? – Depending how you look at it.
ABBAS & THE PEACE PROCESS – An impediment leader?
WHAT IF THE PEACE PROCESS FAILS? – Is there a Plan B?
JEWISH & GERMAN: INTERNAL CONFLICT? – An identity problem.
THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY, ETC., ETC. – Israel & Egypt see eye to eye
As I write this we are on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.
As more people directly impacted by the Holocaust die off I wonder how long the
commemorations will last. The special day commemorating the American Civil War
(originally called Decoration Day) has morphed into something much more general now
called Memorial Day. My guess is that very few Americans know that it began after the
Civil War and, I venture to say, even fewer care. It's now generally thought of as the
beginning of the summer season.
Perhaps Holocaust Memorial Day won’t last all that long but new historical revelations
keep popping up such as the collection of Heinrich Himmler's letters to his wife and the
trove of artwork found in a Munich apartment. The revelations in the Himmler letters will
probably will evoke long lasting media attention and the Munich art will bring about a
series of extended legal challenges.
So, "forgetting" does not seem to be in the cards - at least not any time soon. A most
interesting fact, as far as I can see, is that Germans themselves keep the pot boiling. It
is not the Israelis, Americans or the Jewish community generally demanding
remembrance. It is the Germans. I can only think that the facing of its ugly past history
is a mark of genuine mental health and responsibility.
Enough of my musings, let's get on with the news...
IRAN: THE WASHINGTON BATTLEGROUND
When it comes to the Iran nuclear situation it looks to me as if Pres. Obama is fighting a
two front battle. On the one hand the President and Secy. of State John Kerry are
deeply committed to reaching some sort of agreement with Iran over the Iranian nuclear
capacity. Considering Iran's failure to adhere to previous agreements the final outcome
is far from certain. The U.S. and its allies in this matter have a tough job on their hands
in making sure that Iran is not producing the kind of material that can be used in a
On the second front the President is engaged in a domestic battle with the
Congressional Republicans and members of his own Democratic Party who want to
pass a bill to strengthen the sanctions against Iran. The President has stated that he
would veto any such bill if passed. However, timing is the big question here. The
agreement with Iran calls for them to undertake certain steps within the next six months.
If they don't fulfill their part of the bargain the sanctions bill would probably pass and the
President would be hard pressed not to sign it into law.
Heavily involved in all this are American Jews and their organizations. While they try not
to be at loggerheads with any American President, in this case the strong anti-Iran
position of Israel is, of course, a factor.
Ron Kampeas writing in JTA explains it better than I can. He notes, "The White House
is mounting a full-court press in the Senate against a new Iran sanctions bill, but the
fight is focused less on the proposed sanctions themselves than on their timing and the
conditions attached to them.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), is backed
by much of the pro-Israel community, led by the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee. The U.S. House of Representatives last summer overwhelmingly approved
a similar sanctions package.
The Senate bill’s backers say it gives the United States greater leverage in its efforts to
negotiate a resolution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. But President Obama
says new sanctions could scuttle the talks.
Two of the bill’s most controversial provisions are a requirement that Iran not be allowed
to maintain any uranium enrichment capacity and non-binding language calling on the
United States to support Israel if it strikes Iran’s nuclear program in self-defense.
The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 was introduced in the Senate on Dec. 20
and so far has garnered 59 co-sponsors, eight short of the two-thirds necessary to
override a promised presidential veto. The bill enjoys the overwhelming support of
Republicans, with only two GOP senators not among the co-sponsors. In addition to
Menendez, 15 other Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors — although one of
these, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), now says there ―may not need to be a vote‖
as long as progress is being made in talks.
At least 20 members of the Senate’s Democratic caucus have come out in recent days
supporting the White House in its bid to keep the sanctions bill from advancing.
White House officials have said in off-the-record conversations with Jewish leaders that
the sanctions themselves are not controversial. Should the talks with Iran fail, officials
have said that they would press to have Congress pass the new sanctions ―in a day.‖
What are the new sanctions?
–Existing sanctions on Iranian crude oil would be expanded to include its refined
version, petroleum, and its products.
–Existing sanctions on Iran’s shipping sector would also be expanded to include
engineering, mining and construction sectors, as well as Iranian free economic zones.
–Existing sanctions on Iran’s financial sector would be broadened beyond current bans
on its nuclear and energy sectors to virtually any dealings, save for humanitarian
–The bill also expands individuals targeted by sanctions to include employees of a
broad selection of official and semi-official Iranian bodies.
Disagreement over timing
The White House’s principal objection to the bill is its timing. The Joint Plan of Action,
the November interim agreement between Iran and six major powers, is intended to
create a six-month window for reaching a final settlement. The interim agreement, which
exchanged a partial rollback of existing sanctions for a partial rollback of Iran’s nuclear
activity, requires the United States to ―refrain from imposing new nuclear-related
It’s unclear whether the legislation as currently devised violates those terms. Backers of
the bill say that by allowing the president to suspend implementation for six months, the
legislation does not violate the interim deal. ―It provides the president the time he has
requested to see if negotiations can succeed without additional sanctions being
imposed during the talks if Iran keeps to its end of the interim framework agreement,‖
Brad Gordon, the director of policy and government affairs for AIPAC, says in a video
message posted on the group’s website.
But others argue that mere enactment of the bill, even if implementation is delayed,
constitutes a violation. ―This bill would impose new sanctions and, while the measures
may not be enforced, they will become law,‖ says an analysis by the Arms Control
The White House has also warned that while the passage of new sanctions legislation
might not spur Iran to quit the talks, as it has threatened to do, they might lead to the
collapse of the international coalition that brought Iran to the table.
Disagreement over outcome
Another White House objection has to do with outcomes required by the bill. The
Obama administration complains that the bill would constrain its ability to negotiate an
agreement with the Iranians. Backers of the bill admit as much.
―The Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2013 clearly defines parameters for a final
agreement,‖ Gordon says in the AIPAC video.
The most contentious of the requirements has to do with uranium enrichment. For the
president to suspend the legislation’s sanctions provisions, the bill requires he must
certify that a final agreement will ―dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including
enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities.‖
Such a requirement comports with the demand of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu that any final agreement permanently end Iran’s enrichment capability.
Iranian nuclear knowledge and capability is advanced enough, according to supporters
of this condition, that even enriching uranium to five percent — a level generally used
for peaceful purposes — would allow Iran to quickly advance to weapons-grade
enrichment if it so decided.
White House officials have said that Iran would never accept a total enrichment ban and
that the best possible outcome would be a five percent enrichment capability.
The bill would also allow Congress, by a vote of both chambers, to reimpose any
sanctions that were suspended as a result of an agreement.
Disagreement over Israel
The bill recommends U.S. backing for Israel should it determine that it must strike Iran.
In its ―sense of Congress‖ section, it says: ―If the Government of Israel is compelled to
take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program,
the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with
the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to
authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the
Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.‖
That language, according to critics, amounts to allowing a foreign nation — albeit one
that is a close ally — a determinative role in deciding when the United States joins a
―Let me acknowledge Israel’s real, well-founded concerns that a nuclear-armed Iran
would threaten its very existence,‖ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of
the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a Jan. 14 floor speech opposing the bill.
―While I recognize and share Israel’s concern, we cannot let Israel determine when and
where the U.S. goes to war. By stating that the U.S. should provide military support to
Israel should it attack Iran, I fear that is exactly what this bill will do.‖
The bill’s backers note that by definition, ―sense of Congress‖ language is not binding
and that the bill concludes that nothing in it ―shall be construed as a declaration of war
or an authorization of the use of force against Iran.‖
Moreover, they note, the language is identical to a non-binding resolution that the
Senate passed in May by a vote 99 to 0. Feinstein was among its co-sponsors.
The situation regarding Iran has certainly pushed the Israel - Palestinian conflict, if not
off the front pages of the Anglo-Jewish press, to a less important position on that page.
The Palestinian problem has been around seemingly forever and is not seen as an
immediate threat to the security of the world's only Jewish state. That cannot be said
about Iran which has, indeed, threatened to wipe Israel off the map. That's serious and
will continue to be a main focus for American Jews in theforeseeable future.
CHABAD: GERMANY & THE AMERICAN CAMPUS
Those of you who follow Jewish matters to any extent either in Germany or the U.S.
have probably come across an organization called Chabad. At times, especially in the
early winter when the Hanukkahholiday comes around, the German press (especially in
Berlin) has pictures and articles of the public observance of the holiday when a large
Hanukkah menorah (candelabra) is lit. Almost always, the lighting is sponsored by
So, what is Chabad? According to Wikipedia, ―Chabad, also known as Habad,
Lubavitch, and Chabad-Lubavitch, is a Hasidic movement. Chabad adheres to the
Orthodox practice of Judaism. Founded in Russia in 1775, Chabad is today one of the
world's largest and best-known Hasidic movements. Its official headquarters are
currently located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. Organizationally,
it is the largest Jewish religious organization in the world today.
The name "Chabad" is a Hebrew acronym for Chochmah, Binah, Da'at. "Wisdom,
Understanding, and Knowledge". The name "Lubavitch" (meaning the "Town of Love")
is the popular name for the Russian village Lyubavichi where the movement's leaders
lived for over 100 years.The Chabad movement represents a school of thought
established and led by a dynasty of Hasidic rebbes [rabbis].
Chabad maintains a network of over 3,600 institutions in over 1,000 cities, spanning 70
countries. Chabad institutions provide outreach to unaffiliated Jews, as well as religious,
cultural and educational activities at Chabad run community centers, synagogues,
schools and camps.
Being international, Chabad is active in Germany. They now have 16 institutions in the
Federal Republic including 3 in Berlin where my good friend Rabbi Yehuda Tiechtel and
his wife Leah are the co-directors. By the way, it should be clear that Chabad is not
interested in converting non-Jews to Judaism. Their focus is on getting Jews to be more
observant and to develop their own Jewish identity.
Now to skip westward over the Atlantic, we see Chabad becoming much more of a force
on American university campuses. They obviously offer something that touches many
Recently, Y-Net News reported on its development at Rutgers University, the State
University of New Jersey. It noted, ―.There are 40,000 students at Rutgers, the State
University of New Jersey, and in the heart of the campus one stands out what is
probably the biggest Chabad House in the world, which offers its services to more than
4,000 Jewish students and guests arriving at the university.
The hub of Jewish campus life, the Chabad center caters to students' religious needs
and offers them meals and accommodation.
Rutgers student Talia Friedman says she was ashamed of her Jewishness until she
arrived at the Chabad House. "Here I became proud of being Jewish. The Chabad
emissaries walk around with beards and an authentic Jewish appearance, so I have
nothing to be ashamed of either," she says.
Apart from the feeling of pride, Talia adds, there is also the assimilation issue: "The
Chabad House is an excellent place for meeting other Jews for friendly relations."
"The Jews here did not go to a yeshiva and are not thinking of ever visiting a yeshiva,"
Rabbi Carlebach observes the Chabad House goers. "They come from a non-religious
home and have negative opinions about Judaism. They may have had a bar mitzvah,
and it was hard work for them.
"The job of the emissaries here is to show them that Judaism is alive, and that Hasidism
is alive. It gives them a sense of life which they cannot get anywhere else."
Chabad is a relatively new and small Jewish addition to most campuses where there
are Jewish students. In years gone by Jewish activity was handled by local affiliates of
the Hillel Society (www.hillel.org) which operates on 550 campuses in the U.S.
However, Chabad has begun to make it presence known and is an important addition to
Jewish life at many American universities. Orthodoxy is not for everyone but you
probably cannot convince the Chabad people of that.
With the increasing impact of Chabad in both the FRG and the U.S. it is something I
thought you, my readers, would be interested in.
IMPEDIMENTS TO PEACE?
Though no (or at least, not much) progress is being made in the U.S. led Israeli –
Palestinian peace process; one must credit U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry for giving it
“the old college try” (American slang – great effort). He has made at least 9 visits to
Israel and the West Bank with no agreement yet in sight.
To some people it seems that if only Israel would stop building settlements (most are
small towns or cities) the Palestinians would quickly agree to something and the whole
thing could be settled (not meant as a pun). Rarely do I read or hear about the
complexities faced by the Israelis. Even more rarely do I hear or read a well put together
list of problems they themselves face.
Finally, such a listing has appeared. It’s not perfect but I believe that when one reads it
with an open mind one will see that even the stronger of the two sides in this long ongoing problem has a great problem in bringing itself to signing some sort of an
Peter Berkowitz writing in Real Clear Politics presents us with his list of obstacles to
peace. He writes:
First, and most important, the PA refuses to renounce a supposed ―right of return,‖
which it asserts would give some 5 million pre-1967 Palestinian Arabs access to
property and citizenship in Israel. The vast majority of these Palestinians are
descendants of the approximately 650,000 Arabs who fled Israel in 1947 and 1948
(most by their own choice) before and during a war in which five Arab armies invaded
and sought to destroy the just-declared Jewish state. There is no precedent in
international law for such a right, and its exercise would destroy Israel as a Jewish
Second, while Abbas and lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claim to acknowledge
Israel’s right to exist, they refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Netanyahu
government maintains that formal public acceptance of Israel as the nation state of the
Jewish people is vital because it signals that the PA does not seek to use the
establishment of a state of its own as a steppingstone toward the creation of a single
majority Palestinian state enveloping Israel.
Third, Abbas categorically rejected Kerry’s recent proposal that the Israel Defense
Forces remain in the Jordan River Valley for 10 years after a peace agreement goes
into effect. Speaking after an emergency meeting in Cairo on Dec. 21, Arab League
Secretary General Nabil Elaraby emphatically backed Abbas, declaring that under any
acceptable peace agreement, not one Israeli soldier would be permitted to remain in the
valley. The Netanyahu government, however, is convinced that no matter how sincere
Kerry’s assurances are, only Israel is capable of ensuring that dangerous weapons and
murderous jihadists do not infiltrate from Jordan.
Fourth, the PA shows no signs of desisting its incitement of hatred for Jews and Israel.
Its schools and government-run media continue to celebrate terrorists who kill Israeli
civilians and to nurture the hope that one day Palestinians will return to homes inside
pre-1967 Israel that their grandparents abandoned 65 years ago. This systematic
incitement only intensifies Israeli demands for security concessions unacceptable to the
PA, including free movement of the IDF within Palestinian cities.
Fifth, the six-year civil war between the PA, which rules in the West Bank, and Hamas,
which rules in the Gaza Strip, means Abbas can make no plausible claim to speak for
almost half of all Palestinians in the territories beyond the Green Line.
Sixth, even within the West Bank, the PA is dysfunctional. It lacks support among the
public. It suffers from widespread and endemic corruption. Were the IDF to withdraw,
the PA could fall to Hamas.
Seventh, the uprisings that erupted in the Arab world in the winter of 2011 have
destabilized Israel’s neighbors. The military government in Egypt that ousted the Muslim
Brotherhood government that replaced ousted President Hosni Mubarak is wrestling
with a tottering economy and terrorists in the Sinai. Lebanon, with a population of 4
million, is struggling with approximately 850,000 refugees from Syria’s civil war. Jordan,
with a population of 6.5 million, is straining to deal with approximately 570,000 Syrian
refugees. As Israel’s dangerous neighborhood has become more dangerous, the
Netanyahu government has redoubled its determination to secure terms, likely to be
rejected by the PA, that guarantee Israel’s ability to defend itself.
Eighth, not withstanding Kerry’s engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israelis
see a vacillating and timid America seeking to disengage from the region. The Obama
administration has projected an opaque approach to Egypt, led from behind in Libya,
acquiesced to a Russian-brokered deal in Syria that confirms Bashar al-Assad as
president, and negotiated an interim agreement with Tehran that threatens to recognize
Iran as a nuclear threshold state. These developments harden Israel’s negotiating
stance and confirm its longstanding policy that Israel and Israel alone must take ultimate
responsibility for its security.
Ninth, Israeli building in the West Bank complicates negotiations not least because
Palestinians, the Obama administration, and much of the world adamantly oppose it.
Whether Netanyahu desires settlement expansion, pressures from within his coalition
impel him to support some, which is the kind of domestic political constraint that Kerry
appears not to have adequately considered.
Tenth, while the Israeli public overwhelmingly supports peace, considerable segments
of it, when they pay attention to current negotiations at all, regard them with apathy. The
apathy stems from Palestinian and Arab rejection of past peace plans, from former
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s far-reaching 2008 offer to the 1937 Peel Commission
partition plan. And apathy is reinforced by decades of vicious Palestinian terrorist
attacks on Israel’s civilian population, which have scarred citizens’ political imagination.
Granted, Mr. Berkowitz is writing from the Israeli side though I think he is quite
balanced. My purpose in re-printing his 10 points is not to convince you one way or the
other about responsibility or fault, but merely to point out that the situation is enormously
complicated from the Israeli side. That has to be taken into consideration when thinking
about the possibilities for peace.
You can read the entire article by clicking here.
ABBAS & THE PEACE PROCESS
If you read Mr. Berkowitz’s piece above outlining the Israeli prerequisites for a peace
agreement with the Palestinians and concluded that it would be very difficult for Israel to
find a way to a final peace agreement, then you should keep reading and you will be
convinced, as many are, that this whole exercise is absolutely useless.
Perhaps we should not take seriously what politicians and national leaders say in public
speeches. However, when Palestinian President Abbas clearly states his nonnegotiable basics for agreement, we should at least take note.
Israel Hayom recently reported, “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says
the Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, will not agree to any deal
that does not make east Jerusalem the future Palestinian capital and will not give up the
right of return.
The Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech at the Muqataa government compound in
Ramallah on Saturday.
Abbas made the speech ahead of his planned trip to Paris for the Arab League
conference, where he will ask for support for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's
emerging framework peace proposal.
The Palestinian leader added another two stipulations regarding a future peace
agreement in his speech: There will be no deal unless east Jerusalem becomes the
capital of a future Palestinian state and the right of return for Palestinian refugees is left
in their own hands.
In a speech reminiscent of the 1967 Khartoum Resolution, in which the Arab League
stated what is now known as the "three noes" -- no peace with Israel, no recognition of
Israel, no negotiations with it -- Abbas further stated that the Jordan Valley was an
integral part of a Palestinian state.
Abbas made these statements despite the fact that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian
peace negotiations are at a sensitive stage.
I am not a Middle East expert and I have no real knowledge of Pres. Abbas’ intentions.
However, it seems to me that he is making a case in anticipation of the peace process’
failureafter which he intends to go to the UN for some sort of statehood recognition.
Some feel that that was his intention all along and that he went along with Secy. Kerry’s
peace discussions to ward off the possibility of the U.S. withholding the funds that the
Palestinians receive annually.
Many months ago I opined that I didn’t think much would come from the Kerry-led
negotiations. I haven’t changed my mind. I thought then that some sort of “no-war”
agreement could be agreed upon. That still might happen. I doubt whether the exercise
will be a complete bust. It’s too important for the U.S. to come away with something.
What the something will be remains to be seen.
There are some problems that are not solvable – at a given time. This is one of them.
There may come a time in the future when there is a greater possibility for agreement
but 2014 isn’t one of them. If the killing can stop or at least be held to a bare minimum,
that would be progress. Let’s hope that happens.
WHAT IF THE PEACE PROCESS FAILS?
What if the U.S. led peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians fails? Is that
the eternal end of attempts to bring the two sides to some sort of agreement? Will Israel
tighten its security in the West Bank in order to head off a third Intifada? Will Pres.
Abbas head to the UN to see if he can get some sort of recognition for a country that’s
economically not ready to stand as an independent nation?
We all read a lot about the peace process but, as far as I can tell, there is very little
being said about what would happen if it fails. Will the U.S. have some “Plan B” ready
as a backup?
Elliot Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations. Formerly, he was senior director for democracy and human rights, senior
director for the Near East, and deputy national security adviser handling Middle East
affairs in the George W. Bush administration produced a “memo” for the Council on
Foreign Relations here in the U.S. which I think makes a lot of sense.
He writes, ―The Obama administration is fostering Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed
at a full and final peace agreement. While the talks last they help calm the regional
political situation, but they do nothing to improve Palestinian daily life or help build the
institutions of a future Palestinian state. If they fail, as all past efforts have, they may
leave behind frustration and bitterness. Even so, negotiations should not be abandoned,
but should be buttressed by a simultaneous effort to undertake pragmatic steps that
support Palestinian institutions, improve life in the West Bank, and strengthen the
Palestinian Authority (PA) against Hamas. While today's political-level peace
negotiations can provide an essential umbrella for such steps, focusing solely on
achieving a full "final status agreement" is too risky. Practical "on-the-ground"
improvements are beneficial in themselves and can improve chances for an eventual
negotiated settlement. Moreover, because such steps do not violate the interests of the
Israeli or Palestinian sides, they can be pursued without continuing the top-level U.S.
intervention that other and often higher U.S. policy priorities may require.
Mr. Abrams lays out a plan which includes:
The United States should help the PA emerge from a state of financial crisis
The United States should encourage Israel to take further steps to improve the
Israel should limit construction in settlements to the major blocs that, in all previous
negotiations, have been understood that Israel will keep.
Israel should minimize its incursions in Palestinian territory and undertake only those
with significant security payoffs.
The United States should encourage Israeli security forces and courts to prevent and
penalize settler violence against Palestinians, which has increased in recent years.
The United States should be willing to criticize and sometimes penalize the PA
whenever it glorifies violence or those who have committed acts of terror.
Mr. Abrams concludes by saying, “While today's political-level peace negotiations can
provide an essential umbrella for pragmatic steps, focusing solely on achieving a full
final status agreement is too risky. Practical on-the-ground improvements are beneficial
in themselves and can improve chances for an eventual negotiated settlement. They will
also strengthen the PA and its ability to engage in the compromises any full peace
agreement will require. Supporting the construction of a Palestinian state from the
ground up, strengthening Palestinian institutions, and seeking pragmatic IsraeliPalestinian cooperation should be the center of U.S. policy now, not the handmaiden to
a policy aimed at a comprehensive but currently unattainable final peace agreement.
In this very thorny and difficult problem a Plan B or some sort of backup could prove to
be invaluable. Would the elements in Mr. Abrams plan be agreeable to either side or to
Secy. Kerry and the U.S. Administration? Who knows? But at least the above provides
some sort of framework.
Frankly, I’m not very hopeful about anything really tangible coming out of the current
negotiations. Mr. Abrams thinks the U.S. is aiming to high and that a more “doable”
policy might have some possibilities. Perhaps he’s right.
To read the entire memo click here.
JEWISH & GERMAN: INTERNAL CONFLICT?
The question of personal identity is a complex and highly individual one. I'm not sure I'm
qualified to even approach how German Jews feel about themselves and with what they
identify. I'm not German and the American Jewish community of the 1930's in which I
grew up was certainly different than that of post-war Germany. In addition, each and
every German Jew must wrestle with his or her own self-identification. Those even
coming out of the same life situation may very well wind up feeling looking at
There is no doubt that the German and Jewish elements combined, I believe, must have
at least some impact on a person with both in the formation of their identity.
Such a person is Yascha Mounk who authored an article in The New York Times
entitled, German, Jewish and Neither. It is the forerunner of a book that will be
published shortly, “Stranger in My Own Country: A Jewish Family in Modern Germany.‖
There are two major elements in Mr. Mounk’s story. The first has to do with his own
struggle as to how he should identify and second, how Germans have related to him.
Needless to say, a Jew, any Jew, meeting a German, unless they are completely
oblivious to history, factors that history somewhat into their thoughts about the other
person. The same goes for the Germans as well when they meet someone who is
Jewish. My guess is that any two people who come from groups that have had a
disputatious relationship take the group history into account. That’s normal. I have not
met many Arabs in my life but when I do somewhere in the back of my mind lurks the
fact our two ethnic groups have had a bad history.
The problem Mr. Mounk has is that he feels neither German nor Jewish and only feels
at ease in New York which he finds neutral. Frankly, I feel sorry for him. Whether you
like it or not you are what you are and the world sees you that way. Maybe his American
friends appear to treat him “as just a person” but I have news for Mr. M. – the problem is
largely internal not external.
In any case you should read the article which you can do by clicking here.
THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY, ETC., ETC.
At the moment Israel has no greater enemy than Hamas, the terrorist group that rules
Gaza and frequently shoots rockets and other missiles into southern Israel. Hamas, an
Iranian sponsored group doesn’t seem to have any friends. Israel leads the list of
enemies but Fatah; the Palestinian group that rules in the West Bank is not far behind.
During the reign of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt it appeared that Hamas was being
supplied through tunnels (many) that had been dug from Gaza under the border to Sinai
which is part of Egypt. Israel and Fatah were very unhappy with this turn of events. Now
that the Brotherhood has been dispatched with its leadership either in jail or dispersed,
the situation has changed.
Israel Hayom recently reported, ―After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home,
Egypt's military rulers plan to undermine Hamas, the terror group that runs the
neighboring Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters.
The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with
Hamas' political rival Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four
security and diplomatic officials said.
Since it seized power in Egypt last summer, Egypt's military has squeezed Gaza's
economy by destroying most of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and
weapons to the coastal enclave.
Now Cairo is becoming even more ambitious in its drive to eradicate what it says are
terrorist organizations that threaten its national security.
Intelligence operatives, with the help of Hamas' political rivals and activists, plan to
undermine the credibility of Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007 after a brief
civil war with the Fatah movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Egypt accuses Hamas of backing al-Qaida-linked terror groups which have stepped up
attacks against security forces in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula over the past few months. The
attacks have spread to Cairo and other cities.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas deny accusations of terrorism, and the
Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism. The group was ousted from
power in Egypt after the military threw its weight behind street protests last summer.
In early January, Cairo publicly hosted the first conference of a new anti-Hamas youth
group called Tamarud, or rebel, the same name used by the Egyptian youth movement
that led last year's protests against [Egypt’s former President] Morsi.
Members of the Palestinian Tamarud stood with the Palestinian flag wrapped around
their necks to highlight what they called Hamas' crimes against activists in Gaza
Terrorist groups are a threat to everybody including the new military government in
Egypt which is trying to establish itself. Yes! It’s not very democratic but the
Brotherhood government was even less so and the Egyptian people are entitled to have
the kind of government they want.
One thing is for sure. With Egypt pressuring Hamas and looking to force them out of
ruling Gaza, the Gaza-Israel border should be less of a problem in the future. And while
the Israelis benefit from that the real winners in the long run will be the poor people of
Gaza who have suffered greatly because of the radical leadership of Hamas.
You can read the entire article by clicking here.
See you again in February
DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be reached at
Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com