Du bow digest germany edition may 7, 2011

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Du bow digest germany edition may 7, 2011

  1. 1. AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER dubowdigest@optonline.netGERMANY EDITIONMay 7, 2011Dear Friends:My apologies for this edition being late. However, with the Easter and Passoverholidays and my being away in Washington for the AJC Global Forum (It used to becalled the Annual Meeting) life intruded on the time available for me to do my writingand editing. Laziness will not keep the next edition from being late. What will are abrief vacation and then my trip to Germany accompanying the 31st annual AJC –Adenauer Foundation Exchange group. So, the next time you hear from me will besometime in mid-June.Incidentally, I’ll be in Berlin from May 24th to June 1st. If any of you have time, howabout a cup of coffee or a glass of wine together? If you’re available, please drop mea note at dubowdigest@optonline.net.Enough personal stuff. Let’s get on with the news…IN THIS EDITIONTHE HAMAS – FATAH AGREEMENT – Will it help the peace process?ANOTHER AMERICAN JEWISH VIEW – In the interest of fairness, you should knowthat not all American Jews are of one opinion on the peace process.BIN LADEN & AMERICAN JEWS – Amazement that not every one sees his demiseas something positive.THE GLOBAL FORUM – The German Defense Minister makes a major speech.POVERTY WITHOUT POVERTY – How an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community livesin non-poverty like poverty. 1
  2. 2. A DROP IN ANTI-SEMITISM: BUT FROM WHAT? - When is a reduction not areduction?HOLOCAUST DISTORTION – How important is correct memory?THE HAMAS – FATAH AGREEMENTMaybe you can figure it out. I cannot! Hamas and Fatah have come to some sort ofa unity agreement. JTA reports, ―The Palestinians will continue to handle any peacenegotiations with Israel despite the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, PalestinianAuthority President Mahmoud Abbas said.Abbas told reporters Thursday that the Palestine Liberation Organization, which heheads, will continue to be responsible for handling negotiations, Haaretz reported.Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United Statesand the European Union, is not a member of the PLO.Abbas comments came a day after his Fatah movement and Hamas, which controlsGaza, announced following a meeting in Cairo that they had reconciled and wouldform a national-unity government and hold new elections within a year.Abbas has not yet announced the composition of his "unity Cabinet." An official unityagreement ceremony is scheduled to be held next week in the Egyptian capital.The new unity government "has nothing to do with politics," Abbas said.Israel has said that it will not negotiate with Hamas, which does not recognize theJewish state and calls for its destruction. The new unity government also poses adilemma for the U.S. administration, which has funneled hundreds of millions ofdollars to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority but has pledged not to support or dealwith a government comprised of Hamas. That would only change if Hamasrenounced violence, pledged to uphold existing agreements with Israel andrecognized Israels right to exist, U.S. officials have said.On Thursday, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said his organization would notparticipate in peace talks with Israel, Ynet reported. But, Zahar said, Hamas will notstop its partners from talking to Israel. "If Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel overtrivialities, they can," he reportedly said.I understand why Mr. Zahar said what he did. After all, the Preamble to TheCovenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) of August 18, 1988 states,―Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as itobliterated other before it‖. I truly believe that Hamas thinks that the peacenegotiations are trivial because they will not lead to Israel’s obliteration. 2
  3. 3. No one knows as yet knows what the “agreement” calls for except an interimgovernment and elections within a year. So, it seems to me that it is more of apublic relations ploy than anything else. If there is seemingly a unified Palestinianpolitical group (no matter whether it is unified or not) I would guess that much of theworld will buy it and it might make easier for some nations to vote “yes’ in Septemberwhen the Palestinians try to get General Assembly approval of Palestine as acountry.Will it help the Palestinians on the ground? I don’t see how it can. An announcedState without the necessary ingredients to be a State just won’t work. It will mean theend of direct negotiations and that will be a tragedy for the Palestinians, especiallythose in Gaza. Certainly the Israelis are not going to recognize any government inwhich a substantial element is dedicated to its demise. The tax money it collects andhas been handed over to Pres. Abbas will probably stop until they are assured thatnone of it will go into the hands of Hamas.I could go on but I think it is better to wait to see if the unity agreement can work andwhether Hamas can alter it’s “not one inch” stance as far as Israel is concerned. Onething is for sure. The peace talks as we have come to know them and which were onlife support at best can now be officially declared dead. Even at the best, nothingcan now happen for a year, the time of the Palestinian elections – if, indeed, they areever held.It will be interesting to see how the U.S. and the EU react. They both have Hamaslisted as a terrorist organization. Will that continue? We’ll see!ANOTHER AMERICAN JEWISH VIEWI think it’s important for my readers to know that that there is, indeed, not total unityin the American Jewish community on the future of the peace process. I think I’vemade it clear that in my opinion the Palestinians, especially Hamas, are not reallyinterested in a two State solution as deep in their thinking and in their emotions theyfeel as if all the land is theirs and that Israel should be removed. Again, in myopinion they might even eventually stomach a peace agreement but that would onlyserve as an interim step toward including all of what is now Israel in a GreaterPalestine. I believe that the best that can be arranged at present is some sort of “nowar” agreement with very modest, if any, modifications of the present situation.While I believe that most American Jews basically agree with my view, there is,indeed, a more peace oriented group led by an organization called J-Street that hasgreater belief in the possibilities of “peace” than I do.Following the signing of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement J-Street issued astatement. In it they state, ―News that a preliminary agreement on politicalreconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has been reached poses one of the most 3
  4. 4. important challenges in years to those who hope to see a peaceful two-stateresolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.J Street’s reaction to events always starts from our guiding principle: anunshakeable belief that Israel’s survival and security as the democratic home of theJewish people depends on achieving a two-state resolution to the conflict with thePalestinian people – meaning the broadest possible cross-section of Palestiniansociety. We are guided by our belief that Israel’s long-term security depends onestablishing two states with internationally-recognized borders.Overcoming the split between Fatah and Hamas, and between the West Bank andGaza, has always been a precondition for final resolution of the conflict. In fact,many who oppose a two-state deal have, in recent years, done so by arguing thatdivisions among the Palestinians make peace impossible. Obviously, reconciliationreduces that obstacle – but now skeptics of a two-state agreement have immediatelystepped forward to say that a deal is impossible with a Palestinian unity governmentthat includes Hamas.We are well aware that there are those in Hamas who are not interested in a two-state solution but who seek the long-term destruction of the state of Israel as aJewish national home. No one should have any illusions about the dangers and risksahead.We also know, however, that the majority of the Palestinian people are willing toaccept a two-state deal and all the compromises it entails in order to end thegenerations-old conflict. So we also believe that no one should doubt that there arestill very real opportunities available that should be explored, particularly since thedangers and risks of the status quo are so significant.If indeed this reconciliation deal is implemented – and history does give reason toquestion whether it will – there are many questions that the new Palestinianleadership must answer in the coming weeks and months. Is the PalestinianLiberation Organization – as the official representative of the Palestinian people –still committed to a two-state solution? Is it willing to reaffirm its renunciation of theuse of violence and terror against Israeli civilians? Will existing securityunderstandings be honored? Will rocket fire from Gaza be stopped?These questions become all the more important in light of the possibility of UnitedNations recognition in September of an independent Palestinian state. Yesterday’snews does not change the calculus for both the United States and Israel that thebest way to avert a vote in September is for there to be a credible and realisticdiplomatic initiative underway that offers a realistic path toward peace and security.The only way to answer the questions raised by these new developments is throughengagement and talks. We urge the United States, Israel and the internationalcommunity to respond to this new development with caution and questions, but not 4
  5. 5. with hostility. Encouraging movement in the right direction through engagement ismore likely to lead to a long-term peaceful resolution than responding, for instance,by automatically cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority.There are respected Israelis with impeccable security credentials – such as formerMossad Director Ephraim Halevy – who have argued over the past year thatdiplomatic engagement even with Israel’s sworn enemies is necessary if there is tobe a long-term resolution to the conflict. We believe that, with eyes wide open to therisks, it is imperative not to shut the door to talks with a newly configured Palestinianleadership – perhaps initially through third parties.J-Street is obviously more hopeful about things than I am. Perhaps I’ll be provenwrong but I believe that the Palestinians are set on going to the UN GeneralAssembly and are not in the least bit interested in talks. I’m sure they are countingon the U.S. and the EU coming around to their way of thinking – namely that Hamasisn’t so bad after all. A campaign to clean up the image of Hamas will be undertakenin the not too distant future. Remember, the PLO, at one time was considered aterrorist organization.We will follow the situation for you in Jewish America as we go along. Stay tuned.BIN LADEN & AMERICAN JEWSAl Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death had no direct effect on the AmericanJewish community. Like all Americans there was rejoicing that the world’s No. 1terrorist had been killed by U.S. Navy Seals. Jews had never been the first priorityfor bin Laden. Al Qaeda’s main targets had been the Western countries and Islamicpeople who they saw (and still see) as enemies of Islam. As far as I can remember,there have been no specific Al Qaeda attacks against Israel or Jewish targets. Jewsare, sort of, second class enemies.I think all Americans, and specifically Jews who are interested in Middle East affairs,were particularly horrified by the reactions of Hamas and, in Egypt, the MuslimBrotherhood. The Jerusalem Post reported, “Ismael Haniyeh, head of the Hamasadministration in the Gaza Strip, said in response to the U.S. operation against binLaden ―we regard this as a continuation of the American policy based on oppressionand the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.‖U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner slammed the comments.Toner said ―Haniyeh’s comments were ―outrageous.‖ It goes without saying binLaden was a murderer and a terrorist. He ordered the killings of thousands ofinnocent men, women and children, and many of whom were Muslim‖. .Hamas’ ―bloodcurdling statement condemning the attack and shooting of bin Ladenis a useful reminder about where Hamas’ heart really lies,‖ said Robert Lieber, a 5
  6. 6. professor of government at Georgetown University. ―The apologists for Hamas areout there; telling us that it really is moderate and that we have to deal with them, buttheir statement on bin Laden tells us their center of gravity remains an extremistone.‖I always try to see things through other eyes when I hear of or read statements bypeople I do not agree with. Trying to see the bin Laden killing through Haniyeh’seyes I find impossible. If he denounced the U.S. drone bombing which killed civiliansI could understand his anger. However, denouncing the removing of the man whokilled more Muslims than Christians or Jews and whose victims included manyinnocent children boggles my mind. Of course, Hamas itself has resorted to terrorattacks and mass killing so, perhaps, Haniyeh felt some sort of kinship to bin Laden.THE GLOBAL FORUMThe AJC Global Forum (It used to be called the Annual Meeting) in Washington wasquite an event. 1500 people attended the various sessions. Of German interest wasa major presentation by German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (see below)and two by my colleague Deidre Berger – one on the situation in Germany and theother on integration. In addition, Stephan Kramer, the Secy. General of the CentralCouncil of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat) also spoke.According to an AJC release:―Israel’s security today is part of Germany’s raison d’être,‖ German Defense MinisterThomas de Maizière told the AJC 2011 Global Forum. ―This is a principle thatdetermines our political action. It is also our response to our history.‖De Maizière addressed the global Jewish advocacy organization’s annual galaThursday night on his first visit to the United States since he assumed the post ofdefense minister. In the standing-room-only audience of more than 1500 was a largedelegation from Israels National Defense College, including a German officer.―It is living proof of the strong links that have been forged between the Bundeswehrand the Israel Defense Forces,‖ said de Maizière. ―It also shows how vibrant are therelations between Germany and Israel today.‖The defense minister praised the close relationship between AJC and Germany,which began shortly after World War Il at the governmental level, and over thedecades has expanded to civil society and the military. ―The AJC and theBundeswehr have been longstanding partners for 17 years,‖ he said. In 2009, thethen German minister of defense and AJCs executive director signed anunprecedented agreement to jointly sponsor missions to Israel for German militaryofficers. 6
  7. 7. De Maizière spoke about the importance of the transatlantic partnership, the sharedrole of the U.S. and Europe in furthering global stability, and how the current turmoilacross the Arab world presents opportunities to build democratic societies in thatcritical region.―The U.S. should consider that Europe remains in the long run the most stable andthe most predictable partner in the world,‖ said de Maizière. Emphasizing the pivotalrole of the transatlantic partnership, he added that ―we Europeans should notcultivate any intellectual and arrogant anti-Americanism.‖The defense minister suggested that an active transatlantic partnership ―can have astabilizing effect‖ in the Middle East and North Africa by encouraging and promotingthe build-up of new and hopefully democratic structures.‖But he also raised questions about longstanding European polices in the MiddleEast. ―We need to ask ourselves whether we took the easy way out in someoccasions in the past. We need to ask ourselves whether we failed to hear the callfor freedom the way we should have. And we need to ask ourselves whether wewere too preoccupied with our own economic interests,‖ de Maizière said.Looking ahead, the defense minister stressed that ―the spirit of freedom cannot besuppressed in the long run,‖ though achieving liberty and democracy will take timeand face innumerable hurdles.―The power of the ideas of freedom and democracy is greater than thepowerlessness against the regime,‖ said de Maizière. ―In the times of Face book,Twitter and social networks, these notions spread more rapidly and defy the force ofcensorship.‖While acknowledging that the international community faces ―tremendouschallenges‖ in dealing with the unfolding situations in a growing number of Arabcountries, he also emphasized that ―the establishment of a new order in whichhuman and civil rights are respected is first and foremost the responsibility of thepeople themselves.‖In introducing Minister de Maizière David Harris talked about the close relationshipAJC has with the Federal Republic. He asked those AJC people that had visitedGermany on an AJC program to stand up. Much even to my surprise, severalhundred rose indicating the interest AJC and its membership have in the relationshipbetween Germany and AJC.(This article also appeared in the American edition)POVERTY WITHOUT POVERTYIf you were to guess what sort of a community in the United States has the highest 7
  8. 8. degree of poverty you would probably guess that one with a large number of African-Americans or Hispanics. If that was your guess you would be wrong!In reality the poorest community in the U.S. is one made up almost exclusively ofvery Orthodox Jews. The New York Times recently wrote, “The poorest place in theUnited States is not a dusty Texas border town, a hollow in Appalachia, a remoteIndian reservation or a blighted urban neighborhood. It has no slums or homelesspeople. No one who lives there is shabbily dressed or has to go hungry. Crime isvirtually nonexistent.And, yet, officially, at least, none of the nation’s 3,700 villages, towns or cities withmore than 10,000 people has a higher proportion of its population living in povertythan Kiryas Joel, N.Y., a community of mostly garden apartments and town houses50 miles northwest of New York City in suburban Orange County.About 70 percent of the village’s 21,000 residents live in households whose incomefalls below the federal poverty threshold, according to the Census Bureau.Kiryas Joel’s unlikely ranking results largely from religious and cultural factors. Ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic Jews predominate in the village; many of them movedthere from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, beginning in the 1970s to accommodate apopulation that was growing geometrically.Most residents, raised as Yiddish speakers, do not speak much English. And mostmen devote themselves to Torah and Talmud studies rather than academic training— only 39 percent of the residents are high school graduates, and less than 5percent have a bachelor’s degree. Several hundred adults study full time at religiousinstitutions.The fact that this group is able to live almost totally apart from the rest of itssurroundings is one of those amazing American stories. While not all speak Englishwell, they do vote – and they vote as a bloc. Therefore, local politicians are verysensitive to their needs resulting in a considerable amount of government financialaid.You really should read the whole story which you can do by clicking here.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/nyregion/kiryas-joel-a-village-with-the-numbers-not-the-image-of-the-poorest-place.html?_r=1&hpIncidentally, since almost all in Kiryas Joel are members of the Satmar Hasidic sect,you can read about them as well. Click here.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satmar_%28Hasidic_dynasty%29A DROP IN ANTI-SEMITISM: BUT FROM WHAT?The Jerusalem Post recently reported, ―There was a significant drop in the number 8
  9. 9. of anti-Semitic incidents in 2010 compared to 2009, according to a study released onSunday.Titled ―Anti-Semitism Worldwide 2010,‖ the study cites a 46 percent drop in majorincidents of physical violence, threats, and major acts of vandalism, down from1,129 in 2009 to 614 in 2010.Nonetheless, the study, which was compiled by Tel Aviv University’s Stephen RothInstitute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism and the KantorCenter for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said that 2010’s total of anti-Semitic incidents is still the third-highest since efforts to record such statistics firstbegan in the 1980s.The report draws a direct link between the high level of anti-Semitic incidents in2009, a peak year for such events, and the IDF’s offensive against Hamas inJanuary 2009.―It should be recalled that 2009 was an extraordinary year in terms of numbers ofanti-Semitic incidents, primarily due to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s war in Gazawhich, especially in the first months of the year, provoked unprecedented anti-Jewish activity worldwide,‖ the report, timed to coincide with HolocaustRemembrance Day, stated.―Since Jews and Israelis are often conflated into a single collective, events in theMiddle East often provoke anti- Jewish groups and individuals into perpetratinghostile activities against local Jews.‖The report mentions that while world opinion was largely against Israel for the 2010raid on the Gaza protest flotilla that left nine Turkish citizens dead on the MaviMarmara, the event did not lead to a marked upswing in anti-Semitic acts like CastLead did, largely because the confrontation was short-lived and included a relativelysmall number of casualties.European Jewish Congress President, Dr. Moshe Kantor said, upon release of thereport Sunday morning at the university, that ―if one were to remove the spikeresulting from Operation Cast Lead from the 2009 report then the 2010 reportdemonstrates many similarities in terms of numbers and types of anti- Semiticattacks as previous years.‖He added that such figures show that ―anti-Semitism has not decreased in anoticeable fashion across the European continent. On the contrary, the reduction isminimal compared to the massive rise that has taken place over the previous twodecades.‖So, what seems like a significant drop turns out to be no (or little) drop at all. In theU.S. the Jewish community has worked hard to reduce the number of anti-Semitic 9
  10. 10. incidents and anti-Semitism in general. We’ve gotten it down to somewhere between15% and 20%. It just doesn’t go any lower. I’m not exactly sure what the numbers inEurope are. They probably vary strongly from country to country.I’m sure they’re higher in Europe than they are in the U.S. Given the animositytoward Israel, my guess is that the numbers will remain constant. Some feel that ifthere was to be some sort of peace agreement between Israel and the Palestiniansthe numbers would quickly reduce. I doubt that seriously. Anti-Semitism is just toodeeply ingrained in the thinking of some and in places it is still part of the culture.In the last 2 or 3,000 years Jews have learned to live with this sort of hatred. Whileour goal is to eradicate it totally, I think most understand that the real goal is toreduce it so that it does not impact upon the right Jews should have to earn a living,live free from discrimination and be free to practice their religion. The best path torealizing that goal is to keep working for democracy.HOLOCAUST DISTORTIONOn May 1st Jews around the world and particularly in Israel commemorated thevictims of the Holocaust with the Yom Hashoah holiday – Holocaust Memorial Day.Meetings, lectures and special events were held at synagogues, Holocaustmuseums and at public meetings. While the main purpose of such events is tomemorialize those that perished, there is a greater message and that is, as thenoted author, Manfred Gerstenfeld noted in a YNet News.com. piece, ―a preventionof the repetition of genocide‖.Gerstenfeld makes an important point in his article, namely ―There are, however,strong indications that in today’s Western world Shoah distortion also creates amajor impact. Many think of Holocaust denial in this context. Far more frequenthowever, is another extremely dangerous distortion of the Shoah’s memory, theinversion of the Holocaust – that is, considering Jews and in particular Israelis asNazis.This perception has now become a mainstream view in both Western and EasternEurope. A recent study in several countries by the University of Bielefeld on behalf ofthe German Friedrich Ebert Foundation shows its permeation into Europeansocieties. The study found that 63% of Poles think that Israel is conducting a war ofextermination against the Palestinians. The lowest figures in the study are from theItalians and the Dutch respectively, with 38% and 39%.In Hungary, Great Britain, Germany and Portugal, between 40% and 50% think this.The study shows that, almost unnoticed, a new Europe with a widespread criminalworldview has emerged. 10
  11. 11. The battle for maintaining a correct memory of the Holocaust and the fighting ofdistortions will become more difficult as the last generation of survivors passesaway. This battle has to consist of many actions. They include, besides Holocausteducation, the continual recording of survivors’ testimonies, activities by the secondgeneration of survivors, public debate, research, activities in museums,remembrance ceremonies, legislation and many more such efforts.Gerstenfeld makes the point that many public figures (especially politicians) makejokes about the Holocaust. I would add that many leaders, especially those in theMiddle East try to turn history on its head making Israeli soldiers into storm troopers.As long as their animosity continues (hopefully not forever) they will continue to dothat. In any case, the use of the term “Holocaust” is bandied about frivolously and,as time passes, the importance and meaning of the event will slowly diminish.However, in my opinion, it is too important to be abandoned to the scrap heap.Gerstenfeld suggests ways of maintaining its importance which should be supported.I fear though that it is a losing battle. Perhaps it can be maintained somewhat and tothe degree that it can it is a useful tool in the prevention of mass murder in thefuture.**********************************************************************************************See you again in June.DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted byclicking hereBoth the American and Germany editions are posted atwww.dubowdigest.typepad.comClick here to connect 11
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