Du bow digest germany edition may 8, 2012 a


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An American Jewish - German Information & Opinion Newsletter

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Du bow digest germany edition may 8, 2012 a

  1. 1. GERMANY EDITIONMay 8, 2012POLLS: U.S. & ISRAELIn the last ten days, two important poll results were published which give a good ideaof where the Jewish populations of both the U.S. and Israel stand.In terms of American Jews, AJC released a poll of American Jewish attitudes andthe 2012 election. JTA reported, “President Obama enjoys the support of three-fifthsof American Jews, according to the latest American Jewish Committee survey, asignificant improvement over where he stood half a year ago in the organization’spolling.The poll, released Monday, shows Obama with 61 percent of the Jewish vote, asopposed to 28 percent for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who isthe likely Republican nominee.That’s an improvement for the president over a previous AJC survey in September,when Obama scored 50 percent and Romney 32 percent.But it’s still substantially lower than the 78 percent Obama scored among Jews inexit polls in 2008 and an improvement for Romney over the 22 percent garnered bythe previous GOP nominee, John McCain.The AJCs new findings are similar to those of the Public Religion Research Institutein March. That poll showed Obama scoring 62 percent of the Jewish vote, asopposed to 30 percent for a GOP candidate.In the AJC poll, respondents identified the economy and health care as by far thetwo most important election issues. Among respondents who attend synagogue atleast once a week, only 52 percent said they would vote for Obama, likely reflectiveof the more conservative leanings of Orthodox voters.The 11 percent of respondents who were undecided in the AJC poll said they leanedtoward Romney and Obama in roughly equal numbers.Romney, for his part, struggles with high negative ratings from Jews, with 57 percentsaying they have an unfavorable view of him. He is, however, far more popular withJews than his previous top two GOP primary opponents; Newt Gingrich and RickSantorum are each viewed unfavorably by around three-quarters of Jews.There is more to the JTA report which you can read by clicking here.http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/04/30/3094201/ajc-poll-shows-obamas-jewish-support-holding-steady-at-61-percent 1
  2. 2. In addition, you can read the entire AJC report by clicking here.http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=2818289&ct=11734167&notoc=1The Times of Israel reports on a survey done in Israel by then Hebrew daily YediothAhronoth. It noted, “…the Likud party would likely take 30 Knesset seats inupcoming elections, enough to keep Netanyahu in power. However, a significantshuffle of party seats can be expected in the elections that are likely to be held thisfall.This report is followed by a list of parties that might gain or lose seats. If you’reinterested you can read it by clicking here. http://www.timesofisrael.com/poll-shows-netanyahu-with-a-narrow-right-wing-majority-in-elections/The point of both polls is if the elections in the U.S. and Israel were held today therespective Jewish communities would vote as they did the last time with somevariations is the percentages. In spite of Obama going from 78% which was probablyunsustainable no matter what, he is still poised to get the lion’s share of Jewishvotes.As far as Netanyahu is concerned, while there may be unhappiness and hostilitytoward him outside of Israel (and to a degree inside of Israel) it appears that he willmaintain his position as Prime Minister with substantial enough backing to continuethe policies that he began since taking office. Those policies and his position remainthe choices of the nation which come about through open and democratic elections.THE HOLIDAYSI have pointed out more than once that the Jewish people are a fractious bunch.They argue about everything – especially with each other. One of the most recurringof the arguments regards the adoption of holidays that revolve around the Holocaustand the establishment of the State of Israel. It is a fact that many Arabs are Israelicitizens. That only adds to the heat of the dispute especially when it comes to thesinging of the national anthem.Alex Joffe writing in Jewish Ideas Daily noted, “Every spring, within a single week,Israel commemorates Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Haatzmaut. Thesedays revisit the core drama of the modern Jewish experience: the Holocaust, thelosses suffered by Israel in its early wars, and the countrys present independence.These days are also among the most controversial in the Israeli calendar.With adjustments for Shabbat, Independence Day is celebrated on May 14. Certainultra-religious Jews have long protested the occasion. The Neturei Karta havedeclared it a "day of mourning for Torah-faithful Jews" and burn Israeli flags in 2
  3. 3. protest. The next day, May 15, is commemorated by Palestinians as "Nakba Day,"the day of "catastrophe." It is entirely negative: It mourns Palestinian dispossessionat the hands of the Jews rather than celebrating any idea of Palestinian nationalism. Nakba Day speaks volumes about Palestinian political psychology.There are also protests against Independence Day from within Israel, from IsraeliArabs—that is, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship—and leftist Israelis who wantIsrael to be a "state for all its citizens." This critique parallels the criticism of Israelsnational anthem, "Hatikvah": The state, say the critics, celebrates the experience ofthe majority and further alienates the minority.Independence Day is especially vexing to non-Israeli leftist commentators, who seein it a means of repression. One journalist recently said, "If I was [sic] a Palestiniancitizen of the state, I dont think I would want to participate in the torch-lighting. Iwould also find the inclusion of Arabs to be dishonest, a way of whitewashing thereality of life here as a minority. . . . Independence and freedom here meanindependence and freedom for Jews."The objection that Yom Haatzmaut and Hatikvah are insufficiently inclusive orrepresentative of all citizens fails the comparative test. A nation-state frequentlybegins with one group that subsequently defines its culture and politics. Nearlyevery independence or national day depicts the specific journey of a specific people,which is then musically celebrated—with usually martial and sometimes mixedresults. It is the specificity of those experiences that gives most nations the core oftheir identity, which is then broadened by law, culture, and experience.There is more to the article which can be accessed by clinking here.http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/content/module/2012/4/26/main-feature/1/independence-day/eI believe (without a scientific survey) that most American Jews think of Israel as aJewish state – exclusively. The Neturei Karta are an anti-Israel, small, extremeOrthodox group that most American Jews are not even aware of. Their argumentwith Israel is theological. The burning of Israeli flags is stupid and so far from themainstream that it is totally beyond the pale. However, in a democracy people arefree to say what they want and to demonstrate as long as there is no disturbing ofthe peace or violence.In Israel nothing’s easy.NAZIS – AMERICAN VARIETYThe Federal Republic of Germany is not the only country with an out front Naziparty. The good old United States of America has its 21st Century version as well. 3
  4. 4. It was recently reported by Y-Net News that, “The American Nazi Party hasevidently registered its own lobbyist on Capitol Hill, 2008 National SocialistMovement presidential candidate John Taylor Bowles, US News reported Friday.According to a registration form found by US News, Bowles signed up with the Clerkof the House as a lobbyist on Tuesday.As per the form, he registered as a lobbyist in order to promote issues relating to"Political Rights and ballot access laws." The form also reportedly cites accounting,agriculture, clean air and water, civil rights, health issues, the Constitution,immigration, manufacturing, and retirement as "general lobbying issue areas."When asked if he believed a member of Congress would agree to meet with him, hetold the newspaper: "I dont see why not. Of course I wont approach anybody inCongress unless its a very interesting issue or law. Im going to be very carefulabout the issues I choose for this." According to a follow-up published by Business Insider, Bowles associated with avariety of Neo-Nazi parties and splinter groups between 1977 and today. His 2008 presidential platform for the neo-Nazi National Socialist movementpromised "free healthcare, free college education, zero interest mortgages, decentpaying jobs, very low taxes, crime free neighborhoods, low gasoline prices, ahealthy social security system, and to be able to have enough time to enjoy life!” He suggested that in order to achieve these goals, the US must "stop wasting whitetaxpayer dollars on third world countries, no-win wars, and foreign aid to Israel.white taxpayer dollars belong in white taxpayers pockets!" In posts that he published on the National Socialist Order of America party blog"National Director," Bowels offered a variety of anti-Semitic rants around the sametime he ran for president. "People who spread lies and rumors are no different than the Jew," he wrote in oneentry. "How can we combat such actions? Always get both sides of a story. Neverspread something you hear. We must not allow deception and lies to get the betterof us, instead (sic) we must question everything. The best Decisions are made afterall information has been gathered. This is how we can stay strong and this is howwe will destroy the JEW." He also used to display a coffin with a skeleton in it accompanied by a sign thatsaid "Race-mixing = death." A large part of his platform was his program for sendingback different ethnic and racial groups to their country of origin.According to the Business Insider, Bowles e-mails were allegedly hacked by theOne Peoples Project, an anti-fascist activist group on the web. The messages 4
  5. 5. included much wrangling about what it takes to make National Socialism a successin America, and who really is a Nazi and who is just a "racist come-along." Recounting a joint appearance with the Ku Klux Klan, Bowles wrote: "One familysaid I should have mentioned the time I dumped a bucket of water on Oprah Winfreyin the 1970′s in my campaign platform. If White voters knew that I would haveinstantly got a million votes."Of course, Bowles is more of a joke in the U.S. “The American Nazi Party” practicallydoes not exist here except for very few extremists who, I am sure, rank high on theFBI’s list of those that have to be watched. I am sure Mr. Bowles will get quite a bitof publicity and will be widely denounced. I am not happy with the denouncementsbut the publicity plays right into his hands. We certainly could do without that.There are times when the anti-Nazi laws in Germany are criticized as beingundemocratic (in U.S. terms). However, when a Bowles appears on the public scenein our own nation’s capital I think our own democracy is little too democratic.I guess that in order to keep the U.S. democratic we have to have the bad with thegood.By the way, since Bowles is listed as a lobbyist, and the job of lobbyists is to meetwith legislators, I wonder how many of them will actually be willing to meet with him.My guess is “none”.THE PEACE TALKS: A MORE DISTANT DREAMMany knowledgeable observers of the Israeli – Palestinian peace process (andmany more not so knowledgeable which certainly includes me) have looked at thesituation and decided that nothing will happen anytime soon. The recent Quartetplus one talks produced nothing new. “Get back to the table” is not new nor evenserious.In addition Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer to have face to face (with the two facesnot liking each other) negotiations with President Abbas also had a hollow ring to it.Abbas’ reply that negotiations had to have the precondition of complete stop ofbuilding in the West Bank was also a non-starter. So, we’re back to where westarted from and nothing will be forthcoming from Washington while Pres. Obama isin election mode running for a second term.I frequently quote from the writings of Aaron David Miller who is certainly in the“knowledgeable” camp. He always seems to be the ultimate realist. In an article inforeignpolicy.com Miller postulates that if Obama wins a second term, he might turnsome of his energies toward the Israel – Palestinian issue. Noting that most prior 5
  6. 6. Presidents have tried their hand at in their first terms – and failed, he states, “Letsassume for the sake of this thought experiment that Obama does decide thatnothing is more important to his second term than Israeli-Palestinian peace (adubious assumption, but Ill humor myself). And lets further stipulate that hesdetermined to find a way forward. Domestic politics will be the least of the obstaclesthat stand in his way, truly more a speed bump than a Mount Everest.A willful president is critical to success. But more important is the situation in theregion and the calculations of Arabs and Israelis. Today, three challenges impede atwo state solution: an Israeli prime minister whos very far from either Obamas orthe Palestinian position on a deal, a divided Palestinian national movement, and theuncertainties of an Arab Spring that will further limit Israels flexibility. All will still bethere in 2013.And then theres Iran. Assuming we get through the end of this year without anIsraeli military strike (a pretty good bet) or a negotiated solution (another safewager), the nuclear issue will be front and center in January 2013.I believe Obama really cares about the Israeli-Palestinian issue; I also think hesterribly frustrated by the lack of progress and holds Israel, specifically Netanyahu,primarily responsible. Hed really like to get tough.At the same time, Obama has proven himself to be a cautious, pragmatic, anddeliberate man. Like FDR, he wanted to be a transformative political figure and alterthe trajectory of American domestic and foreign policy. But his nature is more thetransactor and the dealmaker. Thats who he is.The president isnt a man of any extreme -- the community organizer; campusradical, alien president trope is a bunch of partisan mumbo jumbo. Whats importantabout Obamas storyline is Harvard Law School, the U.S. Senate, two best-sellingbooks, and succeeding in American politics. To do so, let alone become president,he had to be a man of the system.When it comes to the Arab-Israeli issue, a second term is more likely to see Obamathe unchanged, not the unchained. Hes plenty frustrated by Netanyahu. But Obamalacks FDRs partisan toughness and fight; public anger doesnt come naturally, nordoes going for the jugular. Instead, hes a compromiser always looking for middleground and balance, even when it seems naive. Thats where his vision of the truth(and solutions) lie.Every administration is different, but theres a reason the second term doesntproduce unchained presidents throwing their weight and influence around.First, they dont have as much of either. The first day after Inauguration 2.0, twoclocks start ticking: the legacy clock and the lame-duck clock. The first measureswhat a president can accomplish in the time he has left with the street cred and 6
  7. 7. reputation hes developed; the second watches those assets slip away. Its a race,really.Presidents and their staffs also get tired, are scandal-prone, and start makingmistakes in a second term (see: Reagan and Iran-Contra; Clinton and MonicaLewinsky). And then theres the problem of how Americas allies and adversariesperceive the presidents waning power. Arafats decision to pass up Clintonsproposals on final-status deals in December 2000 was clearly driven partly by hisgalactic miscalculation that hed get a better deal and a tougher line against Israelfrom the son of George H.W. Bush.The fact that Obama wont get a third term may even work against him. BeginningJan. 21, if not Nov. 5, the Arabs and the Israelis will begin to take the measure of apresident who now has a guaranteed expiration date.If theres anything the locals are really good at, its evasion, delay, and maneuver inthe face of initiatives they dont like. And theyll be taking Barack Obamas measureto see how serious he really is.What theyll conclude, of course, depends on how the president behaves. But theobstacles standing in the way of a two-state solution are formidable and growing.More than likely, the second-term illusion will remain just that. And in assessingObamas intentions, credibility, and drive on Middle East peace, the Arabs andIsraelis may well conclude that if it swims, has feathers, and quacks, its more thanlikely a duck -- and a lame one at that.Of course nobody can predict the future including Dr. Miller. However, the road mapinto the future he provides us with is, in my opinion, about as logical and accurate asanyone’s since it is based on his closeness to the players involved and the length(and depth) of his experience. I generally agree with him.If, however, Mitt Romney wins the presidency we will be a totally different startingpoint. Romney and the Republican Party are much closer to the more conservativepolitical elements in Israel (Netanyahu especially) and so a major American push fora solution to the Israel – Palestinian situation would seem even further away thanwith a re-elected Pres. Obama. If I had to venture a guess I’d say we’re in for acontinuation of the current situation in 2013 and beyond.Click here to read the entire Miller article.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/04/11/the_second_term_illusionOBAMA & THE JEWS: AN UPDATENow that Mitt Romney has all but nailed down the Republican nomination forPresident the real campaign has begun. (It’s a good question as to whether the last 7
  8. 8. 3 ½ years counts for anything.). Not that there were a shortage of articles previouslyabout how American Jews will vote, more are beginning to surface practically everymoment.Michael Tomasky writing in the liberal website The Daily Beast notes, Amidst all thespeculation (including my own) that Barack Obama should be able to dispatch MittRomney without too-strenuous exertions, and despite the president’s movingspeech at the Holocaust Museum on Monday, we would do well to remind ourselvesthat Obama is having trouble with Jewish voters.A recent poll puts his support at middling levels, good enough to carry New Yorkand California (obviously), but maybe not Florida. The poll result suggests one of thenotable failures of his term: He moved into the White House clearly thinking that hecould completely reset and reframe U.S.-Israeli relations, and even reset andreframe the very idea of what it means to be pro-Israel. This was and is anextremely worthy project, but it has proven to be a hell of a lot harder than hethought it would. And so he has—for the time being at least—given up on theproject, now that he needs the votes.The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in early April, foundthat 62 percent of 1,004 American Jews surveyed said that they would vote forObama. That sounds like an agreeable enough figure until you recall that he got 78percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Some news organizations, showing either reallyhorrible memories or dreaded liberal bias, tried to soften the disparity by pointing outthat Obama was about at this same level in support among Jews “at the same pointduring Obama’s first run.” But if you spend four seconds thinking back on the eventsof that campaign, you recall that April 2008 was the height of the Rev. JeremiahWright affair, and thus the one point that was likely to be Obama’s nadir with Jews.Can he gain back 16 points by November? I think he can probably gain back halfjust because Romney will run too much to his base, which will alienate liberal andmoderate Jews. They’ll say, “What the hell, Obama’s not so bad.” But getting thosenext eight points will be tough, maybe impossible, work, and this is where Obama’svery grand—and very dashed—hopes for a Middle East reset come into the picture.There is more mostly about how Obama got to where he is with the Jewishcommunity and some thoughts about the future. You can read it all by clicking here.http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/24/michael-tomasky-on-obama-s-problem-with-jewish-voters-in-november.htmlI’m not enough of a guru about election numbers to know if Tomasky is right orwrong. However, I do think his figures are reasonable. As to whether Obama will bean “easy winner”, I think he is a bit more optimistic than I am. I believe it will be atough race taking into consideration that the winner must get more electoral votesthan the loser – not popular votes. If you’re not clear about electoral votes or theElectoral College click here for an explanation – or to get more confused. 8
  9. 9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)U.S. GRANT & THE JEWSSince part of my goal in publishing the Germany Edition of this newsletter is to givemy non-Jewish readers some insights into the American Jewish community, it is wellthat I occasionally offer a little history to help that understanding along.During the long history of Jews in the U.S. there was only one time that the Jews asa group were specifically discriminated against by a high government official. Ithappened during the Civil War and the perpetrator was the great General (laterPresident) Ulysses S. Grant.Many books on the occurrence have been written but recently a new one has beenpublished. In a review by Jane Henderson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she wrote,“In "When General Grant Expelled the Jews," Jonathan D. Sarna, a professor ofJewish history at Brandeis University, writes about how Ulysses S. Grant, blamingJews for smuggling and cotton speculation, kicked them out of the Department ofthe Tennessee, an area from northern Mississippi to Cairo, Ill.It what appears to be excerpted from or based on the book on Slate, Sarna writes:“Americans today are often surprised to learn that Ulysses S. Grant once expelled“Jews as a class” from his war zone. It seems incredible that he could blame Jewsfor the sins of smugglers and traders—most of whom were not actually Jewish at all—and expel them from the entire territory under his command. Some Jews at thetime wondered whether their new homeland was coming to resemble anti-SemiticEurope at its worst.In the end, only a small number of Jews were seriously affected by General OrdersNo. 11. Within hours of its issuance, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forreststaged a daring raid that tore up rail and telegraph lines around Grant’sheadquarters at Holly Springs, Miss. The resulting breakdown in communicationsmeant that news of General Orders No. 11 spread slowly.But the orders on Dec. 17, 1862, actually had long-lasting effects. For one thing,President Lincoln revoked them, and reassured Jewish leaders:In a follow-up meeting with Jewish leaders, Lincoln reaffirmed that he knew “of nodistinction between Jew and Gentile.” “To condemn a class,” he emphaticallydeclared, “is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the bad. I do not like to hear aclass or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners.” In short order,attention returned to the battlefield, where, within a year, Grant’s victory at Vicksburgelevated him to the status of a national hero.Also, the lesson Grant learned affected his own presidency, Sarna writes: 9
  10. 10. Still later, during the eight years of Grant’s presidency, memories of General OrdersNo. 11 surfaced repeatedly. Eager to prove that he was above prejudice, Grantappointed more Jews to public office than any of his predecessors, and, in the nameof human rights, extended unprecedented support to persecuted Jews in Russia andRomania. Time and again, partly as a result of his enlarged vision of what it meantto be an American and partly in order to live down General Orders No. 11, Grantconsciously worked to assist Jews and secure them equality.Growing up in the 1930’s and 1940’s Gen. Grant was one of my boyhood heroes. Itwas only in adult life that I read about General Orders No.11. At first I wasdevastated. However, as I have grown older I have come to realize that what he didcame mostly from the frustrations of the war and an absolute lack of intimateknowledge about the small Jewish community then in the U.S. Whatever was goingthrough his mind in 1862 was certainly changed by the time he became President. Imyself grew up with more than a few sweeping hostilities towards certain groups,Germans among them. However, personal contacts plus improved knowledge andunderstanding have changed me. So, Gen. Grant, in my mind, has been restored tohero status – where he belongs.Another interesting review can be accessed by clicking here.http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/21/what-happened-when-general-grant-expelled-civil-war-jews.html 10